With or without trade shows, our industry continues to show ingenuity. In this issue, we put the spotlight on the lighting companies creating powerful and portable LEDs for on-location camerawork – and on the aerial companies bolstering VFX crews with their mammoth camera arrays. And don’t miss our blockbuster shoot stories, covering the cinematography of Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II, and the Oscar-nominated sound design of the explosive World War II hit, Greyhound.
Fast-paced thrills and gorgeous naturalism in A Quiet Place Part II
Why medium and large format were used to capture the different sides of Cruella POWER & THE ECHOES OF WAR PORTABILITY Pint-sized cordless LEDs that pack a punch Greyhound’s Oscar-nominated and explosive sound design
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EDITORIAL Deputy editor Chelsea Fearnley email@example.com Features writer Lee Renwick Chief sub editor Alex Bell Sub editor Elisha Young Junior sub editor Jack Nason Contributors Adam Duckworth, Phil Rhodes Editorial director Roger Payne ADVERTISING Group ad manager Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Designer Emma Di’Iuorio Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck
CHELSEA FEARNLEY DEPUTY EDITOR Chelsea Fearnley WELCOME T urn to June in any cinephile’s calendar and I guarantee you’ll see a weekend earmarked for the Cine Gear Expo. It’s where the elite of the motion picture community gather to ogle at the latest trends and technology on display at the historic Paramount Studios. Like many trade shows over the past year, the June Cine Gear has been postponed, but the doldrums of 2020 will soon become a distant memory, as more and more vaccinations are administered and the world starts to rebuild itself. It’s with this promise of a brighter future that Cine Gear is going ahead in the autumn. Read our interview with chief executive, director Juliane Grosso on page 5, for a preview of what’s to come. It’s important to note, however, that trade events aren’t always a prerequisite for innovation, as proven by the aerial companies bolstering VFX crews with their mammoth camera arrays (page 26) – and the LED companies ensuring there’s a right-sized light for every type of camerawork (page 32). So, with or without trade extravaganzas, here’s to continued ingenuity!
MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF
CONTENTS 5 UNTIL SEPTEMBER
26 APPETITE FOR AERIAL ARRAYS Innovators in the aerial filmmaking industry reveal how they capture 360° images in the sky. 32 POWER & PORTABILITY Pint-sized and cordless LEDs for when your production calls for something compact, yet mighty.
Chief executive, director Juliane Grosso previews what’s to come at the Cine Gear Expo autumn event.
8 SPLIT PERSONALITY
DOP Nicolas Karakatsanis on why he used medium and large format to capture the twisty tale of Cruella de Vil.
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37 BMPCC 6K PRO REVIEW
14 ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER
Why the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a beautiful refinement on an already winning formula.
With silence on set, the visuals of A Quiet Place Part II have to speak for themselves. Cinematographer Polly Morgan explains how she shot the action. David Wyman discusses authentically recording communications between 1940s naval officers in Greyhound , despite numerous on-set challenges.
45 CAMERA LISTINGS
A showcase of the bodies revolutionising how we create digital images.
21 THE ECHOES OF WAR
50 WELCOME TO THE FAMILY Our round-up of the latest and greatest kit for production crews.
COVER IMAGE Cruella ©Walt Disney Pictures 2021
Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used
without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
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JUL I ANE GROSSO | 5 MINUTES WITH…
UNTIL SEPTEMBER As a homage to the much-loved summer trade show, we catch up with the chief executive, director of Cine Gear to mark what would have been
I NTERV I EW CHELSEA FEARNLEY / P I CTURES C I NE GEAR
W e’re pretty sure that if you skip to the month of June in any cinephile’s yearly calendar, you’ll find a weekend earmarked for Cine Gear – the annual trade event in Los Angeles, where industry folk go to top up their tans, check out new gear and connect with old friends. And while Cine Gear won’t be going ahead in June 2021, due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, take comfort in the knowledge that it’s just been postponed to September (and LA stays sunny all year round). In light of the proposed change, we get the lowdown from chief executive, director Juliane Grosso. In a year without shows, how has Cine Gear continued to support and
educate the filmmaking community? And why did you not do a virtual trade show? JULIANE GROSSO: We started Cine Gear On Air, beginning as a panel discussion between ASC cinematographers. Since then, it has evolved into regular virtual events, and each one can be viewed live, or on demand, on our website. The first panel was moderated by Paul Maibaum, known for his work on Sons of Anarchy . He was joined by 14 other cinematographers from all across the world. We even had one tune in from New Zealand at 6am! Subsequently, our virtual events have explored a wide range of topics, with industry experts poised to share filmmaking advice amid the current fast-changing
ABOVE Juliane Grosso created Cine Gear Expo with Karl Kresser in 1996
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5 MINUTES WITH… | JUL I ANE GROSSO
environment and beyond. We’ve had events pertaining to product launches, as well as a ‘Got Agent?’ – something we do at the show every year to discuss meeting the right agent, standing out against the competition and ways of establishing your brand. And, in a similar vein, a ‘Got Publicist?’ event. We’ve been getting good feedback and have seen people from at least 40 different countries interact with us at virtual events. It’s reassuring to know that we’re still reaching and trying to educate the community – we’ve even brought in new faces along the way. We also decided against doing a virtual trade show because we have our virtual marketplace, which we always keep up to date with new product information and industry papers. Cine Gear will return in September. How did you decide it was safe to do so? And will it operate differently? JG: We wanted to return in June, but I don’t think that we, or the world, were quite ready for it. So, we reached out to participants to see if they’d be comfortable with a fall event. The responses have been very positive. Obviously we’ll follow all the safety protocols given by local authorities, but we expect the situation to be much safer by then. Things are moving well here in the US – as they are in the UK. Furthermore, our show is largely
outdoors, and I recently read there’s a new rule in California, allowing for 75% capacity in movie theatres, as well as no social distancing, provided people are fully vaccinated. This means that we can start planning our much-loved seminars, screenings and workshops. Are you concerned there might be crossover, with NAB and IBC also happening in the autumn? JG: Everyone had to push back to the fall, and IBC might push back even later still. The decision was difficult, but there’s such a need and desire for humans to interact in a networking environment again, that we couldn’t postpone another year. People enjoy our show – and we enjoy putting it on. We’ve tried our best to straddle the show and be courteous to other events,
so our exhibitors can either move around, or make their own choices about the event they attend. A lot of that will depend on budgets and how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, but we expect to have a strong national and UK presence at this year’s event. There are some areas in the world that aren’t looking too good, but a lot can happen from now until September. We may be jumping the gun, but are any masterclasses or seminars for September finalised yet? JG: We will definitely be doing our lighting workshop again, as well as our annual dialogue with ASC cinematographers and ‘Got Agent?’. We’ve had a lot of interest from DOPs about screening their new features. We’ll do panels for these, but haven’t finalised what those are going to be yet. However, with the new rule regarding California theatres, we can now start planning those in more depth. We’ll also have a number of partner-sponsored events, from the likes of Sony, Arri, Canon and Blackmagic, as well as a series of newcomers looking to get involved in the show and establish a footing in the US. I also expect more post-production companies at the show this year, particularly as it collides with their world. Members from that community will certainly want to make contacts. And that’s what Cine Gear is all about. It’s a networking experience – an opportunity to connect with old friends and meet new ones. After a long and tense wait, I am looking forward to welcoming everyone back.
06 DEF I N I T ION | JUNE 202 1
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PRODUCTION | CRUELLA
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CRUELLA | PRODUCTION
I nevitably, and as intended, Disney’s latest live-action reimagining, Cruella , tugged on the heartstrings of generations that grew up with the fuzzy 2D classics. This time, however, Disney took the Maleficent approach, and delved deeper into how Cruella became one of the most notorious female villains in children’s cinema. Painted from a young age as both a likeable and detestable character, viewers watch the tragic events of Estella’s childhood unfold – the scenes filled with classic, black humour. Eventually, as she becomes a budding fashion designer, Estella’s early life comes back to haunt her; ultimately forming the Cruella we all love to hate.
Nicolas Karakatsanis reveals why he used two different sensors to capture the origin story of Cruella, the deranged villain so enamoured with murdering spotty puppies
WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY / P I CTURES D I SNEY
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PRODUCTION | CRUELLA
I remember checking the weather app on my phone, praying it was going to be overcast, because that creates a softer lighting that’s easier to blend on stage
It is a story eight years in the making, and diehard fans of One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and 101 Dalmatians (1996) can take comfort in the fact that Disney assembled a crack team to bring Cruella’s past to life. The Favourite ’s Tony McNamara penned the script, I, Tonya ’s Craig Gillespie directed, with the Oscar-winning Jenny Beavan in charge of costume. As for cinematography? Nicolas Karakatsanis, who describes himself as the “greenest” member of the crew, took the reins. He previously worked with Gillespie on I, Tonya , but this was his first role on a major studio film. Karakatsanis recalls: “During the production, a close friend of mine asked, ‘Aren’t you stressed about the whole experience?’ But I wasn’t – as a DOP, this level of filmmaking is what you dream of, so I just grabbed the bull by the horns and enjoyed every minute. Of course, there’s always going to be challenges, especially on a project of this scale, but it’s fun to put your brain to work. I also never worked alone; I was always surrounded by talented people who have lots of experience.” One such challenge saw Karakatsanis follow Emma Stone, who plays the young
de Vil, as she crawls in and out of an underground passageway and up an exterior staircase attached to a broken- down building. When she reaches the top, she loses her footing and falls through an open window on the roof, landing inside. He says: “We did a magic transition from exterior to interior, but I had to pre-light the interior set two months in advance of filming on the street. In the days before the shoot, I remember checking the weather app on my phone, praying it was going to be overcast, because that creates a softer lighting that’s easier to blend on stage. “I was in luck until the evening before the shoot, when the forecast changed to sunny. It’s very hard to replicate true sunlight on a set, so I called my gaffer and the production manager and said: ‘I’m sorry to do this so late in the day, but we’re going to need a gigantic silk above the set.’ “They knew it was a shitty thing for me to ask, but these guys are good. When I arrived at the location the next morning, they’d already arranged a 60ft silk on a huge construction crane. I don’t know how many hours or people it took to build, but it was there. That’s the great thing
ABOVE Emma Stone plays Estella (Cruella) de Vil, as she descends into villainy
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CRUELLA | PRODUCTION
about Disney – the production managers never shut down an idea because of cost or complications. They would always look into it and seek to do what was best for the film.” There were two important visual cues Karakatsanis wanted to hit for this One Hundred and One Dalmatians prequel. The first was to shoot on film; the second was to create a subtle contrast between Cruella and Baroness von Hellman’s opposing worlds. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to shoot on celluloid, which was his preference – it can make a story with period costume and set design appear more organic. He explains: “When you shoot something that’s era-specific on digital, it can often appear as if the whole film is just a digital rehearsal of what’s to come. Everything is so perfect and that sucks away the human side.” As a compromise, Karakatsanis reshot the digitally finished movie on 35mm film stock, which was later used as a reference point for colourist Tom Poole, who graded the film. To delicately differentiate the scrappiness of Cruella’s world from the opulence of von Hellman’s, Karakatsanis shot handheld, using an Alexa Mini LF in a less-defined version of what the 35mm sensor can achieve. In contrast, he was more controlled in the way he approached von Hellman’s side of the story. Capturing everything on dollies and cranes, the Alexa
ABOVE Baroness von Hellman, played by Emma Thompson, was filmed using dollies and cranes for rigidity
65 was used for its much bigger and lusher sensor. “I was able to separate both worlds; one is messy and organic, while the other is extravagant and rigid. And I achieved this in a way that won’t be visibly obvious to the viewers. They will only ‘feel’ the scale differences.” As Cruella’s character develops into the familiar, hellraising villain – whose entrance on screen is paired with a blare from her Bugatti’s horn and hail of insincere “dahlings” – she also gets the Karakatsanis Alexa 65 treatment. When it came to lenses, it was always going to be Leica for Karakatsanis, whose romance with the brand goes back to shooting stills. He recalls: “I used to work with Nikon lenses, but then I came across a 40mm Summicron. It unlocked something in my work that I found so different to the ranges from Nikon, Canon, and all of those other popular stills lens brands. I wanted to explore the Leica universe more, but I was young and they’re very expensive, so I ended up buying their cheapest lens, which is actually the one I tested – the 40mm Summicron. In time, I branched out and
The number of Academy Award winners in cast and crew 2013 The year Aline Brosh McKenna ( The Devil Wears Prada ) penned the first draft of Cruella ’s script
BELOW Nicolas Karakatsanis working on the set of Cruellawith Emma Stone (left)
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PRODUCTION | CRUELLA
RIGHT The Alexa Mini LF paired with Summicron-C lenses to shoot Cruella, aswell as the larger- sensor Alexa 65 withLeica Thalias
across. Not too sharp, not too soft, they also have contrast and colour. Not the best for flare, but I don’t care about that any more. Talking to a lot of younger DOPs, I find they are always looking for a lens that will give them a certain look, but this is defined by the costume, set design and how the camera moves. Lighting also helps, but the lens captures what’s in front of the camera. Sure, it can add a little something, but I’m seeking a lens that is going to help me, instead of me being helped by it.” Ultimately, Karakatsanis used the 40mm, as well as the 29mm Summicron-C lenses on the Alexa Mini LF. However, with an Alexa 65 also at play, he had to look into other lenses to fit the larger medium
bought Summilux versions of the 21mm, 28mm, 32mm and 50mm lenses. Although they’re nice, I don’t use any of them. I always go back to the cheapest, because the 40mm has the most painterly feeling.” In 2015, Leica launched cine versions of its Summilux prime lenses, and it was his history with the brand that prompted Karakatsanis to consider them for filmmaking projects. He says: “I won’t lie and say I wasn’t sceptical at first, but when I tried them out on commercial shoots – which I do a lot of in-between feature films – I really got a taste for them. I actually thought they were designed for portraits, as they’re the most humane cinema lenses I’ve ever come
format sensor. “There are the Prime DNAs, Hasselblads and Vintage 765s, and they’re all rehoused stills lenses, because there isn’t anything specifically made for 65mm digital film. Then you have the Thalias, which are Leica’s rehoused version of its old S2 and S3 stills lenses. I tested all these at Arri Rental in London – and the Thalias blew everything else out of the water. They have a very squeaky-clean field of view, which is exactly what I was looking for. A lot of old lenses can be too soft around the edges, almost fisheye looking. These are artefacts that will hide my photography and sense of connection to the characters, which isn’t my style or the person I am.” It’s certainly true that Karakatsanis likes to be as close to the characters and storyline as his role allows him to be – and always offers input. He explains: “Of course, having access to the script depends on the relationship with the director, but because Craig and I did I, Tonya together, we already had those foundations in place. He invited me to shot listings and brainstorming sessions to discuss any storytelling beats that weren’t quite working. For example, there was a scene with Cruella in her apartment that I thought would be better delivered in a punk club. I suggested it and it got accepted, but I never expect my ideas to completely change things. I always trust the judgement of the DOP. Plus, Craig and Tony have a symbiotic sense of dark humour that really transpires into the creation of Cruella – the script is amazing, and I just wanted my photography to support that.” WATCH CRUELLA IN UK CINEMAS FROM 28 MAY
The Leica Thalias have a squeaky-clean field of view, which is exactly what I was looking for
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PRODUCTION | A QU I ET PLACE PART I I
With minimal sound, A Quiet Place Part II’s visuals have to speak for themselves. DOP Polly Morgan explains how she shot this action-packed sequel SILENCE ON SET…
I t’s a bold choice to forgo audio when making a modern film. That’s not to diminish A Quiet Place ’s minimal sound effects and sparse, yet thrilling score, but a distinct lack of dialogue can’t be overlooked. However, the end product was loved by viewers and critics alike. It’s perhaps a bolder choice, then, to pick up that much-admired baton and run with it. But that’s exactly what DOP Polly Morgan did with the movie’s sequel. Following a premiere last year, then a Covid-induced delay, A Quiet Place Part II is set for widespread UK and USA cinematic release from 28 May – and initial signs are very promising. KODAK MOMENTS “From the very beginning, I wanted the movie to feel like a continuation,” Morgan tells us. “Apart from the prologue – day one of the creatures’ attack – it picks up directly where the first one left off, with the Abbott family stuck in the farmhouse basement. For the viewer, I didn’t want
WORDS LEE RENWICK / PICTURES PARAMOUNT PICTURES
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A QU I ET PLACE PART I I | PRODUCTION
It was nerve-wracking, because there’s so many things that can go wrong with celluloid, but I was very passionate about using it
LEFT Morgan aimed for a deep naturalism in the film, with the lighting assisting or emulating the sun, moon, fire or candlelight, due to a lack of electricity
needed to have broad scope, because the family are basically running for their lives. The farmhouse needed a very specific match, just inherently. But, after they’ve gone out into the bigger world – where they encounter new people, new circumstances and an evolving story – that obviously takes the visuals in a different direction.” For the Abbotts, and for Morgan (with her hand in lighting their world), leaving the family home led to another significant change. “It’s an apocalyptic world and we had a lot of conversations about the lack of electricity,” she says. “We really leant into the naturalism that came from that, but wanted some colour and warmth to the film – not a cold, post-apocalyptic feel. At heart, both films are family dramas.” Morgan adds: “My lighting and colour choices were motivated by the natural world. It’s a nice, strong palette. The sunsets would flare, the emulated moonlight wasn’t too blue, and there was plenty of fire and candlelight.” LIGHTING THE ACTION When Morgan mentions the Abbott family running for their lives, that’s not an exaggeration. “It’s one thing to capture someone jogging, but a person in full sprint is a totally different ball game,” she says. “The desire was to be as subjective as possible. We wanted the viewer to be with the characters through everything they dealt with. There were many long takes that had both the creature and the
there to be a disconnect, especially if they watched both films back-to-back.” An early step was ensuring a close visual match in terms of gear, since Charlotte Bruus Christensen shot the first film on Kodak 35mm film, with a selection of Panavision anamorphic lenses. “Naturally, we wanted to do the same.” However, since film labs are less common nowadays, the negatives had to be flown from Buffalo in New York, to Los Angeles to be processed there. Morgan recalls: “It was nerve-wracking, because there’s so many things that can go wrong with celluloid, but I was very passionate about using it. I always shoot with Panavision lenses where possible anyway, but the Primo and T Series anamorphics certainly helped retain the first film’s look.” Of course, the best sequels don’t just emulate – they build on what’s come before. As Morgan explains, A Quiet Place Part II was no different. “Things get more expansive in look and feel as the Abbotts leave their home. Unlike the first one, it
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PRODUCTION | A QU I ET PLACE PART I I
We didn’t want a long lens – we wanted a wide lens that was very close, even as characters were running as fast as they could
character in frame, with no escape for the camera, just like the character.” However, Morgan explains that this approach resulted in more complicated lighting set-ups. “I rarely got to light beautiful close-ups, instead having to fill enough space to let the camera do what it needed to do.” For this, she used a lot of S360-C and S60-C Skypanels from Arri, all on a dimmer board so they could be controlled within a shot. “For example, if we were moving closer from a wide shot and I needed to beauty light Emily [Blunt] a little, then we could adjust the lighting on a cue,” she says. “We also had some units from LRX that were essentially remote heads, either for fresnels or PAR lights. I used those to push through the windows, depending on how punchy I wanted the light to be.” Some of the sequences got so large, Morgan felt like she was “directing traffic in line with the camera”. She recalls: “I was on the walkie-talkie saying, ‘Turn this light off, bring this up’, because we were moving so fast. I had to control the lighting direction as quickly as we were recording.” On top of what was being precisely presented and captured on location, there was also the matter of the camera movement itself. This required professional tools and the experience to wield them
BELOW Morgan used a Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 camera package, with Kodak 250D and 500T film stocks, helping to create consistency with the look from the previous film
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A QU I ET PLACE PART I I | PRODUCTION
smoothly in equal measure. “We had a GF-8 crane by Grip Factory Munich as part of our package, along with an Aero Jib, a Libra head – which was with us every day – and then we had a Mo-Sys head that would sit on the jib arm. It was all about picking the right tool for the job,” she says. “Again, it came back to that subjectivity. We didn’t want a long lens – we wanted a wide lens that was very close, even as characters were running as fast as they could. We used electric cars often, but at times, our poor Steadicam operator was running backwards dodging all sorts of obstacles!” Morgan laughs. Her experience on past productions with very fluid camera movement was part of the reason that director John Krasinski thought she would be well-suited to the job. Her approach was all about “taking it to extremes and lighting to suit”. IN A TIGHT SPOT At the opposite end of the production spectrum, the small-scale scenes posed even more of a challenge, as Morgan explains. “The characters find themselves in an underground room and an old furnace. The former was a set, so we could pull walls to light, only it was very time heavy. We used Astera tubes, which were excellent, either hidden behind pillars or hung from the ceiling.
“The latter, also a set build, was even smaller. The production designer left small, removable panels for lighting, but we could never do it. Our approach was to put the camera in on a head, then push and pull down the length of the furnace to move from actor to actor. This means you would have seen the panels in shot.” The solution involved tiny Litegear LED pads, with Velcro to hide them behind the furnace’s rivets or props. “The difficulty
was, how to light a dark furnace so it looks natural, but with enough light on your actors’ faces – all in that tiny set. Much more than those huge sequences, it was the biggest challenge,” she concludes. But other elements of the shoot were much more straightforward, especially when it came to VFX. “We worked with ILM and Scott Farrar, who designed the creatures,” explains Morgan. “They were amazingly freeing in terms of allowing me to focus more of my attention elsewhere.” The biggest blue screen set-up for the film was featured early on, involving the top of the water tower. For Part I, the whole tower was real. But for the sequel, only part of it was rebuilt on a stage, then the team worked VFX magic on the surroundings. “To capture the creatures’ movements, we often dressed stunt performers in green and tracked them,” says Morgan. “In one sequence, they were speeding across a landscape on motorbikes. Sometimes, you just need something there with the correct pace to achieve natural camera movement. Other times, we gauged the height and ensured we left space in the frame.” Whether or not A Quiet Place Part II can fill the sizeable shoes of its predecessor on other fronts, only time will tell. What’s certain is Morgan has made considerable efforts to create something unusual. A homage that forges its own path. A gripping horror grounded in warm nostalgia. And a visual delight that’s sure to please. WATCH A QUIET PLACE PART II IN UK AND US CINEMAS ON 28 MAY
LEFT The scope of the film is wider than Part I, as the Abbott family leave their farm and venture out into the world
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ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE | SAMSUNG
THE ART OF GOOD TECHNOLOGY When filmmaker Danny Cooke needed to
capture huge 8K files without missing crucial moments on set, he trusted the Samsung Portable SSD X5 to rise to the challenge
“The large storage capacity and affordable price mean it’s the perfect drive for DIT work”
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SAMSUNG | ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE
offering bandwidth of up to 40Gbps. This means you can move 20GB of 4K UHD footage from your PC to the Samsung Portable SSD X5 in as little as 12 seconds. “On my current project, I’m shooting a lot of data,” Cooke continues. “Working with 8K, read and write speeds are very important. There’s only a handful of people in the world with David Smith’s skill, and you don’t want to miss any of it. A portable drive this fast means I’m able to spend more time filming, and less time waiting for backups on location.” Of course, a refined bit of kit like this isn’t only about speed. There are other professional concerns to factor in, but how does the Samsung Portable SSD X5 fare on those fronts? “I’ve worked in burning hot, freezing cold and even radioactive environments,” says Cooke. “I know first-hand about the lack of reliability with some traditional spinning disks. Without those moving parts and with its rugged body, this portable drive offers real peace of mind. The size is another great factor, especially for someone like me, using it on location. It takes up minimal space and is perfect for packing in a bag.” Cooke’s enjoyment of the portable drive needs little summation. “The Samsung Portable SSD X5 goes beyond any typical external solid state drive. It’s a welcome addition to my Samsung storage ecosystem, on and off set.”
WORKING FREELANCE, Danny Cooke has made his mark in film and television, producing content for some of the biggest brands in the world. His skill with a camera and passion for cinematography have taken him just about everywhere. Of late, he’s been back on home soil, working on a documentary about traditional ornamental signwriter, David Smith MBE. Cooke found himself in need of quality external storage – something capable of handling Raw and 8K files without slowing down on set. When the opportunity to trial the Samsung Portable SSD X5 came up, the long-time Samsung fan was enthused. “In my early working life, I was a PC engineer and I’ve always built my own systems,” Cooke explains. “Currently, I’m running a Samsung SSD 970 EVO Plus alongside 870 QVO 8TB SSDs for scratch
disks. I’ve been looking for something external to bridge the gap between location and my studio system. That’s where the Samsung Portable SSD X5 came in.” He continues: “In my work, I use high-resolution cinema cameras with Raw workflows. That proprietary media is typically slower and considerably more expensive to handle than ordinary footage. “Being NVMe, the Samsung Portable SSD X5 has superior data transfer rates compared to other external devices, which is very beneficial. I have to say, the 2300MB/s write speed is blisteringly fast. Couple that with the large storage capacity and its affordable price and, for me, it’s the perfect drive for DIT work on location.” The portable drive’s technical prowess
doesn’t stop there. Its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is the fastest available,
MORE INFORMATION: samsung.com/uk/memory-storage
ABOVE The Samsung Portable SSD X5 offers speed, portability and durability – ideal on location
JUNE 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 19
GREYHOUND | PRODUCTION
Production sound mixer David Wyman discusses how he reinvented an entire 1940s ship communications system
WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY / P I CTURES LUMOS PR
DAVID WYMAN SOUND MIXER
ABOVE Tom Hanks wrote the screenplay for Greyhound and also stars as Commander Krause
Wyman studied sound acoustics and dynamics at the Polytechnic of North London, then worked in production audio recording in the UK, before moving to Los Angeles in 1996. He landed his first major motion picture, The Haunted Mansion , starring Eddie Murphy, in 2002. Since then, Wyman has earned a reputation as one of the most in-demand sound mixers in Wyman has handled the sound mix for Your Honor , Grown Ups , The Big Short , 22 Jump Street and Deepwater Horizon , which earned him his first nominations from Bafta, AMPS and Gold Derby. the film industry. KNOWN FOR:
D irected by Aaron Schneider, second world war. The film is based on the novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, from a script written by Tom Hanks, who also plays Commander Krause. With the story focused heavily on Krause’s command as he fights turbulent seas, deep fatigue and German U-boats, there’s a frenetic energy to the film that never lets up. For Krause and his men, it’s either kill or be killed. What that meant for Oscar-nominated production sound mixer, David Wyman, was being able to ratchet up the intensity of war, without romanticising it. Production set sail in Baton Rouge, shooting exteriors on the USS Kidd, a Greyhound tells the story of the US destroyer assigned to lead an allied convoy across the Atlantic during the
decommissioned World War II destroyer. The interiors of key locations from within the ship were moved to a sound stage, built on a gigantic gimbal in order to imitate the motion of the sea. Much of the action took place in the pilot house and bridge wing, which served as a balcony overlooking the ship, while a second set was constructed nearby to represent the CIC (radar and course-plotting room) and sonar room. One of the biggest challenges behind the film was authentically recreating communication between officers throughout different parts of the ship. To relay instructions from the captain, crew members – called ‘talkers’ – wore headsets plugged into the ship’s intercom system (not so affectionately called a ‘bitch box’) and would repeat orders down the line, often
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PRODUCTION | GREYHOUND
overlapping each other as they hurried to pass on life-saving information. However, the technology wasn’t as sophisticated as that found in today’s vessels. This meant Wyman had to diagram a number of communications techniques to simultaneously record dialogue and allow the actors to hear any off-camera lines, no matter where they were on set. He explains: “First, we were dealing with 1940s gear that the props and set departments had sourced from all over the world. None of the internal parts worked and most were shells or had rotting components inside. So, the real challenge was getting these pieces to work without altering their appearance or outward function. It took a lot of planning and forethought to modify these pieces, because they’re irreplaceable. As you might have guessed, there aren’t many left in the world and Aaron wanted them on set.” Wyman broke down Hanks’ script, mapping out who had to talk to whom, as well as who else needed to hear those conversations to get the correct cues for their lines, or respond off-camera with repeated orders. He then drew a map of how this might be controlled to avoid chaos on set. “This allowed me to place a single 24-channel stage box on the gimbalised set to minimise cable management, as it was constantly moving. I started with the bitch boxes, of which there were three in our story (in the pilot house, the CIC and sonar room), although there were many more on the Kidd. The key here was that they worked as two-way communicators – not duplex, but squawk squeakers with a push-to-talk function. “I took inspiration from the sound design of a live concert and managed to
ABOVE David Wyman was responsible for coordinating the complex sound mixing
find some small personal stage monitors to go inside and act as speakers, with their own amp and EQ control. To make the talk function work, the best way to eliminate feedback was to avoid the production audio recording mics, and use discrete omni desktop mics directly on set, close to the units and only routed to speakers on other sets. All these mics went to the art department, with over 500ft of XLR cables, to be painted and hidden in plain sight.” The truest test of this system can be seen 11 minutes into Greyhound , when a conversation takes place between Krause in the pilot house and Lieutenant Cole (Stephen Graham) in the CIC. When you hear a voice through a speaker, that was a live actor off-screen, fed to a speaker on set, recorded by a boommic. All the actors gave their off-screen lines in real time. Another piece to this puzzle was the talker equipment, which is similar to the bell-shaped breastplate, mounted mouthpiece and tight-fitting headphones used by 1940s telephone operators. Due to the nature of their job, talkers were often running from interior to exterior parts of
I took inspiration from the sound design of a live concert and managed to find some small personal stage monitors to go inside and act as speakers, with their own amp and EQ control
22 DEF I N I T ION | JUNE 202 1
GREYHOUND | PRODUCTION
If Wyman didn’t already have enough to do, the exterior noises – sonar pings, gunshots and aeroplanes roaring overhead – were all done in real time, with Wyman hitting waveforms on his Voice of God playback system to create a visceral experience for the actors on set. He explains: “I got some of the effects from libraries, but a lot of it came from sound editors, who really did their research. Even though the entire movie takes place on one ship, that doesn’t mean it is one location. There are some different sonic subtleties to each location, whether you’re in the CIC, pilot house or bridge wing.” The team also researched a number of military weapons on the ship, such as 5-inch/38-calibre guns, Oerlikon 20mm autocannons and K-guns. Through watching WWII footage, they recreated the heavy artillery sounds, using design techniques and other sonic elements. Another challenge was the set itself. Not only was it constantly moving – and therefore a struggle for the actors and crew to catch their footing – the pilot
the ship to relay and receive information, so the equipment needed to be weatherproof. Wyman explains: “We used huge Ritter fans, misters and fog machines on stage to simulate storm conditions. To record the dialogue, I placed a Countryman B6 (known to be waterproof) in the bell. “To make the headphones work, I replaced one ear with a working driver sourced from some Sony 7506 headphones, and left the other ear mute, so they could hear the set. I soldered new connections and replaced the cables with the oldest- looking balanced cable I could find. Headphone signal came from an IFB channel, which had the production audio feed and the mic transmitted over one of my Lectrosonics wireless channels. After careful drilling, all the lines came through the breastplate, so the actor could wear both the transmitter and receiver discreetly. “This system enabled the talker to hear where they were in the scene, regardless of exterior noise, receive information and orders from the pilot house and sonar room, and relay it with intentional overlaps for urgency to the crew.”
house, where the majority of the movie takes place, was exceptionally small. “It was a 10x10ft space, with a 7ft-tall roof. At any given time, it had between six to eight actors, two handheld cameramen, the director, and my boom operator, Betsy Lindell. She was fantastic, because she was literally cramped in the corners – desperately trying to get a boom in whenever there was a close-up or sound effect I wanted to capture. “She was also often running between the pilot house, where it was hot and stuffy, to the bridge wing – which was at the brunt of all the water and mist the special effects team were chucking at it. It was quite a challenge. But every department helped out the sound team. From the props crew allowing me to modify the equipment, to the set decorators helping me with the placement of the modified gear, it was a truly collaborative effort.” Wyman concludes: “Just like the story being told, there was a huge sense of camaraderie.” GREYHOUND IS AVAILABLE ON APPLE TV
JUNE 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 23
In the first of a two-part review series, DOP Ash Connaughton tests the Fujifilm GFX100S – starting with the camera’s IBIS and autofocus capabilities SHOOTING STRAIGHT ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE | FUJ I F I LM
perspective is also perfect for mid-length and portrait shots. The larger sensor just gives images a certain look that oozes quality and charm. So, I was excited to get my hands on it for a new project with director, Jay Mansell. The premise involved a single- take tracking shot of an actress delivering a long monologue, before being interrupted by another character. I originally planned to use my Ursa G2 with a gimbal, but I'd heard about the GFX with in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) and decided to forgo my gimbal. Instead, I put this new camera’s IBIS and autofocus functionality to the ultimate test: a film with no scene cuts. So, can you rely on the GFX100S when you have no safety shot? The short answer is: yes. The shot was relatively simple, walking backwards and handholding the camera in a makeshift rig, as the actress strolled towards me. I used a GF80mm f/1.7 R WR lens – the world’s fastest medium format lens, giving about the same angle of view as a 63mm on full-frame and 45mm on Super-35, so it was relatively tight for a walking handheld shot! The lens has nine rounded diaphragm blades for smooth bokeh and is very sharp, even when shooting wide open at f/1.7. It’s also weather-sealed, like the body.
THE FUJIFILM GFX100S is a small camera making a big noise in the world of filmmaking. In 16:9 shooting mode, the sensor used to capture the image is slightly larger than the Arri Alexa 65, yet – at 900g (1.98lb) body only and £5499 – is a tenth of the weight and a fraction of the cost. The result is a medium format camera fit for Hollywood DOPs, and made accessible to working pros. But it’s not just for sweeping vistas and wide-angled depth-of-field, as this
LEFT The GFX100S IBIS allowed Ash Connaughton to capture smooth handheld footage
24 DEF I N I T ION | JUNE 202 1
FUJ I F I LM | ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE
Super 35mm 4-Perf Full Ap 24.89 x 18.67mm ( 31.1mm) GFX100/GFX100S 43.631 x 24.545mm ( 50.06mm) 16:9 4K
FF35 135 Still Film 36 x 24mm ( 43.3mm)
RED Weapon 8K VV 40.96 x 21.6mm ( 46.3mm)
ABOVE The GFX100S offers incredible video specs, but still has a lightweight and compact body form
“I would obscure my face from the camera using my hand and, nine times out of ten, the GFX100S was able to find my face when I revealed it”
found it performed at its best for detecting small changes in the focus position, when I turned up the tracking speed and sensitivity. I would obscure my face from the camera using my hand or another object and, nine times out of ten, the GFX100S was able to find my face when I revealed it. On the day of the shoot, I worked just shy of wide open at f/2, which helped give the female character a sense of isolation within the world, which was at the heart of the narrative – and, despite it being so shallow, the focus fall-off was smooth and gradual. Overall, the autofocus and IBIS of the GFX100S is exceptional and totally usable for smooth handheld
Using such a compact set-up was quick and easy. I didn’t waste time trying to balance and rebalance the gimbal; I was able to pick up the camera and go. The IBIS on the GFX100S is rated for 6EV of shake, and did an amazing job of stabilising wobble, while allowing me the freedom to operate handheld on a tight 80mm lens. The footage wasn’t quite gimbal smooth, but it did an excellent job of levelling things out. Should you want a more traditional handheld feel, you can easily disable IBIS in the camera menu. Of course, the downside to any IBIS is that the occasional bump or heavy step does tend to jolt the image a little too much, giving the motion a strange judder. However, this is very rare and is a case of missed steps or stumbles. The autofocus is equally impressive. Prior to the shoot I gave it a test, and
tracking, making it an excellent camera for run-and-gun filming with a compact set-up.
MORE INFORMATION: fujifilm-x.com
JUNE 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 25
GEAR | AER I AL ARRAYS
Aerial companies are helping productions capture 360º images – and it’s all thanks to mind-blowing camera arrays THE WORLD IN SHOT
WORDS PH I L RHODES / P I CTURES VAR IOUS
26 DEF I N I T ION | JUNE 202 1
AER I AL ARRAYS | GEAR
ABOVE XM2 Pursuit’s Hammerhead was designed for the Sony Venice, and can carry three of them!
f we’re going to the lengths of having a camera on a stabilised mount, then putting that
stabilised mount on a helicopter, it’s probably best to take full advantage of the situation. So, why not more cameras? Why not six cameras? The idea of putting an array of cameras on a helicopter goes back decades. And because they’re the preserve of upscale productions, those involved tend to have an impressive credit history. Jeremy Braben, founder of Helicopter Film Services, has credits on the Fantastic Beasts and Jurassic World series, and both Wonder Woman productions, to name just a few. “The first array I recall was back in the early nineties,” he says. “It was three fixed Arriflex cameras on a Tyler nose mount. That could be considered an array. They wanted to acquire three plates in the same axis at the same time – and that’s the brief for shooting multiple- camera arrays.” Stereo 3D naturally created a need for more than one camera. Braben says: “Quite often, there were just two cameras, then visual effects got on to the idea of multiple cameras. With that, they can use the six-camera stitch, which is often used on aerials to give a huge frame to work with.” Especially given
project Westworld . As Oh says, his job involves both technical and creative work. “We make our own drones and our own platforms. On The Rise of Skywalker , we had three drone teams and 21 different drones. We were shooting main unit, second unit and VFX unit, and the VFX unit was flying an Alexa 65.” For that production, one of XM2 Pursuit’s drones flew a total of 749km of canyon photography. While Oh says there is inevitably some consideration over the size and weight of camera packages, various configurations are possible, with three- or six-camera set-ups common. “Now, we’re doing it with Alexa Mini LFs. On Westworld Season 3, there was a requirement from production to do aerials in
the expense of aerial camerawork, productions are generally keen to get as much out of them as possible. “The first arrays were built around Red cameras, but now we have developed an array for Alexa Mini LFs. It’s generally shooting Open Gate Raw, which means an awful lot of data!” Braben explains. If an aircraft with an array is good, consider the multi-aircraft excellence from XM2 Pursuit on productions such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker . The organisation is a collaboration between Pursuit Aviation and Melbourne-based drone specialists, XM2 – CEO Stephen Oh has credits as drone camera operator on Mission: Impossible 7 , Fast & Furious 9 and No Time to Die , as well as television
“WE HAD THREE DRONE TEAMS AND 21 DIFFERENT DRONES SHOOTING MAIN UNIT, SECOND UNIT AND VFX”
JUNE 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 27
GEAR | AER I AL ARRAYS
is a composite of all six views. If you were looking at six individual monitors, it could have undesirable effects in a helicopter that’s moving around. We tend to look at one master, then use that for exposure and master framing.” Choosing that frame has, perhaps, not always been as easy as it could be, because the controls for a helicopter camera mount have not generally been set up as a camera operator might expect. Oh explains: “Traditionally, these arrays are controlled by joystick. Your DOP can’t sit in the helicopter and operate the head, because they’re used to wheels. But we’re going to announce something in the coming weeks to get the head operating via wheels. Now, a DOP who’s used to operating on Russian Arms or Technocranes – with the traditional wheels – can sit inside our helicopter and operate the gimbal.” Even as the user interface becomes more familiar, though, one traditional responsibility of a cinematographer is often left on the ground, because few productions can realistically light
LEFT Jeremy Braben with HFS’s Typhon 6 Array, on location in
Svalbard for Black Widow
I’ve just modified the Alexa Mini to take Mini LFs. Then I have a three-camera Alexa Mini array and three-camera Red Weapon array.” Operating requires monitoring, which is slightly complicated. Some configurations simply place all six camera images in two rows on a monitor, but more sophisticated approaches are possible. Braben describes a system developed by array partners, Brownian Motion. “We have a stitch box allowing us to look at one image, which
downtown LA, and we developed the system we call ‘Hammerhead’, which is a three-camera array.” John Marzano is an aerial director of photography with a similarly glittering credit history, with work on The Northman , and television including Downton Abbey and Bridgerton . Those huge frames, Marzano confirms, have grown with the available camera equipment. “I have two different six-camera arrays,” he explains. “One for Red Weapon, one for Alexa Mini, and
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