NEWGEAR, TRENDS AND TECHNIQUES P52
May 2019 £4.99
CAREER BUILDING Why you need to know about virtual production DUTY CALLS Shoot story analysis on Line of Duty series five
Posting Our Planet
KIT REVIEWS | TECH AWARDS SHORTLIST | NAB SHOW GEAR REVIEW WILD ROSE | SOFTWARE CAMERA TRACKING | CHERNOBYL’S AESTHETIC
EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org Staff writer Chelsea Fearnley Contributor Phil Rhodes Chief sub editor Beth Fletcher Senior sub editor Siobhan Godwood Sub editor Felicity Evans Junior sub editor Elisha Young ADVERTISING Sales director Matt Snow 01223 499453 email@example.com Sales manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 firstname.lastname@example.org Key accounts Nicki Mills 01223 499457 email@example.com DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Designer Lucy Woolcomb, Emily Lancaster, Laura Bryant Senior designer & production manager Flo Thomas Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook @definitionmagazine Twitter @definitionmags Instagram @definitionmags MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK
Candace Nelson and Zilong Liu capture a CG character performance using Genesis virtual production platform
I ’m back from the culture vacuum that is the NAB Show, but this time with a warning: whatever your traditional production skill – whether it’s operating a camera, lighting a scene, even moving cameras – the virtual world wants to model what you do and then repeat it, without you being there. Through the rise of game engines and the demand from broadcasters for more real-time virtualisation, post-production companies like MPC are creating massive databases that record everything used on a production. This includes data from cameras, grip equipment and even, increasingly, lighting. The endgame aim is to have that data in a sterile boardroom so, for instance, producers can re-lens, relight and recreate the production that you worked on. But don’t be afraid: this is progress, and the post-production giants want you on board. You just need educating! The good news is that your friendly neighbourhood editor has your corner, and we cover the growth of virtual production (and what it means for your future) in this issue. What you shouldn’t do is deny its existence. It’s happening, whether you like it or not. WELCOME
JULIAN MITCHELL EDITOR
Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
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CONTENTS SET- UP TITLE SEQUENCE Disney’s Artemis Fowl series is on its way – and it’s shot on film. TECH INNOVATION AWARDS More on our inaugural awards: we have the categories and the shortlists. ARRAIY FOR HOLLYWOOD A Silicon Valley start-up is using AI to move past the green screen in movie making. NAB REVIEW What happened in Vegas definitely isn’t staying there. Here’s our review. DOCUMENTARY OUR PLANET We have the post story for one of the most important nature series so far. DRAMA WILD ROSE The shoot and grading behind this country music aspirational film. LINE OF DUTY All you need to know about the shoot of the fifth series of this essential police drama. CHERNOBYL The untold story from this nuclear accident needed a tweaked eighties aesthetic. FEATURES MAKING OF A LEGEND This month we celebrate the massive impact that Arri’s Alexa 65 camera has made. AERIAL SPECIAL New trends, techniques and gear from the last year of aerial cinematography. VIRTUAL PRODUCTION Post-production VFX giant MPC has made its move in virtual production. 06 08 10 14 20 31 37 45 48 52 58
GEAR TESTS GEMINI 1 X 1 Litepanels has launched a smaller version of its original Gemini light. 4K CAMERA LISTINGS Our famous camera listings now offer expert advice on how to put together your camera kit.
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Disney is hoping for a new movie franchise through the adaptations of Irish author, Eoin Colfer’s books. In total, there are eight books following the adventures of criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. In the first film, Artemis, a 12-year-old boy with a liking for fairy gold, kidnaps the fairy LEPrecon officer, Holly Short... you get the idea. For director Sir Kenneth Branagh, it’s back to film after directing and starring in All is True, a tale about Shakespeare’s retirement. It’s also fully Panavision with Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL, Panavision Primo Anamorphic, C and G Series lenses. It’s also DOP’s Haris Zambarloukos (pictured) first film since Murder on the Orient Express .
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© Paramount Pictures
SHORTLIST 2019 We reveal the brands that made our shortlist for the Definition Tech Innovation Awards 2019
CAPTURE n Red Gemini 5K S35 sensor n Radiant Images AXA VR rigs n Cooke i/Technology COLOUR SCIENCE n Red IPP2 n Panavision Light Iron colour science n FilmLight Baselight V5 OPTICS n Arri DNA lenses n Fujinon Premista LF n Canon Sumire Prime LF CODECS n Blackmagic Raw n Sony OCN for Venice n Codex High Density Encoding
MOVEMENT n Motion Impossible Agito n Titan drone by HFS n Shotover B1 PLAYBACK n Atomos Shogun 7 n SmallHD Cine 7 n Teradek Bolt 4K VIRTUAL n Ncam Reality n Arraiy DeepTrack n MPC Genesis LIGHTING n Cineo Lighting and NBCUniversal Edge series n BB&S Area 48 Color n Litegear LiteMat Spectrum
Don’t miss the chance to have your say in our People’s Choice category. Vote for your overall winner from the shortlist or nominate a potential winner you feel is more deserving. Follow @definitionmags to find out more and keep an eye out for the hashtag...
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SET- UP | I NTERV I EW
It’s a through- the-lens monocular tracking solution, 100% software based
ABOVE Arraiy’s DeepTrack in progress
DEFINITION: Is your background based in development? MARK TOBIN: I’ve worked in post- production creative services for
30 years. I started as an editor on Avid in New York in 1989. I then worked for companies like PBS and HBO, before moving to LA 20 years ago where I started producing with a little company called Method Studios, which is now owned by Deluxe. Then, I went to run a company called A52, which is part of the Rock Paper Scissors group of companies. I then opened up the MPC office in North America and ran Psyop, an animation company in commercial advertising. DEF: So your next step was Arraiy? What did you bring to the company? MT: I was asking myself ‘what am I going to do next?’. I felt like real-time content was really a growing area and how’s that going to be enabled and is AI going to help? Is it going to stretch me intellectually and allow me to be in the space that I’ve been in with the same relationships? I looked around and got introduced to Arraiy through a mutual friend, but when I found them they were a hardware company that had a three camera rig attached to a hero camera. It was focussed on providing visual effects elements to the MPCs and Framestores of the world, rotoscoping and tracking and the like. I gently said to them that this probably was not going to work. You’re going to have to get that rig on to cameras and, ultimately, you’re going to have a DOP who will say that he or she doesn’t want it on their camera. How are you then going to manage all that data and get it to all those places?
At NAB Show 2019, we interviewed Mark Tobin, new CEO of Arraiy, a Silicon Valley start-up company that is looking to revolutionise virtual capture for movies – and that’s just the start ARRAIY FOR HOLLYWOOD CAMERA TRACKING
QUESTIONS JULI AN M ITCHELL
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IMAGES Arraiy’s development team showing keying without green scene
On some levels even if you can do it at
a cheaper rate, it’s a solved problem.
So I spent some time just consulting with them to narrow in to what they were doing and where the real value proposition was. The question was: how can we leverage their AI ideas for real-time content creation? DEF: So you changed your focus away from hardware development? MT: Yes, we made a shift still using the same underlying technology, but then looked at how we could enable real time and really empower content creators. So first thing we did was to focus on tracking and now we have a tracking solution called DeepTrack – that’s what we’re releasing [during NAB Show]. It’s a through-the- lens monocular tracking solution, which is entirely 100% software based, just understanding the features and the textures of a scene. We calibrate the camera, which takes about 20 seconds, and we do some deep learning on the environment, whether that’s in the studio or in a sports environment outdoors. We can create a model over three to four hours, depending what the scene is, and then you have a known geometry of every scene. You can then enable any camera that’s in that scene to camera track and to object track. So if NBC wants to shoot a football game or an athletics event and wants to use a 100 cameras, we can enable all 100 cameras to do tracking, which enables them to do real-time graphics. That’s the differentiator; we don’t need hardware, we don’t need stickers on the ceiling, we create a neural network that we can leverage across any cameras or scenes.
DEF: What does Arraiy offer the customer?
So if NBC wants to shoot a football game with 100 cameras, we can enable all 100 cameras to do tracking that by the end of the year. Next year will be soft-object tracking, so we can do motion capture potentially without all of the sensors and all of the hardware around that. DEF: Tell me a little about Arraiy? What kind of capital have you raised? MT: The company is based in Mountain View, so it’s really a Silicon Valley company – it’s a venture-backed company. Last year, we announced a $10 million Series A round of funding led by Lux Capital and SoftBank Ventures, with participation from Dentsu Ventures and Cherry Tree Investments, and continued participation from IDG Capital and CRCM Ventures. DEF: Who has shown an initial interest in these products? MT: We’ve been talking with MPC and The Mill who are both Technicolor companies and working on how we can integrate into their virtual production. We don’t want to reinvent the whole pipeline, they have pipelines and embedded solutions, so we just want to be able to offer them a licence for our software. We’ve also been having conversations with companies like Avid. All these companies have great products and services, and we just want to enable them. I say that we are really bringing the physical world to the digital world and there are some people who are doing this with hardware-based solutions and we’re doing it 100% in software.
MT: We basically allow anyone to develop their own neural network for their own uses. At NAB Show 2019, we partnered with The Future Group to show our tracking solution that many people are interested in. They have a great rendering graphics engine, so you can use MoSys or any other system. But if a customer wanted a fully integrated software-based solution, they can buy Pixotope virtual reality system with the Arraiy-embedded tracking system. We’d then license our tracking system into Pixotope. DEF: What’s in development and how else can AI help in this field? MT: The next thing we’re developing is a segmentation rotoscoping solution, which essentially allows you to do Ultimatte-like green screen, but we can do it without a green screen – any type of flat field or brick wall or anything with depth matting as well. We’re looking to release
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The visitor numbers might be down at this huge broadcast show, but the organisers have been quick to react – and we still had a great show
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL
F or those of us involved with the NAB Show every year (over 100,000 of us), it came as no surprise that, next year, the exhibition part of the show is sliding back a day to start on Sunday. The show organisers want the weekend warriors to catch their day at the show – probably meaning the gigantic tech crowd from LA who have to go back and join their car parade queues for work on Monday. This way, they also get Saturday night in Sin City. But why has the juggernaut tech show changed things this way? I would chance a guess. If you’ve ever visited the acquisition halls on Thursday you already know: it’s very quiet, and all you can hear is the tapping of exhibitor’s feet as they wait for customers. To give this decision some credence, if you
visited the halls on Wednesday of this year’s exhibition, you could also see the crowd thinning out. It was also pretty cold that day, so you can’t blame the sun for keep them away. So why are the crowds down? Your guess is as good as mine, but we’re not alone and not far from the truth when we blame the internet for almost everything. On a positive note, we can see that, this year, Cine Gear Expo has a bumper turnout of exhibitors and, after the slight scare of having to move the show, we’re looking forward to being back in the village atmosphere of the Paramount backlot. THE SHOW With such a huge exhibition to cover, Definition chose to keep mainly to the
IMAGES News from Arri, Blackmagic and Canon
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© Chris Jacobs
Also new on the stand was a new battery accessory for the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K; if this had been a room full of this camera’s owners, there would have been a few shouted ‘come on’s and ‘you got it’. This camera, although brilliant, is known for less than great battery management. There was also something new on the CANON stand – and something beautiful at that; the new large format Sumire lenses. There are seven new lenses, which have the same focal lengths as the existing CN-E range: 14, 20, 24, 35, 50, 85, 135 (with the same apertures values as well). Wide open, these lenses are superb for skin tones. The lenses were described as having a ‘gentle softness’, but they are still very sharp. The fall-off from focus to out of focus is lovely, and the bokeh is described as like a ‘cat’s eye’, meaning oval-shaped, basically. According to Canon, the lenses have character and personality, encroaching slightly on Cooke’s usual go-to label. The design, then, is not to go for total sharpness and resolution, but to add ‘personality’. All I can say is that they looked magical, and I urge you to try one out. Most of the lenses are 1.3 and the rest are 1.5s, but the 135 is a 2.2. Each of the lenses cost the same: USD$7410. The first ones out are the core set of the 24, 50 and 85 – and they’ll be around from August this year. Light manufacturer, the newly named CREAMSOURCE , had a new light,
Central Hall with a few excursions elsewhere – mostly the cavernous South Halls. One of our first visits was to ARRI , where we wanted to spot the very new Alexa Mini LF. Arri’s large format version of its hugely successful S35 Mini was dropped (in a news way) only a couple of weeks before the show. As you can imagine, getting close to the camera after such a short introduction was difficult so apologies for our snap (far left). As it turns out, the crowds getting close to the camera must have known something: two days later, there was no camera, as it had an appointment in Korea and had left the building. BLACKMAGIC DESIGN had its usual pre-show press conference and, again, as usual there was lots to talk about. First was Resolve 16. The headline news was the introduction of a new cut page. CEO Grant Petty, who presents these conferences to camera for the global streaming market, described the discovery that editing in Resolve had become slightly ‘button heavy’ – as in, there was too much to go through to get a basic edit done. He introduced a new cut page to streamline this and mentioned that basic editing in Resolve 16 was more like a linear experience now. There were many more new Resolve features, but check the Blackmagic website for these. What is very exciting is Blackmagic’s first own edit keyboard; a must for all Resolve editors.
Two days later, there
was no camera, as it had an appointment in Korea
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and if there was an award for best industrial design, it would have won it. The new SpaceX light uses the same core technology from the previous Sky lights, but it has now been compacted down and made much easier to grab, but it’s still 1200W. The very obvious new thing is the addition of optics on the front of the light that snap on and off. At the moment, the optics take the throw from around 115˚ to about 50˚. There will be new optics available soon. Another lighting company, CINEO , was also showing a new light. In fact, it was showing the core element of the LightBlade Edge series, which has been co-developed with NBCUniversal. The individual Blade can operate as a stand-alone fixture, but it’s the modularity that is sure to attract lighting designers. The LightBlades are integrated in the mounting system to create the Edge 160 (two blade) and Edge 320 (four blade), which deliver 10,000 or 20,000 lumens of brightness. More news from NBCUniversal is its move into the UK production scene, with rental offices being set up at Elstree. The COOKE conversation was one I was looking forward to. We saw Les Zellan at the BSC Expo in London and he promised some news about Cooke’s /i technology that retrieves lens data for use as positioning information for VFX. Cooke teamed up with The Pixel Farm, which is well known as the maker of PFTrack, a matchmoving product that basically corrects camera tracking.
Cooke at BSC promised something new for the /i Technology lens data ability Feed in Cooke’s lens data and PFTrack will save you time and money by preparing the track ready for creative services. As production changes, the need for better communications changes with it. It was with this thought in mind that we saw a very interesting streaming product on the DEJERO stand. The CuePoint server works with the company’s EnGo streaming engine, acting as the main transmission. The CuePoint server branches up to eight lower resolutions streams to, for example, tablets or other computers. Imagine how helpful a stream would be for a production; costume could get a live feed, as well as continuity and six others. There is hardly any delay, but the resolution tops out at 720p. You can have maybe four of these feeds and then four at 540p, or other combinations. DMG, the lighting company, has now been part of Rosco for nearly two years. The
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is well made and easy to use – essential for today’s lighting. FILMLIGHT was at NAB, with colourists galore on the super sleek stand. But we were there to hear about the new update and see the new Blackboard – or the ‘reboot’, as they were calling it. This is a slab of futuristic tech with better screens, a bigger tablet, simpler connectivity and a low price. Baselight v5.2 was on show, but with glimpses of 5.3 with full Alpha channel support and ProRes Raw decoding as part of the top-line features. JVC ’s stand was full of products that ticked the box: 4K, streaming, HDR, low price. The new GY-HC550 and 500 were on the stand and offer 4K, 10-bit recording to SSD, with streaming up to 20Mbps with live streaming of 1080 HD at 50p. The 4K native monitors include the flagship DT-U31Pro with HDR monitoring through HLG and built-in 3D LUT management. NCAM TECHNOLOGY has an abundance of ideas for the virtual world, but for the NAB Show 2019 there was
buyout gave DMG the resources it needed to expedite the arrival of the LED colour products that we saw this time last year. DMG also had a great interface, and now has an app for colour control. For the NAB Show 2019, there was news of new firmware to add another 50 gels and also allow zone control of two different halves of the Mix lights, giving you a variety of motion effects. DMG was also showing how you can gang the lights together with up to ten Mix lights acting as one source. Before Rosco’s buyout, DMG were known for his kind of gaffer- inspired grouping of lights. DOP CHOICE is a light accessory company that needs to monitor what is current in that industry. As we know, tube lighting with colour is proving to be very popular, as it gives productions indirect light in small places and direct light when grouped together and with colour. At the stand, DOP Choice showed a number of ways to protect and diffuse that light. There were single tube holders, multiple tube holders and honeycomb diffusers. This stuff
IMAGES New from Creamsource, Cooke, Dejero, DMG, DOP Choice, FilmLight andJVC
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IMAGES News from Ncam, Red, Schneider, Sony and Teradek
only one message: clean and sophisticated camera tracking. Ncam Reality 2019 was unveiled at the show, with uprated camera tracking that is much quicker and works beautifully with Ncam’s Unreal Engine plug-in. Demostration highlights included the ability to pull focus from the background to the keyed figure and back again – mind blown – and also you can see lens artifacts, like flaring, through Unreal Engine 4. The new camera bar is faster to set up and is also faster when running with a 300fps performance. RED is low-key at NAB – it saves its exhibition budget for Cine Gear, which is its home patch, with its film studios only a block away. Having said that, there were some important demos; one of those was a private demo of their Ranger camera to Netflix, which we managed to crash (and I’m still not sure how). A demo of 8K playback on a laptop was available legitimately to us and showed how NVIDIA had managed to rewrite the CUDA code inside the software so that 8K playback was more of a smooth operation through GPU acceleration. Watching the GPU struggling without that is what the user base has now, and then with CUDA seeing GPU coming down from 100 to around 35% was impressive, especially when you realise that the graphics board is off the shelf (an ATX Geforce 2080 in this case). SCHNEIDER was showing off its new range of graduated ND filters, which are based on how actual light graduates. Not all ND filters are designed this way. Batches of these filters from Schneider take weeks
to make, with the coating on the inside and laminated glass on the outside. SONY was showing its family of 4K and 6K cameras, including the Venice, which has evolved hugely since its inception at the start of last year. There were demos of the current software and some glimpses of the next version, which is dominated by the multi-frame options. TERADEK ’s big announcement was the Bolt 4K: the industry’s first zero-delay 4K HDR wireless video transmitter. This is a full 10-bit 4:2:2 transmission up to 1500 feet. There’s a whole new radio inside of the Bolt 4K, so you’re getting about eight times more reliable signal than the previous generation managed. There’s better image detail and colour reproduction and, uniquely, Teradek has put Bluetooth inside to synch with a new app for iOS. This has a spectrum analyser inside, so you can see all the noise in the environment before you start transmitting. You can also use the app to pair your transmitters and receivers. The silicon that’s inside is from Amimon, which is used by Arri for its wireless camera. Teradek, as part of Vitec, now own the company, so will have this technology to itself while still supplying Arri.
Bolt 4K is the industry’s first zero- delay HDR wireless video transmitter
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DOCUMENTARY | OUR PLANET
POSTING OUR PLANET For the first time, a major natural history series has been streamed; but what were the requirements to make it look better than traditional broadcast?
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES NETFLIX
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DOCUMENTARY | OUR PLANET T he Extinct Rebellion in London was described by organisers as the biggest civil disobedience event in modern British history with more than 1000 people arrested at time of press, surpassing the anti-nuclear protests of 1982, the Poll Tax riots of 1993 and going further back to the suffragettes and their protests in the early 1900s. How many of those arrested in the latest riots had watched Netflix’s Our Planet isn’t known, as Netflix doesn’t divulge any viewer stats, but there is an awareness of the fragility of our planet that is becoming a constant in our lives. Watching the wonders of Our Planet, with its inherent message, certainly does its part in keeping this creeping tragedy not far from our thoughts. Our Planet is a groundbreaking, four-year collaboration between Netflix, Silverback Films and WWF. It explores the rich natural wonders, iconic species and wildlife spectacles that still remain, and reveals the key issues that urgently threaten their existence. Silverback Films stated: “The ambitious four year project – the largest of its kind ever attempted – takes viewers into never- before-filmed wilderness areas, from the
We managed a lot of the camera channels and also advised on technical aspects of acquisition as well as maintaining and preparing kit for shoots
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GrahamWild mixed the audio at Films at 59 with the tracklaying and sound design being done by Wounded Buffalo which also has a studio in Bristol. Films at 59 also mastered the Dolby Atmos element within their studios. Graham is a freelance dubbing mixer who uses the main theatres at Films for the final mix with the Atmos certification. Graham would then send all the sound deliverables to Films at 59 which were then sent to Netflix. David Attenborough used the studios at Films at 59 to do the narration with a couple of sessions completed in London due to time pressures. Films at 59 has seven dubbing theatres that are capable of helping with every production requirement, from webisodes to feature-length, international, 28-channel cinematic installations. Their main mixing stage is dual picture finishing suite and mix theatre – now offering Dolby Atmos home entertainment with a 9.1.4 set-up to meet the very latest Dolby specification.
pressure was huge to make it look incredible – especially as this was a new genre for the streaming giant. George Panayiotou says, “We’ve been delivering UHD projects for a while; our first HDR delivery was Planet Earth 2 which was three or four years ago for BBC Worldwide. That was a different flavour of HDR; it was HLG as it was for worldwide requirements. Following that we also delivered Blue Planet 2 and Dynasties as HDR programmes, but this was our first Netflix and Dolby Vision HDR delivery.” But George stresses that the company was very well prepared for working with Netflix as it had invested very heavily in infrastructure “from a storage point of view, as well as HDR monitoring grading kit and online kit to be able to deliver the programmes. “We’ve also upgraded one of our dubbing theatres to be able to deliver Dolby Atmos HE and we have two additional theatres that we were able to pre-mix in Atmos as well.” Films at 59’s Capex certainly holds it in good stead for the programmes to be made in the next 18 months; but another feather in their cap is their rental side, which was also used heavily by Silverback. “We managed a lot of the production camera channels and also advised on technical aspects of acquisition as well as maintaining and preparing kit for location shoots.” These landmark series don’t rely on camera rental exclusively but it augments the channels, and Films at 59 maintains those cameras. The show was shot primarily on Red cameras; not surprising, as most recent natural history content is Red- based due to the camera’s reliability and the vital off-speed element that natural history shooters need so much. There were obviously other camera formats for more specialist reasons – probably up to ten others – but the mainstay was Red. QUALITY OF IMAGE If you look at the output from Films at 59 you’d agree that the picture quality standard is high and so it may be a surprise
ice caps and deep ocean to deserts and remote forests, introducing them to the most precious species and places that must withstand the impact of humanity so generations to come can enjoy the bounties of the natural world. Using the latest in 4K camera technology, the series and a range of specially produced storytelling for multi-media platforms will bring millions of people into intimate contact with some of the world’s rarest animals and most precious natural habitats.” WILDLIFE CITY Bristol in the UK makes 40% of the world’s wildlife programmes and is home to Silverback Films and famous post- production studio and rental company Films at 59. We talked with post producer Miles Hall, new business manager George Panayiotou and colourist and online editor Franz Ketterer from Films at 59 about their roles in this landmark series. Our Planet was Films at 59’s first Netflix-delivered show but of course also Netflix’s first natural history show, so the
IMAGES Our Planet was mostly shot with Red cameras but with specialist models, too
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DOCUMENTARY | OUR PLANET
ABOVE Although the show was mostly a Red camera one, up to ten other formats were used
that the Netflix involvement took that picture quality requirement even higher. “Their expectation of quality of image is another step up,” says George. Franz Ketterer continues, “The big change we were planning was that we had to adopt a DI workflow. We’ve posted a number of natural history feature films for theatrical so we’re used to that workflow but I’m not sure we’d used it before on a TV series. It was necessary for many reasons but mainly because of the Netflix delivery requirements. That combined with the quality that they expected, you’re almost posting a series of short feature films. The result was the team managed to make sure every shot worked as hard as it could.” In the traditional TV route, you conform the show after it has been edited, send it to the grade and then to further online edit work for any enhancement that’s needed, then package it and send it out. But here, the grade happened at the very end of the process. “So, all the other work that had to be done for final post was fed through to the grading suite, which became the finishing suite. That’s the normal approach in films, but adopting a DI workflow wasn’t something we’d done for a TV series before. “For us it needed a certain change in mindset amongst the producers as in
Adopting a DI workflow wasn’t something we’d done for a TV series before
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RIGHT Series producer Alastair Fothergill and Sir David Attenborough take a seat
terms of workflow, it turned things on its end; you’re doing things in a different order from what you’re used to.” BASELIGHT CONFORM The core of the whole video post became the company’s Baselight grading suite; when it was picture locked at the end of the offline edit it was conformed into Baselight and then shots came out of there into other software in different suites to do other jobs and then back in to Baselight to be colour graded and finished. The grade itself was a huge undertaking and relied firstly on specific producers’ needs for specific scenes, but overall the series brief was to make it look ‘really beautiful’. Franz again: “There were two episodes in particular that were underwater, Fresh Water and High Seas . They definitely provided the greatest challenges in the
grade. For all the normal reasons, the cameras were struggling to a certain extent the deeper they went underwater, but the expectation was that those images would look just as good as the stuff shot above water. They needed the most work in the grade. “For the majority of the work we used the phrase ‘image enhancement’ which included a great deal of image stabilisation, especially in certain environments – for instance anything that was shot in the arctic tended to be affected by the extremely windy weather and shot on a long lens which exaggerates any camera wobble. There was also a fair amount of noise reduction where things were shot in low light; for instance in the Jungles episode they were quite often filming under a dense canopy, with not enough sunlight coming through so those shots needed a lot of help
in post. We did a great deal of that general cleanup work. Post producer Miles Hall says, “There was also a lot of dirt which had to be cleaned up off the camera lens or off the sensor itself. Again, as the expectations were particularly high for this series, then we had to work harder than normal.” HDR is unremitting when you’re talking about dirt and general location problems. “In the past when working in SDR we might have got away with certain issues.In HDR everything was there to be seen. Sensor dust for instance only became visible when you pushed the pictures in the HDR grade.” Again, as the expectations were particularly high for this series, we had to work harder than normal OUR PLANET IS CURRENTLY STREAMING WORLDWIDE ON THE NETFLIX PLATFORM
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OUR PLANET | DOCUMENTARY
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ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE | G -TECHNOLOGY
Filmmaker Aaron Lieber talks to Definition about G-Technology’s portable rugged drives, with a focus on the new ArmorATD ROAD READY AND RUGGED
THE THREE AMIGOS The appeal of the ArmorATD is that it is affordable, but this added benefit doesn’t mean it falls short on its engineering or design. The drive is a deep blue colour, made of aluminium and crush-proof up to 454g (1000lbs). It comes with a rugged bumper that has a hugging texture to it, so that it does not slide around on any surface. It also boasts a cover to protect the USB port from water, dust or dirt. It’s the entry-level drive that can be taken anywhere and no matter where you take it, you get a feeling it’s going to make it back to your studio. “The attention to detail is there and what I love about G-Technology is that it always make its products sexy. Drives aren’t something you think about as being sexy, but they’re the most important part of your shoot. You could have the best shot in the
ArmorATD is G-Technology’s latest portable hard drive. It joins the company’s rugged collection of drives, which includes the G-Drive Mobile SSD and G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD. The new drive is intended for use on any adventure, across any terrain, and for Aaron Lieber – cool filmmaker and cinematographer from the OC – it’s typically filming surfers in the ocean. “It’s my happy place,” says Aaron. “But working in this kind of environment means that I need a drive that is rugged enough to go with me. I rely on features like water-resistance and durability to give me the reassurance that my shots are backed up to the drive. “What I love about the ArmorATD is its scalability. It is built tough enough for a professional, but it’s also great for a beginner who needs a reliable storage solution to keep up with their adventures.”
world and if it’s not backed up properly, you could lose that. It’s nice to have a product that you can not only rely on, but also enjoy visually,” says Aaron. Aaron uses all three rugged drives on his shoots because, like all filmmakers know, each project is different. It could be the kit, location or budget that’s different, but it’s important that storage companies understand this and provide a full spectrum of entry-level to high-end products for their users. The step up from the ArmorATD is the G-Drive Mobile SSD, which is Aaron’s favourite drive. “It’s my favourite as it’s the size of my iPhone, smaller even. The read and write speeds are 560Mbps, and for my smaller projects, I can just edit straight off the drive,” says Aaron. “Sure, you will need a fast computer, I use my MacBook Pro, but you will really notice a rendering difference with this drive speed. I’ve even noticed a difference with a slower computer and this drive. It helps make up for that latency with being able to access information quickly. It’s why it’s my favourite drive.” The G-Drive Mobile SSD is G-Technology’s most popular drive. What’s great about this drive, from an engineering perspective, is that the blue interior has a function – it pulls away the heat from the internal SSD to keep it cool, preventing overheating and maintain performance. Most SSD manufacturers will throttle the drive, slowing it down to keep it cool, but this affects the drive’s performance. The G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD is the next step up and it is G-Technology’s most luxe portable rugged drive. It has Thunderbolt
“It is tough enough for professionals, but great for a beginner who needs reliable storage”
ABOVE Filmmaker Aaron Lieber (centre) loved the attention to detail of G-Technology’s rugged drives
28 DEF I N I T ION | MAY 20 1 9
G -TECHNOLOGY | ADVERTI SEMENT FEATURE
ABOVE One reason Aaron picked the G-Technology solid state drives was the durability out in the field, giving him that reassurance in shooting
3 connectivity with read speeds of up to 2800Mbps. It is designed for use on production sets, where you either need to transfer work quickly or work natively from it. At the NAB Show 2019, it was announced that a 2TB version of this drive is now available, giving filmmakers that extra capacity. SCALABILITY G-Technology’s scalability of drives is what makes the company so attractive. Aaron has his own philosophy about the different needs of filmmakers and the type of drives they need: “Everyone has a DSLR now and they’re either shooting 1080p or 4K of their kids who are either semi pro athletes or want to be pro athletes. I call these filmmakers Soccer Moms, and they need a drive that is reliable and fast, but is also very affordable,” says Aaron. “The ArmorATD has the same goal of protecting your content as the G-Drive Mobile SSD, but at a more affordable price. Of course, there’s the difference between SSD and HDD, but does a Soccer Mom need SSD? That’s up to them. It’s just nice to have options.” It’s also important to assess your workflow and work out which drive is going to be most efficient for you, believes Aaron. “For me, time is paramount, so the faster drives, such as G-Drive Mobile SSD and G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD, are nice. I’ll spend a bit more money on them, but I can reuse them. A Soccer Mom could have a completely different workflow: they could buy the ArmorATD, use it, then put it back on the shelf for a week or so before using it again. An SSD doesn’t work for everyone,
the vision and the concept. If I’ve got to overthink it, then it’s not for me. I think a lot of filmmakers are like that,” says Aaron. “This is why G-Technology is so appealing to me. I can just unbox a drive, plug it in and it will work instantly. It’s so simple.”
it depends on the level of content you’re trying to create.” Aaron recently shot a piece using all three rugged portable drives in Hawaii. The film is called Into the Wild and it’s about the importance of humans and nature, and our inner longing for it. Its focus is on a boy who Aaron filmed for eight years. “My other big project is Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable , it’s a feature-length documentary about a girl who lost her arm to a shark attack when she was a kid. The film is about her progression and how she’s recovered from it as an adult,” says Aaron. “I’m not the most high tech person and, being a single shooter, I just need something that I know will work when I plug it in. I’m all about getting into
MORE INFORMATION: g-technology.com
MAY 20 1 9 | DEF I N I T ION 29
WI LD ROSE | DRAMA
We speak to director Tom Harper and colourist Simone Grattarola about the making of Wild Rose, a new country music drama starring Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters BORN TO BE WILD
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES BFI FI LM FUND
I f the 2019 Oscars offer evidence of a rising trend, it’s one involving features with musical motifs. They’re no longer simply just blockbusters aimed at entertainment: they now have the capacity to regularly break records, too. Winner of four Academy Awards, Bohemian Rhapsody has made history as the highest-grossing music biopic ever made, while A Star is Born features a soundtrack that rose to number one on the Billboard 200 – and won Lady Gaga her first Academy Award statuette. Then there’s Wild Rose – a new indie feature that promises to capitalise on the ever-growing hunger for music-inspired drama, while simultaneously delivering several completely unexpected twists to the
traditional rising-star narrative audiences might have come to expect. Directed by Tom Harper and graded by Time Based Arts’ Simone Grattarola, with cinematography by George Steel, the film tells the story of Rose-Lynn Harlan, a brazen talent from Glasgow whose dream is to go to Nashville to become a country music star. Her personal problems, however, have the potential to get in the way. The film begins right after Rose-Lynn’s release from prison, where she’s served a year-long sentence on drug offences. Definition spoke to Harper and Grattarola – who graded the feature in Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve – about how they ensured an unsympathetic heroine was nonetheless also relatable.
IMAGES The wild rose herself, Jessie Buckley (top), and DOP George Steel setting up a shot (above)
DEFINITION: How did you first become involved in Wild Rose ? TOMHARPER: I initially heard about it ten years ago, when the film’s scriptwriter, Nicole Taylor, began working on it. It wasn’t until about a year before we started shooting, though, that I read the script after going for a cup of tea with producer Faye Ward. She was just starting to get the project off the ground, and as soon as I read the script, I fell in love with it. I knew I had to get Jessie Buckley on board. We worked together on BBC’s War & Peace and, as both a singer and an actress, I knew the lead role was perfect for her immediately.
MAY 20 1 9 | DEF I N I T ION 31
DRAMA | WI LD ROSE
For Wild Rose, we needed the authenticity only a real location could give us
DEF: What were your main aims going into the film? SIMONE GRATTAROLA: The principal aim was to make Rose-Lynn enough of a rebel, while making sure the audience still empathised with her. The look and feel of the film was delicate in this manner as well. We never wanted to go too far into bleakness; we wanted her world to be vibrant. We needed to provide hope. TH: What appealed to me most about the script is that it felt like an honest portrayal of this young woman who has two conflicting sides to her: one who dreams of becoming a singer, and the other who is a mother and has a responsibility to her children. The two sides need each other and, despite being seemingly separate, they are both firmly intertwined. Enhancing that concept and translating it into film was our main aim, and informed every decision we made from a directorial perspective. From a photographic point of view, too, everything always went back to how we could honestly depict this woman and her struggles. For example, one of the most prominent elements to portraying her story honestly was to make sure we had
ABOVE DOP George Steel with the director, Tom Harper
the right locations. The story takes place in Glasgow, so we didn’t just build a set to look like the city. We filmed in the actual estates the script depicted, to give Wild Rose a proper texture and authenticity. DEF: It’s not very often a Glaswegian council estate doubles as a film set! TH: For Wild Rose , we needed the authenticity only a real location could give us above all else. Being on set meant we had the perfect lighting and environments right off the bat, and the actors were able to respond directly to their surroundings both in Glasgow and when we took the film to Nashville. Being on set also really helped with improvisation. For example, there was one location that just wasn’t quite right, so George and I went for a walk around the block and found somewhere else. The scene just expanded with us. Can you tell us more?
1 Red Weapon camera with 8K Helium sensor 1 Hawk T2.2/3.5 V-Lite Anamorphic prime lens package
DEF: Was the grading process also informed by this shooting style? SG: As ever with Tom and George, we took some time upfront to test
BELOW Julie Walters as Rose-Lynn’s mother
32 DEF I N I T ION | MAY 20 1 9
DRAMA | WI LD ROSE
We discussed how the grade could reflect how the characters were feeling and spent time developing ideas in DaVinci Resolve
TH: We also ensured there was a difference in the grade between
IMAGES DOP George Steel with the Red Weapon (above right), and lead actress and director (above)
WILD ROSE IS CURRENTLY ON UK RELEASE AND COMES OUT ON 14 JUNE IN THE US what we do. Because when it kicks off, you’re all prepared and ready to respond and capture that. This wasn’t acting: it was an authentic gig. TH: My favourite scene was a great concert sequence with a crowd in Glasgow. All the extras were absolutely fantastic, and Jessie gave a great performance where she ended up leaping off the stage and writhing around on the floor – the focus puller wasn’t expecting it at all, so he was flying off trying to get a better look. In that chaos, that’s where the magic happens. That, for me, is why we all do the studio first, but doing it separately for a movie where music is such an intrinsic part of the story felt alien and wrong. Again, it fed back into that core principle of making it as truthful and authentic as possible. We had to shoot in a way where we were always on our feet, ready to light on the fly if Jessie decided to take the action somewhere else during her performance. We wanted to give the actors space and freedom to do their best work, and genuinely have that blur between where film stopped and reality started. George knew if the action went somewhere else, he was free to follow that action. The sound team knew that, too – sometimes they just had to pick up their boom and run. DEF: Do you have any favourite scenes or sequences fromwhen you were making the film?
Glasgow and Nashville, to reflect the natural variations in light and colour we saw in the rushes from the two locations. Rose-Lynn is achieving a lifelong dream by performing in America, so we used Resolve’s grading toolset to create a more extreme look that was more colourful and contrasted, down to there being more blue in the blacks. We then delivered P3 for DCP cinema delivery and Rec. 709 for broadcast and DVD. DEF: What main lessons did you learn throughout the making of Wild Rose ? TH: How to be responsive and adapt our shooting style to incorporate musical performances. All the music was recorded live. We could have recorded it in
grades and create the palette for key scenes during the editorial stage. Rather than it being a ‘look’ grade, it was much more about ‘feeling’, so there were no predefined LUTs. Instead, we discussed how the grade could reflect how the characters were feeling and spent time developing ideas in DaVinci Resolve. There were even a few two-to-one votes where we all had different opinions on the matter! Ultimately, we knew we definitely didn’t want Glasgow to have a glossy, modern look – full of big rooms and brightly saturated. Instead, we wanted the scenes shot there to look a bit grittier and noisier, with grain added.
34 DEF I N I T ION | MAY 20 1 9
L I NE OF DUTY | DRAMA
DUTY CALLS Line of Duty DOP Stephen Murphy breaks down his technique to capture Season 5 of this high-octane police drama
WORDS STEPHEN MURPHY / PICTURES BBC
T he photographic style of Line of Duty has evolved over the years. Season 1 and 2 were shot with a lot of snap zooms, in a slightly more frenetic style; Season 3 moved away from that style, and by the time I joined the team, halfway through Season 4, the visual style had evolved to where it is now. I’d describe our visual style as a long-lens show, shot in a grounded, realistic way. It’s almost documentary in its quest for realism but without the handheld, searching camera that some other police procedural shows embrace. We rarely use handheld cameras, but we do keep the camera moving almost constantly, using a combination of dollies, sliders, steadicam and car rigs. That style worked well for us on my episodes on Season 4 so everyone was keen for us to maintain that visual style for Season 5. GUEST WORLD Each season, the story is split between the world of AC-12 with our three principal cast members and what I guess you’d call our ‘guest world’, the world our principal cast is investigating. AC-12 has a functional reality to its visual style that is very important to maintain. It needs to feel real, and yet still have some visual interest to it. It’s a bright, fluorescent-lit office space, which is appropriate to the reality of how that would be in that world. Then, when we travel outside of that space and into the world of our antagonists, I have the creative freedom to use more shadow, more colour; because again that is closer to the reality of what that world would be. That grounded, functional aesthetic is the show’s style. Sometimes that means willingly embracing imperfect light, imperfect exposure, imperfect composition; but that’s all part of the beauty of the show’s visual style. It’s not supposed to be a glamorous style, it’s not glossy; it’s a beautifully imperfect semi- naturalistic style.
Part of the show’s visual style is the pace at which the show is edited... we work at a fast pace with multiple cameras
LOCATION HEAVY Line of Duty is a challenging show to shoot. It’s shot entirely on location, or occasionally on set-builds within a location, and some of those spaces are very small and or hard to access. That use of locations helps add to the authenticity of its visual style but it does present us with a few logistical problems. Added to that is the speed we have to work at and the amount of coverage we need to get. Part of the show’s visual style is the pace at which the show is edited. Even though we do stage long tracking masters the show is cut at a very fast pace, and part of the energy of the show comes from that editing pace. One of the things we try to do to help that is to provide a lot of coverage, and that means working at a very fast pace with multiple cameras. The key to facilitating that shooting speed is how I light the show. I love soft top-light; it’s beautifully dramatic and it makes working with multiple cameras a little easier. When
IMAGES Season 5 was shot on Arri Alexa Minis with Ultra Primes and Hawk zooms
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