DEFINITION February 2022 – Web

On top of our fantastic production stories, covering modern shooting for the salacious regency drama Bridgerton and the gripping lighting of You Don’t Know Me, this issue is devoted to the glass that shaped the stories of last year. Additionally, we continue our discussion with experts in the field of virtual production, explore how broadcast is becoming more cinematic and simplify the remote workflow for post-production artists. We also review Canon’s new RF lenses and that Gen-Z head-turner of a camera, the Ronin 4D.



A LIGHT ON THE TRUTH Brightness between darkness creates suspense in You Don’t Know Me

Printed in the UK


Modern shooting for an intimate window into the lives of Bridgerton’s Mayfair elite Regency reimagined


Cinema merges with broadcast on the pitch WITH THE ACTION KEEPING UP

THE LENSES WE LOVED A retrospective on the stunning optics from TV & film last year



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Regulars 05 ON THE COVER

Gear 32 2 021, WE LOVE YOU

Filming in Australia’s unforgiving outback for BBC’s The Tourist . 07 INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS

Celebrating the optics that shaped countless iconic looks across film and TV last year.


The latest news, views and tips from the world of video.

Simplifying the remote post-production pipeline for WFH artists.

Production 10 T ALK OF THE TON


F ilmmaking is all about the storytelling – a phrase we’ve heard dozens of times. But when you leave the cinema, it’s not the technical aspects you hear fellow moviegoers talking about; conversation is usually centred around the characters, the plot, and how those elements affected them. For that reason, good creators know how to select the right tools for the storyteller’s vision. Cameras and lighting are crucial, but lenses are the eyes that enable viewers to ‘see’ the story. They are the vessels through which the real world is filtered before it reaches the sensor and, arguably, the most important tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal. That’s why we’ve devoted six pages (from page 32) to the engagingly pin-sharp and perfectly imperfect glass that captured the stories of last year. From festival-circuit hit The Father to the Emmy award-winning Ted Lasso , these are the lenses that moved us. DEPUTY EDITOR Chelsea Fearnley 32

BROADCASTING Documenting the crossover between live and cinema gear on the pitch.

Modern shooting for an intimate window into the lives of Bridgerton ’s Mayfair elite.


Contrasting light to create suspense in courtroom drama You Don’t Know Me .




Assessing Canon’s two new RF mount lenses.



AI influences, colourimetry, and democratisation of LED volumes in our round table.

Reviewing the Ronin 4D, DJI’s unique four-axis camera and stabiliser.

BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD Bright House 82 High Street Sawston Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ, UK EDITORIAL DEPUTY EDITOR Chelsea Fearnley FEATURES WRITER Lee Renwick CHIEF SUB EDITOR Alex Bell SUB EDITORS Matthew Winney & Harriet Williams

ADVERTISING GROUP AD MANAGER Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 SENIOR ACCOUNTS EXECUTIVE Emma Stevens 01223 499462 DESIGN DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGNER Lucy Woolcomb JUNIOR DESIGNER Hedzlynn Kamaruzzaman AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong


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.

CONTRIBUTORS Adam Duckworth, Phil Rhodes & Emily Williamson EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Roger Payne


Cover image The Tourist | © BBC 2022




3. FEBRUARY 2022


THE TOURIST There are no flies on you

T he Tourist stars Jamie Dornan as The Man, a Brit who wakes up in the Australian outback with amnesia following a car crash. As he tries to piece his life back together, it becomes clear that someone wants him dead. He must use the few available clues to discover his identity before the past catches up. This six-part BBC thriller was penned by Bafta-nominated and Emmy-winning screenwriters Jack and Harry Williams, with Christopher Sweeney directing and Ben Wheeler in charge of principal photography. Filmed on location, the shoot primarily took place in Adelaide, regional towns such as Port Augusta, and the Flinders Ranges mountains. It is the largest production South Australia has ever seen, and perhaps for good reason. Once filming had wrapped, the cast and crew opened up about the challenges of creating a production in the heart of the state’s unforgiving outback. When you watch the show, you can’t help but notice the actors waving excessively. But don’t be fooled into

TOUGH TRAVELS Shalom Brune-Franklin and Jamie Dornan (above) star in this high-octane mystery thriller

thinking they’re being friendly – we’re talking about a hard-hitting drama here. Termed the ‘Aussie salute’, the cast (and crew) were forced into these gestures as they batted away the plague of flies gunning for their eyes. As the landscape is so remote and water is sparse, flies were drawn to them as a source of replenishment – much to the team’s dissatisfaction. The BBC forked out extra to remove them in post-production. But with the series already receiving stellar reviews, hopefully they agree it was worth it.

05. FEBRUARY 2022


Industry briefings The latest news, views and hot tips from the world of video production

PICTURE-PERFECT PINEWOOD The award-winning post-production house Picture Shop, part of Streamland Media, will be opening a new dailies facility at Pinewood Studios, London, in early 2022. The new lab will offer a full range of dailies services, including four grading rooms, partnership with creatives from Pinewood’s theatres, as well as quick and secure connections to a cloud-based management and collaboration system.

who previously headed operations for the studio’s LA base. Barrios brings over 20 years of post-production experience to his new role; from dailies processing and colour, to engineering and facility management. “This is an amazing opportunity to envision, then build, what is needed by the creative community at work around the world,” says Barrios. “Picture Shop services at Pinewood will be supported by a tremendous depth of global talent, backed by our own technological approach in a new, purpose-built facility.” The 4000 sq ft space will initially be able to run up to ten projects concurrently, and is connected to Picture Shop locations around the globe, offering access to the company’s exceptional talent pool. Production, operations and support teams will be based at the premises, available 24/7 to assist clients. Streamland Pulse will

“Picture Shop Pinewood will bring a global network of talent and technology to the historic lot,” says John Fleming, UK managing director for Streamland Media’s Picture Shop. “Based on the growing need for front-end production support, we are building an innovative dailies facility to serve our clients at the highest possible level, in an ideal location.” It will be led by Picture Shop’s head of front-end services (UK), Chris Barrios,

THE DAILY GRIND Chris Barrios (above) will head up the new Picture Shop Pinewood operation, after nearly six years at the esteemed post-production house

provide a cloud-based collaboration tool for filmmakers, with a worldwide reach. Picture Shop’s recent credits include Black Widow , Operation Fortune , Andor , Willow , His Dark Materials and Aladdin .

07. FEBRUARY 2022


Stills meets cinema

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that filmmakers must be more versatile in their productions. They need a camera that enables them to be quick and nimble, without sacrificing image quality – and a hybrid style of working requires a hybrid solution. That’s where the Canon EOS R5 C comes in. Combining the professional movie features of the Cinema EOS line with the powerful photo capabilities of the EOS R system, this camera can be mounted on a tripod, gimbal or drone – to shoot whatever you want, however you want. It has cooling fans for lengthy recording times, with the same 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor as the EOS R5. Remarkably, it shoots 8K up to 30fps – and 8K up to 60fps with an external power supply. Unlike the EOS R5, it lacks IBIS, relying on a mix of electronic and lens-based stabilisation – the same set-up as its other cinema cameras. While that’s a shame for photographers, Canon are pushing this as a video camera.

ROSCO MIRO CUBE 2 Building on the original Miro Cube from 2014, Rosco has introduced the Miro Cube 2 range, available in four different models: the RGBW 4C, RGBA 4CA, tunable white WNC and UV365 backlight. The 4C is an RGBW colour-mixing fixture, and its white emitter can also be used to create tints and pastel tones. The light uses 4x12W Osram Ostar multi-chip LEDs, draws 50W and has an output of 1200 lumens, without a lens. The 4CA is an RGBA fixture that features red, green, blue and phosphor- converted amber chips, designed to produce rich, warm tones. Like the 4C, the 4CA also uses 4x12W Osram Ostar multi-chip LEDs and draws 50W, but has an output of 900 lumens. The WNC features a mix of warm, neutral and cool LEDs – with a colour temperature range of 2700K to 6000K, plus a CRI of 92+. It uses 12 high-quality Cree Sony FX6 goes Raw In a world first, a new firmware update for Sony FX6 and Atomos Ninja V/V+ recorders will let the camera output Raw over SDI and HDMI connections. Previously, it was only possible for the FX6 to output signal over SDI, but this still required an additional expansion module – the AtomX SDI – for the Ninja

XML 4W emitters and has an output of 3400 lumens. It has the same physicality as the 4C and 4CA, which is 100x100x108mm without the yoke, and weighs in at 0.95kg. The UV365 is a high-output backlight that has narrow 365nm LEDs. And its ultraviolet bandwidth is designed to work well with colourful sceneries and makeup, making set materials luminesce and glow. All models include Ludicrous Mode, which makes use of Rosco’s patented heat management system to redistribute power and maximise light output. They also have Master Dim Mode, to set the hue or colour temperature and then dim the fixture via a single control channel; NO PWMMode, to dim up and down without flickering; and RDM-compatible DMX controls. The WNC, 4C and 4CA are shipped along with an Opti-Sculpt lens kit that contains three Rosco lenses – including 20°, 30° and the reversible 40/60°.

recorders. The update for the FX6 supports 4.2K up to 60fps; users who own the Ninja V+ Pro Kit, or Ninja V+ and SDI module with SDI Raw activation card, can record 4K up to 120fps. At time of writing, Sony’s Ver.2.00 firmware update isn’t downloadable, but it should be by the end of January.


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DOP Philipp Blaubach reveals everything you need to know about the cinematography on Netflix’s most salacious regency drama, Bridgerton Talk of the ton

WORDS. Chelsea Fearnley

W hile Regé-Jean Page’s departure crushed the hearts of fans who fell for his charming portrayal of Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, it fits the structure of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton book series. However, in Season 2 we still follow the gossip-ridden world of upper-echelon London that viewers came to love – all with the added intrigue created by the anonymous author (for the ton at least), Lady Whistledown. Each of Quinn’s instalments focuses on one of the eight Bridgerton children, creating an anthology that will, in turn, fundamentally change each season. Therefore, it’s important not to get too attached to the good-looking leads (although they often appear as secondary characters, so we hope Page will return). For Season 2, our eyes turn to Viscount Anthony Bridgerton and his quest for love – introducing a new family to this reimagined regency. “In the book, they’re the Sheffields – but, continuing the show’s diverse and inclusive portrayal of 19th-century Britain, they’re called the Sharmas and are of British-Indian heritage,” explains Philipp Blaubach, who co-shoots with DOP Jeffrey Jur. Since the writers’ room is stacked with a diverse team, including executive producer Shonda Rhimes, there have been fewer barriers in adding a more complex and interesting spin on Quinn’s literature. And while this colour-conscious casting was ultimately a creative decision, it no doubt stems from Netflix’s pledge to support diverse showrunners on its original series, with Mindy Kaling for

Never Have I Ever ; and Justin Simien and Yvette Lee Bowser for Dear White People . “It’s exciting and contemporary,” says Blaubach. “Yet, the setting, costumes and language still appear as if lifted from a Jane Austen novel. It’s just the attitudes that have changed, which I think is why the show is so popular; because more people can relate to it.” Departing from the homogeneous casting of most period dramas, Bridgerton also portrays the strength of women at a time that bolstered male ambition. The female characters are outspoken and feminist. In Season 1, Eloise Bridgerton regularly denounces the patriarchy and institution of marriage – and her sister Daphne even sucker-punched an unwanted suitor. Season 2 promises more of this. “One of my favourite scenes comes when we see Kate Sharma question Anthony’s rebuttal to her accompanying him on a hunt. She asks if it’s because she’s a woman, and he responds curtly: ‘Women don’t hunt.’ I like it, since it shows how things were in that era, but with women able to stand their ground.” SHOOTING THE STEAMY Bridgerton doesn’t just have a contemporary take on dialogue. Blaubach uses Arri Signature Primes to create a wide, but intimate window into the lives of London’s Mayfair elite. He explains: “It’s a modern way of shooting – the images are sharp, clean and vibrant. I also try to be closer in on wider lenses, especially in the full-frame format. But it’s not always easy, especially when you



11. FEBRUARY 2022


choreography, the exact mechanics of how it works need to be figured out. “The scenes are still very much driven by the director and DOP – and by what the actors feel comfortable doing on-set. But there’s a lot more prep involved. We now have intimacy coordinators, who are central to the rehearsal process. They help create more of a dialogue between cast and crew. This role didn’t exist a few years ago,” explains Blaubach. “Actors would express what they felt comfortable doing on the day, which – in the moment and under the pressure of the director’s vision – wasn’t always how they really felt. Actors need time to think.” He continues: “The sets are closed, and the monitors get flagged off. The dailies are also separated as sensitive material, meaning only certain heads of departments get to see them. And they’re censored, to avoid the potential for misuse.” Bridgerton ’s sex scenes were shot single camera and with minimal relighting between different angles – as Blaubach was conscious about the actors having to work for long periods. But, in instances where there was dialogue, they naturally

added, to create what the director Alex Pillai termed a ‘hot cam’ for the show’s raunchier sequences. Blaubach explains: “By tilting the focal plane with a tilt-shift lens, you can get an extreme close-up that focuses on the actors’ eyes and falls off around the mouth and eyebrows. It’s very magical, and has a dreamlike quality. We even added a flame bar under the lens for one scene, so you could literally see waves of heat ripple across the frame.” The sex scenes between Daphne and the Duke in Season 1 caused quite the splash – fans will be able to recall that infamous library sequence. It’s certainly a step up from the PG thrill of Mr Darcy emerging wet-shirted from a lake in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice . Yet, there’s a delicacy in portraying 19th-century sex for modern viewers – from the modest clothing to the

are dealing with multiple cameras and a big cast. It was important that we created this intimacy for Bridgerton , though, because it’s quite steamy.” Alongside the Signature Primes, Blaubach also used Fujinon Premistas, which cut well with Arri’s glass. This season, tilt-shift lenses were also

Did you know? Blaubach had to use an elaborate rear projection effect on windows to create rain. This was because of a fresco painting on the wall of the period location. “It was an interesting technical challenge because the rain was integral to the story,” he says. “We had a specialist window film that is used on shop fronts, so you can still look through, but it catches the projected image. We then photographed rain in glass in pre-production, and prepared the footage – tiled and scaled to the correct dimension – for multiple window panes.”

ROMANTIC LOCATIONS The iconic scenes were filmed in a variety of stately homes, including Hampton Court Palace



Production Fact File

LOCATION Bridgerton is filmed in Bath, London and many of the nation’s grand estates

CAST Sex Education ’s Simone Ashley plays heroine Kate Sharma

COSTUME 238 people created 7500 eye-catching pieces for Season 1

STANDING OUT Season 2 sees new characters face the trials of the ton, with the Sharma sisters (above) making waves in the rule-based world of high society

operate. Still, I wanted to have the flexibility of handheld, but not make it a handheld scene, with me leaning over their shoulders or crouching on the mattress with them. So, I found a 25ft crane with an underslung slider that allowed me to respond to their movements, without interrupting them. The camera became almost zero gravity, floating up and down, from left to right, in an effortless motion.” STYLE FOR SUBSTANCE In Season 1, there are two clear-cut families, both alike in dignity, but different in their costume and makeup design. The Bridgertons’ style revolves around an elegant colour palette of pastels and neutrals, to feel romantic and refined. The Featheringtons, on the other hand, mix garish canary yellows with neon pinks and greens, to evoke a Versace- esque feeling. It’s entertaining, much as they are. The addition of the Sharmas in Season 2 brings fresh tones to Bridgerton ’s painting palette, with the family awash in blues, purples and stunning, traditional South Asian jewellery. “I love the storyline of this show, but what I enjoy most is the spectacle of the costumes – and trying to honour the detail of it on camera,” says Blaubach.

“We were already confident in the look of our lenses, filtration and camera workflow after Season 1, but we did test some new looks for Anthony’s flashback scene to his mother, Violet. The memory is happy and sad at the same time, so we wanted two different looks; one that is lower in contrast and warm, and another cooler and harsher. We also used diffusion, and tested lots of options for this before landing on the Pro-Mist diffusion filter, which is a bit crude and old-school, but gave a softness to the scene that couldn’t have been introduced in the grading stage. It worked really beautifully, actually.”

took longer. “Daphne losing her virginity to the Duke in Season 1, for example, included discussions about what she liked and didn’t like, and was an emotional part of the storytelling – so director Sheree Folkson wanted me to shoot it from various angles and in different ways. But as a rule of thumb, I shoot intimacy scenes single camera to minimise the crew, and because there is often only one angle that doesn’t compromise the actors’ modesty.” He continues: “And, of course, these scenes often take place in a bed – not easy to shoot when you’re trying to capture the visual brief of the show, which is to be intimate. It would be the two actors lying down – with me and my camera on top of them – which is difficult to “We landed on the Pro-Mist diffusion filter, which is a bit crude and old-school, but gave a softness to the scene that couldn’t be done in grading”

IMAGINATION RUN WILD Part bodice-ripper, part soppy romance and part drama, Bridgerton is pure escapism

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STICKY SITUATION The Featherington family (above) are sure to face some challenging moments in Season 2, after the death of Lord Featherington

motion, as though they had forgotten about everybody else watching. It was just the two of them,” explains Blaubach. “We tried using a completely black background, but it became too theatrical. Like something out of La La Land , which wasn’t the right tone for Bridgerton . Still, it was fun to play around with.” Fun seems to be the theme for the Bridgerton cast and crew. “There’s a great atmosphere on-set; we have a giggle and there’s chemistry between all of us,” says Blaubach. “There were a few changes from the first season, with different gaffers and operators – because of availability. It’s the age of content, and there are so many films and TV shows being created right now – plus, there’s the backlog of productions that Covid-19 created. But, despite some of the losses, we’re a well-oiled team. Having different people contribute to the story is good in some ways, since each season will cover new characters and – while still respecting the style of the first season – can bring fresh ideas to the show.” He concludes: “It’s so fun to work with Netflix, because my background is in British independent cinema and the budgets are a lot lower. This is, without doubt, the biggest job I’ve ever worked on. There’s no need to compromise. I can have all the equipment I need to make better images – but it also means there’s no excuses left. It has to be perfect.” And to us, at least, it is. Bridgerton premieres on Netflix this March

“There is a lovely moment when Anthony dances with Kate. Sparks are flying between them, and it becomes increasingly romantic. We wanted to draw the viewers’ focus onto them, but make it personal”

The balls are lit with chandeliers and candelabras, as you’d expect, but budgets meant there was a limit on how many Blaubach could use. For Hearts and Flowers, there is a chandelier over the central orchestra, with two at the north side and two at the south. They were all placed on motorised pulleys, to be lowered into shot. Our gaffer also fitted helium balloons above, to give the room more ambience. Considering the large ensemble, Blaubach also used directional backlighting, which could be dialled in from an iPad, to focus on different faces. “There is a lovely moment when Anthony dances with Kate. Sparks are flying between them, and it becomes increasingly romantic. We wanted to draw the viewers’ focus onto them, but make it more personal – as if you’re living the intensity and emotion of their experience. So, while there are probably 100 dancers around them, they’re brought into the spotlight through the use of a Hudson Spider LED with a skirt. All the background lights, apart from the candelabras, were turned off and the whole atmosphere becomes a lot moodier, with Anthony and Kate left in a pool of soft top light. It was quite surreal and expressionist, but in a fun way – and then we ramped the dance into slow

Anthony spent much of Season 1 shying away from the ton’s social engagements, to enjoy his doomed relationship with opera singer Siena, realising only in the finale that their social standings precluded any long-term romance. He is Viscount Bridgerton and must marry well, to the ideal wife – and where better to look than the marriage mart that is a high society ball? “The balls are the biggest challenge to shoot. They involve a big cast, with extras, dancers and musicians, who all need to go through costume and makeup. By the time everyone is decorated, we’re already a few hours into the working day.” Interestingly, and resourcefully, the set used for the final scene between Daphne and the Duke in Season 1 was repurposed for two balls this season; the Queen’s Ball and the Hearts and Flowers Ball at the Bridgerton country estate. For those that haven’t seen the show, the set represented the pastels and neutrals the Bridgertons have become known for, and featured a hollowed ceiling and drainage built into its flooring for the magical rain dance between the young couple. “It’s now wood-panelled, darker in tone and indoors!” says Blaubach. “I prefer this, because the light absorbs into the walls and doesn’t bounce off them so much.”

INTIMATE The series often has close-up shots, serving soft, dreamy visuals – in keeping with its romance novel origins



If You Know, You Know

DOP Andy McDonnell talks subtlety, staying natural and hiding in the shadows for the latest BBC One courtroom drama, You Don’t Know Me

WORDS. Emily Williamson IMAGES. BBC

Y ou Don’t Know Me is a narrative that begins where it ends. We meet our protagonist towards the conclusion of a lengthy court case. The prosecution is giving their closing arguments, summarising the compelling case against our leading man, Hero (Samuel Adewunmi), who stands accused of the murder of Jamil “JC” Issa (Roger Jean Nsengiyumva). The defendant has failed to provide evidence in the trial, but now uses the closing argument to tell his side of the story – adding valuable context that, he claims, will provide an alternative explanation. This becomes the viewer’s gateway into the story – we’re led by Hero’s recollection of events, as he describes them to the jury. The four-part BBC One series is based on Imran Mahmood’s novel of the same name. Via the trial of our car- salesman main character, we explore the gritty underworld of gangs and human trafficking – but also the strength of love and loyalty. Hero’s account begins when he meets Kyra (Sophie Wilde) and is immediately besotted, with their romance gradually flourishing. That is... until a stranger comes to her door. The next day, she is nowhere to be seen. His quest to locate her leads the straight-laced Hero down a treacherous path, one that ultimately leads to JC’s death. And the work of DOP Andy McDonnell, alongside director Sarmad Masud, helps bring Mahmood’s riveting pages to life, in a resolute and sober style. LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Hero’s story mostly takes place in south London. “The show was to be as naturalistic as possible. We didn’t go for big lighting set-ups at night. I spent my time enhancing what was there,” McDonnell explains.

“We lit up the high-rise buildings more than they are naturally, but generally, we wanted to keep it dark.” This is how McDonnell prefers to work with dramas, as it is simple and effective – keeping with the filmic language that viewers understand. The plot leant itself to mysterious visuals. “It was never overlit, so these figures could be lurking in the shadows. It’s a story about drugs, gangs, trafficking and people interacting in those worlds – it should feel like there’s a shape in the darkness.” Part of the ethos of enhancing existing lighting on location meant making the best of street lights. This posed certain challenges for the production team: “We wanted to use them as much as possible, but they can be quite ugly. Nowadays, everything’s LED and they give off a green hue, so the set had a green tinge.” The team was tasked with counteracting this, while maintaining a naturalistic look. “For the ones that were close, but out of shot, we would frame with diffusion – not so much for colour tones, but just to soften the harsh lighting.” For long shots, McDonnell wrapped the lamps in silk. Of course, this could become problematic because they might be obvious and ruin the audience’s immersion in the piece. But it wasn’t a problem due to the shallow depth-of-field of the shots. “All you saw was the source, but it was so out of focus, you didn’t register that there was a cover.” The team didn’t have to worry about clever framing to keep props out of sight, while using a stylistic visual choice to their advantage. Working with existing external light can pose another problem – it’s difficult to exert the necessary control. The team enlisted the skills of someone with local knowledge to help orchestrate the perfect lighting scenarios for external



17. FEBRUARY 2022


scenes. “We had a council guy who turned the lights on and off.” This, again, helped to avoid complicated set-ups – keeping the look more real, but still retaining creative oversight to construct the ideal lightscape. SETTING THE SCENE The same simple, but effective approach to lighting extended to the interiors. Because Hero’s closing words are the plot’s driving force, the courtroom is a recurring set. These scenes have a dim, neutral feel, with beams of light appearing to come from high windows providing a soft backlight for our speakers. “The only external windows were skylights right above us, so we created internal ones,” says McDonnell. “There was a balcony which we boxed in to make windows, to help with the shooting throughout the day. We designed and built frames and slotted them into this balcony area.” The team supplemented this with additional overhead lighting. “We floated a couple of balloons as well, which I could turn on and off, depending on where I was shooting from. That was all; it was never overly front-lit, but was slightly more overhead.” Although the courtroom

ILLUMINATING THE TRUTH The bright, official light of the courtroom contrasts with the dark and shadowy world in which our story takes place. This cinematography is integral to keeping the audience on tenterhooks

day, then for the night stuff we just put Tungsten lighting behind. That made it a much more flexible system.” McDonnell also says that working in a studio provides its own set of obstacles, as you want to avoid the telltale signs of a set. “It was always hard because, with a studio, you’ve got multiple light sources. Therefore, you’ve got to be careful of multiple shadows.” He has a technique to counteract this: “I would have one large source of light, whether it was a 4K or 6K outside, but then with some fill lights. We would always aim to have as much contrast in there as possible.” The DOP avoided the classic, perhaps outdated, three-point lighting with a backlight to create contrast. Instead, he capitalised on the variation provided by the sets. “I didn’t want to follow the old traditional ‘let’s put a backlight in

scenes take place over several days, the story happens largely in the morning and early afternoon. This meant that lighting was consistent, regardless of the scene, day or episode. Most of the other interiors required more variety, as they were shot day and night, and represented a wider range of story motivations. The backdrop was versatile, accommodating the range of scenes shot in the apartment sets: “It’s tricky, although the Translight we had was very good – it was a day/night Translight. So, you lit it from the front for

“Figures could be lurking in the shadows. It’s a story about drugs, gangs, trafficking... it should feel like there’s a shape in the darkness”

19. FEBRUARY 2022


REAL THING To draw the audience into the story, McDonnell wanted an authentic look to the image

“We used the Leitz Summilux-C lenses, which are T 1.4, so we could take it down to next to no depth-of-field – which also helps hide things”

extension of the jury – are drawing our own conclusions about how to perceive the events. “It was a very conscious decision to take the audience on a journey. Where you place the focus is just as important as how you light it.” GETTING TO GRIPS Those lenses were used in conjunction with the Arri Alexa Mini, and the series was primarily shot on one camera – although this wasn’t always the plan. “We carried two cameras because, initially, it was a two-camera shoot, and one would have been a Steadicam. When Covid-19 hit, it became a single camera shoot with days of second camera. There wasn’t the space for it to be safe.” Changed plans and stripped- down crews are increasingly the norm,

beforehand that we were going to opt for that. We used the Leitz Summilux-C lenses, which are T 1.4, so we could take it down to next to no depth-of-field – which also helps hide things.” Aside from the practical implications of these lenses, they also aided in the telling of an expressly subjective account, without delving into a visual style that is overly contrived. This works in tandem with the purposeful application of light and shadow to guide the tale. We’re following Hero’s story, which he is trying to convince us is true. It feels believable enough that we can invest in it, but we are also aware that it is a personal recantation and we – as an

there’ – everybody was just lit quite naturally, as if they were on the street or in a house.” The team used a simple trick to achieve this: “When you see Hero in his flat, he’s often shot against a mottled glass partition, so you still get that contrast. That’s a way to do it more naturalistically, but you must choose your framing wisely.” All of this helps the show feel a lot more real, rather than being obviously shot on sets, which can hamper the audience’s suspension of disbelief. As well as masking the silks on the street lights, the shallow depth-of- field also made the sets less imposing on the story. “Sarmad and I discussed



Fact File

LOCATION Though the series is set in London, it was filmed in Birmingham, West Midlands.

CAST You Don’t Know Me is the British TV debut for leading lady Sophie Wilde. It’s only her second production ever, following Eden – an Australian series which aired earlier in the year.

impacting methods of production. “A lot of travelling shots were done on a gimbal, whether it was on a dolly, or controlled by me with a Ready Rig. Because of space, we often put it on a dolly and it becomes a remote head.” It’s a simple change, but one that retains control over the camera, while reducing risk. However, it was sometimes necessary to get up close and personal. Some shots had Hero in the back seat of JC’s car – and then a nightclub hangout – with a bag over

his head. We’re in there with him, while he contemplates his mortality and arrives at a scared, but joyful place of reminiscence. “It was worrying me when I read down the script and saw that I needed to do his point of view from the bag,” McDonnell muses. “Design got us a thin covering and we put a dioptre on the lens. I can remember the matte box was touching Sam’s face.” We spend a great deal of time in close proximity to Hero, with those shots being the most quintessential example of this. Choices regarding camera placement were well-considered, stylistic and narrative decisions. “Being up close just tells a totally different story to the faraway shots of the long lens – even though it’s maybe the same shot size, that physicality of being close makes a difference.” This can help manipulate the atmosphere of the show, by only moving the camera a short distance. “We take advantage of sliders a lot. You can use a 3.5-foot slider to move the camera only slightly around the actor. The whole background changes, but you’re still in this perspective. That’s a great storytelling device for something that is so simple and easy.” By employing simple, subtle, effective cinematography tricks, McDonnell constructs Hero’s tale in a way that feels authentic. One that lets us into the inner turmoil of his experience. It’s easy to become enthralled in the narrative of You Don’t Know Me . The cast, script, set and cinematography make for an immersive world, in which we have to make our own decision – is Hero guilty, or not guilty? Available to watch now on BBC iPlayer

NEW TALENT You Don’t Know Me is filled with rising stars, including Sophie Wilde (above), who plays the mysterious Kyra

STORY Imran Mahmood, who penned the

tome from which the script is derived, is a real-life barrister who took inspiration from the young men he has defended over the course of his career.

“It’s easy to become enthralled in the narrative of You Don’t Know Me . The cast, script, set and cinematography”

21. FEBRUARY 2022


INCREASE THE VOLUME ARRI’s advanced mixed reality studio presents fresh potential for productions of all varieties. Business development director David Levy lifts the curtain on recent developments at ARRI Stage London

A NEW WORLD Working together with Creative Technology, ARRI have built a 708 sq m LED volume studio that’s taking virtual production into the stratosphere

each of the four sections precisely and create reflections where needed.” The LEDs may be the driving force of any volume, but no less thought has been given to other integral systems at Uxbridge, including camera tracking and processing. “We’re equipped with a Mo-Sys house set-up, but are aware productions demand a range of options, so the volume is designed to facilitate other systems. We’ve had very positive experiences with Vicon, for example,” Levy continues. “LED processing comes by way of a Megapixel Helios system, which gives us all the handles we need to manipulate in-vision camera effects. Then there are

that facilitates high-end virtual production, but the carefully selected hardware, too. “Our main in-vision wall comprises Ruby 2.3 panels,” business development director David Levy explains. “Key draws were a dot pitch good enough to be seen in-camera, and excellent off-axis colour that would handle moving around the space. “Wild walls feature 5000 nit Carbon CB5 LEDs, which are exceptionally bright and high resolution enough to produce faithful reflections. The last piece of the puzzle is the dynamic ceiling. Its Black Quartz 4.6 LEDs ensure colour doesn’t shift as subjects move beneath it and, importantly, it’s on an automation system. We’re able to position

TO REMAIN AT the forefront of the cutting edge is no easy feat – perhaps only possible through near-constant collaborative development. These were the foundations upon which ARRI’s LED volume space was built last year, at the brand’s Uxbridge premises. Working in partnership with technical specialist Creative Technology, the space has been servicing all manner of productions and projects in truly state-of- the-art fashion. Situated within a 708 sq m studio, the volume is constructed from ROE Visual LED panels and offers 360° imagery, with a curved 30x5m primary wall and sizable surrounds. It’s not just the impressive scale



“ARRI has also recently developed a lens metadata plug-in, which pulls camera data directly into Unreal Engine” two playback systems – which utilise Creative Technology’s proprietary servers. One is nDisplay for real-time rendered 3D environments. The other is Photon by VYV for uncompressed 2D environments. Everything is run through a Christie X80 processor, so we can simply plug in guest systems if required. The idea is, we want to give productions the tools and canvases they actually need, instead of what just happens to be there. We shape all elements to bring usage down to a reasonable price point.” Shared resources are key. The idea behind the collaboration with Creative Technology is to “offer more than any single vendor could alone”, Levy states. Certainly, plenty of innovation has been gleaned. The volume has seen three major upgrades in six months. “We’ve installed 50 ARRI Orbiter fixtures, something we call ‘The Ring of Fire’. The LED video walls are very good at producing a homogenous base level of light, but they’re not so good at high-colour rendition. Skin tones and fabrics may not look entirely accurate, and lighting is also very soft. With the implementation of the Orbiters – a 360° ring of lights – we can produce high- contrast, high-CRI lighting onto subjects. “Because we’ve designed an IP-based data network for lighting control, we can integrate it into the system and interact with other devices on the network, like the playback engine. The virtual environments are used to

IMMERSION The curved 30x5m primary wall creates a dazzling setting, while the interiors are equally impressive

are presented on screen. The plug-in can be downloaded from our website. All that’s needed is an ARRI lens control system.” To accommodate productions more comfortably, the studio space has seen further upgrades with a suite of facilities. There are distinct spaces for hair and makeup, wardrobe, and crew dining, plus a mezzanine green room, a lounge overlooking the volume, and production office space. The studio is also complemented by the adjoining rental house. Despite such considerable industry- leading advancements, Levy concludes that something much simpler lies at the heart of the studio’s ongoing success. “The creative juices flow once you’ve got this incredible level of control. That’s what any filmmaking technology should lead back to – the creative process. We’re using the volume to tell stories that would otherwise be impossible, showing that these capabilities are here to benefit productions for years to come.”

effectively pixel map the LED units, so we take the values from those environments and put them into the Orbiters, allowing the high- quality light and colour from the Orbiters to be synced with the volume imagery. “ARRI has also developed a lens metadata plug-in, which pulls camera data directly into Unreal Engine. Real-time lens values drive environments, changing how visuals

23. FEBRUARY 2022


In part one of a three-part series, we get into what makes Megapixel’s HELIOS® LED Processing Platform so production-friendly for ICVFX ZERO PRODUCTION INTERFERENCE Part 1

This interference pattern is called scan lines. It’s the same phenomenon that occurs when car wheels appear as if moving backwards at high speed on video. This happens because cameras don’t capture continuous footage, but rather images per second. Our brains work to fill the void by creating an illusion of continuous movement – even if it’s not in the right direction! “It’s the single most problematic thing about pointing a camera at an LED screen, because when these artefacts occur, the only way to remove them is to rotoscope the entire scene to trace over footage and produce realistic action – and this is costly,” says Hochman. “With HELIOS, we can reduce this interference between assets and screen that’s not visible on camera. A lot of this is due to the refresh rates at which we run the panels.” THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX Instead of just having a data processing box that sends information to the LED tiles, Megapixel also makes the magic happen on the tiles themselves. “We have mini processors, called PX1s, that go inside each individual tile – and then our HELIOS unit acts like a traffic cop, taking in all the incoming data and dispatching that over native fibre to go from tile to tile. What’s nice about this is that, rather than having a rack unit as your choke point processing tens of millions of pixels, it can take all that metadata and interpret it properly – giving you all the management and control to pass it along in little chunks, for the tiles to do their own processing.”

MEGAPIXEL’S PROPRIETARY PROCESSING technology extends from the video input, all the way to ultra-powerful tile- side processing. Leveraging sub-pixel calibration and off-axis colour metadata, coupled with the most advanced LED refresh algorithm, the patented technology allows for sophisticated virtual production stages. The HELIOS LED Processing Platform sits at the centre of the pipeline and features camera-friendly performance, cinema-grade colour accuracy, and a future-proof native 8K workflow via upgradeable and modular inputs. Starting with what makes the technology so camera-friendly for DOPs, Definition will analyse the specifics over a three-part series. But first, it’s important to recognise what makes working in a virtual production volume challenging. Megapixel CEO Jeremy Hochman explains: “Cameras capture in bursts and LEDs pulse on and off – sometimes at 1000 times per second – and if that refresh of the LED is not perfectly time-aligned to what the camera is doing, you’re going to see artefacts.” “With HELIOS, we can reduce this interference between assets and screen that’s not visible on camera... due to the refresh rates at which we run the panels”



SYNCHRONISED OUTPUT The light from the LED is timed with the video or genlock source, and offsets can be dialled in by the nanosecond – giving the best control options

This, in turn, allows for the tiles to be run at higher refresh rates, to avoid interference. With more granularity over timings, light can be emitted from the LEDs when the camera is at full capture – and is ready to start receiving light. Using Megapixel’s groundbreaking NanoSync™ technology, this can be done down to the nanosecond, even over 10km fibre links. “I know a lot of DOPs who’ve had a poor experience working in LED volumes – because of this interference. It doesn’t matter what LED you buy. Although it may look interesting to the eye, it’s not necessarily going to work on camera without the proper processing – and we’ve got that covered,” concludes Hochman. Next month, we discuss HELIOS’ cinema-grade colour accuracy, and go into detail about benefits of storing sub-pixel colour metadata on the LED module itself.

LOOKING AHEAD Future-proof your virtual production workflow with HELIOS, using existing infrastructure – while maintaining the ability to upgrade processor inputs and LED displays



Seven experts on the virtual production landscape reveal how AI can evolve the technology, how colourimetry between camera and display can be mastered – and why LED volumes are becoming democratised and accepted by the industry Mixing realities

INTERVIEW. Chelsea Fearnley

Part 2

25. FEBRUARY 2022


MARK PILBOROUGH-SKINNER VP supervisor, Garden Studios

JONNY HUNT Technical director, VSS

CHRISTIAN KAESTNER VFX supervisor, Framestore

After graduating with a computer programming degree from SAE Institute London, Pilborough- Skinner was lead Unreal developer at Satore Tech for three years, before joining Garden Studios, which boasts a 4800 sq ft virtual production stage.

Hunt studied computer science, before applying his practical mind to the video market. He is now responsible for the management and delivery of every technical aspect of VSS’s project work in the UK, Europe and Middle East.

Kaestner is currently working as overall VFX supervisor on 1899 for Netflix – the newest project from the creators of Dark – which is the first show to make use of Dark Bay, the largest LED volume facility in Europe.


DAVID LEVY Director of business development, global solutions, Arri

MARINA PRAK Marketing manager, Roe Visual

DAN HAMILL Co-founder and commercial director, 80six

Hochman is an entrepreneur and designer, who made tech history in 2002 when co-founding Element Labs, the company that gave birth to the creative LED industry.

With over 30 years in the entertainment industry, 20 of which were in marketing, Prak is currently responsible for growing Roe Visual’s brand in Europe and the Middle East.

Levy comes from a creative background, and was lead camera and lighting specialist at Al Jazeera for 11 years, before joining Arri Rental in 2017.

Hamill co-founded 80six, with a passion for providing spectacular visual events, utilising over 15 years of professional experience in production.

the next couple of years, continuing to enhance visuals for virtual production. JEREMY HOCHMAN: We’re a bit outside of this realm, but I see a ton of work happening with motion capture and person/object replacement in scenes. The fact that this can happen in near real time is absolutely incredible. DAVID LEVY: As with all technological growth in this area, it allows for faster, higher-quality worldbuilding. It’s amazing to see Moore’s law happening in front of us. Each day, we see incremental – sometimes huge – advances to computer power that drives these systems. DAN HAMILL: AI machine learning gives more control to filmmakers. They can capture in-camera visual effects (ICVFX) by allowing post-production to begin

JONNY HUNT: Taking techniques from other industries – such as machine learning and photogrammetry – and applying these to virtual production has moved us closer to achieving fully ‘live’, final VFX shots. It’s already happening, but the possibilities for the future are incredible, albeit with a massive change to workflow/pipeline. CHRISTIAN KAESTNER: Machine learning is rapidly making its way into the visual effects world. This means it will inevitably find its place in virtual production. At the moment, the most applicable areas of machine learning are in the noise reduction of real-time ray tracing, allowing for better quality renders at higher refresh rates – with more visual and photorealistic complexity. There are many more areas of game engine technology that will surface within

How are machine learning and AI techniques evolving virtual production technology? MARK PILBOROUGH-SKINNER: We are seeing AI used more and more in real- time rendering pipelines. Nvidia DLSS uses machine learning to render frames at a lower resolution, then upscales them with minimal difference to the visual quality. This has already been leveraged in the games industry, for more realistic lighting and atmospheric effects, while still maintaining a high frame rate. 3D content creation and scene design are also being pushed forward using this technology – from AI-assisted scene development, to procedural asset creation and authoring. As the techniques continue to develop, I believe we’re going to see an overlap between real-time rendering and classic, offline VFX in the next five to ten years.


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