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Shoot Edit PoSt StorE ProducE diStributE

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March 2013

Brief encounters Documentary captures the cinematic sensibility of GreGory crewDson

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vol. 21 | no. 3


editor’s view

edItorIal editorial director Cristina Clapp managing editor Katie Makal tecHnical editor Jay Holben Web editor Sarv Taghavian, contributing editors Jay Ankeney, Chuck Gloman, David Heuring, John Merli, Carl Mrozek, Oliver Peters, Geoff Poister, Dick Reizner, Stefan Sargent, Jon Silberg, Ned Soltz, Jennifer Wolfe, Joy Zaccaria

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From Brian Maffitt’s “Projector Snow”


don’t think a day goes by where I don’t force someone working on our magazine to stop what they’re doing and watch an insanely great video. That could mean anything from a tribute to the city of New Orleans shot by Bill and Turner Ross (Tchoupitoulas) for the NFL, to Sivu’s music video filmed inside an MRI, to “Choros,” a short film by Michael Langan that uses a “digital echo” technique to create a complicated, choreographed sequence of 32 dancers using only one performer. Today my obsession video is “Projector Snow” by Brian Maffitt (@bmaffitt). While watching the flakes fall during the recent blizzard, Maffitt decided to aim a projector out the window and project a film (The Lorax) onto the snowfall. He took some pictures, and recalls, “The results were ... unexpected.” Unexpectedly awesome! He then used his Canon EOS 7D to record video of the results. The endless reservoir of media available online means you and I will never run out of inspirational videos to watch. I’ve started curating my favorites on Pinterest at digitalvideomag. Like “Projector Snow,” the best videos start from a simple, great idea that yields an astonishing result. Editorial Director Digital Video magazine,

newbay medIa corporate president & ceo Steve Palm cHief financial officer Paul Mastronardi controller Jack Leidke vice president of digital media Joe Ferrick vice president of audience development Denise Robbins vice president of Human resources Ray ay Vollmer vice president of production & manufacturing Bill Amstutz vice president of content & marketing Anthony Savona it director Anthony Verbanac

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03.2013 | vol. 21 | no. 3



LOOK 20 24 28 30 34 36


Power, Politics and Pixels How Eigil Bryld Envisioned House of Cards The Art of the Mini-Movie Kroll Show Sketches Are Each Shot As Short Features Elements of Style Producing the Popular Web Series Put This On Cold War Cinematography Concealing and Revealing on FX’s Spy Drama The Americans Mountain Men Warm Springs Productions: Braving the Elements Your Basic Zombie Apocalypse Love Story LOOK Effects Creates Characters for Warm Bodies


44 Delivering News In the Field with JVC’s GY-HM650U ProHD Camera 48 Now Made for Your Mac Audio Capabilities Expand with Introduction of Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0

52 Exposure Explanations Experimenting with Adam Wilt’s Cine Meter App 58 Effects, Filters and Transitions ... All Translated Boris Continuum Complete 8 44

Comes to Final Cut Pro X

LEARN 60 64 66 70 71

Small Goes Big The GoPro HERO3 Camera in Action Inside Alex Buono’s Toolkit Shooting Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts Field Work Possibilities for Portable Video Recording and Storage Tips to Clip Instant Expert: Make It Slow, Fast or Time Lapse An Assortment of Products for Off-Speed Production

72 Natural Selection Equipping Wildlife Documentaries 76 DV101: Light Reading Learning to Create and Control Lens Flare 82 Production Diary: And Then It’s Spring Or Toys for Boys


16 Brief Encounters


Camera Support Buyer’s Guide 38

Digital Video (ISSN 1541-0943) is published monthly by NewBay Media L.L.C. at 28 E 28th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY, 10016. Telephone: 212-378-0400. Periodicals postage paid at New York, New York, and at additional mailing offices. U.S. subscription rate is $29.97 for one year; Mexico and Canada are $39.97 (including GST); foreign airmail is $79.97; back issues $7. Prepayment is required on all foreign subscriptions in U.S. funds drawn on a U.S. bank. All rates are one year only. Digital Video, Videography, Digital Content Producer, Millimeter, Digital Cinematography, Cinematographer, 2-pop, Reel Exchange and Creative Planet Network are trademarks of NewBay Media L.L.C. All material published in Digital Video is copyrighted © 2013 by NewBay Media L.L.C. All rights reserved. postmaster: Send address changes to Digital Video, Subscription Services, P.O. Box 221, Lowell, MA 01853. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 255542, London, ON N6C 6B2. Digital Video makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information published in the magazine; however, it assumes no responsibility for damages due to errors or omissions. Printed in the USA.


Capturing the Cinematic Sensibility of Gregory Crewdson

departments 3 6 80 81 81

Editor’s View Update Company Index Classifieds Advertiser Index | 03.2013

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KraftwerK taKes watCHOUt On tOUr P

ioneering electronic band Kraftwerk is using the dynamic interactive and 3D features of Dataton WATCHOUT multi-image and presentation software for its onstage digital imagery throughout the 2013 concert tour. Kraftwerk began using stereoscopic 3D during its concerts in spring of 2012. WATCHOUT manages projected 3D content on a large stage backdrop, creating an abstract presence in front of audiences wearing polarized 3D glasses, while two additional


WATCHOUT channels feed the flanking LED screens. New features of WATCHOUT v5 enable live manipulation of content, so media objects can be positioned, rotated and moved in 3D in real time from external control systems, musical instruments, lighting consoles, mobile devices and sensors to control on-screen elements. Kraftwerk performed in early February at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in London. The band performed for eight nights, playing

one studio album in its entirety each night and combining the performances with visual backdrops, including interactive 3D projections and animation. “The members of Kraftwerk are known for their use of bold graphics and colors,” explains Fredrik Svahnberg, marketing director at Dataton. “They are using our technology to engage audiences. We’re looking forward to seeing Kraftwerk use the new 3D, interactive and dynamic media streaming

features of WATCHOUT in 2013 and beyond.”

online Read more about Kraftwerk at | 03.2013

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Michael B. Jordan (Oscar) and Ariana Neal (Tatiana) in Fruitvale

foTokem and spy coLLaBoraTe on Fruitvale


otoKem and SPY provided postproduction services for writer/director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, which received the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in January. Shot on Super 16 film, Fruitvale was processed and transferred at FotoKem in Burbank. Files were delivered to SPY’s headquarters in San Francisco, where colorist Chris Martin color graded the film with Coogler and cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

“Our color grade supported the quality of grain and tonal palette that the Super 16 format brought to the story,” explains Martin. “Specifically, we approached the process as if we were timing in a film laboratory, avoiding the feeling of a digital grade. Building in contrast and adding weight to the midtones, rather than overcooking the shadows and highlights, brought a very specific emotional element to the film.”

ThinkBreaTheLive Teams wiTh Beyoncé for super BowL


hinkBreatheLive (TBL) developed the visuals for Beyoncé’s Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, including an LED floor that displayed graphics with which Beyoncé interacted. During her performance of “Baby Boy,” the floor LED rose to form a backdrop that featured clones of Beyoncé, enabling the singer to perform with herself. TBL creative director/editor Andy Jennison explains, “Beyoncé wanted to create an interactive graphic experience marrying lights, choreography and video content. Similar to her Billboard Awards performance, she wanted to create the illusion of more than one Beyoncé on the stage. We worked very closely with her to achieve this vision.” Jennison’s team included VFX artist Ian Mayer, compositor Adam Yost and assistant editor Taylor Landesman.

Worlds Collide in BigStar’s Game of Thrones Promo


o promote the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, BigStar created a teaser that follows the show’s iconic three-eyed “raven of Westeros” as it travels through contemporary, real-world environments. BigStar re-created these locations with a combination of stock footage, still photography, 3D and compositing, relying on Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4D. “Reshooting the environments in CG ended up being a much more economical way to capture the scenes,” Norton explains. “It’s all-new photography and real places, which helped drive the concept of the mythical raven visiting our present-day world.” BigStar shot slow-motion footage of a raven on greenscreen using a Vision Research Phantom camera, then composited the bird into its various environments. Explains BigStar creative director Josh Norton, “The challenge was compositing the raven with the right orientation to make it look realistic and feel seamless transitioning between scenes.”

online Extended versions of these articles are available at

8 | 03.2013






Twitter Feed 4@FilmBudget Christine Vachon on the state of cinema — 4@kev_mon The making of “Waiting for Lightning,” recording and notes from seminar with Jacob Rosenberg — 4@LaFamiliaFilm Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. burn on “Side Effects,” their latest collaboration — 4@D_J_Paradise Quentin Tarantino and Robert Richardson behind the scenes, “Django Unchained” complete B-roll — 4@FastCompany The extreme filmmaking behind “Chasing Ice” — 4@LATimesEnt “Primer” director Shane Carruth in total control with “Upstream Color” — 4@bonniegrrl Stunningly beautiful short film of South African wildlife, “The Tracker & The Banker” by @PhilipBloom —

All of the vehicles in this shot are virtual.

ENcorE ENvisioNs virtual ENviroNmENts for Banshee


he Cinemax series Banshee begins with an elaborate rush-hour car chase that transitions to shots of the gun-toting villain chasing the lead character through traffic on foot. The production team used a minimal number of real vehicles in the shoot, relying on Encore’s visual effects team to construct the remainder of the vehicles and composite them into the final sequence. Encore VFX supervisor Armen Kevorkian previsualized the sequence using toy cars and

storyboards so that when the first unit got to the street, they could capture exactly the angles he’d worked out with director Greg Yaitanes. (The team covered the action with three ARRI Alexas.) Back at Encore, Kevorkian’s team of 3D artists built upwards of 60 cars and the tour bus using Autodesk 3ds Max. Encore’s tracking specialist used Andersson Technologies SynthEyes to track the 3D cars into the sequence, while the company’s 2D group used the Foundry’s Nuke for compositing.

4@CNET This video makes 360-degree bullet-time photography look easy and amazing — 4@SteadiOp All-4K music video uses the FT-ONE camera to shoot up to a mind-blowing 860 fps at 4096 x 2160 — 4@kevinshahinian A stunning South Asian wedding in Jamaica —

online Digital Video’s Twitter feed is at!/ DigitalVideomag


Framestore Weaves A Web for WikiLeaks Doc


ramestore New York created more than 35 minutes of effects for the Alex Gibney documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. The goal of Framestore’s artists was to create a technique by which footage and images could be broken apart and drawn together over time and within a dynamic 3D space, sometimes abstract and often legible

only from certain angles of view. “This served the narrative of the film well, bringing clarity to images and events by compiling a multitude of elements and evidence,” explains senior design director Marc Smith. “What would start as a seemingly random set of pixels would organically shift, twitch and grow to reveal an interconnected whole.” | 03.2013

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 

On the Creative Planet Network

4GooGle Chrome and disney

desiGn interaCtive Oz site

Brickyard HElps aNimals Talk BusiNEss for adoBE


rickyard VFX delivered animation services for Adobe’s “Animals,” a commercial directed by Tom Routson of Tool of North America that features animals engaged in a business discussion. The live action was shot using a real horse and an actor in a chimpanzee suit. Brickyard then digitally captured the heads of the chimpanzee and horse to extract

geometric and textural data. A team of modelers, character animators and compositors completed 3D animated face replacements to synchronize the animals’ mouths with the dialogue. VFX supervisor Mandy Sorenson color corrected the spot in Autodesk Lustre and composited the 3D facial components into the live action using Autodesk Flame.

Google and Disney jointly developed, an interactive web site that promotes the upcoming Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful. The site, a Google Chrome Experiment configured for Chrome browsers, was built with WebGL, CSS3 and other modern web standards. It takes users on a journey filled with tornados, hot air balloons and classic circus attractions.

4hundreds of Polaroids Come

to life for “dear someone”

Image Engine Accepts VFX Mission for Zero Dark Thirty


mage Engine provided more than 300 shots for director Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, with tasks that included creating the computer-generated stealth helicopters and augmenting the encampments with CG environments, soldiers, vehicles and effects. Much of the action takes place in almost pitch-black conditions, which provided one of the greatest challenges for the visual effects


crew. “It was a very important detail, to keep the film true to real events, but it also made it much more difficult to produce a convincing performance from the computer-generated elements,” says Chris Harvey, visual effects supervisor for the production. “This was achieved through nuanced look development and taking a creative approach to lighting each shot.”

The music video for Walker Lukens’ song “Dear Someone” uses hundreds of Polaroids to construct a stop-motion narrative, as photographed characters traverse the streets of New York. Directed by Tetsuo Kamata and shot by Sadaki Matsuda, the video uses Polaroid film from the Impossible Project, a Dutch collective of former Polaroid employees that develops and produces new instant film materials for traditional Polaroid cameras.

online Go online to read more and view additional images and video: | 03.2013



The Creation of Marco Brambilla’s Creation (Megaplex)


ideo artist Marco Brambilla’s newest 3D video installation, Creation (Megaplex), takes viewers on a spiraling journey of digital imagery. To realize Brambilla’s vision, Ntropic creative director Nate Robinson and his team developed a digital rotoscoping pipeline that could handle the enormous number of video clips—1,500 in all—that appear in the project. Robinson explains that Ntropic approached Creation (Megaplex) in sections to manage the volume of 3D elements effectively. “Nate and his team were able to deal with the immense challenges of

such a dense and complex work, while giving it a sense of fluid continuity throughout the process,” Brambilla says. Drawing from an array of pop cultural sources in order to re-contextualize century-old histories, Brambilla’s films challenge the standards of both art and film. The third in a trilogy of 3D videos that started with Civilization (Megaplex), 2008, and Evolution (Megaplex), 2010, Creation (Megaplex), 2012, is a spectacular cinematic composition that culls from a vast archive of iconic Hollywood films.

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3Turn Off The LighTs fOr gaspar nOé The pulsating video for Animal Collective’s “Applesauce,” directed by Gaspar Noé ((Enter the Void), is designed to be viewed in complete darkness “for maximum effect.” The video includes elements from Paul Sharits’ experimental short film “N:O:T:H:I:N:G” (1968).

audience deTermines The ending Of “many WOrLds” a Writer/director Alexis Kirke’s short film “Many Worlds” has four different endings. The ending a particular audience receives is determined by their physical response to the film. Before a screening, several members of the audience are fitted with sensors that detect their heart rate, brainwave activity, perspiration or muscle tension. As the film branches out at certain points, the path it takes is influenced by the reaction of the model audience members.

AlphaDogs Delivers Google’s “Zeitgeist 2012”

A martin freeman as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins

Hobbit WorkfloW DepenDs on sGo Mistika


ameron Harland, general manager of New Zealand’s Park Road Post, says that it took two and a half years to devise the work workflow for the 48 fps 3D feature The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Utilizing SGO’s Mistika platform as the hub of its large DI infrastructure, Park Road, in partnership with SGO, co-developed tools to span the post pipeline. “We wanted to create a complete pipeline based on one platform, from dailies work


and dailies screenings right through to final online, stereo and color grading,” says Park Road head of technology Phil Oatley. “Mistika provided a platform that was flexible and robust, gave us even greater speed than what is normally required for your average 2D 24 fps project, and was so good that the filmmakers never noticed that we were dealing with four times the data of a normal feature.”

lphaDogs provided postproduction services for Google’s “Zeitgeist 2012” video, a compilation of material that tells the story of 2012 as culled from Google Search results. The year-in-review video includes footage from a variety of camera types, all with different frame rates, resolutions and looks. Before AlphaDogs editor and colorist Sean Stack began the color correction process, source clips were converted into a common frame rate and resolution to play in a single timeline. Stack then scrutinized each clip, adding just the right amount of contrast and color saturation, enhancing images but making sure viewers would remain focused on the subject. “Directing the viewer’s attention becomes a critical task,” says Stack. “I worked to create a look with the color that would keep the audience focused, not missing a moment even when the editing pace becomes rapid.” The video is available at com/zeitgeist/2012/. | 03.2013


photo by casey mcnamara




Randall MaclowRy Director, Editor, Co-Producer American Experience: Silicon Valley

photo courtesy of intel corp.

photo courtesy of wayne miller/magnum photos


The Fairchild 8, who left the lab of Nobel Prize winner William Shockey to form Silicon Valley's first start-up, Fairchild Semiconductor. From left to right: Gordon Moore, C. Sheldon Roberts, Eugene Kleiner, Robert Noyce, Victor Grinich, Julius Blank, Jean Hoerni and Jay Last. 1960.


n 1957, a group of eight young scientists started their own transistor company, Fairchild Semiconductor. The company’s radical innovations helped make the United States a leader in space exploration at a time when competition with the Soviets was all-consuming. Co-founder Robert Noyce ran the new company and co-invented the integrated circuit, which would become an essential component of modern electronics. Told through the story of Noyce, who went on to found Intel, Silicon Valley premiered on PBS’ American Experience on Feb. 19. The film was directed and edited by Randall MacLowry of Film Posse. What was the vision for Silicon Valley? Randall MacLowry: Initially it was going to be more of a biographical film about Robert Noyce. As we got into the editing process, with feedback from producers at American Experience, it began to shift to focus more on the early, exciting years of Silicon Valley, with Noyce as the main character. We were looking at those events in a more detailed way and focusing less on Noyce’s life specifically. What cameras did you use for the present-day interviews? We used a Sony PMW-F3 with the Alura 18-80mm lens, the one built by ARRI for Alexa. We captured footage on the SxS cards that are internal for the F3, but we also output into a [Sound Devices] PIX 240 and laid down Avid DNxHD files as well. So simultaneously we were able to do backup and get a much better video quality by using the external video recorder. | 03.2013

Intel executives Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove standing over a mask design on 10th anniversary of Intel.

What was the process for shooting interviews in terms of style and technical choices? The interviews all went well. The problem was trying to figure out which was the best camera to work with. In particular, the lensing of the largerchip cameras can be an issue with the zoom. It is less complicated to film with primes. For the interviews, though, I wanted to have the flexibility of the zoom lens. We had this big, long lens on this little camera. It was a little daunting for our subjects, people who were not used to being interviewed, to have this big lens staring at them. The big decision for us was the look of the interviews. Upon collaboration with my DP, John Else, we went with an idea he had of extracted, backlit backdrops. We shot multiple interviews during the day in the same location. We would swap out backdrops or light them slightly differently with adjusted color temperatures so that every setup looked distinctive. That worked out well and had a really nice look. Where did the archival footage come from? Stanford University has a significant Silicon Valley archive and had some material relating to Robert Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor. Computer History Museum, also based in Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, has a wonderful collection. They had some recent donations of mostly still photos relating to Fairchild Semiconductor and were very helpful. Intel had acquired material from other aspects of Noyce’s life and were also very generous as a source for materials. dv


Brief Encounters “Untitled (Birth)� by Gregory Crewdson from the Beneath the Roses series

photo by gregory crewdson

Capturing the Cinematic Sensibility of Gregory Crewdson By Jennifer Wolfe


hot over the past decade by director and cinematographer Ben Shapiro, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters is a methodically rendered portrait of the acclaimed photographer’s work and process. Known for his meticulously composed, large-

scale images staged with crews that rival many feature film productions, Crewdson creates narratives of small-town American life inspired by the worlds of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Edward Hopper and Diane Arbus. Crewdson’s commercial work, including promos for the TV series Six Feet Under and album art for indie group Yo La Tengo, has helped the artist establish an aesthetic that is immediately recognizable within the popular culture landscape.


photo by cosi theodoli-braschi

Shapiro first encountered Crewdson in 2000 while producing a segment for EGG, a public television series about notable figures in the arts. Four years later Shapiro was tapped to shoot a cable arts channel profile on Crewdson, following which he began to plan a larger film based around the artist and his work. Given unprecedented access, Shapiro accompanied Crewdson from 2005 to 2009, focusing primarily on the creation of his celebrated Beneath the Roses series. The film made its premiere at Sundance in 2012, and won the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film at the Denver Film Festival in 2012. “From my point of view, the main thing that was fascinating about Crewdson was the sophistication of his process, the ambition and scale and attention to detail; the idea that you could take that amount of time and care, and the specificity of each individual component,” Shapiro says about what initially drew him to the project. “Imagine making a film where you have one setup—there’s no movement, no re-compositioning, just one actor in one position—and making that moment, that image, as perfect as possible. That was interesting to me as a filmmaker because, as a filmmaker, you never have a chance to do that.” Working as a one-man-band, Shapiro shot most of the material for Brief Encounters himself, as well as handling all of the audio. “You can track the progress of small-format video across the cameras I was using,” he laughs. “First was the Sony PD150 camcorder, followed by the Panasonic DVX100, which holds up remarkably well for an SD camera. At a later point I switched to HD, shooting with the Sony EX1R. There was also material shot on HDV, 8mm home movies and, of course, the photographs themselves, which were also used in the film.” For Shapiro, the main challenge became capturing the scale of Crewdson’s productions as they grew from the 10-12 people employed for the Twilight series to the 40-60 people used to complete Beneath the Roses. “His picture-taking is so elaborate—from the months of inventing and prep to all the components of the final shoot—that it was a challenge to find a way to cover it all,” Shapiro says. “Shooting as a single person, however, can make it easier to maneuver more quickly and nimbly. I had a mic on Crewdson the entire time so he was ready to shoot at any moment, and that took care of the sound issue. I also developed a sense of rhythm for how the day would go and who to follow during different parts of the day.”

Top: Setting up the shot for “Untitled (Birth)” Bottom: Gregory Crewdson (at left)

Shapiro worked closely with post house Glue Edit to integrate the various formats for the film, editing in Avid Media Composer and on the Avid DS system at the facility. “The files for Crewdson’s photographs were enormous, in the 7, 8 and 9 GB range,” he relates. “His archivist downsized the files so we could handle them for editing, because

it would have been too unwieldy otherwise. 150 MB was as big as Media Composer could handle— it didn’t crash; the files just wouldn’t load. So we used smaller versions for the edit and then replaced them with the larger, final files at Glue.” Noting that the SD footage shot in the early stages of the project would have to be resized to | 03.2013

photo by gregory crewdson

Above: “Untitled (Ophelia)” by Gregory Crewdson from the Twilight series Right: Gregory Crewdson at work (standing on ladder) on the set of “Untitled (Ophelia)” in a scene from Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

match the HD footage, Shapiro tried to plan ahead. “I actually shot the SD footage knowing I would do that, so none of the composition was lost,” he says. “I didn’t shoot it masked, but I did shoot it composed for 15:9.” “Crewdson refers to that transitional moment when you go from seeing the video of people on the set to the final, finished photograph. It’s an interesting moment, which reveals something about the power of image-making and the power of photography,” Shapiro concludes. “It was very rewarding to be a close witness to his work and to be able to document it myself.” dv | 03.2013



House of cards DAVID HEuRING

Power, Politics and Pixels How Eigil Bryld Envisioned House of Cards


ouse of Cards is Netflix’s bold, $100 million foray into episodic television production. Executives at the streaming video service saw a perfect opportunity to break into original programming, in part because executive producer David Fincher’s movies do well on Netflix, as do political thrillers in general. Netflix is breaking more new ground by releasing the entire 13-episode first season at once, an acknowledgment that viewing habits are changing. Fincher, known for directing feature films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, Zodiac and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, saw potential in the BBC series of the same name, and recruited writer Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) to reinvent the story of power and politics in an American milieu. Kevin Spacey, taking a break from his role as artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London, also came on board and served as catalyst and star. Netflix is planning to premiere other original shows this year, including Hemlock Grove, Orange Is the New Black and Derek, a Ricky Gervais comedy. But House of Cards is being billed as the first show made for Netflix. Fincher has been quoted as saying that the “hands-off” approach of the company reminds him of the 1970s studio environment he’d heard about in which filmmakers pitched an idea and were then allowed to follow through as they saw fit, without interference from standards and practices or number-crunching execs. “I wanted to create an environment where you go in, point at the left field wall, and swing as hard as you can,” Fincher told DGA Magazine. To handle cinematography duties in this endeavor, Fincher turned to Eigil Bryld, an Emmy nominee for Barry Levinson’s 2010 Kevorkian portrait You Don’t Know Jack. Bryld is a Danishborn, Welsh-educated cameraman whose other credits include In Bruges, Kinky Boots and Not Fade Away. Bryld shot 11 episodes of the first

20 | 03.2013

photo by melinda sue gordon for netflix

photo by melinda sue gordon for netflix

A behind-the-scenes shot from Netflix’s House of Cards that features Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara. Director of photography Eigil Bryld is pictured on the far left. photo by patrick harbron for netflix

Kevin Spacey in a scene from Netflix’s House of Cards | 03.2013

Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Michael Kelly in Netflix’s House of Cards


photo by patrick harbron for netflix


photo by patrick harbron for netflix

season of House of Cards, including the first two, which were directed by Fincher. There was not a pilot per se. A succession of directors that included Joel Schumacher, Carl Franklin and James Foley oversaw subsequent episodes. “Our initial conversations were very handson,” says Bryld. “David outlined an approach that included no zooms, no Steadicam and no handheld. Everything was to be very composed, and designed to communicate a sense of power and space. He wanted each frame and each composition to really grab the audience with its volume, gravity, drama and darkness.” In addition to the Baltimore-area locations, the production built a number of sets at a converted warehouse, including congressional office interiors, corridors, the Oval Office, and the Underwood residence, home of Spacey’s character. More than half of the show unfolds on these sets, which were designed to emphasize perspective and facilitate moving from room to room. The plan called for most scenes to be covered with two RED EPICs and ARRI/Zeiss Master Prime lenses—a versatile combination, according to Bryld. Ten days were scheduled for each episode, with three or four additional days of prep for the early installments. Lighting was to be generally simple. A custom camera van, designed to carry lenses, cameras and dollies, was parked near prelit location sets. Bryld’s goal was to be unloaded, set up and shooting within 30 minutes of arrival at a location. Existing lighting sources played an important role, with some specific additional fixtures. “The strategy was to devise setups where we could shoot very quickly and not spend time turning lighting setups around,” says Bryld. “The emphasis was on moving very quickly between sets, and being very lean, with the smallest possible crew. Most of our lighting approach was to take light away, and to manipulate what was there while keeping its shape and texture. We wanted to work at low light levels to get shallow depth of field, but also for practical reasons. The focus pullers really had to be on their game.” Blocking and coverage were crafted to be efficient and minimal. Both cameras were usually on dollies, one usually equipped with a Ravensclaw Talon remote head. “As we got better at it, we would often try to choreograph things around a wide shot that would become an over,” says Bryld. “Many scenes are done with two or three setups. We tried to plan so that we could use every single

Top: Director of photography Eigil Bryld on the set of Netflix’s House of Cards Bottom: Clockwise from top left: (standing) executive producer Beau Willimon, unit production manager Don Hug, executive producer John Melfi, (seated) director Carl Franklin and director of photography Eigil Bryld

frame of every setup. This also worked really well for the performances. Very often we would get all the coverage on an actor in one setup. That way, you can use a very specific performance. Because it doesn’t have to cut with a different take, it allowed the actors to give each take its own character, and

really explore.” Bryld worked without a DIT on set, setting the look in the camera as much as possible. He usually adjusted the camera and lighting to a base of about 4,000° K. He used 6:1 compression (Fincher often opts for 5:1) because it allowed the | 03.2013

photo by melinda sue gordon for netflix

Kate Mara and Kevin Spacey in a scene from Netflix’s House of Cards

use of secondary exposure, usually one stop under, which helped to achieve a more dramatic look. The aspect ratio was 2:1, and Netflix plans to present it in that format. Fincher graded all 13 episodes of season one himself, in part because Bryld was busy on the set.

we would gel that either a little paler or warmer. If it was a blue sky, we really worked the shadows a little cooler, almost like a naturalist approach. Most of the sets had fleece muslin ceilings. We put in fluorescent tubes in a mix of daylight and tungsten so we could play it a little cooler or warmer and

“The emphasis was on moving very quickly between sets, and being very lean, with the smallest possible crew. Most of our lighting approach was to take light away, and to manipulate what was there while keeping its shape and texture.” —Eigil Bryld, director of photography, House of Cards “We shot fairly cool,” says Bryld. “We didn’t want to have the magenta or heavy orange feel throughout. But I tried to build in a lot of subtle color and variations. If there was sunlight, we really tried to respect that. Depending on the time of year, | 03.2013

vary the intensity.” Spacey’s character has a smiling, public politician side, as well as a scheming, ambitious facet. He often moves into and out of light, creating a visual analog to his dual nature. Occasionally he

speaks directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall—a device that survived the transition from the original BBC House of Cards. Bryld says that the overall approach, depending on the situation, was to have slightly stronger highlights, with a more classic contrast and slightly warmer light. “We didn’t want it to be too managed,” he says. “The most important thing for us was to get drama, texture and strong composition. Obviously it has to look good, but it had to feel real as well. We would choose real over manicured or cosmetic. “It’s all those subtle things that add up and give it the drama and visual interest,” says Bryld. “I learned that on a project like this, you have to build a knowledge base. Then you keep moving it forward and adjusting, bringing a fresh eye to it all the time.” Bryld was recently named one of Variety’s “ten cinematographers to watch for in 2013.” House of Cards premiered on Netflix on Feb. 1. dv



Kroll Show


The ArT of The Mini-Movie Kroll Show Sketches Are Each Shot As Short Features


nown for his role as Ruxin in the FX comedy series The League, along with standup specials and roles on Community, Childrens Hospital, Parks and Recreation and Portlandia, Nick Kroll returned to Comedy Central in January as the creator/writer/star of the newly minted Kroll Show. A fresh take on sketch comedy, Kroll Show is executive produced and written by Kroll, John Levenstein (Arrested Development) and Portlandia’s Jonathan Krisel, who also directs the series. In an increasingly common distribution model, episodes from Kroll Show are available the day after broadcast on iTunes, Xbox and other digital platforms, even as Kroll mocks his online viewers as “completely useless.” Kroll’s characters also take on digital lives, as shown by the Pinterest account maintained by the Liz & Liz “PubLIZity” team (played by Kroll and Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate), the Bobby Bottleservice Twitter account and a Rich Dicks Instagram Tumblr (a parody of Rich Kids of Instagram), among others. Series DP Christian Sprenger, known for his parodies of Levis ads as well as his work on the Adult Swim series Eagleheart Eagleheart, combines an enormous appreciation for sketch comedy with the skills needed to reverse-engineer looks for shows that span reality, feature, commercial, music video and television series formats. “From a DP’s perspective, the amazing thing about this show is the 30-40 separate looks we had to develop,” Sprenger says. “We built this insane spreadsheet with the look reference for each sketch, breaking down lighting, color profiles, lenses, all of it. As you can imagine, that led to an unbelievable amount of equipment.” The production team employed a pair of RED EPIC cameras for the series, bolstered by Sony PMW-EX3 camcorders, GoPro HERO2s and Panasonic AG-HCK10 HD POV cameras. A


Nick Kroll as Aspen Bruckheimer | 03.2013

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Nick Kroll and Jon Daly as Aspen Bruckheimer and Wendy (Wendall Shawn IV), the show’s two “rich dicks.” Follow them on Tumblr: photo by greg gayne

Canon XF105 shot night vision footage for a Ghost Hunters-type parody. “This was an enormous undertaking,” Sprenger emphasizes. “I’ve worked on shows using only one camera package, one camera system, one frame rate, one set of lenses, one type of color look, and even that can be challenging.” With a schedule that allowed for just two and a half weeks of preproduction, Sprenger and his team found themselves scrambling to prepare for the dozens of looks and location shoots the script demanded. “Many of the director’s references were extremely specific—obscure, weird little things shot in PAL, you name it. Once we had the reference looks established, we would reverseengineer the various elements—frame rate, interlaced or progressive, zoom controllers or snap zooms—essentially creating a look bible for each sketch.” Working alongside DIT Chris Hoyle, Sprenger and his team took charge of keeping the production team in the loop about any given day’s schedule. “It was a fun show to work on because every day

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Liz & Liz: Bobby Bottleservice: akaBobbyB


Liz B. (Nick Kroll) and Liz G. (Jenny Slate) of the PubLIZity PR agency are two very different young publicists trying to have it all. photo by danny feld

was completely different from the day before it, or the day after, with a whole new set of rules that had to be applied to what you were shooting that day. It was an unbelievable experience,” he says. “It was amazing that our camera team was able to keep up with it, but it was also more than worth it. That level of technical realism adds so much, makes it funnier, and helps the exec producers achieve their vision.” “It’s a very interesting show,” Sprenger continues. “Not everything looks beautiful. There’s some really terrible looking stuff,” he laughs. “You have to look at it like it’s something bigger than you,” he explains. “It’s bigger than something always being beautiful, or always being lit perfectly, or always being in focus. You have to put all that aside and give the jokes room. You’re adding to the overall comedic effect if something feels more realistic.” A huge collaborative effort, Kroll Show is the result of painstaking effort combined with

Nick Kroll as Legs, a new kid who enters a high school filled with kids in wheelchairs and is branded as the outsider | 03.2013

photo by mike yarish

an obsessive eye for detail. “There was such an enormous amount of information floating around the camera department, it was like doing ten shows at once,” Sprenger says. “In narrative television, you set a look during the pilot and then, for better or worse, that’s the look you have to stick to. Showrunners can be very nervous about making those types of changes, and it can become a little grey or boring if you’re coming to work and

Nick Kroll as Fabrice Fabrice, the outlandish craft services coordinator

shooting the same exact thing every day, shooting the same close-ups with the same lens.” “In terms of skill set, this is the most exciting thing I’ve done in the camera department in a long time. At the end of the day, I’m really happy with how everything came out. I learned a ton, everyone learned a ton, and it was just a lot of fun. It was like doing a new television show every day.” dv

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Nick Kroll as Gil Faizon, one of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors

® | 03.2013


Put this On


ElEmEnts Of stylE Producing the Popular Web Series Put This On

photos by zac wolf

Benjamin Ahr Harrison prepares to shoot a segment for Put This On

Harrison with Canon DSLR


illed as a web series about dressing like a grownup, Put This On is the brainchild of series creators Jesse Thorn (@JesseThorn) and Adam Lisagor (@lonelysandwich). The show offers sartorial wisdom and guidance on men’s classic style with gentle wit, genuine knowledge and passion. As the writer and host of Put This On, Thorn lends his signature dandified style to the show, whose episodes are shot in Los Angeles, New York, London and Milan. Now in its second season, the series—and blog—came to life in late 2009 and quickly gained a dedicated following on iTunes and on the web, with episodes surpassing 100,000 views. Series editor and season two director Benjamin Ahr Harrison (@BenjaminAhr) is equally inspired by classic men’s fashion, although he insists he’s not as insightful as Thorn. Based in Brooklyn, the NYU film school graduate shot the documentary feature Kadi in Kenya last year, has directed numerous music videos and commercials, and is a contributor to the “Down and Dirty” filmmaking boot camp and book series. Shot primarily with a Canon EOS 7D, Put This On maintains a light footprint during production, requiring only a DP, producer and sound person. “It was a very lightweight production,” Harrison



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comments of the series’ second season. “We mostly used the 7D, although our second camera in Milan was a 5D. A couple of backpacks, standard Canon lenses, and even though we ended up using a 1x1-foot LED panel in London, we did our best to work with natural light. That light footprint and use of natural light is something Adam established from the first episode, and it’s definitely something we wanted to continue.” Harrison admits that travel for the series can be exhausting. “This series is a labor of love—there’s no payday for anyone involved,” he explains. “We’re shooting 14-hour days some of the time, and afterward you’re just sitting in your hotel room exhausted … and then you have to get up early the next morning and hop on an airplane.” As the series editor, Harrison was also tasked with transcoding footage following each day’s shoot, backing up material to portable hard drives using a 15” MacBook Pro. Editing took place on a 27” iMac using Apple Final Cut Pro, with motion graphics handled in Adobe After Effects. Harrison found it a challenge to transition from short-form projects to cutting 10- to 15-minute episodes. “When I do commercial spots or music videos, there are a lot of individual cuts, but optimally you only need to hold somebody’s | 03.2013

Production values start from the ground up, don’t compromise on camera support. Philip Bloom DP, Director, Filmmaker

photo by zac wolf

Put This On host Jesse Thorn

Thorn and crew (Harrison at far right)

attention for three and a half minutes,” he says. “But there are a lot of really valuable moments in those interviews,” he says of Put This On, “and sometimes it’s heartbreaking because you’ll have a solid hour-long interview that you’re cutting down into a five-minute segment, and you end up with reams of gold that you have to throw out.” While Harrison enjoys the low-light capabilities of HDSLR cameras, he finds that he misses features from more conventional video cameras. “For the past year I’ve been working on projects shot almost exclusively with DSLR cameras, and you can get a lot out of not much light,” he says. “But I did a job recently working as camera operator and was asked to shoot with the Panasonic AG-HVX200. I pulled my old HVX out of the closet and charged up the batteries and picked it up and I was like, ‘Man, it is so nice to shoot on a camera that’s actually designed for video.’ There are so many little things in the interface that I’ve never really appreciated before now. “I’m actually really curious to see how the 5D Mark III will solve a lot of these things,” Harrison continues. “I’ve heard it has much better audio, previewing options and all that. I’m a firm believer in recording audio on a separate medium, but in a pinch it’s kind of nice to be able to just plug a mic into the camera.” While a labor of love, Put This On achieves a level of quality that keeps viewers coming back for more. “Considering how much of a limited operation this is in terms of funding and body power, I think that we actually get away with putting together a pretty professional looking show,” Harrison concludes. “Adam Lisagor really set a high mark for the show and I was quite honored to step into his shoes. The look he established is terrific—a lot of composed shots and nice camera work with a distinctly different feel from most of the video you see on fashion blogs. The classiness of his aesthetic is very well suited to the show and I’ve done my best to continue in his tradition.” dv | 03.2013

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The AmericAns


cold WAr cinemATogrAphy Concealing and Revealing on FX’s Spy Drama The Americans

photo by craig blankenhorn/fx

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings


he Jennings have disagreements like so many other couples. Where should we live? Do we really understand each other? How should we raise the kids? But unlike most, they also have a Soviet double agent tied up in the trunk of the family Oldsmobile. This odd situation exemplifies the tone of FX’s new series The Americans. Set in the early 1980s as Cold War tension mounts and the threat of nuclear conflict


hangs over the world, KGB sleeper agents pose as ordinary Americans while secretly performing spy missions for Mother Russia. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell) are the two such agents at the heart of the series that plays off the combustibility of relationships, whether between a husband and wife or military superpowers. “The show is about people pretending

to be something they’re not,” notes series cinematographer Richard Rutkowski (Alan Caso shot the pilot). “Their role-playing in some ways mirrors what the two nations are doing while also commenting on a marriage.” He adds that these two characters were brought together for their mission by Soviet operatives, but they’ve lived together for nearly two decades and are bringing up a couple of children. “Is it a real marriage? What | 03.2013

photo by jeff neira/fx

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings

might we do in a marriage to make our spouses believe we’re thinking one thing when we might be thinking another? To me and to our writers, that part of the show has an even stronger pull than the guns and cars and spy gear.” Rutkowski shoots The Americans with ARRI Alexa cameras, generally two and sometimes a third, and records to the onboard SxS cards directly to ProRes 4444. He makes use of the ARRI Look Manager function by building about a dozen preset LUTs he can dial in on set so he and everyone involved can see the image very close to the way it will look in the final version, after post processing. “It lets me create very nuanced looks,” he says. “I preset color, contrast, skin tone, brightness falloff and overall gamma. We don’t use a DIT [digital imaging technician] on the show, but this lets me dial in a look and see in the eyepiece or a monitor a very good rendering of what the scene will look like. That way we can save the final color grading to fine-tune. Maybe a window is too hot or a performer’s face isn’t illuminated exactly the way we want and we can focus on that in post.” | 03.2013

Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

Rutkowski worked with show creator Joseph Weisberg, show runner Joe Fields, and Adam Arkin, who directed the first episode, to develop certain looks that hearken to the story’s time period. They discussed films such as the George Roy Hill adaptation of John le Carré’s The Little Drummer

“The show is about people pretending to be something they’re not. Their role-playing in some ways mirrors what the two nations are doing while also commenting on a marriage.” —Richard Rutkowski, director of photography, The Americans Girl and the Martin Scorsese dark comedy After Hours. “There are fewer cuts in those movies than a lot of what you see today,” Rutkowski observes. “There are a lot of scenes where characters move around from one place to another within a single

take. We do a lot of that kind of thing on the show.” The creatives also looked to still photographers from roughly that time period and aspects of their work that evoke the late ’70s/early ’80s without being overt about it. “I wanted to bring in a sense of the color scheme and the contrast of still photographers like Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld and Tina Barney.” While Rutkowski embraces the power of Alexa’s digital technology and the ability to represent elaborate, prebuilt looks on set, he also incorporates more traditional tools, including older optics and a full quiver of real glass filters, to help create a period look. “I think the older Zeiss Ultra Primes have a more organic, old fashioned filmmaking feel,” he says. “And we also carry an old 18-100 Cooke zoom that’s almost from the time period we’re portraying. It really lends character to shots. Everything that’s wrong with that lens is right for me!” He combines digital and optical effects frequently, such as in his approach to shooting day exteriors. “I’ll manipulate the white balance


Keri Russell and series cinematographer Richard Rutkowski

sometimes to 4,000° or even 3,000° K, which makes everything very cold and blue,” he says, “and then I’ll add [a Tiffen] Antique Suede filter in front of the lens to bring back some of the warmth. It helps give us the kind of look we’re after.” The cinematographer elaborates that he likes to include glass filtration in part because of its intrinsic imperfection in comparison to the digital technology he uses. “On the Alexa, every pixel is correctly rendered,” he explains. “You don’t have the vagaries of film stocks or the character you’d get in those days because the film would be processed in a bath and maybe the bath would change a little from day to day. This camera is consistent from the first moment of exposure to the final output, so I try to bring some inconsistency into play—maybe use some grad filters


or a little diffusion, polarizers, attenuators—adding something to the image to make it imperfect in a way that in the end looks right.” The Americans, like most basic cable series, is shot on a tight budget and schedule. The rapid-fire pace of seven shooting days per episode generally involves three days on stages at Eastern Effects in Brooklyn and four out and about in New York, which stands in for Washington, D.C., circa 1981. “That’s an ongoing practical struggle,” Rutkowski relates. “When we shoot on the streets, you have to protect yourself from shooting anything that gives away that we’re in New York in 2013. We stick to Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester mostly because it’s hard to avoid non-period things in Manhattan. In our sets we add important period details, but

we can’t break the bank just to get something cool from the era into the frame.” Rutkowski sums up the show’s approach to conveying the underlying theme of deception and volatility that permeates The Americans: “We shoot through things—a doorway or a group of objects— and place the character inside a frame within a frame. We also like to leave people low in frame and put a lot of headroom in the shot. That helps show their environment and represent their state of mind. The show revolves around two regimes that are distrustful of each other and have enormously powerful weaponry, and a marriage between two distrustful people who share a life and family. And we want to convey the sense that the bottom could drop out at any minute.” dv | 03.2013

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Mountain Men


Mountain Men Warm Springs Productions: Braving the Elements

photos by a+e networks/karolina wojtasik

Marty Meierotto

Tom Oar

Eustace Conway

Eustace Conway, Tom Oar and Marty Meierotto are the Mountain Men, who have devoted their lives to survival in its simplest form.


hris Richardson and Marc Pierce have grown Warm Springs Productions into a major provider of reality TV programming, including the popular Mountain Men for the History Channel and the Travel Channel’s Making Monsters. The company, which they opened in Missoula, Mont., in 2008, has developed a niche portraying adventurous outdoorsmen and their journeys sometimes way off the grid. For the partners and the crewmembers who regularly staff their shows, this isn’t merely their work, it’s a way of life. “All our crew are people we’ve worked with for years,” says Richardson, who was a freelance cameraman before founding Warm Springs. “We’re truly outdoors guys. [The crew] may not live like


the people in Mountain Men, but they hunt and fish. You can’t ask a cameraman from New York City to chase a mountain man up a hill while he’s hunting an elk. You’ve got to connect with the talent to understand hunting, wind, noise and everything else. All of the guys who work here, we say ‘We’re going to go on a deer hunt,’ and they know how to move, what clothing to wear and how to cover their scent.” Warm Springs is a complete production facility. In April the company will move from its 4,000 sq. ft. headquarters with six edit suites into a 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the art postproduction space. The new location features fiber connectivity, 17 edit suites (just migrated from Apple Final Cut Pro 7 to Avid Media Composer), a full Blackmagic DaVinci

Resolve setup, Facilis SAN and a significant collection of Mac Pros. Warm Springs is truly a turnkey operation. The company has been tapeless since the advent of Panasonic’s P2 technology. “I’d worked at companies where the hallways were just packed with rows of tapes. There was never enough storage area for anything else,” Richardson recalls. “When I was a freelance cameraman, I worked with every kind of camera available at the time and I had good experiences with all of them. But when I worked with the [Panasonic shoulder-mounted] AJ-HPX2000 on a shoot in Costa Rica, I saw that this tapeless camera was very reliable in very hot, humid conditions. I liked the images the camera gave me. It was clear that things were going toward | 03.2013

Warm Springs Productions’ Chris Richardson

tapeless workflows. So when we formed Warm Springs, we decided to invest in P2 cameras.” They started with two AJ-HPX2000s and two AG-HVX200s, along with 60 32 GB cards (at $1,500 apiece). “It was a huge commitment,” he says. “Eight months later the cards were half the price, but you can’t keep waiting or you’ll be waiting forever.” | 03.2013

Today, Warm Springs enjoys an assortment of AJ-HPX3100, AJ-HPX2000, AG-HPX370 and AG-HVX200A bodies and some AG-HCK10 POVCAM HD cameras that are employed as B-cameras and for specialty shooting. They call on a wide assortment of both Canon and Fujinon glass. “I’ve worked for companies that buy cheaper

equipment,” Richardson notes, “but in my experience, if you buy the best, it lasts longer and is more durable and does much better. The kind of outdoor television that we come from happens in extreme conditions. We use Sachtler tripods and Anton/Bauer batteries. If you’re going to be in the middle of nowhere and it’s 12 below zero, you have to be confident that you can get a smooth pan and that your batteries aren’t going to completely drain from the cold. All of our equipment gets beat to crap.” And so do the crews. A typical Mountain Men crew consists of a field producer, two camera operators, a sound person and a couple of production assistants. “Winter is the monster in the show,” Richardson says. “Episodes are shot mostly in extremely cold weather with high winds and sometimes heavy rain. You have to have cameras in the most difficult locations possible. That’s what we want to capture. And it’s not like you can wear big mittens and run a camera. You’ve got to be able to find iris and focus. “One thing we’ve been using a lot lately is a big, insulated PortaBrace case cover that lets you put your hands through a protective outer cover to get some warmth,” he elaborates. Since eight-episode seasons of Mountain Men generally involve capturing about 1,500 hours of 1080p/30 material, it’s important for crews to be well stocked with P2 cards during their adventures. Often they’re housed in motels or cabins some 40 or 50 miles from their subjects. “If you’re in a place with limited or no electricity, you need to be able to continue to roll even if you have no way to stop and download your cards. We decided early on to buy enough cards that the crew could shoot nine hours worth of material before they need to start downloading and reformatting cards,” Richardson says. “Wherever possible we have a PA who can devote his time to being a media manager—downloading media, backing it up, reformatting cards—so the cameramen can focus on shooting.” While Warm Springs continues to grow into a major content provider on par with companies located in much larger cities, the two principals have no interest in relocating. “Marc and I love it here,” says Richardson. “The tools that are available today allow us to do this anywhere we want. We can do the kind of work you can do in New York or L.A. but also enjoy the outdoors. We can ski, fish and hunt. We both love Montana and have no plans to leave.” dv



Warm Bodies

Your Basic ZomBie apocalYpse love storY LOOK Effects Creates Characters for Warm Bodies


photo by jonathan wenk


OOK Effects produced the visual effects for Summit Entertainment’s Warm Bodies, which opened in theaters on Feb. 1. Based on the book of the same name written by Isaac Marion, the film was directed and scripted by Jonathan Levine and stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. This zombie movie slash romantic comedy blends elements of horror, teen angst, humor and the power of love thanks to visual effects crafted by the team at LOOK Effects. Over a period of approximately 10 months LOOK opened a Vancouver facility, built a team of about 45, structured a character animation and visual effects pipeline and produced approximately 350 shots. Work included extensive character animation on “the Boneys,” an evolved form of zombie that plagues humanity, and the creation of a fully digital city in which the action takes place. “This was a very exciting project for us,” says visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker. “We worked extremely closely with Jonathan from the very beginning. He knew what he wanted but also gave us great latitude to create the look, feel and motion of the Boneys. These are the projects we enjoy the most—getting to be part of the creative team. And the character work we did was a big step forward for LOOK. I was very proud sitting in the audience at the premiere last week.” dv

Nicholas Hoult as R | 03.2013

camera support Buyer’s guide



Flashpoint Video accessories

ProfessionAl results on A Hobbyist's budget Flashpoint 7” tFt lCD FielD Monitor, aspeCt ratio 16:9, 1024x600 resolution, hDMi input

the Flashpoint compact, lightweight seven-inch field monitor is the perfect companion for your video-capable dslr or hd camcorder, with advanced features and performance besting others in this category at significantly lower cost. offering five times the image size of a typical three-inch on-camera lcd, plus impressive (1024x600 pixel) native resolution, the Flashpoint enables extra precise focusing and framing. it is augmented by two special features: peaking, which highlights in-focus edge detail, and 1:1 pixel mapping showing a magnified view at the camera’s actual pixel resolution. the monitor offers a native 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio that’s ideal for shooting in hd or Full hd with instant switching between black-bordered and fullscreen display and can be set to border 4:3 when needed. With 250 cd/m2 brightness and an exceptional 800:1 contrast ratio, the ledbacklit display delivers rich, highly accurate color. and, its wide viewing angle (160° horizontal and 150° vertical) means everyone on your shoot can see the live image clearly from wherever they’re standing. this highly configurable monitor features nine led-illuminated buttons including four with assignable functions, enabling one-touch operation and intuitive onscreen menu navigation.


the Flashpoint monitor kit also has a headphone jack, a small mono speaker, a three-way power switch, and three 1/4-inch accessory/ tripod bushings. the kit comes with a foldable, clip-on sun-hood that doubles as a screen protector; a mini ball-head shoe-mount bracket for flexible camera-top positioning; a snap-on battery plate (battery optional); an ac power adapter; and an hdmi camera cable. Key Features • Seven-inch widescreen LCD with hd-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio • Lightweight, compact design is perfect for dslrs • high-resolution display delivers 1024x600 pixels (native) up to 1920x1080 • Wide viewing angle helps your whole crew watch the action • 1:1 pixel mapping shows magnified detail at camera-original resolution • Edge peaking enhances critical focusing • False-color, zebra and histogram functions aid exposure adjustment • Folding, clip-on sun-hood doubles as screen protector • HDMI input • High contrast ratio (800:1) plus vivid, accurate color reproduction • Nine LED-illuminated pushbuttons include four with user-programmable functions • Extensive configurability via easily navigable onscreen menus • User-selectable Kelvin white balance presets and RGB channel adjustment • Five selectable image-crop markers (80 to 95 percent coverage) • Built-in speaker (mono) plus headphone jack • Removable battery (optional) plus 12V DC input from plug-in AC adapter • Three 1/4-inch accessory/tripod bushings (left, right and bottom) Optional Accessories: Battery plate du21—Battery plate Qm91d—li-ion Battery—Vesa 75mm rail-mount slot | 03.2013


Visit to purchase and learn more about Flashpoint products.

Flashpoint ZeroGraV Flashpoint ZeroGrav is the best of gimbal-based camera stabilization systems that diverts the weight of equipment from handheld to a vest body brace that links a dynamic spring-powered arm supporting a gimbaled carbon fiber wonder monopod. All of the action and movement is controlled by a sophisticated blend of levers, springs, counterbalance weights and concentric ring connections that any user can master in a simple setup. The body vest serves as a brace for the positive locking arm that is mated with the camera stabilizer. The first element of the Flashpoint ZeroGrav system is a completely adjustable and customizable vest to various heights and physiques. The self-locking closure safely enwraps the user and is manufactured from a magnesium alloy body plate. Shifting of weight distribution is eliminated with extra foam padded shoulder, waist and torso Velcro closures that surround the wearer. Precisionfashioned sockets are situated on the belt section to provide a link to the next element, the articulated boom arm. The arm imitates human flexibility and alleviates the cumbersome load

that high-end DSLR cameras and video devices present. Precision bearings at every joint swivel the link sections with degrees of motion control. The adjusting knob is critically placed to arrest unwanted drag due to unsteady handling. The corresponding link pin for the handheld stabilizer grip fits exactly into the handle recess. The final essential part is the height-adjusting balance stabilizer. The camera is attached directly to the platform or by means of a quick release adapter. Positive locking levers, micrometer-geared adjusting knobs on clearly marked calibration scale, provide infinite north-south, east-west settings for the slightest changes in equipment weight. Setup is simplified by fitting the socket port in the handle onto a standard diameter light stand and discovering true balance without touching the assembly. The stabilizer length creates fulcrum antiswing and limits the need for additional disk weights. No room for error, your shot is stable no matter the challenging motion and assured to astound the most demanding director.

Flashpoint hD ViDeo pro supreme Designed for shooting professional-quality video with HD DSLRs and video camcorders, our full-scale modular rig sets a new standard for features and price. The Flashpoint HD Video Pro Supreme is supplied with several components that are ordinarily sold as separate, costly accessories, yet which are | 03.2013

needed for full functionality. These include an adjustable, padded shoulder mount; double, soft-rubber handgrips; and fine follow-focus knob and gearing, all essential for handheld shooting with a unit of this size and weight. In fact, you will ordinarily pay at least twice as much to configure the same outfit with other systems. The Flashpoint HD Video Pro Supreme’s follow-focus knob and mechanism (ordinarily sold separately as the Flashpoint Follow Focus Pro) feature hard stops for precise, continuous focus adjustments. Its shoulder mount has a foldup rear extension that can support counterweights or a battery pack. Its swingaway matte box incorporates side flaps for extra light and flare control, usually a deluxe feature. Dual filter slots accept industry-standard glass filters, such as important neutral density types, while a sliding, adjustable DSLR/camcorder baseplate and tripod mount leave all shooting options open. This exceptional, feature-rich DSLR video rig is built around complete, industrystandard 15mm rod configurations that require no additions. This sophisticated system allows versatile positioning of key parts. Key Features: • Complete, rigid industry-standard 15mm rod assembly • Swing-away matte box for easy swapping out of lenses • Swinging top and side flaps on matte box, for light and flare control • Two slots for industry-standard filters • Fine follow-focus system with oversized knob and hard stops • Sliding baseplate with 1/4-20 and 3/8 tripod screws; tripod mount • Soft, rubberized dual handle grips for comfortable handheld shooting • Soft, rubberized top grip for carrying and low-angle shooting




InternAtIOnAl SupplIeS preSentS

A One-WOmAn ShOW

Videographer Kristen Jensen taKes on tanzania with the help of two new rigs

Videographer Kristen Jensen

In light of shrinking production budgets, it is common to hear of three- or even two-man crews, but lifestyle photographer and videographer Kristen Jensen recently took to Africa to shoot a short documentary for Build Tanzanian Family Futures, a non-profit organization that supports the illiterate and poor families and children of Northern Tanzania. She had no crew. It was just her, a Canon EOS 7D, some equipment, and a couple of new rigs, which she had the opportunity to test during her two-week shoot.

The Ready Rig Challenge Because she had to interview people while also shooting, it was critical that she be self-sufficient, so she chose to bring along the Ready Rig, an upper body mounted camera support system to help her handle it all. “The great thing about the Ready Rig is that you can shoot with the camera, lighting, sound and monitor on one rig. You are pretty much a one-man show. You can be the cameraman, the producer, the gaffer, the lighting guy, sound guy and assistant all at once.” Jensen shot with the Ready Rig for the first five days of the trip. On it, she mounted the following: • Canon EOS 7D • 24-70 f/2.8 lens • Lilliput 5” monitor


• Ledgo LED light (color temperature 3,200° K - 7,500° K) • Zoom Handy Recorder H4n • Audio-Technica lavalier mic “I shot all day long and did not get tired because the way the Ready Rig is designed, the weight is evenly distributed, and its unique vest design makes it very comfortable to use. “The Ready Rig also provides so much flexibility, range and freedom in the field. I can lock focus, look at the person I’m interviewing, and actually have an engaging conversation, which you typically cannot do without having the help of a crew. But with the Ready Rig, I can adjust my lighting while I’m talking. I can even experiment with different angles. All in all, it gave me much more confidence in being able to shoot all by myself.” That said, when it came to trekking and flying from village to village all across Tanzania, the Ready Rig was much too cumbersome for the task.

ShooTing wiTh The dougmon

visiting different tribes because she said that it was unobtrusive and much less intimidating than the Ready Rig. According to Jensen, most people in Tanzania, especially in the remote villages, are not comfortable with people filming them, but the Dougmon was so inconspicuous, they didn’t think much of it. “The Dougmon is far and away one of the best handheld support rigs I’ve ever tried. It really felt like an extension of my own hand.” The Dougmon is designed to support up to 7 lb. in weight, so Jensen used the following equipment with the Dougmon: • Canon EOS7D • 24-70 f/2.8 lens • Zoom Handy Recorder H4n • Audio-Technica lavalier mic • Slingmon The Slingmon is a support sling that allows for two-handed operation of the camera, for use with slightly heavier cameras. “When used with the Slingmon, I was also able to set the Dougmon up as a monopod, rest it in the sling, and go from shooting video straight to stills. It was extremely versatile in the field and allowed me to do much more than I thought I would be able to with such a small rig. I would definitely recommend the Dougmon for shooting news, documentaries, weddings and other events that require guerilla-style shooting.”

For the second half of the trip, Jensen was travelling seven hours a day for seven days, so she wasn’t able to bring all of her equipment, but she did bring the new Dougmon handheld rig. “What I loved about the Dougmon is that it is so compact, quick and easy that I can have it on my lap, jump out of a plane and start using it right away. It’s very intuitive based on how your hand actually works. It has a support bar that goes along the inside of your arm. You grip the handle, and with a slight turn of the wrists, I can make it turn left, right, and even do circular motions. Plus, the Dougmon has a quick release button so you can get out of it quickly if needed, which is ideal when you are moving from location to location.” Jensen preferred using the Dougmon while traveling Kristen Jensen shooting an interview with the ready rig from village to village and | 03.2013


Dougmon Rig ShootS foR function & flexibility Cameraman/Inventor Doug monroe Calls It HIs swIss utIlIty KnIfe of HanDHelD rIgs The Dougmon is the brainchild of 30-year veteran cameraman Doug Monroe, who specializes in documentary and reality television shooting and is the current DP on the TLC show Sister Wives. After ten years of research development and a string of prototypes, he developed a rig for small video cameras and DSLRs that actually mimics how the hand, wrist and arm work together so operators can have the flexibility and support they need to easily produce smooth and steady shots, while also reducing hand and arm fatigue. The camera sits on a patented adjustable friction ball head system that, when held in the center of the palm, imitates the movement of the wrist, so users can twist slightly to the right or left or up or down. The arm of the Dougmon adjusts to fit the length of the user’s arm, and

a padded cuff with adjustable straps secures it in place. “I like to call the Dougmon the Swiss utility knife of handheld camera support systems because it is simple yet functional,” says Monroe. “The Dougmon allows the camera to go wherever the user’s hand or arm goes, so there is a higher range of motion. Users can shoot high, low, over the shoulder, or even use it as a monopod.” Used with the Slingmon, a support sling Monroe designed for the Dougmon, users can set up the rig into monopod mode and then use both hands to operate the camera. The Dougmon weighs 28.5 oz., supports cameras up to 7 lb. and comes with a Manfrotto 577 style quick release head. Street price for the Dougmon is $530, while the Slingmon, which is sold separately, costs around $200.

Inventor/Cameraman Doug monroe with the Dougmon

fatheR & Son cinematogRapheRS builD ReaDy Rig togetheR

from Bungee CorDs anD Car seat Belts to an upper BoDy Camera support system alessandro Di leo with the ready rig he and his father developed | 03.2013

Veteran cinematographer and director Mario Di Leo, whose credits include shows such as Miami Vice, Baywatch and The Untouchables, came up with the idea for an upper body mounted camera support rig trying to shoot on a boat. His shoulder rig could not capture the handheld shots he envisioned, so he made a rig out of a car seat belt, bungee cords and pieces of aluminum. Not only did it work, but his son, Alessandro, also a filmmaker, eventually decided to further develop his father’s idea and take it to the next level. Together they created what is now known as the Ready Rig. The Ready Rig is composed of two adjustable sliding rods attached to a spring-loaded back support, a camera mount with an almost 180° tilt head and hand grips, monitor and accessory mounts, and an adjustable corset that distributes all of the camera’s weight evenly over the user’s upper body. It balances and completely eliminates camera weight, while offering users

total hands-free operation of the camera. It allows users to quickly adjust a camera’s positioning, while still ensuring smooth and stable footage. Users can switch angles instantaneously, push out or pull in, drop low, shoot high, pan from left to right, tilt and rotate, and even pull focus and zoom simultaneously, while the camera stays centered and balanced. The Ready Rig can support up to 17 lb. and is designed for use with both HDV and DSLR cameras. It is made of high strength aluminum, weighs 10 lb. and can be assembled in less than two minutes. All Ready Rig products and parts come with for more information about a one-year the Dougmon and/or the ready rig, please contact: w a r r a n t y. International supplies Street price (800) 999-1984 is $1,999.99.







BroadcaSt feel performance for videographerS The Ace M tripod system is made especially for videographers and DSLR filmmakers. With a payload of up to 8.8 pounds, it is ideal for smaller HDV camcorders and video-enabled DSLR cameras. Ergonomically designed, this lightweight system is both compact and durable and offers an intuitive Sachtler feel. The new, patented SA drag™ guarantees the familiar Sachtler accuracy and repeatability at an astonishing price/performance ratio. The system’s 5-step counterbalance makes the camera setup fast and simple. Plus it has a tilt range of +90° to -75°. Built using a glass fiber reinforced composite material, this 75mm fluid head is especially light and offers a comfortable and non-slip surface feel. Users appreciate Sachtler’s absolute dependability, easy operation and smart features, including the long 104mm sliding range of the camera plate.

What they Say about the Sachtler ace M lEanna crEEl, filmmakEr “The Sachtler Ace is the right size for the Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs that I use. While doing a video for The Restaurant at Meadowood’s website, we shot in vari-ous gardens, the busy kitchen and other unique but often small areas. The Ace allowed me to carry my camera into these locations and the wild areas around Napa in a run-and-gun style of documentary action. I set up quickly and could get in almost anywhere. I love the head’s ability to tilt down 90 degrees and shoot from other creative angles. When we’re done with one shot, it’s easy to slide the Ace into its bag and set off for the next location.” drag, and the tripod gave us additional stability on medium-tight shots. The SA drag system, which has three horizontal and three vertical steps plus zero, makes it easy to use. At times we had the Ace fully extended using the mid-level spreader, which provided additional support in keeping the camera locked down solidly while people were whizzing by on both sides of us.”

elam Stoltzfus

Elam StoltzfuS, DocumEntary anD ViDEo ProDucEr “My gear has to be able to stand up to the elements of environmental stress and endurance to capture the images in the wilds of Florida. The Ace M is lightweight, easy to set up and a solid support for the smaller Sony FS100 and other cameras I use. The combination works well in outdoor locations and transports well in traveling situations. Our PBS shoot required that I put the Sachtler Ace in a variety of challenging situations, including mounting it on our kayak. I was able to fasten it quickly, a great advantage, because we were constantly moving. We needed efficiency and endurance. I always get that with Sachtler.”


camera operator andrew Meyers

GrEG roDEn, ProDucEr/DirEctor Food Forward tV “Often we use a skeleton crew to get into difficult places to shoot. Along with a cinematographer and a Sony EX3 or Canon 5D, I’m able to sling the Sachtler Ace M over my shoulder and head out. Recently on a crowded morning train we set the Ace M to zero

Greg roden | 03.2013




Delivering news In the Field with JVC’s GY-HM650U ProHD Camera

 Quick Take Product: JVC GY-HM650u

Pros: easy-to-use camera.

With fierce competition among news teams, the first crew to get the story on the air wins the prize. JVC’s recently introduced GY-HM650U allows field shooters to capture high-definition footage and wirelessly send the video files to an FTP site anywhere in the world—saving expensive satellite transmission costs and enabling the crew to move on to the next location more quickly.

even easier to send footage wirelessly to an FtP site.

Cons: signal inaccessibility in remote areas.

Bottom Line: there is no better or faster way to get footage from a remote location than with the GY-HM650u.

MSRP: $5,995 Online:


video Excellence Award

JVC GY-HM650u GY-HM650u

Features The JVC GY-HM650U features three 1920 x 1080 1/3” CMOS sensors behind an extremely long 23x (29-667mm) Fujinon zoom lens (with an actual iris ring, a three-position neutral density filter, optical


image stabilization, and myriad zoom functions and speed options). The camera’s 3.5” LCD screen is sharp at 920,000 pixels. The 0.45” LCOS color viewfinder is handy in bright shooting conditions. The camera’s dual SDHC/SDXC memory card

slots allows footage to be recorded either to both cards simultaneously or in relay for extended continuous recording. Dual codec functionality enables recording in two different resolutions (HD/SD or HD/480 x 270) to separate memory | 03.2013

Camera outfitted with LTe modem

cards simultaneously. There are several options for encoding your footage, ranging from SD H.264 to HD XDCAM EX at 24p/30p/50i/60i or AVCHD at 50i or 60i. Camera outputs abound, with a choice of BNCs for HD/SD-SDI, an AV mini-plug, and HDMI, auxiliary and headphone jacks. Two-channel XLR inputs and an internal microphone balance out the audio inputs. This function-laden camera offers six user presets, menu control options (which are mirrored on the LCD screen), and a power switch and mode button. In addition to accommodating the versatile SSL-JVC50 4900 mAh lithium ion battery, the rear of the camera houses the most incredible feature of the unit: the USB host connectivity port. Once footage has been recorded, thumbnail icons may be selected to send footage to an FTP site. With a Wi-Fi or broadband dongle attached to the port, files may be uploaded to a remote FTP site using Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connectivity. (The Wi-Fi adapter is included with the camera.) A status bar will show the progress of file upload. | 03.2013

In Use I got my hands on one of the first GY-HM650U cameras available and put it to the test in connection with student field reporting for the campus TV station at our university here in Center Valley, Pa. Not having access to a microwave or satellite truck (or the budget for one), we would

time than preparing the camera for the shoot. With a Hoodman Corp. LCD shade on the flip-out LCD screen, we were able to focus the camera on the fog-shrouded action. Not all that many years ago I would have never attempted a shoot in such unpleasant conditions; with JVC’s technology, however, the inclement weather did not wash out

Dual codec functionality enables recording in two different resolutions (HD/SD or HD/480 x 270) to separate memory cards simultaneously.

test how well the camera delivered on its promise of wireless network connectivity. On a damp and cold December afternoon, with a wind chill of 30° F, we recorded footage in the MPEG-2 (60i) mode onto a 16 GB SDHC card. Getting the tripod set up and leveled took more

any detail in the picture. Once we finished shooting several takes of the action, it was just a matter of pressing the “source” button to switch the camera to playback mode. (File transfer is possible only in media mode. It is not possible in camera mode, meaning that


file transfer is not possible during shooting.) We selected three of the best takes and highlighted the thumbnails of each. With a Verizon 4G LTE adapter plugged into the camera’s host terminal, we selected our FTP site from the list that was displayed on the LCD screen. On campus, 4G access is spotty and we usually had to rely on 3G. Even so, the footage was on our FTP site for access by our editor in less than a minute. In this particular situation we could have driven the mile to our editing location and delivered the files directly, but we had several more shooting locations ahead of us and sending the footage wirelessly to the edit bay streamlined our production process. You can just imagine the possibilities in a fastbreaking news scenario. Once a news crew shoots at a location, footage can be delivered very quickly to an FTP site for immediate editing. This feat is in itself amazing. When you add the considerations of time saved (if your news crew is first on the

There really are no negatives associated with this camera. It’s comfortable to use, it has all the features you need, and the technology for wireless transmission is solid. scene, their story can be wirelessly transmitted for editing and on the air in moments) and money saved (there’s no longer a requirement for a sat or microwave truck, and no bill for satellite air time), the whole experience really boggles the mind. Now HD footage can be sent wirelessly from just about anywhere. There really are no negatives associated with this camera. It’s comfortable to use, it has all the features you need, and the technology for wireless transmission is solid.

Summary If you need to transport pristine standard- or highdefinition footage from your camera to another location quickly and inexpensively, no other camera makes it possible so conveniently. Even if you have limited need for remote access to an FTP site, knowing you can do it takes a lot of the pressure off the remote crew, and you still have excellent footage captured with JVC technology. dv

46 | 03.2013


Sony Creative Sound Forge Pro MaC 1.0

Oliver PeterS

now Made For your MaC Audio Capabilities Expand with Introduction of Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0


Quick Take

Product: Sony Creative Software Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0 Pros: High-quality audio recording and

editing. Includes iZotope audio mastering plug-ins. Support for AU and VST filters.

Cons: Limited video file support. No JKL transport controls or audible scrubbing. Lacks spectral waveform analysis and CD burning tools. Bottom Line: Top-of-the-line file-

based audio editor comes to the Mac platform.

MSRP: $299.95 packaged / $269.95 download Online: www.sonycreativesoftware. com/soundforgepromac


Sony Creative Software is home for an innovative set of audio and video editing and mixing tools originally developed by Sonic Foundry. including vegas Pro (video editing), ACiD (music creation) and Sound Forge (audio editing), these applications have traditionally been tightly integrated with the Windows operating system. On the other side of the fence, Mac OS has enjoyed a wide range of creative tools, especially with regard to audio production and post. Until recently BiAS Peak had been the go-to two-track audio editor and mastering tool for Mac-based audio engineers, but the company has apparently withdrawn from the market, leaving an opening for new blood. enter Sony Creative Software’s Sound Forge Pro for the Mac. Sound Forge has been the tool of choice for Windows-based audio production and now Sony has made a strong entry into the Mac creative universe. Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0

is a comprehensive tool for audio analysis, recording, editing, processing and mastering. Although it is thought of as a two-track editor, it can deal with multichannel files with as many as | 03.2013

Sound Forge Pro Mac sports a clean, configurable interface and support for real-time audio effects, including the iZotope mastering filters and other AU and VST plug-ins.

32 embedded channels, sample rates up to 192kHz and bit depths up to 64-bit float. Since most users are going to be limited by their I/O hardware, they

will likely work with 24-bit, 48kHz stereo files. To be clear, it’s designed to edit and master single files and is not a multitrack digital audio workstation

application for mixing. Sound Forge can be used as a recording application if you have an input device on your system, such as the Avid/Digidesign Mbox2 Mini that I use. Sound Forge sports a clean user interface that will appeal to the professional. It might look a tad spartan to some, since it bucks the current trend of dark, dimensional interfaces. In other words, it’s devoid of unnecessary “chrome.” Operation is very easy to learn thanks to a tabbed window layout, easy-to-understand controls and menus, and a good user guide. Sound Forge Pro Mac comes with a set of Sony plug-ins, as well as the iZotope mastering suite filters. In addition, Sound Forge will support many third-party VST and Mac Audio Units plug-ins. I have a set of Focusrite Scarlett filters, the Waves OneKnob Series and Waves Vocal Rider plug-ins installed on my Mac Pro, which all show up and work properly within Sound Forge. The iZotope set is superb, so for pristine audio quality, Sound Forge is as good as it gets. I applied a Declicker noise reduction filter to an old recording from a vinyl LP. This filter did one of the best jobs I’ve heard to reduce or remove the

Left: iZotope mastering plug-ins included Above: Region exports in a variety of audio formats

record’s pops and clicks without adding negative artifacts to the file. Audio filters can be applied as a processing step—meaning the filter is set and previewed and then applied to alter the file. Sound Forge also includes a real-time plug-in chain. Stack up a series of filters in the chain window and tweak the adjustments. The order can be changed and the stack may be saved as a preset for later use. Simply listen to the file in real time with the filter chain applied. If you like the result, apply these settings

way is to add a specific volume filter, where you apply any audio keyframe adjustments. Another way is to create an event (a section of timeline) and drag the volume level up or down. The audio editing tools are quite simplified. Select a range you want to remove, hit the delete key and you’ve made the edit. There’s even an edit preview function so you can hear what the edit will sound like before committing. To add space, insert silence. This methodology is a bit foreign to video editors used to the way NLEs handle audio tracks.

into regions for each song on that LP side. These would finally be exported as separate regions, resulting in a new digital file for each song. There are some missing elements in this 1.0 version. For example, Sound Forge doesn’t recognize most video files. I was able to open the audio track from an .mp4 file, but not a QuickTime movie. There is no JKL transport control and no scrubbing. You can loop playback, but you cannot shuttle through the track with the mouse and hear either an analog or digital-style scrubbing sound.

Audio filters can be applied as a processing step—meaning the filter is set and previewed and then applied to alter the file. Sound Forge also includes a real-time plug-in chain. Stack up a series of filters in the chain window and tweak the adjustments. The order can be changed and the stack may be saved as a preset for later use. in a “save as” function and the file will be rendered in a faster-than-real-time “bounce.” Some filters, like élastique Timestretch, can be applied only as an effects process and won’t function as part of a real-time plug-in chain. As an editing tool, Sound Forge lets the editor get down to the sample level. You can redraw waveforms with a pen tool in addition to the usual keyframed changes to parameters like the volume envelope. Unlike other audio editors, where volume and pan are part of the basic track window, Sound Forge gives you several ways to adjust volume. One


Once you make an edit in Sound Forge this way, there’s no segment in the track or cut marks on the clip indicating where the edit has been made. If you split the track into events, however, then track segments appear more familiar and you have the ability to trim, edit, slip clip segments and add crossfades at overlaps. You can also mark up the file into regions, which may be separately exported. In the example I cited earlier of the old vinyl LP, I recorded each complete side as a single audio file. After audio cleanup in Sound Forge, the file would be broken

It’s real-time playback or nothing. The application is a good file conversion utility. If you need to generate high-quality .mp3 files for clients, Sound Forge is definitely useful. Unfortunately there’s no batch conversion function. Another curious omission for an audio-centric tool is the lack of CD track layout and burning tools. I realize that we work in a file-based world, but when Adobe dropped the same tools from Audition, they ended up having to add them back in Creative Suite 6. Obviously users still feel that there’s a need for this feature. | 03.2013

iZotope plug-ins include a sophisticated multiband compressor

Audio engineers and mixers can see the obvious benefit to another great audio tool for the Mac—especially with the demise of BIAS Peak and the end-of-life of Apple’s Soundtrack Pro. For video editors, it might be a bit more questionable. I find Sound Forge Pro to be a solid tool when you need to focus on audio-only tasks, like dialogue cleanup,

Audio editing within tracks and adjustable crossfades

noise reduction and voiceover recordings. Clients often request radio versions of the TV commercials I edit. Here again, working in a tool that’s optimized for the task is the right way to go. The lack of video support is a wrinkle, but it’s easy enough to export a .wav or .aif file from most NLEs. Then open that file in Sound Forge and work your magic.

Sony’s Sound Forge Pro Mac 1.0 is a solid first step to bring this application to Mac users. I haven’t had any hiccups with it, despite the fact that it’s a 1.0 product. If Sony expands on some of the missing items, this will become the go-to professional audio tool for Mac users, just as it is for Windows. dv


Cine Meter


exposure explanations Experimenting with Adam Wilt’s Cine Meter App

During an open house for the new Global Cinematography Institute, at which I am a teacher, a potential student asked me if I had seen the new iApp from Pro Video Coalition writer and former Digital Video contributor Adam Wilt called Cine Meter. This app combines a light meter, a waveform scope and a false color display to aid in exposure choices. I had not yet seen the app, but I downloaded it immediately and began experimenting with it.

 Quick Take Product: Adam Wilt Cine Meter

Pros: A powerful, professional tool with a great deal of flexibility and utility.

Cons: It does not perform as one would expect it to. Requires detailed understanding of the limitations of iDevices to understand how this application works. This one, folks, you have to RTFM.

Bottom Line: Professional, well thought out and, once you understand it, very useful.

MSRP: $4.99 Online: www.adamwilt. com/cinemeter


The primary interface for Cine Meter. The image on the left is from my iPhone’s camera of the Gamma-2U calibration chart from Gamma & Density. On the right is the app’s waveform. Exposure readings are below the camera image on the left.

Similar to my experience with NuWaste Studios’ Pocket Light Meter (which I reviewed in Digital Video in October 2011), I was surprised by the accuracy of the Cine Meter light meter. Comparing it to my Sekonic L-508C, Sekonic Studio Deluxe II L-398M and Minolta Auto Meter III, I found Cine Meter’s light meter reading function to be within half a stop of accurate. The app

offers the ability to adjust the meter’s compensation to calibrate it by 1/10th stop steps with an external meter. After adjusting the sensitivity, I found the meter to be dead-on accurate to my other meters. The primary interface for Cine Meter features a camera image on the left portion of the screen with an indicator for ISO setting, shutter speed/frame rate and | 03.2013

Adjustments to the app’s false color function

Cine Meter’s false color function in action with the waveform in RGB mode. Sliders on the bottom of the screen control intensity of the waveform and intensity of the overlay.

f-stop reading. The right side of the screen features a waveform scope. You can preset your ISO rating and shutter speed/frame rate (interchangeable scales are set in the menu options). To adjust your ISO and shutter speed/frame rate settings, simply tap on the lower portion of the display and sliders appear. These sliders are | 03.2013

ridiculously sensitive. I would slide my finger to the proper setting, only to find that removing my finger would change it. I’d have to reset it, and then it would slip again. It generally took me three or four tries to get the setting I wanted. Is this perhaps my clumsiness? It could be, but I don’t have this trouble with any other iApp with slider controls.

You can lock the exposure reading and lock the white balance setting, although there is no indicator of what the actual white balance is. Meter readings can be a “matrix” (average of the entire image) or a spot reading. The spot meter area is a pretty substantial size, however— not quite “spot” but roughly 1/9th the size of the entire screen. You can move the spot meter area by dragging it around within the image. I wish it were a smaller spot or that I had the option to adjust its size. I was surprised to open the app and be greeted by a disclaimer. “Note: Picture and waveform levels often do not match meter readings.” This struck me as incredibly odd—why the heck would I want a set of exposure tools that don’t agree with one another? What is the use in that? Indeed, I set up several tests with Cine Meter and my Canon EOS 7D outfitted with an ikan D7w monitor, which features built-in waveform. Using several different test charts I found that the light meter readings in Cine Meter were very accurate, but that the waveform monitor was not. Or, more precisely, it wasn’t, and then it was, and then it wasn’t. When I was reading 50 percent on an 18 percent gray card from the ikan monitor and getting accurate readings with all of my meters—including Cine Meter—the waveform on Cine Meter was showing me 70 percent! Then, on a second test, it was reading right on at 45-50 percent. Was there something wrong? Was I doing something incorrectly? I kept closing and re-opening the app, and when that didn’t help I went to the Cine Meter web site and looked at the instructions. There I encountered a virtual War and Peace of iApp instructions. The “how to” section is 13 pages long, control adjustments is another eight pages and a section on “limitations” is nine pages long. This is by far the most documented iApp I have ever encountered or reviewed. Although portions of the app are certainly intuitive, you’ve got to read the instructions to fully comprehend the abilities— and limitations—of this app. Starting with the limitations document, Wilt details the shortcomings of iDevices (Apple iPhones/iPads) and how their cameras and exposure settings work. It’s clear that Wilt has done all he can to make a tool that functions the way he wants it to, but he has to work within the limitations of the iDevices themselves and the strict boundaries set for app developers on the platform. I sensed that a great deal of trial and error went into creating this app, but just like movies,


where a single shot might have taken weeks and hundreds of people to create, all that matters in the end is whether the shot is good for the story. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t quite work the way Wilt wants it to, nor does it quite work the way most users will want it to. The biggest confusion for me was the waveform display. Panning the camera around a set or room, you’d think, by looking at the application, that the meter readings and waveform information are accurate and trustworthy. In fact, however, they are not. As Wilt explains in “limitations,” “Cine Meter can only do what an iDevice ... lets apps do.... The light meter is absolute—you can count on its readings to mean what they say ... since they’re calculated from the camera’s reported brightness value.” Great! That’s what I would expect a professional app in this category to do.

The waveform is not to be used for exposure judgments, but rather for determining even illumination—specifically for green or bluescreen work. That makes it a very powerful tool, but it’s not what most users would immediately assume it does. Further, however, “The picture, false color picture and waveform monitor displays are only relative— they show scene brightness values relative to other levels in the scene, but the levels of those images and waveforms depends on how the camera sets its exposure, which often differs from the brightness value the camera reports to the light meter.” And then there’s another document describing how iDevices function. After my testing and reading this, I began to wonder what the heck was the use of this waveform function. In Wilt’s documentation, he explains, “The waveform monitor shows you how light levels vary within and across a scene. They show you how even the lighting is on a greenscreen or white cove and let you see hotspots and imbalances at a glance. The waveform’s RGB mode shows you color imbalances in the image and gives you a handy way to check for color purity on a


I used an ExpoDisc to get a perfect 18 percent gray card. The camera shows perfect gray and exposure information and the waveform shows the correct reading of 50 IRE.

This image demonstrates the sensitivity of the app’s waveform readout. Cine Meter highlights every wrinkle and shadow, no matter how subtle, in this material.

greenscreen or bluescreen.” Oooh... I see. So the waveform is not to be used for exposure judgments, but rather for determining even illumination—specifically for green or bluescreen work. That makes it a very powerful tool, but it’s not what most users would

immediately assume it does. I use a waveform monitor on a constant basis to determine exposure levels, and having a waveform that is inaccurate to meter readings is not only confusing, it’s potentially dangerous. Now that I know this waveform can’t be used for | 03.2013

Take1 Updates Entertainment and Rental & Staging Industry Coverage To Include All Reusable Media Recording artists, filmmakers, photographers, producers, videographers and any entertainment professionals who rely on physical media to store their creations have a powerful new ally in Take1 Entertainment Insurance. Take1, a division of U.S. Risk Insurance Group, Inc., is a leading provider of insurance solutions for the entertainment industry that is working hard to ensure that it offers the most comprehensive policies in the industry. To demonstrate the extent of its commitment, Take1 has announced that it is amending its policies on software, media and data storage devices to include all reusable media that is part of or attached to photographic, video and sound recording equipment.

I set and locked Cine Meter’s white balance using an ExpoDisc under natural daylight, then took this image under dimmed tungsten light to show the app’s ability to clearly depict color disparity.

exposure readings, but instead for quickly noting inconsistencies in even illumination across a set field—like a greenscreen—I can say that this is a great tool for that! In fact, its sensitivity is really quite extraordinary for that application. Additionally, you can set an exposure by panning the device around until the exposure reads the aperture you want and lock that in, then use the false color display and waveform

whatever specific values you want, giving you a very quick way to double check your scene latitude to your own parameters. I’m a bit critical of the app because I feel that most users will download it and use it intuitively without reading through Wilt’s extensive notes and instructions—and then they’ll be given false information by the application. Even with the disclaimer showing up every time. (It’s a confusing

Now that I know this waveform can’t be used for exposure readings, but instead for quickly noting inconsistencies in even illumination across a set field—like a greenscreen—I can say that this is a great tool for that! In fact, its sensitivity is really quite extraordinary for that application. monitor to examine relative levels compared to that exposure setting. This is quite useful. You could set your stop and then see if the highlights in the background are overexposed relative to that active stop. In this world of relative readings, the false color option is very useful in that you can lock in your exposure on the iDevice to match your chosen exposure for the scene, turn on false color and set the color ranges to exactly what you want to see. You can set red, yellow, green, blue and purple to

disclaimer that goes against the intuitive function of the application.) Once you dive into the instructions and get a feel for what the app can do, it’s really a pretty powerful and useful tool for many applications. If you understand its limitations, it’s a great app for a modest price of $4.99. However, don’t attempt to use the app without reading the instructions thoroughly and testing with it before you take it out into the field and rely on the information it presents. dv

According to Take1 Executive Vice President and Program Director Scott Carroll, the new policy amendment automatically extends to all current policy holders, thus eliminating the need Scott for clients to reapply for Carroll the added protection coverage. “This is a very big deal. No one is more in touch with the needs of the entertainment industry than Take1,” Carroll asserted today. “The vast majority of today’s entertainment content is created and stored on reusable media and it’s critically important that the creators of this content be able to rest assured that the content they produce is protected just like every other piece of equipment they use.” Carroll emphasized that, very often, recording media of all types are excluded from coverage in policies written by other insurance providers. “We believe that doing so is a genuine disservice to our clients,” Carroll explained. “After all, the content is the most value asset that should be protected. We can help provide this peace of mind by covering the media connected to a client’s recording equipment.” Take1 is the most comprehensive and costeffective all-lines insurance program for the live and non-live entertainment industry, and is the only recognized insurance provider of InfoComm International. If you’re an event services firm — a rental house, rental and staging firm, event planner or other business dedicated to making a live event happen, Take1 has products that cover every live event, from concerts and shows to political speeches and corporate events. Take1 also has products for production companies that create content for television, motion pictures or DVDs, including DICE (Documentary, Industrials, Commercials and Educational) programming. “There are so many things that can go wrong in the logistics of entertainment, and all of them can put your enterprise in jeopardy,” added Carroll. “That’s why you must ask yourself every day: Am I covered? Is my coverage year round? Is my equipment covered over 100% of the planet? If you’re not 100% sure, talk to us. We’re 100% sure we have the coverage you need.” For more information visit | 03.2013



Boris Continuum Complete 8


effeCts, filters and transitions … all translated Boris Continuum Complete 8 Comes to Final Cut Pro X

 Quick Take Product: Boris FX Boris Continuum Complete 8 for Final Cut Pro X Pros: The most complete set of effects designed specifically to work within the FCP X/Motion 5 architecture.

Cons: Slow to update when effects are adjusted. Most effects require rendering for best playback performance during normal editing. Bottom Line:

This is a highquality package of industry-standard, professional effects and transitions designed specifically for Final Cut Pro X.

MSRP: $995 new / $295 upgrade Online: borisfx. com


The BCC set includes text effects that can be extruded, shaded and animated. In this example, the text animates on and off the screen over a BCC Film Process filter that is also applied to the image.

Boris Continuum Complete 8 from Boris FX has finally made it to Apple Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5. Customers purchasing BCC 8 will receive installers for both new and old versions of Final Cut and Motion. FCP X users will install the new 64-bit version designed for the updated FxPlug architecture—bringing to FCP X one of the most comprehensive plug-in sets available. Third-party filters, transitions, titles and generators for Final Cut Pro X are built as Motion templates, which has made it a particular challenge to create an FCP X version of BCC 8 with the same controls, plus look and feel of the Continuum set. Yet change is inevitable. According to Boris FX founder Boris Yamnitsky, “Since FCP X is a new platform unrelated to FCP 7, there is no need to maintain compatibility with BCC 7. This frees our hand to remove older filters, rework some of the existing filters and make new filters best suited for the FCP X host. It is a very exciting project. We plan to release more templates as we get more feedback from our early adopters. We will be posting them for free as we go. For example, we are working

on Materials and Transitions now.” Around 200 filters install into Motion 5; of these, a smaller subset of 94 effects filters and 11 transitions (in the current build) show up inside of Final Cut Pro X. Last year I highlighted the BCC 8 package for After Effects (Digital Video July 2012, “Class of 2012”), which introduced new effects, like film glow and particles, and general improvements across the board. This newest member of the BCC 8 product line does more of the same. The Continuum filters are all high-quality effects, but with modifications to make them work within FCP X. Some filters don’t show up in Final Cut— such as 3D lens flares, the three-way grade filter and artist’s posterization—but you still have a variety of flare and art | 03.2013

BCC text filters use Boris’ ubiquitous text editing interface to modify type.

effects, including watercolor. All are there in Motion. Some of those in Motion have been modified to fit within the parameters of the Motion user interface. For instance, the three-way grade filter uses color wheels in After Effects, but sliders and a floating “heads up display” panel in Motion. The more than 100 effects and transitions inside Final Cut Pro X work in a similar fashion to other versions of Boris Continuum Complete. There’s a wealth of slider controls on all of the filters to fine-tune each effect. Many include built-in masking (the Boris Pixel Chooser), motion tracking (a first for FCP X filters) and/or beat reactor. The latter will pulse or vary an effect based on the amplitude of a linked audio track. Certain Boris FX hallmarks, like highquality extruded, shaded 3D text, are also part of this package. All complex effects installed in the Final Cut Pro X host are somewhat slow to react as you adjust them. They do not play smoothly without dropping frames until they are rendered. This is true of BCC 8, but it is also true of Red Giant’s Magic Bullet and packages from Digital Film Tools, Tiffen and GenArts. If I compare similar Boris FX filters within different hosts, but applied to the same footage and using the same workstation, then BCC 8 in Premiere Pro CS6 outperforms Final Cut Pro X for real-time playback (when left unrendered). In general, user interaction is faster in After Effects, but rendering is often faster in Final Cut Pro X. As with most things related to FCP X, performance on the newest iMacs and MacBook Pros will be better than on older Mac Pros. Yamnitsky adds, “Because

Top: A variety of high-quality lens flare filters come with BCC 8. Bottom: The BCC Film Process filter may be used for subtle color correction and diffusion effects.

FCP X is a very different host, all traditional assumptions about visual effects will be reconsidered. For example, where in other hosts we rely on presets to deliver new looks, in FCP X we can simply export new Motion 5 templates, exposing just enough parameters to make the new look customizable. This approach allows us to avoid complex contextual controls and long parameter stacks.” Boris Continuum Complete 8 for Final Cut Pro X is the most complete package of effects for FCP X to date. Quite a few effects, like caustics, 3D text and various distortion effects, aren’t available in competing filter packages. BCC 8 isn’t cheap, but it offers a lot of value. Talk with any professional editor familiar with the BCC set and you’ll find out how important the BCC effects become when solving routine creative challenges. dv

Caustics can be derived from the image itself and composited using a range of blend modes. | 03.2013



GoPro Hero3 USerS JAy ANKENEy

Small GoeS BiG The GoPro HERO3 Camera in Action


or those digital shooters whose visions of Christmas sugarplums included asking Santa for a six-figure mega-multipixel digital cinema camera, the HERO3 released by GoPro at the end of 2012 may seem like a mere stocking stuffer. But this remarkably flexible, matchboxsize camera is probably already shooting more action scenes on location than all other digital video cameras combined—with the exception of the hundreds of thousands of earlier models of GoPro HERO sports cameras covering excitement all around the world since the company’s first digital model hit the street four years ago. Although the HERO3 officially started shipping on Oct. 21, according to David Newman, senior

director of software engineering at GoPro, you may have trouble finding one on the shelf at Best Buy. “We can’t keep them in the store,” Newman says. “We even have a backlog on our web site. If you think of what we have done since the first digital HERO1 was released in 2009, this new HERO3 is building on that promise.” If you have been following their story closely, the company’s “heroic” numerology can be a bit confusing. There actually was a “Digital HERO5” that came out in December of 2008 with a 5 megapixel sensor, an “HD HERO 960” in the summer of 2012 that shot 960p video, and even a celluloid-based HERO 35mm (model #001) that started the line in 2005 and shipped with a 24

exposure roll of Kodak 400 film. GoPro’s latest wave of heroics starts at $199.99 with the HERO3: White Edition, which uses the same 5 megapixel sensor as the HD HERO and shoots the same 1080p/30 or 720p/60 fps rates as the original. Next comes the HERO3: Silver Edition, which sports an 11 MP sensor and built-in Wi-Fi for $299.99. At the top of the line is the HERO3: Black Edition, which ships in the same 30 percent smaller form factor as its White and Silver siblings but boasts a 12 MP sensor that is capable of capturing ultra-wide-angle HD video at 1080p/60 fps, 1440p/48 fps and 720p/120 fps. This is where the HERO3: Black Edition gets

Andy Casagrande shot this great white shark with a GoPro camera.

60 | 03.2013

GoPro’s HERO3 Black Edition

Casagrande sets up a multi-GoPro camera rig. | 03.2013


really interesting. In addition to HD resolutions, it can shoot 2.7K at up to 30 fps and an impressive 4K resolution, even if it is only 15 fps. “That 2.7K/30 fps recording is derived from the 4K image, giving you an oversampled, full HD image to manipulate in post,” Newman explains. The engineers at GoPro parent company Woodman Labs have come up with a clever way to get the best out of both the HD and 4K worlds through a combo shooting mode. The Black HERO3 can shoot 1080p/30 fps motion video and simultaneously snap 4K stills at a predetermined interval, say two seconds apart. This feature would enable you to shoot your HD footage and associated 4K production stills in the same take. In addition, those 4K stills can be animated to produce a time lapse effect within the moving video. GoPro’s sample reel for the Black Edition camera ( shows several examples. GoPro has introduced a feature on the HERO3 Black and Silver editions that enables their images to be more easily intercut with the output of other cameras. It’s a tuning mode called GoPro Protune. Turning it on allows for high-quality capture (increases the data rate from 15 Mb/s to 35 Mb/s), neutral color and 24 fps video recording. “We employ a log curve with Protune instead of contrast added to Rec. 709 with 2.2 gamma,” Newman adds. “That way pros can get the most out of the HERO3’s 11 stops of dynamic range.” And here’s something for the future. Remember that built-in Wi-Fi capability on the HERO3? Newman tells us his engineers are working on multicam streaming capabilities that would let you see the proxy mode output of three or four cameras on a single handheld device. Pros have embraced GoPro HEROs for projects ranging from TV docs to scientific expeditions, with more than nine million of these little cameras sold already. Newman even calls the Discovery Channel “the GoPro channel,” since you can see GoPros mounted even in the background of many shots.

Andy CAsAgrAnde Emmy Award-winning filmmaker/cinematographer Andy Casagrande (2010’s Great Migrations) has shot everything from grizzly bears to killer cobras with GoPro cameras since before they had rechargeable batteries. “These cameras have revolutionized the way we film wildlife and the world in general,”


Karsten “Crash” gopinath used red epiC, Arri Alexa, Canon eos 5d and gopro hero3 cameras on a multi-day shoot for Ford. he notes that the footage from all cameras intercut seamlessly.

Casagrande begins. “I always set mine to the highest resolution available, use the Protune settings, adjust white balance with the Cam Raw feature, and then treat it like a mainstream Hollywood camera.” Casagrande prefers the 2.7K resolution, shooting in Cinema Mode 24p, and relies on Protune to let him establish the final color correction in post. “Or I’ll switch to the 1080p/60 fps mode, which gives me the option of converting to 1080p/30 slow-mo if I need it,” he says. “Don’t overlook 720p, which can go up to 120 fps for really smooth image movement. Most of the

principal photography of the Planet Earth series was shot at 720p.” He appreciates the GoPro’s reliability, so he often straps one on top of the Big Time Hollywood Digital Cinema Camera he’s using. “You only get one chance at the shark breaching the water, so I’ll simultaneously shoot with whatever cameras I can,” he tells us. “After all, the HERO3 battery can shoot 4K stills for five hours.”

KArsten “CrAsh” gopinAth Karsten Gopinath, who goes by the name of | 03.2013

Casagrande and a great white shark face off

Casagrande takes pride in using innovative cinematography and unorthodox camera techniques to capture nature and wildlife footage around the world and under the sea.

“Crash,” was DP on Scott Speer’s 2012 feature Step Up Revolution. He was also one of the first to get his hands on a HERO3, but it wasn’t in time to shoot

a recent Justin Bieber music video, directed by Jon Chu, on which he had to employ HERO2s. “I’ve tested the HERO3 at night, and it is much better

in low-light conditions,” Gopinath says, “but what really impressed me was seeing a preview of the image it is shooting on my cell phone thanks to the HERO3’s Wi-Fi capability.” He says that it’s easy to scroll through the camera’s menu settings on the remote phone’s screen. “It’s a lot easier than pushing all the buttons on the camera itself, like you had to do on earlier models,” he says, “and you can, of course, also line up your shot by using the phone as a viewfinder. That way you don’t need to strap the larger backpack camera housing on the HERO3 that does include a monitor.” The best advice Gopinath has for new HERO3 users is to “get creative. You learn by using it. You can stick a HERO3 almost anywhere, and with its resolution capability, you still come back with awesomely great images.” The GoPro HERO story is just beginning. With the current capability of 4K at 15 fps, you can just imagine what the next upgrade will be. Multicam preview streaming over Wi-Fi and the potential of 4K at 30 fps? The best is yet to come. dv

Watch the director’s cut of Shark Riders, which was shot by Andy Casagrande with a GoPro HERO2 Outdoor Edition. | 03.2013



Tiffen Tools on snl

inside Alex Buono’s ToolkiT Shooting Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts

Alex Buono with a canon camera on Steadicam


hen a television show runs for more than 37 years, it must be doing something right. Such is the case with NBC’s Saturday Night Live. And when the same director of photography remains involved in the show for more than a decade, he must be just as successful. Alex Buono joined the show in 1999, having worked as a cinematographer and producer on a number of films. His current role involves working with the show’s film unit, which shoots pre-taped segments for the otherwise live production.


“I’m responsible for the choice of cameras, lenses, lighting instruments—anything that falls into the camera, grip and electric departments,” he explains. “To achieve the quality that is demanded for Saturday Night Live, I have come to rely heavily on various pieces of equipment that come from Tiffen to get us from production to post.” He says that one of the biggest challenges his unit faces is the incredibly short turnaround time. “We shoot the pre-recorded segments on Friday for broadcast on Saturday. It means we sometimes have less than 24 hours between our first shot and

the live broadcast. That’s why I use equipment I have come to trust.” In particular, Buono uses Steadicam as a camera mount, Rifa lighting, Tiffen filters for shooting and Tiffen Dfx Creative Suite for pre-visualizing postproduction operations.

Meeting Specific needS In 2009 Buono started experimenting with the DSLR format, shooting the Saturday Night Live title sequence with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera. “Following that, I shot a number of commercial | 03.2013

Buono shoots an SNL segment

parodies that are a regular feature of the show with a Canon EOS 7D camera on a Steadicam mount.” The preferred Steadicam mount for SNL shoots is the new Ultra2. This stabilizing unit has been re-engineered, producing a system that is light, strong and versatile. Its modular design allows the system to be customized to suit a variety of shooting situations. Although some of the cameras Buono now uses—the Canon EOS C300 and C500—have builtin filters, he finds that Tiffen filters are still vital in a variety of situations. “Filters are necessary to fine-tune the image we are capturing. In some cases it involves controlling the exposure through neutral density, in others it’s softening the image through diffusion filters.” Buono maintains that neutral density (ND) filters are an essential requirement on even the most up-to-date cameras. “With the newer cameras, native ISOs are often around 800, so if you want to shoot at wide open apertures, ND filters become necessary. I often find myself using these filters on interior locations—something I would not have considered previously when shooting on relatively slower film stocks.” He continues, “A polarizer is the second most common filter, which I use to control reflections. In addition, I often employ cosmetic diffusion filters such as Tiffen Soft/FX for softening facial blemishes without affecting the overall image clarity.”

From left: gaffer keith Devlin, director Rhys Thomas, DP alex Buono, grip Don vetick

on the glass determines the strength of the filter and enables the overall image quality and sharpness to be retained. For example, the lighter density filters are subtle; they generate no flare from highlights and don’t reduce contrast. At the other end of the scale, higher densities are more noticeable in their effect while still providing a pleasing portrait. “I started using Tiffen filters when I was in film school at the University of Southern California in the early ’90s,” says Buono. “I have tried other makes of filters, but cheaper versions often result in a softer image and color shift, which is very unappealing.” He maintains that it is helpful to fine-tune the image in the camera as much as possible so that less color correction is required in postproduction. “With our fast turnaround times, we have to make everything as simple as possible.” Artists in the SNL Film Unit edit suite use Adobe Premiere CS6 and After Effects CS6 for motion graphics work. However, some level of color correction is needed after editing takes

place. In order to speed up this correction process, Buono uses Tiffen Dfx Digital Filter Suite software to previsualize postproduction activity. This electronic filter suite simulates more than 2,000 Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain and color correction techniques. It’s also capable of creating natural light and photographic effects. “Tiffen Dfx is useful to me as a communication tool,” says Buono. “I can quickly show my director the look I am considering for a particular scene. Even more useful, after the shoot I can quickly set the look that I want my colorist to match.” Buono appreciates the way Tiffen Dfx uses realworld terms that professional cinematographers are familiar with. “If I want to previsualize a shot with a CTB [color temperature blue] gel or Tiffen Soft/FX, or emulate the grain of 5245 film stock, I can select that option. In color correction solutions from other manufacturers, there is often not such a real connection between the common terms that are used on set and those used by the postproduction team.”

Saving Time in PoST The pattern of tiny “lenslets” in Tiffen’s Soft/FX filters put fine image elements such as wrinkles and skin blemishes out of focus, while leaving other details sharp. The ratio From left: production manager Justus mclarty, director Rhys Thomas, DP alex Buono, of clear space to the diffused pattern key grip mort korn, 1st ac nick Demas | 03.2013

The Whole Package Summing up his experience, Buono emphasizes that his Tiffen tools are essential for the SNL workflow. “The most irreplaceable Tiffen product I use is the Steadicam—in fact, I use it for 50 percent of the shots we produce. We use filters on pretty much every shoot, and we always carry Rifa lights in our package— when we need a fast, mobile soft light, there’s nothing better. In terms of postproduction, I use the DFX software as a means of previsualizing different looks and communicating with my colorist. All in all, it is a great package of solutions.” dv



Field RecoRdeRs

SuSaN aShworTh

Field WoRk Possibilities for Portable Video Recording and Storage

A camera operator records footage in the field with Atomos’ Ninja 2.


o back a few years and it’s easy to recall that the process of getting video from the field and into the studio involved a fair amount of schlep and prep. Then came an inkling of change on the horizon with the advent of palmsized digital devices that could record and transport high-resolution video and eliminate the bulky videocassette entirely.


It’s true that the process of recording in the field has changed—so much so that the question is now not whether you can record in the field but rather how extensive you want the features on your portable recording device to be. Compile a list of what’s featured in the newest batch of portable storage and recording devices and you’ll see high-res LCD screens and on-the-fly

NLE editing features, with even the smallest models offering immensely powerful processors. There’s an enormous amount of technology available to developers to make what was previously a simple step in the video acquisition process—record in the field, then get footage back to the studio— into an elegant and practical procedure that just happens to occur out in the muck and snow and | 03.2013

Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle

wind of the real world.

Size MatterS One reality that’s easy to see: size matters when it comes to successful solutions. For storage and recording options on the road, Blackmagic Design offers the updated HyperDeck Shuttle, one of the industry’s smallest solid-state 4:2:2 video recorders. The unit is a 2.5”, palm-sized broadcast deck. Footage is captured as native uncompressed 10-bit QuickTime and compressed Apple ProRes 422 or Avid DNxHD MXF files. ProRes compression on

the next-generation HyperDeck Sound Devices PiX 240i Shuttle 2 serves to reduce the size of uncompressed HD video files while preserving full-frame 4:2:2 quality, closed-caption support. allowing customers to record up to six times longer. At their simplest, portable recorders are “Adding ProRes 422 recording and playback gives designed to help videographers accelerate users the freedom to work in either compressed their workflow. Simplifying the production and or uncompressed formats,” says Blackmagic CEO post checklist was a primary goal behind the Grant Petty. development of Sound Devices’ PIX 240i recorder, The shuttle has standard deck-style function which records NLE-ready QuickTime files in either buttons with LEDs to indicate input signal lock, ProRes or DNxHD format. recording status and battery status, as well as What sets the system apart, according to Jon

Tatooles, vice president of marketing and business development, is its flexibility. The device may serve as recorder, frame rate scaler, converter, timecode generator and field monitor. The latest generation supports ProRes 4444 and can record to removable CompactFlash cards or 2.5-inch solid-state drives. “The way we approach the market is to spend a lot of time with our customers in the field to see where trends are going,” Tatooles says. “We offer features customers are wanting to use now.” The company also sells the PIX 220i, which adds QuickTime recording using Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD to HDMI or HD-SDI equipped cameras.

eVS XFly

aJa KiStor dock (rear)

What You Need Not only are a growing number of manufacturers entering the portable storage market, more companies are recognizing the need for accessories to streamline the production process for users. AJA recently introduced new storage and dock accessories for its Ki Pro family of tapeless video recording devices, including the KiStor drive, a line of USB 3.0-enabled storage devices, and the Thunderboltenabled KiStor Dock with USB 3.0 connectivity.

It’s true that the process of recording in the field has changed—so much so that the question is now not whether you can record in the field but rather how extensive you want the features on your portable recording device to be. KiStor Dock, an accessory for KiStor drive modules, allows KiStor drives to be mounted on Mac or Windows desktops for rapid file transfer. Dock uses a SATA connection internally for the KiStor drive modules and provides both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity to the computer. KiStor drives are available in 250, 500 and 750 GB versions. Calling it a removable archive that works


Roland F-1

alongside the company’s XT/XS series of server solutions, EVS offers the XF2 removable server. The system has two removable hard disk drives that provide backup and transfer during live or near-live production scenarios. It can serve as a backup platform for content in the XT3 and XS production servers and a gateway platform between EVS servers and NLE stations with gigabit Ethernet connection. The newest solution to hit the road is EVS’ XFly, a portable and compact storage platform that includes eight removable SATA hard drives with up to 6.2 TB of storage, providing storage for up to 140 hours of 100 Mb/s HD footage. EVS’ portable solutions offer operators an easy way to back up clips and feeds. When live shooting is complete, the operator is able to transport the entire

production— proincluding pro gram feed, multicamera angles and highlights—in a single storage case. Features include on-the-fly MXF or QuickTime file wrapping and the ability to automatically generate proxy files while streaming multiple live feeds simultaneously. Roland Systems Group’s F-1 video field recorder is able to capture HDV or DV directly to a hard drive in the field. The system offers two channels of balanced audio, a removable HDD, multiple power options and an RGB output for quick control and thumbnail viewing. The system offers HDV/DV and MPEG-2 50 Mb/s recording. Users can record up to 27 hours of HD video on a 120 GB hard drive at 8 Mb/s. In addition to a long line of professional desktop storage solutions, Sonnet Technologies’ mobile storage offerings include Fusion F2, F2QR, F3 and Mobile Rack. The Fusion F2 portable SATA RAID storage system offers 1.5 TB of storage. The two-drive Fusion F2QR contains two 2.5” 1 TB drives. Fusion Mobile Rack is an internal one-bay

Sonnet Fusion F3 | 03.2013

DVEO Millennia HD

removable storage solution for PCs, and Fusion F3 is a portable two-drive SATA RAID storage system with 6 TB of storage. F2QR and F3 sport quad-interfaces, with eSATA, FireWire 800/400 and USB 2.0. One of the first companies to introduce a portable digital video recorder with full-color video monitor was Fast Forward Video, which found success with the SideKick HD recorder, a cameraor battery-mountable device that captures video directly from the camera’s HD-SDI or HDMI output and records in the user’s choice of codec, including ProRes 422 and DNxHD. The system records to off-the-shelf, hot-swappable 2.5-inch SSD drives. A 4.3” onboard confidence monitor offers playback

options including scrub and jog capabilities. Portable options also come in the form of the HD3, a portable broadcastquality deck from Fast Forward Video that can configure into a single channel (one HD monitor) or dual channel (two HD monitors) system. (Please note that while products are still available for purchase, Fast Forward Video is no longer in business.) DVEO’s Millennia HD is a portable 1920 x 1080i H.264/AVC recorder with both removable 120 GB hard drive and CompactFlash card storage. The device, which records and encodes

Atomos Ninja 2

simultaneously, works with cameras that support the HD-SDI standard. Atomos’ Ninja is a relatively inexpensive portable 10-bit HD recorder and monitor that records ProRes via HDMI and offers the ability to play back video on its touch-operated screen. The so-called “all-in-one solution” includes the aluminum chassis Ninja unit, HDD/SDD master disk caddy, batteries, charger and docking station. dv




Can It! During a recent outdoor live shoot, the talent needed to see a monitor. Despite the builtin hood, however, the sun was washing out the picture. Our solution was to grab a nearby 20 gallon plastic trash can, lean it on an equipment case so the top pointed at the talent, and put the monitor in the bottom. Our makeshift hood provided more than enough shade that the screen was clearly visible.

CaBlE CovEr Taping down cables is important to everyone’s safety, but doing so can cause some problems. Gaffer’s tape is expensive; duct tape is less expensive but can leave a residue or pull off paint. A better answer is 4” wide painter’s masking tape. Painter’s tape is comparatively cheap, leaves no residue and saves time because you can secure a cable with just one pass. (Narrower 2” tape usually takes two or three passes.) As an additional benefit, you can tell your client you are using it because its yellow or bright blue color attracts attention so people are less likely to trip.

BudgEt strEtChErs “I have to shoot a short local awards ceremony on a very low budget using several consumer cameras. We have no intercom but need some method of coordinating the camera operators. We also need to synchronize the footage for later editing. Can you help?” asks Paul Rodriguez of Los Angeles. The easiest (and cheapest) method I can think of for the director to communicate with the camera operators is shouting, but the performers and audience probably wouldn’t like that. So how about having the crew bring their cell phones and some kind of hands-free earphone. Make a conference call. To avoid excess background noise, be sure everyone but the director puts his or her phone on mute. I am assuming your cameras do not have timecode. The oldest sync method would be to use a clapstick slate. Another option is syncing with a


flash camera. Roll all cameras and have them shoot the same area, then close the clapper or set off the flash. Later in the edit suite, line up the flash or clap frames and the sync will last as long as all cameras kept rolling. If you record the same audio on all cameras, there are computer programs that will compare the audio and automatically sync the tapes.

BaCk FoCus Foul up I recently offered a free back focus chart to anyone who wanted one. Unfortunately my e-mail account decided not to cooperate and many of your requests did not reach me. If you want a chart, please send (or resend) an e-mail to and I will get one to you as soon as possible.

Errant EyEpIECE As a camera gets older, its viewfinder tends to droop. Wherever you set it, its own weight pulls it down. Most operators cure the problem by wrapping a piece of tape around the slipping joint. In some cases this cure is worse than the illness because the eyepiece’s position is no longer adjustable. Keep your viewfinder in place but still adjustable by putting a wide rubber band snugly around the rotating joint. The fat bands are available from most office supply stores, or you can find them holding things like broccoli stalks together at the grocery store.

rEFlECt on thIs Want a two-sided reflector that costs less than $20? Here’s a recipe from Eric Bates of San Francisco that is not just easy to make but also inexpensive and very effective. The ingredients are: a sheet of the appropriate size foam core, and the same size gold and silver matte boards. All are available at any art supply store. Using two-sided tape, spray glue or almost any other kind of sticky stuff, make a sandwich with the foam core in the middle. The result is a reflector that is stiffer, more versatile and much easier to handle than the matte board alone.

sharE your tIp Now it’s your turn to share a favorite shooting or production tip or question with your fellow professionals. Please send e-mails to All submissions become the property of Reizner & Reizner. None can be returned. | 03.2013

compiled by ned Soltz

Instant expert ITEM/ cOnTAcT







An Assortment of Products for off-sPeed Production

WhAT'S nEW & OThER cOMMEnTS Trollbäck+ Company


$1.99 lRtimelapse


Commercial license about $350


From about $1,800

Kessler Crane

Free modulo Kessler App Kaleidoclock

Florian Baron

$.99 iStopmotion 3

Boinx Software


Kessler Crane

$6,500 cinedrive the time machine

Mumford Micro Systems

From $325 oSnap!

Justin Cegnar


Moco delivers motion control for Cinevate’s line of camera sliders. Shoot in real time with on-the-fly speed adjustment and dampening control or record and repeat moves for multiple takes and complex visual effects shots. Complete motion control slider with remote and ability to mount horizontally or vertically. For our purposes here, it has full time lapse programmability. New product. Step—The Ultimate Stop Motion and Time Lapse Camera is perfect for iPhone or iPad videography. Create animated .gifs and QuickTime movies with adjustable frame rate, exposure and timer settings. In the edit mode you can preview your movie and delete single frames from the sequence. You can set the number of onionskin layers for accurate animations.

Works with Adobe Lightroom, Camera Raw or After Effects to create time lapse videos from a still sequence with significant controls. Personal licenses are less expensive, but content creators require a commercial license. Free evaluation version is available. This servo-motor drive works with various sliders and skaters from DitoGear. Its modular construction allows the user to configure it based on the shot. Definitely multi-purpose for continuous as well as time lapse movement. Bundles include Modulo “Curiosity Rover” configuration with OmniController and accessories; and Modulo Dolly Kit with motor, track, OmniController and accessories. In addition to providing product manuals and training videos about the Kessler product line, this app has a time lapse calculator that can be used with virtually any hardware setup. Another great example of apps that really help us in the production process. While it may seem appropriate only for amateur photographers, you never know when you might want to transform an image into a kaleidoscope. The app is based on an interactive installation of the same name by video artist Florian Baron and was coded by Mario Pörner. Videos taken from the app are divided into 12 different segments, similar to the face of a clock. Only one of the segments is in real time, while the rest feature an adjustable time delay. Now in version 3, iStopMotion is a fully featured app whose capabilities far exceed its reasonable price. Keyframe, onionskin, rotoscope, apply tilt-shift, key, add a soundtrack and import from most cameras to create a professional stop motion sequence. The companion iStopMotion Remote Camera App is a free download. Create and export. It’s that simple. Kessler calls this the most advanced motion control system on the planet. And I believe them. The head, motor and control working together can move in multiple axes and be configured for simple to advanced moves. The system offers full stop motion and time lapse capability, which is also programmable along any possible axis. The ultimate. A programmable controller and intervalometer to control Mumford or other heads. Suitable for DSLR and small camera work. Allows you to trip the shutter of your camera or fire an electronic flash at regular intervals (time lapse), at specific times of day, or in response to trigger events. These trigger events can be sound, light, motion or electrical signals. Has a number of options including numerous sensors to make it useful for nature photography. A very complete line and worth a look. Free version also available. Another great app for stop motion and time lapse capability on your iDevice. Create videos from 1 to 100 fps from existing photos or device’s camera. A $.99 in-app purchase allows editing of the time lapse once created. Another of those simple apps pros can use to good advantage with the great quality cameras found on the iPhone and iPad.

You'll find links to these products at | 03.2013



RED Epic in WilDlifE pRoDuction


natuRal SElEction Equipping Wildlife Documentaries

National Geographic filmmaker Mark Emery

B One of Mark Emery’s grizzlies cracks clams in Alaska.


arely five years ago the Panasonic VariCam was the principal acquisition device on wildlife television series, including the BBC blockbusters Planet Earth and Blue Planet Planet, but today you would be hard-pressed to find any major wildlife TV series relying on 720p/60 VariCams, despite their superb colorimetry and “film look.” Instead, momentum is favoring digital cinematography cameras, the new class of tapeless, single-large-sensor cine-style

cameras with variable frame rate capabilities. Not surprisingly, wildlife production—which has always employed off-speed capture, especially slow motion—has embraced the use of DC cameras. Today, the VariCam has been largely displaced by DC cameras in general and RED’s EPIC (both X and M models) in particular. With EPIC’s maximum frame rate of 300 fps in 2K mode and 120 fps in 5K, a dynamic range of up to 18 stops and | 03.2013

wildlife, I always want to keep it fresh by filming familiar subjects in new ways,” he says. “You could never match EPIC’s variable frame rates with prior cameras, or the shallow depth of field and detail in shadow areas. Most three-chip HD cameras were flat and midtoned to the max.”

lEns drawbacks

director of photography Mark Emery and assistant camera operator david coner

the highest resolution raw imagery available, the popularity of this alternative should come as no surprise.

Early adoptErs | 03.2013

kennan ward’s rEd is often outfitted with a nikon mount sigma 300-800mm lens.

photo by flip nicklin

National Geographic filmmaker Mark Emery was a RED EPIC early adopter. “We used one of the first EPICs in Alaska. The warm-up time reminded me of film cameras coming up to speed for an overcranked shot, but slower,” he says. “For the most part, fights, mating and nursing were somewhat predictable, so we were usually up and running by then.” Despite some minor reservations, most EPIC users, like PBS Nature cinematographer Joe Poncorvo, seem bullish on its high resolution and broad range of cine camera features. “What I really like about DC cameras in general is their cinematic look—not just the 24p, but depth of field, dynamic range, and details I haven’t seen since shooting 16mm film,” Poncorvo says. “Not only does EPIC capture a raw image, but it does so at 2K to 5K. Combined with high frame rates, it’s a natural for natural history.” Indie shooter Jason Sturgis loves EPIC’s design and imaging capabilities. “I really like EPIC’s small form factor, and the images are second to none,” he says. “Being able to shoot raw gives you the most flexibility in how your image looks after color grading.” Kennan Ward, president of Wildlight Press in Santa Cruz, Calif., gets his edge with EPIC. “With

There’s one drawback, however: much shorter zoom lenses. “The lens choices for Super 35 sensors aren’t comparable to HD,” says Bill Murphy, series producer for the PBS series Nature. “PL mount glass was designed for feature films and is often large and heavy. The limited focal range and lack of long zooms is fine if you’re shooting from a jeep in Africa, but not when chasing animals and changing lenses in the bush.” Some shooters reach into their toolbox and adapt 35mm still lenses, which have limited focal range but are often good at the high end. Ward relies heavily on a long Nikon mount Sigma 300-800mm. “It’s a $10,000+ lens that works beautifully on EPIC for 4K and 5K imaging,” he says. NatGeo’s Emery often gets two shots from one with EPIC. “Because the image is so massive and our final product is for TV, I can grab matched close-ups of single bears from my master shot of several bears in post,” he says. “That reduces lens changes, so I can follow the action.” Some, like filmmaker Andrew Young, founder of Archipelago Films in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., like EPIC well enough, but not as a “silver bullet” solution. “For me, the ideal camera doesn’t exist,” Young says. “If I were only shooting wildlife, EPIC

Jim sturgis dives with a rEd EpIc


photo by ann prum

Most recently, Young shot An Original DUCKumentary for PBS’ Nature using an EPIC and Sony’s new NEX-FS700. “With the 700 I didn’t have to burn card capacity waiting for ducklings to leap from their nest cavity, as the FS700 buffers continuously,” he says. “It also runs quietly and has XLR audio jacks. It also records three hours of AVCHD to a $25 data card that I can hand to a client, or archive and easily back up. The slow-mo resolution is great too, even at 240 fps. If only it had a decent viewfinder and fit comfortably on my shoulder.” Watch An Original DUCKumentary online: episodes/an-original-duckumentary/ full-episode/8068/

Pre-record and data ManageMent

andrew Young rigs his Sony neX-FS700 for a difficult shot on An Original DUCKumentary, produced by ann Prum, for the PBS series Nature.

would likely fit the bill, but it doesn’t work as well for my other PBS doc clients, who expect me to hand them the footage at day’s end on media that they can upload themselves. With EPIC, I have to spend extra hours transcoding the footage at day’s end. HD proxy files would work, but that now requires an extra recorder.”

Ideally, Young says, he wants a camera that “does it all,” including high frame rates; that records to cheap, universal media or generates proxy files; and that has a window-able sensor compatible with his 16mm zoom lenses, like his Zeiss 10-100mm. “That was in the original design for [RED] SCARLET, but it got lost along the way,” he adds.

Barry clark is pictured with red ePIcs mounted in a 3ality technica stereoscopic rig.


One key drawback for data-efficient wildlife capture with EPIC—the lack of pre-record—should soon be a thing of the past. Largely thanks to blowback from wildlife shooters, “Pre-record should be included in the next firmware upgrade. I don’t think they realized how critical it is for wildlife,” Ward says. Data overload is another significant challenge of shooting wildlife in 4K. While pre-record on EPIC will help reduce it, the problem isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. “When I began shooting 4K with the EPIC, I soon came face to face with the biggest beast of all: data management,” says Poncorvo. I average about 21 TB of data for five weeks of shooting and may have 126+ TB for a project, plus backups.” Data management also impacts workflow in the field. “After filming grizzlies all day in Alaska, my AC

Mark emery lugs gear. | 03.2013

had to spend each night downloading EPIC 4K footage, setting his alarm to change mags—a terabyte every day or two,” Emery adds. EPIC’s superlative 4K and 5K picture quality is opening new paths to wildlife storytelling, both literally and figuratively. “The compactness and lightness of the new DC cameras like EPIC has made it possible to go places and capture images not accessible before,” Poncorvo says. “Also, its ultra-high resolution can reveal details you just don’t see when shooting, like a wound on a snow monkey’s foot. This makes you wonder what inflicted it and why, and it can change your story and how you cut it.” Even with recent advances in digital imaging, 35mm film, with a resolution of up to 8K, remains the gold standard for image quality, yet some believe film’s days may be numbered. “The gap between S35 film and S35 video may never be closed, but for cost and logistical reasons, I believe that film will gently slip out of sight and we’ll no longer compare the two media,” says Barry Clark, film producer for Telenova Productions in Venice, Calif. “Meanwhile, the ongoing evolution of image sensors should bring us digitally originated productions with wider latitude, a broader color palette and superior resolution to today’s film stocks.” dv | 03.2013

Mark Emery shoots wolves in Hallo Bay, Alaska.



JAY HoLben

Light Reading Learning to Create and Control Lens Flare

a vibrant example of ghosting flare. The additional orbs of light in the image are direct reflections of the bright sources reflected off of other elements in the lens.


ack when I was a wee lad and an electrician working in films, a cinematographer once looked at me and said, “Do you know the difference between an accidental flare and an intentional one?” I thought for a moment and admitted I did not. He said, “Your day rate.” I had to laugh. What is an aberration and a fault of the optics can also be a quite beautiful and organic addition to the frame and mood of a scene. A lens flare results from non-imaging light entering the lens elements, reflecting off the various surfaces within the lens and being re-photographed. The flare is not part of the scene being photographed; rather, it is created by the lens itself as an artifact of stray light.

To Shade or NoT To Shade Avoiding flares requires shielding the lens from stray light. The first line of


defense against flares is a lens shade: a piece of plastic (or metal) that attaches to the front of the camera lens to extend the barrel slightly and cut off stray light. A mattebox does this as well, and to a more efficient degree. Mattebox covers, French flags and side flags go further to eliminate stray light. If you’re looking to eliminate flares in your shot, any of these items will help for all kinds of flares except those created by a light source that is directly in the shot.

a LiTTLe Top CoaT Most modern lenses are manufactured to minimize flaring. A flare reduces the performance of a lens by reducing imaging contrast, therefore reducing resolution and sharpness. Lens manufacturers reduce flaring by adding a | 03.2013

An example of spot flare from the sun over the shoulder of model Becka Adams. the long line of orbs is a set of reflections from various elements within the lens. Spot flares usually take on the shape of the lens’ aperture.

Veiling flare. indirect light on the lens does not create a distinct shape to the flare but rather serves to reduce overall image contrast—filling in the shadows with light—in this photo of model Carina trinidad.

thin coating on the lens element that cancels out reflections. The lens coating works based on the laws of physics governing the cancellation of light waves of opposite frequencies. Some light that strikes the surface of the lens is reflected back, which reduces the amount of light transmitted through the lens. This effect is mitigated with the application of a thin coating on the lens surface—usually silicon monoxide (SiO) or magnesium fluoride (MgF2). Most of the light will pass through the coating and lens surface with minimal refraction. Some light will pass through the coating and be reflected off the surface of the lens, however, and some light will be reflected off the surface of the coating. The thickness of the coating refracts the reflecting light slightly so that the surface reflection and the coating reflection actually end up in opposite phases to each other and cancel each other out, thereby eliminating the reflection. Some lenses have only one coated surface, some have multi-surface coatings. The more coatings, the more transmission of light and less flaring.

Seeing the Light | 03.2013

There are three primary categories of lens flare: ghost flare, spot flare and veiling flare. Ghost flare happens when a bright source within the frame reflects off the rear of a lens element onto the front surface of another element at a different position, creating a dimmer mirror reflection of the light source in a different part of the frame. Ghosting flare is very hard to fight as it’s caused by a light source or a significant highlight within the frame that is reflecting off one or more elements within the lens and being re-photographed. If the sun or a bright light source is in frame, you’re likely going to have a ghosting problem. This often happens at night with car headlamps—and there’s not a lot you can do about it. The only immediate solutions are to eliminate the source of the flare or change lenses. Spot flare occurs when a strong light hits the lens surface from off-axis and creates two or more reflections within the lens elements. These reflections




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Page 1


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Prices, specifications, and images are subject to change without notice. Manufacturer rebates are subject to the terms and conditions (including expiration dates) printed on the manufacturers’ rebate forms. Not responsible for typographical or illustrative errors. © 2000-2013 B & H Foto & Electronics Corp.



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Page 2


Kowa Prominar flare (left) and Zeiss Master Prime flare (right).

Three images from an intensive lens test I conducted with Christopher Probst. Model Anne-Michael Smith. Testing services courtesy of CamTec Motion Picture Cameras. Assistance from Alan Hill.

generally take on the shape of the lens’ iris. Spot flare can be avoided by incorporating a lens shade or mattebox, flags, etc.—anything that will cut the offending light off the lens. Veiling flare (sometimes called veiling glare) occurs when indirect light is reflected off one or more surfaces within the lens, reducing image contrast

and sharpness. It is generally shapeless. Just like spot flares, veiling flare can be controlled by preventing errant light from hitting the lens. Although lens coatings were first developed in the 1930s, the first major refinements to the process came in the 1960s and coatings have been improving steadily since the 1990s. This means that older lenses tend to flare more and have less light efficiency than newer lenses. There are occasions when flaring is desirable to the overall style of the image, however, and some modern lenses can be very hard to flare, which leads the savvy cinematographer to reach for vintage glass. In the lens test above, we can note the difference between lenses of two different eras. The newer Zeiss Master Prime holds its contrast much better even under harsh flaring conditions. The spot flare, especially, of the Kowa is more pronounced than the Master Prime, and the Kowa’s veiling flare affects more of the overall frame than the Master Prime. Even though a flare is an optical aberration, it can be a wonderful addition to any shot or scene. A flare can add a magical quality and is generally accepted by the audience as an organic part of the frame. dv

company Index 3 Legged Thing ..........................................82

Discovery Channel ...................................62

Image Engine ............................................12


Adam Wilt..................................................52


Intel Corp. .................................................15

RED Digital Cinema .....................22, 24, 72

Adobe .......................8, 12, 28, 50, 58, 65, 71

DitoGear ....................................................71

iZotope ......................................................49

Red Giant Software ...................................59

AJA .............................................................68

DJI ..............................................................82

Justin Cegnar.............................................71

Roland Systems Group .............................68


DSLRPros ..................................................82

JVC .............................................................44


Andersson Technologies ..........................10

DVEO .........................................................69

K-Tek ..........................................................82

Sekonic ......................................................52

Anton/Bauer .............................................35

Eastern Effects ..........................................32

Kessler Crane ............................................71

Apple ......................28, 34, 48, 52, 58, 67, 71

Eastman Kodak .........................................60

Kowa ..........................................................80


Archipelago Films.....................................73


LOOK Effects .............................................36

ARRI ......................................... 10, 15, 22, 31

EVS .............................................................68

LRTimelapse .............................................71

Atomos ......................................................69

Facilis Technology ....................................34

Manfrotto ..................................................82


Film Posse .................................................15

Maxon ..........................................................8

Avid .......................................... 18, 34, 49, 67

Florian Baron ............................................71

Microsoft Corp. ...................................48, 68

BBC ......................................................20, 72


Mumford Micro Systems ..........................71

BigStar .........................................................8

FotoKem ......................................................8

National Geographic ................................73

Blackmagic Design .......................34, 67, 82

Framestore ................................................10

Netflix ........................................................20

Boinx Software ..........................................71

Fujinon ................................................35, 44

Nice Industries..........................................82

Boris FX .....................................................58

Gamma & Density ....................................52

Nikon .........................................................73

Brickyard VFX ...........................................12

GenArts .....................................................59



Canon U.S.A. ............... 26, 28, 35, 53, 64, 82

Gitzo ..........................................................82

NuWaste Studios.......................................52

Vision Research ..........................................8

Carl Zeiss ................................. 22, 31, 74, 80

Glue Edit....................................................18

Panasonic .......................... 18, 24, 29, 34, 72

Warm Springs Productions ......................34


Google .................................................12, 14

Park Road Post ..........................................14

Waves Audio..............................................49

Cooke Optics .............................................31

GoPro.............................................24, 60, 82

PBS .......................................................15, 73

Wildlight Press ..........................................73

Dataton ........................................................6

Hoodman Corp. ........................................45


Woodman Labs .........................................62

Digital Film Tools......................................59

ikan Corp. ..................................................53 ..........................................82

zplane ........................................................50


Sonnet Technologies ................................68 Sony Creative Software ............................48 Sony Electronics ............... 15, 18, 24, 74, 82 Sound Devices ....................................15, 67 SPY ...............................................................8 Telenova Productions...............................75 The Foundry ..............................................10 ThinkBreatheLive .......................................8 Tiffen..............................................32, 59, 64 Tool of North America ..............................12 | 03.2013



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production diary


And Then IT’s sprIng Or Toys for Boys Spring Cleaning

of the time to set up and makes better movies.

gives a nice feature-film-like soft bokeh.

aviator travel Jib

3D Heaven

A real helicopter doesn’t like to hover, but this one does. I just love my DJI Phantom GoPro Aerial Quadcopter from DSLRPros. Take your fingers off the controls and it just stays up there, hanging in space. It’s uncanny. People stop and stare. The video is almost vibration free and there’s very little rolling shutter “jello,” even with the GoPro HERO3 set at 2.7K 30 fps Protune. I’ve just ordered another three batteries from DSLRPros, only $27 each. With my original battery, I can now fly for 50 minutes. Wheeee.... It’s replaced my huge homemade polecam. I’m sad to see it go, but my new ’copter takes a fraction

Next up, a carbon fiber tripod from 3 Legged Thing coupled with the Kickstarter-funded Aviator Travel Jib from Nice Industries. It’s perfect for close range up-and-over shots. Swinging the arm beats all those wimpy slider moves—the current rage on YouTube. “Look at me, I’ve got a slider.” To speed up things up, I’ve become addicted to quick release plates. I have a Manfrotto 394 on the tripod, one on my new Gitzo G2180 pan and tilt head and another on the Aviator jib. If I want to use the tripod with just the pan head? Click, that’s it. Want a jib shot? Unclip pan head, clip jib to tripod, click Gitzo pan head to the end of the jib. The jib is designed for DSLR cameras like the ubiquitous Canon EOS 5D Mk II. I’ve finally made the move and bought a couple of Sony NEX-6 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. For video, they are much better than the Canon. The sensor is APS-C size (23.5mm x 15.6mm)—close to Super 35mm film (24.89mm x 18.66mm). For interviews, I use the Sony 50mm f/1.8, which at 6’

I sold all my HERO2s on eBay—that went smoothly. I now have five new HERO3 Black Editions. For shooting 3D stereoscopic, two of my babies, configured with conventional 170° lenses and LCD Touch BacPac monitors, are mounted on a K-Tek Norbert Sport Junior frame with Manfrotto 323 RC quick release plates. I’ve an identical rig but with 5.4mm 85° lenses from Dennis at The new 5.4mm, while pricey at $279, is amazingly sharp, far better than GoPro’s “medium” setting.

goodbye Diy polecam, sad to see you go. Hello DJi phantom Quadcopter, how high can you fly?

Sony nex-6 camera, gitzo 2180 pan head, manfrotto 394 quick release, aviator travel Jib

k-tek norbert Sport Junior frame, gopro Hero3 black with 5.4mm 85° lens, manfrotto 323 quick release

It’s March and I’m throwing everything out. Portable DVD player. Who needs it? Not me. Out damned DVD player! My two Sony V1U cameras ... out, out! I bought them in 2006. Six years of faithful service, paid for themselves a thousand times over. Tough. Goodbye, been nice to know ya. I put them on eBay. After weeks of e-mails and no money, I decide to give them away.

Hanging from a Sky Hook


for my next aCt ... I’ve ordered a Blackmagic Teranex 3D Processor. If it’s as good as its brochure, it will line up my 3D HERO3 movies and make them look like Avatar. “The 3D camera align feature of the Teranex 3D Processor lets you frame sync even unlocked leftand right-eye signals and fix geometry errors in the camera rig. You can even correct the alignment of two consumer cameras for incredible 3D images!” Well, that’s the theory. Stay tuned. dv | 03.2013

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