DEFINITION December 2019


December 2019 £4.99

MIGHTY TITAN Rotolight’s smartest LED light breaks the mould

MULTI-CAM ROCK New Kevin Godley video uses 12 cameras JOIN THE DOTS Consolidating the





EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell Staff writer Chelsea Fearnley Contributors Adam Duckworth, Ash Connaughton, 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 Sales manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 Key accounts Nicki Mills 01223 499457 DESIGN Design director Andy Jennings Designer Bruce Richardson Ad production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck DIGITAL Head of Digital Content Daisy Dickinson Instagram @definitionmags Twitter @definitionmags Facebook @definitionmagazine MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK



I f the electronic OEMs listen to some of this industry’s technologists then the arrival of 5G might make high-resolution mobile workflow far easier. Can upload speeds ever be as fast as downloads? If you persuade those OEMs to allow it in their 5G chipsets then possibly. In this issue for the first time we have taken a close look at how 5G can impact the production world – with a possible bandwidth of 1GB/s on your mobile device, we think that it could fundamentally do that. Professional livestreaming at the moment depends hugely on the internet performance of venues; for instance, if you’re streaming a band to fans elsewhere, you have to rely on the bandwidth the venue can provide for you. Streaming President Obama’s farewell speech cost the White House and the production company $40,000: and that was just in internet fees. 5G will be an enabling technology for sure, but will also be exposed to the vagaries of network traffic, as is 4G – but there are other ways to guarantee your service. Using solutions like private LTE and CBRS allows you to become your own carrier and you can then do what you want with your purchased bandwidth. Could we all become 8K broadcasters in the future?


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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The beautiful Motherless Brooklyn includes an Oscar-worthy turn by Ed Norton.


High-end recording company Codex has been bought by view-and-review company Pix – it’s a match made in the cloud. DRAMA


We couldn’t unpick the cinematography from the VFX, so we’ve covered both.


Darling of the eighties music video, Kevin Godley, wanted a one-take multi-cam shoot.


This winsome tale of weather-mad Victorians took some grading. 32 SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER

A large format indie movie with a condensed schedule was a huge production challenge. FEATURES



The latest gear and techniques from the aerial filming world.


5G won’t be around until the end of next year, what will it mean for pro video?




Rotolight’s latest LED design has a surprising new feature: electronically adjustable diffusion. 65 HOLLYLAND MARS 400S A new camera TX/RX unit for the rest of us comes from China. 66 CAMERA LISTINGS



Our unique camera listings now offer kit essentials and recommended accessories.

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Lead actor Ed Norton also directed, co-produced and wrote the screenplay for Motherless Brooklyn , a 1950s tale of a Tourette’s syndrome-suffering private detective. This may be Ed’s pitch at an Oscar nom but he has some heft in support, including Dick Pope BSC lensing the movie with Super 35mm Arri Alexa cameras and Cooke S4 lenses. The film song has been composed by Thom Yorke, and the movie also features Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

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JOINING THE DOTS ACQUISITION NEWS Production futures are pushing workflow companies together to prepare the ground for what is to come


B ack in the day, when digital cinematography was a nascent technology, there was a land grab by electronic image manufacturers, who wanted to establish the status quo and the pecking order. Initially, there were a few digital cameras – some were extensions of university projects and others arrived through the passion of individuals. However, right at the start, there was a camera made by Thomson called the Viper and it had a party trick: it was able to record a fully uncompressed Raw signal straight off the sensor with a mode called Filmstream. This was very new back then. This was enhanced by the Viper’s ability to record Raw image data with all camera correction settings switched off,

allowing post to apply corrections to the Raw data the way you want it to and not the way the camera would do this. Not all digital cameras available in the market did this – they still applied small amounts of correction to the image, giving you less control over the image correction and grading process once in post. The problem was that recording such a large amount of data required new storage technology. There were solutions: a German- made recorder, the Director’s Friend, was the size of a shopping trolley and its fans sounded like a tractor when they started up – inevitably, it wasn’t what the market wanted. New companies sprang up with more promise, like STwo and Codex, with platforms that became hubs for all the

We are already quite a global business and have engineering set- ups across the world different flavours of footage, for online and offline distribution. In fact, it was Codex that eventually carved that niche for itself at the high end, with a system that matured in the right direction for all concerned, building in security and extremely fast transfer drives to deal with the gargantuan amounts of data needed for cameras like the Arri Alexa

ABOVE X2X chief design offer, Marc Dando (left), and X2X CEO, Eric Dachs (right)

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RIGHT Marc Dando is an Emmy award- winning executive, with experience of working with cinematographers and visual effects supervisors

65, which, at present, pushes out around 30 megabytes per frame. PIX BUYOUT This year, Codex was bought by Pix, a well-known, highly secure view-and-review system for the media and entertainment industries. The deal was done in April, but now the two companies are to be brought under a single brand identity with the establishment of the X2X Media Group. Codex’s CEO and now X2X’s chief design officer, Marc Dando, explains the thinking. “The main reason we wanted to consolidate everything under a single group was partly because we wanted everyone to feel they’re were working for the same business under a common name. Also, we will be adding further business units to the group in the future,” he says. “We are already quite a global business and have engineering set-ups across the world, where the talent actually is. We have tremendous teams in Wellington, Budapest and, interestingly enough, we made the move to Leamington Spa a couple of years ago – primarily for our design and manufacturing group, but the access to northern universities and to a vibrant local video games talent pool has been a bonus.” THE SYNERGY It doesn’t take long to see why these companies have found each other. Without much imagination, you can see they aren’t far away from each other in a production flow. “The minute you take a piece of media out of a Codex system, it can go straight

user can use their login and immediately start sharing and collaborating with the content. What we’re doing is capturing the media. People then annotate notes to, say, visual effects and anyone else who needs information about the media. That’s happening immediately. People are reviewing immediately. We’re then sending the camera originals to the cloud. At that point, we’re also creating the deliverables for editorial and, if you have a dailies colourist in there, you can apply a colour profile.” He continues: “Also, if you wanted to, you could also be doing a turnover for VFX within about ten minutes. That sound ambitious, but it happens on a very regular basis, especially when people are in additional photography, because they’ve only got 14 days to shoot a lot of extra scenes at the end. What we’re trying to do is just streamline all the processes to make modern filmmaking more simplified with modern automation processes.” THE FUTURE Codex has been well-known for helping out the highest-end ‘tent pole’ movies, but Dando thinks the introduction of smaller and faster media will help its technology be seen on smaller productions. He concludes: “With the release of the new lower-cost, high-performance media for the Alexa Mini, for example, we’ve got a much wider market just with that product. The other thing we’re doing is releasing a range of CF Express media; this will be a very popular format. Canon has already released its C500 Mark II camera, which will support the media. That’s going to a much wider group of content creators than we normally service. We can offer these people the same workflows as the leading studios, which is a great thing for them.”

into a Pix dailies system, so actually it’s just completing that line. We have an ambition to take the same level of security that we have within the Pix environment and take that to the production environment, so the content is much more secure than it is at this point,” explains Dando. X2X already has a proof-of-concept product on a live set at the moment. “Essentially, what we have done is put a server on-set, so every time the camera gets cut, you immediately have access to that last clip. This isn’t to replace video assist – it very much works alongside it,” insists Dando. “The benefit is that any Pix

We’re trying to streamline all the processes to make modern filmmaking more simplified

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FROM DUST DOP Justin Brown stays true to his source materials when recreating Philip Pullman’s series of novels for the screen. Plus, we talk to VFX supervisor Russell Dodgson about how he brought the daemons to life TILL DAWN


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DRAMA | H I S DARK MATER I ALS I t’s a truth as old as Hollywood itself that the book is always better than the film. Look at what The Golden Compass (starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman) did to Philip Pullman’s first book in the best-selling series of novels, His Dark Materials . It was excised of almost all of the tricky subject matter that doesn’t traditionally go down well in the US – such as the questioning of religion. But, with similar budgets across six hours or more, recent TV adaptations have shown that the transfer from page to screen doesn’t have to disappoint. The first episode of the BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials covers the abduction of Gyptian child Billy, the master’s attempt to poison Lord Asriel, Lyra’s discovery of Dust, her acquisition of the alethiometer and her introduction to Mrs Coulter, who asks Lyra to be her assistant. She and Mrs Coulter then take an airship to London to locate the missing Roger, while the Magisterium and its powers thump in the background. It seems fair to say that, so far, the series promises to unfold into a beautiful, brooding vision of Pullman’s universe, without holding back on the book’s anti- theocratic undertone. DOP Justin Brown worked on the series’ first two episodes and felt keen to make

I felt a duty to adapt His Dark Materials in the way I had always imagined it as a kid

Brown says: “For me, working out how to portray anbaric and naphtha, described as candles or fire, was most difficult. The first time you come across anbaric is in the Retiring Room [a room at Jordan College where the master and his scholars retire after a meal]. We posted single-filament lamps that were about 20 inches long around the room; we didn’t want to use table lamps or fitted practicals, because that’s too much like our own world. Tom

amends for the film. Having read all three books as a child, these were the sole basis of his research. He explains: “I didn’t riff off the film. I was so disappointed by it that I felt a duty to adapt it in the way I had always imagined it as a kid. This was something the whole team across each department felt, too.” In the first episode, it’s explained that the series takes place in a world “both like, and unlike, your own”. It’s a steampunkish parallel universe where electricity is referred to as anbaricity. And there is an Oxford with colleges, but the colleges have names like Balliol, Gabriel and Jordan.

IMAGES Stills from the first few episodes of His Dark Materials

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We had chrome balls and grey balls that helped us understand the direction of the light

Hooper [the director] described this world to me as if religion, or the Magisterium, had control of the strings and, in the 1920s, stopped science in its tracks and let everything else continue. It’s sort of prehistoric in that respect.” PUPPET PASS One other obvious way in which this world is unlike our own is that humans’ souls have their own physical form; they take the form of animals, known as daemons, which don’t settle in shape until their human has reached a certain age. Brown found this similarly difficult to conceptualise. He explains: “In the book, it is the interaction between Lyra and Pantalaimon [her daemon] that draws you in, so you have to be able to show this in the TV adaptation. She has to be able to hold him and he has to be able to change form whenever he wants. They can’t just be in different frames the whole time.” This is something Hooper and VFX supervisor Russell Dodgson thought about deeply, and it was decided that first-pass takes would be done with puppets to help ensure emotional and realistic interactions between human actors and daemons. It also helped Brown frame his shots, because “it’s sometimes hard as a cinematographer to imagine where a daemon or imaginary character is going to sit within a frame if you don’t at least do a rehearsal shoot for reference”, he says. They then filmed clean plates featuring actors and an eyeline, such as a small

stick fixed with a ping-pong ball on top, in place of the puppets. Dodgson explains: “We wanted clean plates, because we didn’t want to be in a situation where 2000 shots needed a puppeteer painted out and a daemon painted in. It’s a lot of work. Imagine a shot of a daemon sitting in front of a fire, like Asriel’s daemon does in the Retiring Room in the first episode. If that was a puppet, we would need to paint that puppet out, rebuild the fire, paint the daemon in, but also get rid of the puppet’s huge shadow that has inevitably been cast by the fire’s light.” He adds: “There were, of course, some instances where we had to use the puppet passes for VFX, just because the actors’ performances were better, which is totally understandable.” The VFX team weren’t just confined to their dark rooms for this production. They were on-set each day and brought with them photorealistic animals, which they’d place in-scene during the prelights to work out

how to light and shade the daemons. Some of the animals were also licenced taxidermy, which helped ensure the lighting reference on the animal’s fur was authentic. Brown says: “If you look back to the 2007 film, which for its time was incredible – I think it won an Oscar for VFX – but there wasn’t all that much interaction between humans and daemons, because it’s so expensive. And, unless you take this approach – the approach that Russell’s team took – it would be impossible for the animators to do their job to the best of their ability.” Dodgson adds: “As well as doing our lighting references, we were on-set to LiDAR scan them and do colour charts. We also had chrome balls and greys balls that helped us understand the direction in which the light was travelling, and we used these each time a scene involving a daemon was shot. The director, DOPs and actors were really respectful of our process, because they knew that if we didn’t get this stuff, the CGI wouldn’t look good.”

IMAGES Behind the scenes, showing the actors with their daemon puppets

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IMAGES Some stills and behind- the-scenes shots, including Lorek Byrnison the armoured bear, in various stages of development

We could only afford to build a quarter of the set, so we put the rest of it within the VR world mode. Consistency is in the capable hands of colourist Jean-Clément Soret, who Brown says is “confident that the series is consistent with the filmic look” established through a LUT developed by Technicolor in the first two episodes. THE RETIRING ROOM According to Brown, one of the hardest scenes to do because of set restrictions and lighting contrasts was in episode 1, where Lyra runs across the rooftops of Jordan College. It is here that she and Pan find a spot to look through the window of the Retiring Room, and they witness the master attempt to poison Lord Asriel by pouring a mysterious powder into a bottle of his favourite Tokay. Brown says: “Because we had a child actress, Dafne, we weren’t permitted to shoot on location. Everything was done on a stage. The college walls, even the roof she’s sitting on was on a stage. Joel [the

NORTHERN EXPOSURE As the series unfolds, we will visit more locations, such as Svalbard and Trollesund in the North, and while Brown wasn’t involved in the photography of these wintery locations, he was able to divulge what the sets looked like. “The whole of Trollesund is a 3D set built within the VR world and, using a headset, you could go into that world and see all the different parts of the city through a very sort of arbitrary video game graphic. And, since it was LiDAR scanned, you could see the topography and the elevation in which it disappeared behind buildings or where it met water. You could also plot the sun path based on the time of the year and build and sunrise and sunset to see where the shadows would fall. This is an incredible tool for a DOP, because it means you can change the geography of a set, so that the shadows are favourable to the time of day you want to shoot.” Virtual sets helped cut costs and were used in a number of scenes, including the crypt in the depths of Oxford for episode 1. Brown explains: “We could only afford to build a quarter of it, so we put the rest of it within the VR world. In that world, we placed actors based on their positions in rehearsals, and framed up those shots based on our lenses. We got the VFX team to build lenses centred around the Arri

Alexa LF, so when we took screenshots, we knew that everything would be within the camera frame.” On the odd occasion Brown did have to shoot into the void, where the set couldn’t be built, the VFX team would allocate some of its budget to digitally extend it. This kind of planning enabled him to understand the constraints of the set before it was even built. The decision to shoot in 4K with the Alexa LF was Brown’s. Having used this format on the Channel 4 and Netflix lovechild The End of the F**king World , he sensed the BBC would be in a similar position, where a 4K shoot would be needed for other broadcast platforms. “At the time, the Alexa LF had just been released, so we snapped up the opportunity to use it. We were also the first TV project to use the Alexa LF but, because of how late His Dark Materials has come out, we’re probably like the 5000th production to release something shot on this camera,” he laughs. “I’ve trusted the Alexa forever, though; the colour profile, the highlight range and the gain floor is, in my opinion, the most cinematic of all the cameras.” Brown chose Zeiss Supremes and Zeiss Master Primes, which covered the Super 35 frame he was shooting. The Master Primes, however, were switched out for something wider by the DOP in episode 4, who chose to work with the camera in full-frame

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“I discovered when I was working on the project how much excitement and expectation surrounds it,” says Jean-Clément Soret, Technicolor’s senior digital supervising colourist. Soret was responsible for helping the various directors and cinematographers on the project to maintain a consistent look throughout the series and was brought on early to consult on the colour palette. “There was no pilot for this series, so episode 1 defined the leading look for the whole of the first season,” says Soret, who worked closely with cinematographer Justin Brown and director Tom Hooper on the first two episodes. “We had early discussions on how to replicate 35mm colour space, and we had the Technicolor colour science team involved in creating look up tables and emulations of print looks with material provided by Justin that were shot on film and digital. “When we did the test with Justin on 35mm, we tried to decipher how it would look compared to digital. The decision was made to add a bit of subtle film grain throughout the episode. As a colourist, you play with sharpness, softness, defocus whether on the whole image, whether on some parts of the image, and it’s really playing with textures and that’s part of colour grading. “In colour grading, there is always lots of yourself you put into the work. It’s your own taste, techniques, your own recipes.” GRADING THE MULTIVERSE ABOVE As there was no pilot for His Dark Materials Jean-Clément made sure the look was established in Episode 1

We tried to be clever with the animals we chose, so they always gave us a range of emotion

agreed straight away that the daemons should look and act like real animals. It would have been a deal-breaker for me if she had wanted to cartoonify the daemons or warp their faces with the actors’.” The children’s daemons change form frequently, but this would be difficult to portray in the show without confusing the viewer. Dodgson says: “In the first book, Pan takes about 35 different animal forms. We gave him eight in the series. Not because of budget, but because we wanted the audience to fall in love with the character and become familiar with how he behaves in different circumstances. You can’t do that if Pan is always different. You need a baseline so you can develop and understand the character, and I didn’t feel that – with 35 different characters across eight hours of TV – I would be able to make a consistent, recognisable, understandable and loved performance.” Pan changes form to reflect Lyra’s feelings and her situation. When she’s sleeping, he’s the comforting stoat. When she’s feeling adventurous, he’s the curious pine marten. However, this changes when Lyra’s adventure takes her north and Pan takes the form of an arctic animal instead. Dodgson adds: “We tried to be clever with the animals we chose, so they always gave us a range of emotion and performance based on their characteristics.” Pan isn’t the only human’s daemon that got a meticulous casting. This was done for all the daemons, and Dodgson looked at hundreds and hundreds of photographs of different animals to define their disposition

production designer] created an incredible set for the Retiring Room. It had a beautiful vaulted ceiling and dark mahogany walls.” He continues: “And so, we had this dark interior, what was supposed to be daylight on the outside and some windows. Tom also likes to let his actors rehearse and then almost inhabit the space and go where they want to go – so it was quite a tricky scene for me to light. I couldn’t just place marks. The lighting almost needed to be 360, because we shot the whole scene in one go. I think it looks great, though. It’s just how I imagined that scene when I was reading the book as a kid.” A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND Dodgson’s decision to join the TV show hung on whether Jane Tranter, who works at Bad Wolf productions in Cardiff, shared his vision for the daemons. Luckily, she did. He explains: “When you create creatures that speak, there are a few immediate questions you have to ask yourself. The first is, how human do you make them; should their expressions and gestures be human? The second is, do you make them cartoony or realistic? We both

IMAGES Shots of Lyra, played by Dafne Keen, and her daemon, Pan



Lighting the fur so it still looks like fur is its own nightmare

Fur is next in the VFX pipeline, but before this can be added, the artists have to understand how it responds to light – which proved quite tricky when working with the transparent and tube-like fur of a polar bear. “In this instance, light does three things. If it hits the surface of the bear it either bounces off, travels through (and, as it travels, the light changes colour based on the bits of colour in the fur) or it goes inside the fur and bounces around before coming back out again. We have to know this, so when we light the fur, it still looks like fur, which is its own nightmare,” he laughs. “There’s also someone that’s grooming the daemon, someone who’s literally giving it a digital haircut. What they do is brush the fur to follow the flow of the fur as the body moves. And then they twist and clump it when the fur touches the ground or gets a bit matted. This is then attached to the skin and simulated in the same way as we simulated skin falling over bone and muscle.” Dodgson explains that if one person sat down to do all this it would have taken them eight months to do just one daemon – and they did 50. He says: “It’s a labour of love, and this was just the beginning. We hadn’t done any shots yet.” THE GOLDEN MONKEY For Dodgson, the most important thing was defining the daemon’s personalities and making sure they would match the strong performances of their human counterparts. He explains: “This show has Ruth Wilson, who is powerful and emotive as Mrs Coulter – and our job is to put a monkey in the shot next to her. Can you imagine how disastrous that would be if it went wrong?” The golden monkey is an interesting daemon, because it doesn’t speak. Its personality has to be conveyed through its physicality, which took some time to work out. Before production on the series had started, Dodgson and Wilson discussed what it meant that Mrs Coulter’s daemon

on-screen. He also spent time at a zoo and took up the company of pine martens, where he studied and filmed them as reference for Pan. Creating the daemons is a lengthy process that starts with an initial sculpt to define the animal’s body shape, volume and proportions. It’s a digital sculpt, but it’s done in the same way you’d do an actual physical sculpt with clay – only you’re using digital clay and sculpting tools on a computer. Then there is a rigger, who fuses art and maths to create the skeleton of the animal. Every single bone joint, from jaw to toe, is constructed and assigned limits, so an elbow would only have the range of movement of an elbow, for example. Muscles are created next and are made to bend and flex just as a muscle would. These are then applied to the skeleton and the sculpt is wrapped around the bones as skin. Dodgson says: “Then we build our creature effects system, which simulates skin sliding over bone as the muscle moves. The best way to describe this is if you imagine a horse running; you can see its skin sliding over its ribs, and it’s in that moment that you realise an animal is made up of muscle, bone and sinew.”

had settled as monkey when she was and child; and what she had done to herself emotionally over the years to create such a dysfunctional relationship with him. He explains: “If your daemon settles as a monkey, it’s likely because you’re a bit cheeky. But for her, the monkey is evil. He’s a sort of self-harm for her. In the book, there is a scene where she grabs the monkey and pinches its fur, which is basically visual externalised self-harm. The pain makes her focus. It’s quite a complex relationship – so we looked into the third book to see where her relationship with the monkey goes and worked our way back to make sure we’ve got a way of getting from one place to another just through physical performance.” Dodgson resolves by telling us his favourite scene, which is the bit where Mrs Coulter is visited by emissaries working for the Magisterium, who threaten to shut down her research. When Lyra confronts her about it, she sets her monkey on Pan. It is a one-sided conflict, an act of pure bullying, which he describes as being “more like emotional child abuse, since the daemons represent their souls rather than their physicality.” In the aftermath, Mrs Coulter blurts out the truth: Lord Asriel is Lyra’s father, but fails to mention that she is also Lyra’s mother. “That’s what I love about this scene. Mrs Coulter has just dropped this knowledge bomb on Lyra and wants to give her a hug, because she’s her mum, but Lyra doesn’t know that, so she remains without feeling. But, if you watch the monkey, you will see that we delivered the internal softness and empathy Mrs Coulter feels through his facial expressions.” It’s a lot of pressure to adapt a series that is so beloved by its readers, but it certainly seems that Brown and Dodgson are determined to do it justice. HIS DARK MATERIALS IS ON BBC ONE/ iPLAYER AND HBO/HBO NOW IN THE USA

IMAGES (Top) Mrs Coulter and her golden monkey daemon, and (above) Lee Scorseby’s daemon, a hare called Hester

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MULTI-CAM Director Kevin Godley decided to take an unusual one- take multi-cam approach when shooting a music video UNIVERSE


I have been collaborating with the director, Kevin Godley, for over 20 years, starting on the music video for Theme from Mission: Impossible by the U2 band members Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton for the first MI movie. That was shot on motion control over six days... at one frame a second. Not quite the way music videos are done now! I have shot around 30 music videos with Kevin since then and he is an incredibly creative director, and the jobs I shoot with him are never simple. WAITING FOR SMITH This music video is for a new artist called Harry Lloyd and his band, Waiting for Smith. It was a simple performance video with Harry at a piano in a dark studio. Perfect, how easy could that be? Needless to say, Kevin had something slightly different in mind, and asked me if we could shoot this on ten plus cameras, all in one take. Obviously, at this stage, as in every stage, the answer is ‘yes’, and there ensued a rambling decision-making process involving Lucy Nolan, the producer from Smash Productions, my main camera assistant, Joseph Edwards, Kevin and me.

Initially, I thought of shooting on a Panasonic GH5, as I have used them a lot on car shoots for TV commercials. However, Joseph suggested looking at the BMPCC. I owned the earlier version and, as long as there was enough light, the picture on that camera was outstanding. So that, considering we would be shooting in a studio and I could control the light – and the fact Joseph promised me he could get the ten cameras – kind of sold me down that line. We decided to shoot Blackmagic Raw as ProRes, which was my first thought, but actually took up more memory. Data was always going to be an issue, and shooting ten plus cameras meant the accumulation of cards had a real chance of creating a data blockage at the downloading stage. We decided to record on CFast cards and then use a RAID system to download at speed. CONSISTENT GLASS My next challenge was lenses. I needed to keep a consistent look throughout all the cameras. I have shot some time-slice segments before and, if the look changed between cameras, it could become a real

issue in post. The obvious way to avoid that was keeping all the lenses the same. Obviously, budget was a large factor in this; ten full sets of Master Primes wasn’t a realistic option. So it really came down to Micro Four Thirds lenses. I have always been a fan of Olympus lenses for their consistent look and, with the newer pro

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line having the base stop of f/2.8 or more, I decided to go with these. Now it was down to Joseph to source them. The cameras also came from Joseph, who owned four; Location Lighting had another couple; Tash Zund, one of Joseph’s assistants, had one; and Hireacamera. com were able to provide three. The lenses came from Hireacamera, the Flash Centre in London, Fat Llama (which is a peer-to- peer lending service) and Cameraworks in Islington, they included three 7-14mm f/2.8, four 12-40mm f/2.8, two 40-150mm f/2.8 and two 25mm f/1.2. We also had two Canon 100mm Macros, as we were unable to source the Olympus Macros. ENTER THE 6K It was at this point, Joseph let me know he could get me a couple of the new 6K BMPCC with an EOS mount. Well, you don’t say no to that kind of offer, so we had two of those as well. Due to the camera mount and the size of the sensor, I opted for Canon L glass. Of course, I would rather stay all Olympus, but in this case, it wasn’t an option. They wouldn’t cover the Super 35 sensor. Capture was done straight to Samsung SSDs.

Kevin Godley had something slightly different in mind, and asked me if we could shoot this on ten plus cameras, all in one take

IMAGES Artist Harry Lloyd surrounded by Blackmagic Pocket Cinema cameras

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set-up, we shot about three to four takes. The track was about three minutes 50 seconds, so we were looking at around 48 minutes per take over the 12 cameras, hence my earlier data point. Thankfully, the fact we were shooting against black meant the amount of data wasn’t that large. We ended up shooting around 3TB for the whole project. Moving the cameras around became a bit of an issue; each HDMI to SDI converter needed power, the cameras needed power as they were on for so long... So, in among the seven tripods was a mains supply and BNC cables going back to the Blackmagic Multiview. However, Joseph and his assistants made this pretty much a non- event and, apart from the floor looking like spaghetti junction, we were able to reset shots in about half an hour. Five hours later, we were all done. I think we ended up with around 7.5 hours of material – something of a challenge for the editor, Eoin McDonagh in Dublin. I’m looking forward to seeing the final result. spinning the piano around and moving the camera into different positions I think we ended up doing five different set-ups,

ABOVE Part of the crew and the well-rigged Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema cameras

However, that wasn’t the end of the challenges. With Kevin wanting to shoot on ten cameras – now 12 – we also needed to monitor and record for playback. Joseph to the rescue again! The biggest challenge was going from HDMI to SDI using a converter for each camera, and then from that to a 50-inch Sony TV, where we could see all the cameras. This involved putting the camera feeds through a Blackmagic Multiview switcher, which then gave Kevin and myself a view of all the cameras at once. We also fed the images via an Atomos Shogun so we could record and playback the takes. The downside was that there was a slight delay with live and preview images, and not something we could sort with the budget as it stood. Aside from this was a DIT station where Joseph and his two assistants, Natasha Zund and Barry Jarmen, were able to download the CFast cards after each set-up. Kevin elected to do a number of 12-camera set-ups on the performance; I think we ended up doing five different set-ups, spinning the piano around and moving the cameras into different positions. Mounting the cameras was always going to be a thing. I decided to have five on a scaffold beam using K clamps to hold the camera and the other seven on tripods of various flavours with the odd

sandbag to get an unusual view, feet on peddles etc. LIGHT IT UP My next issue was how to light it. I was faced with a baby grand piano in a black space. We shot this in Studio 1 at Park Village, which is a fantastic central London Studio, giving adequate space to shoot TV commercials. Park Village Studio 1 is generally white, and painting the whole space black wasn’t really an option, so we used a number of black 12x12 foot drapes provided by Location Lighting. As the cameras were going to be in multiple positions, I decided to adopt a very simple lighting plan. Bernie Prentice, my gaffer, hung four S60 Arri Skypanels directly above the set and hung a 8x8 foot full grid cloth to soften even further. He then rigged a LiteMat 4 bicolour with a softbox to fill Harry’s face for close-ups. This was all controlled via Wi-Fi and, at full power, I had a stop of around T5.6. Once we had pre-lit, the piano was brought in and tuned. Of course we were running playback of the track, but it was important for Harry that he could play the piano for real. Having had an 8am call time, we were ready around 10am and turned over around 11am for the first set-up. On each

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SPEED, RELIABILITY AND ROBUSTNESS DOP Andrew Boulter needed a solution to a high-data transfer in Saudi Arabia or risk missing a connecting flight. He found it with the Samsung Portable SSD X5

Portable SSD X5 can withstand drops of up to two metres. Also, with Samsung’s portable SSD software, the drive securely protects your data by providing optional password protection through AES 256-bit hardware encryption. Boulter explains how the shoot proceeded: “Essentially, it was to be planned, recce’d, shot and edited in about a week, involving a DOP, me, from London, a production company in Jeddah, an agency and an editor in Beirut.

2800/2300MB/s. Its read/write speeds are up to 5.2x/4.5x faster than Samsung’s SSD (SATA) and up to 25.5x/20.9x faster than a standard HDD. HIGH-END GEAR As Boulter was going to film on residential streets, he had peace of mind that the portable drive came with housing and an internal protection guard made from a durable yet light magnesium should there be any accidental mishaps, as the Samsung

ANDREW BOULTER IS an experienced director of photography and is used to turning around last-minute briefs. A recent job saw him fly to Saudi Arabia, and he made sure he packed his latest device: a Samsung Portable SSD X5. Boulter explains: “In this business, you get used to fast jobs. This one was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and was no exception. I was contacted by an advertising agency to film a piece of social media for a big-name sports brand, and it featured a footballer who plays for one of the Saudi clubs. My basic brief was to make a short piece of about 45 seconds illustrating that this footballer had arrived back home.” He had taken the Samsung Portable SSD X5 with him to prepare for a quick turnaround. The Samsung portable drive uses technologies such as NVMe and Thunderbolt 3, and its exceptional speed offers read/write speeds of up to

IMAGES The Samsung Portable SSD X5 comes with housing and an internal protection guard made from durable magnesium

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He admits: “Frankly, I thought we’d miss the flight, which was at 6pm, but the speed of the download with the Samsung Portable SSD X5 was astonishing. Chadi was surprised, I was surprised. It felt like the transfer was almost a GB a second. I know it wasn’t, but we ended up backing up the cards in about 15 minutes – about 45 minutes quicker than it normally takes. Thanks to the Samsung portable drive, we made the flight.” Boulter continues: “I use a lot of different types of hard drives, and there is a simple criteria: speed, reliability and robustness. The Samsung Portable SSD X5 flies through, it’s super small – yes, it really does fit in your pocket – it’s robust... I dropped it on this trip at least once and the rubberised coating takes accidents in its stride. The main event, however, is its blistering speed. I’ve never been a great believer in specs – it’s the real-world tests that tell you all. Samsung works as it claims.” He concludes by reflecting on his future projects: “I’m off to Dubai on the next job, 35˚C in the shade, filming cars in the desert. I’ll have my Samsung Portable SSD X5 with me. In fact, it’s already in my bag. Now I just need to get another one!”

“The main event, however, is its blistering speed. The real-world tests tell you all”

managed. On these shoots, managing the data is way down the list – I just needed a reliable, fast and portable hard drive.” CRITICAL TIMING Transferring the footage always happens at the end of the day and, most of the time, takes longer than planned. This was the case with Boulter’s shoot, where he had the added problem of needing to catch a vital flight out to Beirut. He recalls: “My DIT, Chadi, was using a laptop as a transfer device, backing up as we went, but because of the speed we had to shoot at, I was losing the star footballer at 4pm to training, so constant changing of CFast cards and backing them up wasn’t an option. I really couldn’t afford to lose a crew member. We ended up with three 256GB cards pretty much full. We managed to download one, but the remaining two could only be done at the end.”

“We were filming on some residential streets in Jeddah and inside a local football ground in 35˚C. I had immense trust in my filming gear and, having just returned from India where I was filming in 39˚C heat in Delhi, I knew the camera wouldn’t have an issue, but data needs to be backed up and hard drives have never been the most reliable devices,” Boulter says. He continues: “I decided to go with the Samsung Portable SSD X5 drive. I calculated I needed around a terabyte of data, but we ended up using 750GB and the drive had to make a flight – with a person, obviously – in the evening to Beirut. One of the drawbacks of shooting digital (and anyone who has done this has experienced it) is the wait for the data to be backed up. “When shooting 3.2K on a camera, you know you’re going to be dealing with quite a few GBs, and that process can take over an hour or two unless the data pipeline is


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F or the fictionalised account of a historic balloon flight and Steel scaled new heights in design to ground the story in reality. For this, they worked closely with colourist Simone Grattarola, who used DaVinci Resolve to refine the balance of colour and light as the gas-filled craft lifts into the atmosphere. The Amazon Studios feature stars Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne as a daredevil balloon pilot and pioneering meteorologist respectively, and is told in something very close to real time. Grattorola’s relationship with Steel and Harper goes back a number of projects, beginning with the original series of Peaky Blinders as well as BBC drama War & Peace and indie feature Wild Rose . The director and DOP involved Grattorola in prep for camera tests, and tests for makeup or costume, working on-set with the camera company and DIT to bring footage into the grading suite. breakthrough scientific expedition, director Tom Harper and DOP George

“Following tests for The Aeronauts , we designed a more bespoke LUT, not one that was all-singing, all-dancing, but one with an identity that George and Tom wanted for the piece,” he explains. VFX With 666 VFX shots, this look development was going to be useful for monitoring on- set and all the way through the pipeline. “Tom and George wanted something that was quite naturalistic rather than one with a big look to it,” Grattarola explains. “We all felt the look didn’t want to get in the way of selling the VFX. We’re not creating a whole fantasy world. This is based on a real story, so the intention was that the basket and balloon sequences, in particular, feel bedded in reality.” While the flight takes up most of the screen time, there are flashback sequences that show the audience how the characters met and how their mission took shape. To increase the impact of the balloon rising into the open sky, Steel decided to film with a dual aspect ratio. Sequences of

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We added nuances of grain, including 200T and 250D stocks and applied a finer 64D for the balloon sequences

8K NEGATIVE Steel elected to shoot in 8K largely to accommodate VFX. DIT Tom Gough managed colour workflow on-set through Pomfort Livegrade and converted the Raw files to EXR for export to Resolve. Company 3 received 4K EXRs from the VFX companies and conformed them in Resolve. “The team at Company 3 were downloading files as shots came in, which were colour traced and updated into the working timeline. We reviewed VFX one day, then were sent new VFX shots, which we refined again and fed back to VFX,” Grattarola says. “That process between VFX and colour grade built up over a few weeks and had everyone working to create something that felt very realistic.” Grattarola also oversaw creation of the P3 Master and Rec. 709 deliverable, as well as the Dolby Vision theatrical version and a HDR deliverable for Amazon. “We wanted to create a nice contrast ratio in the film and we found those solid blacks in the image when playing back on the laser projector at Dolby.” He adds: “I’ve worked on projects where you are delivered final VFX, you colour grade on top and there’s no room to finesse. Working with everyone on this project was very collaborative and I think that the process in itself was creative. THE AERONAUTS IS ON RELEASE IN THE UK, BUT HAS A LIMITEDUSA RELEASE INDECEMBER

and Rodeo FX, and Grattarola and the post team at Company 3. COMPANY 3 Grattarola is a partner at VFX and colour facility Time Based Arts, but on this occasion was working out of Company 3 in London. “I was included in a lot of the VFX reviews to give feedback on the overall look,” Grattarola says. “With a lot of shots of the basket against bluescreen, it was useful for Tom and George to have my eyes alongside theirs as the backgrounds were being created.” The most challenging and creatively gratifying aspect was rendering the scenes of the balloon’s journey believable. The flight not only passes through different altitudes – with light changes at different heights and times of day – but with weather conditions to contend with, too. Grattorola explains: “All these factors came into play and we needed to help the audience believe we’re entering clouds or a storm on the way up and descending. Our characters reach the top of the world, where they are looking up to the stars with clouds far below them and, as they descend, they are going through snow and the harsh daylight transitions to dusk.” He continues: “The dynamic between these different light and climatic conditions at different heights was a very refined process.”

the balloon are in 1.85, with the flashback scenes in 2.39. “When you see the film in IMAX, you are suddenly transported from flashbacks with the 2.39 crop into this big open vista, which is really impactful on the bigger screen,” Grattarola says. “We felt we could push the look of the flashbacks a little further to emphasise the dirt and grime of late 19th-century London,” he adds. “We added nuances of grain, including 200T and 250D grain stocks and applied a finer 64D for the balloon sequences. It’s all quite subtle and subjective to separate the two environments.” VFX-loaded films tend to necessitate a back and forth between the editorial and VFX departments, but the workflow for The Aeronauts was unusually collaborative. According to Grattarola, there was a genuinely iterative process for cutting in VFX shots and fine-tuning the colour at various stages between editor Mark Eckersley and supervising VFX editor Russell Pawson, the facilities Framestore

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OUT SCHOOL’S With an insanely short schedule, DOP Thomas Hole shot School’s Out Forever for Rebellion Studios using some cutting-edge large format gear WORDS PH I L RHODES / PICTURES REBELLION STUDIOS

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IMAGES Sorting some bounced fill on the set of School’s Out Forever

S hooting a feature film in just a few weeks is difficult. And doing that on a tight budget is even more difficult, but between July and August 2019, that was the task facing director of photography Thomas Hole on Rebellion’s School’s Out Forever . The company is perhaps best known for games such as Sniper Elite and a series under the Alien vs Predator banner, but recently took a bold step into screen production with the purchase of a £100m production facility in Oxfordshire. Plans include a slate of content based on the company’s other properties, including a television production titled Mega City One based on the Judge Dredd comic series and Rogue Trooper , based on the game of the same name, to be directed by Duncan Jones. School’s Out Forever is based on Scott K Andrews’ post-apocalyptic novel of the same name, published in 2012 under Rebellion’s Abaddon Books imprint. Hole became involved, he says, via director Oliver Milburn. “We worked together years ago when he was a VFX supervisor – he’d had this feature come up as a pitch and said, ‘Tom, I feel like you’re the right guy’. That was last summer. Rebellion actually funded a teaser, which is very rare for a company to do. They funded a scene, we shot the scene in January, then the producer Emma Biggins

said it was all funded and was going to go ahead,” he explains. THE PREP PROCESS “I went into prep on it in July,” Hole continues. “We started shooting at the end of July through to the end of August, so it was a super tight schedule. We shot the whole feature in a month.” Most of School’s Out Forever was shot at Eltham College in Mottingham, and at a school in Ipswich. “We shot our interiors in London and our exteriors in Ipswich. It was about 70% interiors and 30% exteriors, and all the exteriors were pretty much night exteriors.” With scenes, including a climactic finale, cutting rapidly back and forth between two locations covered weeks apart, Hole compliments the script supervisor Rebecca King, saying: “I’d never seen continuity so busy.” While the weather was kind, the resources available to Hole and his crew were stretched by the demands of the narrative. “We had really big scenes with no generator. We had no generator for the whole shoot, which was tough. Going into a feature without really big heads was very tough, because we were still lighting huge things. I used a lot eight-by-eight Litemats, which are super low power. That was our moon,” he explains.

We were the first narrative in the UK to use the Panavision Panaspeed lenses

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