MPS’ gear addition emphasizes
owner’s belief in market

Elvir Hrastinski, owner/technician of Motion Picture Services

Elvir Hrastinski is either the city’s greatest optimist or he’s throwing his money away. Hrastinski, the owner/technician of Motion Picture Services, firmly believes in a resurgence of the film industry. “It will prevail,” he proclaims.

Towards that end, Hrastinski plunked down $100,000 for the latest line of Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses – making MPS the exclusive outlet for them in Chicago.

The lenses being out on constant rental since they came into the shop last month have more than justified the investment.

Besides the Ultra Primes, MPS has bought new Arri 35mm cameras and the Preston Remote Lens System.

Hrastinski’s rationale for the recent investments is to expand his rental inventory and “keep up with the demands of the community in order to keep interest here, ” he explains. “This is a great town and I’ll do anything in my power to keep these filmmakers here instead of their rushing to L.A. for jobs.”

By serving Chicago filmmakers’ Arri camera needs, they’ll go to MPS first for equipment, instead of feeling the necessity of bringing it in from New York or Los Angeles.

“If a piece of equipment from out-of-town goes down, there’s no support in Chicago.” Except at MPS, of course, where Hrastinski, whose roots go back to Victor Duncan, is considered as one of the best camera technicians anywhere. He founded MPS in 1991.

Zeiss’ latest line (10, 14, 20, 28, 40, 50, 65 and 85mm), with its crisp, detailed imaging, is considered a “big deal with DPs right now,” says MPS manager and aspiring cinematographer Meena Singh, the company’s only other employee, “because Zeiss changed some of its mechanics and made the lenses easier to use.”

For one, there’s no lens travel when the focus is changed, and the lens markings are bigger “and assistants like that,” she says. The line’s popularity is also due to the virtual elimination of lens flare and the sleek new housing for the advanced mechanics.

The Ultra Primes rent for $100 a day each and cover any 35mm and super 35mm cameras. Seven more lenses will be added in a couple of months, Singh says.

MPS’ news camera is the Arri 435-ES. “We wanted to bring something new to Chicago and we like to stay with Arris,” Singh says.

MPS tech, Meena Singh

One of the appeals of the new Arri 435-ES is its electronic shutter, “so you can speed-ramp,” says Singh. “It’s a trendy industry technique that’s used a lot in music videos, where you start the shot in normal speed and change speed in the middle.”

Altogether, MPS offers 10 cameras: 35-3HS high speed, 535-B, BL-3; 16mm SR-3HS and SR-2, and a wide range of prime and zoom lenses and accessories.

Palmer Productions of L.A. recently rented the SR-3HS 16mm to shoot Chicago exteriors for a Boo and Gotty music video, Singh says. And Duo Films also of L.A. rented the new 435-ES to shoot Gatorade commercials for Korean television. Locally, they have “many loyal rental regulars,” she notes.

The 435-ES rents for around $1,800 a day with a full package. Other full camera package rentals range from $1,300 to $2,400 a day.

The Preston Remote Lens Control System, another Midwest exclusive, was purchased at a cost of $35,000.

“Some Steadicam operators like to use it because you can pull focus remotely, no hard wire,” Singh describes. “It works off a transmitter and transceiver, ideal for use when the scene calls for big explosions.”

Steadicam operators and assistants for years have used older versions of this FI+Z, she notes, since effects, moving crane or dolly shots less hazardous and easier to produce.

“The unit allows the assistant cameraman to control zoom with the Digital MicroForce, and Focus and Iris with the hand control. The commands are sent through a transmitted signal, which means no hard wire leashes the AC to the camera,” Singh comments.

The FI+Z hand control, with transmitter box, three motors, brackets and cables rents for $300 a day. The F/X unit rents for an additional $150 a day.

MPS is located at 216 N. May; phone, 312/226-6501; see