Definition January 2023 - Web

The December edition of Definition celebrates documentaries, documentary-makers and the kit they use makes essential reading for anyone in production. With advice from award-winning Adam Wishart and Peter Beard and a Wildscreen Festival roundup, it’s essential reading for budding and established documentary-makers.


De Gracia invokes zoom and brings horror to Bolton


Doctor Who director brings demons to life in Egypt

Screens of all hues breathe fire into blockbuster Game of Thrones prequel

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B ig-budget dramas and high-end VFX dominate as we kick off a new year of Definition, taking a detailed look at a combination of ratings hits and critically acclaimed series from the world over. We hear from specialists behind BBC and Netflix series Red Rose , as well as HBO’s behemoth House of the Dragon – the long-awaited and much- anticipated prequel to Game of Thrones . Plus Doctor Who and Torchwood director Colin Teague discusses his team-up with Tony Jordan for Saudi-backed thriller The Devil’s Promise . Of course, for any project to have a chance of success, it needs support from the outset – but not every great idea gets commissioned or funded. We find out about numerous success stories from both established and new entrants who bypassed broadcasters and studios to realise their visions by themselves. Last, but by no means least, attentions turn to Barcelona for juggernaut AV event Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), which runs from 31 January to 3 February. The managing director of this key show explains what attendees can expect when they land in the Catalan capital at the end of the month. Enjoy the issue – and here’s to a prosperous 2023!



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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.


DEPUTY CHIEF SUB EDITOR Matthew Winney SUB EDITORS Harriet Williams, Ben Gawne CONTRIBUTOR Adam Duckworth


Cover image © 2022 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc.




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Industry 17 DNEG GOES DOWN UNDER VFX specialist opens shop in Sydney – and other news 21 RUN THE SHOW What to look forward to at ISE 2023 in Barcelona 33 ON A BANKROLL

Production 06 WORKING WITH THE DEVIL Acclaimed director Colin Teague brings Islamic mythology to the small screen


The human touch deployed in the making of a teen horror series set in Bolton, Red Rose

Tips on how to make your own content if you can’t get that commission


How VFX brought drama to the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon




We ask the industry how global events are impacting supply chains

A focus on lenses and filters

58 ALTERNATIVE FLAGSHIP Newer and advanced tech with the Canon XF605 Regulars 63 CAMERA LISTINGS The low-down on the latest kit

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24 33 58

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Working with the Devil Doctor Who and Torchwood director Colin Teague explains how you make a blockbuster with poor internet connectivity – and an FX company hit by war

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Mahmoud Youssef & MBC

C olin Teague is one of the most to his name. The first director for the Russell T Davies Doctor Who , plus episodes of spin- off Torchwood and the pilot episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures , he was also Bafta- nominated for Being Human and directed The White Queen for BBC/Starz, which secured three Golden Globe nominations. His most recent project saw him fly out to north-east Africa in order to make sought-after directors in the biz, with a slate of large-scale series, miniseries, indie films and dramas

something quite different to his output over the past 20 years. The Devil’s Promise , set and shot in Egypt, is a six-part fantasy thriller written by Tony Jordan ( Hustle , Life on Mars ) along with Anji Loman Field ( EastEnders ). Teague and Jordan had worked together on Saudi thriller series Rashash , so this was their second time collaborating against an Arabian backdrop. Produced by MBC Studios – the Egypt-based subsidiary of Saudi Arabian broadcaster MBC Group – The Devil’s Promise concerns a man called Ibrahim



“Jinn are very much real in Middle Eastern culture – even today. There was a lot of research made into their history to make it feel authentic”

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PRETTY GREEN Green screen material was relatively easy to source in Egypt, with the crew creating a 270° set for shooting all their CGI-background scenes. VFX shots were then passed onto effects houses in Ukraine and India

pyramid was one of the first to be built from clay, as opposed to stone. Over the centuries, rain and degradation mean it is collapsing on itself. There’s a skull-like face and we thought that would be good with our story. We used a lot of plates around it and had it as our backdrop for a big fighting sequence, with jinns flying around on harnesses. We then

who sells his soul to Iblis (the Devil) in a desperate attempt to save his wife when she is diagnosed with a rare, incurable brain tumour. HELLISH TIMES For those not au fait with Islamic mythology and theology, invisible creatures called jinn – spirits that can take the form of people and animals – appear often. To make things even more interesting, these demons continue to play a role in modern Arabian life. “Jinn are very real in Middle Eastern culture – even today – so there was a lot of conversation and research into their history to make it feel authentic and sympathetic to the region,” says Teague. Ukrainian company Terminal FX was commissioned to create Iblis using CGI, as well as a jinn world made of sand. However, serendipity played a major “Over the centuries, rain and degradation mean it is collapsing on itself. The skull-like face was good for our story”

role when it came to finding the ideal backdrop for some of the biggest scenes. Just over an hour’s drive from the capital is the Pyramid of Amenemhat III (better known as the Black Pyramid), which Teague says was the perfect setting. “The locals from Cairo had never heard of this landmark,” says Teague. “It looks like there’s a devil’s face on it. This

JUST DESERTS The crew shot lots of plates and a large action sequence on location in the desert, with the Pyramid of Amenemhat III comprising the backdrop



PICTURE THE SCENE Shooting on location all over Cairo left Teague and his team with no shortage of amazing sets and backdrops

“After the war began, our VFX team was dispersed into Poland, Norway and various countries”

was particularly hard emotionally for everyone involved.” It was obvious that Terminal was going to need some help, so some of the VFX work was passed to another company. “The problem was, Terminal couldn’t even use its own server, so they had to access one in the cloud and that reduces capacity. Plus there’s a cost involved,” explains Teague. “So, we all did what we could to help them out because we could see it was going to be tough. We took all the clean-up work and gave it to Hula Hoop in India. Lots of productions have clean-up work now – like adding more blood in a sequence. The move

manipulated the plates to make them look like burning sand.” Loman Field explains how the introduction of these techniques means writers can approach projects differently to the past. “Colin gave me carte blanche to plunge into the wildest depths of my imaginings,” she says. “Not all my ideas ended up in the shooting scripts, though many did – these techniques enable us to visualise totally freely.” Teague and his team took the decision to use green screen, as the material was easier to source. The set had a huge 270° of on-camera angles, which was used to shoot all the scenes and sequences. However, VFX deployment wasn’t without its problems. The invasion of Ukraine meant there were complications ahead after the series had wrapped. “You can imagine the issues we had in post after the war began – the whole team was dispersed into Poland, Norway and various countries,” Teague says. “The managing director went to Canada, while several artists stayed in Kyiv. Some were even enlisted to fight for the Ukrainian army. The team did an incredible job in very tough conditions – sometimes it

meant Terminal could focus on the big 3D models and animation.” Several months were spent on perfecting the look of the jinn and the Iblis world, and Teague knew he had a big project on his hands. “The war coming along just meant there was a race to the finish line,” he says. “It created more pressure at the back end because of the CGI-heavy effects in later episodes. So, as we built up to the climax, it was all hands on deck as we tried to negotiate the number of shots. When you consider 200-250 shots, with over 1200 visual effects within the series, it’s not a small job.”

TOMB RAIDERS This mystical drama series draws on Egyptian and Arabic mythology, directed with Colin Teague’s characteristic flair and charm



Still, Teague says there were no issues with delivery and that the post house unit ‘did an amazing job’. What’s more, the series was wrapped up to hit the autumn delivery for MBC’s streaming service, Shahid VIP. “This was a fantastic effort by everyone involved from CGI, grade, sound and deliverables teams when you consider the scale of this project,” insists Teague. WORK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN Egypt isn’t synonymous with TV and film, but Teague points out that its industry is on par with most others. “Don’t forget, the Egyptian film industry is older than the UK’s,” he says. “Egyptian cinema has been going as long as ours; it’s very established. Their crews have excellent technical capabilities – in design, working with cameras and all departments on the floor.” Cinematographer Mahmoud Youssef made use of two Alexa Mini LFs with large format Arri Signature Prime lenses and a 2:1 aspect ratio. It was Teague’s first time with the glass, but instantly he knew he’d made the right choice. “I’d used the camera before on many occasions, but not these Signature lenses,”

he says. “We did a camera test for a day to try out three sets of optics. I’ve shot anamorphic before many times on a feature and really enjoyed that.” In Teague’s opinion, 2:1 is the perfect aspect ratio for high-end television, because it gives the viewer the sense of film. “You want the audience to concentrate within that frame,”

“The Egyptian film industry is older than the UK’s – their crews have excellent technical capabilities”

SET APART Some monumental challenges had to be overcome for the series to be finished on time, including dealing with the complete relocation of Ukrainian effects house Terminal FX upon Russia’s invasion of the country

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he adds. “I think it’s the closest to a cinematic experience you can get on a small screen. Those Signature lenses give just another level of richness and width – they are simply that bit more expansive. I adored them; wider and with a more anamorphic feel.” LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Based on the banks of the Nile, Cairo has a vast array of edifices that have been touched by different periods of history. Teague says this only adds to the charm of the Egyptian capital as a filming location. “The city has so many layers – there’s centuries-old architecture, yet you can see every decade from the 20th century on every building,” he says. “They don’t take anything off or knock anything down – things are stuck on top of each other – in this wonderful metropolis with a timeless, fascinating feel.” While the location and production crews were the best Teague and his team could ask for, ancient Cairo – indeed Egypt in general – lacks some of the infrastructure required by a high-end, big-budget production. “I think the 2:1 ratio is the closest to a cinematic experience you can get on a small screen”

ROOM WITH A VIEW A commitment to Arri Signature Prime lenses gave this television series a beautifully filmic and anamorphic aesthetic

“Unfortunately for them [the Egyptians], connectivity is a real issue,” explains Teague. “The infrastructure isn’t quite there yet. If you think a Zoom call from London to Cairo can be problematic, imagine uploading and downloading in Egypt. “The edit team back in the UK was consistently several filming days behind everyone else – but thankfully we had a strong post-production team and house unit to iron out the issues as they cropped up. Improved bandwidth is the next step for the Egyptians.” Watch The Devil’s Promise on Shahid VIP

GO LOCAL Teague had no problems finding talented industry professionals in Cairo to help run a slick operation. As he points out, the Egyptian film industry is older than the UK’s, so there’s a rich heritage and plenty of talent to be found

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


“I’ve seen first-hand how access to cutting-edge technology can make an enormous difference in the creative process, helping creators save hours of labour and delivering seamless results,” said Third Summit CEO Matt Cimaglia. “We created Alteon to help democratise the creative industry, giving everyone access to the world-class cloud-based tools once exclusive to major studios.” The Alteon workflow extension is now included on the Final Cut Pro ecosystem page, and is currently available on the Mac App Store.

All-in-one hub has officially joined Apple’s Final Cut Pro ecosystem with a new extension that lets post- production creatives complete an end-to- end workflow, all within the program. This includes downloading files, syncing with remote collaborators, leaving comments for external review and uploading media. Alteon will continue to support and upgrade its workflow extension for Final Cut Pro, adding deeper integrations and more options for streaming, rendering and syncing keywords and comments.

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FilmLight Colour Awards 2022 The FilmLight Colour Awards revealed this year’s winners from five categories: theatrical feature, TV series/episodic, commercial, music video and spotlight. Victors represent both ‘craft and variety’ in the video production industry, said cinematographer Ben Davis, who presented the awards. THEATRICAL FEATURE: MICHAEL HATZER, PICTURE SHOP (WEST SIDE STORY) Hatzer combines the dirty and desolate concrete jungle with colourful dancing scenes to highlight the pains and pleasures of fifties New York. TV SERIES/EPISODIC: TOM POOLE, COMPANY 3 (EUPHORIA SEASON 2) Euphoria Season 2 has a distinctly cinematic look, contrasting the flashiness of high school social life with the muted melancholia of drug addiction and recovery. COMMERCIAL: WADE ODLUM, ALTER EGO (ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM, IMMORTAL) Immortal is a six-minute, slow-motion underwater film; Odlum achieves a submarine look by layering flares, blurs, warps and textures. MUSIC VIDEO: ANA ESCORSE, STUDIO FEATHER (RACHEL REIS, LOVEZINHO) Lovezinho , performed by Rachel Reis, is a song that focuses on female freedom, emotion and strength; Escorse expands this narrative through the production’s visuals. SPOTLIGHT: ALJOSCHA HOFFMANN, CINEPOSTPRODUCTION (DEAR MR FÜHRER) Dear Mr Führer is set in Germany in the year 1945, with Hoffman’s use of colour emulating the look of photographs taken by Hugo Jaeger.

PETROL HEADS Furiosa, the prequel to George Miller’s wildly successful 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, is currently in development – helped along by DNEG’s talented VFX team


DNEG has unveiled plans for a new visual effects and animation studio in Sydney, Australia, to open in early 2023. The expansion is supported by the state government of New South Wales and its A$250 million Jobs Plus Program. Located in Pyrmont, an inner-city suburb within Sydney’s Tech Central

district, work will be spearheaded by Oscar- and Bafta-winning VFX supervisor, Andrew Jackson, in his role as creative director. His credits include production VFX supervisor for Tenet and Mad Max: Fury Road, and he recently completed work on Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming biopic Oppenheimer . The facility will lead VFX for George Miller’s Mad Max spin-off, Furiosa . “The opportunity to collaborate and partner with filmmakers of the calibre of George Miller is the driving force behind everything we do,” said DNEG CEO and chairman Namit Malhotra. “Extending our filmmaker-focused approach to a fourth continent and building a substantial and sustainable presence in Sydney that allows us to engage with Australia’s talented and experienced creative leaders, artists, technologists and production crews, marks another milestone in our mission to bring the very best VFX and animation services to filmmakers all over the world.” Dan Bethell also joins the studio as VFX supervisor on Furiosa . His previous appointments include Thor: Love and Thunder , Mortal Kombat , Extraction and Spider-Man: Homecoming . DNEG has studios in London, Vancouver, Mumbai, Los Angeles, Chennai, Montreal, Mohali, Bangalore, Toronto and now Sydney.

The FilmLight Colour Awards, presented in conjunction with

EnergaCamerimage, is supported by the ASC, Imago and CSI (Colourist Society International).

ANTIPODEAN ADVENTURE Opening a Sydney studio allows DNEG to collaborate on Australian projects like Furiosa



Helios LED Processing Platform is a

Both films are captured by cinematographers Fabian Wagner and Korsshan Schlauer, using Canon Cinema EOS cameras, lenses and monitors on-set. “Our partnership with Lammas Park is a chance for Canon to directly engage with up-and-coming filmmakers,” added Aron Randhawa, European product marketing specialist, Canon Europe. “Our ambition is that this will pave the way to removing barriers people face in the early stages of their careers.” The two short films are slated to air at festivals next year. ray of sunshine Megapixel VR is launching its Helios LED Processing Platform software release, v22.11, making it the first in the industry to support SMPTE ST 2110 standards for real-time production. Standards include video, sync and metadata streams over IP for real- time production, playout and other professional media applications. It can support up to four simultaneous ST 2110 inputs for stitched canvases. This means users have flexibility for signal distribution and routing with a complete IP workflow, eliminating need for dedicated signal conversion gear and legacy video signals with cable length restrictions. “Along with new workflows, we’re excited to be launching our Megapixel Cloud platform that enables seamless monitoring and operation of display systems from anywhere in the world,” said Megapixel CEO, Jeremy Hochman. A new service, Megapixel Cloud, allows full remote access to display systems via the cloud, for central maintenance and support of retail deployments, architectural spectaculars and time-sensitive live events or broadcasts.

ALL IN ONE Power a high-voltage cine cam and Teradek MAX transmitter with just one cell


The Teradek Bolt LT TX only accepts up to 28v, meaning high-voltage camera build scenarios become a challenge when high-voltage packs require more energy. With the Helix caddy, the TX is provided with a DC 12v 2-pin Lemo connection to safely power the Teradek TX while powering the camera with high voltage. A 1/4in-20 on the bottom of the unit secures the TX in place, while side openings provide full access to I/O ports as well as full view of the TX’s LCD and buttons/switches. Both products can be pre-ordered now.

Batteries and charging solutions specialist Core SWX has introduced Helix retrofit plates for Teradek MAX transmitters and the Helix caddy for Teradek Bolt LT transmitters. These provide a solder-less, interconnected solution to exchange the current V or G plates for Helix V, Helix G or B-Mount battery mount plates. Specially designed to provide a safe and secure power pass through to high- voltage-compliant cameras, the plates provide a DC 12v 2-pin connection to power the Teradek MAX transmitter without compromising safety.

Canon and McQueen’s Lammas Park ink partnership Steve McQueen’s Lammas Park and Canon Europe have joined forces, funding two short pieces that tackle contemporary issues by promising filmmakers. Directed by Jade Ang Jackman and Braham, showcases talent from the black community. It stars Samuel Adewunmi and Jonathan Ajayi, with casting by

Coralie Rose. Helen Dulay and Nat Baring produced the films with Lammas Park. Canon and Lammas called it a ‘first-of- its-kind filmmaking partnership’. “Developing new talent is incredibly important and the creatives we’ve nurtured in this project have been brilliant,” said McQueen. “Canon has given them the chance to work with great equipment. Work like this is essential for the next generation of filmmakers.”

Samona Olanipekun (both from the Lammas Park talent roster), the 10-15 minute projects address identity, gender and conformity. Jackman’s film is a period piece, written by Lydia Rynne and featuring Aliyah Odoffin, Alfie Allen and Ayesha Hussain. Meanwhile, Olanipekun’s portrayal of contemporary male identity, written by Dan

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ISE brings together the core sectors that make up the global AV and systems integration industry. Here’s what to expect in 2023 WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Integrated Systems Europe Run the show

FLYING THE NEST ISE 2022 was the first iteration of the event held at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via in Spain, after 15 years at the RAI Amsterdam

B arcelona is becoming something of a tech summit capital. Already home to the European leg of MWC and the Morgan Stanley European Tech, Media & Telecom Conference, among many others, the AV crowd will head to Catalonia for the second successive year to attend four days of ISE 2023. Taking place from 31 January to 3 February, ISE 2023 carries the theme ‘your immersive experience’, showcasing state- of-the-art technology from the biggest names in the industry. Having spent 15 years at the RAI Amsterdam, demand from exhibitors and an increasing number of attendees meant the event was outgrowing its home in the Netherlands. Last year, ISE moved to a new site: the Fira Barcelona Gran Via. “ISE is an essential part of the calendar for the AV industry – it’s where global brands launch products”

“Limited floor space was in danger of putting the brakes on the show’s development,” explains Mike Blackman, managing director, ISE. “Despite our best efforts, this wasn’t an issue we could solve staying at the RAI. We can now continue to focus on creating a unique experience for everyone and confidently plan for long-term development.” A NEW HOME Fira Barcelona is one of Europe’s premier conference locations, with 240,000 sq m of exhibition area. With eight large halls connected by a walkway, the modern, purpose-built venue will host the second in-person show since the pandemic. Those from the film and TV fraternity will have the chance to see the new content production and distribution technology zone in Hall 6. Blackman says this was introduced because of an ‘insatiable demand’ for content on digital signage, live stages, video walls, experiential art and advertising and VR experiences. “Audio is key to an integrated AV experience, whatever the setting,” he continues. “That’s why the audio technology zone (Hall 7) has solutions

for all sizes of project and any type of application. ISE 2023 covers the entire audio signal chain, from microphones to loudspeakers and everything in between. “We also have the new audio demo rooms in Hall 8.0, where visitors can experience the latest audio innovations for all industries.” WHO’S GOING AND WHAT’S ON? Keynote speaker BK Johannessen, Unreal Engine business director for broadcast and live events at Epic Games, will

The ISE programme • Smart Building Conference • Digital Signage Summit • Content Production & Distribution Summit • Control Rooms Summit • Education Technology Summit • Smart Workplace Summit • Live Events Summit

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ON A PEDESTAL ISE managing director Mike Blackman (above) heads up organisation of the show

deliver All Paths Lead to Real-Time at 5.15pm on Tuesday 31 January in the Conference Suite CC4.1. As industries adopt real-time visualisation technology, Johannessen will discuss how content creators are applying innovations from the games industry to their projects – from broadcast virtual production studios to real-time graphics for M&E, live events, architecture and more. Content production and distribution solutions will abound at ISE 2023, including monitors and media servers, VR headsets and virtual sets, cameras and tracking equipment, video switchers and networking solutions, plus audio equipment such as mics and speakers. “ISE is an essential part of the calendar for the AV industry. It’s where global brands launch products; where people see, hear and experience the services, products and solutions transforming attractions, hospitality, education, the corporate environment, live events and so much more,” adds Blackman.

“It’s a chance to meet people and make connections that deliver real business benefits. It’s a place to be inspired, to learn and develop skills.” Of course, ISE also provides the platform for companies to showcase innovations, and attendees will find specialised areas for a variety of sectors. “Once again, we’re using technology zones to group exhibitors; this approach makes it easier for attendees to find and compare the solutions they are looking for,” asserts Blackman. So far, over 800 companies will be exhibiting, with a host of brands making debuts. There’s a long list of the usual suspects, such as Absen, Blackmagic Design, Barco, Christie, Crestron, Google, KNX, Lang, LG, Logitech, Panasonic, Samsung, Shure and Son. Blackman explains that over the years, ISE has grown in both physical space and its offerings. “We’ve been focusing on

expanding our audience to include market sectors like live events, venues, education, retail and more,” he continues. This year, conferences take place away from the main action. Located in two CC Suite rooms above the bustle of the show floor, there’s a new space dedicated to panel discussions and keynotes. To register for free, visit the website and book a place with the invitation code ‘definitionmag’

Getting around



LISTEN AND LEARN There will be a brand-new audio demo suite for the first time at ISE 2023


AUDIO Hall 7








ATOMOS Hall 5 Stand F210

Atomos will be showcasing its suite of cloud-based tools for live production. Using Atomos Cloud Studio, video creatives can remotely and collaboratively produce a live show – all from an iPad. Easily accessible tools include a fully featured four-input video switcher, sound mixer, video effects, graphics, tally, talkback and more. Source inputs can be from a camera- mounted Atomos Connect device – for example any Ninja V or Ninja V+ fitted with an Atomos Connect accessory or the all-in-one Shogun Connect. In addition, Atomos offers a Pro Camera iOS app, a powerful 4K video capture app for filmmakers on Apple iPhone. Program output can be routed to any popular social media platform or RTMP/S destination, in addition to monitoring feeds sent to iOS, MacOS or Apple TV apps.

7THSENSE Hall 5 Stand E250

7thSense is launching a range of products at ISE including R-Series 10 – a 3U server hardware platform designed to meet the needs of the most demanding generative projects and virtual productions. As a solution that streamlines filmmaking workflows, R-Series 10 is available to purchase from 7thSense as a standalone hardware product and comes ready for use with the user’s preferred generative engines including Unreal Engine, Unity, Notch and more. BROMPTON TECHNOLOGY Hall 3 Stand S800 This year’s ISE will see Brompton Technology showcase its newest Tessera 3.4 software, with features like extended bit depth and stacking improving image quality and flexibility for large-scale live events, virtual productions, film and TV. Two key on-camera features, Frame Remapping and ShutterSync, will also be demonstrated on the stand.

ROE VISUAL Hall 3 Stand C850

Bringing its latest innovations to the ISE exhibition, Roe Visual will showcase products and technologies tailored to its activities in vertical markets such as broadcast, film, live events and fixed installation. Roe Visual will present the Ruby 1.9B V2 LED panel, a high- performance, broadcast-grade HD-LED panel that’s designed for broadcast and virtual production applications and offers cutting-edge LED design and technology. Other showcased products will be the Ruby-C 2.3, Ruby 2.6, Graphite 2.6, Opal and Black Quartz LED solutions.

GHOSTFRAME Hall 3 Stand C850

A fully fledged XR stage set-up will showcase ‘game-changing’ Ghostframe technology. This innovative system will be demonstrated live throughout ISE to highlight its workflow benefits for broadcast and film productions. Recent projects like the Fox NFL Studio and TVN Studio installation use this Ghostframe in combination with Roe Visual Black Pearl LED panels. Members of the Ghostframe team will be at the stand to explain the technology and its many benefits.

“Using Atomos Cloud Studio, you can remotely

and collaboratively produce a live show – all from an iPad”

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Phone chiller

Ricardo de Gracia, DOP on critically acclaimed Netflix Spanish teen drama Élite, explains how he brought horror to the north-west of England

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. BBC

B olton isn’t the obvious destination for your first foray outside of Spain, but that’s exactly what happened to director Ramón Salazar. Having completed the widely praised Spanish teen drama Élite for Netflix, his next project took him to Greater Manchester for a new teen horror series. A co-production between Eleven and Entertainment One (eOne) for BBC Three and Netflix, Red Rose is the brainchild of the Boltonian Clarkson twins, Michael and Paul (Apple TV+’s See , Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor and HBO’s His Dark Materials ). The eight-part thriller starring a raft of newcomers, plus Adam Nagaitis ( Chernobyl ), is about a haunted app that plunges a group of Bolton teenagers to the darkest depths of social media. From that description alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just another example of a series wanting to profit from the Stranger Things blueprint. “I wanted to make it look like we were using zoom as a kind of language, trying to create a layer of depth in the picture”



DIGITAL DEMON This horror series follows a group of teens tormented by a malevolent app

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The difference here is that Red Rose comes from the same stable as The Enfield Haunting , the drama series starring Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson and Matthew Macfadyen; and paranormal docuseries True Horror for Channel 4. In other words, production company Eleven (fans of Stranger Things will get the link) knows how to do horror. Salazar called on the help of his long- time collaborator and cinematographer Ricardo de Gracia, who needed very little convincing to get on a plane to England. “The minute I read episode 1, I was thrilled to be part of this project. It featured many of the things that I love most about movies: soul and different layers all open to interpretation,” de Gracia explains.

“Organicity, simplicity and a vintage look were what the team was after across the series”

series is that they’re fast, lightweight and relatively cheap.” VFX plays an integral role in the series, and the show’s producers called on the services of Space in Manchester and Dazzle in Prague. According to de Gracia, he met with VFX experts several times to develop the main lines for the project. “We needed to meet them in order to discuss ideas,” he says. “Organicity, simplicity and a vintage look were what the team was after across the series, for VFX and everything else. “We weren’t looking to show off, but use simple and imperceptible effects. We used green screen mainly and wanted the eighties look. Although VFX was involved throughout the series, I wanted it to

His brief was to make certain scenes as unnerving as possible, so he had to think about the best kit for the job. He chose the Sony Venice and EZ series of Angénieux zoom lenses, which de Gracia used with some aplomb on Élite with Salazar. “That’s because I wanted to make it look like we were using zoom as a kind of language, trying to create a layer of depth in the picture,” he insists. “Zoom gives the audience an eerie feeling that something is going on under the surface. What I like about the Angénieux EZ

NORTH BY NORTHWEST Red Rose is a love letter to the post-industrial town of Bolton and its surrounding moors – the homeland of writers Michael and Paul Clarkson



AMIGOS Director and cinematographer Ramón Salazar and Ricardo de Gracia previously collaborated on Spanish teen drama Élite

appear ‘old school’ so as not to create a techno series, but a human-hearted one.” For that reason, Smithills Hall, a Grade I listed manor house on the slopes of the West Pennine Moors, was chosen for its eerie and ‘very real’ charm. However, despite having the luxury of two VFX houses, de Gracia explains that there were a number of technological challenges that had to be overcome. The biggest one, he says, was creating backdrops for the houses on stage. “Something like that requires a lot of deep thinking when it comes to the design process – for every show you work on,” he says. “You have in mind the budget, measurements of the stage, special shots imagined by directors, lighting rig, etc. Sometimes it’s better to use a green screen, on other occasions LED screens. When you don’t have a big budget, you really have to nail it.” While both options pose difficulties with regards to lighting, authenticity and size on stage, de Gracia claims the latter

solution worked best for the backgrounds and windows as it was easier to change picture and brightness. He adds that if he was hired to work on a second series of Red Rose , he would like to keep the human, organic touch that makes the show stand out. “I would also try to avoid super techy solutions that, in my opinion, distract audiences from empathy with the characters,” he says. “I would love to film with just one camera in order to have even more solid and clear writing with cinema language.” It’s yet to be confirmed if Red Rose is set for a Series 2. But one thing that’s for certain is that Bolton has been thoroughly put on the map. Red Rose is available on BBC iPlayer and will be coming to Netflix

“I try to avoid super techy solutions that, in my opinion, can distract audiences”

IN TOO DEEP The series was filmed on a Sony Venice cine camera with Angénieux zoom lenses, adding richness to shots

29. JANUARY 2023


Head of entertainment, Andy Scott, gives the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch its red-carpet moment during a documentary shoot at a busy awards ceremony STORAGE FOR ALL



“For security alone, it’s a worthwhile investment. I was wholly impressed by the technology... I’d choose this portable drive, hands down” “They brought the cards back into the office where I wrangled them onto the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch. I was very impressed by the speed,” he notes. “It took the SSD about four minutes to copy the full 100GB, which is exceptionally fast.” Not shy to get hands-on in the workflow, Scott took it upon himself to handle footage when the team returned. NOT EVERY FILMMAKING tool has broad appeal to those at the beginning of their careers and those who worked their way to the top. For the former, the most high-end products are unattainably priced. For the latter, anything less than the cutting edge is insufficient. Rare pieces of tech deliver on both fronts – affordably handing creatives performance that outshines competitors. Andy Scott is firmly at the top of his game, working as head of entertainment at Zig Zag Productions. “We’re an independent company, founded 20 years ago, specialising in every kind of non-scripted programme,” he explains. “We’ve produced a few exciting things this year.” In fact, Scott and his team have been key players in content for virtually every major network and streamer broadcasting today. Extending its impressive list of credits, Zig Zag is currently filming a new documentary – with a little extra help from the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch. “We’ve got a production for a major UK broadcaster in the works. The team were on location for an awards sequence, to cover arrivals at the event. It was a data- hungry shoot and they collected an hour of 4K ProRes footage, which amassed to around 100GB of data.”

EVERY STEP OF THE WAY Efficiency is essential through all stages of production – which is why the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch remains a cornerstone of the end-to-end workflow

Not only is the Portable SSD T7 Touch’s biometric scan super convenient with the capacity for up to four prints, but it’s built upon truly secure AES 256-bit encryption. Even the scanner’s LED surrounding is functional, displaying its active status. And it’s safe in other ways, with a sturdy metal body that withstands drops of up to 2m. To every detail, it won Scott over. That’s no easy feat for a man of his skill, but it’s what users can expect from the world’s number one brand for flash memory since 2003. All firmware and components, including world-renowned DRAM and NAND, are produced in-house, allowing end-to-end integration for true quality. “Even the cables were nice and thick, with connectivity options for multi-device compatibility.” With USB Type C to C and Type C to A cables included, convenience is at your fingertips. Scott’s final decision comes down to personal priorities – but then, there’s a unique demand for any filmmaker, and a Portable SSD T7 Touch function to fulfil it. “For the security alone, it’s a worthwhile investment. I was wholly impressed by the technology. Against comparably priced drives on the market, I’d choose this one, hands down.”

Scott isn’t mistaken. Not just any drive boasts respective read and write speeds of 1050MB/s and 1000MB/s. The Portable SSD T7 Touch’s pace outdoes an external hard drive close to ten times over. The reason is no secret – just fine engineering. Internal PCIe NVMe tech is matched by lightning- fast USB 3.2 Gen2 connectivity. Benefits for creatives like Scott cannot be overstated. “Everybody’s busy. Waiting for status bars to move across computers is not an ideal way to spend the day,” he explains. Such assurance enabled Zig Zag to future-proof production with no downside in time demand. “The programme will only deliver in HD, but we record in 4K so the option to release a higher-res version is there down the line. It also means we can reframe shots in the edit.” It’s not just industry-leading tech that forms the appeal. One look reveals this is a special portable drive – inside and out. “The SSD is also mega light and tiny,” Scott effuses. Scarcely larger than a credit card at 8mm in depth and 58g in weight, it’s a significant space saver. “You could carry it in a pocket easily. I normally carry a bag, so there’s little difference between one drive and another. But if you need a few, that’s when it becomes so useful. You certainly wouldn’t want an external drive with a power supply to carry around these days. “The fingerprint lock would also be hugely beneficial for some of our shows,” Scott continues. “Sometimes we need to store sensitive data – names and addresses of underage contributors – which you can’t leave unprotected.”

POCKET ROCKET Out in the field or in the studio, the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch’s tiny form factor puts transfer power in the palm of your hand portable-ssd/

31. JANUARY 2023


On a bankroll

Many production companies never get their idea commissioned – or funded – but that doesn’t mean it can’t get made

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Various

C ommissioning and funding are the bane of the independent sector’s existence. Producers send over a great idea and wait ages for a reply. Sometimes, there isn’t one. Other times, they find out their idea has been executed by another production company. In other words, companies and individuals can spend ages developing things that don’t get made, purely because they’re reliant on external factors. For that reason, film and programme makers have been taking things into their own hands by ditching the traditional

route and funding projects themselves. If you’re one of those frustrated individuals or companies, you’re not alone. GETTING STARTED Paul McNeilly, founder of Mac Films, explains how the first investment he made was buying his own kit. “It sounds obvious, but if you do that, it’s the first step to going out and doing something,” he says. “I got a basic Canon to start with and I’ve since moved up to a Blackmagic camera with some good lenses. That was basic self-funding there. I recently

33. JANUARY 2023


“Instead of just writing the script, we could make it ourselves with a small budget. That way, good or bad, we’ll end up with a film”

CUT-PRICE COMEDY James Wren (left) claims to have produced feature film Peacock Season (right) for a grand total of around £50 – by calling in favours from Edinburgh Fringe chums and simply plunging into the process

don’t know each other but proclaim to be lightworkers. So I wrote a left-field comedy based on that and we’re sending it to festivals.” HOBSON’S CHOICE Dan Hobson, writer and co-founder of Lovebomb Pictures, knows the commissioning process all too well. “We’ve had a few sitcom script commissions,” he says. “One was set in a school. The BBC commissioner was keen on it but said there was something else in development – ‘if that falls through, we’ll go ahead with this one’, they said. The other one was Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education , which was never going to fail. Timing can screw you over.” Lovebomb is made up of Hobson, writing partner Jon Bridle and stuntman Will Haynes. The writers have had some success writing for TV, such as for That Mitchell and Webb Look . However, Hobson says ‘a lot of it is about jumping through hoops’ and trying to please producers who don’t know what they want. “Will came to us with this nice film idea about stuntmen who hijack a studio in order to make their own film for a change,” says Hobson. “Instead of being run over, beaten up with big bats or set on fire, the stuntmen wanted to be the stars.” Hobson warned him how soul- destroying the development process for this kind of feature could be, so he suggested a different strategy. “I said instead of paying us to write the script, we could make our own film, working within the boundaries of the budget we

came up with an idea and we decided, instead of pitching, let’s go and make it.” The production, The Lightworker , is a self-contained 17-minute short film about earth angels, or awakened beings who bear the highest interests of people. “It’s a comedy about a person who’s a self-proclaimed ‘lightworker’, which is stuff I picked up from the internet and social media,” he says. “These people work light, whatever that means. One steps up and says they’re a lightworker and then gets utterly overwhelmed by madcap clients. I know two people on social media who



SELF-MADE WINNERS Another self-funded feature film from FMW Films, The Man You’re Not picked up a raft of awards and nominations on the independent film festival circuit

Admittedly, not many people have an ex-Beatle ready to write them a cheque for six or seven figures, but there are some companies that have become so frustrated with playing the waiting game that they’ve found a way to get their project made. It’s still beneficial to have contacts in the industry, though. James Wren, co-founder of FMW Films, came from a theatre background but wanted to start making films. “It shows the naivety in itself that we chose to make a feature film,” Wren says. “How hard can it be? Very, apparently. We had a camera and microphone and were doing a show anyway at Edinburgh in 2008, so we decided to make a film called Peacock Season , which is about somebody taking a show to the festival by mistake.” It helped that Wren and his colleagues are friends with comedians Reece Shearsmith and Adam Hills – both of whom played roles as FMW did some guerrilla filming. “We made it for about £50,” Wren says. “I run a fringe theatre in London anyway, so we sorted out screening venues when we got back to London. It took a while to make, but I think it was the creativity and that we had the equipment, it meant we could do it.” At the first screening of Peacock Season , which was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe the year after it had been shot, FMW had to supply wristbands so the venue knew who was on the guest list. “The wristbands cost more than the film,” Wren asserts. Peacock Season got a DVD release via Go Faster Stripe. Another distributor called Rights Booster has since agreed to send it to streamers. With one film under its belt, FMW managed to make another soon after – even if it happened by mistake. “I had a friend who was turning an old, disused Victorian bathhouse into an art centre for children,” Wren says. “He asked if we wanted to film something in it, but we didn’t have a script, finances or anything. We only had six weeks

can afford ourselves,” he says. “At least in this situation we’ll end up with a film, good or bad.” The team had enough money to do six days of filming with a cast of five actors to make The Move . “I knew talented actors I’d worked with in theatre, so we paid them a daily fee and then percentages of the film,” Hobson says. “Jon jumped on the boom – he had to learn it on the job. He’s also a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, so we paid two students to do continuity editing and sound engineering.” Hobson says due to his team’s inexperience, nobody realised what was being asked of lead actor, Jez Edwards. “He was in every scene, morning till night. He was really put through the wringer – but he was professional and didn’t even flinch,” he adds. “We were so anxious about continuity issues we shot the whole thing in order of script. We had no money for post-production but I’d used Premiere Pro a bit, so I did as much as I could, though I don’t know how to grade. We need to polish it but we’re happy and proud of the edit.” Lovebomb is now making a short film, ‘a taster’, for a feature idea in February 2023, with The Move as a calling card. “If we can make that with nothing, imagine what we could do with a bit of money! No doubt it won’t be that easy, though.” HANDMADE’S TALE Through seeking alternative, non- traditional routes, film and programme making has yielded some incredible results in the past. Imagine if time-travel fantasy Time Bandits , cult classic Withnail and I and irreverent biblical romp Monty Python’s Life of Brian had never been made. That’s probably what would have happened if it wasn’t for production and distribution company Handmade Films. The company, founded by George Harrison and his business manager Denis O’Brien, helped fund a raft of iconic films, projecting the careers of Bob Hoskins, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard E Grant.

HELP YOURSELF Martin Durkin’s (top) controversial films are only part of the reason he struggles for funding. While Paul McNeilly espouses the virtues of buying your own kit, which helped for his recent short The Lightworker (above)

35. JANUARY 2023

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