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Small Business Spotlight: Moondog Labs

March 06, 2019 06:57 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) --  Each week we celebrate the ingenuity and hard work of our local businesses.

This week we introduce you to a Fairport company that can change how you see the world, literally.

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They say that cinema has the ability to take us places both real and imagined. Now, taking you there can be done without a Hollywood budget -- thanks to Moondog Labs.

"One thing that really seems to resonate with people is really how authentic the images look using our gear versus some of the competition," said Moondog Labs co-founder Scott Cahall. 

Cahall worked for Kodak as a lens designer. He left there about a decade ago with some colleagues and started an optical design firm.

"About five years ago we decided we wanted to do a product of our own," Cahall recalled. 

The company developed a line of lenses, filters, cases, and mounts tailored to independent filmmakers. And they attach right to your smartphone.

"So this right here is an iPhone 7 Plus," said Cahall demonstrating the lens. "And this just basically slides right on, clamps down and you're good to go."

What makes these lenses so special?

"What it does is it expands your camera's field of view but just in the horizontal direction," said Cahall. "So you get this wide aspect ratio look which is considered cinematic."

Until recently, getting this anamorphic look required expensive equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. But Moondog lenses are modestly priced at around $150 to $175. 

The price was right for director Sean Baker, who was looking for an inexpensive way to make his film "Tangerine."

"He saw what we were doing with anamorphic lenses and said, 'hey, if there's any way that I could get some of those lenses we're starting in like a week,'" said Cahall

"Tangerine" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. The biggest audience surprise, though, may have come when the final credits were rolling.

Cahall was there.

"When it said shot on iPhone 5S with Moondog Labs Anamorphics, the audience really let out an audible gasp," added Cahall. 

Since then, word has spread and Moondog has shipped lenses to more than 40 countries. The lenses are designed and assembled in their offices in Fairport and sold primarily direct to consumers via their website. 

Moondog received its biggest boost when Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh used their lenses to make the film "High Flying Bird" which was just released on Netflix last month.

News10NBC's Brett Davidsen: "You've seen the movie?"

Scott Cahall: "Yeah. Twice."

Davidsen: "What was that like for you watching it, knowing your lenses were used to make that movie?"

Cahall: "Well, it was super cool, honestly."

You know what else is super cool -- having innovative companies like Moondog Labs right in our own backyard.

"It really lowers the barriers to entry for people. And why not? You shouldn't be hindered by how much of a budget you have if you have a story to tell," he added. 

To learn more about Moondog Labs, click here

If you know of a business we should shine the spotlight on, send an email to spotlight@whec.com  

Credits

Brett Davidsen

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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