OCTOBER 2022 DEFINITIONMAGAZINE.COM
The speed of light Down with the King
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FPV DRONES REACH FOR THE SKY ASTERA HYDRAPANELS TESTED
waves goodbye to big rigs, hello to handheld
BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE Experts discuss latest developments in sound
Halloween spook-tacular with Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, Only Murders in the Building and Prey
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W hile I may not have been among the 37,000+ people who attended IBC: The Return this year, it’s hard to avoid the feel-good factor the show has generated across the industry. Not even a Dutch rail strike on one of the days could dampen the optimism that things, finally, are back to normal. For me, IBC is the comfy slippers of the show calendar, the ever-reliable stalwart, and it’s great to see it back. If you missed the event, catch up on all that’s new in our report, which starts on page 17. The reason I wasn’t at the RAI is because I was in New York, attending Fujifilm’s X Summit, where the company showed its latest mirrorless model, the X-H2. While stills-focused, the new camera also boasts a suite of video functionality, including 8K capture, 12-bit Raw via full-size HDMI, Apple ProRes support – and more. There were plenty of filmmakers in attendance confirming its moviemaking credentials. Small cameras won’t work for everyone, but their use is growing. Check out our features on Down with the King and Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey in this very issue if you don’t believe me. I’ll see you next month.
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Cover image Prey | © David Bukach/20th Century Studios. Dane DiLiegro as the Predator. Available on Hulu and Disney+
3. OCTOBER 2022
Industry 17 BACK FOR THE FUTURE
IBC made a triumphant return to the RAI Amsterdam in early September. Team Definition was on hand to uncover all the latest launches, from Aputure to Zeiss
41 A UDIO ROUND TABLE
Our panel of sound experts discussing the future will be music to the ears of anyone who cares about audio
Production 06 ON THE COVER
How MPC helped bring 18th- century Comanche Nation to blood-spattered life in Prey 08 DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
Seamless VFX using Blackmagic Fusion Studio plays a vital part in delivering the look on Only Murders in the Building . We speak to the people behind it
30 THE SPEED OF LIGHT
DOP Danny Vecchione goes for the lighter option, swapping big rigs for handheld set-ups on Down with the King
50 OH, BOTHER!
Winnie-the-Pooh (and Piglet too!) surrender IP exclusivities to star in axe-wielding viral hit Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey
Gear 60 AIR CONDITIONING
How FPV drones are opening up a world of aerial opportunity
68 THE BIG ISSUE
Can LEDs ever replace HMIs for large-scale lighting solutions? We consider the options
74 PANEL SHOW
Astera’s HydraPanel kit put through its paces
Regulars 79 CAMERA LISTINGS Find your perfect match
5. OCTOBER 2022
ON THE COVER. PREY
READY FOR ATTACK Pride of the nation
BLOOD-SOAKED PREDATOR FRANCHISE TAKES A STEP BACK IN TIME, WHILE THE VFX MAKES A BIG LEAP FORWARD C inema’s favourite thermal- visioned killing machine has gone through many iterations since first wreaking havoc among Arnold environments, but also lions, pumas and bears. Oh my! MPC has an impressive VFX CV with a ton of big-name movies, including Ghost in the Shell , The Jungle Book and 1917 ,
Schwarzenegger and his paramilitary rescue team in the 1987 original movie. The latest – Prey – sees the bolt gun-toting alien dropped into the Comanche Nation in 1719, where it encounters skilled hunter Naru (Amber Midthunder) who is hell- bent on staving off threats to her tribe. Carnage ensues, with VFX an integral part of proceedings. Some 632 shots were created over ten months by MPC under the watchful eye of VFX supervisor Chris Uyede and VFX producer Lachlan Christie. Effects were provided not only for alien, humans and
output from its ten global offices. For Prey , much of the work on the Predator itself was done using a combination of practical effects and digital techniques. A full animatronic suit was created by StudioADI, which in turn enabled MPC to create a fully CG-generated foe. For scenes involving animals, real-life footage was studied to understand mechanics and behaviours, which were then choreographed into action sequences with the humanoid. Prey is available on Hulu and Disney+.
PREY ON THE COVER.
07. OCTOBER 2022
POST-PRODUCTION. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
Drop dead gorgeous
How VFX played a surprisingly large role in making the latest season of Only Murders in the Building an aesthetic tour de force
WORDS. Will Lawrence IMAGES. Hulu
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING POST-PRODUCTION.
D espite the perennial popularity of Agatha Christie novels – her play, The Mousetrap , remains the longest- running West End show in theatre history – the whodunit has fallen on hard times of late. Kenneth Branagh tried to get the genre back on track with his 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express and this year’s release of Death on the Nile , while Rian Johnson conjured plenty of cutting wit with Knives Out in 2019. But the genre has yet to reclaim the lofty position it once enjoyed. On the small screen, the murder mystery has been eclipsed by police
procedurals or gritty docuseries, while the proliferation of true crime podcasts has only quickened its descent. Fans, then, will thank the heavens (or at least Steve Martin) for Only Murders in the Building , a series that has proved a real shot in the arm for the whodunit, mixing the tenets of the murder mystery with a sideways glance at the world of true crime podcasts. Cooking up a zinging comedy dish, it has met with the approval of critics and viewers alike. Created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, the show recently finished its second season on the streaming
09. OCTOBER 2022
POST-PRODUCTION. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH Following on from Season 1, the trio can’t seem to stay out of the intrigue as a sudden, unexpected death leads them down a fraught path of suspicion
platform Hulu. It centres on the relationship between three neighbours in a fancy New York apartment building, played by comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short, with former Disney star Selena Gomez. The trio bond over a true crime podcast, but when they discover there’s been a death in their building, they feel compelled to investigate and launch a podcast of their own. Hilarity ensues. “I got approached to work on the show, then went through and watched the first season. I loved it,” begins Jason Maynard, the founder of visual effects house Atlanta VFX and one of the supervisors on the show. “I’ve always been a Steve Martin fan, since I was a kid, so I really enjoyed working on his show. Having him in my shots is kind of cool.” Steve Martin is an undeniable comedy genius and his relationship with Martin Short is born of a well-established chemistry honed through the likes of ¡Three Amigos! , Father of the Bride and their live comedy tours together. It is the addition of an excellently deadpan Selena Gomez, however, in her first scripted television role since Wizards of Waverly Place , which boosts this triumvirate’s quirky and often off-kilter dynamic. Did you know? Steve Martin made his TV debut in 1966, playing the banjo on a southern California kids show called Dusty’s Attic.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE The shadowy world of Only Murders in the Building created a few challenges for the VFX team, but seamless, subtle work was the name of the game
POST-PRODUCTION. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
GREEN MONSTER The myriad green hues found on-set, particularly in clothing, meant careful chroma keying was an absolute imperative for smooth shots (above)
GREY CELLS The neighbours get into hot water, as their interest in the crime seems a tad incriminating
“We did about 300 shots for Season 2. There were a lot of green screens, background paint- outs, split screens and removing reflections” work actor, living off a mostly forgotten detective series called Brazzos , in which he starred in the nineties. Short is Oliver, a theatre director living amid the deluded hopes of a rekindled career, while Gomez stars as Mabel, a millennial residing in her rich aunt’s apartment. The stacked supporting cast includes Amy Ryan, Cara Delevingne, Tina Fey and the excellent Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Nathan Lane. As with all great comedy, much of the show’s success is built upon the subtlety – “I loved the dynamic between the three main characters,” says Maynard with a smile. “That’s what ties the whole show together and makes it great.” Martin plays Charles, an out-of-
or at least precision – of the delivery, and the timing, a fact that’s reflected in the work executed by the VFX team. “We did about 300 shots for Season 2,” continues Maynard, who signed up for Only Murders in the Building when one of his associate producers on the NBC hit This Is Us , Tim Barker, moved across to work on the show. “There were a lot of green screens, background paint-outs, split screens and smaller things like removing camera reflections and booms that sneak into scenes. “We also do some time warp,” he adds, “where they have one continuous shot and want to take out a segment in the middle, but have it still look seamless. It morphs the images from the cut from one side to the other side, so you can take out five or ten frames and do this morph; that really helps the edit play better. For the first couple of episodes, we had four or five in each.” Maynard, whose recent work includes the Tom Holland movie Cherry and Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans MC , describes his duties on Only Murders in the Building as a general VFX roster. Many plates that come his way were drawn from sets that comprise the Arconia, the characters’
apartment building, and the death scenes driving both seasons. A building so vast that it takes up an entire city block, the Arconia recalls The Belnord apartments in New York. The production design by Curt Beech – which won an Emmy this year – casts an opulence upon the locations that requires VFX attention in post. “A lot of it is shot in Charles’ apartment. From what I’ve seen of Season 1, that was all green screen,” says Maynard. He cites Season 2 episode 4, Here’s Looking at You , as a particular challenge. The nature of the action and dialogue led to logistical dilemmas. “They’re all talking across this five-minute scene and through that whole thing there were, I think, 63 shots in total,” he says. “It was also a scene where one of the murder weapons is found in the knife stack, and a neighbour comes to the door. Oliver has the knife and throws it up into
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING POST-PRODUCTION.
the ceiling – we did all that on the green screen. It was an especially fun sequence to film and a humorous part of the story in that episode.” The precision required of Maynard prompted the use of multiple keyers. A number of actors were wearing green- hued shirts and the VFX team had to properly isolate the colours. “Lucy wears a multi-green shirt and then Mabel has a yellow shirt with some green hues. We used three keyers for some of those shots because there were so many green notes in their clothing,” Maynard explains. “With all the window reflections and smudges, it was more complex than just setting up a key and rendering the scene. Since one of the actors’ shirts included multiple shades of green, the Primatte Keyer in Blackmagic’s Fusion Studio was crucial. Its additive nature in selecting what it’s keying made it perfect to
Did you know?
Jason Maynard’s stint on all six seasons of NBC’s Grimm saw him work as the lead VFX supervisor responsible for the creatures’ faces.
13. OCTOBER 2022
POST-PRODUCTION. ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
DARK TIMES The day-for-night shot (above) proved one of the most satisfying to work on, from a VFX standpoint
finish the job,” he notes. “It’s better to not have green costumes on a green screen, but it does happen.” Another interesting sequence that required the attention of the VFX team came in episode 7, Flipping the Pieces , which features a series of flashbacks showing Mabel’s relationship with her father. It opens with a scene carrying Mabel back to childhood – and it was down to Maynard to blend the past and present locations seamlessly. “They shot that scene with two different camera takes,” Maynard says. “Although, it wasn’t shot on motion control, so we had to go through and track each side of the A and B plate, then do a matte painting and project that onto the other plate. “It was very difficult; the rooms were not the same, neither was the lighting. This meant a lot of cut and paste from one take to the other, in order to make it a seamless blend.” Among his other favourite shots on Season 2, Maynard recalls a day for night in episode 8 with fondness, where the filmmakers shot a daytime pan-down from the roof of the building. Plus, an early moment from the series in which Amy Schumer, playing a fictionalised version of herself, enters the Arconia’s elevator. “There was some light reflection
NO ROOM FOR ERROR Removing pesky reflections can be a tricky task, not least in moments like the shot of Amy Schumer below, where the eye is drawn to light reflecting from her sunglasses over her sunglasses, so we had to take that out,” says Maynard. “It was fun, if a little tricky.” Maynard and the VFX team worked across the ten episodes between February and June this year: a more-than-palatable schedule for the fast-paced realm of television productions. “With most of the stuff I work on, I only see very small snippets; so I have no context for the rest of the show,” he says. “I still haven’t watched the second season yet; I have been waiting for them all to air so I can go through and binge it properly,” he adds. Watch Season 2 of Only Murders in the Building on Hulu or Disney+
Did you know?
Only Murders in the Building won three Creative Arts Emmys: Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Programme; Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Nathan Lane); and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series and Animation.
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
BACK FOR THE FUTURE
IBC returned in early September, painting a rosy picture of the industry for the years ahead. We round up the best in show, from Aputure to Zeiss T he International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) marked its return to the RAI Amsterdam after two years of virtual events. Over 37,000 year’s show was already in such heavy demand that we’ve expanded the show footprint for IBC 2023 to include an additional hall not used this year.”
The same positivity was evident across many stands, although some companies had been negatively impacted by the global supply chain issues that plagued most industries, due to the pandemic and war in Ukraine. However, most remain optimistic about the future. Definition attended the RAI for all four days. Read on for a snapshot – from Aputure to Zeiss – of what was showcased in Amsterdam. From the main players in the production industry, to some newer names, we’ve got it all covered. And we can’t wait to do it all again from 15-18 September 2023. See you there!
visitors from 170 countries met over 1000 exhibitors and gained insight from keynote speeches, events and conferences. “It was great to see, feel and hear the buzz of a live IBC once more,” commented Michael Crimp, IBC’s chief executive officer. “The quality of visitors was outstanding and there was a real sense of positivity.” Crimp’s sentiments were echoed by IBC director Steve Connolly: “The excitement across the industry to return to IBC has been tremendous. There was a real sense of purpose and of business being done,” he said. “On the second day, stand rebooking for next
17. OCTOBER 2022
INDUSTRY. IBC SHOW REPORT
Aputure has had a stellar 2022. The LS 600c Pro sits among an armful of exciting recent releases, announced earlier this year and showcased at NAB in April. It’s the brand’s first full-colour point-source fixture – but it was the new MC Pro that had people talking at IBC. The palm-sized panel builds upon its predecessor’s popularity. On top of the same billion colour choices and wireless connectivity, it’s 40% brighter, offers an expanded 2000- 10,000K range, features built-in gels and is constructed with a narrower beam angle. aputure.com
ON SHOW The LS 600c Pro and MC Pro are just two of a number of exciting recent releases from Aputure
With such ubiquitous output across virtually every area of production technology, IBC lay the floor for plenty of interest from Arri. Lighting demonstrations revolved primarily around the Orbiter system, with its variety of recently announced optics. In keeping with the nature of the event, core offerings such as the brand’s multicam system and IP-based workflows were on display. Last but not least, the new Alexa 35 was a star attendee. Combining the best of Arri’s previous products, the camera is set for great admiration in the world of cinema – and may also become an invaluable tool in the world of broadcast. arri.com
DEMOS Visitors got to see plenty of the Orbiter system during the Amsterdam event
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
Canon Combining a great focal range, modest dimensions and light weight, Canon’s CN8x15 IAS S E1/P1 cine- servo lens could be the solution for your cinema and broadcast needs. The focal range runs from 15-120mm, but can also be extended up to 180mm via the integral 1.5x extender. Offering support for Super 35 cameras, the lens employs the same warm colour science to match existing Canon cinema lenses, and features an 11-blade aperture diaphragm for smooth bokeh. It’s available in EF and PL mounts and is the first cine-servo lens to support Zeiss eXtended Data. Canon also showcased the DP-V2730, a 4K HDR production monitor. The 27in display provides a whole range of
Atomos While Atomos’ monitors have found a happy home on countless high-end production sets, the brand’s key offering at IBC was distinctly broadcast- minded. The Zato Connect, a new
camera-to-cloud device, was unveiled, promising to facilitate web broadcasting like never before. Cameras are supported via HDMI and UVC, while platform connectivity comes by way of Wi-Fi 5, Gigabit Ethernet and cellular hotspot. Never short of a quality display, Atomos’ latest features a five-inch, 1000-nit touchscreen. Streams can be recorded in an H.264 format to local SD, or sent to partner Frame. io without ever touching physical media. It appears the cloud revolution remains in full swing. atomos.com
monitoring tools, a broad selection of input options and – naturally – high brightness, alongside detailed shadows and a wide colour gamut. canon.co.uk
REVOLUTIONARY The Zato Connect, a new camera- to-cloud device, is packed with quality features
of Unreal sets can be captured simultaneously. Keep an eye out for the HD Mini, Ultimatte 12 HD, Ultimatte 12 4K and Ultimatte 12 8K, coming soon. blackmagicdesign.com
could be seen by visitors. They facilitate a more cost-effective virtual production, via hardware chroma key for a given camera channel. With more channels and Ultimatte boxes, a number
Blackmagic’s core IBC offerings were geared more towards expanding potential on smaller sets – such as broadcast and web streaming. For the first time, a range of new Ultimatte products
BIG BOX, LITTLE BOX Blackmagic’s IBC showcase focused on enhancing the capability of small-scale set-ups
19. OCTOBER 2022
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
EXALUX Exalux showed its true colours with the versatile Exatile Pixel panel. Claiming to offer ‘amazing lighting effects that have never been done before’, each tile comprises 1024 pixels in a 32x32 RGBW matrix and can output colour temperatures from 1800 to 10,000K. The panels use V-Mount battery power and can be run off the mains. IPX4 resistance also means they could likely withstand a light shower, but not a downpour. The tiles are currently on back order, but you can place a preorder now. exalux.eu
Cineo Lighting Cineo returned to Amsterdam with the new Quantum Ladder (or simply ‘QL’ to its friends). Standing over a metre tall, the QL features evenly spaced LED ‘rungs’ which combine to output up to 100,000 lumens. It also features no fewer than 64,000 presets and effects that are controlled via touchscreen, along with a built-in power supply. The company reckons the Quantum Ladder is an ideal solution for space and backdrop lighting for film, broadcast and streaming productions, plus its water resistance means it can be used both inside and out. cineolighting.com
Want a more lightweight choice for a teleprompter? The ERA Series Studio Prompter could be just what you need. It offers SDI input and output, plus tally, and is simple to set up thanks to the flip mirror function that automatically provides a reverse view. Easy to set up, the ‘flip mirror’ function provides a reverse view automatically. An LCD prompter monitor, teleprompter hood, 70/30 teleprompter glass, power cable and quick-release plate are all included. fortinge.com
HITACHI After originally showing its second-generation 4K Ultra HD broadcast and live production camera system at NAB, Hitachi’s SK-UHD7000 made its European debut at IBC. The upgraded model uses three global shutter CMOS sensors with native 4K resolution to deliver impressive results, plus there are a broad range of tools to refine the output and get the look you want. Its light weight makes it easy to carry on the shoulder, plus the wide selection of connectivity options give the scope for accessories including prompters and monitors. hitachi.com
Motion Impossible Motion Impossible’s Agito seems to never stop evolving. The modular dolly has been running on track and wheels with an array of mounts for a while now. More recently, interested parties may have seen its most promising development yet. Magtrax, a magnetic strip to be laid or hidden on sets, allows Agito to follow a set path in a much less invasive way than ever before. The dolly’s unique bumpers not only keep it on track, but help avoid collisions. When working from a distance, with repeatable movements or in a confined set, it could be a total game changer. motion-impossible.com
21. OCTOBER 2022
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
Prolycht Producing a brighter light than a 1.2K HMI, Prolycht’s impressive Orion 675 FS is a full-spectrum unit that offers 675W. Colour temperatures range from 1800 to 20,000K, plus it has a high IP rating, so can be used in almost any weather. DMX control is available, along with wireless and Ethernet options, including the Chromalink app. It also has an adjustable fresnel to alter the beam angle between 15° and 50°, and a Bowens S mount. prolycht.com
ORCA BAGS If you have a run-and-gun set-up based around a mirrorless camera, the new OR- 536 DSLR-Quick Draw Backpack is sure to hold some appeal. As its name suggests, it’s for a smaller outfits, but is designed to offer both comfort and protection as you travel. The bag will house a couple of bodies and up to nine lenses of varying denominations, plus there’s also space for a 17in laptop – ideal for editing on the go. orcabags.com
to seven stops. Available in both V-Lock and Gold Mount options, prices start at $39,500 or $49,995 for the Production Pack that includes a monitor, battery charger, two CFexpress cards and reader, top handle, riser plate, rod support brackets and 5-pin to dual XLR adapter. red.com
8K sensor that can shoot either large format 8K or 6K Super 35. Scan rates are twice as quick as any other Red model, which means super slow-motion up to 600fps is possible at 2K. The modular camera features Red’s own Redcode Raw codec and has an electronic ND system running from two
Red had announced its V-Raptor XL 8K VV a few days prior to IBC via live stream, but the show provided the perfect opportunity to see the company’s most advanced camera to date in the flesh. Designed for high-end TV and film productions, the XL 8K VV offers a multi-format
Roe Virtual production is highly innovative, but even still, application outside of big-budget production is becoming more common. The necessary tools are increasingly advanced and widely available. Practices are evolving – getting more streamlined, manageable and smaller in size. Roe debuted the Ruby RB1.9BV2 LED panel at IBC. The panel’s high frame and refresh rate, low scan lines and true-to-content colour representation ensure great results. roevisual.com
23. OCTOBER 2022
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
are overwhelming old storage infrastructures. What’s needed is a modern solution – and that’s exactly what Seagate delivers, with its advanced end-to-end cloud storage. Check out the company’s vast range of solutions on its website. seagate.com
Seagate was one of many brands to deliver an informative seminar at IBC 2022. Taking to the aptly named Innovation Stage, the mass data storage expert discussed its Lyve Mobile and Lyve Cloud offerings. The demands of the media and entertainment industry
Sony Sony used IBC to reinvent the PTZ market with the launch of the ILME-FR7. The company claims the FR7 is the first PTZ model to feature a full-frame sensor, interchangeable lenses and remote shooting, so who are we to argue? The Exmor R sensor offers 10.3-megapixel resolution with 15 stops of dynamic range and ISO sensitivity to 409,600. Pan and tilt functions make for impressive versatility (pan is from -170° to +170°, tilt from -30° to +195°), plus there are 100 presets, advanced AF, Raw file format and multiple connectivity options. sony.com
Telemetrics Human-free broadcast studios took another step forward with introduction of the OmniGlide Roving Platform, an add-on for the company’s OmniGlide system. The wireless video transmission and lithium- ion battery system for OmniGlide lets users move
the studio camera pedestal without cables. Despite being wireless, the system maintains the same functionality users expect, such as camera power and control, teleprompter power and video, confidence
wireless handheld monitor set-up. Available in two sizes, the smaller DC distributor comes with two outputs, while the larger offering has four. They are made of black anodised aluminium and
2EyeTec launched a series of compact DC distributors for camera assistants, with industry-standard push-pull connectors. These can be mounted on the camera or a
come with an integrated LED with polarity indication. There is a printed 3D bracket for easy mounting, but 2EyeTec also provides the STL file of the bracket to allow the operative to both create and print their preferred design. 2eyetec.com
monitor power and complete robotic control.
25. OCTOBER 2022
IBC SHOW REPORT INDUSTRY.
What’s more exciting than visiting one brand at IBC? Visiting many in one place! Newly named Videndum – formerly Vitec – oversees some of the industry’s key players. SmallHD introduced a new series of five-inch monitors, containing the Ultra 5, Cine 5 and Indie 5. All share Full HD resolution and 4:2:2 10-bit colour depth, but offer 3000 nits, 2000 nits and 1000 nits of brightness respectively. The Ultra 5 is available in two wireless versions, packed with Teradek Bolt 6 technology. Videndum’s Wooden Camera went all out with kits and accessories for Sony Venice, Arri Alexa, Red Komodo and more. On Anton Bauer’s front, powering the industry remains essential. The recently announced Dionic 26V series offers 98Wh and 240Wh versions in B Mount and Gold Mount Plus, designed in association with Arri, for high-consumption cameras like the Alexa 35. smallhd.com woodencamera.com antonbauer.com
a 15mm rail holder included. A top handle kit rounded out the highlights. Cinematographers hoping to tap into the Alexa 35’s potential will surely be keen to add such versatility. vocas.com
Masters of accessories, Vocas, delivered in bunches at IBC. Its most exciting showcase was a set of tools for the new Arri Alexa 35. Visitors were able to view an adapter plate and top-plate for the camera – the latter is available in a version with
Xeen Xeen enthralled IBC visitors with a pair of exciting, new optics. First to the table, a sixth focal length for the CF line-up – now with longer coverage, thanks to a 135mm T2.2. Available in PL, Canon EF and Sony E mounts, and with full-frame coverage, it seems Xeen has its sights set on a high-end consumer demographic. The prime possesses resolving power equal to all but a few of today’s most advanced cameras, optimised for sharp, 8K shooting. The brand also introduced the Anamorphic 50mm T2.3 2x. De-squeezed, it covers a 2.55:1 ratio. Set to hit the market soon, 1m close focusing and 300° focus ring rotation are sure to be gratefully accepted by cinematographers everywhere. xeenglobal.com
ZEISS Zeiss’ recent offerings are a mixed bag. Not in terms of quality, but as a step outside of the box. Least surprising is a new high-end cinema optic. The 15mm T1.8 Supreme Prime gives even wider coverage than the series’ 13 other lenses, expanding their potential on sets. Unusually, the brand has unveiled a VFX software. Cincraft Mapper serves visual effects specialists, making the process more efficient by supplying frame-accurate lens distortion and shading data. A step towards a unified end-to-end workflow. zeiss.com
27. OCTOBER 2022
ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE. ATOMOS
A SUPERIOR SHOGUN
The ATOMOS SHOGUN CONNECT offers a huge upgrade, that includes moving your production to the cloud
IT WOULD BE easy to think the only significant upgrades for the ATOMOS SHOGUN CONNECT over the previous model are in streaming and connecting to the cloud for fast production. After all, the ability to turn any cinema cam, mirrorless or DSLR into a fully integrated device that supports cloud-based workflows is huge. In fact, the SHOGUN CONNECT is far more than that. It’s the new, flagship seven- inch monitor/recorder from ATOMOS that accepts both SDI and HDMI inputs, to make it compatible with all professional cameras. It uses the latest processor, the AtomIC3, giving it the power to support new and
existing cameras – and deal with the higher frame rates and resolutions that workflows will demand in the future. For example, the SHOGUN CONNECT can handle RAW up to 4K in 120p via HDMI or SDI and record in 8K ProRes RAW up to 12-bit in 8K/30p. Whatever your camera is capable of recording, the Shogun will handle it. You only have to turn on the SHOGUN CONNECT to notice how much quicker it is, and how much brighter the touchscreen. It is now a 2200-nit, daylight-viewable SuperAtom IPS touchscreen panel suitable for HDR. The brightness makes it excellent for use outdoors in full sunshine, but can be adjusted for darker environments to avoid glare. It offers monitoring features such as waveform, focus peaking, false colour and frame guides to help you get composition and exposure just right. You’ll never want to go back to relying on a camera screen or EVF again. The on-screen menus are logical and the screen is very responsive. There is also the free AtomControl app to allow easy access and control of the monitor assist functions via smartphone or tablet. The SHOGUN CONNECT has many of the most popular
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A LA CARTE Choose lots of different codecs and monitoring tools like false colour
Frame.io connection goes live
A firmware update for the SHOGUN CONNECT and ATOMOS CONNECT to enable Frame.io Camera to Cloud (C2C) workflows has been released. The C2C workflow provides a path to send media directly to post-production teams, as files are transferred from ATOMOS devices to the cloud. The SHOGUN CONNECT and ATOMOS CONNECT for NINJA V/V+ get high-quality content in a range of formats. When capturing to Frame. io, the ATOMOS units can record high-quality media and bandwidth- efficient proxy files simultaneously. It’s the fastest way for remote teams to publish clips directly to Frame.io. ATOMOS CONNECT devices are paired with Frame.io using ATOMOS Cloud Studio. Every uploaded file is instantly available to view in Frame. io, or download into applications including Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve. Frame.io C2C support is included in ATOMOS 10.81, available for download from my.atomos.com. For more information and to register for an ATOMOS Cloud Studio account, visit cloud.atomos.com. featured video switcher and sound mixer, video effects and graphics and talkback. Using the ATOMOS SHOGUN CONNECT devices, camera feeds are streamed to the Live Production system, where each stream can be controlled in real time from a browser, iPad app or any compatible control panel. So the inputs can be viewed, directed and mixed from any location. With ATOMOS hardware and Cloud Studio services, find a simpler way to work. Putting the ATOMOS SHOGUN CONNECT at the heart of the system, prepare to revolutionise professional workflows.
“It offers monitoring features such as waveform, focus peaking, false colour and frame guides to help get composition and exposure just right”
Alongside its HDR monitoring and RAW recording, there is a loop-through 12G SDI IN and OUT interface with an option to activate SDI RAW and send a signal to multiple devices. It has Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth LE and USB-C connection, too. This next-generation technology allows connection to ATOMOS Cloud Studio, services including cloud-based live video production for real-time collaboration, plus live streaming to platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube. ATOMOS Stream employs industry-standard encryption to ensure all data is secure. The next step is multicam livestream and switching tech – and ATOMOS has partnered with mobile broadcast specialists Mavis to develop just that. ATOMOS Live Production is a cloud-based control room for live multicam events, with a fully
features found on other ATOMOS seven- inch devices, such as Timelapse and Freeze Frame/Overlay. Of course, this monitor/recorder boasts many of the new features that make the whole ATOMOS CONNECT ecosystem so stunning for live and connected workflows. For example, multicam shoots are now easy, as the Shogun uses ATOMOS AirGlu built-in wireless timecode, to ensure seamless synchronisation of all connected cameras. And dual recording creates parallel ‘hero’ files in Apple ProRes, ProRes RAW or Avid DNxHR/HD, alongside proxy files in HEVC H.265 during recording, no matter if they are uploaded to the cloud or stored on SSD. Whether you just want the best seven- inch monitor/recorder, or are keen to move into a connected workflow, the ATOMOS SHOGUN CONNECT really has no rivals.
29. OCTOBER 2022
PRODUCTION. DOWN WITH THE KING
light The speed of
Shunning big rigs and weighty supports, DOP Danny Vecchione opted for a lighter handheld set-up on his latest movie Down with the King
WORDS. Will Lawrence IMAGES. Stage 6 Films
T here is a scene in Down with the King in which the hip-hop artist Money Merc launches into a freestyle rap. He begins by creating a beat deep in his throat, which gradually builds before he launches into a spontaneous set of rhymes. It is a magical moment, conjured from the mind of real- life, Grammy-nominated rapper Freddie Gibbs, making his feature film debut as an actor. It showcases not only the musician’s creative prowess, but also acts as a perfect paradigm of the filmmakers’ intent. The movie is directed by Frenchman Diego Ongaro, and captured by cinematographer Danny Vecchione and his cameraman and long-time collaborator Connor Lawson. Ongaro shoots his movies with an almost documentary-style approach, working
off a 25 to 30-page outline, rather than a script, while relying on character-based improvisation and a direct cinéma vérité feel. Gibbs’ freestyle rap is just one of many moments that blossom under Ongaro’s organic method. “That scene was my favourite thing to shoot,” begins Vecchione, “just watching Freddie work. There were constant surprises. He doesn’t write anything down, but you can almost see the ideas going through his mind. I thought him making those beats would be the entire scene – but when he launched into that freestyle rap, it was an incredible moment. You were seeing the first step in someone’s creative process.” The filmmakers’ creative game plan has forged something truly special – an American art house piece that feels
“When he launched into that freestyle rap, it was an incredible moment. You were seeing the first step in someone’s creative process”
DOWN WITH THE KING PRODUCTION.
THE KING HIMSELF Grammy-nominated rapper Freddie Gibbs stars as Money Merc in a star- making performance
OCTOBER 2022 31.
PRODUCTION. DOWN WITH THE KING
akin to a piece of accessible European filmmaking. The rap scene lasted 45 minutes – although it was carefully edited for the feature presentation – and was made possible not only by the abilities of the artists and technicians involved, but also the equipment used. ON THE MONEY Down with the King was shot with just two active Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K digital cameras. Their size and capabilities allowed Vecchione and Lawson the freedom to execute their director’s vision, adopting an almost exclusively handheld approach. It crafts a story around the character of Money Merc (Gibbs), a famous rapper, disillusioned with the music industry. He journeys to a small-town farming community in Massachusetts to seek out the solitude he requires to reconnect to his art, and to himself. Gibbs is not a trained actor, but neither are the majority of those who share the screen – the only seasoned professionals are Jamie Neumann, David Krumholtz and Sharon Washington. The Blackmagic Did you know? Down with the King was shot in the autumn of 2020. With the Covid-19 pandemic preventing Freddie Gibbs from performing live concerts, he was able to commit to the 20-day shoot for his feature debut.
A TALE OF EXTREMES Money Merc’s place in the white, pastoral community provides a fascinating juxtaposition
he adds. “Everything felt organic and relaxed, making it easier for non- professional actors.” Many of those on screen are friends of the director who live in the region. Even two of the filmmakers’ PAs get lines. “And you don’t want to freak them out with a big rig.” Lawson adds: “With the footprint of this camera being so small, it wasn’t drawing a lot of power. Using external recorders meant recording a ton without having to reload. We were able to run around from a base camp untethered. I could run off with two batteries and shoot exterior stuff for a half a day.” SIMILAR, BUT DIFFERENT Ongaro and Vecchione followed a similar path on their first collaboration together, 2015’s Bob and the Trees (shot on the Blackmagic 4K), which evolved out of a short film the director released in 2010. Down with the King and Bob and the Trees look and feel like companion pieces; the star of the latter, local farmer and woodsman Bob Tarasuk, plays a prominent role in the new film.
6K’s miniature size allowed the filmmakers to work with a very small footprint. So those on screen were given the freedom to find their voice, without the intimidating encroachment fostered by the sizable crew and paraphernalia required on larger-scale movies. Here, there were often more people in front of the camera than behind it. “Diego has a specific way of making movies,” Vecchione explains. “It is difficult, but rewarding when it works. The crew is small. Connor and I had two first ACs – one for the A cam, one for the B cam – but there is no AD department, so we’re all running the set together. There is not the rigidity you normally find. “Connor and I would have Easyrigs and could just roll into the scenes,”
“Connor and I would have Easyrigs and could just roll into the scenes. Everything felt organic and relaxed, making it easier for non-professional actors”
GIVING THEIR ALL A small team meant the crew had to pull together, with little time to waste
PRODUCTION. DOWN WITH THE KING
A NATURAL FLOW The character-based improvisation gives the production a unique flavour
Did you know? The film’s title was inspired by the name of the sixth album by American hip-hop artists Run-DMC. Released in 1993, Down with the King
marked a shift in the band’s style and sound.
this tranquillity, the audience feels the interconnection of landscape and man, each mirroring the other’s subtle melancholia. The film has a shadowy feel in places that reflects Merc’s state of mind, coupled with a desire to step out of the spotlight engendered by his career and big-city life. “There is a sense of midlife crisis and mental blocks,” says Lawson, “and we lucked out with the clouds. You get a lot of mist in the mountains and it wasn’t that sunny, which was great.” Strangely, the few moments when the sun broke through coincided with the love aspect of the movie. “We also got a day of snow, which was amazing and really helped.” Again, the Blackmagic 6K proved an invaluable tool, permitting the filmmakers to work almost exclusively with natural light, even when stretching late into the day. “I got a bit obsessed with shooting past the ‘magic hour’
In many ways, Tarasuk embodies the spirit of the region in which he lives, and in which the films are made. For outsiders, New England might prompt images of beautiful towns, milling with upscale New Yorkers flitting around holiday homes. The truth is more complex. Nestled in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, around two and a half hours north of New York, the small town of Sandisfield houses Tarasuk’s real-life farm. It is a blue-collar area that relies on farming and logging for commercial viability. “The two films do share a lot stylistically, thematically and character- wise,” Vecchione says. “Bob is the same character in both films, and it’s the same locations. So, while it is not a sequel, there is a continuation, and the thematic elements carry through.” In Down with the King , however, Ongaro wanted to introduce an outsider into this tight-knit community, to see
where it carried the narrative. Money Merc has retreated into the seclusion of the forested landscape to work on material for his next album. And yet, he finds so much more, revelling in the solitude and company of the locals, while embracing the routines of rural life. Living through the autumnal glory of the fall, Merc slips seamlessly into his surroundings, undercutting the incongruity of a black rapper in a white, pastoral community. Amid “In many ways, Tarasuk embodies the spirit of the region in which he lives, and in which the films are made”
A WORLD APART The seclusion of Money Merc is represented by the stylistic choices within the movie
DOWN WITH THE KING PRODUCTION.
SIGNIFICANT SILHOUETTES Underexposure and darkness are used to highlight character arcs, with the filmmakers unafraid of letting nature provide the backdrop
GLOOM, NOT DOOM “We were using the idea of natural light to our advantage from a character standpoint,” he adds. “Hopefully, it doesn’t look underlit, although certain scenes are underexposed and dark.” A prime example is when Merc plays the piano in his wooden mansion. “Certain scenes have a gloom to them, which is beautiful, and that was one.” Again, the Blackmagic 6K came into its own with a dual base ISO that can go very high, with around 13 stops from white to black, making it ideally suited to Ongaro’s style of filmmaking – a reliance on natural light. “There are two native settings you can go with,” says Vecchione. “When it’s bright and sunny, shoot at IS 400; and then if it’s really dark, ISO 3200. “High ISO lets us lean heavily into that. We had to light party scenes, but otherwise we were way up on ISO and shooting stuff that wouldn’t be possible with the more standard base of, say, ISO 800. Combined with dynamic range, we captured what we needed and sculpted in post.” Another welcome feature was the camera’s ability to carry an anamorphic lens. Ongaro and Vecchione were keen to employ an anamorphic feel. “It did a lot for the look of the film and add a subliminal layer to Money Merc’s character,” the cinematographer says. “The 6Ks have a 3.7K anamorphic in-camera mode. There’s a limited number of small cameras on which you can use an anamorphic lens. The Atlas Orion we liked has an EF mount, so it fits straight on the camera. “Shooting this way was a lot of work,” Vecchione concludes. “But it was a project I wanted to do for the love of filming, like the fun you had when making movies in college. A wonderful experience.” Down with the King is available on multiple streaming platforms
and into the blue light, about 20 minutes after the sun goes down – when you get that window of nice indigo light which is literally very cool,” says Vecchione. “I thought that type of light was very reflective of Merc’s state of mind. I wanted to get in as many of those scenes as possible. Although it’s a beautiful time of day to shoot, it’s extremely hard to do, but these small-footprint cameras and the rigs that Connor figured out in prep definitely helped.”
Did you know? Since making the film, Freddie Gibbs has gone on to tackle broad comedy in the TV series Bust Down , and feature as a gangster in Power Book IV: Force , a show executive produced by 50 Cent.
“We were using the idea of natural light to our advantage from a character standpoint”
LESS IS MORE Working just after the sun went down was exciting for the filmmakers, especially with a small-footprint camera set-up
37. OCTOBER 2022
ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE. SAMSUNG
CLOSING THE CREATIVE DIVIDE Post-production specialist Iain Rogers puts the might of the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield up against truly demanding files – and finds technological harmony
SAMSUNG ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE.
“I connected the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield and worked directly from it – saving processing power”
TECHNOLOGY IS EVOLVING at an astounding rate. Each new development forges an even better deliverable – but with that comes the demand for new compatibility. While the camera remains the beating heart of production, surrounding tools must advance in step. It’s a dance post-production specialist Iain Rogers knows all too well. “I must admit, when I was contacted for my most recent job, editing together a new showreel for a director/camera operator, I felt a little bit of dread. She had recently purchased a camera, brand new to market. Her intention was to showcase the camera’s capabilities, alongside her own. I wasn’t sure my computer’s internal storage was up to the task. When the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield arrived, I was delighted. The timing couldn’t have been better.” As a freelance creative working predominantly remotely, the edit began as they often do for Rogers – with delivery of the files. Given the size of the digital payload and his client’s desire for confidentiality, he arranged for footage to be sent physically. “On smaller productions without a data handler or runner, a more direct approach is needed. I send files on SSDs back and forth in the post often. It’s why durability is my first essential. The Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield is the most durable drive I’ve used, its rugged casing and drop resistance give extra peace of mind. “The fact that it’s so small is another huge benefit,” Rogers continues. “I work
KEEPING UP Such a powerful, portable
drive allows creatives to capitalise on all the latest advances in technology
was down to me to piece these showcase sequences together. I couldn’t have done that without seamless playback. My reputation as an editor is on the line, maintaining a creative flow is fundamental. “Once I’d selected clips, I thought working in the editing timeline would pose more of an issue for the portable drive, but I had no trouble. Through colour grading and some simple visual effects, everything was as good as could be.” The Samsung’s speed is the simple result of advanced design. Utilising USB 3.2 Gen 2 and PCIe NVMe technology, respective read and write speeds of 1050MB/s and 1000MB/s can be harnessed. Throughout, the drive is kept cool by a high-tech rubber coating and advanced thermal control software, solving the degradation and overheating that comes from moving big files. In transfers, editing and external recording, users can expect fewer delays and more time for creativity. “Given the nature of the showreel, I had to export the finished edit in the same 8K it was recorded,” says Rogers, adding his final thoughts on speed. “That’s significant, but once again it was very efficient, thanks to the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield’s performance. I wasn’t even forced to use a proxy workflow.” All in all, this post-production specialist’s process was revolutionised. One successful edit and happy client later, it’s certainly won him over. “Housing such technology in a compact, durable body is impressive enough. In my case, the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield was up against the challenges posed by one of the most advanced cameras a consumer can own. To handle it so well is astounding. I’m confident it will adapt to whatever comes next,” Rogers closes.
away from home often, being able to carry all I need with ease is really valuable.” At just 98g and 13mm in depth, the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield’s hardiness is even more astounding – but it doesn’t stop at impact resistance. With an IP65 rating, the SSD is also capable of keeping out moisture and dust. “Those features aren’t just for adventure filmmakers halfway up a mountain,” Rogers jests. “I welcome the assurance that a spilled drink or rain shower won’t corrupt any of my files, wherever I am.” MAKING QUICK WORK Beyond physical features, speed was the most significant challenge of this project. “The footage I was working with was astoundingly high-resolution and shot at huge bit rates. I’m confident any old drive couldn’t have handled them,” he explains. “I connected it and worked directly from it, saving my machine the processing power. It all went perfectly smoothly.” As any filmmaker knows, technical setbacks are never just technical. “I was working to a tight deadline, so fast turnaround and huge, 2TB capacity were key – but that was only part of it. It
UNDER LOCK AND KEY In addition to physical security, the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield keeps files safe with 256-bit AES-backed password encryption
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