ction Issue 3
exploring digital cinematography & beyond
Kirsten Johnson Shooting a documentary at a nunnery in Myanmar with FS7
Interview with Emerson Urry Editor-in-Chief, “EnviroNews” on the FS700 Band Pro Short Film “In Vino Veritas” Shooting in 4K with FS7
LETTER from the EDITOR Welcome to the third edition of @ction magazine. Once again, we’re proud to present a terrific collection of production stories, told by the people using Sony professional digital imaging camcorders in new and exciting ways. Our cover story in this issue focuses on the latest work from award-winning cinematographer Kirsten Johnson, who takes the FS7 to a Buddhist nunnery in Myanmar and captures a unique look at the daily lives of an incredible group of women. She describes the project in very spiritual terms and recounts how the camera’s wonderful imagery, slow-motion features and ergonomics helped her tell a story like no other camera she’s ever used. The last doc she shot won an Academy Award, and she’s certainly not resting on her laurels with this effort! The FS7 also travels internationally with Michelle McCabe, another terrific DP who travelled across Cape Town, Bangkok, and Manila for almost three weeks, telling “day-inthe-life” stories of pediatric TB patients and medical staff in
clinics and townships. She talks about the FS7’s new 28-135mm servo zoom lens and how the camera’s ergonomics helped her really blend into the scenes with her subject and unobtrusively get the shots she needed. Another Sony camera – the FS700 — also travels to some exotic locales, with Emerson Urry and the team from EnviroNews, the leading news outlet focusing on environmental issues and legislature. From close-ups of humming birds, antelopes, mousing herons, and bumble bees to environmental protests on air pollution and political rallies featuring President Obama, the FS700 proves to be a faithful companion in any type of shooting environment.
beverages we all love — coffee and wine. One film by W. Ashley Maddox details the coffeemaking process in Nicaragua, and the other looks at a landmark Napa Valley winery now owned by Francis Ford Coppola, in a story that comes courtesy of our friends at Band Pro Film & Digital. Both were shot with the FS7. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with your colleagues. This magazine is a resource for you, and we want to hear about your experiences. If you have a production story for @ction, please let us hear about it. Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading! Colors and movement are the highlights of a new documentary series that kicks off with a profile of a Brooklyn, N.Y. artist and her unique style, and filmmaker Joshua Ryan Perez paints a vivid portrait with the FS7 and the XAVC™ codec to draw out the unique aspects of his story. Finally, we take a look at new documentaries about two Chiyoko Yannette Senior Marketing Manager Professional Solutions Americas Sony Electronics Inc.
Table of Contents
The Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert
13 27 43 47 53
Sony FS7 Travels Well on 3-Week Documentary Shoot
Shooting in any type of Environment
Living Fast with the FS7
Sony FS7 Perks Things Up
Band Pro FS7 Short Film: “In Vino Veritas”
My First Experience with the Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert Shooting a Documentary at a Nunnery in Myanmar by Kirsten Johnson
Kirsten Johnson is an awardwinning cinematographer and director known for her unique ability to connect camera and subject. The majority of her 60plus credits are documentaries, and her most recent effort, 2014’s Citizenfour, won an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature. She has also won awards from the Sundance Film Festival® and the Tribeca Film Festival®. Her first experience with Sony PXW-FS7 was a documentary shoot set in a Buddhist nunnery in Myanmar.
My First Experience with the Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert
The story of how I became a cinematographer surprises even me. Although I’ve always loved watching films, I had no idea one could make a career out of being a camera person and I never imagined that cameras would create such extraordinary ways to interact in the world.
door. Not only did he talk to me, he encouraged me to stay in the country, and promised me that if I stayed long enough, he would invite me onto a film set. I stayed, learned French and Wolof, found a camera to borrow, filmed 90-year-old World War II veterans, and Sembène kept his promise.
After I graduated from college, based on my curiosity for West African cinema and my desire to travel for the first time in my life, I went to Senegal. The visually bold stories of seminal filmmakers like Ousmane Sembène and Djibril Diop Mambéty had opened my eyes. Emboldened by the courage of youth, I went and literally knocked on Sembène’s
I ended up loving being on-set and knowing that I had to figure out a way to keep being a part of making films. The fact that I had somehow pulled off finding my way in a country where everything was new to me gave me the courage to imagine I could continue.
A Senegalese photographer friend told me that the French National Film School was impossibly hard to get into, but if you did, it was free. I decided to try. I was told that my best shot of getting in would be to apply to something other than the directing department, so I tried for what they called “Image.” Though I didn’t know anything about cinematography, through a series of improbable good fortune, I was accepted as the first-ever American student! France is where I really fell in love with shooting. Although I found it challenging to understand the technical aspects of cameras, I started to
understand how much I loved what could be experienced with a camera. Composing images, seeing light and interacting with people all happened through the camera. After seven years in France, I came to New York and began working with friends at Big Mouth Productions. We all worked together, each taking different roles on different films, and I worked as a director and a cinematographer. I haven’t stopped and I have now been shooting documentaries for 25 years!
An Incredible Opportunity with the FS7 Sagaing region of Myanmar The nunnery was set on a lush tropical hill just up from a glistening river.
My latest project took me to the Sagaing region of Myanmar to shoot an observational documentary in a Buddhist nunnery. I met the director, Kim Shelton, in person for the first time when I landed in the country. Kim had reached out to me based on an interview she had read about my approach to filming. She convinced me over the phone to come almost at once by telling me that the residents of the nunnery ranged in age from seven to their nineties and they all wear matching pink! Kim envisioned a beautiful approach in which we would film observationally and discover the story through filming. The nunnery was set on a lush tropical hill just up from a glistening river. It was a world run by women and so was our film crew! Although some of us were dressed in pink and some of us weren’t, we all went about our “daily practice.” For the nuns, it was meditating, maintaining the grounds, and preparing food, always aware of their desire for spiritual equilibrium. As the film crew, we sought to let the nuns lead our pace. 4
Photos of Kirsten Johnson and Sound Recordist Judy Karp
It was important to me to search for a way to film these Burmese women beautifully without falling into the trap of “exoticizing” them or their religion. The FS7 was a critical part of my approach. I wanted to be as physically close as possible and to have the camera I was holding feel as comfortable as any tool one of the nuns was using. With the FS7, I found myself able to move quietly any way the nuns moved, whether it was kneeling, walking barefoot, or climbing a jungle path. I had shot in 4K before with the Sony F55 and knew what breathtaking images were possible, but I also understood that this production would 5
not be able to support working with a camera that demanded a larger infrastructure. I wouldn’t have an assistant, the film had a minimal budget, and, most important, we wanted to be as inobtrusive and as integral to the nuns’ lives as possible. Having shot extensively in slow-motion on a film called The Wound and the Gift with the NEX-FS700, a similar Sony camera, I was also hoping to find a way to film in slow-motion at the nunnery. Then, at a cinematography panel at DOC-NYC just weeks before the shoot, I was introduced to the FS7. Suddenly, I saw a way to shoot in 4K! But what I ended up loving more than anything were the FS7’s ergonomics.
My First Experience with the Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert
I’m always searching for the camera that gives me the most physical possibilities and the FS7 really delivers in this regard. I knew that in Myanmar I would constantly be in confined spaces like jungle trails or tiny caves, or in boats or on the backs of vehicles, so my capacity to move freely in these situations required a camera that I could really hold and use in many configurations. The FS7 is the first camera I’ve held in many years that feels like I could cradle it in my arms and feel comfortable. It is a camera designed in the spirit of the 16mm Aaton and its ergonomic shape is optimized for observational documentary work. I’m used to certain workarounds in order to hold a camera in a particular position and to move with it, but I was able to flow with the FS7 in ways I never have before. I found myself experimenting with the grip and where I moved it to. Because we
were in many different physical positions and we were on the floor with the younger girls frequently, I was on the ground a lot. When operating from the ground level, sometimes I would work standing with the grip up high and holding the camera really low. Sometimes I would be crawling, sometimes I would be sitting on the ground. I found the grip couldn’t go down below the level of the camera; it had to be above it. I tried the grip at all different heights and configurations. I’m really tall, so the FS7 gives me the capacity to hold the camera really high, but then I can find ways to hold the camera really low, which proved to be great for filming the little girls. After getting used to the camera, I was able to get the grip exactly where I needed it to be. That was a new experience for me with a camera. I felt as though I got the camera to almost feel like a part of my body, which is always a state I am trying to achieve!
The FS7... It is a camera designed in the spirit of the 16mm Aaton and its ergonomic shape is optimized for observational documentary work. 6
Usually cameras are much more limiting, but with this one, I could be in a lot of different physical positions that I normally cannot. With the FS7, my movements were more natural and comfortable, and I think that energy gets conveyed to people and our interactions can be more open. I donâ€™t want to feel like a camera is a barrier between me and the person I am filming, but is a place for interaction to flow between us. I often think that no matter where it is or how youâ€™re holding it, if the camera can almost become a part of your body you have a better chance at human connection.
My First Experience with the Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert
My interest in shooting in slow-motion came when Kim and I spoke about the concept of time changing for people who spend their time meditating and living their life devoted to a religious ideal. Kim was particularly interested in the way the nun’s long periods of meditation might be a part of how the nuns approached everything they did. We felt that slow-motion might be a way to evoke their interior life.
all, so there was incredible contrast to film. Some of what we got in the dark spaces just blew my mind. As you can imagine, a lot of those spaces were completely painterly in how they could be rendered through the camera.
For example, there was a woman who spent her time whirling pounds of rice around in a basket, trying to pick out the few bad grains. She would rhythmically toss the rice up into the air and let it all shower down again. There was a speed to it that went along with her spiritual practice. It was her labor-intensive chore, but she brought a meditative contemplation to it. What a joy for me to find that filming the rice flying through the air in slowmotion somehow looked like water flowing! The nuns spend a great deal of time taking care of their bodies and clothes. They have to shave their heads regularly to keep clean-shaven and I captured a very tender slow-motion scene when two teenagers shaved the littlest girl’s head. The camera’s slow-motion imagery transformed the simple, repetitive gestures of the women washing their pink clothes into unseen visions. I enjoyed filming all these activities at different speeds, searching for ways for the viewer to move in and out of states of the nuns’ realities. Even despite varying terrains, conditions and lighting, the FS7 managed it all. We shot in a combination of very dark places, including some grottos and caves, as well as shrine spaces with Buddhas inside of tunnels. There were a lot of very low-light situations and sometimes we were in very bright, high lights outdoors, which were almost white during midday so there was a real range and the camera handled that range beautifully. Most of the places women lived and worked relied on natural light during the day. There would be one room with a window and then another room having no source of illumination at
Even despite varying terrains, conditions and lighting, the FS7 managed it all.
My First Experience with the Sony PXW-FS7 Made Me a Convert
I thought to myself, â€œthis is the way that I want the film, somehow translating what it feels like to really be here.â€?
A memorable segment with the FS7 came on an alms run with the little girls. We walked down this very steep hill, in the shadow of trees, and then we came out to the flats by the river. The girls were sitting in this little hut that had them in shadow and day was incredibly bright. I sat close, among the little girls, and I was shooting with a 16-35 mm lens. Surrounded by the girls, I saw a line of monks coming down the road in the distance. I didn’t think I would be able to capture with the camera what I was seeing with my eyes. But through my lens I could see the details in the shadowed face of the little girl next to me and still make out the forms of the monks coming down the road in the distance despite the white hot light and the range of contrast between the two. It was breathtaking to capture that all in the frame while holding the camera comfortably; living that scene with them as I was filming. I was having a blast being silly with the little girls and at the same time looking at this ravishing image as I was recording it. I thought to myself, “this is the way that I want the film, somehow translating what it feels like to really be here.” For me, after shooting The Wound and The Gift on Sony’s FS700, it was an easy shift technically to move to the FS7 and its 4K capacities. Because the FS7 offers such a comfortable body to work with and hold, it was also a discovery. I was able to go off my knowledge of using Sony’s FS700 camera and also the FS100 camera, which I used on Citizenfour, and move to this new one without technical support while creating beautiful images with it and being incredibly comfortable physically. I know the baseline Sony camera infrastructure and I could function effortlessly from my use and knowledge of the other Sony cameras. Overall, the FS7 is a superior camera at its level and I find myself recommending it to everyone who does this type of physically challenging observational documentary work. Maybe it was the spirituality of being in Myanmar among the nuns, but I am now a convert and believer in the power of the FS7 and I plan to use it religiously in the future! 12
Sony FS7 Travels Well on 3-Week Documentary Shoot By Michelle McCabe Director, DP and Owner Nun Creative
Sony FS7 Travels Well
A 19-day shoot covering more than 35,000 miles requires a very special type of camera. For me that was the FS7 and its servo zoom E-Mount lens (FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS - SELP28135G), which I put through their paces in some very challenging conditions.
Sony FS7 Travels Well
for 10 hours a day, “andTheI hadFS7awascallusin myon hand my thumb to prove it! It just fits your body so well. It’s more mobile, it moves with you. To me, it’s more of a handheld camera than the C300.
I was shooting a documentary on pediatric tuberculosis for TB Alliance, a not-for-profit product development partnership leading the search for new TB regimens. I brought the FS7 along with my Canon C300. Before the project started, the plan was to use the C300 as the main camera, with the FS7 coming out of the bag only for slo-mo shooting or specialized looks. By day three, I was shooting mostly with the FS7. We were interviewing pediatric TB patients and the medical staff of clinics in little villages and townships across Cape Town, Bangkok, and Manila. For each of our 19 shooting days, I was probably 85 to 90 percent handheld. The FS7 was in my hand for 10 hours a day, and I had a callus on my thumb to prove it! It just fits your body so well. It’s more mobile, it moves with you. To me, it’s more of a handheld camera than the C300. Two things kept the Sony in my hand all day, helping us stay unobtrusive and still get our shots. One is the ergonomics. I tend to shoot underslung and up on my shoulder, so it just fit better. The handling of the camera is smoother and allows you 18
Sony FS7 Travels Well
to be run-and-gun. You can run down a dirt road with a bunch of kids and the camera moves better. The other is the 28-135 mm servo zoom lens. That lens is SO sweet. The camera gravitated to my shoulder during this shoot more often than I would ever imagine. Beautiful handheld work comes from being able to quickly set f-stop, fps, and focus, as well as intuitively navigate a scene to create fluid camera movement. We shot interviews with patients, doctors, healthcare workers, and parents. There were a lot of sit‑down interviews in their homes and in the clinics — nothing super-formal. There was no studio. I was shooting “a day in the life,” showing how hard it is to keep a child on the tuberculosis drug regimens. There are medicines with a lot of side effects, and these kids usually have to go to the clinic every day to get their medicines. It’s a real trek. We wanted to show what their lives were really like.
one camera and lens held strong in “allThis of those situations. That’s really important because, at that point, you’re shooting 10, 12, 14 hours a day. It’s exhausting, and the crew was just me and the director
We also wanted to be a fly on the wall. I was sometimes shooting in homes that housed four people and were maybe five feet wide from wallto-wall; about 50 square feet for the whole house. Being able to tuck into little corners with the FS7 was amazing. In two clicks I could switch over to 1920x1080 and do slow-motion. I was able to create a look to the piece very quickly. Everything you need on this camera is at your fingertips, which is fantastic. When you are shooting a documentary there is no script of course, so anything can come at you at any given moment. You have to change and adapt really fast.
Sony FS7 Travels Well
I have to admit, at the beginning, the depth of the Sony menu was intimidating. I thought, “Oh my God, I don’t want to think about all this. I don’t want so many options.” But once you get to know it and push your favorite adjustments up into the user page, then BOOM, you have those choices at your fingertips, and I used them all. This camera and lens really came through for us in so many big ways that it’s hard to single out one moment. Overall it really fit our shooting needs on the fly, quickly, and easily. We were shooting all day, every day in different settings, lighting environments and elements. In one day I would go from shooting outdoors on the street to shooting in a marketplace to being inside a hospital with fluorescent lighting, then back onto the street and into someone’s home. This one camera and lens held strong in all of those situations. That’s really important because, at that point, you’re shooting 10, 12, 14 hours a day. It’s exhausting, and the crew was just me and the director. Having just the one lens and one camera made a very effective, small package to carry around. Personally, I don’t use the zoom movement of a 21
zoom. I use it as a giant prime lens, and I bounce between six focal lengths. To be able to go from 28 to 135 all in one lens is a huge advantage. With most of my DP friends, often the big question around the Sony glass is that F4, and I’ll admit it was my first question too: “F4 — that is so slow, why can’t they just do a 2.8?” But I didn’t feel it. This F4 looks quite shallow and is really beautiful. I didn’t find myself longing for 2.8. F4 is the new 2.8. The tradeoff is the weight and its motion. That lens is so light. It’s beautiful, and to have that zoom control on the FS7 when you’re basically a one-person crew means a lot. We were shooting 3840x2160 UHD and I didn’t have the external recorder, just the Sony XQD cards. They had to handle a lot of information and in retrospect I would have brought many more cards. The beauty of the new G cards is the transfer speed. They were fast; I mean 400mb/s is crazy fast. Nobody has 400mb/s download. It’s just one more “wow” when it comes to the FS7.
were shooting all day, â€œeveryWe day in different settings, lighting environments and elements. In one day I would go from shooting outdoors on the street to shooting in a marketplace to being inside a hospital
Sony FS7 Travels Well
The combination of dynamic â€œrange and 3840x2160 resolution was just gorgeous. Every night when I downloaded the footage I would marvel at the range and the beauty of these images
Sony FS7 Travels Well
camera and lens really came through for us “in soThismany big ways that it’s hard to single out one moment. Overall it really fit our shooting needs on the fly, quickly, and easily.
If I were pressed to choose one thing about the camera I liked most, it would have to be the dynamic range. The combination of dynamic range and 3840x2160 resolution was just gorgeous. Every night when I downloaded the footage I would marvel at the range and the beauty of these images. It’s a beautiful codec. Everything about it is stunning, particularly the shadow detail and low/no noise. It always comes down to the shots you’re able to get. A few times when I was shooting, it was dark out and the meter was saying “low light.” My first instinct was “don’t shoot, kick up the ISO” but I thought “forget it, I’m shooting anyway, at the base 2000.” It looked beautiful. I was absolutely 4-5 stops under‑exposed. I would bring it onto the computer, drop it into SpeedGrade and literally two little tweaks in, WOW. It held and it was gorgeous. How it handles night is really stunning. I love it! For more information on Michelle McCabe’s work, click here, and to learn more about the TB Alliance, click here.
Shooting in any type of Environment By Emerson Urry Editor-in-Chief EnviroNews USA
If issues relating to the environment, energy, healthcare, nature and wildlife fire you up, then you probably already know about EnviroNews, an environmental news resource in the United States. If you think the term fracking is an FCC-approved euphemism for an unmentionable word, or Stericycle is a mode of transportation, then we’d like to introduce you to this premier news agency. Founded in 2008 by Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry, EnviroNews has quickly become one of the most dedicated outlets focusing on environmental issues and legislation, often breaking news and offering exclusive content featuring environmental professionals, movie stars, rock stars, activists, politicians and business executives. With a physical presence and bureaus in 12 states, it is no wonder this grassroots organization’s video content is 100% original. They are the world’s first fully functioning 4K news company, capturing nearly all content in 4K and outputting at 2160p. 27
Sonyâ€™s @ction magazine recently spoke to Urry about his enterprise and what tools his company uses to attain their original content, as well as the moments they capture, not frequently seen by the human eye. Sony learned that Urry owned multiple Sony NEX-FS700s and is an avid user of Sonyâ€™s professional digital imaging products. In the year Urry and his team have been using the FS700, the viewfinder has been a party to some pretty exciting and exotic sights including close-ups of humming birds, antelopes, mousing herons, swans and bumble bees; environmental protests on air pollution, and political rallies featuring President Obama, just to name a few.
@ction: How did you initially choose the FS700 as your camera of choice?
Emerson Urry: I had had my eyes on the FS700 for a couple of years. I was always very interested in it because of the slow motion capabilities and the full frame sensor. I felt it was the only camera in its class when it was released, and it offered some amazing amenities that werenâ€™t available elsewhere in the marketplace, especially with the slow motion capabilities. The slow motion, the full frame, and the 4K output are definitely the biggest selling points to me.
The FS700 has a number of attributes, but the one that tops the list time and again is its extraordinary Super Slow Motion capabilities.
EU: The FS700 has a number of attributes, but @ction: Your team does a lot of run and gun news and wildlife videos, and the one that tops the list time and again is its extraordinary Super Slow Motion capabilities. The those are three hallmark features of camcorder handily captures bursts of recording at the FS700. In addition, the FS700 has 120 and 240 frames per second, in full HD. Footage 11x optical zoom, which you’ve noted from the FS700 plays back at 24 frames per second is “pretty necessary for what you do at offering slow‑mo at a fraction of the normal speed, and supports 2K and 4K recording. This is EnviroNews.” especially useful to an organization like ours that maintains filming the beauty and detail of wildlife, uninterrupted, as one of our top priorities.
@ction: Can you give an example of how the camera’s features enhance your work? EU: We took quite a few clips in 4K at 120 frames per second that we are going to use in a film and the beauty of those is that we can zoom in double, after the fact when we are broadcasting in HD. We even took some clips for that same film at 960 frames per second. It’s really beautiful. We shot hummingbirds in slow motion, and you could actually see their feathers ruffling with every wing stroke at 960. I love filming wildlife in slow motion, specifically birds. We use slow-mo mostly on wildlife footage and these slow motion capabilities were the main selling point for me for the FS700; that coupled with the 4K output.
@ction: Recording in 4K is swiftly moving from a trend to an industry standard, so the FS700’s Super 35, 4K sensor and outboard 4K should be a perfect partner for a shooter capturing wildlife. Is that right? EU: Some animals are dangerous, many tend to move fast, and none of them like to be intruded upon while going about their daily routine, so the post-production zooming capabilities inherent with using 4K are a boon to camera operators. Our teams can record from a safe distance without interrupting the animals or their habitat, and still capture precise details with the crispness that 4K footage offers.
These cameras are very important to us. I love the FS700 to death. It’s an incredible camera, and we are running ours in 4K nearly all of the time. While the process of working with 4K takes a bit longer, and requires larger file sizes, it is well worth it in the long run, especially with regard to future proofing our content to live on for years to come. We always try to be on the cutting edge, which is how a company like ours gets ahead, and we figure in four years, when everyone is done with the painstaking process of switching over to 4K, which we are doing right now, we’ll have archives upon archives of 4K footage and we’ll be able to pop out documentaries from the warehouse at that point in time. We are putting out 2160p versions of these films now and we are loading them up in the DivX but they still aren’t broadcast in that resolution. So in many cases it’s still easier to edit and do your workflow in HD and instantly have a good HD codec of your clips that you might be archiving or logging into your database in 4K. Then you’ve already got an HD version to utilize for broadcast, to work with in your edits. And you don’t have to use those big, cumbersome 4K files for what is going to be shipped out to HD anyway. That’s been a really convenient feature.
These cameras are very important to us. I love the FS700 to death. It’s an incredible camera, and we are running ours in 4K nearly all of the time.
Turkey â€” shot in 4K RAW
@ction: Talk about the look and benefits of the 4K and 4K RAW formats. EU: When you’re filming in 4K RAW it’s pretty nice. We’ve filmed 95% of our footage with the Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q decks and most of that has been in 4K and 4K RAW. If I’m using the 4K, the limitation is 120, which is pretty awesome. It writes to both SSD slots in the Odyssey deck at once — one for even frames, and one for odd frames. It takes an incredible picture. It’s amazing to get into that technology — to get 4K at 120 frames for that price point.” The camera not only offers high-tech 4K functionality at a reasonable price, but on a more primal level, it simply holds up under the stress of being outside in varying types of weather and environmental conditions. All of my Sony gear, including the FS700, has always been super solid for me across different weather conditions and atmospheric conditions. I’ve never had a problem. I go back and forth from the ocean in Northern California which is pretty much a humid swamp, to Utah and Nevada — the two driest states in the country. In addition to dry air, they also sit at high altitude. In Utah it’s almost 5000 feet versus sea level. So I’ve been taking these FS700s back and forth in those environments this past year and I haven’t noticed anything that’s affected them.” I almost always do the simultaneous record — it’s a wonderful feature that you have added into the FS700 that it can output to the Odyssey in 4K, and the FS700 in HD at the same time. It’s really good for backup purposes, as well. That way, at least you’ve got something, on the off chance that the deck doesn’t record. That actually happened to me once — my deck shut off. I was filming a critical decision being made on a medical waste incinerator. To this day, I don’t know what happened, whether there was a dip in voltage on the battery side or what, but it turned itself off right when the important vote was happening. But because I was in simultaneous record mode, and shipping it to the SD card, I still got the vote, thank goodness. So it’s great for backup purposes in case anything happens and I really think it is convenient for a news company like ours.
I go back and forth from the ocean in Northern California which is pretty much a humid swamp, to Utah and Nevada — the two driest states in the country. In addition to dry air, they also sit at high altitude. In Utah it’s almost 5000 feet versus sea level. So I’ve been taking these FS700s back and forth in those environments this past year and I haven’t noticed anything that’s affected them.
Utah Oil Well — Daily Routine in 4K RAW
@ction: What accessories are you using with the FS700? EU: I’m using Sony’s shotgun mic on the FS700 and I’ve had a good experience with it. I’ve used shotgun mics from several different companies, and it’s pretty hard to compete with them. It’s a sensitive mic for how short it is and I’ve been easily able to pick up audio feeds from across the room. Shotgun mics are imperative to what I do with the environmental news because I’m often taping public meetings where people in the crowd are standing up to speak and they aren’t mic’d up. I’ll have a main audio channel for someone like the commissioners, but when people from the crowd are speaking I’ll be running another audio channel with your shotgun mic. It’s very clean and certainly sensitive enough to hear what’s coming through. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the Sony shotgun mic, because as I said, it’s pretty short, but it’s got a good range.
@ction: What’s next up for EnviroNews? EU: Eagles, Alaska and the new Sony PXW‑FS7... I’ve never taken the FS700s to the Arctic, which I’d like to, but I would plan to also use the FS7 when we go up to Alaska, probably pretty soon. There’s a spot we go to up there that has the largest gathering of eagles in the world. Additionally, we plan to open more bureaus throughout the country, equipped with Sony cameras like the compact Sony PXW-X70. So, stay tuned!
Michael Orton Running EnviroNews 4K Cam â€” Massive Utah Air Pollution Protest
Living Fast FS7 with the
By Joshua Ryan Perez
My recent web series, Kerbys Cups: HOW I LIVE FAST, gave me a chance to let my mind run wild and experiment with techniques and looks I’ve always wanted to try. I developed the series with two of my close friends, Christopher Kerby Nunez and Edwin Rosario, and we treated this project as an opportunity to present a visual, in-depth view into the minds and creative processes of young and gifted individuals. We knew much of the content would be vastly dependent upon richness of color, fluid movement, and versatility. Our preproduction specifications left me with the question, “What camera am I going to use?” I had access to quite a few camera options, but I knew we were seeking a particular look and just any camera would not do. I own a RED ONE MX and a Canon C300, but the Sony’s PXW-FS7 made it a tough choice. I chose the FS7 for its color capability, its overcranking, its ease-of-use and, finally, its size and weight. These were major features and selling points and the other cameras couldn’t match up. Even though I had significantly more experience using the other cameras, the PXW-FS7’s specs sold me. This shoot was a personal project for me and my two partners, so we could afford to take a risk and use a new camera.
Living fast with the FS7
The FS7’s weight, ergonomics and all-around feel made it a breeze to zip around Millie as she painted, and it was hassle-free when I needed to throw it on a slider for smooth, cinematic shots.
I used a mixture of natural and artificial lighting and the camera took in this dynamic of light flawlessly with no sensor issues or artifacting. The series begins with a profile of an artist. Episode 1 features Brooklyn-based painter Millie Crespo, a talented young ingénue best known for her wild use of colors and unconventional technique. While I was developing the project’s treatment, my team agreed that the most important part of the visual component would be to showcase vivid color — the color of the paint, the color of the drinks the painter was indulging in, the skin tones and the tattoos on her hands. This is where I was very happy I opted for the FS7. With XAVC™-Intra 10‑bit recording paired with S-Log 2/3 we had the information and detail to take this into a grading session and get the most out of our footage. 45
I had very specific ideas in terms of camera movement. I knew I wanted to shoot everything in slow motion, and with the FS7, I would have the option down the line to bring it back down to 23.98. The camera’s 180 FPS at 1920x1080 resolution capability gave me the cinematic movement and high-end quality I wanted for this shoot. During the final stages of pre-production I was trying to decide which lenses to use and because the FS7 is an E-mount, I had the flexibility to use just about any lens my heart desired. The shallow flange distance of the Sony E-mount allows for most, if not all, lenses to adapt without major issues in focusing or machining adapters. I used Sony’s CineAlta prime lenses when I shot the series, ASK BAGO, for Univision’s on-line platform, The Flama. I shot the series with the Sony FS700 and was astounded at the quality of these lenses and decided I was going to use them for this shoot as well.
The FS7’s weight, ergonomics and all-around feel made it a breeze to zip around Millie as she painted, and it was hassle-free when I needed to throw it on a slider for smooth, cinematic shots. The 180 FPS let me capture beautiful macro with the CineAlta primes, specifically the 135mm T/2, which was my lens of choice for capturing the fabrics of the canvas and textures of the paint as it was applied.
I used a mixture of natural and artificial lighting and the camera took in this dynamic of light flawlessly with no sensor issues or artifacting. The camera’s dynamic range really showed when shooting toward the windows and when creating glares. Retaining detail in the highlights and shadows is definitely a strong characteristic of the FS7.
Retaining detail in the highlights and shadows is definitely a strong characteristic of the FS7.
The entire piece was very artistic in nature and reliant on beautiful visuals, as well as the ability to effortlessly capture moments. During post-production, I found even more reasons to be pleased with my choice of the FS7. From editing to coloring the piece, its XAVC-Intra codec worked seamlessly with Adobe Premier Pro CC. Cutting the piece was simple and roundtripping it to Da Vinci Resolve was no problem. The 10-bit from the codec and the robust, but manageable bit rate gave me more than enough information to push the footage far beyond the limits of what I would have been able to accomplish with the Canon C300. As an owner and operator, the transformative experience I had on set with the FS7 camera solidified my choice to purchase it. Immediately after completing this project, I sold my Canon C300 and purchased a PXW-FS7, which is priced extremely affordably. Since then, I have used it on multiple shoots from a segment TV show with BBC UK to corporate work, and I even brought this durable and compact camera down to Johannesburg, South Africa with David Venturini from Moving Pictures. Next, I’m headed to Sweden and then Paris with my FS7 as a trusty sidekick. I’m confident that it will continue to prove itself as one of the most versatile, powerful and easy-to-use cameras I have ever worked with.
New Documentary is a Real Grind but Sony FS7 Perks Things Up By W. Ashley Maddox W. Ashley Maddox spills the beans about using the FS7 to shoot coffee plantations in Nicaragua
Sony FS7 Perks Things Up
“I love the size of those cameras and shooting in 4K was important to me”
My latest filming opportunity combined two of my most favorite things — coffee and cameras. A faith-based non-profit contacted me about filming the coffeemaking process at a plantation that they own in Nicaragua. This same nonprofit also runs a camp for kids on the same property, and the coffee they sell is a source of income to help kids in Nicaragua go to camp. It was my job to help people in North America see and understand what was happening by telling this organization’s story. Before I made the trip I planned on taking my Sony FS7 with the Sony A7s as a backup. I love the size of those cameras and shooting in 4K was important to me. I run my filming with the strategy of “small, simple, compact.” That means I take the minimum amount of gear I need and nothing more.
In my testing, I decided to film this in the hypergamma4 setting. A deciding factor was matching cameras, easy grading and fast turnaround time in post. As I arrived I realized the coffee plantation was spread across an entire hillside. Knowing there were lots of hills and small pathways, and that I had to carry everything I needed with me, I took the FS7, a Tokina 11-18, Canon 24-105, and the Canon 70-200 using the Metabones adapter (speedbooster and non speedbooster versions).
When it came to capturing the coffee making process, the FS7’s 180 frames per second mode was terrific. That gave me at least 5x slow motion in camera. At times, they would dump the coffee cherries into buckets and bags and the super slow motion really captured the look and gave it a magical feel. I also liked to shoot in 3840 60P mode. I found that I can slow it down in post for a slow motion look, and still keep the ambient sound that was captured through my camera mic. I could have captured 60P in the S&Q mode, but no sound would have been captured.
“In my testing, I decided to film this in the hypergamma4 setting.”
Sony FS7 Perks Things Up
Coming from the Sony FS100, I found that I was shooting a lot more data. On the FS100, 128 GB would last me the whole week! But with the FS7 I would fill up my two 128 GB and two 64 GB XQD cards by lunch time. During lunch I would transfer the footage to a drive and start shooting with fresh cards for the afternoon and evening. This prompted me to look at buying more cards when I got back. When I started the edit process, all the data the FS7 captured was amazing. The amount of grading I could do with footage and the data that is captured in the XAVC™ codec is incredible. I was able to pull down a bright sky and make it blue and bring up some dark shadows showing all parts of the image. I was impressed by how this camera captures an image and then gives you lots of options in post.
Since I have been back I have been filming a lot in S-Log2. I really like the ease of grading it allows with the beefy XAVC codec. I add a LUT in post and bam… I have an image that is almost there. With a few tweaks, I can make it look amazing. Although I shot in the Hypergamma4 for ease of editing, if I were to shoot the Nicaragua piece again I would choose to film this in S-Log2. That seems to capture all parts of the color and image fairly well. And it’s also not that hard to grade in post. I ended up finishing the video in UHD and then uploading a 1080p HD H.264 to Vimeo for the client to distribute. The FS7 is a great camera and the more I use it, the more I am glad I invested in it.
“I was impressed by how this camera captures an image...”
Band Pro FS7 Short Film: “In Vino Veritas”
In March 2015 Band Pro Film & Digital, Inc. shot a new 4K short film using the Sony PXW-FS7 at the Inglenook Winery in Napa Valley. Originally founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum, Inglenook is now owned by Francis Ford Coppola and his wife Eleanor Coppola, who continue to honor the fine winemaking tradition of this historic vineyard. Leica Summicron-C lenses were used for the short, and the PXW-FS7 was outfitted with accessories from Movcam. Additional camera support and accessories were supplied by San Francisco-based rental house Videofax.
DP Randy Wedick: “In our previous 4K short films we’ve always acquired RAW. Because the Sony FS7 was designed as a lower budget camera for owneroperators and smaller production companies, we shot in 4K XAVC™-Intra 10-bit to XQD cards, and I was surprised to find there was still a lot of room to move in color correction. While it lacks some of the ins and outs of its big brothers, the F5 & F55, it really is in the same family and the images attest to that. The Leica Summicron-C 55
lenses make a real difference when you have a powerful sensor to render images on. We operated the camera in the Cine EI mode, using S-Log3. Whether we were in the dark wine caves, or filming directly into the sun, this allowed us to capture a rich image full of dynamic range. We applied the MLUT to our on-set viewing taps, and Adobe Premiere automatically applied the matching LUT in editorial.”
“We operated the camera in the Cine EI mode, using S-Log3. Whether we were in the dark wine caves, or filming directly into the sun, this allowed us to capture a rich image full of dynamic range...” — DP Randy Wedick 56
Editor & Colorist Bobby Maruvada oversaw 4K post and color correction. Editorial was all performed in Premiere in native UHD, this was all migrated into Bobby’s Baselight system for seamless color correction handoffs. Color correction was performed in ACES to ensure maximum precision. Producer Brett Gillespie: “The work being done at Inglenook is really rare. Turn on the news and all you hear about are old treasures slipping away. This place is just the opposite. 57
Instead of letting their glorious legacy fade, the entire Inglenook staff is actively creating a vibrant now that will resonate for a long, long time. Having the opportunity to capture this renewal was a real honor. There was only one problem: we had just 2 days, and a minimal crew, to do the story justice. The FS7 was a perfect camera choice; allowing us to quickly change configurations to match a wide variety of interior and exterior locations on the fly. Looking at the finished piece, I’m really happy with the results.”
Band Pro FS7 Short Film
“The FS7 was a perfect camera choice; allowing us to quickly change configurations to match a wide variety of interior and exterior locations on the fly.” — Producer Brett Gillespie 58
“It’s designed from the ground-up for hand-held ergonomics. From the curves in the camera housing, to the adjustable grip, to the reconfigurable viewfinder.” — DP Randy Wedick 59
DP Randy Wedick: “The advantages of the FS7 are not just in the workflow. It’s designed from the ground-up for hand-held ergonomics. From the curves in the camera housing, to the adjustable grip, to the reconfigurable viewfinder, it marks a refreshing change and a move away from the “shoebox with a lens mount” mentality that has been prevalent through the industry for the last few years. Sony has a rich history with well-balanced shoulder cameras in the broadcast world, and the
FS7 is a move in that direction for the cinematic world as well.” Band Pro has shot several 4K short films with Sony over the past few years using F65, F55, and FS7 cameras. Subjects have ranged from SpaceX rocket launches, Hawaiian lava flows, and the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory. Visit them at www.bandpro.com, and watch their short films at www.vimeo.com/bandpro 60
THE NEW WORLD OF DOCUMENTARIES
Bob Poole with the F5 in Mozambique
New ergonomics. New workflow. New versatility. There’s never been a better time to shoot documentaries. Exciting possibilities like Sony’s RAW and XAVC™ encoding enhance your storytelling as never before. You’ve got new choices in lens compatibility, optical formats, resolution, frame rates and workflow. And whether you shoot handheld, from the shoulder, tripod or drone; the ergonomics of Sony cameras just feel right. In fact, the possibilities are so compelling that we created a dedicated resource, just for documentarians. It’s a whole new world. Let Sony be your guide at sony.com/docs.
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