GROUP TEST: PRO FILTERS
Transform your movies with these essentials
AUTUMN 2018 £4.99
DRONES: MUST-HAVE OR OLD HAT? The debate you must read
TALES FROM FILM SCHOOL
One graduate reveals what she learned after a year of studying
2018 MEDIA PARTNER
The new breed of LEDs that are taking over
HOW KINEFINITY MAVO, PANASONIC GH5S & SONY A7 III PUSH THE LIMITS OF TECHNOLOGY
How to choose and use mics
The best kit for speedy shooting
THE HOT LIST
Latest trends in filmmaking you can’t ignore
Simplify your post-production with our real-world guide to editing Making sense of VR: How business is booming for immersive filmmakers Tripods, mics, bags, hard drives & lots more gear tested and rated
AGENDA LATEST UPDATES
CINE GEAR EXPO SHOWCASE
Hollywood stars! If you’re into the latest tech in terms of cameras and lenses, then the Cine Gear show is the place to be WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL
he annual NAB show in Las Vegas may be the world’s biggest show for filmmaking tech, with everything from TV studio and VR technology to live streaming and lots more. But if it’s cameras, lenses and gizmos to capture footage you’re into, then the Cine Gear Expo in Hollywood is the place to be, held on the huge backlot of Paramount Pictures every summer. The show is booming due to the location with its exclusive fake New York streets and eateries, and the glamour of operating in such a hub of film and TV production. Looking around, I picked some cuttingedge trends in filmmaking technology, starting with high-end camera maker ARRI , which provided the kit for the vast majority of Oscar-winning films this year. On show were the custom-made lenses used in Solo: A Star Wars Story – the now famed DNA glass that persuaded DOP Bradford Young to stop searching for his lens choice. Anton Bauer was showing its new battery range with the Dionic XT90 and 150. Wildlife filmmaker Bertie Gregory said: “What stands out for me about the Dionic XTs is that they work really well in the cold, have great capacity, and save weight and space.”
Cinefade was showing a new product evolved from its magic filter which allows you to change depth-of-field while keeping a constant exposure. The new product gives you the Cinefade effect but is also a variable ND filter, so you can dial the level of ND that you want. Canon showed the new C700 FF camera with its non-standard sized new sensor. As a show promotion there was an offer to update your C700 with a new sensor block for only $2500. The Carl Zeiss booth was all about the new Supreme large-format lenses, as early adopter Balazs B commented: “The lenses have a beautiful gentle roll-off on the focus while still retaining the resolution demanded by high pixels count cameras.” Hive Lighting showed a line of stinging insect named lighting including Bee, Hornet and Wasp. The Hornet 200C uses only 150W which the company rates as equivalent to a 650-1000W incandescent.
CW Sonderoptics showed Leica lenses, including the new Thalia range ready for the large-format explosion. Duclos Lenses was on the side of the street which you would recognise from the Austin Powers movies. Matthew Duclos was showing his new Duclos 1.7x Expander, the saviour of the S35mm lenses for those who intend to use largeformat cinematography. The Expander effectively increases the image circle of the taking lens, providing a narrower field of view but with great image quality. MK-V Omega was showing demos of its new VR set simulation. You can actually practise your camera moves with equipment from cranes to dollies and you can even import your own virtual sets so initiating gear set-ups before you get on the real set is a possibility. In Panavision’s backyard you’d expect a big showing and we weren’t disappointed with launches, competitions and an art installation. Four new largeformat lens sets were on display. Primo X
“If it’s cameras, lenses and gizmos you’re into, then the Cine Gear Expo is the place to be”
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IMAGES The Cine Gear Expo at Paramount Studios in Hollywood saw lots of the latest kit on show, from the lens used to film the latest Star Wars film to the latest Panavision glass and lots more.
is the first cinema lens designed for use on drones and gimbals â€“ fully sealed, counterbalanced to be aerodynamic and come in 14mm (T3.1), 24mm (T1.6) and a 24-70mm zoom (T2.8). H Series is a traditionally designed spherical lens set created with vintage glass and coating, offering slightly elevated blacks for softer contrast. Ultra Vista is a series of large-format anamorphic optics. And PanaSpeed is a large-format update of the classic Primo. Panavision also showed the newly created DXL-M accessory for RED DSMC2 cameras. It brings popular features of DXL to RED MONSTRO, GEMINI and HELIUM sensors, such as the DXL menu system (via an app for the iPhone), LiColor2, motorised lenses, wireless time code (ACN), and the Primo HDR viewfinder. Talking about RED, its announcement about slimming down the range of cameras it offers certainly took people by surprise. There is now just the DSMC2 camera BRAIN with three sensor options - MONSTRO 8K VV, HELIUM 8K S35 and GEMINI 5K S35. This streamlined approach will result in a price reduction compared to the old line-up. Finally, Sony had a remote camera system based on the Venice full-frame camera, and details of version two of the Venice firmware with amongst other features: Dual base ISO, with 15+ stops of exposure latitude supporting high base ISO of 2500 in addition to existing ISO of 500; selection of off-speed fps in individual frame increments; several imager modes, 25p in 6K Full-Frame, 25p in 4K 4:3 Anamorphic, 6K 17:9, 1.85:1 and 4K 6:5 Anamorphic and now users can remove the PL mount and use a wide assortment of native E-mount lenses.
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AGENDA LATEST UPDATES
I KNOW THIS MUCH...
Dr Jonathan Wardle is director of the National Film and Television School and his vision includes making its students ready to be industry leaders
n a world where some would question whether study or experience is the best way to break into the filmmaking industry, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) claims to offer the best of both worlds, with a line-up of courses that are carefully geared towards delivering the skills and contacts that specific roles demand. Heading up the school is Dr Jonathan Wardle, whose previous experience includes establishing postgraduate partnerships with the BBC, Guardian and Sony Computers Entertainment Europe at Bournemouth University, and writing
the Creative Skillset ‘Build Your Own MA’ framework. Made director of the NFTS last year, he’s responsible for developing a number of new courses working in partnership with organisations including Sky, Channel 4, Discovery Networks International, the BBC and Aardman. We caught up with him to hear his take on the world of filmmaking and education.
set of courses, but now we’ve got over 500 students and teach more behind-thecamera courses than any other film school in the world. We teach everything from assistant camera to production accounting and script supervision, which are areas no other film school teaches. So the School changed and strengthened in that period by having that diversity of students.
We teach what other schools don’t It was a huge privilege to get the job of director last year after working at the NFTS since 2012. When I first joined the School it had 240 students and taught a very core
We’re more popular than Oxford and Cambridge! I think it’s fair to say we don’t have problems with applications in core areas. Actually, the numbers show that we
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AGENDA get more applications at postgraduate level than Oxford and Cambridge, and we’re undeniably in a growth area. The tricky bit is where people want to work in high profile areas, such as directing, writing or producing, yet that might not be where the demand is. That’s why we’ve developed courses such as script supervision and production accounting, because there’s a real industry skills gap in those areas. You need to focus to thrive We’re postgraduate, so that means although it’s not a prerequisite - that most students have already done an undergraduate degree in a generalist area. What they come to us for is to build a portfolio and specialise in a particular area. The film and television industry is not a generalist discipline – you build a career and life in a particular area. And it’s only because of the specific nature of what we do and because people spend two years building a portfolio that within a few weeks of graduating they have the potential to get top jobs. For example, one of our 2017 composing graduates, Segun Akinola, has just been announced as the new composer for Dr Who, which I don’t think would have happened if he’d done a bit of sound, a bit of editing and a bit of composing. He got that job because he focused. Be clear in what you want to achieve We also run diplomas, which are typically a year long, in particular areas such as production management, because there would be diminishing returns in areas like that if students were here for two years. A one-year Production Management diploma is just as valuable as a two-year MA in many ways because graduates are going to join at a junior level anyway, whereas with directing you’re using the second year to create a set of original films and work which becomes a way of getting hired on top shows. I always say at open days: “If you don’t know what you want to do but you know you want to broadly work in the film or television industry, this isn’t the right place for you. Only come here if you’re really clear where you want to be as we can help you achieve that.” Experience and learning work together The whole philosophy of how the courses are taught is learning by doing. Students learn how to be a production manager
LATEST UPDATES by production managing multiple films. They learn how to be a composer by doing the music for games, animations, fictions and documentaries. The teaching and the workshops wrap around that rather than workshops running separately. Every course has great exposure to the industry so, on screenwriting for example, they don’t do work experience but spend a lot of time with production companies interfacing with development people; on the Production Management Diploma, students do month-long placements, so it depends on the discipline. You can always learn something We’re probably the biggest provider of short courses for the film and television industry in the UK and have a reputation for being able to support people at an early or mid-career stage. The short courses are not for people who know nothing: they are for people who are already working but want to expand their skillset. For example, someone may have been working in development for some time but they want to understand production more so they go on a short course to expand their horizons. We work with about 700 people a year on short courses and they are very practical. You have to build up a track record The fact is that you’re never going to get given the gig of shooting a high-end TV drama or a feature unless you’ve done it before, so you have to build a portfolio and track record as a DOP, which is different to being an assistant in the camera department. You need a slate of work where you’ve made the choices. By coming to film school you get to do that, and a lot of our students come because they’ve tried to work their way up. They might have finished their undergraduate degree at 21 and worked for a couple of years in the industry, but they can’t seem to make that jump to the next level of their career; they come here and spend two years building a portfolio, so that when they leave they have a real chance of getting the break they want. Don’t be allergic to ‘practical’ We don’t see ourselves as being an academic route but rather a very practical route. What students are paying for is the space, time and support to make a portfolio of work. Some people say ‘don’t go to film school, go and make a film’, but I would argue that the fees to come here
“We’re probably the biggest provider of short courses for the film and TV industry in the UK”
ABOVE Plenty of real-life, practical experience gives added value to the NFTS’ educational offer.
are around £12-13,000/$15,929-17,245 a year and we give £11/12k a year to students to make their graduation film, so they get a lot back in terms of production budgets. For that they will go away having made three big, substantial films and two or three smaller films. Filmmaking should be accessible to many A huge part of what we do is support British talent. Last year 68% of the student body was British, 48% were female, 26% were black and ethnic minority British and that only happens because of scholarships – last year 83% of the British students who applied got some level of financial support, which is means tested. They apply and they might get all their fees paid or a proportion of their fees paid, and we match them with donors. We have about 80 industry donors who give money to support that. Expansion is the key to success My mission is to build on the national element of the school’s name and to do more in the nations and regions. We’ve already opened a base in Glasgow and are in the process of thinking about where else we might operate from. We are also thinking about the outreach work that we do, and what we might do to support people at a lower entry point like we do with the BFI Film Academy, which is aimed at 16- to 19-year-olds. All in all, it’s an exciting moment in time for the School.
More information https://nfts.co.uk
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FEATURE THE HOT LIST
1. LED GOES RGB! It wasn’t that long ago that LED lights were being touted as the best new thing in filmmaking, and many scoffed. The view was they were inconsistent in colour, weren’t powerful enough and would never take over from the hot tungsten and HMI lights the film industry had used for decades. But that has changed a lot in recent years, as LED technology has boomed. And as camera sensors have improved, there often isn’t the need for such powerful lights as a filmmaker can crank up the ISO. LEDs are typically smaller and lighter, quicker to spark into life and don’t need anywhere near the power of larger HMI lights. Huge ballast packs and trucks filled with generators are not needed any more. And if they are used a lot, the savings in electricity over older-style hot lights can make financial sense. They are flicker free and many can be wirelessly controlled via Wi-Fi or DMX, so it can integrate with existing systems. The technology has now reached a new point, with many of the serious brands launching LED lights – in everything from large soft panels to punchy hard lights – with red, green and blue output as well as the traditional daylight or tungsten balance. With a bit of tint thrown in if you were lucky. At the major shows this year, the big thing in lighting was RGB or RGBW lights, signifying that these lights could either have adjustable colour temperature and tint to produce white light, or be set to output any colour you like via a mix of red, green and blue. This has been a major breakthrough to get the colours accurate, as well as being able to produce clean white light. Byron Brown, product manager of industry giant Litepanels, said: “Quality control of LEDs will continue to be a critical factor in creating top-quality lighting. Most top quality, multicolour LED lighting products will also be calibrated at the factory to ensure consistent and accurate colour performance.” For now, there are more large, soft light panels available than more punchy lights as they overheat if too much power is in too small a space. Incandescent and HMI bulbs create an enormous amount of power in a very small space, while LED technology is still catching up. But this is
IMAGES Embrace the rainbow with the latest RGB and RGBW lights from the likes of ARRI, Litepanels and Fiilex.
“Quality control of LEDs will continue to be a critical factor” 20
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THE HOT LIST FEATURE
2. GET READY FOR RAW
changing rapidly and lights like the Fiilex Matrix II are already hitting the market and making an impact. Al DeMayo, the CEO of LiteGear, said: “The LED revolution that has taken place worldwide, in nearly every market segment, has largely been with the use of non-directional LED chips. Frankly speaking, they are much easier and cheaper to produce and these 120º, wide output LEDs are ideal for soft light fixtures. “Our business grew up using directional light fixtures such as fresnels and PARs with diffusion or bounce boards to create beautiful soft light. Today soft light is easy and uses far less area around camera. Directional light fixtures are coming but are a much greater challenge to make as they require engineered optics. Especially challenging is the use of phosphor-corrected, ultra-high CRI white LEDs. I think we will soon see high-quality directional white light as the technology and design evolves.” Of course it’s the new RGB coloured LEDs that are making an impact now, with lights like the ARRI SkyPanel and Litepanels Gemini allowing you to quickly use a full spectrum of colours to add lots of impact to any scene. No gels needed any more.
If you’ve come to filmmaking from professional photography then it comes as a bit of a shock that the vast majority of video isn’t shot in Raw. Stills shooters predominantly use Raw for ultimate quality and flexibility in processing, and now that experience is increasingly coming to filmmaking. It’s about having the best-quality information that you can push and pull around in post-processing. You can have 10-bit 4:2:2 footage at 400Mbps shot in Log via a relatively lossless codec, but there is nothing like having the actual Raw data itself to play with on your faster computer packed with accurate grading and editing software. And if you think it’s only for high-end productions, you’d be very wrong. A DOP and lighting tech can set up lights on big-budget films so the contrast and white-balance is controlled – all under the watchful eye of a director monitoring everything on a colour-corrected screen. But the typical small crew or runand-gun operator has to multitask, often in less-than-perfect mixed lighting. So being able to perfect it afterwards is a huge bonus. RED pioneered Raw shooting with its modular cameras shooting RedCode Raw files, but these are the domain of the few well-off filmmakers. Now Raw is becoming much more affordable, with cameras like the URSA Mini Pro and Kinefinity range offering it, Canon’s EOS C200 with its own slimmed-down Raw Light format and Sony’s FS5 and FS7 outputting Sony’s own Raw files – but all these need an intermediate step to make the files useable. And file sizes can be huge, meaning you need a fast computer and shares in hard drive manufacturers.
Now there’s ProRes Raw which takes the Raw files from cameras like the Sony FS700, FS5 and FS7 Mark I and IIs, Canon EOS C500 and C300 Mark II, Panasonic EVA-1 and VariCams and even DJI cameras, and records them on an Atomos recorder. They offer the flexibility of a Raw file, but in a smaller size and with the benefits of a readyto-edit format. The new Apple ProRes Raw is a free upgrade to owners of the Atomos Shogun Inferno or Atomos Sumo19 monitor/recorder. As long as your camera can output Raw via SDI then the recorder will translate that Raw data and convert it into the much more efficient ProRes Raw format. The biggest issue in shooting in Raw has always been the vast amounts of data. If you shoot Raw from cameras like Sony’s FS5, you can fill a 500GB hard drive in less than 15 minutes. With ProRes Raw, the Atomos records the Raw from the camera to one of two versions, Apple ProRes Raw or the higher-quality but larger ProRes Raw HQ. Using new compression techniques, ProRes Raw files are sized between conventional ProRes 422 and ProRes 422 HQ, while ProRes RAW HQ generally fall between those of Apple ProRes 422 HQ and Apple ProRes 4444. So essentially, file sizes that are reasonable to record and store. There are no additional steps in editing. You just use the footage as you would normal ProRes, except you have much more control. And the workable file sizes mean they can be edited on an iMac with no speed issues at all, and no frames dropped in playback. Of course, as it’s an Apple format you have to edit in Final Cut Pro X but it’s hoped other NLEs will follow suit.
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CASE STUDY MARK SHARMAN
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MARK SHARMAN CASE STUDY THE DEEP DIVE
PLUNGE Mark Sharman was in the fortunate position of deciding early in life what his career would be, but actually achieving his ambition to be an underwater filmmaker called for a highly-focused approach WORDS TERRY HOPE IMAGES MARK SHARMAN
or many of us it can take a frustratingly long time to work out what career we might want to work towards, leading to all kinds of problems down the line. But for young Mark Sharman there was never any debate. “My interests from an early age were wildlife and scuba diving,” he recalls, “and by the time I left school I was also interested in filmmaking, so the three things naturally dovetailed.” Following a three-year degree in TV production undertaken at Bournemouth University, Mark then set about making
his dream come true. Astute enough to realise that he didn’t have enough practical experience of diving or filming underwater at that stage, he determined to put that right by volunteering to assist the Coral Cay Conservation group, which involved diving and gaining dive qualifications up to divemaster for three months in the Philippines. He then followed this up by spending a further three months in Egypt, scuba diving with tourists and producing a DVD of their activities for them to purchase at the end of their holiday.
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CASE STUDY SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST
THE RISE OF RETRO
Vintage lenses and archive content were the biggest trends in non-fiction filmmaking at the 25th Sheffield Doc/Fest WORDS AND PICTURES ZENA OLIANI
f you want to know what’s on trend in the world of documentary filmmaking, then the Sheffield Doc/Fest is the place to be. And if you were one of the visitors who flocked from all over the world to celebrate the 25th edition of this highlyregarded festival this year, then the hottest themes were all about looking back. The unmistakeable look of classic lenses used on modern cameras, and the mix of archive, retrospective content mixed with up-to-date footage were the big topics. What’s old is new once again, it seems. While anyone can purchase a ticket to a screening there are certain events reserved only for full festival pass holders. Closed pitching events, panel talks with commissioners and Craft Summits are just a few of the exclusive elements to the programme and all of them were continually packed.
Notably, the Focus on Cinematography Craft Summit gave attendees the chance to hear some directors and cinematographers talk about their techniques and equipment. Directors revealed that they are regularly contacted by aspiring documentarians asking about what kit they use, so the festival was a great opportunity to talk about the considerations in choosing equipment for their own projects. As you’d expect there’s a lot of diversity in the chosen cameras but unlike Sundance, Doc/Fest doesn’t produce a list of the most popular equipment. Anecdotally it seemed as though Canon was still leading the field years after revolutionising the market with the inconspicuous EOS 5D, with many filmmakers still using this camera or upgrading to the C-series. Capitalising on this, Canon sponsored the Craft Summit and had a stand to showcase
IMAGES Sheffield Doc/Fest is now in its 25th year, and attracts visitors from all over the world, growing each year by attracting new visitors as well as seasoned regulars.
their products particularly suited to documentary, and allow filmmakers to get hands-on with the kit. During the cinematography Craft Summit, panel moderator Krishan Arora posed the question: “Is the choice of lens the new film stock?” But it was Maceo Frost, director of Too Beautiful: Our Right to Fight whose answer reflected a sentiment that was echoed around the festival. While he used a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera, he chose to pair it with vintage lenses. “Old lenses give a character to the footage, when you use new lenses sometimes it just becomes too sharp… you lose some of the personality.”
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SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST CASE STUDY
Numerous other filmmakers expressed similar feelings; they’re opting for modern cameras to benefit from increased dynamic range but they don’t always want a hyper-polished final result as this can undermine the credibility of the story. The optical flaws and coatings of old glass are increasingly being employed to fabricate a more ‘real’ aesthetic. Archiving This theme of ‘old is new’ didn’t stop with lenses either. There was a distinct pattern of popular films at this year’s festival which had a personal retrospective element to them. In photographer Lauren Greenfield’s Generational Wealth she revisits her own shots and subjects over the past 25 years, Sandi Tan’s Shirkers sees the long lost footage of a film she shot in her youth come back into her possession and
Bing Liu’s Doc Audience Award-winning Minding the Gap depicts the challenges of three young men over their decade-long friendship. This idea of significance in retrospect gave filmmakers in the audience pause for thought on their own historical content. Holly Cocker, co-director of production company Mark Three Media said “Generation Wealth definitely made us think about our own archiving and whether or not we should be revisiting some of our subjects… We do keep everything because you never know what you might need.” Having attended the festival since 2010, Holly is a regular but she felt this year’s festival was exemplary. “It was the best I’ve seen. The location choices were more accessible, it was really well run and the volunteers were especially knowledgeable.” While Holly’s production company was too busy to be pitching this
“When you use new lenses, sometimes it just becomes too sharp” year they have pitched at previous Mini MeetMarket sessions at the festival. She said: “The pitches are a main part of the festival but even just attending drinks and socials gives you a chance to get to know commissioners. It’s amazing to be able to get together with like-minded filmmakers and see so many great films. It’s a really important festival for us.” The stars of the show Sean McAllister’s A Northern Soul was the festival’s opening night film and was
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MAKING THE CUT
STEPS TO EDITING NIRVANA Cutting a film can be one of the greatest challenges for moviemakers. But follow Chris Weatherlyâ€™s tips to make the process easier than ever WORDS CHRIS WEATHERLY
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lthough I consider myself very much to be a filmmaker first and foremost, editing is just one of those things that I’ve reluctantly taken on over the years. It’s not that I actively dislike the process, more that I can see the benefit of having fresh eyes going through footage, even if I might have worked on it as a director or DP. There’s also the point that having a specialist do this work for you undeniably does save a vast amount of post-production time. However, the budget to pay for a dedicated editor often isn’t there, and so there has been no option but to take on the cutting myself. The positives in this include the fact that editing your own work and having no-one else to bail you out when you’ve missed the shots you need does give you more of a grasp of the art of storytelling and should make you a more rounded filmmaker. For those coming into this area for the first time here are a few general and easy editing tips, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t call himself an editor, that have helped me a lot and might be useful for your own business.
Get organised The first thing I do when I start editing is to organise my files. This might come across as a little obvious, but there are some editors who simply don’t have the patience to do this at the very start of the process and who then just start grabbing clips and throwing them on a timeline. If you start cutting from here, the danger is that you’ll miss things and potentially create more work for yourself down the line. I approach the organisation of files the same way I do the pre-production for a shoot. The way it works is that the more organised you are at this stage, the easier the actual production days will be. By the same token, the more time you take
ABOVE Editing your own work is seen by many filmmakers as a chore, but getting to grips with the process can actually help you develop a keener eye for getting the shots you need and a better grasp of the art of storytelling.
to get organised before editing the more efficient you’ll be when you actually start the process. For the recent short film I directed for the charity CARE, I organised all of my clips into bins that were specified by scenes, and this subsequently made it very easy to find everything and saved me missing a crucial sequence. Had I been undertaking a longer project I would have actually labelled every clip by its scene, shot number and take. This is the industry standard, but I didn’t find it necessary for a film that featured just 12 scenes.
Watch ALL the footage I used to just scrub through clips but my editing experience has taught me that actually watching all your footage is helpful. Even if you were on set the day of the shoot, operating camera and directing, there will still be things you don’t remember happening in any given take. You could find yourself surprised by what you find. Of course, just as with organising clips, this process will take more time, but it will be well worth it if you come across that one golden take that wasn’t expected.
Realise your rough cut will be rough Martin Scorsese said: “If you don’t get physically ill after seeing your first rough cut, something is wrong.” The more experience I’ve had with filmmaking, the more and more this statement rings true.
“It helps the audience to start a scene with a wide establishing shot, so that they can understand the environment the actors are living in”
Often I feel the panic levels rising a little after I finalise a rough cut. Inevitably, my first thought is that it isn’t going to work. However, a few deep breaths later I remind myself that there’s a reason why a rough cut gets its name, and it’s rare that you can’t polish or rescue it. However, while I know this to be true I still wouldn’t show a client, who might not be fully up to speed on what a first edit is. Rather I will use my panic to drive me to edit some more and to tidy things up before there’s any external input. Editing is all about refining the story, so just keep editing.
Remember…Wide, Medium, Tight, Repeat In any given story it helps the audience to start a scene with a wide establishing shot, so that they can understand the environment the actors are living in. Wide shots also orientate the audience in such a way that it enables them to understand how the actors relate to their environment, and from here you can move into medium and close up shots. This is a time-honoured rule that editors live by for good reason. However, I break the rule at times. Maybe I want to disorientate the audience at the beginning of a scene by starting on a close-up and then cutting to a wide to reveal what the character is reacting to. For example, in the last scene of the CARE film, there’s no real wide establishing shot but the audience can see that the main character is driving a car. When she arrives to pick up the boy there’s still no wide shot, because I wanted the audience to focus on the actor’s response. That was the most important part of the story in this scene and it wouldn’t have worked so well had I stuck to a rigid formula.
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MOVIE MATTERS USING STOCK TAKE STOCK
PLAY THE STOCK MARKET Stock footage can be a way to cut costs on difficult-to-achieve sequences, while there’s also the option to sell clips to boost finances WORDS TERRY HOPE
f you’re a creative filmmaker who takes pride in the originality of your production, would you deem it something of a personal failure to be using stock sequences alongside your own footage, or would you be more pragmatic and consider the potential benefits? If it’s the latter then you most certainly won’t be alone: more filmmakers than you might realise, even those working on high-profile productions, are looking to stock as a way of solving various issues that arise when budget is a priority. So in what circumstances might stock come riding to the rescue? Well, consider such things as a wide establishing shot of an iconic landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, that firmly places the action in a particular city. The cost of travelling to such a place and clearing all the necessary licences could be huge, whereas a decent stock library will have dozens of options for you, including air-to-air shots that would have ratcheted up the challenges and your costs still higher.
Then there are the dramatic moments in a film that are full of impact but hugely costly to stage, such as a car crash, a building on fire or an explosion. These too can be sourced quite easily through stock, as can complicated time-lapse sequences that would take an age plus a fair amount of specialist knowledge and experience to put together yourself. Buy something off the shelf that ticks all the boxes and then take care in the grade to match it to the look you have for the rest of the footage, and you could be saving a huge amount of time, effort and expense, while gifting your film production values that might be way beyond what you could otherwise afford. “Think about whether you’re going to make use of stock options from the very start of your production,” says Kyle Trotter, director of creative video content at Shutterstock in Toronto, Canada, “and then factor this into your budget. We’ve got nine million video clips in our collection, so there’s a lot of material to choose from and a good chance that we’ll
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USING STOCK © SHUTTERSTOCK
have what you want. And by using stock to provide some of the more expensive and time-consuming sequences you’ll be able to put your budget towards other things, such as maybe another day with your actors.” Impressive sequences In an age when production values are continually rising while the pressure on budgets is unrelenting, stock is one way of adding impressive sequences to your film that would otherwise be unachievable. However, you need to have a clear idea from the outset about how you plan to use stock and the grade you’re using for the rest of the footage. One
“Think about whether you’re going to make use of stock options from the very start”
IMAGES Making use of stock footage for expensive sequences will enable you to spend more budget on the meat of your production.
thing that has changed in recent times is the idea that you’re stuck with the look of the footage that you might buy in. These days agencies specialise not just in a comprehensive variety of shooting styles, but they also supply sophisticated editing tools that can bring your purchased clips closer to your personal vision. RocketStock by Shutterstock is the home of a number of video packs that cost between $79 and $199, and these enable a number of different effects to be added to footage. Abyss, for example, delivers 169 different wave, splash and ripple effects, while Submerge comes with 130 water and rain effects. And so it goes on: Lucent Ultra comes with 260 vivid lens flares in 4K, and Lucent Warm provides 140 more. Burn has 200-plus fire effects, Collapse comes with 80 debris effects, Ricochet 450-plus muzzle flash and gun smoke effects, and Mojave 100 dust effects. There’s even a pack called Tidal that delivers 100 different transitions, so it’s an easy entry point into editing that can give the
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AERIAL FILMMAKER FLYING HIGH
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UP IN THE AIR
DRONE OF CONTENTION Should you sprint to catch up with the aerial bandwagon or save your cash and wait for the next big thing? WORDS ZENA OLIANI
t started about two years ago. As a judge for the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, I was settled in, laptop poised, ready to continue watching that year’s batch of films. Being a couple of years into this position there were a few things I’d come to expect; a disproportionate use of the words “stoked” and “pumped” for instance. Or an obligatory timelapse of a tent under the night sky. But as the first film opened on a lovely aerial shot tracking a mountain-biker down a dusty forest trail, I couldn’t help but feel déja vu. I checked my notes; I definitely hadn’t watched this film before. Alas, over the coming days I would realise the problem: drones had become the new slider. They were everywhere. Having aerial in your adventure film no longer made you stand out, more notable were the films that didn’t have any drone footage. Much like the slider, the drone had become a kit bag essential; a way of replicating a high-end production value for a fraction of the price. In most instances the shots were beautiful, but it didn’t feel like the cinematographers were carefully choosing
aerial because it was the best way to tell the story. Rather, it seemed as though whoever owned the drone was determined to get as much use out of it as possible. Now, adventure films typically have quite a low bar to entry. To make one, all you need is access to camera equipment and some fearless friends who are semi-talented at an extreme sport. The accessible nature of these films made the drone deluge all the more interesting – had all of these people undertaken Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or equivalent training, were they all shooting with their own drones or had some of them hired in external operators? I’ve since noticed the impact in other genres: estate agents looking for CAAqualified videographers; commercial clients wanting to re-edit promo videos with new aerial footage; and a few months ago I was exhibiting at a wedding fair when I overheard a bride-to-be saying: “Our only requirement is that they have a drone. We really want some drone footage.” All of this begs the question, do you need a drone just to compete now?
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GEAR KINEFINITY MAVO 6K
KINEFINITY MAVO 6K
WEAPON OF MASS SEDUCTION! Kinefinityâ€™s burly new Mavo could be the Super35 modular cinema camera that has mass market appeal WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
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KINEFINITY MAVO 6K
et’s immediately talk about the elephant in the room. Building an almost industrialstyle modular camera that can be kept small or rigged up, and that is built to shoot Raw files, has always meant one brand, and that’s RED. It’s the dream camera for many independent filmmakers, who want the simplicity of a rugged camera that is focused on image quality and fast frame rates above all else. But the cost is just too much for many to swallow. The Chinese-made Kinefinity is obviously the same style camera as a RED, with the same focus on modularity, speed and image quality. But at a fraction of the cost. A basic 5K RED package will cost about £25,600/ $28,875 while a similar-spec Kinefinity Mavo 6K pro package is a far more reasonable £10,194/ $13,370. Of course, you get what you pay for and if you have the budget for a RED and all its accessories, then that’s still the way you’ll go and no doubt be very happy as the American cameras are simply stunning. But for the rest of us, where every bit of cash you hand over for kit has to pay for itself quickly, the Mavo is a new option that deserves a serious look. Hot on the heels of the Kinefinity Terra 4K, tested and raved about in the last issue, the Mavo is its big brother in all but physical size. The Terra has a sensor a little bigger than Micro Four Thirds size. The same size, in fact, as a Panasonic GH5S sensor which also, like the Terra, has dual ISO native capability. It’s almost as if the sensors rolled out of the same factory. The Mavo moves Kinefinity into a whole new arena, one that serious filmmakers want to be in, and that’s a Super35-size sensor. Just like many of the cinema cameras on the market from Sony, Canon, Panasonic and RED. A Super35 camera lets you use lenses without a big crop, and gives that wonderfully shallow depth of field that can give a true cinematic look. But to serious professionals, a camera is more than a one-off purchase but something that has
SPECIFICATIONS Price: £10,194/ $13,370 Pro Package including camera, back, monitor, grip, 500GB SSD and case Sensor: S35mm CMOS sensor, 24x16mm Recording formats: Compressed CinemaDNG 12-bit, ProRes444XQ/ 422HQ/ 422/ 422LT/ Proxy 10-bit MOV, Compressed Lossless KineRAW 12-bit (with firmware upgrade coming soon) File sizes and maximum frame rates: 6K wide 6016x4016 66fps, 4K wide 4096x2160 100fps, 3K wide 3017x1620 130fps, 2K wide 1920x800 196fps. Dynamic range: >14 stops Shutter angle: 0.7-358° Recording media: 2.5in 7mm wide SSD Audio: In-camera mic, 3.5mm input jack, 48V phantom power XLR with KineBACK ISO: 800 to 24,800 Image stabilisation: None Autofocus: None Video modes: Manual LUTs: Neutral, flat, custom 3D Dimensions (WxHxD): 115x110x95mm/4.5x4.3x3.7in Weight: 990g/2.1lb body only to last, have a service network and direct line to technical help if something goes wrong. In recent times, that’s where Kinefinity has fallen down as the cameras were shipped directly from China to the customer, in most cases. But now Kinefinity is expanding with an all-new factory, and it knows it needs serious distributors in lots of territories to give a potential buyer the confidence to slash the cash. British firm ProAV now handles distribution and service in the UK, so that gives huge confidence to a would-be purchaser. The Mavo we got our hands on was the first to arrive in the
“Changes are made to take into account what actual customers are saying” AUTUMN 2018 PRO MOVIEMAKER
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GEAR SONY A7 III V PANASONIC GH5S BATTLE OF THE CAMS
Sony’s new A7 III faces Panasonic’s GH5S in a battle to see which is best for filmmakers WORDS AND IMAGES ADAM DUCKWORTH
wo 4K cameras, launched within a few weeks of each other, both costing roughly the same and both excellent at shooting video. The Sony A7 III and Panasonic GH5S are stunningly capable cameras that in many ways offer a similar spec. But for filmmaking, they do things very differently. The Sony A7 III is a full-frame camera that is the firm’s ‘basic’ model, and equally at home shooting stills as well as video; it’s the ultimate all-rounder. It doesn’t have the high-megapixel sensor of the A7R III or blazing fast speed of the A9, but it has a better filmmaking spec than Sony’s previous best video camera, the
A7S II. And until the Mark III version of the S camera comes out, that makes the A7 III the king of the hill in Sony world. The Panasonic GH5S is based on the excellent GH5 but is geared towards filmmakers with no compromises for users who want to shoot stills. Its sensor may be roughly a quarter the area of the chip inside the Sony, but it is optimised for video with just enough pixels to be perfect for 4K movies and fantastic at keeping noise low. Although the Pana has a much smaller sensor, the camera is roughly the same size and weight as the Sony. Both cameras have headphone jacks, dual card slots, HDMI outputs, mic jacks,
built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, focus peaking, tilting touchscreens and slow motion capture. All stuff a filmmaker values. Neither have a built-in flash or can do gimmicky things like in-camera panoramas. These are pro-level cameras ideal for hard use with no frills. All mirrorless cameras are affordable compared to cinema cameras; great at low light, they’re compact and give great results. That’s why filmmakers put up with inadequacies in certain areas such as poor battery life and no XLR inputs. But which of these newcomers is the best bet for filmmakers? We look at how they compare in 11 key areas.
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SONY A7 III V PANASONIC GH5S
HANDLING AND MENUS Sony has taken a big leap forward with its Mark III versions of its A7 series, with a much bigger Rec button to trigger video recording instead of the tiny button that could be accidentally turned on and off in everyday handling. The camera now allows back-button focus using the dedicated AF-ON button, and there’s a thumb-operated AF Multiselector toggle allows you to quickly move the AF point. It’s powered by a lithium battery, and has two USB connections, one standard USB-2 and one fast USB-C. So it’s good for stills photo tethering via USB-C, downloading cards or charging from a laptop. There are twin card slots but only one is for the faster UHS-II cards, which is a shame. And if you set the camera to record in NTSC to take advantage of its higher frame rate, but are in a PAL area, every time you turn on the camera you get a warning message. You have to half-touch the shutter button to get rid of it. It’s annoying and will cause you to miss shots. The viewfinder is not the latest, super-fast version
of its big-brother A9 or A7R III and although it refreshes quickly, it’s not cutting edge. It’s areas like this where Sony has cut corners to use an expensive sensor but make the camera more affordable. And there are the menus; very complicated and lengthy even if you’re an experienced Sony user. There’s a My Menu tab, but you can’t set everything here. And you can’t use the touchscreen for all functions. Many prefer to disable it. Another annoying glitch is that you can only change audio levels in movie mode, which is a simplistic mode that doesn’t give ultimate quality as compared to shooting everything in normal manual mode. The Panasonic’s menu system is relatively easy to follow and its My Menu tab lets you group together all your most-used functions. But it shows how Panasonic has studied what working filmmakers need the most from a small camera and delivered a product that is just right. The electronic viewfinder is the same 3680k-dot OLED panel as the GH5, as is the rear touchscreen that is intuitive to use. The GH5’s focus point joystick remains and works well, letting you change AF points with your eye to the camera which is great for stills. While Sony’s screen tilts, the Pana’s articulates sideways which is so much better for using on a gimbal. Winner: Panasonic, thanks to its simple menus and articulating touchscreen
A7 III ABOVE Sony has vastly improved its button functionality, but Panasonic’s controls ooze quality.
LEFT The Sony has a complicated, difficult to follow menu system even for those who have used Sony before, while the Panasonic's is much more userfriendly.
“Two 4K cameras, launched within a few weeks of each other, costing roughly the same” A7 III
BUILD QUALITY The Panasonic is built to be tough, with a magnesium alloy body that’s splash proof, dust proof and freeze proof down to -10̊. Compared to the GH5, the top plate has been redesigned with a big red Rec button. Like the standard GH5, there are separate buttons for ISO and white-balance, while the shutter speed and aperture are altered by two dials. It’s intuitive to use and simple. The Sony may not have the old-school dials like the Panasonic, but it’s also built rugged as it’s based on the professional A9 sports camera. It’s also sealed against the elements, and has well-sealed caps over its various sockets. But dirt can get into the buttons, as proved by testing at our dirt bike shoots. Winner: Panasonic, as those metal controls ooze toughness
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GEAR GROUP TEST WHICH FILTER?
We look at filter options on everything – from mirrorless to cinema cameras WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH & KINGSLEY SINGLETON
f you’re the sort of filmmaker who uses the term “I’ll fix it in post” a lot, then you’re missing a huge trick. Getting it right in camera is what all professionals should strive to do. It saves hours in front of a computer, and of course there are lots of things that are near-impossible to properly fix in post, such as incorrect white-balance, exposure and depth-of-field. Add to that list the effects that can only be done in capture, made possible by careful use of filters, such as being able to set the aperture you want by controlling the exposure using ND filters, or a polarising filter that not only gets rid of reflections but also deepens colours, especially skies. How about a graduated ND filter to help washed-out skies, bringing the tonal range back to where it can be handled by the dynamic range of your camera? It’s no surprise these are the three must-have filters that every filmmaker should own (as well as a UV filter for cutting out ultra violet light and even protecting your lens’s expensive front element). Film crews have huge cases full of filters to fit to their lenses, and although that’s out of reach for most independent
filmmakers, a selection of the most useful filters should be on your shopping list. With many filmmakers using DSLR or mirrorless cameras, we’ve taken a look at drop-in filters and filter kits on the 100mm size from many of the top brands. These are typically very affordable as they are predominantly designed for stills photography and are built to fit on large, professional glass. Some systems can be bought piecemeal while others are bought as kits – to fit them to different-sized lenses you just need to buy the right-size adapter ring. We tested these systems using a full-frame Nikon D850 with 16-35mm f/4. Moving up to more professional systems, we also tested a range of drop-in cinema filters from Schneider and FormattHiTech, which are designed for the ultimate in quality for the very best TV and film productions. We tested these on a Sony FS7 fitted with a pro-spec but lightweight Vocas matte box system. And finally, we look at the filter every filmmaker should own, a variable ND. It’s the one must-buy filter that allows you to get the exposure right in bright light.
LEE FILTERS 100MM FOUNDATION KIT £100/$80
Lee Filters is a mainstay for professional photographers, and it’s clear why. The 100mm system is well designed and highly adaptable, built around the Foundation kit, a light and beautifully machined resin and brass holder, available on its own or in kit form. There are two types of adapter ring, a standard and wide-angle version to reduce vignetting from the holder. We went for the latter, which screws in easily, while the holder mounts via a sprung brass clip. Once seated, it rotates smoothly and securely in the adapter’s groove and the knurled clip sits a long way proud of the holder, so it’s easy to operate. A padded nylon case is included along with a screwdriver, and an extra set of blades increases the supplied twofilter bays to three. Lee’s 2mmthick filters slot in smoothly and
are easily adjusted as the bays are short enough for even 100x100mm filters to leave graspable edges; they cost from around £100/$120, and there’s an extensive range. A polariser can be attached using the 105mm accessory ring (£34.99/$40), and costs £179/$235. Being on the front means you don’t need to remove the holder to take it off, but it does cause vignetting in that position. With two bays at 16mm we saw no vignetting, but it crept in from 17mm with three. With two bays, adding the polarising filter saw vignetting from 18mm. With one bay and polariser there was no vignetting. PRO MOVIEMAKER RATING: 9/10 Well designed, well-built and topquality optics Pros: The industry standard Cons: Some vignetting at wider settings
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B+W FILTER HOLDER II & ADAPTER RING £120/$119
B+W Filters recently redesigned its square filter holder and released several new 100x100mm and 100x150mm filters. The design is still traditional, with no fitting for a rotating polariser as found on some other models, and the holder is made of lightweight aluminium, coming with three plastic filter bays. You can remove some of the bays or loosen the fit if required, using the included cross-type screwdriver. The set-up felt well machined and robust. Like all such holders you need an adapter ring, available in 52, 55, 58, 62, 67, 72, 77 or 82mm ring sizes. Mounting securely on the adapter, the holder is held by a brass spring-loaded clip. After fitting, it turns with a bit of a grate, but holds position well. The holder design now features a foam gasket to cut light leaks; this sits around the aperture, pressing against the first of the filters you insert. Filters up to 2mm in thickness slot in very smoothly, with a good level of tension. We found that it vignetted very slightly at 19mm with all three
bays, and very slightly at 16mm with just two. It doesn’t come with short screws, so they sit a little proud after adjustment. B+W’s range of square filters isn’t the most extensive, but they’re well made and come in metal cases. There are 0.6, 0.9, 1.8, and 3.0 stop NDs, and 0.3 and 0.6 stop soft grads, starting at £130/$159. Unfortunately, the holder doesn’t come supplied with a case.
PRO MOVIEMAKER RATING: 8/10 Well built but not too expensive Pros: Solid with good light sealing Cons: No polariser option
H&Y QUICK RELEASE MAGNETIC FILTER FRAME KIT From £38/$35
Although H&Y produces a regular 100mm holder and a range of filters for it, this kit is all about revolutionising what you’ve already got. The Magnetic Filter Frame Kit replaces a slotted filter holder design with a magnetic system. Remove the filter blades on your existing holder, add H&Y’s magnetic adapter strips, then put a magnetic frame around your 100x100mm or 100x150mm filter. It then attaches on contact. We used a kit to adapt a Lee Foundation Kit holder, but they’re also available for Formatt-HiTech, B+W, Nisi and H&Y’s own K Series holder. The magnetic blades attached neatly to the Lee holder and the frames fitted snugly around a 100x150mm filter. The frame comes in four sections, attaching using a mixture of adhesive tape and clips. The 100x100mm frame didn’t fit quite
as well, but it still functioned with a small gap. Once framed, filters can be layered up much more closely than a regular holder allows, and it’s easy to slide them up and down (there’s a locking screw, though you need to be careful not to overtighten this). With three stacked there was no vignetting. The frames aren’t really designed to be removed, though it can be done and they may suffer wear and tear if this is done too often. The holder strips can be taken off easily. Each frame comes with a case and cleaning cloth. A single 100x150mm frame and one pair of adapter strips is £38/$35. PRO MOVIEMAKER RATING: 8/10 A new idea for fitting drop-in filters Pros: Lets you use lots of filters Cons: Pricey if you have lots of filters
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