Category Archives: Blog

From Rows of Strawberries to Traffic

“Well, what do I do no Way?” 

That was pretty much the first question I had the first day I officially moved down to Los Angeles. There was no clear path for me to follow. I was here for college, but I knew I had to do more than just that while I was down here in order for me to start my career. I had an idea in mind. Become a film director. Easier said than done, of course. I didn’t exactly know how to do that. I found myself feeling stuck in quicksand quickly sinking. Thinking back, I realize that I did have an idea but there were so many different ways to go about it that I became overwhelmed. I’ve never had so much available to me before while living back in Watsonville. 

Watsonville, a small town within Santa Cruz county, better known for Driscoll’s strawberries, Martinelli’s and where the popular hangout place is a Target shopping center. In short, it isn’t the most exciting place in the world. That being said it is worth a quick visit should you ever be driving through for some strange reason. There are nice parks and good food. I recommend going to get a pie (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) at Gizdich, as well as a whole gallon of apple juice. Notice I don’t mention any kind of presence of the media industry. That’s because there isn’t any evidence of it. There are small artsy shops but nothing on the side that I was aiming to do. So, struggling with finding any kind of access in such a small county I decided to move to Los Angeles as soon as I graduated High School. 

So we made it to LA. As it so happens my car ended up getting totaled within hours of being parked outside my apartment building. Hit and run (not the best way to be welcomed). What was somewhat amusing was the fact that the individual literally ran away from the scene leaving his vehicle behind. Just the image of him panicking and fleeing is humorous to me. Left without a car, I was lucky enough to have gotten rides from my brother in law. Struggling with mobility and adapting to a new environment, my first year here was spent focusing on school as I was double majoring in Television/Film  and electrical engineering. I dropped the latter after coming to my senses. Sadly it was a lonely year. The next one was better.

 Luckily, I ended up getting another car which helped a lot. Frankly, I am almost completely useless in figuring out public transportation.  With a car came the ability to explore my surroundings as well as being suffering the consequences.TRAFFIC. When you think about LA or any major city for that matter, traffics will always come to mind. It’s true. The traffic is terrible. Where I used to be carefree about driving back in Watsonville now changed to where I plan my day according to when there will be the least amount of traffic. Is it raining outside? Forget it. I’m staying home. But all that wouldn’t dampen my spirits. My sophomore year was a lot more successful than my first.  I ended up finding small little projects to work on for school which led to meeting some great friends and further improved my videography skills. I also got to be a production assistant for Formula Drift (that story is going to be a future post). Overall it was a good year. 

My third year was more fast paced. I ended up picking up regular gigs that kept me busy. Mostly they were live event gigs where I worked as a camera operator. I also ended up becoming a Technical Director for a small Christian ministry which I am happy to have gotten. Personally I am not Christian but the people I work with always make working there very enjoyable. Also a big thing is that I got the opportunity to travel across the country with Formula Drift while working as a graphics operator for their livestream broadcast. That was a crazy and exciting experience. Balancing traveling and school was a challenge. Fortunately I had a lot of support from my loved ones. 

Now my last year in college has come. Four years to get my degree. Very difficult years, each with new challenges to face. I worked on a few projects here and there. Thankfully continuing to travel. Sadly the realization of graduation seems to almost dull the excitement of all that I’ve been doing and gives way to a feeling of uncertainty. The unknown. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling. I feel more prepared. I’ll keep pushing forward like I have been. It’s not a terrifying anymore. I’ve come all this way. Now I ask something more optimistic.

“What’s next?”


The Meaning of Us

The second installment to my 30 day challenge.

I’ve been asked a few times before what the meaning behind Luminance Films is and to be honest there are two meanings that come to mind. I think it’s important to have meaning behind the name that you use. Having a cool name is pointless without some meaning behind it’s use.

The following are the two meanings behind our name:

  1. For the longest time it was very difficult for me to open up to others. I kept many things in that I should have talked to others about. To this day I have difficulties communicating what is going on with those that I am close with. It isn’t due to lack of effort. Without sounding pretentious or poetic I figured that after so long in the dark, it was time to let the light shine in. Because it was a major change in my life it’s no wonder it also influenced our name.
  2. Growing up, my family was neither well off nor barely scraping through. We had enough to get by, but like other families we struggled at times. Through it all we learned to appreciate what we had and help others whenever possible. We took semi-regular visits to Mexico to visit family and enjoy ourselves. While there I saw many families that were much less fortunate than us. Being around that had a major impact on who I grew up to be and the way I think. I still care and help others when I can. I’m not telling you this to boast about how good I am. It’s because I think we spend a lot of our time worrying about the latest trends and material wants that we forget that others out there are suffering. I am guilty of this too. There is a need to remind ourselves of the difficulties others face and spread the word that they need help. Our name is a way of bringing those issues into the light and to remind ourselves to step back, appreciate life, and help each other. This by far is the main meaning behind our name

Although we may be diverse in the work that we do and will continue to do in the future, the main core of who we are will stay the same. From that we will succeed. The largest redwood tree grew from a tiny acorn. The greatest things grow from the simplest of roots.

Mini Ursa 4k vs Fs5 4k


Alrighty then! Before we get started let me make things clear. This isn’t a comparison between their performance out in the field or how their images compare in and after post-production. There are many comparisons out there that go in depth about that kind of stuff.

My friend, let’s call him Marcus, and I usually debate different cameras that we are interested in. We don’t usually see eye to eye which leads to fun arguments. These two cameras are among the two that we have talked about recently. I hope this argument helps you in some way if you are in the market for a new piece of gear. Don’t worry, at the end of this you’ll be able to give us your own opinion.

So let’s do this!
Here we have the Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4k vs the Sony PXW-FS5. I do not want to get into the small details of each (that’s why I embedded the links to their specs) but, in order to continue I have to at least list some highlights of each.


Sony FS5:

  • 4k Super 35mm Sensor 3840 x 2160
  • 14 stops of Dynamic Range
  • E mount (adaptable to various lens mounts)
  • Various outputs including HDMI and SDI connections
  • 2 XLR input connections
  • Variable Neutral Density filters built in
  • Super slow motion up to 960 fps


Mini Ursa:

  • 4k super 35mm sensor 3840 x 2160
  • 12 stops of Dynamic Range
  • Canon EF-mount and PL-mount options
  • XLR and SDI connections
  • Raw Capabilities
  • Magnesium body construction

Now, depending on the kind of work that you are interested in doing might lead you to choose one camera over the other. In my case, adaptability and functionality are the two points I look for in gear since I do various types of work. Marcus is mainly focused on suspensive minimalist narrative cinema.

The Sony FS5 would be my tool of choice. With a 4k super 35mm sensor and 14 stops of Dynamic Range, it lends itself to very impressive images that hold up to higher end cameras while costing a fraction of the price to run. I think it is important to go into a project with the ability to get the best image you can while staying under budget and this camera fits that. I’m pretty finicky when it comes to lens choice and I like having the ability to switch between different lenses depending on the project if I am able to. Like anyone will tell you, there is no master lens. Each lens serves a purpose and lends its specific lens qualities to what you film. The E-mount is a joy to have. The mount allows for various lens adapters not only to increase lens choice, but also to allow you to grow without having to upgrade you camera so that you can use higher quality glass. The other highlights are just icing on the independent filmmaker cake. With so much competition in the industry, it is important to be able to adapt and be a jack of all trades at times.

As Marcus is not present, I will try my best to argue his side with as little bias as possible. The Ursa Mini is definitely a strong camera capable of producing strong work and for that reason it is a steal. A real bang for you buck camera. Like the Sony, the Ursa is equipped with a 4k super 35mm sensor that gives you that oh so special cinematic-look. It should be noted that there is also a 4.6k model available. Although it doesn’t give as much latitude as the Sony, at 12 stops, it is nothing to be frowned upon. The ability to shoot RAW definitely makes up for the lack of 2 stops. Luckily, it does give you the option to choose between an EF and PL mount. In reality, what other lens mounts do you really need? Whether your main intention is cinema or not, this camera is able to go from one type of project to the next without much effort. The magnesium body gives you that strong durable feel that comes with high end cinema cameras. On set, it is important to have high quality and strong gear. Unfortunately accidents do happen and you don’t want to have to worry about your gear falling apart on you in the middle of a shoot.

So what it boils down to is: What qualities and intentions do you have? We can sit here all day arguing over pros and cons, but it’s pointless when there are no right or wrong answers. In the end I guess this was a waste of time. Sorry. There is no winner…or maybe the winner is you. If this was helpful in choosing your next camera and keeps you working on your craft, you’re welcome. I accept thank you’s in the form of crudely drawn pictures of Rob Schneider.

Now vote and don’t forget to leave us a comment on what camera you’d prefer working with. We look forward to the results.