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ction Issue 5

exploring digital cinematography & beyond

Afonso Salcedo FS7 takes on Sand, Heat, and Wind at Burning Man

John W. Rutland gets paranormal with Sony Cameras

Rob Scribner’s FS5 journey to Zion Beyond Definition A1

LETTER from the EDITOR Welcome to the 5th edition of Sony’s @ction Magazine. We’ve assembled an incredible compilation of user stories, spanning the world and highlighting Sony’s cameras, from our newest handheld 4K models, the PXW-FS5 and FS7, to the HXR-NX100. From the vantage point of a drone, to deserts, and the set of a movie franchise, Sony’s cameras are busy capturing a diverse array of projects. Our cover feature introduces you to filmmaker and photographer Afonso Salcedo, who explored the “creative crucible” that is Burning Man. Afonso brought his FS7 and FS700 to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to bear witness to the creation of an artistic installation called The Temple. Battling heat, wind and dust, Sony’s cameras held up against the elements during his three-week shoot. Next, we reconnect with Director of Photography Rob Scribner, who detailed his use of Sony’s NEX‑FS100 in Issue 2. Rob was one of the first to shoot with Sony’s new FS5 camcorder, which he used to capture glassblowing at Zion Warne’s Studio. @ction also talked to Jonny Mass and Edward Khoma, the team behind production company Abandon Visuals. Their insightful Q&A details the duo’s use of Sony’s cameras, including the FS7, F5 and α7S II for action sports and client work including their largest project, Area 27 and Area 27 Outside the Gates, which focuses on NASCAR and Motocross breakout Cole Moore. We also interviewed Adele Scholl, aerial videographer for Quadrocopter and Gravity Shots about her pioneering experience with drone technology, as well as using Sony’s FS7 with a drone. In addition to real estate videos, Adele’s drone footage is instrumental in capturing content for popular television series, commercials, competitions and more.

Next, you’ll meet Meg Prior, cinematographer and filmmaker who has often used Sony’s cameras while deployed with U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This time Meg, a self-described run-and-gun shooter stayed stateside, bringing Sony’s new NX100 to California’s Mojave Desert. Finally, we take you behind the scenes of Paramount Pictures’ Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. John W. Rutland, Director of Photography for the 6th installment of the popular horror franchise, describes how he and his team used a complement of Sony’s cameras to bring this spooky tale to the big screen. As always, we hope you enjoy reading these production stories as much as we do telling them. And don’t forget to read our “What’s New” section to hear what we’ve been up to. Thanks for your continued readership and email us ( to share how Sony’s cameras are helping you create the projects that bring your dreams to life. Maybe your story will be featured in our next issue! Thank you for reading!

Chiyoko Yannette Senior Marketing Manager Professional Solutions Americas Sony Electronics Inc.

What’s New As you can see from this issue, Sony’s FS Series cameras continue to gain new users, new applications and new production credits in every genre. Just as important, they’re also gaining new capabilities with significant firmware updates. Inspired both by your requests and our original product roadmap, Sony’s engineers are making the FS7 and FS5 even more amazing.

a 2K (2048 x 1080) window in the middle of the sensor. It’s a useful alternative for two main reasons. First, 2K Center Scan enables you to use lenses that project a smaller image circle, such as Super16 or even 2/3-inch broadcast B4 lenses. Compared to Super35, these lenses tend to be smaller and lighter, with a wider zoom range and greater depth of field – important advantages when you’re shooting vérité, sports and nature. Second, 2K Center Scan transforms your Super35 glass, effectively doubling the magnification. So a 24mm prime’s effective angle of view becomes the same as a 48mm and a 15.5 to 45mm zoom acts like a 31 to 90 with no light loss and no degradation in lens quality.

FS5 Firmware Upgrade V1.11 Available now, this free firmware upgrade for the PXW-FS5 enables simultaneous QFHD (3840 x 2160) recording both to internal cards and an external recorder (note that you can now select between the viewfinder or HDMI/HD-SDI output during QFHD recording). We heartily encourage all current owners of the FS5 to take advantage of this free upgrade. Version 1.11 is merely the next step in the camera’s ongoing development. A future firmware release will enable FS RAW capture on an outboard recorder. You’ll be able to simultaneously record XAVC™ proxy internally while you capture FS RAW externally and continue to use the viewfinder and LCD monitor. FS7 Firmware Upgrade V3.10 Our PXW-FS7 becomes even more capable with the free Version 3.10 upgrade. The headline capability is 2K Center Scan, a feature that has proven popular on the F55 and F5 and is also offered on the FS5. In HD recording, the PXW-FS7 gives you a choice 2K Full Scan or 2K Center Scan. In 2K Full Scan, the entire 4K sensor is used to derive a 2K output signal. In contrast, 2K Center Scan crops the image to create

Other FS7 enhancements include time lapse (“interval recording”) variable from one shot per second to one shot per day (24h), improved Focus Magnification, and improved viewfinder zebras. The upgrade also adds support for the newlydeveloped XQD M-Series cards and enhances picture quality for onboard recording in XAVC™-L and MPEG HD 422 codecs as well as outboard RAW recording via the XDCA-FS7. There’s even more good news in the development pipeline. And we continue to listen to your comments, looking for new opportunities to enhance our cameras. So the next time you see a Sony representative, speak your mind. And who knows? The next request we satisfy could be yours!

Table of Contents


Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”


Blown Away by Sony’s PXW-FS5



Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test


Adventures of the PXW-FS7 on a Drone


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7


Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras


Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity” By Afonso Salcedo Filmmaker, photographer (Sutro Studios) Photo Credit: Afonso Salcedo Burning Man gathers 70,000 people from around the globe into what’s called a “Crucible of Creativity” as participants build a city of art and ideas in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. This year, I put a combination of Sony 4K technologies – the PXW-FS7 camcorder with FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS servo lens, the NEX-FS700 camcorder and α7R II camera – through a torture test of sandstorms and heat.


Temple Crew does their formal gathering and celebration inside the Grove of Trees at the Temple of Promise, an hour or two before the Temple is officially open to the citizens of Black Rock City. 2

Burning Man – how does one communicate the gathering? How can you capture the heart of personal transformation? My production company, Sutro Studios, shot a documentary about the festival by focusing on The Temple, a sculpture that serves as the soul and spiritual connection for many there. It is the setting for countless stories that reveal the humanity of the Burning Man experience. I came to this personal documentary project after many years working in the film industry, first in London doing visual effects for films like the third Harry Potter movie (The Prisoner of Azkaban) and Troy. Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay area to join the lighting department at Pixar Animation Studios, working on some of their most cherished films including Toy Story 3, Wall-E, Ratatouille and Up. During my tenure at Pixar, I had the opportunity to create their official contribution to the It Gets Better project, an anti-bullying short film that targeted LGBT youth around the world and was enormously well-received online. This experience inspired me to take up other work in cinematography and photography, which I’ve always loved. It also confirmed my desire to craft my own stories and to show amazing people in companies and non-profits absorbed in their expertise. Three years ago, I opened Sutro Studios to make my dream a reality. Before taking off on our odyssey to Burning Man, we invested a great deal of time researching and then doing comprehensive testing of the latest technology to be sure we had the right camera. 3

Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”

“This experience inspired me to take up other work in cinematography and photography, which I’ve always loved.”


Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”

I’m really picky about cameras. From the flexibility of the lens mount, to the codecs available and the picture profile, to the ergonomics – every single thing has to come together to help me create and tell the story the way I see it in my head. How will the sensor respond to light? How much can I push the image in grading? How good is the dynamic range? How noisy is the camera? How high is the picture quality? What lenses can I use? We’ve mostly used the NEX-FS700 on shoots, but after our research, we quickly saw that that the FS7 was without a doubt the perfect choice for us to bring into the desert as our main camera. It balanced all of our requirements. It’s not only a great run-and-gun camera for documentary work, but also is quite capable in more formal studio settings. We set out in mid-August for the three-week shoot with a brand-new FS7 along with our FS700 to work alongside it. We also added a Sony α7RII mirrorless camera to our kit. We used the Atomos Shogun to record in 4K with each. We arrived at Burning Man on August 15, two weeks before it started, alongside the select few people allowed into the desert to build the city and main structures.

“...FS7 was without a doubt the perfect choice for us to bring into the desert as our main camera.”



Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”

As it turned out, this was an exceptionally tough year at Burning Man in terms of the weather conditions but despite all of the challenges nature threw our way, the FS7 ably handled itself. The desert conditions at Black Rock City are typically intense, with searing heat and wind, and this year was the worst I’d ever experienced. Massive wind and dust storms swept through the Playa, the dry lakebed, at nearly 70mph. This lifted huge metal structures off the ground and left us blind in complete whiteouts where you could barely see your hand in front of you.

Massive storm at 7am on Saturday pre-event starts destroying a lot of camp sites around the Playa. The amount of dust in the air is hard to process thanks to modern high-res photographic cameras.

Drew Smith, member of the Temple Crew camp, celebrates life as we finish securing camp structures during a massive wind storm.


“...this was an exceptionally tough year at Burning Man in terms of the weather conditions...�

An intense storm cloud hovers in the skies for a few hours after massive winds sweep through Black Rock City, a day before gates officially open to the public. 8

Jaz working on her piece at the Temple of Promise construction site.

“The FS7 never skipped a beat, even shooting in 4K with the intense heat during the day.�


Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”

We shot three main groups of stories. First, we showed how countless volunteers built The Temple in 24/7 shifts to have it ready. Then, during the event, we met those coming together to protect the space, as well as those visiting it. Finally, we conducted a mix of run-and-gun and on-location interviews with many people sharing intimate stories of their pilgrimage to this sacred site.

Jan Yoder, aka Spyreman, is seen here working on the top piece of the Temple.

Through all of this, the camera held up incredibly well, which impressed me greatly. Despite the dust, we managed to keep the sensor clean – more so than I ever expected. The FS7 never skipped a beat, even shooting in 4K with the intense heat during the day. It was always ready to shoot no matter what I threw at it.

Flood lights illuminate everything so that night crew members can keep working.


Tossing Sony’s PXW-FS7 into the “Crucible of Creativity”

I love the comprehensive menus to create a signature “look” with picture profiles, and how the buttons on all sides are programmable to make the operation as easy as possible. I can quickly switch settings based on what I’m shooting. That’s a terrific timesaver. The focusing system and assist always allow me to reach my full potential, no matter if I’m operating the camera solo or working with assistants. And, most important, I love the image quality. The lens mount’s versatility is amazing, giving me enormous flexibility to use whatever lens (classic or modern, cinema or photo) that I could possibly want. We tested out numerous lenses and selected the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS servo lens for this project. It was fast enough for all the desert shots, and the excellence of the G-series glass was a fine complement to the FS7’s sensor. Aside from this ordeal, I’ve also used the camera in a lot of other settings for other projects including customer success stories, crowdfunding videos, commercial pieces, a feature on a local sculptor and more. From a quick run-and-gun standpoint, it’s effortless to have the camera setup with a minimal rig, move it easily between spots, conduct interviews, and film handheld without a problem. I know it will always capture a great image, and with the boom mic I get great sound. As we move towards completion of the Burning Man project (to see previews of the project click here and click here), we’re seeing this come together into a powerful and moving story. We hope to craft a unique testament to the power of the good that can come from people when they give it all in the most unselfish of ways. I couldn’t be more excited about putting the FS7 to use creating something so cinematic and personal!


“As we move towards completion of the Burning Man project, we’re seeing this come together into a powerful and moving story.”



Blown Away by Sony’s FS5 By Rob Scribner Owner, Sky Tower Films

As a DP specializing in documentaries, Rob Scribner knows that finding the right balance between capability and portability is crucial. He’s shot with Sony’s FS100 and now counts the FS7 as his primary camera, so he has experience with Sony’s compact large sensor cameras. Now the new FS5 is opening new possibilities for his work, with its combination of size and performance. For documentary filmmakers, event videographers, and anyone else with a grab ‘n go, run-and-gun shooting style, Sony’s FS5 camcorder packs pro performance and features into a tiny package. Scribner talks about his first impressions of the FS5.



I used the FS5 to shoot Zion, a portrait of Zion Warne, a master glass blower in Boise, Idaho. I wanted to capture a portrait of the artisan at work.�


Blown Away by Sony’s FS5

Rob Scribner: I learned my trade using a Sony FS100, so I have a deep appreciation of the possibilities of the Super 35. Many of my contemporaries cut their teeth on DSLR filmmaking, taking a camera body and piling on the extras to make it video-worthy. But the FS100’s Super 35 sensor delivers the same depth-of-field prized by cinematographers in a real-deal, fullfeatured camcorder.

Of course, the FS7 takes the Super 35 format to a new level. Since launching Sky Tower Films, it has become my “A” camera. Now that I’ve added its 4K imaging and super slow motion to my creative palette, I don’t know how I ever managed without them. But the added capabilities come at a cost. While far from bulky, the FS7 still has some heft. The body weighs in at 4.7 pounds, compared to the FS100’s 2.4 pounds.


Blown Away by Sony’s FS5


The camera’s great handling with an incredible center-of-balance, too, became immediately apparent. The small size paid off using it on a slider. With it, I’m moving left and right, basically doing dolly moves.”

That’s not an issue on a tripod in the studio. Still, it gets to feeling heavy when handheld over the course of a long day’s shoot. Now, Sony has addressed that by filling out its FS lineup with the FS5. I used the FS5 to shoot Zion, a portrait of Zion Warne, a master glass blower in Boise, Idaho. I wanted to capture a portrait of the artisan at work. With only three days to familiarize myself with the new camera before the shoot, I needed to master it – quickly. I couldn’t tell Zion to stop and redo anything. No retakes. I had to be on top of my game. I had to know where the buttons are, and know how the codecs worked. Fortunately, coming from the FS100 and the FS7, this was easy since the FS5’s camera operation is almost completely interchangeable. For this shoot, I mostly used Sony’s standard E-mount PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS lens wide-open at F4, and sometimes at F5.6. I’m also a big fan of manual Zeiss primes and, like with Sony’s other E-mount cameras, the ability to use them here with an adapter really makes the most of my existing investment in glass. When I pulled the FS5 out of the box, I could hardly believe its size. The core weighs in at less than two pounds! This let me move around faster, essential for capturing Zion at his craft in his workshop. The camera’s great handling with an incredible center-of-balance, too, became immediately apparent. The small size paid off using it on a slider. With it, I’m moving left and right, basically doing dolly moves. I’m panning, tiling, focusing all at the same time.


Blown Away by Sony’s FS5



I wanted a dark, high contrast look for Zion. Much of it is shot in low light. I wanted to capture his passion and emotion, show the molten glass and the red-hot furnace, and communicate the feeling of heat and sweat that goes with glassblowing.�


Blown Away by Sony’s FS5

What I was able to do with the FS5 looks like I had a threeperson crew working it. I can’t pull that off with the FS7 due to the sheer size of the larger camera. I wanted a dark, high contrast look for Zion. Much of it is shot in low light. I wanted to capture his passion and emotion, show the molten glass and the red-hot furnace, and communicate the feeling of heat and sweat that goes with glassblowing. It was a run-and-gun shoot, working mostly with natural lighting augmented occasionally with an LED panel. Working under these conditions really tested the sensor’s low-light sensitivity, its dynamic range as well as the quality of the camera’s codecs. I shot in picture profile #9, which seemed to be the flattest,

I was impressed with how beautiful the shots turned out, how little noise showed up in the low light. In post, I found the XAVC™-L codec offered a lot of flexibility. Even if I was a 1/2 stop off for a shot, we had plenty of wiggle room. I could push the footage hard without blowing out the highlights.”

using the camera’s full 14-stops of dynamic range. What I didn’t know at the time was the FS5’s native ISO setting is 3200. I was impressed with how beautiful the shots turned out, how little noise showed up in the low light. In post, I found the XAVC-L codec offered a lot of flexibility. Even if I was a 1/2 stop off for a shot, we had plenty of wiggle room. I could push the footage hard without blowing out the highlights. The FS5’s XAVC-L codec is a huge compression-saver compared to the FS7’s XAVC-I. What are the tradeoffs? Shooting in 4K, I saw precious little difference. Then, going for super slow motion in full HD, I found I could shoot at up to 240fps at 4:2:2 with no loss in quality. At 480fps, I started to see some, but it was hardly noticeable to anyone but the most critical. 960fps had considerable tradeoffs, but it’s nice to have it if you really need it.



Blown Away by Sony’s FS5


Shooting in 4K, I saw precious little difference. Then, going for super slow motion in full HD, I found I could shoot at up to 240fps at 4:2:2 with no loss in quality.”


Blown Away by Sony’s FS5


The FS5... is perfect for wedding videographers, documentary and independent filmmakers... Ater shooting Zion, I do have one regret about it – I wish I had one when I got started in the business.”

Part of how the FS5 manages to match the FS7 is by shooting super slow motion in burst mode instead of providing continual shooting. You don’t have the duration, but in most instances you don’t need it. One of the big advantages of using XAVC-L and burst mode is the ability to use high-speed SD cards in‑camera for the 100mbps 4K recording. Most of us in the business have a bunch of SD cards floating around at this point. Being able to repurpose them for the FS5 beats having to invest in new ones. Another standout for this camera is the new variable ND filter. You have the usual presets, but can switch to variable to set it exactly where you want to be without compromising shutter, ISO or exposure. This turned out to be very helpful getting just the right exposure in low light. Also, the histogram and peak focus features helped keep me dialed in exactly for focus and exposure. How did the FS5 footage stand up against the FS7’s? The two cameras are designed to work well together with S-Log3, S-Log2 and S-Gamut3. In most shots, what came out of them looked identical. I found it easy to match up and cut between them as long as I did my job of framing and exposing shots right. The FS5 is the perfect complement to the FS7, but stands on its own, too. It is perfect for wedding videographers, documentary and independent filmmakers as well as anyone looking to move up from DSLRs into the pro world. After shooting Zion, I do have one regret about it – I wish I had one when I got started in the business.


MEG PRIOR Putting Run & Gun to the Test


Meg Prior knows about shooting in challenging conditions. As a seasoned conflict photographer, videographer, and filmmaker, her career includes multiple deployments to combat zones with U.S. Armed Forces units, resulting in documentary footage with a unique perspective. Prior is working on her third documentary film of recorded coverage from Afghanistan

(feature length series) and also curating material for museum presentations and exhibits. She’s shot with several Sony handheld cameras over the years including the HXR-NX5 and NX3, and her latest model is the new compact HXR-NX100, which she tested in California’s Mojave Desert. In this interview, she describes her background, experiences with Sony pro cameras and most recent shooting tests with the NX100.


Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test

@ction: Your career has taken you to some interesting places. How did you get started in videography? Meg Prior: I’ve always loved photography, and gravitated toward it from an early age. I recall when I was seven, taking one of my first pictures using a manual focus camera, of my mother sitting on our front porch in Connecticut and proudly holding the snapper bluefish she had just caught. To this day it is one of my favorite still pictures I’ve taken. My first video experience materialized in a production class at Western State College of Colorado, directing a music video that changed my career path and my life. I love looking through camera lenses, setting up shots and directing. My junior year I transferred to California State University, Northridge, where

I graduated with a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Radio, Television and Film. I began working in live broadcast television and was invited to join the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. After several years in television I moved into filmmaking, which is when I joined the professional organization Women in Film. I initially worked in front of the camera but soon switched to behind the camera to create and translate stories as a director of fictional projects and, more recently, non-fiction projects. @ction: How would you describe your shooting style? My current ‘default’ filmmaking styles are ‘run and gun,’ and handheld documentary with some set-oriented interviews that allow for prepped and lit set conditions.

“My current ‘default’ filmmaking styles are ‘run and gun,’ and handheld documentary...” 29


Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test

@ction: What type of cameras have you used for your previous films? Six years ago, I used Sony’s HXR-NX5U for the first time as a combat videographer. This was a “run and gun” documentary project, following U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan beginning in 2010 with the surge of troops. As I deployed from Fort Campbell, clutching my NX5U to cover combat operations, I grew to appreciate the capabilities, dependability and quality of pictures I was getting from the lightweight and compact size camera. I needed a camera I could carry for hours over miles of foot patrols. The NX5U was my introduction to this versatile Sony model and I depended on it! When the NX3 was introduced I clutched it just as hard and depended on its zoom, focus qualities and stability. Now I’ve graduated to its successor, the NX100. @ction: What are some of your first impressions of the NX100?

Mojave Desert

It delivered many of the capabilities I need in my work as my previous cameras – with a few improvements! I tested the NX100 camera in the extreme conditions of Mojave, California, straight out of the box — no magic filter combinations, no reflectors or other paraphernalia. I was able to easily capture moments from handheld positions, through early morning to the low light of dusk. Tracking shots at speed can break up and pixelate an image, but not with the NX100. The camera captures content in motion from a vehicle (handheld). Perhaps most impressive to me was the footage I shot in high-noon light. The radiant, boiling, desert air that shimmers in waves can be bright and hot, a flat light that typically absorbs the moment, but this camera was capable of capturing what I saw while traveling the back roads of the Mojave. It’s a camera that adapts well to varying conditions and helps me record the spontaneous coverage I seek.


“I was able to easily capture moments from handheld positions, through early morning to the low light of dusk. �

Mojave Desert 32

Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test

@ction: You’re no stranger to challenging production situations. Did you encounter any particularly rough environments with the NX100? On a nearly daily basis! Indoor conditions can be challenging with unfortunate low light or artificial qualities, just as outdoor noontime sun can negatively impact the ability to capture color and details, but the NX100 consistently delivered. Working with a camera that offers sensitivity and resolution in tough conditions is really important to me. Outdoor and indoor conditions can present varying challenges. This camera never failed, despite rain, sleet, snow, cold or heat, dust and relentless daily use. It would work from Afghanistan combat missions to Mojave camera testing. It remains dependable. As a handheld tool in constant use in the field, a camera like this is invaluable in its ability to sustain a beating without the benefit of a case or protection! That has been tested time and again by me over the past several years with the Sony cameras I’ve used.

“As a handheld tool in constant use in the field, a camera like this is invaluable in its ability to sustain a beating...” 33

Mojave Desert 34

Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test

Mojave Desert 35

@ction: Are there any specific features of the camcorder you found most useful? The camera’s features offer helpful settings as well as feedback on lighting conditions. For example, it has automatic recommendations for filter options that are helpful cues in different light conditions. The camera performs well in all light conditions I have experienced. I don’t often have an opportunity to set a staged scene in documentary work, so using a camera that can quickly be adjusted to lighting conditions is crucial, and that is true of the NX100. The automatic setting is also quite useful if there isn’t time to check shots before rolling. Audio is invaluable to me, so I always ensure I have a back-up system recording, but the internal audio on the NX100 is great! The NX100 also has a comfortable and durable housing, and its stabilizing features are very impressive. @ction: The stories you tell have a unique perspective. Is there a certain feature you need from a camera to help you achieve your desired look?

Mojave Desert

Creating intimate shots is important to me. At times I need to capture a broad view, landscape or scenic shot to provide context, but in the next moment I may need a close-up, detail-oriented micro view, of people or their eyes, expression, hands, or gestures, as well as equipment or props. The ability to do so is dependent upon zoom capabilities due to proximity or my focus goals. From a distance, the zoom brings those moments I would have missed into play. Without the NX100’s zoom capabilities, these are the moments that could easily have been missed or been otherwise unattainable as they were out of focus range. 36

@ction: The camera was a good fit for your

conditions that often impact my projects.

creative style? The camera adapts well to accessing shots through the viewfinder. In a combat environment that’s exactly the challenge I am confronted with in spontaneous daily production conditions. I tested these parameters in shooting the Mojave coverage, a terrain reflective of the unusually challenging 37

The camera’s lightweight and easy access control panel make it a natural choice for me to return to, as it provides the consistent seamless benefits I depend upon. The user-friendly menu is great for quick setting changes or review. It is anatomically comfortable for me to hold and carry for hours and days!

Meg Prior: Putting Run & Gun to the Test

“The camera adapts well to accessing shots through the viewfinder. In a combat environment that’s exactly the challenge I am confronted with...”

@ction: How did the footage hold up through the post production process?

@ction: What are your current projects that we can look forward to seeing soon?

The Sony camera file format facilitates ease of transcoding to almost any editing system. The quality of the transcode into the editing format is essentially equal to the original final which makes editing the material not only satisfying for clients but also ensures a good representation of my work.

In addition to my ongoing projects documenting my time in Afghanistan, I have completed two documentary production projects this past year with independent producers as well as a live concert band short documentary. Can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! 38

Adventures of the

PXW-FS7 ON A DRONE Interview with Adele Scholl, Aerial Videographer/Photographer for Quadrocopter & Gravity Shots

Adele Scholl is an Aerial Videographer/Photographer for Quadrocopter & Gravity Shots, two companies that make the impossible shots, possible. Adele uses the PXW-FS7 to capture stunning drone footage across the United States. We conducted a Q&A to learn more about her experience with Sony’s cameras.



Adventures of the PXW-FS7 on a Drone

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN AERIAL VIDEOGRAPHY/PHOTOGRAPHY? About 15 years ago, my husband Jeff and I were working in website design and part of our job was to develop photography for the sites. We’d be out in the field getting photos, and Jeff would say things like, “Gosh, it’d be perfect if I could just get a shot over those treetops.” One day, we decided to actually do it. Jeff has a background in aeronautics, so he literally rubber banded the digital cameras we had to remote control helicopters and we would shoot blind – there were no video downlinks back then. We started off shooting real estate and showing the views that others couldn’t show, and it just evolved from there.


So besides real estate, what other footage are you capturing? People use our services for all types of productions. Recent use cases include programs like Fox News’ Legends and Lies, Bill O’Reilly on CNN, car commercials for Ford, an Angry Birds 2 commercial, hunting shows, multiple reality shows including History Channel’s Mountain Men and No Man’s Land and lots of action sporting competitions like Spartan Races and fly boarding.


Adventures of the PXW-FS7 on a Drone

WHAT IS SHOOTING MOUNTAIN MEN LIKE? It’s a lot of fun! As I’m sure you know, the show is about these older gentlemen living in remote locations across the United States. When we come on set, they sometimes will share things like their homemade elk recipes. It’s quite an experience, and we love working on that shoot.


Assuming with your job you get to travel a lot then?

I do. Sometimes Jeff travels alone, and sometimes I go with him. He flies the helicopter and I generally run the cameragimbal underneath.


Adventures of the PXW-FS7 on a Drone

SO TELL US ABOUT YOUR USE OF SONY’S CAMERAS. We have used Sony products for years. We started with the FS100 then progressed to the FS700. Once available, we shifted to the FS7 and the A7S. We are always using and trying out new cameras and solutions to yield shooting the best footage possible.


Are there any particular features you like? We really loved the slow mo features that you’re able to capture from the ground. One of our first big applications with Sony was a Class 5 kayak competition in Idaho. Unsurprisingly, white water is really hard to expose, not to mention capturing the action of a fast-moving river. But we really loved the results we got from Sony, so we continued expanding with its products.


Adventures of the PXW-FS7 on a Drone

SO HOW DID YOU ULTIMATELY DECIDE ON USING THE PXW-FS7 WITH A DRONE? Well, attaching a camera to a drone is no easy feat, and weight is a huge factor for us. We love that you can strip the FS7 down to make it lighter without losing the valuable camera capabilities. The customizable features are a dream for us – it’s mobile and provides top quality shots.


Now that drones are a hot topic, are you expecting a lot more work? Yes! As pioneers with 15 years of experience in the drone world, we like to think that we’re ahead of the game on understanding drone capabilities. We are on the list of the FAA 333 exemption, and we continue to create a lot of great content for our clients. Let’s just say that business continues to soar since the addition of the FS7, and we’re excited to continue capturing the shots that were once impossible.



Speed and Agility on the FS7

Q&A with Jonny Mass and Edward Khoma of Abandon Visuals

Jonny Mass and Edward Khoma are Action Sports Videographers and the co-founders of Abandon Visuals, a production house specializing in film, TV, and commercial content. We caught up with the duo to ask them about using Sony’s cameras for their high-octane videos chronicling Motocross and NASCAR driver Cole Moore, among others. See what they had to say.



Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7

@ction: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Can you tell us about Abandon Visuals?

Jonny Mass: Of course! My buddy Edward Khoma and I founded Abandon Visuals in February, so we’re still a fairly new venture. Edward and I had collaborated on a few projects before, so we decided to start a production company together – which led us to shooting a variety of commercial, automotive and action sport jobs.


@ction: You also have a background in shooting action sports, is that right?

Jonny Mass: Oh yeah – I’ve been shooting action sports since I was a kid. I used to make action sports videos for my YouTube channel, which quickly gained a large audience. From there I ventured into weddings and quickly thereafter into some automotive work.

Edward Khoma: I got started filming motorsports at local racetracks such as Sonoma Raceway, Thunderhill Raceway, and Laguna Seca. I progressed quickly through the industry and started filming for various race teams in the Formula Drift Series and many other major automotive companies.


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7

@ction: Describe the project you’re working on now.

Jonny Mass: Our most recent project is called Area 27 Outside the Gates, and it follows a video we shot earlier this year called Area 27. Area 27 is about Cole Moore, a young Motocross and NASCAR driver. Our first video is an introduction to Cole and focuses on the Motocross aspect of his racing. For Area 27 Outside the Gates, we’re focusing on the NASCAR racing. We followed a few NASCAR events throughout the season to show Cole and his dad – who is also a NASCAR driver – competing head-to-head. We even shut down a NASCAR track to shoot a big scene of Cole and his dad racing each other underneath the race track lights. It should be a visually stunning video once it’s completed.



Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7

@ction: That sounds amazing! Did you use a Sony camera for the original video?

Jonny Mass: Yes, we used the F5 for Area 27. We hadn’t heard much about the camera but decided to rent it for the shoot, and we’re so glad we did. The image that came out of it was simply stunning. We tested it in some extreme lighting conditions, with and without slow motion. Needless to say we were very impressed.


“The image that came out of F5 was simply stunning.” – Jonny Mass

@ction: We are glad to hear that. Was the Area 27 shoot your first time using Sony cameras?

Jonny Mass: We’re huge Sony supporters and have made two viral videos with the α7S. We worked on Moonlight and a recent aerial video in San Francisco called Perspective using the Atomos Shogun to showcase the 4K. We use Sony professional camcorders for nearly all of our jobs now. After our experience with the F5, we decided to use the FS7 for Area 27 Outside the Gates.


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7


Jonny Mass:

Why did you choose the FS7 for this second video?

The primary reason was reliability. We’ve worked with this camera on a number of our jobs this year and haven’t had a single failure. The slow motion and lowlight settings were a must for us, and there is currently no camera on the market with the same features for that price. It is a solid camera that produces a stunning image.


Edward Khoma: The workflow with the FS7 is seamless in post. The files drop automatically into Adobe Premiere Pro CC and we can start cutting and creating the story. The footage plays natively without any codec issues and plays instantly without having to do any transcoding. From editing to color correcting and then final output, the image out of the FS7 stays flawless for our viewers to enjoy. The profiles such as S-log3 and S-log2 are amazing key features to have. We are able to match our Îą7S II, FS7, and F5 footage in post to have a unified finished product.


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7

@ction: Tell us specifically how you used the FS7 in the field.

Jonny Mass: On Area 27 Outside the Gates we needed a camera that had 4K, slow motion, high dynamic range, easy battery situation, and cost effective memory. Being able to shoot half a day on one battery saves us from running back and forth possibly missing an important moment in the race. Being able to switch to 180fps using S&Q mode saved us time and allowed us to control the moments we were planning to bring to our audience. For example, if we shot the driver in his car, we could get tight shots of his eyes in slow motion to show the intensity of the race and to immerse the viewer in the shot.


The FS7 is also relatively lightweight and medium sized, so it fits perfectly on our gimbal. We were able to run around with it all day and shoot comfortably. We love the top handle as it allows us to get really low shots without using a full cage. The EVF is also really good, we actually opt to shoot with the EVF when shooting the racing over a monitor as we don’t have to deal with any glare. It’s essential for shooting outdoors if you want precise focus and exposure.

We wanted to put our audience into the seat of the car.

@ction: Was there a specific situation when the camera really came through for you?

Jonny Mass: Being able to switch into 180fps and capture those micro moments is what we live for. We want to put our audience into the seat of the car, feeling the intensity the driver feels before he goes out to race. When we were shooting in 4K, we got this amazing shot of the father and son side-by-side, and we were able to pull a high-detail still for them. Another prime example of the camera delivering is when we were shooting in the snow a few months ago and our hands were frozen but the camera was still working perfectly fine!


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7


b @ction:


What lens and accessories did you use with the camera?

Were there any unique production requirements for this shoot?

Jonny Mass:

Jonny Mass:

We use Sigma Art lenses when we need shallow depth of field and we use a few Canon L lenses as zooms.

Shooting at night was a huge production requirement. We needed a camera that could perform well in lowlight situations. The FS7 was the first camera that came to mind as we had used it for an extreme lowlight shoot awhile back, and it performed flawlessly.

As for accessories, we use the Atomos Shogun as monitor when we are in a controlled environment. Occasionally we will have a follow focus, matte box, and a cage.

Edward Khoma: Also worth noting is the media. With the FS7 we use Sony’s XQD media cards, which are extremely fast and reliable, two major factors when it comes to the continuous amount of content that we capture.

We’ve been able to shoot in regular motion and slow motion during the races at night with no issues. The practices are typically held in the middle of the day in harsh light and having built-in ND’s is a lifesaver for us. We don’t have to worry about changing filters on our lenses which saves us a ton of time.


Capturing Speed and Agility on the FS7

@ction: What features of the Sony cameras have you found to be the most useful in capturing specific shots or achieving the look you were after?

Jonny Mass: The slow motion and the high dynamic range sensor. We are able to get the exact look we desired while color grading. The medium-sized body is a must for us due to our ridiculous amount of gimbal work. It fits on our Ronin perfectly and is solid when balanced.


@ction: The video project sounds very exciting, and we look forward to seeing the finished work. How can people learn more about Abandon Visuals?

Jonny Mass: You can go to our website, or we’re also on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and Instagram as Abandon Visuals.



Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras Story produced by Mike DesRoches, Sony Electronics Inc. Twitter: @DesRochesSony All Photos: Paramount Pictures © 2015 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. The action on-screen in Paramount Pictures’ recent Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension may be scary, but the production behind the scenes was anything but horrific. For this sixth installment in the supernatural horror film franchise, which opened in the fall of 2015 and is now available on VOD, director of photography John W. Rutland and his team set out to create a new type of look while maintaining the series’ familiar feel audiences have come to expect. Rutland used a combination of three Sony camera models – the professional PMW-200 and the NEX-FS700, plus the α7S full-frame interchangeable lens camera – to achieve a first-person “home movie” perspective with a level of quality that held up to the big screen. Each camera was chosen for different reasons, but all shared common traits: portability, ease of use and low-light performance, since many scenes take place at night or in dark interiors.


AM 2:15:56 66

Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras


Left to right: Director Gregory Plotkin and Director of Photography John W. Rutland on the set of “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” from Paramount Pictures.


John W. Rutland, Director of Photography There are so many factors that go into choosing a camera. It was great having this flexibility with different looks and sizes. It made the movie turn out exactly the way we hoped. To remain consistent with the Paranormal Activity franchise’s use of first-person perspective, we wanted to give the actors a camera that was small and simple enough to use, as if they were shooting a home movie. Having the actors actually operate the cameras really gave a much more realistic feel. Where I might operate the camera my way, and it will look too clean, they might shoot it in a ‘sloppy’ way, but it’s perfect for the story. It had to have a raw look, not too clean or polished but still high quality. Since we were doing a lot of shooting at night, in low light, and lighting with practicals instead of using traditional movie lighting, the cameras needed to do well in low light. The “home movie” camera the actors used was the PMW-200. That camera was easy enough for the actors to use, it had a good look, and the images held up well when blown up on a big screen. An actor could easily use it in autofocus mode with auto exposure, plus it was small and handheld. The camera did really well in lowlight. We pushed it up to 9db gain in some cases. Six dB was preferred, but at 9, as long as we shot it a little brighter, to darken back down in post, it worked. We also took advantage of the PMW‑200’s optical image stabilization feature to remove extraneous camera shake without losing the handheld feel.

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Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras


A main part of the storyline is when the actors find an old camera with footage on it that is central to the plot. For this, we needed a camera that could resemble a traditional ENG-style shoulder-mount camera. We wanted a camera that was very different from a home video camera you hold at chest level in your hand. That “specialty” camera was the FS700, built-out to look like a shoulder-mount ENG camera and outfitted with a Cabrio Fuji 19-90 lens. In addition to being a set piece in the movie, I also used it to shoot specific scenes. 69

Ivy George plays Leila in “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” from Paramount Pictures.

“The FS700’s high-frame rate capabilities also proved useful / There is a scene where a character vomits right at the camera, and when you see it / it’s pretty crazy.“ I would operate that camera because it was heavier and a little too advanced for the actors. Also that camera played a lot at night. We shot with the FS700 at 6400 ISO at night and 3200 in the daytime, and when we watched it on a big screen, it was amazingly clean, with just the right amount of “intentional” noise for the movie. I would shoot it a little bright and then bring it down in post, which would help take the noise down even more. The FS700 was the go-to camera for the main set pieces and the nighttime “big scares” in the movie. I’d have it on my shoulder and we’d be able to shoot at 6400 ISO, so the lowlight capability was great. With its super 35mm sensor, there was a visual difference between the FS700 and the PMW-200. That was important to the story because you want to see subtle differences when the family has their little home movie camera and when they are looking at this special camera they’ve found. We enhanced the differences even more in post by adding scan lines and other weird video artifacts to the footage found in the FS700. The FS700’s high-frame rate capabilities also proved useful – in a different sort of way. There is a scene where a character vomits right at the camera, and when you see it – hopefully in 3D – it’s pretty crazy. We shot that as a composite of different elements. The actress did her take with nothing in her mouth, faking it. Then we shot a plate of an effects tube blowing this black sludge at the camera. We shot it at a much higher frame rate, so you really feel it coming right at you. If we had shot that at 24fps, it wouldn’t have had nearly the impact it does in the final result.

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Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras


Left to right: Chloe Csengery plays Katie, Ivy George plays Leila, and Chris J. Murray plays Ryan in “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” from Paramount Pictures.


While I shot with all three Sony cameras, the actors only used the PMW-200. They used it in Auto Focus mode and that worked well, but we also hooked up a single-channel follow focus to the camera’s iris. That way I could pull iris from the wireless monitor. For example, the actors might point the camera at a big bright window where a character is standing and they’ll expose for the character rather than create a silhouette and expose for the window. By hooking up this follow focus, I was able to pull iris throughout a

take and be able to pick and choose what the exposure should be. We used two PMW-200 cameras. One was always stripped down, the other was built-out with a shoulder rig, monitor and the wireless follow-focus. Having the two always ready was important because we moved really fast on this shoot and shot a ton of footage. Having everything built-out and ready was key for us so we could grab and go.

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Scare Tactics: Shooting a Horror Film with Multiple Sony Cameras


“The A7S helped the team / get the wide angle “security camera look” / they wanted.“ Ivy George plays Leila in “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” from Paramount Pictures.


The third camera we used was the A7S, a full-frame interchangeable lens camera in a compact body. This was the movie’s “security” camera, used to lend a surveillance feel, which is another recurring element in the Paranormal movie franchise. Seven A7S models were positioned around the main house set, in out-ofthe-way spaces, under cabinets or on bookshelves. It ended up working out perfectly for the film. In one test, I increased the ISO in one-stop increments from 3200 to 102400 and it was crazy how noiseless the camera was at really high ISO. Another time we had the Camera Assistant walk around the big open 2-story house with just a lighter and it was lighting his face and the whole room to the right exposure. Incredible! The A7S helped the team get the wide angle “security camera look” they wanted. A full frame camera like the A7S has shallow depth of field. To get around that and make everything stay in focus like a security camera would, we cranked the ISO up to 51200, and we stopped the lens down to f.8. That way, we could shoot in low light, get the right kind of texture and grain we were looking for and keep everything in focus. Even at 51200 ISO we actually had to add grain in post because it was too clean. In the final cut, all three cameras matched well to produce a viewing experience that clearly had different looks but one overall cohesive feel. I’m a big believer in the right tool for the job. Choosing a camera is like deciding what film stock is most appropriate for the story. For our story, these three cameras were the right tools for us.

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Š2016 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. Sony, XAVC, and the Sony logo are trademarks of Sony Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owner.

Action Magazine Issue 5  
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