Definition May 2023 - Web

Welcome to the May edition! In this issue we have a moving production feature about the making of Disney documentary Finding Michael, as well as a round table on the hottest topic in technology – the metaverse. You can also find out who is showcasing what at the upcoming Media Production & Technology show in May.


It’s time to Buster move Classic Phil Collins caper turns 35

“A groundbreaking new form of entertainment” How is the metaverse transforming the future of cinematography?

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE Earth’s cosmic relationship

BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire, CB22 3HJ, UK EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Roger Payne ACTING EDITOR Robert Shepherd FEATURES WRITER Lee Renwick CHIEF SUB EDITOR Matthew Winney SUB EDITOR Ben Gawne JUNIOR SUB EDITOR Lori Hodson CONTRIBUTORS Adam Duckworth, Phil Rhodes ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER Emma Stevens 01223 499462 | +447376 665779 DESIGN DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGNER AND AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong DESIGNER Emma Di’Iuorio PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck 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. SALES DIRECTOR Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457


NUTS AND BOLTS It’s a spotlight on animation as we dig into the dragon design on Shazam! Fury of the Gods



ny Buster fans reading this? The 1988 Phil Collins caper concerning the Great Train Robbery that took place 25 years earlier attracted plenty of press coverage – positive and negative – when it hit the big screen. As the film marks its 35th anniversary, we catch up with director David Green to discuss filming techniques at the time – and how he would make it today. Elsewhere in our May edition is a feature on Finding Michael , the Disney+ documentary in which reality TV star Spencer Matthews searches for the body of his late brother, who climbed Everest in 1999 and was never seen again. The crew talk us through a perilous journey up the world’s tallest mountain with top-end kit.

In case you missed chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt brandishing his red box a few weeks ago, he delivered welcome news in the form of tax breaks for the TV and film space. Plus, there’s a preview of the annual Media Production & Technology Show at Olympia London, dedicated to the companies who make the event possible. Finally, our gear features cover the mad worlds of modifiers and lens choice. Happy reading!



@definitionmags @definitionmagazine



3. MAY 2023



The team behind Disney+ doc Finding Michael explain how they filmed Spencer Matthews on Mount Everest, in search of his late brother’s remains 14 GIVE US A BREAK A look at the spring budget and Jeremy Hunt’s new tax measures to encourage film and TV production 21 MPTS PREVIEW Who will be showcasing at May’s Media Production & Technology Show? 28 CHASING THE DRAGON A lesson on how to create a menacing villain for modern audiences, from the VFX crew behind Shazam! Fury of the Gods


PLAYING GOD Morgan Freeman-narrated documentary Our Universe features stunning VFX depictions of cosmic events



We’ve been talking about sustainability for long enough. Now’s the time for... action! 44 BEYOND THE STARS Netflix’s series linking the cosmos and planet Earth has attracted attention. Here’s how Our Universe was made 53 INTO THE METAVERSE Our panel of industry luminaries discuss how this virtual sphere is beginning to change cinematography

We talk about interchangeable lighting modifiers, and what you can do to get the most out of them 71 ALL THE RANGE How do you even get started when it comes to choosing cine lenses? A read of this feature wouldn’t hurt... 79 CAMERA LISTINGS Some of the latest and best kit available to buy and rent

Buster’s birthday! It’s been 35 years since crime romp Buster was released on the big screen. Director David Green compares the old to the new where technology is concerned 64

MIX AND MATCH Make your lights go further with a modifier for all occasions

5. MAY 2023


Searching for closure

Reality TV star Spencer Matthews went to the world’s tallest mountain in the hope of finding the body of his late brother Michael

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Disney+ & The Matthews Family

BOUNDARY PUSHERS The team maintained high cinematographic standards in incredibly challenging conditions



07. MAY 2023


LONG LOST Spencer Matthews (above) travelled to Mount Everest with a team of experienced climbers and a documentary film crew

B efore you ask, this is not a light- hearted production story about a title character or tritagonist from a series of Disney animated films – there will be no curious and impressionable clownfish or blue hippo tangs with anterograde amnesia. Shine TV’s Finding Michael charts the very real and emotional journey of reality TV star Spencer Matthews ( Made in Chelsea ) as he searches for the remains of his late brother, who summitted Mount Everest in 1999 at the age of 22, but never returned. Of course, making such an intimate, personal and sensitive documentary in some of the world’s harshest conditions requires a lot of thought and preparation. At the same time, it needs to look special. The brief from executive producer Tom Hutchings was for Finding Michael to have a hybrid approach – to look like a cinematic feature but not lose the ‘scratchy ob-doc’ feel. “From the very first time I spoke to Tom, he said: ‘This is a feature doc; it needs to be big and we need to push “What we tried to do on this was maintain a big vision, whether we were up Everest or not”

the envelope of what we’re doing – we want it to look amazing,’” explains DOP Rob Taylor. “We had all those goals, but we had to do it up Mount Everest. I’ve filmed at altitude before; you take the most lightweight camera you can, letting the mountain dictate how you do things. What we tried to do on this is maintain a big vision, whether we were up Everest or not.” That said, the team ‘didn’t scrimp on kit’, and the bulk of the gear for the

RESTING PLACE The ob-doc covers Matthews’ search for the remains of brother Michael (right)

09. MAY 2023


trek was carried up by six Sherpas and a couple of yaks. When it came to choosing kit, Taylor informed Hutchings that he had a Sony FX6 and Red Gemini. “He said he wanted to use the Red,” says Taylor. “I asked if he was absolutely sure he wanted to do that up Everest. He said yes. The scope of it was such that we wanted to use the best cameras we could. We wanted it to look amazing and didn’t want to cut corners in any way. I bought some bits to make the Red work as a shoulder camera better.” THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS Producing the required look and feel meant the crew had to think hard about lenses. Taylor says they initially wanted to use primes. “Once [director] Tom Beard got involved, we shot some tests on primes,” he recalls. “We realised that lots of what we were going to do was observational even if we were trying to keep it cinematic – after all, we were following a real, unfolding story, not creating something to our schedule. Primes, for most of the time, were not going to be sensible.” Taylor’s friend and fellow DOP Justin Frahm loaned him some Angénieux EZ zoom lenses to use instead. “You can change the back so they’re either Super 35 or full-frame – they cover both sensors,” he adds. “They’re zooms, but have a cinematic prime look and are fast at T2 in Super 35 mode. For me, they’re one of the most prime-looking zooms. We shot the first interviews on them and I immediately bought some.” The base camp team consisted of Taylor, Beard, Matthews, Andy Hoare (sound supervisor) and renowned Nepal- born mountaineer, Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja. “I always knew that Nims’ high- altitude search team would be filming without me, so I held detailed briefing

SERIOUS KIT DOP Rob Taylor opted for a Red Gemini for shooting at base camp, and made the most of its low-light capabilities

“I was very keen to make sure we could tell every beat of the search from Spencer’s perspective”

“On the mountain was the climbing team, which was fairly independent,” says Taylor. “They were a team of altitude experts, but at over 8000m you’re still dictated to by what’s physically possible – so they used smaller cameras. What they achieved up there was remarkable. Spencer and my team stayed at base camp and liaised with the team on the mountain to tie things together.” Beard adds: “I was very keen to make sure we could tell every beat of the unfolding search from Spencer’s perspective, as the person on location with the most emotional investment in the project. Nims and his team handled everything above base camp, including the camerawork to cover the search.” WEATHER WINDOW Even in the warmer months, the Himalayas can produce four seasons in just a few hours. With that in mind, the team had to wait for a ‘weather window’ to emerge in order to make use of the best possible conditions.

sessions with them, which began while I was still in the UK,” says Beard. “The two people I particularly relied on were Suman Sherpa, an incredibly strong mountaineer with lots of drone and filming experience, and Scottish climber and mountain rescue expert Brodie Hood – who’s filmed many challenging climbs. I discussed technical settings, camerawork and editorial choices in detail with them so they could work autonomously on the mountain and deliver great results. The rest of the search team also had a GoPro each, and I held a briefing session at base camp about how best to use it to cover the search process and anything they found.” The search team consisted of around 12 people armed with GoPros, Sony A7S IIIs and two DJI Mavic 3 drones.

HARROWING The documentary is cut with emotional talking heads from Michael’s loved ones – including Jamie Everett, who climbed Everest alongside him in 1999



ASCENSION The expedition team had to make the most of small windows of fine weather to conduct their searches

“All the climbers would leave in the night for five to six days,” Taylor says. “Then they’d come back down, recharge, reset, wait for a window and go again. You can’t stay at the top of Everest for three weeks because you won’t survive the altitude for that long. Back at base camp, I protected the cameras from snow and rain with covers I made myself – I don’t like the ones on the market.” As Beard describes: “Nims was careful to pick the best weather window for each of the two searches, giving them the best opportunity to spend the required time in the inhospitable ‘death zone’ to carry out a thorough search for Michael. “He delayed the departure of the search team from base camp to hit the best window,” he says. “But even then, the high-altitude search team did face challenging conditions as you can see

in the film. It’s a testament to the search team’s skill and strength that they could continue to get shots in those conditions while so high on the mountain.” SOUND AND LIGHT Despite Disney’s backing, Taylor emphasises the importance of the ob-doc appearance of the film. This manifested itself in the basic approach to lighting. “For lighting, we had some LED Ice Light tubes,” says Taylor. “I occasionally lit some stuff with them, but we wanted to keep it natural-looking. At night, we complemented practical lights with the Ice Lights, but for many night scenes I used the Red’s low-light capabilities to work solely with head torches and camp lights. “For the master interviews, we spent a lot of time trying to set a style. It ended up being three cameras – a close-up and a wide shot at a fairly obtuse angle, using a lot of negative space. Then a close-up from the side at 90° to the subjects’ faces, on a little motorised slider that slid around as a tight shot. I lit it with an Aputure 300D key light and tungsten fresnel lamps for rims and highlights. We had a Sony FX6 at base camp as well – occasionally Tom had to run around and shoot different

“It’s a testament to the search team’s skill and strength that they could continue to get shots in those conditions while so high on the mountain”

FAR REACHING The shoot used Angénieux EZ zoom lenses for versatility but a ‘prime-like’ filmic look



angles, and he would sometimes do more intimate filming with Spencer.” Hoare used a Sound Devices 833 recorder, Zaxcom radio mics with Sanken CS-M1 mics and Sennheiser MKH 8060 boom mics. For the trek in, he mounted the recorder in a bespoke rack mount backpack for quick use without having The aerial filming helicopter, which was equipped with a Red Dragon in a Shotover rig, provided incredible vistas of the Himalayas, but could only take the team so high due to the thin air. Brodie Hood, who performed duties as high-altitude camera operator on the documentary, was charged with taking drones up to where helicopters couldn’t go. “The team wasn’t sure if the drones would fly at 8000m, because it hadn’t been done before,” Hood recalls. “With the thin air, we wondered how long they would fly – if at all. But they were fine. The game of risk was how long they would stay up there. They weren’t that far off being as good as they are at sea level; we got around half an hour out of the battery, rather than 45 minutes.” He did come across bodies during filming, but being a rescue expert, he’s used to such unpleasant sightings. to open and close flight cases. REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

“You’re there to do a job,” he asserts. “One of the hardest parts of filming was having an idea of scale, with regards to what the body would be to the mountain. You might be flying the drone two metres off the ground, but it can look like it’s much further away. You don’t know if you’re too close or too far away.” In searching for closure for Matthews and family, the hope is that one of them belongs to Michael. Finding Michael is available on Disney+

TALE OF TWO TEAMS The main crew set up in base camp (below) while the search and rescue team made expeditions up the mountain with smaller cameras

13. MAY 2023


T he film and TV industry welcomed the March budget, which saw the government maintain the qualifying threshold for high-end audio-visual tax credits at £1m. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt introduced new increases in expenditure credit, with a rate of 34% for film, high-end television and video games – and 39% for the animation and children’s television sectors. “This government’s audio-visual tax reliefs have helped make our film and TV industry the biggest in Europe,” Hunt said. “Only last month, Pinewood announced an expansion which will bring another 8000 jobs to the UK.” The announcement follows the HM Treasury consultation on changes to the tax reliefs relating to film, high-end TV, animation, children’s television and video games published in November 2022. Ben Roberts, chief executive officer for BFI, said the reformed expenditure

credits across the screen industries are a testament to how crucial they are to the UK’s economy and growth. “Combined with our extraordinary talent, infrastructure and

her company was maintaining the level of the relief. “We are very pleased to see that remains in place,” she added. “Of course, it is also a benefit to see the rise in expenditure credit. It is a clear marker that the government knows the worth of the

technical and creative expertise, the screen sector tax reliefs – now remodelled as expenditure credits – have supercharged our industry on an unprecedented scale,” he expressed. “The news today will ensure the UK remains a globally competitive production hub, giving us economic recovery and growth, creating

British TV industry and a step towards ensuring its continued growth.” FOREIGN INCENTIVE Measures announced in the chancellor’s budget will also be welcomed by overseas production companies, according to Luke Savvas, partner

IN PRODUCTION Layla Smith, CEO of Objective Media Group

thousands of jobs for people up and down the country, and enabling creative talent and storytelling to thrive.” Layla Smith, chief executive officer at Objective Media Group, said that as a producer, the most important issue for

at accountancy firm Buzzacott. “The new measure is a significant potential increase in funds for the sector and will encourage more productions on these shores,” he explained. “UK tax credits can also encourage international



to a range of reasons, not least the native talent pool and pre-existing tax breaks. “These are some of the reasons we saw an opportunity for the development of Shinfield Studios,” he added. “It makes sense they would want to protect this and it’s equally important we continue to send the message that the UK welcomes producers with open arms. We all want the UK to continue to compete on a global stage and keep attracting the big- name films, producers and talent – this only serves to help us all nurture our homegrown talent base.” Smith added that, ‘in a world of increasing costs and tightening budgets’, every pound counts. “When you consider the budget pressures faced by producers today, be it increasing cost of crew, energy or challenges in sourcing materials for sets and wardrobe – you can see how budgetary considerations are having a bigger influence on decision making than ever before.”

Key announcements

published as part of draft legislation in summer 2023 for comment. Qualifying expenditure for the video games credit will be available on goods and services that are used or consumed in the UK. Expenditure credits will be available to claim from 1 January 2024. producers to invest or co-produce within the UK. Providing that at least 10% of the production’s total expenditure is spent in the UK, the project may qualify for the increased credit.” Nick Smith, joint managing director of Shinfield Studios, said film and HETV is growing, and already a significant contributor to the UK economy thanks

The £1m per hour expenditure credit threshold for HETV remains unchanged. The minimum slot length for HETV will be reduced to 20 minutes and applied on an episode-by-episode basis. A definition of a documentary will be put into legislation based on BFI guidance. Final wording and exclusions will be

“It’s important to send the message that the UK welcomes producers with open arms”

15. MAY 2023

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Industry briefings

No April fools’: HBO shows all left Disney+ Hotstar by the 1st India’s Disney+ Hotstar streaming platform has lost its partnership with HBO. Popular programmes such as The Last of Us and House of the Dragon have left the service. Following Disney CEO Bob Iger’s announcement of a company-wide cost-cutting plan, resulting in the elimination of approximately 7000 jobs, the company has moved towards improving profitability in its streaming business. “As of 31 March, HBO content will be unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar,” the service announced. “You can continue enjoying its vast library of content spanning over 100,000 hours of TV shows and movies in ten languages and coverage of global sporting events.” According to Iger, Disney will focus on core brands including Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar. CLEAR-COM APPOINTS NEW SALES MANAGER Clear-Com has named Nicola Milburn senior regional sales manager for Southern Europe and Benelux. She brings with her 16 years of technical sales experience and a background in test engineering across a broad range of markets. Milburn previously spent ten years as regional sales manager for UK and Europe at Phabrix – focusing on the broadcast sector, transitioning customers to IP-based systems. “Nicola’s unique experience makes her a valuable asset,” said Richard Palmer, director of sales, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We’re pleased to have her aboard to strengthen business in southern Europe and Benelux.”

GANGSTER’S PARADISE Birmingham is being put on the map for film and TV

PEAKY BLINDERS CREATOR’S BIRMINGHAM STUDIOS BRINGS JOBS TO THE CITY More than 700 opportunities are expected to be generated by new

TV and film studios in Birmingham Digbeth Loc Studios has been established by Steven Knight – the creator of Peaky Blinders – and construction has already commenced. The site has been selected as the setting for an upcoming Peaky Blinders movie and has the potential to expand the production industry within the area. “It’s going to change the nature of the opportunities for people in this city,” informed Knight. The screenwriter announced at the Fazeley Street site’s inauguration that filming would commence soon, and a notice for extras would be released shortly. “All you need is a haircut – and a cap,” he added.

Knight also announced the completion of both the updated warehouses and the innovative, modern studio areas, which are estimated to finalise on 15 July this year, with filming then scheduled to begin in October. Additionally, the establishment should generate around 760 job opportunities, while also including the possibility for individuals to conveniently walk to their place of work. A joint venture between Knight and Piers Read, CEO of Time & Space Co, the project has already attracted £1.3m in public money through the city deal fund.

17. MAY 2023


BIG SCREEN Vū Technologies branches out to the UK and Europe

Nantstudios opens the world’s largest LED volume in Australia Nantstudios, a Los Angeles- based virtual production studio, has announced the completion of two LED in-camera VFX stages at Docklands Studios, Melbourne. The state-of-the- art facility includes the world’s largest LED volume, featuring a 40-foot tall radiused wall, with 6000 panels running 289ft – creating immersive, dynamic environments that can be displayed in real time. It is expected to attract major film productions to Australia. Filmmakers can avail themselves of the new centre to produce vivid, interactive settings, shown instantly on LED walls – empowering creators to notably curtail the expenses and duration of post- production by capturing VFX elements while filming. Nantstudios runs a virtual production studio in LA, an AR/ VR research and development centre and a post-production facility in Melbourne.

VŪ EXPANDS VP STUDIO NETWORK TO EUROPE Cube Studio, a brand-new 6500 sq ft, state-of-the-art virtual production studio has opened in Berkshire, providing a full-service solution for advertising engines, camera tracking, graphics servers and premium facilities. It is home to a 10.5x5.5m first UK- and Europe-based virtual production studio powered by Vū Technologies.

“Together, we’re building the bridge between Europe and America and setting the global industry standard for virtual production, allowing crews and talent to receive the same premium experience across the Atlantic,” explains James Hakesley, CEO, Cube Studio. Every virtual studio that formally partners with Vū will then become a member of the Vū Network.

LED volume, crafted with Unilumin Upad IV LED panels, which feature HDR image quality, a pixel pitch of 2.5mm and new dual drive configuration (DDC) technology. It also has Brompton Technology processing, enabling delivery of visual excellence. Joining the Vū Network – Vū’s global studio network – Cube Studio becomes the

agencies, production houses, enterprise businesses as well as film and TV. This venture is the result of a partnership between Vū and Cube, a video production agency based out of London. The virtual production studio combines innovative LED technology with industry-leading game

FRIEND WINS BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY OSCAR Britain’s James Friend won the Oscar for best cinematography for All Quiet on the Western Front at the 95th Academy Awards. Friend – who also won a Bafta for his role behind the camera – said in his acceptance speech that it was ‘an honour’ to receive the award. “It’s not my birthday, but I feel like it is,” he added, describing work by nominees as ‘outstanding’. The Netflix film, directed by German filmmaker Edward Berger, is based on the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque. It also won best international feature film, best production design and best original score at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The anti-war film sheds light on the devastating impacts of war on soldiers and civilians alike.

TRUE ACCOUNT Behind the scenes with DOP James Friend’s award-winning All Quiet on the Western Front



SETTING THE STAGE This exciting collaboration follows a team-up at the recent SMPTE Virtual Production Showcase


New from Fujifilm Fujifilm has unveiled its latest product, the Fujinon Duvo HZK25-1000mm f/2.8-5.0 PL Mount Cinema Box Lens (Duvo 25-1000), which the company claims to be ‘groundbreaking’. This cinema box lens boasts a 40x zoom ratio and telephoto focal length of 1000mm. It is the highest combination of magnification and telephoto reach currently available for large cinema sensors. The name ‘Duvo’ is a combination of the Latin words duo and vivo, referring to the lens’ dual characteristics and compatibility with two sensors – large format and Super 35 – allowing for cinematic image expression and broadcast-quality live shooting. The price of the optic is £175,000.

“Together, the two companies will offer a massive 150+ sq m volume equipped with the latest tech” a pair of 2x2m OD4 LED totems provide extra lighting sources. The studio also has Mo-Sys Startracker and Ndisplay servers – Disguise vx 4 is available as an option for playback solutions. Anna Valley has built a 26x4.5m Roe BPV2 semicircular volume in a 7750 sq ft sound stage at Garden Studios’ Park Royal complex. The volume comes complete with an 8x5m OD4 LED ceiling, mounted on a motorised hoist to be lowered, raised and tilted up to a 45° angle; “Virtual production is an integral part of our strategy; we use emergent technologies to facilitate efficient film production,” affirmed Mark Pilborough-Skinner, head of virtual production, Garden Studios. “The Anna Valley partnership is the amalgamation of a world-class supplier and an established studio operator. Our goals are clearly aligned, and this allows us to provide a state-of-the-art facility to production. It really is a win-win.” Under the new partnership,

A joint venture between Anna Valley and Garden Studios will see a new studio set up in central London. This follows a successful cooperation on the SMPTE Virtual Production Showcase, displaying Anna Valley’s LED volume at Garden Studios’ facility. Together, the two companies will offer a massive 150+ sq m volume equipped with the latest tech, backed by a skilled crew at Garden Studios’ premier spot in London’s thriving film community. Anna Valley supplies cinematic LED, processing technology and services, boasting a vast inventory of Roe’s Black Pearl BP2V2 ‘film- centric LED panels’. It also provides bespoke virtual production studios for corporate, television and film industry clientele. Garden Studios is London’s largest film studio, with a footprint of over 300,000 sq ft and five sound stages totalling over 48,000 sq ft. This top facility has already established itself as a front-runner in virtual production, with one of the first permanent volumes in London measuring 12x4m, expandable to 18x4m. Production powerhouses put their heads together for a cutting-edge studio in the heart of the UK capital

SUPERPOWERED Providing a cinematic effect to live production, this Fujinon lens offers the best mix of magnification and telephoto reach on the market



It’s all eyes on the London Olympia, as the Media Production & Technology Show returns to offer a glimpse into the future Envisage the impossible

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Various

PALACE OF INDUSTRY Olympia London in West Kensington will be playing host to MPTS 2023 – don’t miss out

T he countdown is on for the London on 10-11 May. Launched in 2016, MPTS has rapidly cemented its position as the UK’s largest must-attend event for the media and broadcast industries. Originally focused on the creative side of content production, the event has evolved to explore the tech innovations which power the enviable content production output in the UK. The 2023 event will feature over 300 exhibitors showcasing their products and services, allowing attendees to get hands-on with the latest kit. Renowned for the quality of its content and speakers, the seminar biggest ever edition of the Media Production & Technology Show, which will take place at Olympia

Ward ( Brassic ), broadcaster and podcaster Jackie Adedeji, Channel 5 news presenter Dan Walker and ex-head of Amazon Studios UK Georgia Brown. Themes running through the programme include: ensuring the sector attracts young people as they start their careers; the growth of virtual production, what it is and how to determine if it’s right for your next workflow; improving diversity and sustainability within the industry; the innovative technologies you can’t afford to ignore – plus much more! Happening in the heart of the UK’s content creation industry and bringing together 10,000 executives from across the media landscape, MPTS 2023 promises to be an unmissable two days.

programme – which is free to attend – brings together over 300 speakers across six theatres to cover production, audio, post, technology and virtual production. The Keynote Theatre is renowned for its industry-leading headline speakers, and this year is no exception, with British screenwriter and director Steven Knight CBE opening the event. The creator and writer of Peaky Blinders will discuss some of his career highlights to date and talk about his passion for bringing more productions into the West Midlands through his new film and TV Studio, Digbeth Loc. Other highlights include Ross Kemp ( Eastenders , Ultimate Force ), Allan Niblo ( Monsters , A Town Called Malice ), Danielle

21. MAY 2023


UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL The Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro 12K will be on display at stand H50

APUTURE Stand H33 Pass by the Aputure stand to see its Infinibar up close. An adaptable RGBWW LED, multiple units can be seamlessly stacked together without any space between them. Cinematographers can adopt a range of mounting positions – inverted, triangle or hexagonal, among others – to create a large, clean light source. The pixel bars are available in 1ft, 2ft and 4ft lengths. Also on display will be the MC Pro, an upgraded RGBWW-lensed mini LED panel featuring LumenRadio CRMX and a durable IP65 construction.

meets both your cinema and broadcast requirements, the CN8x15 IAS S E1/P1 might be right for you. CVP Stand F75 CVP’s stand will be packed with the latest technology coupled with impartial expertise from its renowned in-house technical consultants. Ask about the MYT Works Opti-Glide Compact – the first ever automated camera-checkout experience.


The kit list for the show includes the Ursa Mini Pro 12K, Ursa Broadcast G2, ATEM Television Studio HD8 ISO and DaVinci Resolve 18. Stop by to find out more. BROMPTON TECHNOLOGY Virtual Production Studios by 80six, H51 Visit the Brompton Technology stand to learn about the Tessera system – the processing solution for LED video walls, used on everything from huge global world tours to pioneering virtual production and virtual studios.

CANON (UK) Stand F50

Canon will demonstrate how to capture a live production through a multicam set-up, showing off the XC Protocol working across PTZ cameras, fixed-lens camcorders and cine cameras. If you’re searching for a Cine-Servo lens that



EXPERT ADVICE Over 300 industry speakers will give talks and seminars throughout the course of the event

23. MAY 2023


DEITY MICROPHONES Stand F20 Deity will display its Theos Digital Wireless, which uses a wideband UHF spectrum rather than the crowded 2.4GHz band. Frequencies span between 550-960MHz and the device features swappable frequency ranges based on your phone’s GPS, letting you move from country to country with one mic kit. GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION Stand H70 Global Distribution is a specialist in acquisition, storage, workflow and archive solutions for the M&E industry. From camera-recording media and peripherals to direct-attached and collaborative storage, secure asset archiving and media sharing through the cloud, Global will be showcasing technology and solutions from brands including Symply, Tiger Technology, Lacie, Angelbird, Wasabi, Playbox Technology and more.

WINDOW SHOPPING With more than 300 exhibitors, this is the perfect chance to try out state-of-the-art equipment or find a new supplier

recordists and lighting engineers. On show will be the classic V-Lok (V-Mount) battery range. JVC Stand C64 JVC will showcase solutions for live production, including the latest 4K and HD NDI PTZ cameras, 4K livestreaming camcorders, professional monitors and streaming devices. The KY-PZ510 series can stream in 4K and has an integrated auto-tracking feature.

THE PLACE TO BE Now in its seventh year, MPTS is one of the UK’s biggest M&E events



Visit and learn about Jotter, Nugen’s note-taking and collaboration software. Tailored to the ever-changing creative landscape, Jotter is a timecode-linked annotation tool that allows engineers and mixers to collaborate with each other, as well as clients, to and from anywhere in the world.

Roe Visual will showcase its latest LED displays and host live demos for the virtual production technology GhostFrame. It will also exhibit its latest collection of LED solutions, specifically designed to provide high-quality visuals for broadcast studios. SIGNIANT Stand D10 Signiant will demonstrate many new platform capabilities, including enhanced support for Growing Files – which are widely used in live sports productions; cloud-to-cloud operations, to support the growing demand for aggregation; distribution workflows where both the source and destination are in the cloud; the ability to search, preview and access media assets in disparate storage from within an Adobe panel – and much more.


Hawk-Woods offers a wide range of products for camera operators, sound

MOVING WITH THE TIMES Nugen Audio’s DAW plug-in Jotter is a new tool for collaborating on mixes



UNCONDITIONAL ADVENTURE Survival filmmaker Danny Etheridge is the go-to action man for some of the most challenging and fast-paced shoots

IF A PRODUCTION needs someone to be shooting from a helicopter just 500ft from where an airliner will be crashed into the desert, be on a 4000-mile journey across the Pacific in a small open boat, keep up with Bear Grylls in some of the world’s toughest environments, or join Special Forces in action, Danny Etheridge is often first to get the call. “Well, I’m certainly one of them!” he says, fighting back the jet lag upon arriving back in his London home after a three-day trip from Hanoi. “There’s a few of us out there and my name is in those circles.” While sweating in jungles, freezing in Arctic conditions, being dangled from high buildings or shooting underwater might strike fear into most, Etheridge loves what he does; it’s his childhood dream come true. “Growing up, I always imagined myself going out on big adventures somewhere. It was a bit of a pipe dream – I never really thought it would happen.” After university, he followed the more conventional route of getting into TV in the UK, working on sketch shows with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Holby City , Countryfile , Gardeners’ World and even Doctor Who . LIVING ON THE EDGE “I like the comedy, but drama is not my bag,” Etheridge continues. “I prefer the madness, the moving around, and can’t stand doing things over and over again. Most of all, I like the uncertainty of documentary, where anything could happen at any moment. It’s much more exciting.

ON THE HUNT Hunted is high-octane for most, but a slower pace for Etheridge

“I had it fixed in my head to do crazy adventures, and every decision turned me in that direction”

Of course, that has involved Etheridge facing hardship and taking risks many times. Such as when he was filming The Plane Crash for Channel 4 and Discovery. “I was in a helicopter waiting for an airliner to come in and purposefully crash in the middle of the desert. No one had ever been close to a plane crashing like that, so you didn’t know if loads of little bits of debris were going to be flying around. “The helicopter pilot said to me: ‘If you see stuff coming up towards us then scream, and we’ll get out quick.’ So I’m sat there in the blistering sun. My eyes were killing me because the difference between the viewfinder and the desert was intense. And that was a moment where I wondered how I ever found myself in that situation.” Other memorably tough shoots include an expedition exploring what was thought to be the world’s biggest cave. “You could fly an airliner through that cave. And

“So I had it fixed in my head that I wanted to do crazy adventures, and every decision I made was turning me toward that direction. I don’t think a lot of people necessarily want to put themselves through a lot of pain when it comes to that sort of thing – but I wanted it. “I always thought, if ever I got the opportunity to do something absolutely crazy, I would snap it up in a heartbeat. When I was younger, I was thinking about war zones. Then, as I hit my twenties, I mellowed out a bit and thought maybe I don’t necessarily want to die for it. And I wasn’t interested enough in current affairs or news or anything. “So I was lucky enough to be in the room when they were coming up with some pretty crazy ideas for TV shows – and I jumped at it. When I ended up on the shoots, it meant everything to me, so I put a lot of effort into it.”

HEATED Etheridge’s hardy Canon kit follows him almost everywhere – including sizzling desert climes

25. MAY 2023


it’s got holes in the roof the size of the Millennium Dome. Survival was in the forefront of my mind when I was down there. For three days, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. And then you come out to a jungle that’s popped up in the middle of the floor in a quite bizarre landscape,” he explains. “Then there’s the time I spent 50 days on a small boat in the ocean filming Mutiny .” That caused him to drop an unbelievable amount of weight as he pushed himself to the limit of human endurance. THE TRUE PURPOSE But just surviving in gruelling conditions like this is not enough, as Etheridge is paid to make incredible, TV-worthy films. “When filming from a helicopter, under the water, hanging off the side of a cliff, I need to film it in a way that can be cut into a coherent programme. That’s the main focus of your attention. You can’t panic about how much air you’ve got left or whether your knots are done up properly, you’ve got to be good enough that you can do it almost without thinking – but to the point where it’s absolutely safe. And then you fully concentrate on the filming.” That also means you need camera equipment you can rely on and work with easily. It has to be second nature. “There is a saturation point, especially when things are going a bit awry. Your brain can only compute so many things at the same time, and some things might suffer. Chances are that’s going to be on the camera. You could be on Auto ISO or something. The key is having cameras that are so good, you can set them up in a way “The Canon XF605 has got an incredible range – it’s frightening how good it is”

so that on Auto Iris you can make sure it doesn’t go over 3200 ISO, for example.” With each job so different, Etheridge has worked with many cameras over the years. But so often, he has stuck with Canon, including his current favourite, the XF series of all-in-one camcorders. “I’ve used XF205s for years – and now the XF605. I’ve never got rid of those XF cameras. They have played a huge role in massive jobs during my career. The most recent one is a job for Discovery called Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail . I’m on screen, and the camera I have with me is the Canon XF605. I now own two of them. “It’s got an incredible range – it’s frightening how good it is! For a run-and- gun, in-the-hand camera, it’s incredible what you can do with it. And the XF205 was my main camera for the whole of Mutiny .”

HIGH AND LOW As an adventure filmmaker pushing himself to extreme limits, Etheridge needs camera kit that will follow him anywhere

Etheridge has also recently tried the EOS R5 C full-frame mirrorless. You can tell one will soon be added to his collection. “I really like that as well. It was like having a great stills camera and Cinema EOS C300 all in one. It’s amazing.” Though he didn’t have access to RF lenses for the R5 C, he used his range of EF glass with an adapter. “I have a bunch of lenses I could use with it. So I used my 70-200mm f/2.8L and 24-105mm f/4L lenses plus a 50mm prime. It’s lovely.” What won Etheridge over was that it can run timecode – vital for multicam documentaries. “I was amazed it’s got

PERFECTLY PORTABLE The XF605 has proved a reliable performer for the PDs on Hunted – ideal for its run-and-gun style



Audio makes all the difference Every filmmaker knows sound is a critical part in any production, which is why larger projects always employ sound operators to make sure it’s done right. But in much of Danny Etheridge’s work, it’s just not feasible to send an audio recordist. So the PD has to do it by themselves. Etheridge can rely on his Canon XF605 as it has professional XLR inputs as well as broadcast-quality audio recording hardware to capture all the little details. “For example, on Hunted , the audio quality in the XF605 is easily good enough for broadcast thanks to full-size XLR ports.” Audio equipment is high-class gear from Zaxcom because of the backup of timecode being recorded to the actual audio pack. Sometimes Sound Devices A10 digital wireless transmitters are used for lav macs. While many filmmakers might panic at having to master audio, Etheridge just loves being in control of the whole process. “I’m a bit of an anomaly in that regard, because I do huge shoots up to reasonably large commercial shoots. And I do everything including the audio,” he says. “There’s something enjoyable about doing a whole shoot yourself, especially if there’s a drone. I quite like walking away from a shoot where I’ve done all the drone flying, all the audio, and all the visuals or all the underwater shooting. I’ve just done that for a Natural History Unit shoot recently. And when that’s finished, you sort of watch it and there’s a greater sense of achievement.”

CLIFF’S EDGE Etheridge captures Bear Grylls in a typically intrepid moment

a little timecode slot, so you can put an UltraSync on it. And the menu system is easy and quick to navigate. It felt like a proper filmmaking camera.” ON THE RUN Menu and timecode are also reasons Etheridge loves his XF205 and XF605, as well as their portability and great image quality, even in low light. That’s partly why Etheridge chose to spec Canon XF605s to all the camera operators on the Channel 4 series he works on as DOP – Hunted . Rather than the depths of the jungle, contestants are let loose in Britain and attempt to stay hidden while ‘hunted’ by a team of chasers. “For all the cameras used by the embedded camera operators on the run with the fugitives, I decided to go with the XF605 this year – that’s ten cameras. “The fact it can shoot Log now is amazing. IR is another huge benefit of that camera. I can’t think of another on the market with both timecode and IR, a massive lens range and 1.0-type chip. A lot of boxes are ticked,” he expresses. They are proving a smash hit with the crew. “Everybody loves them. When it comes to producer/directors, they’re always panicking that they’ll get a large format camera with a Super 35 zoom lens, which is obviously quite a beast. It strikes fear into PDs when they’re given something like that because there’s no autofocus and it’s front-heavy. So they all love the XF605.” And the footage is excellent. From performance in low light to outside on the brightest days, the XF605 delivers. “We don’t have to worry how the footage will look, because we want it to feel rugged and on the move. We wouldn’t use an image stabiliser or anything like that, for example. You’d want it to feel in the moment, shaky and rough,” says Etheridge. “Then there’s

footage coming from phones or action cameras, so we don’t go too crazy on the look of things for the fugitives. It’s more about the practical usability of the camera.” One thing all the PDs agree on is the Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which works so well on many shots. “I don’t see any shame in flicking to AF at all, especially with a camcorder or a lens with an electronic servo,” Etheridge adds. “For much of my work over the years, I’ve used a Canon CN7x17 17-120mm lens and there isn’t the option of AF. I like to manually focus because I like full control. I treat focusing the same as zooming. There’s a creative element to what you’re focusing on and when you’re focusing on it. “But the Canon AF system is so good for so many things, especially fast-paced run- and-gun documentary work.” Though the latest series of Hunted is still in production, Etheridge is already planning a year full of more adventures to film, and will have his trusty XF605s by his side. “I have my own small production company now, but it’s growing quite quickly. We finished our first six-part documentary series for Discovery last year, and we’ve got lots of short film documentaries and even bigger projects in the pipeline. I’m doing an Ed Stafford show for Channel 4 this summer,” he tells us. It’s no surprise that a lot of it will be focused on worldwide travel, survival and adventure in inhospitable locations. “There’s always stuff bubbling in the background, and it’s all adventure-based content around the world – quite exciting stuff. There’s something going on late in the year where I’ll probably be going to the Congo for maybe a good two months or so.” And you can bet it won’t be in a nice hotel with a swimming pool. “No. It never is and that’s just how I like it.”

27. MAY 2023


Atlas mugged

The team behind Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ stunning animation explain the challenges faced in making Ladon the dragon look realistic – and terrifying

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Warner Bros. Pictures



ACTION MAN Shazam (Zachary Levi), Billy Batson’s superhero alter ego

29. MAY 2023


F rom the earliest days of cinema, animators have been pushing the boundaries of their art form, seeking new frontiers of visual storytelling that would capture the vastness and complexity of the natural world. Yet, while many different types of animation have been created over the years, arguably none have been more transformative or captivating than creature animation. One of the latest films to push the boundaries even further is 2023’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods , the superhero motion picture sequel based on the DC Comics character often known by that name. The film chronicles the daughters of a Titan’s arrival on Earth in search of magic stolen from them long ago. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of clean visuals, engaging action and ungodly behaviour. The trio of goddesses played by Dame Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler are obviously the box office bookings for the movie, but they certainly didn’t take centre stage when it came to animation. “How about he moves like a lion, we make the head more like a lizard and get the tail/wings to move a certain way?”

WEIGHTING GAME One crucial character from the latest instalment of the Shazam franchise is a humungous and powerful dragon who goes by the name Ladon. Ricardo Miguel Roldao Silva, DNEG animation supervisor, explains the genesis of its creation. “In terms of animation, the story is established, so we get some previsualisation with the plates for the shots,” he states. “However, there were some aspects we needed to explore that were not well-defined, such as what’s in the director’s head. For example, he

CAUSING CHAOS Kalypso and Hespera (left to right), daughters of Greek god Atlas and villains of the movie

IN FULL FORCE Conveying the massive presence of Ladon the dragon – both proportionally and in detail – was a huge undertaking

31. MAY 2023

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