The Chicago Way

The Zacuto film set at their office, where many of their web series are shot.


Along with their camera accessories, Zacuto has been a pioneer on the web and social media with their popular web series for which they have won several Emmy® awards. It all started when AbelCine’s Pete Abel told Weiss and Bogehegn they should be making videos. In 2007, Zacuto created their first webisode to promote one of their accessories.

"This was when Vimeo was kind of new," explains Weiss. "In our studio, we made our first video, and it was really bad. It was an instructional video, and we didn’t know how to do it, so Jens and I were talking to the camera, kind of looking at each other. We realized after doing that, we could never look at the camera again because we’re not actors. After that, we just started talking to each other."

From there, Weiss and Bogehegn produced their first show, FilmFellas, back in 2008. The show features Weiss and Bogehegn sitting down and interviewing filmmakers and cinematographers on their work. Some of the guests included Joe Swanberg, Ondi Timoner, Stephen Goldblatt, ASC, BSC, Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC, and many more. After FilmFellas, they did another web series, Critics, which featured Weiss and cinematographer/blogger Philip Bloom critiquing web-based video content. A web film that Weiss and Bogehegn are particularly proud of is Light & Shadow, a documentary in which they interviewed some of the best cinematographers in the world about their art and technique.

Bogehegn demonstrates Zacuto’s Z-Finder system for the Canon EOS C300.

Perhaps the series that have received the most attention are Zacuto’s camera shootouts. In 2010, The Great Camera Shootout made its online debut, showing how a DSLR would fare against 35mm film. The Great Camera Shootout 2011, administered by DP Robert Primes, ASC, covered the Single Chip Camera Evaluation. 2012’s Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout was perhaps the most fascinating. It was a test shootout, administered by DP Bruce Logan, ASC, that had both an empirical and a subjective way of looking at moving images. In all of the shootouts, in order not to be accused of hawking their own gear, Zacuto remained in the background, with Weiss and Bogehegn producing a behind-the-scenes documentary about the shootouts.

Logistically, the shootouts were a huge endeavor, not to mention mentally and physically exhausting. At one point during The Great Camera Shootout 2011, Weiss estimates they had over 700 people working on the project. "A lot of higher-end camera companies didn’t take part because they had more to lose," reveals Weiss. "They could claim if their cameras didn’t perform well that Zacuto screwed it up. We invited every single camera company to come to the shootout and none of them except Canon participated. We didn’t ask for gear. We would find a camera, rent it, and do whatever we had to do."

Zacuto is developing a new web series called Less Than 90 Seconds, which will teach filmmakers a new skill in less than 90 seconds. Topics include lighting a greenscreen, attaching a wireless mic, using a polarizer and more.