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behind the scenes

Shooting Anamorphic Steve Gainer, ASC on his new feature film shot with F55 F65 gives the AFI the Hollywood Treatment

Breaking the Log with the F5 by Richard Wong, DP

Bob Poole shoots documentary Gorongosa with 2K Center Cut

Evil delivers thrills in 4K

issue 3


Letter from the Editors It is summer movie blockbuster time at the theaters and in these pages of our third issue of Sony’s “CineAlta” magazine. We are thrilled with the positive responses we continue to get from professionals using our large sensor technologies. This magazine’s success is directly due to your enthusiasm for our products and willingness to share your stories. We’ve assembled another great collection of diverse production stories — covering 4K applications for motion pictures, TV, documentaries and more. This issue’s cover story outlines how the real-life experiences of an NYPD officer turned paranormal investigator was brought to the big screen in the newest Screen Gems’ horror/thriller “Deliver Us from Evil.” You’ll read an interview by Jon Fauer, ASC, with the movie’s DP Scott Kevan, and also hear insights from Screen Gems president of production Glenn Gainor about the present and future of 4K. Sony’s F65 is described as a “visually superior camera” by Thierry Arbogast, cinematographer who shot the new Luc Besson film “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johanssen. Steve Gainer describes his unique use of the

Alec Shapiro President Professional Solutions of America Sony Electronics Inc.

Sony 4K workflow while shooting the first F55 anamorphic feature, “Everly.” Legendary documentarian Bob Poole describes using the F5’s 2K center cut feature with HD lenses and its low-light capabilities while shooting in Gorongosa National Park. Other stories in this issue spotlight Sony 4K professional technologies on the fashion runway with Tory Burch, underwater with daring documentarians Dan Beecham and Charles Maxwell, and in the air with Arnie Itzkowitz. It’s a diverse line-up, and we hope you enjoy this issue. We also hope you continue to send us your comments, your experiences and your stories. The best ways to describe what our large sensor technologies can do is to have the professionals using them every day tell the story in their own voice. From the air to the ground and underwater Sony CineAlta has you covered. Please keep the stories coming to production@am.sony.com. Thanks.

Alec Shapiro and Peter Crithary

Peter Crithary Marketing Manager (Twitter: @CineAltaNews) Professional Solutions of America Sony Electronics Inc.


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Shooting anamorphic Steve Gainer shoots the very first F55 anamorphic feature, Everly

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Gorongosa

Telling your story in the digital age

Bob Poole discusses the F5’s low light capabilities in Gorongosa National Park

Glenn Gainor talks about the transition from film to digital

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Capturing evil in 4K

Tiffen 4K Diffusion Filter Tests

Jon Fauer interviews Deliver Us from Evil Cinematographer, Scott Kevan

Learn about Tiffen's new 4K Diffusion Test and how Tiffen filters work in 4K

Content 1 Shooting anamorphic 17 Gorongosa 31 Telling your story in the digital age 39 Capturing evil in 4K 53 Tiffen 4K Diffusion Filter Tests 59 "The F65 — a visually superior camera" 67 Breaking the LOG 81 Taking the F55 to “new heights” 89 No Compromises 111 Versatility in Vérité Filmmaking 119 Runway 4K/Grading the Runway 135 Diving into a new camera system


Content

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"The F65 — a visually superior camera" DP Thierry Arbogast shares his experience shooting the new Luc Besson's film Lucy with the F65

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Breaking the LOG

Taking the F55 to “new heights”

No Compromises

DP Richard Wong uses the F5 to create a unique look for the film Man from Reno

Arnie Itzkowitz on why he takes the F55 2000 feet in the air

The film APP, becomes the first AFI film shot on the F65

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Versatility in Vérité Filmmaking

Runway 4K/Grading the Runway

Diving into a new camera system

Director Judd Ehrlich uses Sony Cameras to create a cinematic like documentary

What made B Productions shoot Tory Birch's Runway show in 4K

Dan Beecham and Charles Maxwell choose the F55 to go underwater


What’s new in CineAlta By Peter Crithary Recently, Sony released the much-anticipated Version 4 firmware for both the F5 and F55 4K cameras. This firmware has a number of important features requested by users, including Picture Cache Recording (with a memory buffer of 15 seconds at HD 24P) which is especially useful for sports and documentary shooting. Sony also introduced the ability to apply user-generated 3D LUT’s (as .cube files) from DaVinci Resolve and other compatible grading applications. The latest firmware, as of this writing, is Version 4.1 and implements Viewfinder Double Speed Mode for critical focusing (available in S&Q with 72fps or higher as well as fixed frame rates). Version 5 will support the optional Codec Board for ProRes and DNxHD as a paid option. Version 5 will also support the Documentary Docking Unit designed for easy shoulder-mount operation; placing all critical functionality at the user’s fingertips. The Documentary Docking Unit will also support wireless audio receiver functionality, among other features. The F65 is also receiving a Version 4 firmware upgrade, encompassing more than 30 new features based on feedback from customers. Highlights of Version 4 for the F65 include Live ASC CDL Control from Tangent Element TK control panels, Live Camera Streaming and Clip Playback to an iPad, Import of User-generated 3D LUT’s and much more. You can check out some of the F65’s production stories in all three issues of the “CineAlta” magazine. A huge benefit of the F5 and F55’s 4K imager is the ability to use 2K center scan for B4 mount 2/3" broadcast and Super 16mm lenses, with the use of an optional optical adapter that looses only 2/3 of a stop. Given the F5 and F55’s unique flange depth of only 19mm, these cameras can take advantage of any lens system by way of simple adapters. Be sure to read about legendary documentary cameraman Bob Poole using the F5 with HD lenses in 2K center scan in this issue of “CineAlta”. In this case, Poole is using the HDx35 adapter available from AbelCine. Details about the Sony adapters are available here.

Lastly, a word on Sony’s RAW implementation; there is a lot of misunderstanding about RAW, its impact in production, the benefits, flexibility, workflow, file size and picture quality. Sony uses visually-lossless compression in the F5, F55 and F65. Sony engineers carefully developed the RAW image to return the best possible picture quality while delivering the most efficient file sizes. For the F5, and F55 the result is a 16-bit linear RAW file that comes in at approximately 240Mbps for 2K RAW and approximately 960Mbps for 4K RAW (at 24P). 4K, 16-bit RAW is a very manageable file size compared with 4K uncompressed DPX files. In fact, 4K RAW is 7 times smaller than uncompressed 4K DPX (10bit, RGB) and just 2/3 that of uncompressed HD. In addition, 2K RAW is only 64Mbps more than ProRes HQ. The F65 records in 8K RAW and offers two levels of visually-lossless compression: RAW-SQ and RAWLite. F65 RAW Lite is only 1.2Gbps at 24P, which is 6 times smaller than uncompressed 4K DPX (10bit, RGB), and just 20% bigger than F55 RAW. Sony’s RAW is 16-bit and offers far more color information and gradations than 12-bit or even 14-bit can deliver. Most DI tools support Sony RAW files natively and Sony offers a free RAW/XAVC application for both the Mac and PC platforms. You can download the RAW Viewer software from here. RAW Viewer is a very powerful application. Amongst the debayering and grading features, you can export various other formats such as DPX, OpenEXR, and ProRes. As with the Sony’s other codecs XAVC, HDCAM SR, and 50 Mbps 4:2:2, the workflow of Sony RAW is also very easy, with real-time native editing possible on a laptop. Sony RAW is supported by major grading and editing applications. In fact, in this issue of “CineAlta” magazine, an AFI thesis production team discusses their experience shooting with the F65 and editing the RAW data on a laptop. Thanks for reading and enjoy the magazine!


Shooting anamorphic for the new feature film Everly A Yakuza/Spaghetti Western, shot with F55 by Steve Gainer, ASC

I’ve just returned from shooting what they tell me is the very first F55 anamorphic feature, Everly for director Joe Lynch in Belgrade, Serbia. Salma Hayek stars as an American being held prisoner in an apartment by her ex-lover, who is head of the Yakuza mob. It’s a good old-fashioned shoot-‘em-up, mixing Japanese Yakuza and Spaghetti Western. It’s set around Christmastime and planned for a Christmas release, but don’t bring the kids!

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Shooting anamorphic

Choosing anamorphic I loved shooting this project RAW with a pair of F55s and a set of gorgeous vintage Kowa anamorphics. The Spaghetti Western approach played into the choice of anamorphic. Joe Lynch and I had conversations early on. Of course, he’s a classic movie fan and he loves anamorphic flares. But the anamorphic look is more than that. It’s a combination of the aspect ratio, the bokeh and the stigmatism of the lens itself which make it so appealing. Anamorphic is also reminiscent of the 70s and early 80s, both for anyone who happened to be alive then, and for younger people who have researched and watched older films. There’s a look from the peak of the anamorphic era that is just cozy. It’s wonderful, even in a film that’s maybe not a breakthrough, like The Getaway.

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“Anamorphic flares are cool and all, but I look for the distortion, what it does to skin tones and what it does to the composition.”


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Shooting anamorphic

You see the way that film is composed and what the cinematographer and the director went through in order to create their art. Then you’re out there working, you have your boots on the ground, you realize what they had to go through with the equipment that they had. Maybe it’s a BNCR that they were shooting with, the giant camera, and they still were able to create these marvelous images and compositions in anamorphic and move the camera. You gain a lot of respect for the cinema and for their work. To me, one of the more beautiful shots I’ve ever done was years ago on an anamorphic. It’s such a simple shot, but it was a long-lens close-up and there was a tree very distant behind the subject. The sunlight was hitting the tree on just the right angle and the wind was blowing the leaves and they were completely distorted

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out in the anamorphic bokeh of the long lens, and it looked like the image had come alive. It looked like the latent image itself was breathing because of the way the wind was blowing the tree behind this person out of focus. Things that are distant, rather than having the spherical bokeh that we’re all familiar with, have this linear, sketchy feel. It’s really distortion. It comes to the glass messing up the perfect digital sensor image and messing it up in an artful and creative and beautiful way, and anamorphic certainly does that. So, the anamorphic look is a very definite thing; the bokeh, the fall-off. The flares are just a by-product. They’re cool, but I look for the distortion and what it does to skin tones and the composition.


Composing in 2.40:1 Even people who are not students of film sense that. They sense, wow, this is something special. This isn’t the news. I’m not watching a 16:9 broadcast. I’m watching something that has art infused into it. Composition is crucial. The 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 aspect ratio without question is a lot more fun to compose than a 16:9 image. 16:9 is here to stay. It’s okay and at least it’s more rectangular than 4x3. When you start looking at an anamorphic aspect ratio, you have loads of negative space and plenty of area to build a composition. Things either fall off or build up or fall out of focus with a bokeh either foreground or background.

“You have loads of area to build a composition and have things either fall off or build up or be out of focus with a bokeh either foreground or background.”

And then there are always Christmas lights to make an image look “wow.” How many young production designers have run over and in desperation threw a string of Christmas lights way in the background and went, “That looks incredible.” I’m like, really? Again with the Christmas lights?

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Shooting anamorphic

Bringing my F55s to Serbia I got in early on the F55. I own two cameras, both of them with serial numbers under 100, plus three R5 recorders should one have a burp. In fact, I’ve opened my own camera company, the Atomic Camera Company, in Burbank, California. Everything on Everly was mine except for the glass. I brought my cameras, accessories, matte boxes. I did not bring the dolly, of course, and I sourced batteries locally. The way this project timed out, I shot Season Three of my television series, Awkward. When we wrapped, I had six days until I got on the plane to go to Belgrade, so I came out of the television series, six days. Boom. I’m in Serbia. I was there for four and a half months. I came back and three days later I started Season Four. Then I finished and picked up another TV show, Happy Land, which I’m also using my F55s on. And that was two days, so I’ve been working for almost a year straight, which is unusual. Loading the firmware When we started preproduction on Everly, Sony hadn’t released the firmware upgrade that enables you to view anamorphic un-squeezed from the SDI outputs. The earlier firmware only supported finder viewing, and that just wasn’t going to work. In today’s cinema, the assistants absolutely have to have an onboard monitor to see what the heck’s going on, and they insist on it. I’ve got two 5.6 TVLogic monitors. Sony’s new firmware upgrade enabled three of the SDI outputs to be un-squeezed out of the camera. That supported two on-board monitors and then one feed out to the Video Village and me. That was the breakthrough. Without that, it couldn’t be an F55 shoot. So I

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“Sony’s new firmware upgrade enabled un-squeezed SDI outputs for two on-board monitors, the Video Village and me. That was the breakthrough.“ spoke to Peter Crithary at Sony right before I left to see what his ETA was. He said, “Yeah, we’re going to have it.” So I packed up the cameras, and I said a prayer. I didn’t want to use another camera. I wanted to shoot the Sony’s. I mean, at that point, no other film had been shot anamorphically on the F55s. I wanted to be the first.


They had just been worked on, and they were in spectacular condition. They have a lovely bokeh, similar to Cooke, which is my favorite. So we made the call to use the Kowa glass, and then I rented Joe Dunton’s 50-500 zoom, which with absolutely nothing in front of it is a 5.6. Frankly, it felt more like an 8. The Kowas are also really small. I had a 35, a 50, a 75, and a 100. They were just stellar glass and I wasn’t even aware that they existed. Building the set We shot 100% on stages at Pink Studios — beautiful, brand new, enormous stages about 20 km outside of Belgrade. Primarily they do television there but they also do some features.

The production was a little worried, of course. But I finally got the cameras through customs and saw the release of the new firmware the weekend before we were to start shooting. I was nervous, so I took the cameras, loaded the firmware into the R5s and into the cameras and lo and behold, they worked perfectly. Viewing on the monitors, we were only seeing the 2.35:1 portion of the shot. It was what it was, and we were all incredibly impressed. Finding the glass Also on the bill when I got to Serbia was finding the anamorphic lenses. A local camera house in Belgrade had just purchased a vintage set of Kowa Japanese anamorphics from the 70s.

Here I am on set using a glass set wide open as a 5.6-8. So that’s what I had to base my exposure around, because I knew at any moment I’d need to throw the long lens up. So I decided to set my base key at 5.6, which sounds like a lot of light. But when you’re dealing with a camera that’s native ASA 1250, it’s not as much as you think. The primary set is an apartment with an open floor plan of about 2000 square feet.

“The set was built by hearty Serbian craftsmen from what appeared to be one and a half forests of trees.”

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Shooting anamorphic

It’s sizeable, and it’s an open floor plan. One would assume that it was a warehouse loft that had been converted, although it was a set on stage that was built by hearty Serbian craftsmen from what appeared to be one and a half forests of trees. How they built this thing was unbelievable. Fortunately, I was there early enough to work with the production designer and insist that we could wild out every wall. Wherever I was in the apartment, I could build a large key light outside that would blow through the apartment and allow Salma to move from one side to the other without losing a great deal of light on her face or body. This also allowed me to keep a lot of the lighting outside of the set. I had 25 5Ks ringing the top of each with a Chimera on it and, of course, everything on dimmer board so I could turn 180 degrees in about five minutes. All I had to do was flip my

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key light, whether it was a book light or a big bag light, and then have the dimmer board operator switch the kicker at the board and bam, I was turned around. So that speed was important. Quickly reworking the camera into any configuration was key. It’s an action movie. I didn’t want to light it just from the 5Ks that were up top, because that would not be pretty enough. But I was able to build big book lights and bounce and then come back to a light grid or a full grid and all of that outside of the set. When Salma moves 10 feet left or right or 20 feet left or right, she has almost exactly the same intensity of key on her, and that was very advantageous. As you know, when you’re working on a lighting system and you have something 15 feet away from the actors, when they move twice that distance, it’s the inverse-square law. So they’ve lost a stop. When you have a light that’s 40 feet away, it becomes more difficult to lose that amount of light.


Changing up the look One of our mantras was that we would unleash the camera, meaning that we would allow the camera to move as much as possible. In keeping with the way that I’ve shot with previous directors, TV notwithstanding, we made a pact that we would never do the same shot twice. The look of the film changes four times. First is the basic look of her apartment. I want it to feel like you’re in an apartment, not on a set, and not highly stylized. For half of the film, the look is normal. Then, when the attacks begin, power goes off twice. The first time, it’s at night and the apartment becomes illuminated by the sodium vapor lights from the street coming up through the windows. The second time it’s dawn, and I

“We made a pact that we would never do the same shot twice.”

wanted the apartment to be lit by the cool bluegray light from the sky. So, those are three of the basic looks, and then the fourth look is at the very end of the picture, and I can’t give any spoilers or I’ll be beaten by the Weinsteins. When we went from the basic apartment look into the sodium or early morning light, it was amazing. The crew would go, ooh, because 50% of the time we’re shooting in a normal apartment, and so it became routine. And then when we’re able to do something that, in my feeling, looked extraordinary, they all got excited and energized again. I haven’t been this excited in a long time for people to see my work. I’ve been doing TV for the past three years. TV is more turn-and-burn. This was a labor of love. This picture was entirely rewarding on the artistic level, being back with my feet on the ground rather than propped up on the corner of the DIT cart. It was a chance to go really hard core with some lighting styles, step outside of my normal thing and flash back to the work that I did on Punisher: War Zone. This goes even further because now I have the immediate ability to see what I was getting, and that is a huge bonus.

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4K Salma Salma Hayek was a treat to work with. She is an experienced actress and director, and she really gets it. The first couple of days, I could tell she was a bit guarded. I mean, here’s another cinematographer that she’s working with. She’s never even heard of me. She doesn’t know Larry Clark’s Bully. But then she saw some dailies and I noticed that she would come by and give me a squeeze good morning and stuff. It changed. Once she realized that I was truly out for her as much as I was for the picture, our relationship grew and she became very, very sweet. We just had a great time. It was one of the best cinematographer/actor relationships I’ve had because the movie is all about her. At times she’s bloody, she’s beaten up, she’s in a fight, there’s an explosion. But even as bad as she physically looked, I still wanted her to be the beautiful Salma Hayek, not to the extent of taking one out of the picture. When you see her dripping wet from something blowing up, I wanted her to be sizzling sexy. That was my goal. I achieved it and I’m very excited about the results.

“When you see Salma dripping wet from something blowing up, I wanted her to be sizzling sexy.”

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Working faster with the F55 The glass is 50% of the equation, and the other 50% is having a camera that delivers beautiful images as well. I was never as pleased with any camera as I was with the F55s. They are loving, caressing, light-gathering devices. It seems like no matter what I do, whether it’s television or features or whatever, there’s just one edict from production. Go faster, go faster. When you’re working on a Gold II, you didn’t really move things around that much. But today’s cameras are so modular. The F55 allowed me to work faster because of the easy access to all the menu items and the ability to switch. Being able to switch the monitor to the other side really quick or drop it down low is a huge plus for going fast.


“I was never as pleased with any camera as I was with the F55s. They are loving, caressing, lightgathering devices.�

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Shooting anamorphic

Visiting the DIT The crew really fell in love with the camera, especially the DIT. With the firmware I had, when you shot anamorphic, it was only in 4K RAW. So the DIT was seeing the beautiful images. Unlike in the States where my DIT is really close to me, the DIT had his own room elsewhere. The second assistant would take the cards to him. It wasn’t like we had a wrangler. The DIT did everything, so he would take it, set the look that we had talked about and then do all the transcoding himself in there. So at the end of the day, I’d pop it in, and we would revisit. He had a 30-inch 4K monitor and man, it looked great. I would run down the hall and see if the director had left the building yet. I’m like, “Come look at this. You’re not going to believe this.”

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“Man, it looked great. I would run down the hall and see if the director had left the building yet. I’m like, “Come look at this. You’re not going to believe this.”

Moving the files We recorded directly onto the cards through the R5 recorder. That was taken to my Sony card readers and ingested directly by the DIT. He was able to make the DNxHD files for dailies, web dailies and the editors. That was pipelined to the United States, which was an amazing process. I can’t believe that you can now shoot in Serbia and that same very day, the assistant editor is loading the files into a computer in Los Angeles. There was some sort of new pipeline that they were able to get the dailies over to the States.


De-squeeze was done at the DIT in Resolve. It’s plug and play. It’s so simple and you know, when you shoot a 2x squeeze anamorphic lens on the 16:9 center, you’re obviously clipping part of the frame, and if you backed off in Resolve or whatever program to see this full side-to-side, it’s something like 3.55:1, so you’re clipping a third or so of the image off of the ends in order to come up with 2.40. That part was a little unnerving, but realizing that I was shooting in 4K, and also realizing that most theaters project in 2K if you’re lucky, then I wasn’t worried and looking at the final image. I was thrilled. Because you’re cropping in, my 35 was probably more of a 40, but c’est la vie. We had to shoot anamorphic. Back at home, I have a set of Series 2 and 3 vintage Cookes that I sent to True Lens Service in London, and they rebarreled them for me in brand new big S4-type barrels. They look incredible. The way that they treat faces is so beautiful, and the bokeh of the Cooke glass is my favorite. When we first started using them, my assistants were asking, “What is going on with that 100 mil? We shoot a medium with a 2-inch and then we throw the 100 mil up and the face seems to be glowing more.” I go, “Welcome to Cooke.”

It does glow. It has its own special, magical qualities, and believe me, that paired up with the F55s, has proven to be my favorite thing in the world. I was forced on the first two seasons of my TV show, Awkward., to use RED cameras. Of course, they are good cameras, they are workhorses, and they do the job. But if you compare the first two seasons of the RED cameras with the Panavision glass to what the F55 and the Cookes look like now, there is no comparison. It is stunningly different and much, much prettier.

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Shooting anamorphic

F55 and the digital future I like to be able to zip up to 240 frames. I can go from 1250 to 2000 ASA in the push of a button, and I don’t see any difference noise‑wise, none, nothing. To me, a sensor is a sensor. The glass and how you treat the image is the emulsion. That’s what makes the difference. A lot of DPs and even actresses are worried, I think, needlessly about shooting in 4K. I didn’t feel any impact. Certainly, it’s a much bigger frame. You’re dealing with a much larger image.

"To me, a sensor is a sensor. The glass and how you treat the image is the emulsion. That’s what makes the difference."

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Is it any clearer? Well are you using Master Primes? And then my question would be why are you using Master Primes in HD? I mean, sharpen the razor until it cuts, then it’s too sharp. I would much rather have a 4K image than say a 2K or a 1080 image simply because when it’s blown up, and I’m critically staring at the screen I’m not going to notice artifacts or noise. You shoot 2K and then the editor in there is going to punch in 50% to make a medium shot a closeup. Now what have you got? Is that what you want projected? Good luck with that.


“I like to be able to zip up to 240 frames. I can go from 1250 to 2000 ASA in the push of a button, and I don’t see any difference noise-wise, none, nothing.” I wanted to shoot 4K, and I love it, and I saw nothing to make wish I used a lower resolution. That doesn’t make sense to me. Does that mean that everyone would still prefer to shoot 16 mm?

4K is here People who haven’t given the F5 or the F55 a shot should definitely take a stab at it. They give you 4K at half the price of the competition, rather than backward-izing technology and creating a camera that’s native 2K. Resolutions tend to go up, not down. I haven’t seen anybody hocking a CRT monitor lately, so why in the world would people think in 2K? They need to think in 4K with the knowledge that it’s your friend by having a larger image, by being able to modify that image and not have a great loss of resolution. And if you can get a system that can give you that sort of beauty, power, and image size at half the price, why wouldn’t you?

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Gorongosa By Bob Poole I’ve been busy the last couple of years working on the most incredible project. It’s a film series for PBS & National Geographic International about the restoration of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, produced by Off The Fence in Amsterdam. Most of the wildlife in Gorongosa was killed during the 17 year-long civil war, but now a great team of scientists and conservationists are working to put it back together. I’m the DP and main character of the series, it’s a mix; of verite adventure, blue chip wildlife, and conservation science. A challenging combo for any production.

Actually, I’ve been working in the Park for many years. I first went there in 2008 for a National Geographic project called Africa’s Lost Eden, and again more recently for the film War Elephants (which was nominated for an Emmy in 2013 for Best Nature Program). I grew up in Africa and for the last 30 years have been making films about African wildlife. Gorongosa is a fabulous location but it’s certainly not an easy one from a filming perspective. Perhaps the most difficult thing about filming in Gorongosa is getting close enough to the animals to get excellent shots of them.

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"With the F5, I am getting the beautiful detail my producers want. The latest firmware update gave me the ability to use a Center Cut of the sensor for 2K shooting. That, with the ultra long lens, finally gets me sharp and close."

The behind the scenes stills of Bob Poole by Gina Poole

In the years I’ve worked in the Park I’ve used many different generations of HD, 2K and 4K cameras paired with a Fujinon 25x HD lens via a B4 to PL adapter. A long video lens is the only way to get close enough to the wildlife but it comes at a price in light loss. The best wildlife behavior seems to always happen before sunrise or after sunset, and there has never been enough light. Switching to the Sony F5 has made a huge difference. I’m now able to work in much lower light than I ever could before. With the F5, I am getting the beautiful detail my producers want. The latest firmware update gave me the ability to use a Center Cut of the sensor for 2K shooting. That, with the ultra long lens, finally gets me sharp and close.

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Gorongosa

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“The best wildlife behavior seems to always happen before sunrise or after sunset, and there has never been enough light. Switching to the Sony F5 has made a huge difference. I’m now able to work in much lower light than I ever could before.“

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Gorongosa

I’m finding a lot more to love about the F5 beyond light sensitivity. Features like continuous 2K high frame rates for slow motion and the ability to switch to a 4K RAW output with the R5 recorder are super handy. The images I’ve been getting lately are stunning. Focus is so critical at the end of my long lens that I need a good viewfinder and the F5’s is sharp and clear and gives me the ability to magnify while I am recording. I even turned the handle around backward, so that I could have the viewfinder at the back of the camera giving me a more comfortable position when shooting from a head. Long lens shooting in Gorongosa isn’t just because the animals run away if you get close. Sometimes they come at you. My sister, Dr. Joyce Poole, is one of our key characters in the series and she is also the world’s leading expert on wild elephant behavior. She’s trying to understand the communication between elephants during what she calls “group defensive behavior.” For me, that often translates to getting charged by a massive herd of elephants. In Gorongosa, there were once 4,000 elephants, but 95% of them were killed during the civil war. Those who are left don’t like us very much. They often mob us in coordinated attacks, and a wall of elephants is a very formidable adversary! Joyce is using the footage from the F5 to look at the detail in their behavior in slow motion to analyze what the elephants are doing just before they charge. From Joyce: “Elephants are extraordinary team players and they display highly coordinated group defensive behavior. Human beings have been their primary predator for thousands of years and they have evolved complex and intricate behavior to protect their families. Their behavior happens so fast, and with your heart in your throat it is hard to make note of what is happening. With the slow motion detail of the F5 and my brother’s skillful work, I can go back and analyze the behavior, play by play, in a safer environment.”

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"’m finding a lot more to love about the F5 beyond light sensitivity. Features like continuous 2K high frame rates for slow motion and the ability to switch to a 4K RAW output with the R5 recorder are super handy." back to TOC

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Gorongosa

“Elephants are extraordinary team players and they display highly coordinated group defensive behavior. Human beings have been their primary predator for thousands of years and they have evolved complex and intricate behavior to protect their families. Their behavior happens so fast, and with your heart in your throat it is hard to make note of what is happening. With the slow motion detail of the F5 and my brother’s skillful work, I can go back and analyze the behavior, play by play, in a safer environment.”

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The ElephantVoices still by Joyce Poole

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Gorongosa

I have the F5 set up for long lens work most of the time with 19mm rods, a beefy bridge plate, and a heavy head. The camera spends its days bouncing around in the Land Rover with me and has held up well. I need it to be ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. The cycle of life in Gorongosa is driven by seasonal changes. It is astounding how the place changes from the peak of the dry season to the end of the rains. A wind swept dusty plain turns into an inland sea. Torrential downpours replace billowing dust. The F5 has been through it all. I am now driving to locations that I had to access by boat only two months ago. I keep the camera covered but it can’t live in a vacuum. The camera is so versatile, I also enjoy shooting it hand-held. I’m used to cameras that require lots of power and in the field keeping up with the camera’s power needs can be a mission. The F5 runs on a single Anton Bauer HCX Dionic all day long.

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“...Gorongosa can be seen best from the air. It has perhaps the greatest vistas in all of southeast Africa. With the F5 and a 14mm lens, I’ve been able to capture that beauty from a microlight.”

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Gorongosa

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We’ve also been shooting macro with the F5. Gorongosa has perhaps the greatest biodiversity of any wilderness in the world. Harvard entomologist and National Geographic photographer Piotr Naskrecki has been systematically cataloging all of the biodiversity in the Park. He is also a key character in our series. His photographs are stunning and shot in a make shift camp studio in the forest with Canon lenses. The F5 is able to use Piotr’s EF mount lenses and can shoot the same creatures in slow motion in his studio. It is simply amazing to see the detail and witness the behavior of such tiny creatures in vivid slow motion. But Gorongosa can be seen best from the air. It has perhaps the greatest vistas in all of southeast Africa. With the F5 and a 14mm lens, I’ve been able to capture that beauty from a microlight. Shooting 100 to 180 frames per second and with the camera on a Sachtler fluid head rigidly mounted to the airframe outside the cockpit, I can control the camera and get un-obstructed views of the landscape. The light at dawn is often filtered by a fog rising from Lake Urema at the center of the Park and the air is as smooth as glass. I’d say, no one will know the aerials were not shot with a Cineflex.

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Gorongosa

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There are a few things that could be improved on the next firmware update. The pre-roll buffer is a wonderful thing that came with V4.0, but it does not work when shooting in higher frame rates. Also, the menu in general seems to have a lag that can be frustrating when I am rushing to change the camera setup for a shot. I’d love to see a video lens power out on the camera body. To be completely honest, however, I don’t have many complaints about the camera. Let me finish with a few more things I love about it: • It is light and the body is small, making it easy to travel with. • The camera has a flat bottom and great mounting points. • It balances well on a tripod or a Steadicam as it has a low center of gravity, minimizing the need for any counterweight. • The camera sits well on the shoulder but is comfortable to hold underslung. • The new viewfinder bracket has tons of flexibility and there are plenty of lens options. • SxS cards are an easy solution to recording large amounts of data in the field but the ability to add the R5 RAW recorder when I need it is such a bonus.

"I have the F5 set up for long lens work most of the time with 19mm rods, a beefy bridge plate, and a heavy head. The camera spends its days bouncing around in the Land Rover with me and has held up well."

We’re still in production, but the edit has started and the reports from post are coming back to me in the field. They are very happy with the Sony F5, and so am I.

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Telling your story in the Digital Age By Glenn Gainor, President of Production, Screen Gems

As filmmakers, we like to tell stories. And I want to share a quick story about Deliver Us from Evil, a Screen Gems release. We introduce our main character, a detective played by Eric Bana, in a dark, rainy alley and follow him through the tough streets of the Bronx. The movie shows him as he uncovers the work of the demonic. The Sony F65 and F55 cameras enabled us to enter into darkness like never before.

On the set of DELIVER US FROM EVIL

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Director Scott Derrickson told me, “Shooting through rain, we were not only able to pick up the Bronx city lights in the deep background (something film would never be able to do) but we were able to set a single light on a distinctively Bronx building a good 1/4 mile away to create an especially ‘Bronx-y’ master image. The Sony digital cameras allowed us to make the Bronx a character in our film with minimal lighting adjustments. On film, the look we achieved to tell the story would have been virtually impossible.”

For me, the capabilities of the F65 and F55 mark a significant threshold in the ongoing transition from the age of film to the age of digital. We all know that film is a 19th century invention. Today we are at the pinnacle of the photochemical process. This is about as far as it’s ever going to go. I certainly applaud the great legacy of film. Its natural sharpness and resolution have served filmmakers well, giving us images that have shaped our world. When I was a younger man, it was the only way to capture a theatrical motion picture.

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resolution of 4K. It’s the first digital format that can capture all the information on a 35mm negative. Let me be clear. I don’t like shooting on 2K chip cameras. Compared to 2K, film retains an advantage in spatial resolution. With 4K, the film delta is now zero.

Glenn Gainor in the hills of Hollywood

As recently as a dozen movies ago, I saw HD capture as an affordable alternative to film, but never as better than film. “Film is better than digital,” is still a mantra for some. The debate can turn cerebral, with no one side winning their point because you might as well be arguing over the virtues of vinyl vs. digital audio.

[

For me, the capabilities of the F65 and F55 mark a significant threshold in the ongoing transition from the age of film to the age of digital.

I myself was prejudiced toward film until there was a digital motion picture camera that could match or better the film experience. I was reluctant to shoot on anything but film until the new digital 4K cameras came out. Filmmakers and I are continually amazed by what we’ve been capturing with the newer 4K technology. Without getting too deep into the science, there are a few key benchmarks that set the newer cameras apart. The first is the great spatial On the set of ABOUT LAST NIGHT

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Film also has a characteristic logarithmic curve. This not only mimics the logarithmic nature of human vision, it compacts more information into the scale. While digital is linear by nature, the latest logarithmic transforms fit all of the information in and allow us to work with it. So in the end, the film delta is zero. Film also has tremendous dynamic range. But now we’ve got digital cameras that can capture 14 stops of dynamic range. So the delta there equates to zero right now. And in the very near future,


Telling your story in the Digital Age

digital is certain to surpass even that barrier, which film never could. It’s capturing a “fat negative” and still being able to bring the detail in those highlights back. To see what 14 stops can mean, consider a scene in a living room with daylight coming through the window in the background while we’re trying to capture the actors at a table. We used to pump a whole bunch of light onto the actors so the windows wouldn’t blow out. Now we can knock the overexposed windows down in the DI and save time and money on set. Another substantial advance is RAW recording. RAW enables a true Digital Camera Negative that you can manipulate or process in post. And in the end, you can vault your Digital Camera Negative like a virtually unprocessed film neg. The RAW images remain forever untouched as a perpetual master of all the information that was originally captured on set.

And now we have cameras recording files with 16 bits of information. If we compare that to the 10‑bit world of the past, we now have 65,000 values per color channel rather one thousand. That means we no longer lose tonal value gradations and those subtleties we enjoyed with film. Sixteen bits of information enable us to manipulate images extensively without loss of tonal quality.

[

We used to pump a whole bunch of light onto the actors so the windows wouldn’t blow out. Now we can knock the overexposed windows down in the DI and save time and money on set.

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“The Bronx” from DELIVER US FROM EVIL

[

If we were to parallel it to film, the 4K/16-bit chip inside the camera is our stock, our ASA. The sensitivity of the chip, the speed, slow motion, stop frame, and so on, is part and parcel of moviemaking.

Currently, two cameras that can do 16-bit RAW are the Sony F65 and F55. And there are more coming. For the past two years, Screen Gems has produced its movies with 4K/16-bit cameras that have allowed us greater precision in color grading. They’ve given us the ability to capture naturally sharp images with a wide dynamic range of scene tones. If we were to parallel it to film, the 4K/16-bit chip inside the camera is our stock, our ASA. The sensitivity of the chip, the speed, slow motion, stop frame, and so on, is part and parcel of moviemaking. That’s why cameras are not identical. Whether meant to be or not, they are as different as the many film stocks Kodak manufactured. Location scene from THINK LIKE A MAN, TOO

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Telling your story in the Digital Age

It’s also undeniable that digital handles the absence of light better than film. Digital can pick up details in the darkest of dark images because its noise threshold is so much lower than film. And this may help you make story points because, yes, there is storytelling going on in the exposure. Sensitivity to light is the main game changer. It’s getting the city lights of the Bronx as never before, as we did for Deliver Us from Evil. It’s getting into a nightclub and using existing lights. It’s getting onto streets without redefining the lighting that already exists. We’ve gotten into places that were off limits to film cameras and shot with the least amount of light available, embracing low light sensitivity, rather than pouring in more light with traditional HMI’s that would require generators and cables, and so on. Think Like a Man, Too was shot on location in Las Vegas, never leaving Nevada for a frame and took advantage of existing casino properties. 4K RAW allowed our cinematographer Chris Duskin to easily manage the multitude of mixed lighting situations in Las Vegas casinos.

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Telling your story in the Digital Age

About Last Night was shot on location in downtown Los Angeles. We wanted audiences to yearn for the downtown life and feel a part of it. So we used city lights to help illuminate our backgrounds, telling a romantic comedy with a realistic feel. The dynamic range of our F65 and 55s allowed for a little more time shooting outside in the evening than film could without the use of lights and still dig into the blacks for detail. I asked our DP Michael Barrett about shooting at night. He said, “I shot on the same location I did a decade ago with film. The film shoot required lighting a few blocks with multiple condors, a lot of cable and several generators. The digital shoot took about 20 minutes with no pre-lighting, no cable, and no lights. And the camera saw for miles.

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We flagged two sodium vapor streetlights and rolled the cameras. The shot is so good, it’s in our trailer.” Let me share one last story. We shot a movie we’re calling The Wedding Ringer. Brad Lipson, our DP, told me, “I was challenged to keep a smaller footprint so we could gain access to a few locations that would really bring a great deal of production value to the film. One location was a condominium in downtown Los Angeles. There was an amazing skyline seen outside the large windows.” In the old days, we were forced to drop large bandits of cable out windows, down many floors, to the streets below and tie them into a gas guzzling generator for power. I don’t like doing that anymore.


On location shooting THE WEDDING RINGER

[

The dynamic range of our F65 and 55s allowed for a little more time shooting outside in the evening than film could without the use of lights and still dig into the blacks for detail.

And so we’ve changed the game, shooting with lights that can be plugged in or tied into an existing home power panel. Brad said, “With only 100 amps to play with, my biggest light was a 4K ARRI M HMI. But I was more than confident that I could shoot great scenes with Kevin Hart and Josh Gad and hold the exposure of the skyline. And we still make our actors and actresses look like movie stars.” Never be afraid of new technology. One tends to stop just before a breakthrough. We owe it to our storytellers to continually improve their ability to make us laugh, cry and think. There’s no end in sight. And you know what? My guess is that a hundred years from now, they will be talking about this time in cinema and TV history as the point when it all changed. Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant shoot a walk and talk with a steadi-cam in Screen Gems' ABOUT LAST NIGHT

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Mendoza (EDGAR RAMIREZ) holds off a possessed Jimmy (CHRIS COY) with the power of the crucifix, prayer and holy water in Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

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Capturing evil in 4K: Cinematographer Scott Kevan interview By Jon Fauer, ASC Film and Digital Times

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Mendoza (EDGAR RAMIREZ) and NYPD officer Sarchie (ERIC BANA) talk about the strange case they’re dealing with in Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

JON FAUER: Let’s begin with where you learned

SCOTT KEVAN: It’s a story inspired by actual

film and how you got started.

accounts of an NYPD sergeant from the Bronx, Ralph Sarchie, and his interaction with both violent street crime and some unusual experiences involving possession and the supernatural. The visual style wanted to reflect this, a combination of the reality of being a cop in NY mixed with his paranormal encounters.

SCOTT KEVAN: I guess it started when I was 10 and given a Nikon FG-20. After that, my interest in photography was solidified. I continued by experimenting with short video projects throughout high school, then studied film at UT in Austin and eventually focused on cinematography at AFI. All the while, working on sets and watching everything around me. And in truth, I’m still learning.

JON FAUER: When did you first get involved in the production?

JON FAUER: Cut to the present. You just finished

SCOTT KEVAN: I got involved in the spring of

a film, Deliver Us from Evil, which is coming out in July. Can you tell us about the concept and your visual style?

2013, I’d say about 7 weeks prior to principal photography. Immediately after reading the script, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the production and then after talking to Scott Derrickson, the Director, I was even more convinced.

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Capturing evil in 4K

JON FAUER: Tell me about the visual style. SCOTT KEVAN: The visual style comes from dealing with a subject matter that plays with what we know to be real, or what we think we know to be real, and what we don’t or what we’re not sure about. We wanted to ride this fine line between what’s possible and what’s impossible. Everyone experiences things in their lives that cause them to look back and question if it really happened the way that they think it happened or they are not 100% sure. Representing that visually was one of the goals. Another visual theme was guided by the fact that our main guy, Sarchie, lives in a world of darkness — literally and emotionally. Additionally, both of these ideas work together. It’s in the darkness where one can get tricked by shadows and movements and question one’s self. Finally, we wanted the environment of the Bronx specifically to inform the compositions and be a major presence in the story as well. That’s where the actual events took place and the architecture of that area has a weight to it and a darkness even in the daylight.

JON FAUER: Where did you rent the camera equipment?

SCOTT KEVAN: Panavision New York. JON FAUER: So these were Panavized F55 cameras?

SCOTT KEVAN: Exactly. Panavized Sony F55s and we also had an F65 for some visual effects and offspeed shots. Panavision’s “cage” for these cameras is brilliant, allowing for all of the additional power needs and accessory attachments of today’s studio cameras. A baffled Sarchie (ERIC BANA) studies the bizarre words and symbols and hears strange sounds from behind the wall in Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

JON FAUER: So was it all shot in New York?

SCOTT KEVAN: It was 95% shot in New York…the opening sequence was shot in Abu Dhabi.

JON FAUER: Abu Dhabi? Why? SCOTT KEVAN: The opening sequence takes place during the war in the Middle East. A military unit is following insurgents through the desert and into a palm grove, where they uncover a tunnel in the ground and upon exploring that, find some writing on the walls, deep, deep down under ground. Smash to black as they say and we’re in the Bronx.

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Capturing evil in 4K

JON FAUER: Tell me about your camera and lens package. How many cameras? What lenses?

SCOTT KEVAN: We carried two F55s and one F65. Our lens package consisted of Panavision’s PVintage lenses, which were just coming on line last summer. These lenses use the glass from the older Ultra Speed Primes, but are re-packaged in more user-friendly housings. So our set included a combination of re-housed PVintage lenses and some older Ultra Primes. Additionally we carried a set of Panavision Flare Lenses in what they refer to as the medium grade, the coatings of which had been altered to offer more extreme flares, some reduced contrast and just have incredibly unique aberrations. The general philosophy was that I’d always start with one of the Flare Lenses. If things got a little over the edge, then I would pull back to the PVintage. And then maybe I would add a glass diffusion filter to get them more in line with what the Flare Lenses looked like. Additionally, we carried an 11:1 Primo that had the coating removed by Guy McVicker at Panavision Hollywood. That was a fantastic tool to have and I was very, very thankful to him for going through the trouble to do that by hand. PVintage lenses

JON FAUER: Removing the coating is an expensive, one-way ticket.

SCOTT KEVAN: It was Guy’s idea and I wasn’t going to say no. I just ran with it and was happy I did because in terms of sharpness, contrast and color, removing that coating definitely brought it in line with the prime package that we chose. The sharper that these digital cameras get, I feel like many cinematographers are looking to the glass to find that organic nature to the images that were intrinsic with film exposure, whether it’s anamorphic, older lenses or a combination of everything out there.

ERIC BANA on the set of Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

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Capturing evil in 4K

PVintage lenses

JON FAUER: Yes. Because basically we’re down to just 7 film stocks: Sony, Canon, ARRI, RED, Blackmagic, AJA, Phantom. Maybe a few more. Therefore, what distinguishes one cinematographer from the next in terms of “digital film stock” is the choice of lens.

SCOTT KEVAN: Digital cameras are getting sharper and sharper with higher resolutions and extended latitudes and I’d guess that’s also why there has been this trend in the market for anamorphic lenses. Take the Panavision C, E and G series… they have such specific characteristics unique to not only each set, but to each lens. You’ll get an aberration in the upper right corner here, you’ll get a variation in where focus falls off there. They have such a personality to them. I think that as digital acquisition gets sharper, we sort of lose some of the personality

the image capture used to have. Or at least that’s been my experience.

JON FAUER: I guess it’s ironic in a way that here we are using 4K+ cameras and no one ever expected these old lenses to actually hold up, but it turns out they look better on new, high resolution digital cameras than they probably ever did on film.

SCOTT KEVAN: I recently used a set of old ZEISS Super Speeds and had tremendous luck seeing flares come back that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. It was exciting to see how well these lenses looked, complete with nice bokehs. I do think that 4K acquisition is opening up a whole new door to older lenses. Right: Director SCOTT DERRICKSON, Cinematographer SCOTT KEVAN and the crew line up a shot in the 46th Precinct set for Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

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JON FAUER: Lots of lens experts agree with what

SCOTT KEVAN: Panavision has a number of sets of

in some situations and in other instances, where the backlights were hard or too close to the camera lens, then I dropped back to the PVintage. The PVintage also have some very unique flares. What I really enjoyed about both sets was that I could find these happy accidents — as Conrad Hall said some years ago — some things you can’t really plan for.

Flare Lenses: in grades of light, medium and heavy. They basically removed or altered the coating on them to varying degrees. The heavy grades of Flare Lenses can completely wash out the entire image, but used with the right light sources and angles, they create very interesting effects. Like the ping off of the chrome on a car or a point of light in the background. I had luck using them with flashlights

You don’t really know what you’re going to get until you see it and you try it or something accidental happens on set and you think, “Oh wow, that’s fantastic.” Sometimes it’ll happen and you’ll go “Oh!, we can’t do that again — let’s change the lens.” But many times it turns out to be wonderful and exciting.

you’re saying. They’re discovering things that they didn’t even imagine with these old “analogdays” lenses in the 4K world. Tell me more about the Panavision Flare Lenses on the F55.

“It was a very location-based shoot in basements and places where the ceilings were less than six feet high. We found that the ergonomics of the F55 worked well in those environments and for the operators.”

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Capturing evil in 4K

JON FAUER: How did the choice of these lenses affect the overall look of the show in relation to the visual style? A vintage look or a flarey look? How did you describe it when you and the Director were discussing the idea?

SCOTT KEVAN: It’s not a vintage, period or flarey look. What we were going for was a look that was both real and terrifying and I think the lens choice added to this as well as the camera’s low light capabilities. There are times where the darkness is actually accentuated by a lens flare from a flashlight. We felt that flares within darkness sometimes can feel even more threatening…we have a dark area and then if something else is flared out, you essentially have another area where you don’t know what’s behind there.

JON FAUER: And what effect do you think you had that you wouldn’t have gotten from glass filters in front of the lens?

SCOTT KEVAN: I guess I find that these beautiful distortions are more unique or unpredictable when they are produced by layers of curved glass. It’s apples and oranges and sometimes you want both, sometimes you don’t. Additionally, composition plays a role differently with lenses vs filters.

JON FAUER: But it was controllable? Could

“We felt that flares within darkness sometimes can feel even more threatening…we have a dark area and then if something else is flared out.”

you see when you were going too far with the monitors?

SCOTT KEVAN: Exactly. With the newer OLED monitors I’m able to push something to the edge where it goes too far and then pull back. We were playing with levels of darkness accentuated with flares and I wanted to discover where the edge was.

JON FAUER: Let’s talk about the camera now. How did you decide which camera to use?

SCOTT KEVAN: Basically through testing. We looked at the Alexa and the F55. We discovered that the combination of the Panavision lenses and the Sony F55 produced the look that we were

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searching for. When both the Director and I walked out of the screening of the tests, there was no hesitation at all about which direction that we wanted to go. We were thrilled with the image quality and the emotional imprint that the images from the Sony cameras left on us…F55’s ability to dig into the shadows and the soft quality of the lenses. At the same time it maintained a contrast that we both liked without getting washed out on the low end. Additionally, the ergonomics of the F55 worked for what we wanted to do because


Sarchie (ERIC BANA) on the street set in Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

we were planning a good amount of handheld work, a bit of Steadicam, and we were in rather tight spaces. It was a location-based shoot in basements and places where the ceilings were less than six feet high at times.

JON FAUER: What was it that you liked or didn’t

JON FAUER: Who was your Operator? And

JON FAUER: How did you rate it? What ISO?

Gaffer?

SCOTT KEVAN: John “Buzz” Moyer was the “A” Camera/Steadicam Operator. Scott Ramsey was the Gaffer.

like about the camera?

SCOTT KEVAN: I liked the low light capabilities and the ergonomics of the F55.

SCOTT KEVAN: 1250, 800, 640…depending on the situation.

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Capturing evil in 4K

JON FAUER: And what did you record on? Was it the R5 onboard 4K recorder?

SCOTT KEVAN: Yes. JON FAUER: Tell me a little bit about the workflow and how you dealt with that. You recorded to the R5. Did you record simultaneously to SxS cards inside it as well?

SCOTT KEVAN: Yes. And then it went to Dan Sheats, the loader/data manager, to double-check and make a backup copy, and then everything was sent to PostWorks in New York.

JON FAUER: On set, how did you determine your look and how did you save the LUTs?

SCOTT KEVAN: DI colorist Trent Johnson worked with me initially to set up the LUTs. I think he built fifteen preset LUTs. I looked at those and based on where I thought we were going to take the direction of the film, I gave notes and he altered the LUTs accordingly. After that the LUTs were preloaded into a Truelight cart that we kept on set and I was able to toggle between the different preset LUTs. We would indicate whatever LUT we were using on the slate and then when they did the dailies they would apply that same LUT. In the end, I found that I just really used one LUT for the entire film. I wanted to treat the LUTs more like film stocks. From my experience, the only way that I’m able to learn from shot to shot, scene to scene, is if there’s a consistency in the LUT. If I’m tweaking constantly then I lose my frame of reference.

JON FAUER: How would you describe this look or LUT?

Director Scott Derrickson on the 46th Precinct set in Screen Gems' DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

JON FAUER: What monitors were you viewing on set?

SCOTT KEVAN: They were 20-inch Sony OLEDs. JON FAUER: Where did you do the DI? SCOTT KEVAN: : We did that with Trent Johnson

was higher contrast, a bit desaturated and skewed toward cyan.

at Colorworks. Trent, who is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the color space of the cameras, was an asset to have during both the prep and the DI.

JON FAUER: And then on the camera itself you

JON FAUER: On the F55, how many stops of

SCOTT KEVAN: We called it a bleach bypass LUT. It

recorded in S-Log?

SCOTT KEVAN: Yes. 49

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dynamic range do you think you were getting out of it?


SCOTT KEVAN: I’d say 14 to 15 stops of exposure latitude. One thing I liked about the F55 and F65 is how you can program one of the function buttons to give you a high range and a low range. So if you’re looking at a LUT on the monitor, you can push the high range button and it’ll bring everything down so you can see areas that were clipped in the Rec709 image, but may be perfectly fine in the RAW data. And the same on the low end. You can see if something is totally black or if there is any detail there at all. It helped me appreciate the camera’s latitude.

JON FAUER: Can you expand on the low light sensitivity of the F55? There is a scene in the opening of the film where the actors are moving through a cave with a flashlight. Can you take us through this scene and how the camera performed?

SCOTT KEVAN: This is a perfect example of the attributes of the F55 that I was most impressed with — the low light capabilities and the low profile design. The sequence you are talking about was shot on a set in Abu Dhabi consisting of a stairway tunnel maybe 3' wide and 6' high leading into an underground cave, also around 6' in height max. There were some ports built into the set for lighting and camera angles, but there was no way to hide anything on the walls or ceiling. And we also wanted the cave to feel pitch black except for the flashlights attached to the barrels of the assault rifles. The F55 allowed us to do just that. Everything in that sequence was illuminated with the flashlights or whatever the beams were bouncing off of. I had the operators wear white shirts to create some fill and I would hide unbleached muslin where I could and then there was some bounce off of the set walls. And even with those lighting conditions I ended up darkening some of the edges in the DI, because I was still seeing too much information. The low profile of the F55 was also key in capturing this sequence in high resolution. The size and weight allowed an operator to cradle the camera and walk backwards down the

stairs leading and following the military team as they explored the cave.

JON FAUER: Can you let us know how the F55 performed in the most challenging low-lighting conditions?

SCOTT KEVAN: Often in low light conditions the image sensors are pushed to their limits and noise can result. I didn’t find this to be the case with the F55. The fall off to black is incredibly gradual and at the same time there seems to be a limit where it goes to black rather than getting noisy, if that makes sense.

JON FAUER: How did you deal with focus? SCOTT KEVAN: There were a number of checks on that. The operator was able to see in the eyepiece. Julian Delacruz, the key First AC had a 17-inch monitor with cranked up sharpness to doublecheck on his side. And then I’m back at the 20-inch looking at focus as well. I am consistently impressed by how these guys that can actually pull focus off of the monitors because that was something I was always skeptical of over the years. But the guys that have mastered it are really phenomenal.

JON FAUER: What camera did you use on your previous jobs?

SCOTT KEVAN: RED Epic, One; Arri Alexa, Arricam, 535, 435, 235, BL4, 35-3, SR16; Sony F35, F3, F900; Panavision Genesis, XL, Platinum, Gold.

JON FAUER: I’ll ask you a leading question. If you wanted to soften the image, why would you shoot in 4K rather than a lower resolution?

SCOTT KEVAN: I think there are a couple of reasons. Certainly, one is archiving, in the same way that studios archived films in the past. Secondly, sometimes you want to start at a higher res because if you then soften in the post workflow — that’s a look. However, there are always exceptions. We shot a flash-back sequence in Super 8. One idea

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Capturing evil in 4K

“There’s a sequence at the Bronx Zoo where the power’s out and so that is done with Airstar lighting balloons just for a soft ambience.”

Lighting and filming the large lion habitat set at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island for Screen Gem's DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

might be to shoot it 4K and then bring it down to the Super 8 look in VFX and post, but there is much more that goes into the look of Super 8 because you’re dealing with not only the grain and the resolution, but you’re dealing with the size of the gate or sensor and how that size affects focus fall off. And, also, you’re dealing with the physicality of the camera. The way you move a 3-pound Super 8 camera is very different from the way that you’re able to move a 20-pound studio camera. So sometimes shooting in a lower resolution is the best solution to creating the desired look.

JON FAUER: Was this film released in 4K? SCOTT KEVAN: Yes. 51

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JON FAUER: Let’s talk a little bit about the lighting. A lot of it is night exterior New York. How did you handle that?

SCOTT KEVAN: It varied. There wasn’t one philosophy or one technique that we used throughout because they’re different sequences. There’s a sequence at the Bronx Zoo where the power’s out and so that is done with Airstar lighting balloons just for a soft ambience. I think “murkiness” is a better word for what I was talking about when I referred to the look as kind of washed out and under-exposed. That technique was used in the zoo sequence. The other night exteriors we probably could have used a great deal of ambient light, but


we wanted to stay away from sodium vapor. Any sodium vapor light that we encountered, we would gel down to neutral and by the time we got that neutralized, there really was nothing left. So in those sequences, more street sequences, it would vary — sometimes we used a gaggle of Source Four PARs, to create pools of streetlight. There was some backlight for the exteriors. For the interiors there were some sequences that we did entirely with a flashlight. Eric Bana would have a flashlight and then I would have a flashlight and a bounce board. Or I would put muslin around anywhere that wasn’t in the frame. Eric would work with me extremely well in helping me to add a little more light or take it away. But there are at least three sequences in the film that are entirely lit by flashlight.

JON FAUER: What gels did you use on the streetlights?

SCOTT KEVAN: To remove the sodium vapor, I used one and half blue plus half green. That’s why we had barely any ambient street light left.

JON FAUER: If you wanted the sort of vintage look, did you consider anamorphic at all?

SCOTT KEVAN: We did consider anamorphic. At the time, the availability of lenses made it out of the question. In the end it was a good thing because it forced us to explore spherical options.

Cinematographer Scott Kevan lining up a shot at the lion habitat set.

JON FAUER: Anything else? SCOTT KEVAN: Not off the top of my head. I was thrilled with what the F55 gave us — creatively as well as in image quality — latitude and resolution.

JON FAUER: How about a 4x3 sensor to use all those anamorphic lenses that aren’t available?

SCOTT KEVAN: Definitely. It would be nice. I can’t imagine that not coming.

JON FAUER: Anything else about the cameras

JON FAUER: Back to the Sony F55, is there

that you liked or didn’t like?

anything that you would like to see improved for their next model, for the next edition?

SCOTT KEVAN: You know, oddly enough, it sort of

SCOTT KEVAN: More frame rates, although that’s already been addressed so I guess I’m good with that. I do think that operators and focus pullers might have more suggestions and ideas. In general I feel like the digital cameras are focusing more on the sensors than on the cameras themselves. I would like to see advances that are driven by what film cameras used to do — speed ramping in camera, changing shutter angle within a shot and compensating with aperture and a hand crank option.

comes more from the broadcast background that Sony has — but I like the behind-the-lens ND filter wheel. If you need to knock something down fast, that’s a nice feature to have.

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Tiffen 4K Diffusion Filter Tests By Jon Fauer, ASC ©2014 Film and Digital Times — Used with permission of The Tiffen Company To view the footage of the TIFFEN test at the top of the story linking to our Vimeo page go to: http://vimeo.com/96143464

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Here’s a must-see 35-minute film for every cinematographer, assistant, gaffer, photographer, image maker. It should dispel any lingering dejection over the overly pristine state of digital sensors. In the scramble to “rediscover� vintage glass, it almost seemed as if the collective readership of this august tome had totally forgotten about using filters. All the precious filters carefully collected and cherished to provide interesting looks on motion picture film seemed to have been abandoned in favor of far more drastic and often uncontrollable methods of diffusing, softening, shaping and dirtying our images. After all, how often would we have gone out to shoot Kodak or Fujifilm motion picture stock stark naked and unadorned with interesting, new, or custom filters?

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Tiffen 4K Diffusion Filter Tests

Tiffen’s new 4K Diffusion Test is an enlightening “rediscovery” of the many interesting filters available, and there are many “aha” moments when the realization sinks in that perhaps the irreversible and rather expensive (might void warranty) process of sanding the coating off a valuable set of Master Primes might just be avoided by using one or two of the filters shown in the test. About 4K. It’s not that these filters are specifically 4K or completely different. Many are the same familiar filters we know and love in our filter cases. The 4K label is attached to this presentation because the production was shot in 4K on Sony F55 cameras, and screened in 4K on 4K projectors. And the test should dispel any lingering fear and loathing of 4K for faces. Tiffen presented their 35 minute Diffusion Filter Test at the BSC Expo in January and then at AFC Micro Salon in Paris. I had the pleasure of seeing it again on the superb screen of Pinewood Theatre 7. Carey Duffy, Technical Director of Filters at Tiffen International, directed this 4K “moving catalog of the range of diffusion filters produced by the company.” Carey is also the articulate narrator. His soothing voice reminds me of Apples’ Jony Ive, as he patiently describes and interjects nicely subjective opinions and comments of a consummate expert. Stephen Murphy was the cinematographer and Nick Shaw handled workflow and post. Carey explained, “First, we shot the clean 2-shot image of both girls with the 27 mm Primo (no filters) and then Nick Shaw re-squeezed and cropped this image into the left half of the playback monitor and on screen. Then we did the same sequence with all the filters. Next, we did the close-up singles with a 75 mm Primo (clean — no filter) of each girl, followed by a pass with all the filters. This way Sara Reaburn, our make up artist, had a better chance of keeping

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the look of the girls’ skin in continuity as the day progressed. We only used one camera because we didn’t want any image off axis. With the clean 1/2 image on the playback monitor we could make sure that the face/image size and movement of the ladies remained as close as possible to the original. “All of this was worked out in advance with Steven Poster, ASC who was the project consultant. The concept was always about having an unfiltered image on screen as a reference, along with the filtered image. This is what makes it such a powerful source of reference material. “The film has been categorized to focus the viewers’ attention on the type of effects each style/type of diffusion range can produce — i.e. Black Halation, White Halation, Optical Resolution and then sub-categories of filters in each of these sets. “The film was produced to clearly indicate what is about to happen on screen and why (in the title boards). Sometimes when test footage is shown, the information is either to small to read or not on screen long enough or moves out of frame before you have time to read all of it. In our film I have tried to make sure that the technical information in the titles is concise and leaves no space for misinterpretation.” Nick writes, “The primary deliverable was a 4K DCP (Digital Cinema Package) and HD versions made in various formats to allow screenings without requiring a DCP theatre. For screenings on consumer 4K equipment, a UHD (Ultra HD, 3840x2160) version was also made, simply by cropping 128 pixels from each side of the 4K image. On set, the RAW files from the camera were transcoded to 2K ProRes (LT) files for editorial using a Baselight. No dailies grade was performed other than applying the Sony Rec.709 (800%) LUT — the same one used for monitoring during the shoot.


“Editorial was done in FCP 7 both at Antler Post and by Carey Duffy at Tiffen. Carey could edit on his own machine, and the project files were easily exchanged by XML with Antler Post. “The film was conformed at 4K from the RAW files in Baselight from an FCP XML. It was deliberately decided to do no subjective grading, but rather to simply apply a standard Sony LUT, and compensate in the RAW parameters for any stop loss in the filters, adjusting the EI value until the level of the grey card on the waveform matched that of the unfiltered image. “The LUT chosen was Sony’s Low Contrast 709 Type A LUT, available from their website. This LUT is designed to give images from an F55 or F65 an appearance similar to those from an ARRI Alexa. A 4K DCP was screened in a DCI theatre at Technicolor in Soho for approval.

“A 4K JPEG2000 image sequence for the DCP was rendered directly from Baselight using its new Generalised Color Space X’Y’Z’ conversion system. 4K, UHD and HD ProRes (HQ) files were also rendered from Baselight. “It may be interesting to note that a decision was made not to render any 4K uncompressed master files. TIFF or DPX files would normally be used for this purpose, and at 4K a 16-bit DPX is 53.1MB for each frame. The reasoning behind this decision is that it was possible to make an archive of all the 4K RAW rushes, together with the Baselight and FCP projects, as well as DCP and ProRes deliverables in approximately 40% of the storage space that would have been required just for an uncompressed 4K copy of the finished film. This is a self contained archive, from which any future variations of the film could be produced.” back to TOC

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Tiffen 4K Diffusion Filter Tests

TIFFEN FILTER SERIES SHOWN IN TEST White Halation • GlimmerGlass • Pearlescent • ProMist • Satin

Warm Halation Diffusion • Bronze GlimmerGlass • Gold Diffusion FX • Warm Black ProMist • Warm ProMist

Black Halation • Black Diffusion FX • Black Net • Black ProMist • Black Satin

Optical Resolution Diffusion • Digital Diffusion FX • Soft FX

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Warm Optical Resolution Diffusion • Warm Soft FX

Resolution & Contrast Diffusion • HDTVFX • SFX/U-Con’s (Combos) Atmosphere • Smoque Classical Diffusion • SFX 1/2 / Black Promist (Combo) IRND Diffusion Combination Diffusion • IRND.9 / Black ProMist 1/2 • IRND.9 / Dig Diff FX 1/2 • IRND.9 / Soft FX 1


LIGHTING Stephen Murphy writes, “The light source could have been made softer by bringing the frame closer to the actors but we wanted to see the full effect of the filters and not overly beautify the image with too soft a key light. In essence we tried to keep all of the visual parameters as ‘neutral’ as possible allowing any cosmetic changes in the image to derive purely from the filters used.”

Set was lit to T5.6. Lights were then scrimmed down to T2.8.

CAMERA AND LENS NOTES • Panavized Sony F55 Camera at 800 ISO • Primo Prime 27 mm at 7.5 feet • Primo Prime 75 mm at 7.5 feet • Set was lit to T5.6, and then lights were scrimmed to T2.8 • To test the IRND filters, the scrims were removed and for the IRND.9 filter, the lenses were opened to T2.0. Photo and Diagram: Stephen Murphy Gaffer: Pete Carrier

www.tiffen.com

Stephen Murphy is a cinematographer based in London. With a background in sculpture and design, he worked his way up the camera department from assistant to camera operator, Steadicam operator and now DP. www.Stephen-Murphy.com Nick Shaw consults on pre- to post- for productions using Digital Cinema cameras, as well companies developing post-production products. Clients include Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Eon Productions, RED, ARRI, Filmlight and The Foundry. www.antlerpost.com back to TOC

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"The F65 — a visually superior camera!" Interview by Pierre Souchar Photos by Jessica Forde, © EUROPACORP — TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION — GRIVE PRODUCTIONS

Lucy, the latest film by Luc Besson, featuring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, will be released on July 25th in the US, and August 6th in Europe and was filmed with the Sony F65. Thierry Arbogast, AFC and director of photography on this film and on many of Besson’s other films, shares his experience of shooting with the F65.

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After the test projections, we all agreed that the F65 was visually superior to the other two cameras. Of course during grading we always end up combining the three cameras, but the natural image of the F65 won us all over. During the projection, it was Luc who spoke first. There was no doubt that for him, it was the F65 that stood out from the others. A huge draw for him was the color fidelity and rendition of skin tones. The colors were really there; we could pick out the blue of the sweater and the carnations seemed very natural. But we actually filmed with all three cameras for different reasons, above all due to space requirements. At what sensitivity did you use the F65?

What made you choose the F65? Until now, Luc has filmed very little in digital — just a few shots here and there for technical reasons but never a whole film. For Lucy, he wanted to take the plunge. We therefore began comparative tests on the three cameras of the moment, namely the Epic, the Alexa and the F65.

I worked at the nominal sensitivity of the camera, that is to say 800 ISO. And I find that the sensitivity of the F65 is correct when I display it on my 800 ISO cell. We conducted the tests in Pigalle, at night, with all three cameras. And I found that the sensitivity of the F65 and the Alexa were very similar, while the sensitivity of the Epic was much lower.

Top left: Writer/director Luc Besson and SCARLETT JOHANSSON as Lucy, on set of LUCY, an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind. Credit: Jessica Forde Š Universal Pictures

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Writer/director Luc Besson directs SCARLETT JOHANSSON in LUCY, an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind. Credit: Universal Pictures Š Universal Pictures

How did you expose the F65? As a general rule, the digital imaging technician or the DIT controls the iris with a remote control. Before the shot, we discuss the desired effect and jointly agree on the best exposure. For example, I tell him if I want to leave the windows to explode or not, the black level and where the key light is, among other things.

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After, if iris changes are needed during the take, he will take care of them by keeping an eye on the curve of the monitor. The F65 captures 8K RAW data, did you take advantage of this? No, we worked in 4K. We were aware that we had a racing car, but we didn’t want to step too hard on the accelerator! For this film, 8K was not needed, especially as the film will be released in 2K in most cinemas.


The F65 — a visually superior camera!

Of course, there are exclusive showings planned in 4K, but the release prints will be in 2K. The special effects department was very pleased with the 4K files we provided.

been able to get a better 4K file from an 8K one. From the preparation stage of the film, I insisted that Luc film in 4K. At that time, the first 4K screens and televisions were starting to appear. The 4K dynamic is already here, perhaps more in the United States than in France, but it’s started.

I think 8K would have significantly increased their computing time.

How do you feel about the ergonomics?

8K is obviously a good thing in itself because, as we always say, it’s better to start too high and come back down and of course we would have

Luc is always the one who frames his films. He could tell you better than I could. But just like the Genesis or the F35, we are not talking about cameras that are very attractive from an

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The F65 — a visually superior camera!

ergonomic point of view. And evidently, we would have preferred a camera that was more compact. However, its design makes the F65 much more balanced on the shoulder than a RED. For some shots that we wanted to film with a Movi, we called on the Epic. The F65 is a camera that is surprising, above all because of its lightness. Despite its rounded shapes and impressive appearance, it is still a fairly lightweight camera, and I presume that this is thanks to the materials that it’s made from. In my opinion, its weight is virtually identical to that of an Alexa, although their volume is obviously very different.

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The F65 — a visually superior camera!

Professor Norman (MORGAN FREEMAN) attempts to comprehend Lucy (SCARLETT JOHANSSON) in LUCY, an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind. Credit: Jessica Forde © Universal Pictures

What was the grading process like?

Did you use the built-in neutral density filters?

It must be said that we were dealing with three great cameras and everything went very well. In addition, when you are working with a good grader, you always manage to erase all the differences between them.

Yes, we found them very useful. They are extremely quick to use and they eliminate a glass surface in front of the lens. Every now and then we were just a bit sorry that they started at ND0.9. We would sometimes have liked an ND0.6 or an ND0.3. But Sony’s choice is understandable, because highdensity neutral filters are mainly used only when there are major changes in light.

Even though their debayering system is not the same and despite all the other differences, we had no problems harmonizing them.

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The F65 — a visually superior camera!

Did you film at 120 fps? We had very few high-speed shots, just a few for special effects. We took crowd shots at 100 fps and at very fast shutter speeds of up to 45 degrees to avoid panning issues. And here, the camera’s sensitivity helped me a lot. The sequence was shot in a studio, where we recreated daylight. In fact, I had a 24 kW HMI for the sun and two 18 kW HMIs in the background to cover a 250‑m2 set, and I was at full aperture. I would never have been able to do that with a less-sensitive camera. What lenses did you use? And did you feel the need to filter? As a general rule, Luc never filters with diffusers. He likes a sharp image, without a diffusion filter. I therefore tried to choose lenses that were not too hard, like Cooke S4s for example, which are quite soft, round and flexible. They are not at all aggressive. And as Luc loves zooming, we also had a zoom lens, a Fujinon ALURA 18–80mm, which is a really

Left: Thierry Arbogast, possibility of what one furthest reaches of her Credit: Jessica Forde

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AFC and director of photography on set of LUCY, an action-thriller that examines the human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the mind. © Universal Pictures


Writer/director Luc Besson and his crew on set of LUCY, an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind. Credit: Jessica Forde © Universal Pictures

effective lens. The advantage of the zoom lens is that when you use it at 80 mm, the image is a little softer than with an 80 mm fixed focus lens.

want to change the speed while simultaneously compensating the exposure with the shutter. For this film, we planned on doing that but the F65 didn’t allow it.

Most of the time, I prefer to work on soft media.

Do you have any criticisms of this camera or is there anything you would like to see?

I also like the idea of upgradeable cameras, such as the EPIC, which has become the DRAGON. Today, camera components are mainly electronic and the evolution in this area is permanent. In this sense, it would be good to offer the possibility of changing these components, while keeping the packaging!

I’m really looking forward to a digital camera that is capable of ramping, you know — when you

To view the behind the scenes video click here

For the camera, I prefer the softness of RAW to the hardness of a compressed file because this softness enables us to find information.

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Breaking the LOG Director of Photography Richard Wong uses the F5’s S-Log2 to create a unique look for crime thriller Man from Reno By Richard Wong

The script for Man From Reno was so ambitious that producer friends were telling us that it wasn’t shootable with the budget we had. Like all low budget features, every department had to consider how to be most efficient and get the proverbial bang for their very few bucks. It was all about maximum potential. For me, the DP, it meant a small lighting package and minimal crew. It also meant one camera (which I prefer anyway) and the need for speed (pun intended). Early on, the director, Dave Boyle (who also co-wrote and produced) and I talked about using either the Sony F3 or the F35. I was a DIT on TV shows during the entire F900 era, so I was comfortable with Sony cameras. But, as fate would have it, the shoot pushed, and there was suddenly a newer camera: the F5.

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Breaking the LOG

When I got a chance to do an F3/F5 comparison test, it was so clear that the F5 was a huge leap forward that I made it my mission to figure out a way for us to use it. With some massaging of the package and calling in a favor from the rental house (the impeccable Videofax of San Francisco, where I worked for 3 years way back when), we were able to make a deal. But it meant that we had a brandspanking-new camera — literally out of the box — complete with early firmware, an unknown codec/workflow and a new curve to learn.

“We wanted to interject a decidedly contemporary visual style. We sat down for a few days and talked out the entire script shot by shot.”

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With the exception of one small flashback, the movie was going to have one consistent look throughout. Dave is a huge fan of 70’s thrillers like The Parallax View and Klute, both of which we watched in pre-production, but we wanted to interject a decidedly contemporary visual style. We sat down for a few days and talked out the entire script shot by shot, which was a huge part of not only establishing and understanding the overall aesthetic but also keeping us on schedule. The framing and camera movements would be classical and subtle. We didn’t want to “dirty” the look or make the picture itself look old — we didn’t even add grain in the final grade — instead we would put old or dirty things in front of the camera. I decided to use an 1/8th Black Magic filter (except for the one flashback), which gave it just the right amount of softness, glow and texture. Dave did a great job of getting our production designer, Katy Porter, costume designer, Irene Chan, and myself, on the same page, and life becomes so much easier and more efficient when there is that kind of clarity.


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Breaking the LOG

I had limited experience with S-Log1, but liked what I had seen. While shooting Snow Flower and the Secret Fan on F35s, everyone agreed that using S-Log1 with an MLUT and then de-logging in post was unnecessarily complicated and a bit more expensive, so on that movie I had happily suggested we shoot Hypergamma. When it comes to video, I’m a bit old school, so I enjoy the WYSIWYG nature of Hypergamma — plus, it maximizes the usage of bits! We had a scene with the two lead women sitting in front of a huge window in the middle of a sunny day. While cycling through Hypergammas, I decided, for kicks, to throw the camera into S-Log1. I was immediately struck by how it looked as-is, without an MLUT. And knowing what I could do in the grade I shot the scene basically lighting to S-Log1, using an impressively little amount of light while holding the daylit scene outside. So it hit me then — why couldn’t I use S-Log1 as a full latitude curve, and treat it as-is, without the interpolation of an MLUT?

“Working with lower light levels with less gear around helped the actors as well.”

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“...S-Log2 keeps the blacks very natural. Working in this style, I could monitor the full latitude of the camera and therefore utilize every drop of it.”

So when I saw that the F5 had S-Log2, I was excited to see what it could do. At first glance, I felt like it was even more WYSIWYG-y than S-Log1. But I was still in the mindset that we had to use an MLUT, largely because everyone I talk to does. The camera had literally just arrived at Videofax a few days prior, so there were very few MLUTs available. The few that were available were way too contrast-y. And that’s when I remembered that scene from Snow Flower. Screw it. Let’s just shoot this using S-Log2 as a traditional WYSIWYG curve, like how we use Hypergamma. In essence, light and expose for S-Log2. A video signal is a video signal, I thought. If it looks good in S-Log2, it will look good. If I look at the waveform, and everything is there, then everything is there. If something is clipped, then it is clipped. And this was largely possible because, unlike Log-C and now S-Log3, S-Log2 keeps the blacks very natural, and doesn’t milk them out too much. Working in this style, I could monitor the full latitude of the camera and therefore utilize every drop of it. And because we weren’t going for an extreme look, like bleach bypass or something of the like, it just made sense to me. So I decided to go with it. It was all about keeping it simple.

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Man from Breaking the Reno LOG

Make “healthy” waveforms. This meant keeping a close eye on the waveform monitor and being extremely careful with exposure — but when is that not the case? When discussing this technique with my old mentor, he described it as being “so old school, it’s new school.” Plus, I could always keep in the back of my mind that, it being Log, there would be all kinds of leeway at my disposal in the grade.

“A video signal is a video signal, I thought. If it looks good in S-Log2, it will look good. If I look at the waveform, and everything is there, then everything is there. If something is clipped, then it is clipped.”

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Breaking the LOG

So, we embarked on what proved to be an extremely difficult shoot: an ambitious script, with an ambitious shooting schedule of 24 days across 3 cities. But when it came to matters of the camera, it was a dream. I immediately found that the wide latitude and ridiculously high speed of the camera changed how I surveyed a set. Suddenly there were few places and situations that were not shootable. A cavernous fish store, who wouldn’t allow us to bring in lights, was gorgeous using only the lights of the fish tanks. A night exterior looking down a long open street with a dimly lit cityscape as a backdrop was now doable with just a few lights (the largest being a 2K using power from participating houses). We could shoot an actor standing on top of a boat, in front of a sky with scattered clouds, do

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“Suddenly there were few places and situations that were not shootable. A cavernous fish store, who wouldn’t allow us to bring in lights, was gorgeous using only the lights of the fish tanks.”


“We could shoot an actor standing on top of a boat, in front of a sky with scattered clouds, do nothing in way of lighting and capture tons of information in the sky, clouds and the actor’s face — it looked great!”

nothing in way of lighting and capture tons of information in the sky, clouds and the actor’s face — it looked great! It was so much easier now to let the natural light do the work, when so desired. There were many more instances of using negative and taking light away than adding it — in fact, we had ND in the camera almost all the time, including day interiors — and this proved to be very versatile in term of controlling depth of field. Working in lower light levels with less gear around helped the actors as well. We had limited gear anyway: a one-ton truck held all our grip, lighting and camera. My gaffer, Seng Chen, and first assistant, Anthony Rosario (who comes from the same DIT background as I do via Videofax), simply got how to work this way, and the efficiency that stems from that is vital to a production like this. We bought in to the spirit of this particular scale, and the versatility of the camera was essential to its success.

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Breaking the LOG

So far, the technique was working. It looked great on set, in dailies and in the edit. Dave held his initial screenings uncorrected and people were even then very complimentary about the look. But the idea of using S-Log2 this way was still somewhat theoretical in my head. It wasn’t until we took it into the grade that I’d be sure that it was a great/viable way to work (though I was confident enough that, at the time of grading, I had already shot another movie using this technique, this time on F55s). The grade was done at Prehistoric Digital

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in Santa Monica. When we walked in on the first day, our colorist, Chris Hall, said, “I tried a bunch of LUTs and none of them seemed right.” To which I responded, “Oh, that’s because we didn’t use an MLUT.” That seemed to blow his mind a bit, and I think he was even a tad skeptical. We also went in a little blind in terms of the XAVC codec. We didn’t have time to test, but I knew, as with all recording mediums, that good exposure can cure many ills. We jumped in, and it was immediately clear that it was going to be a very smooth grade. We found


“...it was immediately clear that it was going to be a very smooth grade.”

that we were not limited by the codec and were well within range to do anything and everything we wanted without the image falling apart. I’d argue that this was largely due to lighting and exposing directly for S-Log2 and keeping our waveforms “healthy.” We even finished a day

and a half earlier than scheduled (and that’s after a whole day of tweaking/experimenting/ messing around and deciding there’s nothing more we could do). Chris was thoroughly impressed, and so was I.

PROJECT DETAILS: S  ony F5, XAVC 1080p, Graded on DaVinci Resolve Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm Lens 1/8th Black Magic Filter 15mm Compact Prime back to TOC

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TECHNOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS Breaking the LOG

PMW-F5 • Super 35mm 4K CMOS Image Sensor 4,096 x 2,160, 11.6M total pixel, 8.9M effective pixel, Bayer pattern • High sensitivity (ISO 2000) and low noise (S/N 57dB w/NR off) • Accepts PL and FZ mount lens as well as other Cine, DSLR & SLR lenses (third party mount adapter is needed) • Multi Codec: HDCAM SR, XAVC™, 50Mbps 4:2:2, 2K and 4K RAW with optional AXS-R5 • Modular design provides maximum versatility to build the right configuration for each job. Attach a variety of viewfinders, lenses (PL-mount, FZ-mount and still lenses) and external recorders.

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Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 15mm T2.9 • Super Wide Distagon 15mm Cine Prime Lens • EF Mount • Body Markings in Feet • T2.9 with 14 High-Precision Iris Blades • Extremely Minimal Distortion • Full Frame Coverage of 24 x 36 Sensors • Interchangeable Mount System • 300° Manual Focus Rotation • Razor-Sharp Edge to Edge • Precise Horizontal/Vertical Line Capture

Sony DVFL350 viewfinder • Large 3.5" LCD Screen • Dedicated Digital VF Interface •L  CD screen offers 1000:1 contrast ratio; 10x higher contrast than previous similar size LCD panels. • Bright, 270cd/m2 screen • Flip-up mechanism for direct monitoring •B  uilt-in Contrast, Image reversal and Focus Magnification function controls •F  lexible positioning arm for optimum comfortable operation.

Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm servo lens • PL Mount 19-90mm Zoom Lens • T2.9 Maximum Aperture with 9 Iris Blades • 31.5mm Diameter Image Circle • Removable ENG-style Digital Drive • Standard 0.8 Film Pitch Gears • Power and Control Connections to Camera • LDS and /i Technology Lens Data • 200 Degree Focus Rotation • Macro Focus Function • Flange Focal Distance Adjustment

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Taking the Sony F55 to “new heights” (literally) By Arnie Itzkowitz

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I believe my office has the absolute best view of New York City. The view is from a helicopter flying between 100 feet and 2000 feet around and over the city. My name is Arnie Itzkowitz and my company is Aerialexposures.com. Most of the time I’m flying with Jim Miller of NJ Chopper who owns and pilots a beautiful Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. Our clients are Discovery, CBS, Americas Got Talent, The Empire State Building, The Borgata Casino, numerous real estate firms and cruise ship lines to name a few.

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Taking F55 to “new heights”

We all know that the world of video and cinematography is in flux as we move from HD towards 4K. We need to give our clients what they need or want. Years ago I changed equipment from SD to HD. Not only did I need an HD camera and lens but I also needed an HD tape deck. Then solid state recording came along. Life got a little easier. I was happily shooting 1920x1080 4:2:2 and my clients loved the results. An interesting thing happened on my way to 4K. I own another company that manufactures gyro stabilization systems for cameras in ground-based vehicles, boats, airplanes or helicopters. The systems are universal and can handle any camera up to about 40 pounds, I was approached to shoot aerial video with several not yet released cameras that were greater than HD resolution. Change was on the horizon. 2013 was an eye opener. I was frequently being asked to shoot 4K. Initially I tried to tell my clients what a great HD camera I had and asked if they really needed 4K. Some clients agreed to go HD but some wanted to shoot with their own 4K cameras.

Then one day a client came along with a Sony F65 with an Optimo lens. WOW is all I can say. It balanced beautifully on my stabilization system and we were off shooting in Jim’s helicopter.

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“I was approached to shoot aerial video with several not yet released cameras that were greater than HD resolution. Change was on the horizon.�

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Taking F55 to “new heights”

Over the winter my aerial video business usually slows down and this past winter was no exception with all the snow. I started to think about what had happened in the past year and realized that about 40% of my shoots were 4K using the customer’s owned or rented cameras. 40% is a big number when 4K is just starting out. So what do I do? I had to consider changing to a 4K camera. I didn’t want to make the change when I was busy and I didn’t want to not be able to shoot 4K and lose customers. I started researching what cameras would fill my needs.

“After all the discussions and looking at every possibility it came down to the Sony F5 or F55. I decided on the F55 because of the global shutter and the nature of my work.“

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First and foremost, I needed a camera that was as universal as my customer’s needs. It needed to shoot HD, 2K, 4K & RAW. It needed an easy workflow after the shoot. I usually download the cards to a hard drive when we land. Secondly, I needed camera reliability. If something goes wrong on a shoot we need to shoot it again. Jim’s turbine helicopter is reasonably priced but hours of flying are certainly not cheap. Third I needed a good sales and technical support group to back me up when I had questions. For years I had worked with Steve Cohen at AbelCine and knew him well. The last item I needed was a camera with a name and track record that customers would want me to shoot with. Because of my camera stabilization manufacturing and years of shooting aerial video I know many very technical people that use a variety of cameras for various reasons. After all the discussions and looking at every possibility it came down to the Sony F5 or F55. I decided on the F55 because of the global shutter and the nature of my work. I also purchased the RAW recorder.

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Taking F55 to “new heights” Taking F55 to “new heights”

Prior to receiving the camera I took the F5/F55 one day training class at AbelCine to help me prepare for the camera. They included all of the camera testing and lens shading as part of their customer service.

setup worked but was rather large and heavy. For what I do, the Sony SCL-18x140 seemed to fit the bill. My friend who also shoots aerials with an F55 found that lens is very sharp. I needed the wide angle and longer focal length without having to change lenses in a helicopter. It’s not a fast lens but it’s sharp and has the built-in image stabilization, which adds to the stabilization of my gyro system at the long end of the lens. Two out of my last three shoots have been done in 4K. One with the XAVC codec and one in RAW. What my customers request: 1) Those who ask for HD and ask for nothing more. 2) T  hose that want 4K or RAW and ask me what camera I’m shooting, what codec I’m using and how I delivery their footage. 3) Those that request a specific camera they would like to use or who have their own camera. So far the F55 has been a great solution for all of the customers I’ve shot for or have spoken to and will be shooting for. I am really enjoying owning and using my new F55.

Once in my office with the F55 I began to work with it. I found it very intuitive with a surprising easy learning curve. I started shooting with my Canon HJ17 lens and the Sony LA-FZB1 lens adapter. I also had a Canon IS20 BII Image Stabilizer attached to the lens. This

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“So far the F55 has been a great solution for all of the customers. I’ve shot for or have spoken to and will be shooting for. I am really enjoying owning and using my new F55.”

Jim Miller njchopper.com (201) 739-5901

Arnie Itzkowitz aerialexposures.com (973) 838-4153

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No Compromises An AFI Thesis Film gets the Hollywood Treatment with the F65 By Alexander Berman, Writer/Director of APP

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Alexander Berman Writer/Director of APP

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No Compromises

In the spring of 2012, I’m sitting in a conference room at the Sony Digital Arts Center at AFI and everyone is looking at me like I’m a little crazy. As a film student in directing, this was a look I knew well. The dean of post-production summed it up for me: “So… you want to shoot with a camera no one has used at the AFI in a format we yet don’t support and half your film is VFX.” He was talking about shooting 4K RAW on the brand new F65 Sony. “How are you going to do it? Why’s the post-budget so small?” My producer rubbed his neck uncomfortably. A major LA post-house had quoted us thousands of dollars to ingest and online Sony 4K RAW. The dean looked at each of us — five guys who had staked their education on delivering this one film — and before he could approve us using Sony’s highly advanced and unfamiliar technology, he needed to know, “What’s your workflow?” I smiled sheepishly. “A MacBook Pro®.” The AFI — which Hollywood Reporter calls the world’s best film school — stands for the American Film Institute but the A might as well stand for Ambition. Every year, 28 teams of five students make 28 short thesis films each with 6-day shoots and a budget cap of $65K. That those films regularly place in the student Academy Awards and premiere at major film festivals (our film premiered at Tribeca this year) evidences not only to the professionalism of the education, but also to a risk taking atmosphere where you push yourself to the limit.

“So… you want to shoot with a camera no one has used at the AFI in a format we yet don’t support and half your film is VFX.”

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No Compromises

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Our thesis film, APP, tells the story of a lonely app developer, Paul, who has one night to pitch a virtual wingwoman — think Siri but sexier — to a rich investor. Turning the tables, the investor forces Paul to prove the app works by seducing a girl way out of his league. The film takes place 95% at night in dim bars and LA lofts plus the “App” is a fully animated character we needed to key on an iPhone® green screen in almost every scene. Since our VFX house consisted of exactly one person, we needed a camera with great low-light performance, huge dynamic range, a super clean image, and a workflow I could figure out from a YouTube tutorial. Basically, we needed RED to announce the Unicorn.

“Since our VFX house consisted of exactly one person, we needed a camera with great low-light performance, huge dynamic range, a super clean image, and a workflow I could figure out from a YouTube tutorial.”

Or Sony to announce the F65.

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No Compromises

“The film takes place 95% at night in dim bars and LA lofts...�

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As a huge sponsor of the American Film Institute, Sony cameras like the F3 and F350 are the workhorses of AFI production. With 35mm, RED, and Alexa also on offer, we had the opportunity to be the first AFI film shot on F65, but there was literally no one we could ask about their experience. Even with the heroic efforts of our producer, Edouard de Lachomette, our budget was tight, and the F65 was a potential lifesaver. We reached out for advice from Rick Harding at Fotokem in LA, a post facility with a long history supporting AFI and cutting edge formats. He was as eager as we were to test out the latest and greatest and offered to sponsor our final post and dailies. It was our first breakthrough of many with the F65; with a post facility like Fotokem behind us, Studio caliber cinematography at an ultra-low budget became a reality. Our next step was to design a brutal test for the camera: could we pull a key of a bright consumer cellphone in a room illuminated only with the street lamps outside? Could we expose for both? Would the image be clean enough to automatically pull the key and track the screen? Any roto was out of the question for our budget. Could we online to

4K and round trip to After Effects ourselves? Could we do it all on my MacBook Pro? In the controlled environment of our test, the answer was yes! Using a free copy of DaVinci Resolve to online and the built-in motion tracker in After Effects, we were amazed how simple and cheap it is to work with the F65. We round-tripped the footage to Fotokem who had dailies for us the next morning that worked flawlessly in our Avid based post at AFI. The dean approved our plan to shoot F65. We were very excited to see how the F65 performed in the uncontrolled environment on set. Because of how much we had to shoot, pre-rigging was key to making our low budget work. Edward Salerno Jr., the DP, lit our bar like a real bar, making it possible to shoot 360 degrees and create a real sense of authenticity. Since the F65 performed so well in low light, he could light the entire bar with 200w fresnels, MR16s, a pool table light, skirted and diffused paper lanterns, 200w globes with grid cloth, all hooked up to dimmers. He floated around a Jem Ball and Kinos through some heavy frames of diff to keep the talents’ face soft during our elaborate Steadicam shots.

“...could we pull a key of a bright consumer cellphone in a room illuminated only with the street lamps outside?”

Edward Salerno Jr. Director of Photography

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No Compromises

The performance of the F65 on set also enabled me to take creative risks as a director that I could not do with another camera. One of our most important scenes — where (spoiler alert!) the two leads finally hook up — was done in a gorgeous downtown location on our last day with limited time. Maintaining intimacy was key. Salerno started the scene two stops under, then the leads turned off the interior lights, transforming the key light to 1- 1.5 foot candles from a 1k rigged 15 ft. going out through diffusion and CTB. And that was just the highlight; there was nothing on the meter on the fill side, yet we could still see detail that rendered cleanly and rolled to black. At those light levels, it was as if the crew was not in the room, and it allowed Eddie to actually crawl into the bed without interrupting the intimacy of the scene! The result is one of my favorite scenes in the film. We wouldn’t have been able to get that intimacy without the Sony.

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“The performance of the F65 on set also enabled me to take creative risks as a director that I could not do with another camera.�

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No Compromises

Ergonomically as well, the camera exceeded our expectations. While seemingly imposing when you look at it, the F65 performed like a champ in the super cramped bathroom space where we shot the climax of the film. Eddie used macro photography that really made use of the additional resolution to make the phone come alive as a character. He could stop down to a F11, with diopter, filtering‌ all while not having to bring in anything bigger than a 750w S4 into the tiny space. He could shoot the whole scene with the one lamp to shape the shot. As a student (and now indie) filmmaker, I could tackle the indignities of the smallest location with the F65. 99

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No Compromises

On-set workflow was critical to avoid costly green screen reshoots and the F65 really delivered. Our one man VFX team, Benjamin Berman, set up shop in an empty room on set. As soon as we filled a card, our DIT would do a one button back up with the Sony Card reader, sending one copy of footage to Jeremy Lerman, our story-ninja editor, to make dailies and another copy to Ben to double check our footage would key. On a MacBook Pro, Ben would preview our trickier shots in RAW on the free version on DaVinci Resolve and convert in real time selects to ProRes 4444 where he could key in our animatics. The 10-bit signal was so clean that Mocha in After Effects would quickly do an automated matchmove on the footage, allowing me to preview our temp effect by lunchtime. The Sony RAW plus DaVinci

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Resolve Lite combo offers a free, nearly real time, windows/mac agnostic post-solution that works great on set. After six days of frenetic shooting, the camera hadn’t missed a beat. But Post is where we assumed the boogeymen would be since the codec was so new and advanced. Fotokem in LA had handled all the dailies, but we did the online ourselves. We had mixed SR, 4K, F3, and GoPro footage coming out of Avid and After Effects that all had to be on-lined… the nightmare our faculty had warned us about. We exported an AAF from Avid, threw all the footage on one hard drive, connected it to Resolve Lite, clicked “online”, and prayed. That didn’t work.


“The Sony RAW plus DaVinci Resolve Lite combo offers a free, nearly real time, windows/mac agnostic post-solution that works great on set.�

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No Compromises

But Resolve Lite has a very powerful on-lining tool and — one Google search later — we were able to tell it the naming convention specific to our F65, F3, and GoPro dailies. This time, the “online” button worked and we could preview our entire film on-lined on consumer hardware with free software. Salerno, our DP, created a neutral LUT to apply, and we exported the VFX shots as ProRes 4444 to After Effects then back to Resolve. Finally, we delivered the Resolve project straight to Fotokem for our final color grade. If there was an effect we didn’t like when projected on the big screen, our Resolve workflow allowed Ben (VFX) to clean up the shot, connect it to his Resolve Lite that would then correspond to the professional Resolve we used at Fotokem. The flexibility of the workflow made me feel like a comic book movie studio director. Minus the money. 103

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“The flexibility of the workflow made me feel like a comic book movie studio director. Minus the money.”


“Another huge anxiety going into post was VFX. With a clean, high resolution, high dynamic range image, powerful automated tools in After Effects can make matchmoving and keying a breeze. In one marquee effect, we do a seamless extreme zoom from the POV of the phone to the POV of the main character, a magnification factor of 40.”

Another huge anxiety going into post was VFX. With a clean, high resolution, high dynamic range image, powerful automated tools in After Effects can make matchmoving and keying a breeze. In one marquee effect, we do a seamless extreme zoom from the POV of the phone to the POV of the main character, a magnification factor of 40. Since we couldn’t lay 50ft of track, we combined a dolly move with a digital zoom that we could push with the 4K resolution. We didn’t want to spend the time roto-ing out tracking markers, so we relied on the camera’s 10-bit image to create a 3D track of our dolly move based on the corner of an iPhone that got 40 times smaller as the shot went on. Ben, our VFX guy, didn’t know the full capability of the F65 coming in, but it enabled him to streamline his workflow time and again. back to TOC

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No Compromises

With our baby on-lined and dressed in VFX, we entered my favorite phase in the post‑process with the F65. When you hear the word “color” you may think of “red” or “green” but I always think of “goodbye”. After Color, the film is done. Delivered. But during our grade with Alastor Arnold at Fotokem when I got to watch the movie on a 2K Laser Projector — seeing the gorgeous details in the blacks and highlights for the first time — all I could think of is “Hello”. Grading F65 on Fotokem felt a little like a night at the Magic Castle, Alastor’s slights of hand at the Pablo amazing you every time. When we got to the final shot of our film, a beautiful downtown LA sunrise that I had been watching on the 8-bit dailies for the past four months, the roll-off detail in the highlights of the sky shocked us. With Fotokem bringing the full potential of the F65 to bear, we were seeing our film again for the first time.

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“But during our grade with Alastor Arnold at Fotokem when I got to watch the movie on a 2K Laser Projector — seeing the gorgeous details in the blacks and highlights for the first time — all I could think of is ‘Hello’.”

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No Compromises

The ultimate performance of the F65 left a lasting impression on our peers and us. The greatest myth of the movies is the myth of “No Compromises”. It’s Werner Herzog tugging the Fitzcarraldo up a mountain. It’s Stanley Kubrick doing 75 takes. It’s James Cameron literally creating another world. When you work on a low budget — especially a student film — set can feel like “all compromises”. The Sony F65 gave us a window to the myth of Hollywood. Above all the technical feats the camera accomplished, for a brief moment when I could see in the dark or experience all the colors of a sunset, I believed the myth. Sometimes when you ask for the impossible, you get it.

“The Sony F65 gave us a window to the myth of Hollywood. Above all the technical feats the camera accomplished, for a brief moment when I could see in the dark or experience all the colors of a sunset, I believed the myth. Sometimes when you ask for the impossible, you get it.”

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TECHNOLOGY HIGHLIGHTS

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F65 V4.0 Firmware Update

F65 8K Sensor Camera

F65 Recording/RAW Viewer

• 8K Super 35mm CMOS sensor (20.4M pixels) with unique mosaic color filter array • 14+ stops of exposure latitude • Ultra wide-gamut color reproduction • Four built-in neutral density filters •M  echanical rotary shutter (11.2˚ to 180˚) plus electronic shutter • Anamorphic 2:1 unsqueezed in viewfinder & HDSDI monitoring

• 16-bit RAW 8K and True 12-bit and 10-bit 4:4:4 SR File recording to SRMemory™cards using SR-R4 SRMASTER™ Recorder • RAW and RAW Lite recording Modes • 8K RAW High Frame Rate recording up to 120p • Advanced de-mosaic of 8K/6K RAW for enhanced flexibilty in VFX motion stablization, anamorphic 4:3 production, and sports broadcasting

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F65 Version 4.0 Firmware Update • ASC-CDL Control from Tangent element — Tk - Directly control ASC-CDL by Tangent element-Tk panel • Available Control with RM-B Series controller on CINE mode  • Camera Live Streaming and Clip Playback of SRMemory from SR-R4 on iPad®* • Import User 3DLUT both general .cube format and L3D format • S-Gamut3/S-Log3 andS-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 • Exposure Index On/Off  • Switchable processing order of applying ASC-CDL and 3D LUT • Available Mag function while Recording • New Box Cursor • Improve VF Display information *iPad application : “F65Remote Look Plus”

Remote Clip Playback of SRMemory from SR-R4 on iPad

PC OS: Windows/MacOSX Web Browser: Firefox ver.25 or later + Add-on:F65HubClient V1.2 Tangent Hub http://www.tangentwave.co.uk/support.asp

USB2.0 LAN or WiFi with CBK-WA01

Tangent element — Tk

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Versatility in Vérité Filmmaking We Could Be King By Director/Producer Judd Ehrlich

Last August I was invited to pitch ideas for a film commissioned by The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation in partnership with Tribeca Digital Studios. The mission was to create a film that explored the impact of funding cuts on athletic programs for young people, and celebrated the power of sports in their lives. On August 20, I heard the news that my independent Brooklyn-based production company, Flatbush Pictures, was selected to make a film based on one of our pitches about a high school football team made up of former rivals forced to merge due to budget cuts. Ours would be the first film produced by Tribeca through a new model of corporate sponsored documentaries.

MLK Cougars Lineman Dontae Angus

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We Could Be King

The hitch: we had to start shooting just six days later, in Philadelphia. With six days to secure our crew, move to Philly, and launch our four month shoot, we also had to make crucial decisions about the look of the film. I wanted a cinematic look and a camera versatile enough to capture intimate vérité scenes and high-impact football. Our Director of Photography, Peter Buntaine, and additional cinematographer, Sean Price Williams, were unanimous: the Sony F3. Director Judd Ehrlich and DP Peter Buntaine

We couldn’t have made a better decision. The F3 (and additional Sony cameras we ended up using for game coverage) provided our small production with a wealth of options from our first day of shooting all the way through post. We were able to create distinct looks for practices, school and home scenes, and bring unique coverage to the more than dozen football games we filmed during the season. Head Coach Ed Dunn and DP Peter Buntaine

Here are some thoughts from our crew on how our Sony cameras contributed to We Could Be King’s look and feel. Peter Buntaine Director of Photography We knew going into this project that we would never really have control over the light. The dynamic range allowed by the S-Log allowed us to shoot images on the bright exterior of a football field and be able to see players’ faces underneath their helmets and visors. There are a couple of key moments captured during gameplay and practice that only work because you can see everyone’s faces (and hear them clearly too). The latitude of the S-Log, and how forgiving it is exposure-wise, makes this camera ideal for a vérité doc. Over the course of the shoot, I remembered something I had forgotten about being a teenager: you seem to hang out in basements all the time, and you don’t turn on the lights. You turn on the TV or video game. Having a camera that was so sensitive, along with some fast lenses, spared us from having to turn on lights and ruin the mood of intimate locations that were integral to the story that we were telling. We shot 90% of this movie without using zoom lenses, which is unusual for vérité docs. If I wanted to get closer to subjects, I would approach them with a prime lens on the camera. First, this allowed us to be prepared to go

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into extremely low light environments at any moment. Second, by filming close-ups with wider lenses, we captured a different, more personal energy by being close to our subjects rather than zooming in on them from a distance as voyeurs. Many shots in the film were accomplished only because the F3 is great in low light and we had a lens that could open to 1.2 on the front of it. The scene where one of our main characters, Dontae, is talking to his mom outside of their home is a great example. It looks perfect in the film, but at the time of shooting we were amazed to get any image at all in such a dark environment. They even darkened it in the color-grade.

“I wanted a cinematic look and a camera versatile enough to capture intimate vérité scenes and high-impact football.”

Finally, with the F3 as our A-Camera, we had many cost-effective and exciting options within the Sony family for B-Cameras and for shooting football games. During games, we would have another F3; an FS700 dedicated to slow motion photography; and a number of EX3s and PMW-500s for our veteran football cameramen, which were perfect as they were most comfortable on broadcast-style cameras with huge zooms. For the championship game no one thought would happen, we hired an experienced NFL cameraman with an F55, which turned out beautifully. Will Taylor Camera Operator I shot the championship game with the Sony F55, using a combination of Canon Cinezoom super 35mm lens 15.5-47mm and a 30-105mm for pre and post game shooting. For the game I used a PL to B4 mount adaptor and a Fuji HD22x lens that allowed me enough lens to cover the action. This is the same lens setup I use when I’m covering a game for NFL Films. I was asked to focus on game action shooting 120 frames a second. The F55 was the best option in our budget range for shooting game action since it is a shoulder-mounted camera that shoots high speed. It allowed me to use 35mm glass to capture spectacular images with the global shutter. The DP and I both shot in S-Log for matching and giving the colorist the most flexibility in post.

DP Peter Buntaine and Sound Mixer Michael McMenomy

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We Could Be King

Stewart Griffin Colorist, Final Frame When the crew of We Could Be King came into Final Frame Post with their footage, I was thrilled. Working with footage shot on Sony’s F3 in the S-Log gamma curve presented a number of advantages in grading this film. First, the effective dynamic range of material shot in run-and-gun situations was much wider. Whether moving from inside to out, or moving the camera through 360 degrees during outdoor practices, all of the information was preserved in shadows and highlights, and could be recovered with dynamic grading. The filmmakers sought a look that contrasted the somewhat flat mood of the school and everyday life of the subjects with a significantly more vibrant “game day” look. While grading in the Digital Vision Film Master I was able to apply an S-Log to linear gamma LUT, and then selectively apply that to a wide midrange, in order to create a punchier look without losing highlight and shadow detail. Given that there were frequently multiple camera shoots, the footage from the F3 provided great flexibility in matching to other cameras which had a more ‘baked-in’ look/quality.

Left: Quarterback Joseph Walker

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Coach Dunn calling a play from the sidelines

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We Could Be King

David Lieberman and Chris Iversen Editors One of the most crushing (and common) experiences in editing a documentary is when a powerful scene is ruined by a technical issue in the picture or audio. We never had to eliminate scenes or rule out moments due to overexposure or low light. The first time we saw the graded footage, it gave us confidence that scenes in fluorescent hallways or dark basements could be just as visually striking as scenes shot during magic hour. The F3 gave us a lot of freedom in the editing room to use every frame of footage regardless of the lighting environment.

“When I hear audiences say repeatedly that WE COULD BE KING ‘doesn’t look like a typical doc or football movie’ I know we made the right camera decision.”

Judd Ehrlich Reflecting on the experience of making this film with the Sony F3, I realize how much the camera informed and enabled the aesthetic choices that contributed so heavily to the finished film. The sensitivity of the camera mirrors the sensitivity with which we wanted to approach our subjects. The wide range of options and usable shots helped tremendously as we cut over 500 hours of footage in four short months; premiering our high school football movie at the Tribeca Film Festival, and broadcasting nationally on ESPN and ABC, before the team even finished the school year. When I hear audiences say repeatedly that WE COULD BE KING “doesn’t look like a typical doc or football movie” I know we made the right camera decision.

Coach Dunn and Safety Sal Henderson after loss

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Coach Dunn motivates Lineman Dontae Angus

WE COULD BE KING will be available on digital platforms and VOD on August 12, 2014. For more information, visit wecouldbeking.com back to TOC

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Founder of B Productions Bill Marpet

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Runway 4K Capturing the Tory Burch Spring Collection with the F55 By Richard Wong By Andy Biskin, Chief of Operations/Production Manager B Productions, New York At B Productions, we specialize in video and streaming for the fashion and beauty industries. In fact, during the eight days around New York’s Fashion Week, we shoot upwards of 180 events for clients including Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Alexander Wang. When our DP, Daniel Marracino purchased a Sony F55 and told us what 4K could mean to the fashion business, we started exploring the possibilities. And when one of our clients, Tory Burch, approached us to shoot their Spring 2014 runway show in 4K, we were already primed to go from exploration to execution.

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Runway 4K

How we got the gig Founded in 1983 by director/DP Bill Marpet, B Productions was perfectly positioned to shoot 4K fashion. Our core business is live, multi-camera production. We shoot over 400 live events a year: mostly fashion shows but also awards shows, concerts, theatrical events and corporate town hall meetings. Our clients include Fox Entertainment, Starz and Conde Nast in addition to the major American fashion brands. We also produce image videos, commercials, point-of-sale pieces, behindthe-scenes documentaries, and entertainment network Electronic Press Kits (EPKs). Last December we ventured from the fashion catwalk to the dogwalk, at the American Kennel Club Eukanuba World Championship in Orlando. We produced two three-hour live shows exclusively for the web and over 200 on demand videos for the daytime breed judging events. Our bLive streaming division developed a custom microsite with live image sharing and social conversation tools that logged over three million views in three days.

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The special mania of Fashion Week Our busiest time by far is during New York’s Fashion Week. Each September and February the fashion industry presents the runway looks for the coming season. Each show takes months to plan and lasts about 15 minutes. Since we have just one chance to capture it live, we do all we can to prepare. This involves working closely with the show producers, lighting, sound, and staging companies, as well as the designer’s in-house design, PR, and marketing teams. Camera positions are key, and we sometimes end up convincing the producers to reconfigure the show blocking and seating so that we’ll have the best shots.

“For Fashion Week, we shoot over 180 events in eight days.” It takes us about three months to coordinate the week. Our company swells from ten full time employees to about 140, including camera


people, engineers and technicians, and a buzzing production office with dozen or so producers, coordinators, editors, and data managers. Our post-production room runs 24/7 and we can post edited versions of a show in less than two hours. It’s a challenge to put it all together under intense pressure and fierce deadlines. But there’s also a strong sense of camaraderie. With so many of the same freelancers returning each season, it has the feel of a family reunion.

designers preferred to show in the grand ballrooms of elegant hotels near Central Park, but now the trend is more towards chic galleries in Chelsea and raw warehouse space on piers along the Hudson River. For these shows, we have five multi-camera flypacks built around Sony HXC-100 triax cameras and several smaller packs for single-camera shows. Crews generally do one or two shows a day. With a morning and evening show, a day can often stretch to 16 hours or more.

About 60 shows take place in specially constructed tents at Lincoln Center. These shows are produced by IMG and sponsored by Mercedes Benz. It takes us four days to build a centralized control room using a flypack from VER built around Sony HDC1500 camera chains, with nine cameras servicing three separate venues. We also mount robocams in each venue, build a 24-hour streaming and encoding station, and provide live feeds for monitors throughout the complex.

On a given day, we might do a live switch of the Project Runway finale at Lincoln Center with six cameras and jib, shoot the Tommy Hilfiger show at the Park Avenue Armory, produce a live interactive behind-the-scenes webcast for American Express, shoot hair and make-up trends backstage in Chelsea, and cover 15 other shows and events around town. At the same time we’ll be setting up time-lapse cameras to document the installation of a lavish set for Marc Jacobs, scouting locations for upcoming shows, and consulting with production companies about jib and camera placement, lighting needs, and feeds for video projectors.

The rest of the shows are staged in venues scattered around Manhattan. Twenty years ago,

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Runway 4K

The F55 and HD/4K hybrid production In June of 2013, our DP Daniel Marracino mentioned to us that Sony was interested in exploring how 4K production could be used in the fashion arena. Daniel had recently bought an F55 and was really stoked. He had recently used the F55 on a shoot we did for Donna Karan and saw its potential as a game changer. “The incredible dynamic range,

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detail and latitude in image quality are ideal for fashion and beauty,” Daniel says. “For example, Donna Karan’s collection was shot in front of a window with brilliant sunlight pouring in through sheer blinds. The F55 was able to hold the detail and rich blacks in the clothes while registering the beautiful skin tones and features of the model.”


We had some brainstorming sessions over the summer with the team from Sony, including Dawn Terranova, John Studdert, and CTO Hugo Gaggioni. Not sure what was possible for the upcoming September Spring 2014 season, we talked about sending a small F55 crew to cover a few shows that we could edit into a sizzle reel. But we were eager to try something more challenging and exciting.

Much of the production value of our runway coverage derives from multiple camera angles — head-to-toe shots, close-ups to show detail, side angle shots for back details and audience, and dramatic tracking shots from a jib. To show just one angle, even in 4K, seemed boring.

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John Studdert mentioned Sony had just perfected a multi-camera F55 workflow for a soccer tournament, The Confederations Cup, in Brazil that would enable us to record in 4K and HD simultaneously. Could we rely solely on such a system for a major client, or would we need to keep our regular HD workflow and then mirror it in 4K with a totally separate system? We realized that a dual-system approach was impractical. It would double costs and would be logistically hard to do two shoots simultaneously, both competing for the same camera angles. So we decided to forge ahead with a hybrid HD/4K production. For the live show, we needed to be able to match, shade, switch live, color correct, and stream the line cut. John assured us that all this was possible and promised that we’d have Sony’s full support. For the final edit, we could record 16-bit linear 4K RAW. The F55 was crucial because it can output a live HD signal, record HD and record 16-bit linear 4K RAW — all at the same time. Great minds think alike Next we zeroed in on a handful of our larger clients who might be interested in collaborating on a pilot project. Coincidentally, one of the companies on our short list approached us! As Bill Marpet recalls, “We had been working with Tory Burch to shoot and live stream her runway shows for several seasons. Her brand was growing fast and when their VP of Global Business Development and Digital Operations Alex Richardson suggested that we shoot their show in 4K, it seemed like the stars had aligned.” Tory Burch is a global business with more than 125 freestanding boutiques and a presence in more than 3,000 department and specialty stores. Toryburch.com, which launched in 2004, is the company’s biggest store and is also home to The Tory Blog, an online magazine with all-original content. Known for digital innovation, the company

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also has websites in Europe and Asia; a Webbynominated app, Tory Daily; and a robust social media presence. Alex Richardson, Vice President for Global Business Development and Digital Operations at Tory Burch, explains, “I first saw ultra high definition during the BBC test in 2012 at the London Olympics and started the conversation with our video and studio partners to explore how we might use 4K at our fashion shows and products shots. We’re always looking for innovative technology that elevates our brand and enhances the customer experience. With 4K viewing, our customers will be able to experience the collection in extraordinary detail.” We all understood that to realize the true potential of 4K, consumers needed to see the image in 4K. So the client decided to test the 65-inch Sony 4K consumer displays in their Tory Burch innovation labs and the Sony 4K theatre. They’re considering a test of the 4K TVs in their stores sometime in the future. We tested the camera chain at VER’s NYC facility in late August with Sony’s camera support engineer, Digital Imaging Technician Joseph Schimizzi. Schimizzi and VER worked together to test each of the systems and perform full technical run-throughs of every component. Getting the glass There were several challenges in translating what we do from the 2/3-inch world into the Super 35mm realm. One concern was lensing. We normally shoot with 22x lenses that give us the range we need. (Occasionally we’ll need a longer lens for a special shot and of course the jib usually takes a wide angle.) Most of the available 35mm lenses were either too wide or too long to get a framing we needed. We finally settled on the Optimo 24-290 for the head-to-toe shot, the Fuji 75-400 for the close-up camera, and the Cabrio 19-90 for the jib.


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Another change was that our camera operators have always pulled their own focus. From previous experiments with Ultra HD we learned that we needed assistant cameramen to pull focus, quite normal in the film world but not typical for us. VER and Sony outfitted the cameras with C-motion three-channel systems to provide remote iris and focus control. Show time The show took place at 9:00 am on September 10 in the wonderful Promenade Lobby of Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, which is the home of the New York City Ballet. We started building at 3:00 am. The client describes the Spring 2014 collection as the perfect combination of Jacques Deray’s movie “La Piscine” (The Swimming Pool) and the designer’s own Southampton, NY garden. So the Promenade was decorated in a swimming pool motif. We recorded 4K RAW on the AXS cards and proxy footage at 50 Mbps in camera on SxS cards. The HD output of the ISOs was recorded on AJA’s Ki Pro and fed to a switcher. We color corrected the line cut using an HD Link, and used that image for the live stream and other immediate deliverables. After Fashion Week, we did a proxy edit of the 4K footage in FCP 7. Then our chief engineer, Ed Hollema travelled to LA and did color grading with the Sony team at the Digital Motion Picture Center in Culver City. He took actual fabric swatches to make sure the colors were true to life. [For more, read the companion article on the Grading the Runway.] The results were tremendously rewarding. The models look amazing. The fashions look stunning, with unbelievable texture and details in the fabrics. And the colors are absolutely spot-on. In fact, the client had never seen such accurate colors on a television screen.

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Grading the Runway Reproducing the color of fashion as never before By Keith Vidger Market Development Manager, Sony Electronics

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Grading the Runway

65-inch 4K consumer display that Tory Burch would be using in the innovation labs. An affordable Blackmagic Design DeckLink 4K Extreme Capture & Playback Card was installed in the DaVinci Resolve system and the 4K display was connected via HDMI. After transferring the RAW files from the AXS cards into the Resolve via USB 3 and importing the Final Cut that B Productions had created; the project was automatically and seamlessly conformed and grading was ready to begin.

“The scenario was a colorist’s nightmare.”

When fashion designer Tory Burch showed her Spring Collection last September, B Productions was on the scene, capturing the action with a fleet of Sony F55 cameras. Back at B Productions, the HD material (XDCAM codec, recorded to SxS cards, 1920 x 1080 at 4:2:2 at a very manageable 50 Mbps) was ingested into a Final Cut Pro 7 system much faster than real time. The editorial process was off and running and it wasn’t long before the off-line had been fully approved. Up to this point, the workflow for B Productions was no different than what they had been doing for years. But now there was 16-bit linear 4K RAW footage recorded to AXS cards, just waiting to be finished and displayed on 4K monitors in the Tory Burch innovation labs. Since B Productions had a full slate of fashion work ahead of them, they decided that the conform and finishing would be done in Culver City, California at Sony’s Digital Motion Picture Center. The DMPC has just about every 4K tool imaginable and for the Tory Burch fashion show, we used DaVinci Resolve and we chose to monitor on exactly the same Sony 131

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But grading was going to be a major challenge. All of the diverse flesh tones had to be natural and vibrant while simultaneously ensuring that all the fabrics were perfectly represented. In fact, samples of every fabric were brought to the DMPC to confirm that all of the designs would look exactly the same on the monitor as they did at the Fashion Show. In addition, the Promenade of the Koch Theater features huge, floor-to-ceiling windows through which streamed morning sunlight, which mixed with incandescent lights that were brought in for the show. Not only was there a variety of color temperatures to contend with, but the models walked towards the cameras (and the incandescent lights) so the color temperature changed with every step they took. In short, the scenario was a colorist’s nightmare.

“The F55 has a tremendous capacity to handle mixed light in a very natural way.” — David Bernstein, Colorist To tackle such a challenging grade would surely require the skills of an ace colorist and countless hours of effort to perfect the delicate balance of flesh tones and fabric. Thankfully, just a few steps away from the DMPC is Sony Pictures Colorworks, where veteran colorist David Bernstein works his magic every day. With decades of experience,


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David has mastered some of Hollywood’s biggest hits. He stopped by the DMPC to lend his expertise to the project and decided to use S-Log2 along with S-Gamut as the basis for grading. To everyone’s amazement, David was able to grade the entire Tory Burch show in just a few hours. And he made it look easy. Always modest, David gave all the credit to the camera: “The F55 has a tremendous capacity to handle mixed light in a very natural way. With the F55, it was much easier to get a nice look on the models, while keeping the fabric colors accurate and also adjusting for the changing daylight coming through the windows.” As David scrutinized every frame for accurate color he also noted, “The high resolution really brings out incredible detail in the fabric. At 60 frames per second the end result is really incredible.” Once the project was finished, 4K uncompressed DPX files were rendered and then exported to an external drive. Finally, the 4K DPX files were encoded for playback on Sony’s 4K Point of Purchase server. It’s no bigger than a cigar box but can hold hours of 4K content. Back in New York, when the folks at Tory Burch received the server, they were amazed by the enhanced resolution of 4K and the dynamic range of the F55. But they were most excited by the incredible color reproduction. They had never seen anything like it on a television screen. Ever since Sony introduced 4K technology to movie theater audiences back in 2005 with the world’s first commercial 4K projector, people have sought to leverage 4K to expand their creativity and to improve the viewing experience. With the Tory Burch fashion show, Sony 4K is now thrilling a whole new audience and opening new markets. And the best part, Tory Burch finally found a format to match her own creativity.

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Diving into a new camera system By Dan Beecham with contributions from business partner Charles Maxwell

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The decision to take the leap into a new camera system is always a daunting one. As an underwater cameraman this is the case even more so, as getting into a new camera system involves a financial commitment that is probably double that of a camera operator shooting on land, due to the costs of specialized underwater housings. Generally speaking underwater housings do not retain their value well at all — with this in mind you can see just how daunting making the decision of which camera to buy can be.

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When the time came for me to invest in a 4K-camera system myself, the two choices were the RED Epic, or the newcomer — the Sony F55. Others exist today. I was to be purchasing the system with business partner Charles Maxwell, an Emmy award-winning veteran underwater-cameraman. I had been shooting with the RED Epic for a major client for around a year or so when we decided to partner up and buy a camera system together. At this time I was getting very familiar with the RED system and workflow, I was pretty intent on buying a RED for myself when the time was right. It was to my surprise then that Charles said he was looking at the F55 as an option. I started looking into the system and I liked what I found. Both Charles and myself have been shooting with Sony cameras for a number of years. Charles’ Emmy award winning footage of the Sardine Run was shot on the PD-150, since then a lot has changed. We have both worked extensively with a plethora of HD cameras; F900, F900R, Z1, EX-1 and EX-3 to name but a few — so I was excited about continuing to work with the Sony gear. There is a real level of comfort in knowing we are working with a camera manufacturer that we have a history with as well as one that has dealers and technicians locally.

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“There is a real level of comfort in knowing we are working with a camera manufacturer that we have a history with as well as one that has dealers and technicians locally.”

© James Loudon

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Once we took delivery of the camera and started working with the RAW files from test shoots, I really started getting excited about the potential of the system for underwater work. Getting to grips with RAW Viewer was pretty quick and easy, it’s a fantastic free package that Sony has continued to develop and goes from strength to strength. Experimenting with test footage I shot of Table Mountain, with bright white clouds that I intentionally over-exposed and being able to pull the exposure back is such a luxury, this level of flexibility amazed me. 139

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Once we had done our first dives with the camera and started grading the footage, I was astonished by how faithful the F55 colorimetry is underwater. We have shot underwater scenes such as kelp forests that I have honestly never seen captured so truthfully in terms of the color reproduction. As divers, we know what the colors of our subjects should be, and cameras sometimes reproduce them inaccurately. When grading footage from our dives, we can match the colors exactly, 141

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getting completely faithful color reproduction. The footage has an ethereal, otherworldly quality, which I think simply comes from the amount of detail it captures. It really feels like now we are showing people the things we get to see on our dives and that we are getting much closer to them actually experiencing it themselves because of the immersive characteristics of the footage‌ and we all thought HD pictures looked good!


“The footage has an ethereal, otherworldly quality, which I think simply comes from the amount of detail it captures. It really feels like now we are showing people the things we get to see on our dives and that we are getting much closer to them actually experiencing it themselves because of the immersive characteristics of the footage...�

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In underwater filming, as you go deeper, water filters out the red end of the natural light spectrum. To compensate for this you can either use lights or a red filter (typically designed to be used at depths over 10 meters). But what if you are shooting at that depth with a filter fixed to the lens inside the housing and on ascending, something amazing is happening near the surface. Previously, with traditional video, you would end up with footage that is too red, to the extent that you cannot pull your colors back to what they should naturally be. But look how the Sony F55 handles it. Quite amazing.

When you film in very dirty green water without a filter you normally end up with something that looks awful. See here how the colors spring to life once very quickly treated in Sony RAW Viewer. The corrected colors are true to real life, I know what the correct colors are very well as I have been diving in these areas for many years. This test really blew my mind.

It feels to me that the Sony RAW truly is RAW in the way that I have associated RAW to be on a stills camera for so many years — you can’t set a compression ratio, which some people may regard as a hindrance because of the enormous files that are produced by the R5 RAW Recorder, but having seen just what you can achieve with them, I can say it’s a sacrifice worth making. Of course with the F55 we also have the option to shoot 4K in XAVC @ S-Log2 which still retains the great dynamic range of the camera — this could be a feature we end up using on long shoots in remote locations, where storage space can be an issue. This will of course require a different mind-set regarding shooting.

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“The corrected colors are true to real life, I know what the correct colors are very well as I have been diving in these areas for many years. This test really blew my mind.�

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Getting in on the F55 in the early stages is helping us to establish a reputation with the system, and indeed it has already started to generate work. The camera has been used for blue-chip natural history productions, a TV series, and a couple of TV commercials. We’ve also been diving with it ourselves extensively in development of our 4K stock footage library. Charles has been in the stock footage business for so long that he knows exactly what sells, so we have the advantage of being very targeted with what stock footage we go out to shoot. Every time we go to sea to gather stock footage it costs money — fuel for the boat, launch fees, skippers fees, and bait. Of course there is also the time it takes to catalog and manage all the footage as well as the cost of keeping three copies of the footage as backups in different locations. In this sense Charles’ experience in the field is invaluable — and we are 145

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really able to maximize our time on the water. This industry is cyclical — there will come a time when we’ll need to go out and reshoot everything we are shooting now in whatever the next acquisition format will be, but we enjoy the process, at heart we are people who love being out on the ocean. In Cape Town we have an abundance of subjects at our disposal because we are at the meeting point for two great oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic. Cold, nutrient-rich water from the Benguela current and warm water from the Mozambique current give us an amazing natural biodiversity both underwater and on land, so we can dive with seals, a plethora of sharks (including one of the best places in the world for filming great white sharks), kelp forests and many others subjects and ecosystems. Getting the F55 out into some of these areas, and testing it’s capabilities has been really exciting, and we’ve not been disappointed by the results.


“Getting in on the F55 in the early stages is helping us to establish a reputation with the system, and indeed it has already started to generate work.�

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It’s our hope that the F55 will stand the test of time, and the demand for 4K stock footage will continue to grow. Everyone is talking about the F55 being a five-year camera, which I hope is the case. Sony’s recent announcement of a hardware upgrade to allow shooting ProRes is a good sign — it shows a commitment to the system, and that there will be more upgrades to come. I have faith in Sony in this regard — I hope that they realize that it was a gamble for customers to buy the camera with it’s original firmware version which was quite limited, and having to rely on the firmware roadmap and trust in Sony that they would come good on their promises. Of course this has been the case, and in-fact they’ve delivered more than they promised — one of the benefits of working with such an established company that has a reputation to protect. Whether it be more firmware upgrades or hardware upgrades we need to pay for, they are all welcome. Once again, when it comes to changing cameras, for us it also means changing underwater housings, as generally newer cameras do not fit into older housings, so the longer life span we can get out of the system, the better. Back-up and support from Sony has been excellent locally. It’s reassuring knowing we’ve got a good team of technicians nearby if the camera does develop a fault. The recent addition of the record cache is also a great sign, it’s so important for natural history work. For now it is quite limited, but it’s my hope that this will be increased in future firmware versions, or with a hardware upgrade. Hopefully with a future hardware upgrade we’ll also be able to get higher frame rates when shooting at 4K. I have to admit to feeling a little bit limited when it comes to being able to shoot high frame rates at 4K. I would put at the top of my list for Sony to start work on the ability to shoot 4K RAW @ 120fps. 120fps 4K in XAVC would be a welcome alternative.

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“It’s our hope that the F55 will stand the test of time, and the demand for 4K stock footage will continue to grow. Everyone is talking about the F55 being a five-year camera, which I hope is the case.”


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With the F55 it’s amazing how much you can pull back in the highlights and lowlights by adjusting your ISO — which of course for underwater is fantastic. So many situations in underwater work have high-contrast, where subjects with white patches such as manta rays (dark on top and white underneath) are a challenge to expose for. Now being able to shoot RAW with the F55 this is no longer a concern. Charles shot some material in a swimming pool on the F55 for a TV series — backlit of an actress swimming through frame. The highlights and lowlights both looked amazing, even straight off the camera. This footage was shot at about 5000 ISO — there was hardly any grain. This was shot XAVC @ HD, as the client only required it to be in HD — which leads me onto another point. The fact that we are able to shoot in HD (or 2K) and we do not worry about the image being cropped or ‘windowed’, is fantastic with the Sony. Wide-angle lenses are important in underwater work — we use them all the time as underwater you have to remain close to your subject, if you back away you shoot through more water, degrading the image. One of the golden rules in underwater work is “get as close as you can, then get closer”. Much of our work is with large animals, so again wide angles are really important for us. Not having to worry about the sensor cropping if we shoot at lower resolutions is a real bonus, we can swap between resolutions with no impact on the coverage of our lenses.

“The fact that we are able to shoot in HD (or 2K) and we do not worry about the image being cropped or ‘windowed’, is fantastic with the Sony.”

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“With the F55 it’s amazing how much you can pull back in the highlights and lowlights by adjusting your ISO — which of course for underwater is fantastic.”


On the topic of lenses, I can’t deny that I miss the days shooting with my Sony F-900R with the Canon HJ11 lens. This combination allowed me to shoot marine subjects from the largest in the ocean such as whales and sharks, to some of the smallest such as nudibranchs (sea-slugs). With its zoom range and close focusing, it really was a dream. Oftentimes underwater you only have one opportunity to capture a behavioural sequence, if you don’t get everything on that dive, you may not witness it again. We do not have the luxury of changing lenses underwater. In this regard the F55 underwater system has its limitations — but this is not a failing on the part of the housing, its simply that the technology does not exist at the moment to have the same kind of flexibility in one lens.

We have set ourselves up with a range of lenses with Nikon mounts including the Tokina 11-16mm, Sigma 17-70 and 60mm macro. These are working just fine for us, but having something with the flexibility of an ENG style lens in the future would be fantastic. I have been thinking about options for using Sony’s B4 to FZ lens adapter with an ENG lens in our underwater housing, but it’s my feeling a lens originally designed for HD imaging will not be strong enough optically for working in 4K. I think the lens technology will catch up soon enough, and we’ll just look back on the time we are in now as an awkward transition period.

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Our underwater housing was built by Gates Underwater Products of San Diego. People are often shocked when they first start looking into the costs involved in underwater housings, but for us this is par for the course, and I wouldn’t want to put my beloved F55 in a sub-standard product! Gates’ optics are second-to-none, and this is essential. There’s no point having such a fantastic camera and lens stuck behind substandard optics, degrading the image. Gates have also worked hard to make the housing as versatile as possible. We can shoot with or without the R5 151

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RAW recorder, and with larger batteries to give us longer run times. John Ellerbrock and his team have provided us with fantastic support when it comes to advice and back-up with the system, they’re an essential part of our crew. Getting to grips with the F55 has been a steep learning curve, and we’re still continuing to learn about its potential. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a camera that I am 100% happy with in this fast changing world, but with the F55, I have come pretty darn close.


Dan Beecham is an underwater cameraman based in Cape Town, South Africa. With business partner Charles Maxwell (www.underwatervideo.co.za) he shoots on the Sony F55 with the Gates underwater housing. www.danbeecham.com www.underwatervideo.co.za danbeecham@gmail.com back to TOC

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Š2014 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features, design, and specifications are subject to change without notice. The values for mass and dimension are approximate. Sony, AXSM, BRAVIA, CineAlta, Digital Betacam, HDMI, SRMemory, SRMASTER, SxS, SxS Pro, TRIMASTER, Vegas, XAVC, XDCAM and the Sony logo are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Mac, iPad, and ProRes are a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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CineAlta Magazine Issue 3