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ction Issue 6

exploring digital cinematography & beyond

Whistle Sports’ extreme test with Sony Cameras in

Closed Course

Lauren Vance 21st vs 19th century camera techniques Made in Network creates originality with Sony Cameras

Beyond Definition Beyond Definition A1


LETTER from the EDITOR Sony’s sixth issue of @ction Magazine is here featuring some cool stories to enjoy during these hot summer months. In our latest installment, we have a sampling of stories covering an array of production applications including documentary, churches, YouTube multi-channel networks, sports, OTT and more. These users have embraced Sony’s full line-up of cameras from the run-and-gun FS5 and FS7 to the alpha series and everything in between, including the X70 handheld camcorder, taking them on journeys around the globe. Our cover story features the Whistle Sports team discussing their recent OTT series Closed Course, which uses a mix of Sony cameras to tell stories and showcase action sports in famously abandoned arenas. You’ll even hear about the cameras’ durability – which was put to the test in a particularly daunting scenario. Hear from the team at Lake Pointe Church in Texas, who uses a complement of Sony’s Alpha and FS series of cameras on international missions. From the far-reaching expanses of Alaska to Mexico, Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and Asia, Lake Pointe trusts Sony’s cameras to travel well, work together seamlessly and offer the versatility that allows them to shoot on the go, as well as shoot broadcast pieces and scripted projects.

through their use of Sony’s cameras, lenses and audio accessories. We interviewed the staff at Made In Network to learn how 4K is transforming their world and why they chose Sony equipment when building out their new production facility. Join documentary filmmaker and longtime Sony user Melinda Holm on her historic journey from Selma to Montgomery, where she depicted the anniversary of one of the most significant turning points in the civil rights movement – all on Sony’s X70. We sat down with Melinda for a Q&A about her background and experiences. New York Knicks’ digital videographer Tom Zweibel described why his FS7 is the right camera to capture the “shots” at Madison Square Garden and on the road, and how it gives him the slowmotion capabilities and mobility he needs for live sports, press conferences, interviews, promos and web content. Once again, we thank you for being loyal readers and for taking the time to share your production stories with us. We are always amazed by the projects our users contribute to and we hope you are too! Please share this issue with your colleagues and help spread these exciting experiences.

Director, Producer and Filmmaker Lauren Vance discusses her latest work, The Picture Show, a stunning and literal portrait of the residents of California’s Slab City, who are captured through the historic photographic medium of Wet Plate collodion by contemporary artist Ian Ruhter, in addition to being captured in 4K on Sony’s FS7 for this powerful behind-the-scenes story. Next we take you to Nashville, one of the fastestgrowing cities for content creation, to meet the team at Made In Network, a YouTube-certified multichannel network that is enhancing the production values and expectations of the online video space

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


Table of Contents

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance for Whistle Sports

15 35 41 49

Getting “Made” in Nashville

Tom Zweibel and New York Knicks Score with Sony FS7

On the March from Selma to Montgomery

Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance for Whistle Sports’

CLOSED COURSE Award-winning global sports media company, Whistle Sports, creates authentic social content for a new generation of sports fans. The community of over 400 social influencers works with brands, fans, athletes, professional leagues and teams to create engaging and unique media, programming and activations that resonate with over 170 million fans and followers across the network. Whistle Sports recently wrapped production on 10 episodes of Closed Course, an original series available on Verizon’s millennial-focused platform, go90™. Closed Course tracks the efforts of 30 athletes in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to restore the now-abandoned venues of the 1984 Winter Games to their former glory as modern sports destinations.

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

Closed Course put four of Sony’s PXW-FS7 and two α7SII cameras to the test during the 15-day shoot. Dennis Lisberger, Director of Production, and Mike Greenberg, Senior Creative Producer, of Whistle Sports chose these models for their size, adaptability, slow motion capabilities and their capacity to work together seamlessly. Part of the decision to use Sony’s cameras on Closed Course stems from Lisberger and Greenberg’s previous experiences in the industry and with the Sony brand. Lisberger, who has a background working on interstitial series, became accustomed to Sony’s EX3 while working for Spike TV. Greenberg shot on Sony’s Z1U before moving over to a DSLR and joining the Whistle Sports team, intersecting his personal interests with his professional abilities. He bought his first FS7 as soon as the camera came out in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. “Whistle Sports owns four Sony FS7s, one Sony PMW 300, two Sony α7SIIs, several Action Cameras and about 15 in-house editing stations across our offices in NYC, London, Dallas and L.A.,” Lisberger said. “On Closed Course, we used the Sony FS7 as our main “A” camera for much of our run-and-gun shooting. For other style shooting, we knew Sony’s α7SII would get the job done and maintain the look.”

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“...we used the Sony FS7 as our main “A” camera for much of our run-and-gun shooting. For other style shooting, we knew Sony’s α7SII would get the job done and maintain the look.” — Dennis Lisberger

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“...the FS7 works in every situation.”

Greenberg added, “I consider myself a real stickler when it comes to matching the look of each camera. It was extremely convenient to set both cameras to S-Log3, dial in white balance and move on with framing the best shots. The FS7 is the game-changer I’d been waiting for. Beyond easily matching color, it was critical to have homogenized camera packages in case of equipment failure. There’s not much in the way of replacement parts readily available in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

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— Mike Greenberg

In addition to the FS7’s ability to easily match other Sony cameras, Greenberg maintains that the versatility of the camera is its main selling point, which is why he’s used it on so many of Whistle Sports’ series. “Our shooting style at Whistle Sports changes from project to project, partner to partner, and the Sony FS7 provides us the full range for our shooting scenarios,” he said. “Whether we are shooting in the office, on our green screen or we’re out in the field filming live action sports captured at a higher frame rate, the FS7 works in every situation.”


Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

“The form factor of a bare FS7 was perfect for run and gun and getting really close to the action for unique angles that immersed the viewer in the moment.” — Mike Greenberg

Talking about features and versatility, he added, “The built-in ND on the FS7 is by far the thing I missed most when shooting on DSLRs. The same goes for XLR inputs. Both are very basic features that disappeared from cameras for a few years. The form factor of a bare FS7 was perfect for run and gun and getting really close to the action for unique angles that immersed the viewer in the moment.”

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

The α7SII proved to be a great companion to the professional Sony cameras. “It makes perfect sense to shoot S-Log3 at XAVC-I when we have the proper timeline and workflow to grade,” Greenberg said. “Yet it’s really powerful that in 60 seconds we can reboot the camera and shoot at a lower bitrate with a baked-in look to speed up our post workflow for quick turnarounds going to web. We got our hands on two α7SIIs the first week they hit the market. It was the perfect complementary camera for use on the Freefly Movi M5 and in tight spaces, in addition to being able to deliver the popular full-frame sensor look.”

“α7sII ...the perfect complementary camera for use on the Freefly Movi M5 and in tight spaces.” — Mike Greenberg

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

Greenberg noted that slow-mo was an integral requirement of the Closed Course shoot. “The majority of the series was shot in slow-mo in intervals of 24fps and conformed to a variety of speeds in the edit,” he said. “Typically, I keep my shutter speed double the frame rate, but after a bit of testing I found that letting the shutter drag a little produced a cleaner result when played back in real-time.”

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Expanding on the necessity of slow-mo shooting in the action sports realm, Lisberger explained, “Our biggest creators like Dude Perfect and Brodie Smith often do trickshot videos and there is nothing better than watching a trick shot in real time, and then in slow-motion. We achieve both at a high quality with the Sony FS7. We also work with creators and athletes who are professional basketball


“...there is nothing better than watching a trick shot in real time.” — Dennis Lisberger

players or professional skateboarders and training videos make it essential to have slow-mo capabilities.” Shooting action sports outside in Bosnia offered its share of challenges, but the Closed Course team and the Sony cameras were up to the task. Because much of this production took place outdoors, Greenberg noted, “We were

able to manipulate available light. I was impressed with the range of detail we got in the highlights and shadows. Although the images were similar in nature, the robustness of the higher bitrate codec on the FS7 was certainly visible in low light. I know S-Log was never designed for low-light but we kept the cameras rolling in their current settings and removed any noise in post.”

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Of the weather, Greenberg added, “On Closed Course we were treated to 22 consecutive sunny, unseasonably warm days during Sarajevo’s rainy season. We were prepared to shoot in unfavorable conditions knowing the cameras were weather-sealed but instead our biggest weather challenge was smog. Sarajevo is in a valley and pollution from coal burning produces a hazy atmosphere. That’s great for diffusing light, but makes it hard to grab any wide establishing shots.”

“We’ll call the α7SII battle-tested, ...It survived a nasty fall better than I did.” — Mike Greenberg

Smog wasn’t the only challenge. Closed Course was a mobile shoot, covering a lot of terrain in a short amount of time. Greenberg found the cameras to be more durable and resilient than even he was in one instance. “We’ll call the α7SII battle-tested,” he said. “It survived a nasty fall better than I did. While shooting the longboarding episode, I was tracking behind our professional riders on a skateboard around 25 MPH when a flock of sheep caused us to brake suddenly. I got eight screws and two plates installed on my collarbone, and the α7SII walked away with only a couple scrapes – still fully functioning.”

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

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Sony’s Cameras Go the Distance For Whistle Sports’ Closed Course

After fighting against the clock to shoot 10 episodes and create promotional content within six weeks, the team prevailed. “We had a dozen or so XQD cards for the three FS7’s which was generally enough to shoot all day,” Greenberg said. “Let’s just say our DIT ate lunch before he needed to dump any cards. We generated nearly 10,000 clips during the 15-day shoot and cataloging these was a monumental task. The ability to drop the MXFs directly into Premiere proved perfect. It’s a great workflow to skip transcoding entirely. I had a master project file

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inside Adobe Prelude which proved useful but found Sony’s Catalyst Browse the fastest way to scrub through footage to find specific shots when refining edits. After locking cuts, I exported ProRes HQ versions that we graded at Click3x in NYC.” As original content and over-the-top programming expands through outlets and channels like Whistle Sports, so do the interesting stories Sony’s cameras help capture and tell.

Watch the Closed Course trailer here See Episode One: Longboard: Sarajevo here 14


Getting “Made” In Nashville Made In Network is a YouTube-certified multi-channel network (MCN) based in Nashville, Tennessee, that creates original video programming and series with an influential collection of creators, in addition to successful custom video integrations for their clients, which include some of the world’s top consumer brands. Garnering more than 70 million views a month and climbing, the MCN shows no signs of slowing as they launch new programming, take on new clients and expand the branding and visibility of their personalities. In 2015, Made In Network was in search of equipment to build out their new production facility, in the heart of one of the most creative cities in the country. As two companies working to elevate the production values and quality of online content creation, Made In Network ultimately decided to outfit their new studio with Sony’s 4K and HD professional cameras, lenses, wireless audio and monitors including: PXW-FS7 camera PXW-X70 camera PXW-X180 camera NEX-FS700R camera 24-70mm lens 35mm lens 50mm lens 70-200mm lens

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C38B microphone C800G microphone ECM mics MDR-7506 headphones PCM-D100 recorder UWP-D16/30 wireless mic PVM-A250 monitor


The Made In Network team spoke about their background, the history and objectives of their company, as well as the benefits of working with Sony’s equipment and personnel, in addition to partnering with Sony on many initiatives and the latest technological trends including 4K.

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“When I first started working with companies like Google and YouTube, I was really fascinated to see and learn about how they built such massive audiences online,” Grosch said. “Whether it was music or comedy or vlogs, the creators were building communities that were tuning in regularly, much like we’d been used to experiencing with the traditional television model. Once I began really understanding how these companies worked, and realizing the potential of where these platforms were headed and what new technology was on the horizon, I wanted to bring that power and impact to the creators in Nashville.”

Kevin Grosch CEO and Founder Grosch launched Made In Network at the end of 2013 after producing and executing digital marketing for music releases in Nashville. Being passionate about music his whole life, it was during his experience in the music industry that he fell in love with the idea of being able to build and interact directly with an audience, and realized video was one of the most engaging ways to do just that.

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As Grosch got Made In Network off the ground, the company rapidly expanded, hiring more staff members and taking on additional content creators and clients. Naturally, the company outgrew their old space and decided to design a new office outfitted with a highend studio, to meet their unique needs. They turned to Sony to ensure their new space afforded employees and users the highest quality experience, using the most advanced production tools. “We wanted to create a space that serves as the creative center of Nashville; something for the music industry and the local filmmakers to be able to come in and use to create content that becomes a part of their release strategy,” he said. “As we kept growing, we were constantly searching for a place in Nashville that had all of our specific requirements – a production facility, a place to film, a place to record music. Ultimately, we decided to build a space that was suited to our exact needs; creating web content. There are different conditions needed for shooting a music video versus an episodic series, both of which we are doing multiple times a week. In designing our own space, and outfitting it with Sony’s products, we now have the flexibility to create really high quality web content, build our own sets and have a seamless workflow.”


Getting “Made” In Nashville

By offering access to their facility equipped with Sony’s latest 4K and HD technology to the content creators and brands they work with, Made In Network has been able to help musicians, artists, clients and the local community in ways they never could before, while still outputting a final product that features the highest production values – something they adamantly refused to compromise on. “We never want our creators to look at a high quality production as a barrier to entry, so we’ve given them access to all of the best tools in our own facility,” Grosch said. “Now we can invite the community in, let them use our space to learn, to work, to network and collaborate.” “Sony’s cameras, technology and equipment have been incredible in giving us a level of quality that you just can’t achieve without really great gear,” he said. “As YouTube evolved from cat videos and kids in their bedrooms with webcams to original programming, the quality of the productions have increased, as have the delivery methods – and the gear needs to be reflective and aid in that. The expectation for quality extends beyond content creators, with an audience looking for polished projects that rival what can be found on television.”

“Sony’s cameras, technology and equipment have been incredible in giving us a level of quality that you just can’t achieve without really great gear...” 18


Getting “Made” In Nashville

Grosch detailed how 4K resolution, which offers 4 times the detail, information and clarity of full HD and is supported by the latest Sony camera and display technology, helps elevate the quality of YouTube content creation. “The interesting thing about 4K is that you’re not only able to capture images in greater resolution, but you can now have a more immersive viewing experience by streaming the highest quality imagery on YouTube.” Made In Network teamed with Sony to create a 4K YouTube video for Sony’s 4K Creators channel, which can be seen here. The video, which captures the art of coffee roasting and features a local Nashville business, The Frothy Monkey, was shot using Sony’s 4K FS7 camera and is another way the two companies are working together to heighten production values online. “Working with Sony, especially their 4K YouTube channel is really exciting,” Grosch said. “We at Made in Network are really proud of the work we do, so to see Sony be able to showcase what we’re doing as creatives is really impactful to help drive traffic back to us. We’re thrilled about working with Sony and to be able to say we can produce content at a really high level because of their equipment that we’re working with is a huge asset to us and hopefully we’re able to shine a light on their cameras and gear that way.”

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“...to see Sony be able to showcase what we’re doing as creatives is really impactful to help drive traffic back to us.”

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Don VanCleave Vice President of Special Projects VanCleave also started in the music industry, but brings different skills and experience to the team. VanCleave started in the record business in 1988, opening a record store in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife. During his successful 14 years at the helm of Magic Platter, he won numerous accolades and broke a lot of new bands in the market. When the independent record stores banded together, VanCleave offered to run their coalition. The Coalition of Independent Music Stores institutionalized a way for record labels to set up nationwide promotions in local markets. This led to labels creating exclusive content just for independent record stores, to help them remain competitive with bigger retail outlets. Shortly after, indie record stores began noticing an uptick in vinyl sales and in an effort to bring vinyl back and celebrate local music stores, the coalition helped launch Record Store Day, which is now a worldwide hit each April. After his time running Magic Platter, VanCleave moved into band management, overseeing artists including Lenny Kravitz and bands like Soundgarden. He still manages Nashville based band Moon Taxi, which is how he got involved with Made In Network. 21

“Nashville is interesting,” VanCleave said. “When I moved here I was instantly blown away by the sheer number of people in this town that are trying to create and are creative. It’s not uncommon to find totally unsigned artists, established artists, big band managers and everything in between in this creative community.” VanCleave was able to parlay his experience in the music industry to help clients with artist development. “Made In Network’s philosophy is to make it easier for creative people with no real name recognition, but with talent and drive, to spread their message and provide a way for their voices to be heard,” he said. “My experience is creating a marketing plan and bringing things to market – whether that is through a book, a video, a program or a record – it is all the same skill set, just different parameters for each.” Though VanCleave’s day-to-day responsibilities do not include shooting, he


Getting “Made” In Nashville

is a photographer by hobby and understands the value of good equipment and aligning with a brand like Sony. “I’m not a videographer, but I do see Sony’s cameras in operation constantly by our videographers and they are just as happy as can be,” he said. “When people who really know video come in here, they’re instantly impressed and instantly want to work with us. I can certainly appreciate how amazing these cameras are because our local crew here at Made In Network rave about them.”

“I’m not a videographer, but I do see Sony’s cameras in operation constantly by our videographers and they are just as happy as can be...”

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Getting “Made” In Nashville

He added, “I’ve personally begun delving into video, and I started out using Sony’s X70, because it seemed the easiest to learn. I was instantly blown away by my ability to set this thing up and capture what I needed, so I understand why we want to get these cameras in the hands of channel partners to use, who may be on my level of expertise. I took it out in the field and it was so easy and I was so proud of what came out of it. It looked professional, well done and the client was impressed. I was

impressed by the ease of use and how intuitive all of the menus were, and I didn’t have to worry about the complexity of the camera in the field.” VanCleave went on to explain the changing trends in technology, throughout his time in the industry. “There’s new technology trends emerging constantly that affect the content business,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, there has been a groundswell of video properties and platforms,

“For me to tell people that I work at a company that has 70 million views a month is pretty amazing...” 23


which leads to the need for more content and eventually better content. With the availability of mobile devices, you can’t go anywhere without video or photography happening, which has helped content to spread to multiple platforms online. As user-generated content explodes, emerging technology is a constant challenge for a company like ours, so Sony is enabling us to capitalize on this trend instead of being intimidated by it.”

VanCleave sums up his experience at Made In Network eloquently, saying “For me to tell people that I work at a company that has 70 million views a month is pretty amazing, considering it’s only a two-year-old company and how much I’m learning. I thought I would walk in with all of my experience and teach these kids a thing or two and it’s really been the opposite way around and that’s really fun.”

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“In the past, the YouTube space has definitely relied on lower production values than you would see on traditional television or movie sets, so we’ve been really excited to use Sony’s gear to allow us to make digital video content specifically for YouTube, to the highest quality,” Michael Hardesty said. “What has historically been successful on YouTube hasn’t necessarily relied on production values, but as we’re moving forward, the YouTube audience is expecting higher and higher production quality and we’ve been able to blow away our channel partners and our clients with what we’re able to do in our production facility.”

Michael Hardesty Production Director Hardesty, who has a background in audio and music, began with the network after he created and developed the channel’s popular series 24HR Records. He leads the creative team in conceptualizing new content. While Grosch and VanCleave work closely with Sony from a business perspective, Hardesty oversees the technical end of the relationship.

In his work in the audio realm, Hardesty appreciates the versatility of Sony’s highquality professional audio – microphones, headphones and field recorders. “I’ve been really lucky to have some of the top-quality large diaphragm condenser mics like Sony’s C800G and C38B at my disposal for doing voice-overs in the overdub booth or recording acoustic music, in addition to Sony’s shotgun and wireless mics, like the UWPD series for documentary style run-and-gun production, which are invaluable and super nimble for the times we don’t have an audio person with us.” He continued, “The C800G and C38B are workhorses and were mics I had used before joining Made In Network. They’re my favorite mics ever and I can always depend on them to sound amazing. A lot of my work comes back to my love of music and we are constantly working with the music community and capturing performances, whether it’s acoustic, a full band, or laying vocals over a track and I rely on the C38Bs to be easy to use and sound good on everything from an in-store performance to an artsy musical piece.” Another standout feature for Hardesty and his crew is the ease of use. “I’m able to teach creatives with a video background how to use Sony’s audio products with just a few brief demonstrations, and then they’re out in the

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Getting “Made” In Nashville

field. Not only have they been able to learn how to use the products easily, but they come back with some amazing results.” In terms of microphones, Hardesty talks about his use of wireless and wired lavaliers in different settings. “In a lot of our programming when we’re doing sit-down interviews, we’ll still rely on the wired lavs for the technical sturdiness of them. But at the same time, when we’re doing some of our more run-and-gun, documentarystyle filming, we have definitely used our wireless lavs and put them on each character in the documentary. They give us ultimate flexibility. We don’t have to worry about capturing the highest quality sound because we are secure in knowing it’s already on the person.” Hardesty described his experience with the PCM-D100 field recorder, which he uses with many musical channel partners and on shoots as “super helpful, small and able to get into a lot of nontraditional spaces, while still sounding like it’s been captured in a studio.”

“I’m able to teach creatives with a video background how to use Sony’s audio products with just a few brief demonstrations, and then they’re out in the field.” 26


Brad Cash Producer and Director From shooting to editing content, as well as direction on some of the network’s top channels and series, Cash spends a lot of time using Sony’s camera offerings. He explains why the FS7 in particular is a key tool in his arsenal.

“Since we began shooting with the FS7s, it’s been amazing,” Brad Cash said. “It’s great how difficult Sony has made it to get a bad shot; from all the ways you can monitor, to having focus peaking and the zebra button on the side of the camera, the FS7 has robust functionality. But it is easy to get away from all of that when you just want to hit the display button, see your shot and make sure it looks good. The features this camera offer give you a lot of confidence as a filmmaker to move forward in a shoot.” He continued, “Something that Sony has made it really nice to do is offer such flexibility in post. You can be in Cine EI and you can manipulate what’s coming out of the camera to make it exactly what you want in the editing room, or you can bake the image in-camera and make it look beautiful

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Getting “Made” In Nashville

straightaway if you have to release what you’re shooting the next day.” Cash describes using tutorials and the time in which it took him to become comfortable with the FS7 camera. “The first thing I did was go online and find tutorials,” he said. “It took me just two days to look them over and feel ready to go out and shoot with the cameras and feel comfortable enough to know what I was doing. In terms of a learning curve, two days is pretty good!” Cash goes on to talk about pairing the FS7 with a variety of Sony’s lens options. “To have a really versatile lens like the telephoto 28-105 with the servo zoom that comes with the FS7 is amazing to use when you’re not quite sure what you’re going to run into,” he said. Alternately, when you have more time and you’re going for a more cinematic look, it’s great to throw a 55 prime and

get a beautiful shot exactly how you want it. I’ve been able to achieve a range of different looks and different types of images using Sony’s 35 prime and 55 prime – going all the way to the 200mm on the 75 to 200 lens.”

“It’s great how difficult Sony has made it to get a bad shot; from all the ways you can monitor...”

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Getting “Made” In Nashville

Cash has also found pairing the FS7 with Sony’s audio offerings to be seamless. He noted, “I found it interesting to be able to listen to and record with some of Sony’s microphones and hear what was coming into the camera. From blasting super loud music to super quiet whispers, I was able to hear it all and was happy with the quality, which is great since it allows me to focus on the image.” On the importance of high quality tools for YouTube production, Cash said, “I think it’s extremely important for a company like Made In Network to differentiate and change the YouTube space from one that has been cat videos filmed on phones to really high quality content. We’ve done this by having good ideas and good content that stands out not only for what it is, but for how it’s made. Our videos look professional because we’ve used the best equipment. Having good ideas to shoot is extremely important, but if you’re shooting it on something that is not high quality, people may not view it the way that you want them to.” Shooting 4K content is important to the Made In Network team, since YouTube supports the resolution, as do many high-end cameras, like the Sony models. Cash finds the resolution flexible and helpful in creating multiple looks, saying “We’ll shoot in 4K and put it in a 1080 frame and when I’m interviewing somebody, then that turns that one interview shot into four different shots. When they say something very dramatic I can pull right in on their face. Having that flexibility with just one camera is really nice especially when you’re in a run-and-gun scenario and you have one camera to get as many shots out of it as you can. 4K is the way of the future, so when you’ve shot in the resolution, you’re certainly going to be proofed against wherever the future takes us.”

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“We’ll shoot in 4K and put it in a 1080 frame and when I’m interviewing somebody, then that turns that one interview shot into four different shots.” 30


Jourdan Lees Creative Director As the head videographer and editor for Made In Network, Lees makes sure there is a consistency to the network’s shows. Lees favors Sony’s FS7 and X70 cameras for a number of reasons, lauding the range of options they offer.

The FS7 is Jourdan Lees’ personal favorite. He said, “The versatility of the FS7 allows for shooting a really raw image from CineEI mode, but also if you need to go into custom mode you can set that and be good to go for capturing a really specific image and shot. Having the flexibility to quickly and easily jump between the two modes is extremely helpful.” Another popular feature is the camera’s neutral density filter, of which Lees said, “I never personally had that on any camera I’ve worked with and it’s pretty amazing to be able to go from a dark environment inside to right outside and throw on the ND filters, giving me a great image right off the bat.”

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Getting “Made” In Nashville

“For the Frothy Monkey coffee roasting video, we shot on the FS7 ... We used Sony’s 70-200mm lens for beautiful, crisp, shallow depth of field shots.” 33


“We can use interchangeable lenses with the FS7 to get different shots, so it’s easy to take on the go, as well as to use stable and mounted,” Lees continued. “For the Frothy Monkey coffee roasting video, we shot on the FS7 for Sony’s 4K Creators YouTube page. We used Sony’s 70-200mm lens for beautiful, crisp, shallow depth of field shots. We were able to easily switch to the 24-70 and get a nice wide shot. All the lenses we’ve used have been really responsive. They’re clear, solid and beautiful.” The lightweight, 4K PXW-X70 camera is also a workhorse. “We’ve put it on a jib quite a few times since it can get a good wide angle,” Lees said. “We can get a whole shot from one camera. Models like the X70 are very different from using something like a DSLR, which I had previously used. The quality is a huge jump, yet it wasn’t difficult to learn. With all the buttons right on the body of the camera, you can quickly get to the things you are looking for.” Lees appreciates the adaptable nature of the model and of 4K shooting overall saying, “Being able to shoot in 4K is pretty awesome, as are the images we are capturing. There aren’t a lot of cameras out there on the market in the price range of the FS7, or the X70 for that matter. For projects that are shot in 1080, we’re still able to shoot in 4K and use that to essentially expand the number of cameras we have. We can get multiple shots from one image, which is pretty amazing.” Summing it up, he concluded “Being a multi-channel network here in Nashville, where we are more or less the place to go for anything that has to do with YouTube, makes it essential to have the best and highest quality gear. Over the last few years, the quality on YouTube has changed pretty drastically from a webcam to high-end, professional tools and it’s been an amazing thing to see, experience and be a part of that transition.” 34


Shot Maker:

Tom Zweibel and New York Knicks Score with Sony FS7 For Tom Zweibel, digital video producer for the New York Knicks, the workday doesn’t end when the final buzzer sounds. When the game’s over, it’s time to edit all the footage he’s just shot for delivery to any of the Knicks’ internal or external platforms. Zweibel shoots about 12 to 14 hours of video every week, a mix of pre-game interviews, press conferences, shoot-arounds, Knicks’ promotional pieces and of course, all game footage at home and on the road. Zweibel often needs to deliver content for the web or to a broadcast network immediately after a game, so he needs a camera that can keep up with his workload and schedule: Sony’s FS7. He made the switch to the FS7 recently, after considering his primary needs: mobility, frame rate options for slo-mo and other effects, image quality and an edit-friendly codec. Zweibel worked with Sony and AbelCine to meet all his technology needs. He also rents his lenses from AbelCine, using B4mount zoom lenses (Canon or Fujinon) with an HDx35 Mark II adapter. The result is a camera system that more than delivers the “look” he is after.

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Shot Maker: Tom Zweibel and New York Knicks Score with Sony FS7

“One of the big reasons I chose the FS7 is that my camera has to be versatile,” he said. “It has to do multiple things and wear different hats, and it does all that. I throw an ENG lens on it and I can shoot incredible game highlights. Then I’ll pop that off and put on a nice fast wide angle, and it becomes a whole other camera using different parts of the sensor. I’m very happy with its versatility.”

“The XAVC-I codec is really edit friendly,” he said. “It was paramount that I had a functional codec that could work within my NLE. Often there will be a shot I need to upload as quickly as possible. Otherwise, I’ll just log all of the highlights and they’ll be up on our website the next morning. So I’ll be editing all through the night after the game and then submit content in the morning.”

Before and during games, Zweibel is a mobile one-man operation, moving around the court, the tunnels and the media areas to get a variety of shots. Compared to his previous choices of video cameras, the FS7 is big leap forward.

Designed for hand-held operation, the FS7 also easily converts to shoulder-mount or other configurations.

“With the FS7, the ability to go up to 180 frames in HD and up to 60p in 4K is huge,” Zweibel said. “I didn’t want to be limited to 30p if I wanted to shoot 4K." With tight turnaround times a common requirement, getting the footage edited quickly and easily is another main concern. 37

“Its ergonomics are great so I don’t need a rig for it,” Zweibel said. “I do use a rig when I use the larger ENG lenses, but when I use some of the smaller lenses on it, I can throw it on my shoulder and it’s really light, maneuverable and flexible. I can really move around and shoot from an immersive angle, especially during pregame. I can easily roam around during the layup lines and get the beauty shots that I need for the content that we produce.


"With the FS7, the ability to go up to 180 frames in HD and up to 60p in 4K is huge."

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Shot Maker: Tom Zweibel and New York Knicks Score with Sony FS7

In most arenas, the lighting often changes to full power during play to dark during player introductions or half-time performances. Zweibel said the FS7 adapts well to different shooting environments, which makes his job easier. “I do shoot in a lot of different light environments that change very quickly from the darkness of back tunnels to the bright lights of the court,” he said. “It certainly does what I need it to do in all those different situations even though sometimes, for example, when I’m shooting with the longer ENG lens I’ll lose a lot of light so I’m almost shooting myself in the foot voluntarily. However, the camera does perform well in low light environments.“ 39

Zweibel’s footage is primarily used for content on the team’s web site (www.nba.com/knicks), in episodes of Knicks All-Access Weekly and on social media platforms, including the Knicks official YouTube Channel. The footage is also shared with broadcast networks including NBA TV and for promotional spots on MSG Network to tease upcoming games. Click here for a sample of the Knicks’ weekly feature program, shot on the FS7. “With this image quality and recording flexibility, I’m able to get certain shots I might not otherwise get, like players warming up in the tunnel just as they’re about to run out


“With this image quality and recording flexibility, I’m able to get certain shots I might not otherwise get."

to the court,” he said. “It really lets me do a documentary-style shooting, following the team around everywhere they go.” Since he delivers for the web and for broadcast, Zweibel likes the flexibility of being able to shoot in 4K or HD. He usually shoots game content in HD, using 4K mostly in controlled environments like sit-down interviews or for establishing shots. “I shoot game footage at 1920x1080 60p,” he said. “But when there’s a moment that I know will be dramatic, let’s say at the end of the fourth quarter or the last possession, I can press

a button and suddenly switch to 180 frames per second. Now, I’m shooting super slow motion and I can capture that moment in that very dramatic way, which you can see on display in this video. As the operator and editor I can say that although our footage looks great, I haven't even really begun to scratch the surface of what this system can really do.”

Follow Tom Zweibel (@TommyZweibel) on Twitter and Instagram. 40


On the March from Selma to Montgomery THE PXW-X70 CAPTURES A HISTORIC EVENT

Q and A with a Documentary Filmmaker during a Historical Anniversary Celebration 41


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The PXW-X70 Captures a Historic Event

WAS THE SELMA PRODUCTION YOUR FIRST HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY?

MELINDA HOLM is a documentary filmmaker focused on capturing the beautiful and important moments in life. As a long-time fan of Sony cameras, she used the PWX-X70 to capture the 50th anniversary celebration of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. We conducted a Q and A to learn more about her experience.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN FILMING? My father gave me my first camera when I was 10 or 11 years old. We were going through the Suez Canal. That’s where I took my first pictures. A few years later, at the University of Oregon studying theatre and American culture, the director of my theater repertory company offered a film class one semester, and I thought – three easy credits. I signed up and loved every moment of it – from writing the script, to filming, to getting the actors and editing – all of it! So I started taking as many film classes as I could and then moved to Paris to try and get into a French film school. I ended up working as an intern on a few movie sets before coming back to New York where I got a job at the fabled repertory movie house, the Bleecker Street Cinema. One day, a coworker suggested I check out video production, and I did. The rest is history.

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No, I actually traveled to Japan to document the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That project confirmed my love for video production. Interestingly, I asked a friend what kind of camera I should buy to film it; he told me to buy a video camera, and I ended up with the Sony Hi8. I immediately fell in love with the camera, and still have it to this day. I actually used it as recently as 2010. Those analog cameras make a beautiful soft pastel picture. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR PROJECT AND HOW YOU BECAME INVOLVED IN IT. It’s about the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Fifty years ago, African Americans in Selma and other parts of the south faced many obstacles, including being fired from their jobs, and even violence, when they tried to register to vote. A handful of courageous and determined people started the voting rights movement in Selma that grew to a huge movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. and others, culminating in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The backstory: Many years ago driving cross country, I saw a sign for Selma and decided to stop. My car suddenly developed cruise control and wouldn’t stop. At the next rise in the road, I pulled over and turned off the key. Three men immediately stopped to help me. I was on the road again in minutes. The next day, (it was the 24th of December), driving in the pouring rain, I passed a few cars stopped on the side of the road. I resolved to stop for the next car I saw. Imagine the surprise of the young black man who came running up to the car to see me. We reached the Richmond bus station with minutes to spare for him to hop on a bus to Baltimore and get home to his family for Christmas. This event was very meaningful to me, and it created a soft spot in my heart for Selma. It was a place where I was shown kindness and able to show kindness to others in return.


It’s about the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Fifty years ago, African Americans in Selma and other parts of the south faced many obstacles, including being fired from their jobs, and even violence, when they tried to register to vote.

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A few years later, I participated in a 10-day peace walk from New York to Philadelphia. The people I met along the way were amazing. It got me thinking – who in the South had done this same work back in the 1960s and what were they doing now? I rejoined the peace walk in Selma and met some of the local people and heard their amazing stories about participating in the marches back in 1965. About two years later, I heard on the news that the mayor of Selma who dated back to the Voting Rights Movement had been unseated by a black man. I heard the voices of some of the people I had met talking about the election. It inspired me to go back. I realized these people had such extraordinary stories that weren’t being heard, and it made me want to capture them. At the 50th anniversary of the march, I wondered who would show up and what their feelings were about voting rights today. The project developed organically from there. DID YOU HAVE A PLAN OF WHAT YOU WERE GOING TO SHOOT WHEN YOU WENT BACK TO SELMA? I didn’t really have a set plan. I went in by myself to capture as much as I could, and at the end, I had over 12 hours of footage. I shot a variety of scenes both inside and outside so the light was constantly changing. The PXW-X70 was so adaptable – it captured the different lights beautifully. One night in particular, there was an a capella group performing in the church. I filmed it, but I was pretty far back so I wasn’t sure how the sound quality would be. But the camera picked up the sound perfectly – the voices of the singers sounded absolutely amazing.

Anthony Lee Desegregated Alabama schools (from “Selma Stories: The Elders Speak”) 45


The PXW-X70 Captures a Historic Event

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE PWX-X70 FOR THIS PROJECT? I’ve used a number of Sony cameras in the past and have been impressed with them. I’m a oneperson production team and I carry a lot with me, so I wanted a camera that was small and portable and capable of capturing great sound. The XLR mike inputs were very important to me. The PXW-X70 is compact and easy to carry; I had it with me at all times. It’s also very intuitive – I picked it up and started playing around with it, and it was incredibly easy to use. Because I didn’t work with a crew, I didn’t have a lot of extra lights or microphones. I was interested in seeing how the camera handled picking up sound and shooting in the different light. It did an amazing job, and the pictures are gorgeous. The camera has a very sensitive lens which I was happy about, and it really helped with the darker, interior shots.

One night in particular, there was an a capella group performing in the church. I filmed it, but I was pretty far back so I wasn’t sure how the sound quality would be. But the camera picked up the sound perfectly – the voices of the singers sounded absolutely amazing.

Wardlaw Brothers Macedonia Miracle Kingdom and Worship Center Musical Tribute to the Selma-Montgomery Movement 46


The PXW-X70 Captures a Historic Event

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE TYPES OF IMAGES YOU CAPTURED? Alabama is just beautiful; I took a number of landscape shots around Highway 80, which is a winding ribbon of a road. It’s flat in some places and then there are the most luxurious trees in other places. The rain gave off a nice mist, and it wasn’t until I saw the footage on a computer screen that I saw how subtle the tones and colors are – and of course, with the gray from the rain, those colors really stand out. The bright red umbrellas and orange raincoats of people all around stood out so vividly and the camera really highlighted these colors. I also did a number of interviews with community members and visitors and the footage is beautiful. I used the focus aid to really hone in on the peoples’ faces even in bright, outside light, and the footage looks amazing. Being at the anniversary event, I could feel the energy and the new hope from younger generations and I really tried to capture that in my film.

Being at the anniversary event, I could feel the energy and the new hope from younger generations and I really tried to capture that in my film

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Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras Lake Pointe Church serves a diverse group of congregants through in-person, live streaming and on-demand worship services. With locations in Dallas, Austin and Corpus Christi, Texas, the multi-campus church is a cornerstone of the state’s faith-based community, and their message extends worldwide reaching nearly 3,000 people online. Chip Acker, Video Director at Lake Pointe Church, noted that since his organization is focused on video production and streaming, it’s important to have high-quality, easy-to-learn equipment that can be used and maintained by the church’s largely volunteer staff. Acker and his team of six content creators produce a range of materials employing a variety of styles and looks from broadcast segments, run-and-gun and last-minute shoots to fully scripted and produced projects, in addition to church services and events.

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Chip Acker — Video Director

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Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras

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The Lake Pointe team uses Sony 4K cameras — from the FS7 and FS5 camcorders to the full-frame α7S and α7S II interchangeable lens cameras — in nearly every aspect of the ministry’s video production to capture services and events and handle the streaming. “We have integrated the FS5 and FS7 into our live weekend IMAG at our Rockwall campus, and for broadcasts to our seven other campuses,” Acker said. “We produce videos to promote ministry events, recruit ministry help, train staff and volunteers, document milestone

occasions, and tell stories of our mission work in our communities, across the nation and around the world.” Lake Pointe is still outputting a majority of their final productions in HD, but they also recognize the benefits of shooting in 4K, especially the flexibility 4K offers when editing, such as “the option to punch in to a tighter shot, within the frame,” Acker said. “It gives our editors more options when telling the stories of Lake Pointe Church.”

Sony’s 4K Cameras... It gives our editors more options when telling the stories of Lake Pointe Church.

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Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras

Wes Hartley — Media Pastor 53


“Our first purchase was the Sony α7S, with a third-party 4K monitor/recorder,” he continued. “The camera’s small form factor lets us pack lightly when traveling to shoot video with our partners in remote parts of the world.” Acker and his team have put the cameras through their paces in some less than ideal scenarios. For example, he explained a shoot that took place in Alaska using the α7S. “One day we shot in dark, cold gold mining tunnels where the ISO range allowed us to shoot with limited lighting,” he said. “The next day we shot on a glacier and in ice tunnels. The camera performed well, despite the change in conditions.” Overall, he finds the Alpha line of cameras to be great for traveling to other countries as they allow his team “to capture beautiful video and stunning photos with the 35mm sensor. The high ISO performance allows us to capture images in a wide variety of settings, which is very appealing when traveling to remote locations.” After seeing what a successful companion the 7S was to their efforts, the team next purchased an FS7. “This camera lets us transition from a ‘DSLR-style’ workflow back to an all-in-one shooting option,” he said. “The internal 4K recording, wide dynamic range, and incamera audio recording (with XLR inputs) were the primary attractions of the FS7. The other key points that drew us to the FS7 are the Super 35 CMOS sensor, incamera 4K recording, the ability to output 4K RAW with our extension unit, an array of shooting modes, and the ability to interchange accessories including the XLRK2M, which allows us to use XLR mics, and lenses like the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm and Sony EPZ 18-105mm zoom lenses.”

FS7... camera lets us transition from a ‘DSLRstyle’ workflow back to an all-in-one shooting option.

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Shortly after Lake Pointe bought the FS7, the smaller FS5 camera was announced and the team fell in love with its size, balance and efficiency. “For many of our shoots, the FS5 is the perfect ‘grab and go’ camera,” Acker said. “It still gives us the quality of the Super 35 CMOS sensor, and many features that the FS7 offers, but in a much smaller unit, which allows us to produce excellent images on a moment’s notice.”

Trent Worsham — Children's Pastor

After using many of Sony’s latest cameras, it’s no surprise that the church’s most recent purchase is the α7S II, which Acker praised for “its ability to record 4K internally and still give us the small form factor and lightweight packing ability for our remote shooting.” The video team appreciates the durability of Sony’s cameras, the longevity of their batteries and the reliability of Sony’s SD and XQD media cards, since their travels frequently take them to locations such as Mexico, Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and Asia. They find peace of mind in knowing they can count on Sony to deliver time and again, despite the challenges inherent with each trip, and have found that the wide dynamic range of each of Sony’s cameras makes it much easier to adapt to various shooting conditions and demands.

α7S II’s ability to record 4K internally and still give us the small form factor and lightweight packing ability for our remote shooting.

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Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras

For many of our shoots, the FS5 is the perfect ‘grab and go’ camera.

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Lake Pointe Church Finds a Faithful Companion in Sony’s 4K Cameras

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The variety of Sony products that we own allow us to put the right gear into action...

Acker finds it beneficial to work with a complement of Sony’s cameras since they all have similar interfaces and functionality, with each camera in his arsenal also serving a specific purpose. “We chose to purchase Sony cameras for the ability to match looks, shooting quality and codecs as much as possible,” he said. “It also gives us the ability to interchange lenses and other accessories, which gives us lots of flexibility when building a camera rig for a particular shoot.” Acker continued, “Pairing the right gear with our wide range of production styles gives us the best options for our church. The variety of Sony products that we own allow us to put the right gear into action, with any of our production requests and it also helps us save money over the long-term.”

Links to Lake Pointe video: Resource Initiative (mixture of archive footage and new video – all new video shot on Sony cameras): https://vimeo.com/140306091

Children’s Vacation Bible School (Alaska segments shot with A7S and FS7): https://vimeo.com/131471419

Christmas Faith Story (shot with FS5 and A7S): https://vimeo.com/149461115

Christmas Candlelight service (FS5 and FS7 were used as handheld cameras and integrated into our in-house production system): https://vimeo.com/149840930 58


Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7 By Lauren Vance Director, Producer, Filmmaker


I grew up in a place where people waited all summer for the arrival of the annual fair. From the moment I saw the trailers lined up and people unloading the amusement rides at our county’s fairgrounds I would start to countdown the days when I could walk through the gate and soak up the rare sounds, taste all that was at any other time of the year forbidden, and wrap myself in the colorful lights and excitement. It was in that moment, when I would stand in line for my first ride of the season, that a rush of emotions – anxiousness, nervousness, sadness, joy, and a belief that I was testing something inside me – would flow through me. I would see this look in other people as they too dipped into this world where all things made you feel like you were floating…

Director Lauren Vance in “The Picture Show”

I believe there are different worlds that we all live and operate in which drive us to and from our dreams and impact our ability to see reality. Most of us see who we think we are in these spaces, constantly creating short little films in our heads, and memories of how they were produced in our hearts. This process has the tendency to dictate who we let in and who we decide to leave out. In my latest documentary project The Picture Show, I tell the story of individuals who explore a different image of themselves and their circumstances in one of the most overlooked environments in America. As their seemingly distant worlds collide, they are all forced to consider how to help themselves when the dream world they once lived in begins to become a reality. 60


As a filmmaker I am always excited about unique mediums that bring together people who may not otherwise interact in the same spaces at the same time. These moments challenge me to find ways to capture the natural essence of my subjects despite environment or a person’s background. It also allows me to use tools that I may not otherwise use to capture these unique moments. The intersection of characters whose lives I share in The Picture Show are the seemingly forgotten souls living in Slab City – people like the contemporary artist Ian Ruhter who’s known for pushing the boundaries of an original photographic medium called Wet Plate collodion, for the larger-than-life images he creates and for his camera – the world’s largest Wet Plate camera truck – and his attempts to photograph them. There was even a surprise visit from actor, director and photographer Gary Oldman, who also makes and studies Wet Plate photography. I wanted to capture and enhance this process and the documentary with a multi-functional camera. I believed the Sony FS7 would do the job – and I was right. Stepping into the lives of the characters at the heart of this film, their homes, camps, kitchens, prayer circles, and the places where they entertain I found myself experiencing one of the most beautiful spectacles taking place. I needed a versatile camera that would infuse a similar style, and effortlessly reflect the daily lives and angst of the Slab City residents. I also wanted to document Ruhter’s anxiety as he tried to break a photography world record and still be able to capture Oldman when he visits in Slab City and he and Ruhter attempt to make Wet Plate images together.

“Stepping into the lives of the characters at the heart of this film ... I needed a versatile camera that would infuse a similar style...”

Stephanie, an artist in Slab City

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter inside his mobile camera truck

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

SLAB CITY:

The people who have made a home along the Salton Sea, a shallow, salted lake approximately 350 square miles long in California’s Imperial and Coachella Valley, represent a cross-section of life in America. The main communities along the sea are Bombay Beach, Slab City and East Jesus. Hip beatniks, Ivy Leaguers, drug addicts, the very rich and the very poor coexist in this place that on the surface seems contrary to human survival. Most of our time filming was spent in Slab City, 63

an unrestricted and unregulated homeless encampment, where individuals are overcoming some of the harshest conditions in America. Slab City first received notoriety through a man named Leonard Knight, a New Englander who spent three decades creating a man-made structure called Salvation Mountain. Among the many painted religious messages covering the mountain, the main theme stands out: God is Love.


Through the years Salvation Mountain has gained global recognition. To me it stands as the mouth and protector over all of Slab City. Knight was the first person to give a man named “Builder Bill” a chance when he first arrived. This opportune meeting led “Builder Bill” on a path where he would create “The Range,” a modern day vaudeville-type variety show where residents and visitors flock to and perform every Saturday at dusk. This stage brings people together.

“Most of our time filming was spent in Slab City, an unrestricted and unregulated homeless encampment...” Slab City Sunset

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

Slab City Resident Pastor Dave

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Over the course of two years I have documented and told the stories of individuals in this community: Slab City residents like Ellen and Preacher Dave, a man whose desert sermons unite and bring light to those who may have spent too much time in the darkness. I have been allowed to spend hours in the inner sanctums of the homes, camps and incredible backdrops like The Haven, a place where recovering addicts are counseled and fed by Preacher Dave. It is those offsite excursions and the incredible insights gained from heartfelt discussions that provide an important human dimension to The Picture Show project.

Director Lauren Vance, DP Robin Fenlon, and Cinematographer Ian Beaudoux talking with Slab City Kids

Ellen, a resident in Slab City

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

The main character in The Picture Show is Ruhter, who is using one of the oldest photographic processes in a way no one else currently is. Ruhter gets in his moving truck, which serves as a camera, and photographs Slab City residents using gigantic life-sized glass plates called Ambrotypes. We’ve all seen Wet Plate portraits in history books. It’s how they captured the first images of American legends like Abraham Lincoln and Billy the Kid. Because of the intense physical and technical requirements involved, the photographer and subject interact and work on the image for at least a few hours. The ghostly, magical images portray an authenticity rarely seen in modern life, and the difficult process of making them yields an unexpected alchemy of its own.

Ian Ruhter and his camera truck

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“The main character in The Picture Show is Ruhter, who is using one of the oldest photographic processes ... Ruhter gets in his moving truck, which serves as a camera...�

Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter present Slab City Builder Bill image

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The Mechanics of Filming This Process It had been a long time since I stepped away from DSLR cameras, but I made the transition away from them after feeling that the DSLR produces a cookie-cutter image. I felt this story had more layers. DSLRs are difficult in handheld situations and using heavy tripods or rigs in Slab City just wasn’t an option.

Director Lauren Vance and DP Robin Fenlon with fourth generation Slab City Mom

I selected Sony’s FS7 as our main camera due to the beautiful cinematic picture it produces. There are so many things to like about this camera, from its ability to shoot 4K, its low-light capability and dynamic range, and its form factor. In short, it provides the best of both worlds because it has qualities of an ENG camera that provide a more cinematic landscape, while not being too intrusive. It served as the perfect companion and allowed us to visually showcase our layered characters and dynamic story exactly as we had envisioned it.

“I selected Sony’s FS7 as our main camera due to the beautiful cinematic picture it produces.” 69


Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

Fourth generation Slab City Mom with her son sitting for an Ambrotype image made by Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter

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One of my goals on The Picture Show was to shed light on this tattered community of misfits and outsiders. At the same time I was highlighting Ruhter as he employs his photographic process to achieve his goal of creating images in the most natural way possible – with no major production set-ups, no light kits and no stopping the process once it has started. To fully understand and

Mom’s camp in Slab City

appreciate my subjects, I was able to break off and spend time following them more closely before and after the Wet Plate picture-making process. In my mind there were a few different goals and I didn’t want to lose what I call “the story within the story” that takes place through all these subjects eventually documenting each other.


“One of my goals on The Picture Show was to shed light on this tattered community of misfits and outsiders. “


Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

Wet Plate tech Will Eichelberger, “The Picture Show” Director Lauren Vance, Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter, Gary Oldman and Gisele Schmidt view one of Ruhter’s Ambrotype

I wanted to document three different scenes from previous shooting adventures with Ruhter, the first being Ian and his technician Will Eichelberger’s arduous experience making the Wet Plate images. To do this, they carry a 100-pound piece of glass into the darkroom and make it light-sensitive by pouring collodion onto the plate to make it wet. Then, they load the plate into the “camera” (that is inside the camera truck). Ruhter is unique in that he views his subjects from inside his massive camera, which also doubles as the darkroom for developing the plates. I’ve captured them going through this process before, in places like Monument Valley, Joshua

Collodion pour on glass plates

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Tree, New York, Los Angeles and Tahoe, but this time I wanted to FINALLY be able to really see what was happening throughout the entire process. This is where the Sony cameras shined. My goal was to be a “fly-on-the wall” as much as possible during the photo-making sessions when Ruhter engages with the subjects, who are also the characters in the film. The FS7 enabled me to discreetly capture beautiful images of this longstanding practice. I also needed to be prepared for on-camera conversations I would have with subjects throughout and after the photo session. I was able to turn the camera and start shooting on-the-fly when the opportunity arose.


“I wanted to document three different scenes from previous shooting adventures with Ruhter, the first being Ian and his technician Will Eichelberger’s arduous experience making the Wet Plate images.” 74


Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

It was 98 degrees or hotter every day in Slab City and it felt like 110 on the days we ventured off to shoot in Bombay Beach, a community directly along the Salton Sea. We constantly had to adapt to changing lighting conditions. One minute, we were under the harsh, bright light of the Sonoran desert, and then the next moment shooting inside the camera truck in near pitch-black darkness. The FS7 captured each scenario easily. The camera’s low-light capabilities even allowed me to capture images inside the Wet Plate collodion photography process that were beyond what I thought possible. We shot quality, usable video inside the world’s largest camera! I don’t think anyone has captured this kind of process inside a camera before. The FS7 was able to pick up amazing detail beyond what the eye can see, without distorting the image in front of me. If you know photography, then you know that complete darkness is required inside a camera or darkroom, so being able to see what was happening was extraordinary. After testing the FS7 prior to heading to the Salton Sea and seeking advice from expert DPs, like Rob Featherstone, who have used Sony set-ups for years, I decided to shoot with a flatter, washed out picture that would need minor color tweaks in post. This was achieved in the Cine EI mode – at different S-Log exposures that gave me the most latitude. As my editor Shannon Burnham has stated, in post, he only has to do a little contrast boost to the footage, which was a relief, since I am on a small budget.

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Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter and Builder Bill’s plate

“The camera’s low-light capabilities even allowed me to capture images inside the Wet Plate collodion photography process...” 76


Gary Oldman in Bombay Beach with Ian Ruhter

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Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

In addition, the ergonomics of this camera make it possible to transition fast. The shoulder mount on this camera makes it one of the better models for documentary shooting and allows you to still be an inconspicuous part of the process. My team and I also needed to be prepared for the surprise person or unforeseen event in our environment – like the visit and collaboration

that we had from Oldman, who spent two days collaborating with Ruhter in Slab City and Bombay Beach. On a project like this, there is simply a lot happening at the same time that includes, like any good performance, numerous spectators. My goal was to capture the participants and audience in this world and let them reveal their stories. It made for long days, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“The shoulder mount on this camera makes it one of the better models for documentary shooting and allows you to still be an inconspicuous part of the process. ” Director Lauren Vance, DP Robin Fenlon, Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter, and Wet Plate technician Will Eichelberger shooting at the Salton Sea

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I am currently working on a way to complete the last frames of The Picture Show and take it through the post-production process alongside my team, which includes Ian Ruhter and Will Eichelberger, Shannon Burnham, as well as Director of Photography Robin Fenlon, Cinematographer Ian Beaudoux and Editor Daniela Kelley McInerney, plus ongoing collaborators including Gary Oldman and Gisele Schmidt. In the meantime, a short film about Ruhter’s and Oldman’s experiences working together in Slab City and Bombay Beach called The Carnival of Dreams is due to be released soon through Silver & Light Films, Flying Pictures Studios, The Laboratory Arts Collective in the UK and Vance Studios. We hope the release of The Picture Show isn’t far behind! Looking back on the footage and the process, I have no doubt that each of us involved in this project have dreams that we brought along with us. I’ve been amazed to realize that it’s as if everyone who participated and collaborated on The Picture Show decided to share his or her unique gifts with the world. For that I am grateful. Everyone brings their parallel reality to this invisible stage and I am lucky to watch them crossover from their dreams and fulfill them in reality by being a part of this process. In watching The Picture Show, I hope people see the intimate picture within these delicate pieces of art, the allure of this deserted land and the fragile beauty of the human beings who dwell there. 79

Production Photo of DP Robin Fenlon, Director Lauren Vance, Builder Bill, Wet Plate artist Ian Ruhter, and Will Eichelberger and Filmer Ian Beadoux


Telling the ‘Story within the Story’ with Sony’s FS7

Lauren Vance’s Bio: When you are truly loved it can be a means, a path that leads to you finding and testing out things about yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, dreams and ultimately what is truly in your heart. Through the years either by chance, luck or desire I have documented people during some of the most unexpected emotional events in their lives. My career has allowed me to produce, direct and spend extensive time capturing and interviewing with all manner of people: oil workers, bombing survivors, heroes in mass shootings, murderers and their victims’ families, and survivors of earthquakes and other natural disasters, for film, network television and specials, online video content, and cable series. 80


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Action Magazine Issue 6  

Action Magazine Issue 6

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