WHAT A YEAR! FROM THE CROWN TO GUNPOWDER WE CELEBRATE 2017
DAVINCI RESOLVE 14 PANASONIC AU-EVA1 SIGMA 24-35mm T2.2 CINE ZOOM FIILEX MATRIX TRAVEL KIT SHURE IPHONE AND DSLR MICS REVIEWS
THE STATE OF STABILISATION The latest moves in the camera balancing act
The look behind the Oscar buzz
MINDHUNTER TV working harder than films?
GAME FACE Changing the scripted drama rules
SNOWPIERCER Lighting the global train
AUDIO SUITES A pro video user’s guide
Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ UK EDITORIAL EDITOR Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Phil Rhodes, Adam Garstone, Adam Duckworth SENIOR SUB EDITOR Lisa Clatworthy SUB EDITORS Siobhan Godwood, Felicity Evans ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Matt Snow 01223 499453 email@example.com SALES MANAGER Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT MANAGER Harriet Abbs 01223 499460 email@example.com KEY ACCOUNTS Nicki Mills 01223 499457 firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGN MANAGER
MIND OVER MATTER: David Fincher’s gripping Netflix drama, Mindhunter.
Welcome If you have Netflix and you haven’t yet seen Mindhunter then the official Definition recommendation is to see it, but be warned the subject matter is dark and based on true events. For the purposes of this issue’s ‘welcome’: when you watch it remember you are being manipulated by the framing puppeteer genius of director David Fincher. Fincher is known to love the anamorphic lens look but refuses to shoot anamorphic. For Mindhunter he used the supreme Summilux lenses but then decided to abuse them by post-producing anamorphic lens effects like chromatic aberration and barrel distortion and feeding them back in. His famous flares also make an appearance. But there’s method there as the series is based in the seventies and he wanted to recreate the attributes of a poorly-tuned anamorphic lens of the time. His aesthetic doesn’t stop there. There are also huge amounts of split- screening so he could slice and dice performances. There are also huge amounts of recomposing and re-stabilising, right up to the point of retiming pans to match the movement. This puts huge pressure on the operators to try and shoot in that way from the start. The effect, though, is unique.
Alan Gray DESIGNER
Lucy Woolcomb AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS
Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF
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.
JULIAN MITCHELL EDITOR
JANUARY 2018 DEFINITION
TITLE SEQUENCE 06 GOODBYE JEDI The Last Jedi is in our cinemas very soon, shot on film and digital. NEWS 08 OUR YEAR We look back over our year by cherry-picking the best articles. SHOOT STORY 14 DARKEST HOUR This biopic of Churchill may be the best – production was ‘old school’. 19 GAME FACE TV comedy shot on a camera that is usually the preserve of docs. 26 MINDHUNTER How to use top-quality modern movie gear in an ultra-retro way. FEATURES 34 GEAR GROUP The state of stabilisation on the Lighting story of the Netflix episodic about a post-apocalyptic train ride. AUDIO SPECIAL 47 INSTALLING AUDIO SUITES A video pro’s guide to the ins and outs of installing an audio suite. 52 SHURE’S IPHONE MIC Popular microphone maker banks on the smartphone’s ubiquity. 53 SHURE’S DSLR MIC Shure has also released a DSLR camera-mounted model. GEAR TESTS 56 PANASONIC EVA1 A new, smaller camera from Panasonic is always an event. 60 RESOLVE 14 Da Vinci Resolve is still evolving, and growing in popularity. 64 SIGMA LENS The 24-35mm T2.2 cine is Sigma’s only full-frame zoom so far. 65 FIILEX LIGHT A light that offers the advantages of a flat panel and a Fresnel. ground and higher up. 40 SNOWPIERCER
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The Last Jedi – or if you’re still counting, number eight – brings together film, digital and IMAX film in this never-ending space saga
t’s Christmas and that can only mean another Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi has a tough act to follow after the beautiful digital of Rogue One, but the new movie is part of the original series, so used film and digital to shoot with. Camera and lens packages included ARRI’s Alexa XT and Alexa XT Plus with Panavision C-, E-, G-Series, ATZ and AWZ2 lenses. Also the huge IMAX MSM 9802 camera with Hasselblad and Mamiya lenses, with the main camera being Panavision’S Panaflex Millennium XL2 with Panavision C-, E-, G-Series, ATZ and AWZ2 lenses.
IMAGE Director Rian Johnson and crew on the set of The Last Jedi with Princess Leia herself, actor Carrie Fisher, in her last role.
08 REVIEW OF THE YEAR
Looking back at 2017 we saw a massive upswing of production across the board, the maturity of some vital technology and visual experts wowing us with their skill OUR YEAR
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09 REVIEW OF THE YEAR
We started the year with a revisit; to Planet Earth 2 . The tag line was ‘Planet Earth, as you’ve never experienced it before’ as new video technology brought the viewer down and dirty with the beasts. Talking of which the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie loomed large. ARRI ALEXA XT cameras and Panavision glass were used by DOP Philippe Rousselot. The January issue also started as we meant to go on, looking at the technology of the moment: HDR.
Our February issue was a royal one, concerning the fictional, yet fact based Netflix series The Crown . The series brought its rumoured £100 million budget and left it on screen with a fantastic shooting job from DOP Adriano Goldman. His Edge of Darkness technique set the tone for the year ahead as lighting became pivotal. Talking of which this was the first time we looked at Kino Flo’s new LED light range with the company’s DIVA now offering saturated colour.
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REVIEW OF THE YEAR
The March issue went Rogue, Star Wars style. The six months it took to get our interview with DOP Greig Fraser was worth it. Greig threw out the rule book with this Star Wars offshoot movie and used a camera that had only been designed for VFX plates, ARRI’s ALEXA 65. April arrived with our first recognition of the current golden era of production. It mostly concerned the streaming giants but a certain UK tax relief helped. There were more LEDs, more VFX with The Jungle Book and a favourite show, Spy in the Wild . Spring sprung with our May issue but we wallowed in the darkness with the classy horror, A Cure for Wellnes s. It was a true movie mash-up with the new improved Power Rangers shot on RED, Kong: Skull Island with the small camera story and the lighting of Beauty and the Beast . “Start Screaming” was our instruction for June. The movie Alien: Covenant was the reason. From the darkness of the Covenant set we
brought the light with an explanation of how the new era of LED lighting could defy a low-lighting budget. July and we were getting more serious about the revolution in lighting with an in-depth interview with Kino Flo’s Frieder Hochheim. Lighting also drove the production of Netflix’s House of Cards and Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel .
IMAGES Deciphering the clues, we brought you the top stories and the latest technologies from film and TV.
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REVIEW OF THE YEAR
It was high summer and the only place to go was Cornwall for our August issue. Captain Poldark beckoned with the show’s new, less heightened look. We also celebrated a first: the first zero-G sequence in a movie with The Mummy 2017 and we acknowledged the camera sensor as the new emulsion. September fell and it was war with the tech behind the last instalment in the Planet of the Apes trilogy. We committed to our lighting obsession with a special feature which included a new term, digital gelling. Our October issue was our largest of the year with features on streaming favourites Stranger Things and Transparent and a slant on modern broadcasting with an analysis of the Champion’s League final extravaganza, a game changer indeed. November turned our all-seeing eye to the world of equipment rental with a special feature. We also announced our short-film challenge, discovered the untold story behind Winnie-the-Pooh and picked apart the evolution of the smart monitor. Onto December and another special feature, this time on lenses from the highest profile movie to a roughed-up Minicam. Our main case study was a BBC production retelling the story of the Gunpowder plot. This was a meeting of movie disciplines and crew with televisual rules. It was a great year for the industry and for Definition . Here’s to another one. – it’s off to a great start with the inside story of Darkest Hour .
WE COMMITTED TO OUR LIGHTING OBSESSION WITH A SPECIAL FEATURE
IMAGES Our first visit to Poldark’s Cornwall; the end of the Ape war; a look at the Emmys; the state of the rental market and Gunpowder.
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Retro Remake Reproducing historic events isn’t easy. Do you go the sepia route or do you widen your recreation palette?
WORDS JULIAN MITCHELL PICTURES FOCUS FEATURES
and smaller locations.
here have been countless movies and TV programmes celebrating Winston Churchill but Darkest Hour might be the one to get the
ABOVE Winston rode the Underground to ‘feel’ what the people wanted. RIGHT Bruno Delbonnel’s lighting design was classed as ‘old school’. BELOW LEFT There was intentional contrast between the bright summer and the darkness of the interiors.
“It was about the contrast between the war rooms and the Palaces upstairs. Also to be period with costumes and all that kind of thing. Then there was really just a lot of discussion how to portray a period film, some of the inevitable discussions were, should it be in 4:3, should it be sepia, should it be in black and white, what kind of things would make it feel ‘of the time’? It was felt that a lot of those options would detract from the performance, the idea was that this
closest to the real man. Director Joe Wright, DOP Bruno Delbonnel and Senior Technicolor colourist Peter Doyle had extensive talks about how they should create the look. Peter wanted to dissect the colour look culture of the time. “We were zero- ing on the actual tone of the film, based on it really focusing on Gary’s performance as Winston and him spending a lot of time in war rooms
was to be as visceral as possible - it should be like you are there. “Also, anything that gets in the way of the performance and the audience is a negative. We agreed on the philosophy that it should be colour, it should be 1.85 aspect ratio and we should reproduce the fantastic costumes and set. Following on from that it became clear that we actually needed to display a lot of detail, even if the downstairs was dirty with nicotine stains and smoke and the exteriors were blacked down in terms of soot. “That in turn prompted or motivated the idea that it should be a very sharp film and technically with very little diffusion. Having really zeroed in on a sharp film, colour and the ratio of 1.85 we just discussed, what did colour film look like in the Forties, we know the Thirties and Forties in terms of Newsreel but
THE COOKE S4 HAVE QUITE A LUSTRE TO THEM, QUITE A GLOW
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16 SHOOT STORY DARKEST HOUR
that typically is black and white. The initial concept though was that when we think of those films from those eras but in terms of still photography there was in fact quite a lot of colour but although those processes weren’t technically perfect there was an intrinsic beauty of how that colour was produced.” MEATY DIGITAL NEGATIVE The single camera used on Darkest Hour was the ARRI Alexa SXT with Cooke S4 lenses. Bruno and Joe had looked at a lot of alternate lenses, the initial experimentation was to use very old fashion lenses or vintage lenses but again it felt, particularly in such an ensemble performance, that playing with depth of field and radical focus pulls would get a little distracting. Peter was looking forward to a ‘thick’ negative coming his way, “The Cooke S4s have a very distinctive look and it’s a kind of combination of sharpness in the right place, so sharpness for eye lights and other detail. They have quite a lustre to them, quite a glow which makes them quite reactive to the set. So whilst they’re not flaring like a classic anamorphic, as you pan across a scene or if an actor walks up there’s a kind of glow that will follow them through. Certainly in the Parliament when he’s delivering the speeches it just meant that your main protagonist could be exceptionally bright and very focused whilst the Commons can fade off in to an almost painterly like texture. “We wanted to design this film for a cinema experience so we came up with a contrast range for the classic Xenon DCI projector, built the LUT, Bruno could do his exposure wedges and then really test the camera finding out where it was clipping, all the old school bracket-
ABOVE The aesthetic changed from being initially based on vintage lenses to a refined sharp look. BELOW The Commons set was designed to spotlight the performances of the speeches.
THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF SOMEONE LIKE EDWARD STEICHEN LENDS ITSELF TO THE TONE OF THE PERIOD
data was carried through to the DI. CODEX was used throughout from recording on-set all the way through the process. REMAKING RETRO COLOUR Senior Technicolor colourist Peter Doyle isn’t one to accept an easy colour solution, his research of this period was deep. “I took myself off to the Victoria & Albert museum in London, which I do a lot, they have a fantastic photography collection and I did some research of colour photography of that period and I also went through my own library. I collect photo books and have been building up a collection of all the different colour processes that have been available. That’s a huge undertaking and I don’t think I’ll ever get there, but along the way what’s interesting is how varied the
like tests. Bruno and the team went in and lit it with that in mind so my job didn’t include so much re- construction of the lighting as such. Certainly we play to the title, Darkest, we just spent some time seeing how dark we could get the shadows with men in black suits in lots of smoke against very dark wood paneling in shadows. Technical I spent quite some time getting a tone curve in the shadows that really works so the display medium like your television and the projector really reproduces that in the way that we wanted.” This film was a Technicolor show from start to finish so it was Technicolor providing the on-set rushes with Mel Kangleon as the on- set colourist who would make sure all the different scenes were matched-in so editorial were able to cut some good looking rushes and then all that
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colour processes are, there are many different ways you can get there. “It struck us that the photography of someone like Edward Steichen in particular kind of lends itself to the tone of the period particularly in terms of the Palace and the dinner party scenes. Also between Bruno Delbonnel and director Joe Wright a kind of core element for the placement of the film ended up that this particular summer was one of the brightest and hottest in quite a long time. That made for a very interesting dichotomy that the summer is lush and hot so you have all this warm light and then inside you have the contrast of the dimmed, bare light bulbs and the blackened down walls. “I proposed reproducing this story with a colour that was almost SHOULD IT BE SEPIA, SHOULD IT BE 4:3, SHOULD IT BE IN BLACK AND WHITE, WHAT KIND OF THINGS WOULD MAKE IT ‘OF THE TIME’?
Darkest Hour is in UK cinemas from January 12. Sooner in the USA. like Bruno brings to the table very much the old school style of really lighting a set. So the file that you get is very much ‘old school’ like an old negative in as much as it’s really lit and exposed correctly. Bruno will light for consistency within the set so it means that I can build this quite extremely manipulative look, but the negative has been lit perfectly in a way that it actually matches.” too much so their skin tones would be quite pale. Also mindful that Gary in his performance would be giving quite animated deliveries and the nuance of flushed cheeks and very red skin during anger is something that really needed to be reproduced. We spent a long time making sure that the skin tones and the extraordinary prosthetics that Gary wore helped rather than hindered. “There are lots of browns and hessians for the pale skin, very pale skin with incredibly intense lips. That colour model really worked for that, then with Bruno’s lighting it just meant we had that fantastic contrast range and we went from that. “To achieve this tone you photograph colour charts with both a digital camera and these alternate processing that allows you to build a three dimensional colour model based on the difference between the two. You then build a second model that then bends the digital camera to reproduce as if it’s a film negative and then it all kind of sticks together. That only works if you have a DOP of the skill of somebody like Bruno Delbonnel, apart from the aesthetic considerations and being able to light a set fantastically. Technically a DOP
like a postcard from a sunny holiday, so based on that I got hold of the oldest reversal or slide film stock I could get hold of that had been sitting in my fridge for ages and just built a colour model of that and so it meant that when we shot with the Alexa digital camera we really bent the colour and the contrast so it reacted as if it was a colour filmstock from that period. It’s more like one of my favourite colour processes which is called the Colour Carbon process - certainly Steichen was experimenting with at the time. It was usually reserved for very expensive advertising shots. “That worked incredibly well as it really reproduced skin tones in a very beautiful way, we’re talking British people in war time so people who are not tanned, are unhealthy, smoke
TOP RIGHT ARRI’s Alexa SXT was used for the movie. BELOW Is this the movie to give Gary Oldman an Oscar?
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GAME FACE SHOOT STORY
Get your face on The ARRI Amira isn’t best known for use on scripted comedy shows but DOP Benedict Spence found it the perfect camera for E4’s GameFace
WORDS BENEDICT SPENCE PICTURES E4
hen director Andrew Chaplin and I shot the pilot for GameFace in 2013 we didn’t realise it would be
none in my opinion feel as good as the Alexa sensors. Very early on in production Andrew and I decided that GameFace should be a handheld show. The gently observational style would create more of a subjective gaze for the viewer, plus it would allow Roisin and the cast to be more natural with their performances, rather than concentrating on the technical aspects of hitting marks and the like. I also chose to operate the camera
EARLY ON, ANDREW AND I DECIDED THAT GAMEFACE SHOULD BE A HANDHELD SHOW
four years until we were allowed to shoot the full six-part series. With GameFace we were attempting to tell a heartfelt story about a woman struggling through life, but also – and more importantly – make it funny. Writer and star Roisin Conaty poured her heart and soul into the script, which is semi-autobiographical, so Andrew Chaplin and I were keen to really do it justice in terms of visual storytelling. Because we had to work to a UK comedy schedule, speed of working was key to completing the day. We shot the show over six weeks on location in London, on the ARRI Amira Premium with a set of Cooke
5/i primes, all supplied by S+O Media. Lighting was supplied by Cinelease and included ARRI, Kinoflo and Litegear kit. I’ve been shooting on the Alexa sensor since 2011 and I love how it sees the world. The way it handles highlights, skin tones and shadows feels cinematically natural and beautiful, and I know exactly how far I can push it. Technically, there are sensors which perhaps have higher resolution or greater latitude, but
ABOVE Writer Roisin Conaty also stars in this warm, semi- autobiographical
comedy show. RIGHT Benedict Spence and camera on-set.
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SHOOT STORY GAME FACE
myself – I find that being right there on set with the camera allows me to quickly identify any lighting issues, a process which being tucked away with a monitor slows down. Also, I like being able to chat to the cast and crew in between takes, as I think it creates a nice atmosphere on set! The ARRI Amira is without a doubt the best handheld camera I’ve ever worked with and this, combined with the sensor it shares with the Alexa, is what made me choose it for the show. The ability to slide the shoulder and top handle back and forth to set the balance is the best system I’ve ever used in a handheld camera. In prep, first AC Dan Villanueva set and balanced a number of settings for the balance (for primes, zooms and so forth), which meant that whatever the camera setup for the particular scene, almost instantly he could set the camera on my shoulder directly on its centre of gravity. BALANCE Fully loaded with lens, matte box, UMD and more, the Amira isn’t a light camera, but being able to set the balance perfectly makes a huge difference to how long I can have the camera on my shoulder. To be honest, I prefer a heavier camera –
in UHD 4:4:4 for technical and post production use. Being broadcast on terrestrial television on E4 in the UK and streamed in the USA on Hulu meant that delivery only needed to be HD, but the Amira’s ability to instantly swap between the two can be a lifesaver when needed. I suppose not being able to shoot RAW can be an issue for some productions, but on our UK TV comedy budget it would have been way too much data. The Cooke 5/i primes were an absolute dream to use. We had an eight-lens set with, the 40mm and 65mm being the most-used lenses on the series. The 40mm is a great focal length – I think of it as a 50mm but funnier! You can get the same sort of frame as a 50mm but with a bit more perspective: it doesn’t flatten faces out as much as the 50mm. Being able to shoot T1.4 whenever needed is also a dream – it gave us total control over depth-of-field, which was really handy when we were shooting on location. Also, for night exteriors, T1.4 allowed us to work with very nimble lighting setups, effective in terms of cost and manpower. Of course you also have the ‘Cooke Look’, very subtle, and lovely on faces and skin tones. The eight-lens set was a luxury, but one I found very useful for our B-Camera days. I knew we had enough lenses for both cameras and I wouldn’t have to resort to zooms. If we had gone for a more expensive camera system it may well have been that we couldn’t afford such a great set of primes.
I think the inertia from it makes it move in a very cinematic way. One of the more recent developments with the Amira is the selection of LUTs that are available, such as ARRI’s look library, for example. I find this an amazingly powerful asset, as it can be used to affect the monitoring and metadata for the offline edit, working as a kind of one-light on steroids! It’s a fantastic tool to have on set, to make your setups really sing. Andrew Chaplin and I settled on a LUT before production which we loaded into the Amira and which followed all the way through post – and even ended up being used as a jumping off point for the grade. It really is one of my favourite on-set cheats! We shot in LOG in 4:2:2 HQ, in HD mode, with about 5% of shots
THE ARRI AMIRA IS THE BEST HANDHELD CAMERA I’VE EVER WORKED WITH
LEFT The series was shot over a six-week schedule on location in London. ABOVE Benedict acted as camera operator as well, creating a warm rapport with the cast.
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RIGHT The show follows the life of an actress (Conaty) getting over a painful break-up.
had an ARRI Skypanel S60C, which I love to pieces. It’s big and heavy, but being able to select any gel, to eye, on set, opens up a world of creative possibilities with colour. However, even with all the high-tech kit I so often fall back on simple tungsten China balls and covered wagons for night interior work. I love how natural yet flattering they look and when slightly dimmed they really bring out the warmth in skin tone. Plus, they are super-cheap so it keeps the line producer happy! Overall, GameFace has been exceptionally well received. It’s sweet, occasionally poignant but most of all funny. I’m always amused to think how all these technical choices are made in order to bring something as human and fun as GameFace to life.
I was lucky enough to have legendary gaffer Alan Martin with us for GameFace . A regular with John Matheson and Hoyte van Hoytema, Alan has gaffered huge films in the past and was fantastic to work with. Cinelease provided us with a fantastic lighting package, with ARRI M series lamps and a range of other kit. LEDS I found that I’ve started to really rely on LED lighting and that was very true for GameFace . As well as having larger lamps lighting through windows, I always have a couple of Litegear Litemats 4s on the floor. They are large enough to be truly soft sources, controllable with egg crates and light enough to rig quickly or boom out somewhere. We also
I’VE STARTED TO REALLY RELY ON LED LIGHTING AND THAT WAS VERY TRUE FOR GAMEFACE
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24 ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE CANON
As an owner/operator cameraman Daniel Haggett’s clients have to love his choice of camera as much as he does. Luckily they were fully behind him buying a Canon EOS C300 Mark II CLIENT CONFIDENCE
the Canon EOS C300 MkII, but the feature set of the camera offers other functions which could also be appreciated by other clients, like Log recording. “The Log options I do use a lot,” he says. “It obviously depends on clients and their budgets and how much time they have for a grade. Some clients have a lower budget or the need for a fast turnaround with something that looks nice straight out of the camera, you get that with the C300 Mark II. “In fact that was another reason I went for the camera. I thought it had a nice look without too much fiddling around but I also do regularly use the three different Log settings. It does make a massive difference in terms of dynamic range. As a freelance it’s your pictures that sell you to your clients, so if they are a little bit better than someone else’s you’re more likely to get the work. If Log helps you do that, then you need it. “Also, there were other little things with the camera that I didn’t
aniel Haggett is a London-based lighting cameraman who shoots documentaries, commercials and, increasingly, branded
content. He readily admits that when it comes to camera choice it is very important to include clients in the decision. “The decision is client-led at the end of the day,” he explains. “People maybe get too obsessed about numbers as in ‘what is the slomo frame rate, how fast is it?’ stuff like that. Really if your client’s not interested in using the camera there is no point spending out for it. “For me, I just liked the look of the Canon EOS C300 Mark II and that’s what pushed me towards it and the clients I had like it as well. In fact, a client I had who was also an editor had seen some C300 Mark II footage in the grade and he really loved what it could do. He wanted me to use the camera on a shoot and that made up my mind to get it.” As Daniel started to use the new camera he realised that the features would support him in all the areas he was shooting in and some he hoped to be in. “If you’re buying a camera these days you have to have some kind of 4K capability. Even if your final output isn’t 4K, people still like the flexibility in post, for instance when maybe they haven’t got two cameras on an interview and want the option of cropping in, they want to do whatever they want in post. As an owner/operator if you can’t offer that you may lose the job.” ENABLING FEATURES Every now and again Daniel will get a request for 4K which justifies
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CANON ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
THE FOCUS ASSIST IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS IS AMAZING
Goldblatt for Netflix’s Our Souls Tonight couldn’t have completed his in-car shooting without the camera’s small size. Daniel too has benefitted from the form factor: “You can build the camera depending on the job, you can strip it right back to almost nothing if you want and then it’s quick and light and you don’t need lots of grip equipment. I’m shooting at the moment for a company who might get something on Netflix and they want the Mark II for exactly those reasons. If the Netflix commission happens, we are also shooting on the right format.”
the foreground. He wanted me to pull focus from those two positions as the person picks up the object. Realistically you would need a focus puller for that, normally,” explains Daniel, “but with the two little triangles you get it right every single time, because you’re just following the triangles. The Focus Assist in certain situations is amazing.” FORM FACTOR We have heard in this series of articles of how the C300 Mark II’s form factor has been a huge benefit in capturing the right shot. Stephen
really know about initially that have turned out to be very helpful. The focusing functions I like a lot; there’s face tracking which is good but what I really love is Focus Assist. The feature has two little triangles on the screen which show you when you’re in focus but not only that, it also explains which way to focus, ie. whether the object is further away or closer to you. It’s amazing. “I did a commercial with that where the director said that he wanted to be ‘on’ the product, but there would be this other person who is picking up the product in
ABOVE Daniel Haggett shooting in France for Extreme Homes . LEFT In action with his rig.
MORE INFORMATION: www.canon.co.uk
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26 SHOOT STORY MINDHUNTER
Thought Police Director David Fincher drove an era-defining aesthetic using the highest-end equipment. Definition spoke to cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt to find out how it influenced the huge Netflix hit, Mindhunter
QUESTIONS JULIAN MITCHELL
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MINDHUNTER SHOOT STORY
Definition: Mindhunter seems to be a show that has some very strict guidelines for shooting (similar to House of Cards ). I’m not sure if these disciplines are true but perhaps ‘no zooms’, ‘no steadicams’, ‘no handheld’, ‘no filtration’. Could you talk about the regime of shooting Mindhunter in these terms and why the practices are adhered to? Erik Messerschmidt: I wouldn’t say that we necessarily approached Mindhunter in terms of what we wouldn’t do with the camera, but more in terms of what camera choices would support the story and themes of the show. It’s true (with the exception of two shots in Episode 10) that we didn’t use any handheld or Steadicam; most of the drama in Mindhunter comes from the characters’ experiences in very long and complex interview scenes. The content of those scenes is extremely measured and nuanced and I think a moving or shaking camera would have been a very distracting way to tell such a complex story. David Fincher likes a very specific type of operating; it harks back to the earlier days of classic cinema when the actors, dolly grip and operator are working together in concert to execute the shot. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. I feel like Steadicam, while an amazing and versatile tool, is often misused, or chosen because it’s a faster way to cover a scene. Def: Could you tell us about the lens choices and how they translate to the action in the various sets and locations? The way you shoot is obviously linked to the talk- heavy nature of the series – very careful camera movement, careful jump focusing and so on. The lens choice doesn’t seem to be too fast nor the other way: it’s nice glass. Again, regimented use of a T-stop and a sweet spot of a focal length. If you use zooms, are they for specific reasons?
EM: We shot with Leica Summilux-C lenses living mostly on the 29mm, 40mm and 65mm focal lengths. Working with prime lenses is great because it requires a little more discipline than zooms. In the past I’ve found it very difficult to resist the temptation to push in a bit on the zoom instead of moving the camera when the shot isn’t perfect. Prime lenses force you to always keep the camera in the right place from the start, and restricting our lens choices keeps the storytelling very consistent, which I think is important on a show like this. I shot most of Mindhunter , at least the interiors, at a T2-2.8. The exteriors were typically around a T4 or T5.6. I like the way the Leicas look at a T2.3, it’s where I think they are their best. We tried to limit the audience’s awareness of the camera as much as possible, so if we did move it we only did so in very specific dramatic moments or when other things in the frame were also moving. I did use the Fujinon 24-180 and 75-400 zooms a couple of times on the show for specific shots, but never for zooming. Def: Tell us more about the control that you have on set and locations, specifically the lighting in both. Is it a case of having more control in established sets, such as the Quantico office, and a particular shooting regime to handle new locations where control of windows and outside is less easy? EM: I was fortunate on Mindhunter to have prep time with each director so we had lots of conversations about our location work before the shooting day. I was also incredibly blessed to be working with the amazing Steve Arnold, our production designer. Steve and I had a constant dialogue about practical lights, window treatments and wall colours. We were also blessed to have amazing locations department staff who deserve tremendous credit for their
FORCE YOU TO ALWAYS KEEP THE CAMERA IN THE RIGHT PLACE
BELOW The marvels of a modern studio set-up help create the authentic 1970s feel of the show. ABOVE Using classic shooting principles calls for a disciplined approach.
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SHOOT STORY MINDHUNTER
Def: The look of Mindhunter is extremely mature – I heard that you took references from stills photographers such as Steve Shore and Mitch Epstein. How did they influence Mindhunter ? Was it their take on the ‘real’ America of the 70s? Is the look couched in a generic desaturated LUT that is sacrosanct? EM: Yes, I looked at a lot of photography. Steven Shore, Joel Sternfeld, Todd Hido and Mitch Epstein were all influential. I’ve said before that I don’t think production designers, set decorators and costume designers get enough credit for the way movies look. I was incredibly fortunate on Mindhunter to have real partners in crime in all those departments. David Fincher is involved in every visual decision in the show and he kept our pallete restricted to a very specific
contribution to the show’s look. A lot of the scenes took multiple days to shoot, and our shooting day often extended past sundown so we papered a lot of windows. At first I was worried about that, but then after watching The Godfather and Chinatown again as references I realised how many of those interiors were cheated with blown-out windows, so I felt better about it! The Quantico office is a stage set with green screen, so we had quite a bit more control over the light there. Def: Please talk us through the lighting design. Apart from key or talent lights, it is obviously minimised to practical and natural light. Does the performance of the camera encourage this, are you pushing the ISO? What lights are you using, and how are you adjusting colour temperature? EM: I would always prefer the natural light of a set to do the majority of the work, I just think it always looks better. Steve Arnold and I spent a lot of time talking about window locations and practical lights as they pertained to the blocking each director had in mind. There are always times when it’s necessary
to hang a light to get some separation, or use a bit more light in the eyes or whatever, but it was pretty minimal. I rated the camera at 640 ASA for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to work predominately in the toe of the exposure range, so I felt like I needed to protect the shadows a bit more than the highlights. The second reason was that I deliberately wanted to work with a little more light than we might at 800 or 1000 ASA. In the past, I’ve found at 800 or 1000 ASA I end up having to control the shadows so much more than I would like, so it can be a little hard to be expressive with the lighting. At 640 ASA I can still work at 10 to 25 foot- candles without polluting the entire scene with light. Its a nice, balanced place to start.
ABOVE Holden (Jonathan Groff) and Bill (Holt McCallany) interrogate a killer.
I WOULD PREFER THE NATURAL LIGHT OF A SET TO DO THE MAJORITY OF THE WORK
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SHOOT STORY MINDHUNTER
set of tones. The period is full of yellow, cyan, brown and avocado green. Those colours became our benchmark. When it came to the final colour grading we didn’t apply much of a cast or skew the colour, as much of the look is the result of thoughtful set design and costume choices. Def: With the Xenomorph camera, how much does that help operating? I believe it is stripped down or has accessories as part of the design – can you explain the customisation? EM: Fincher’s design philosophy behind the Xenomorph was to integrate all the standard accessories we typically add to a camera into the body so there are no excess wires or mounting hardware. I think anytime the camera is simplified it helps everyone, and the Xenomorph absolutely helped the operator and assistant because there was just a lot less stuff to deal with. With the exception of NDs, I didn’t use any filtration so in most cases we didn’t even need a matte box. This method lead to a camera that simply needed a lens and battery to shoot without losing any of the functionality the assistants or sound department need. Def: Are you shooting at a particular RED mode, and is 6K downsampled to 4K an advantage for television? What framing options does 6K give you, and are you stabilising in post with the extra information? Are you tempted to go 8K with helium or Monstro for Season 2, maybe if more VFX is called for? EM: We shot in 6k 2:1 with a 5k 2.2:1 centre extraction. The extraction gave us the ability to stabilise in post and reframe if necessary. I loved working that way. We may shoot 8k for season 2 – we’re testing now and exploring our options. I’m tempted to take advantage of the added sensitivity of the Helium sensor and the reduced noise floor, but we’ll
to our process. Funnily enough, our data workflow is very similar to film. I say that because I worked without a DIT with a single in-camera LUT. Our exposed cards were sent to post to be ‘processed’ and ingested. Wiped cards were returned in the morning and the process was repeated, none of the processing was handled on set. I think it’s the best way to work. Def: An increasing problem for Netflix, Amazon and so forth is grading for the diversity of screens used to view their shows. How do you compensate for the smaller screens and also enhance for the main family screen in the living room? I’m thinking
see. I was very happy with the colour response of the Dragon sensor. Def: David Fincher is known as a director who likes lots of takes. With modern cinematography, what is today’s equivalent of giving him what he wants? EM: David Fincher is absolutely a film-maker who uses technology to his advantage. That said, it’s not about toys, its all story and project- based. There were times when we did dozens of takes and other times when we moved on in one or two. It all depends on the situation. That said, the ability to judge focus, colour, contrast and performance on a modern OLED monitor is intrinsic
ABOVE Asif Kapadia, director of episodes three and four, with Erik (right) on the Mindhunter set.
TOP/LEFT Skillful set and costume design ensured little colour grading was needed.
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of the darker scenes and also the compression artefacts of the broadcasters? Does your 4K HDR mastering take this into consideration? EM: Netflix released Mindhunter in Dolby Vision to directly tackle this issue. Dolby Vision manages the viewer’s television (if it’s Dolby Vision enabled) through metadata so the show is seen exactly as we intended. It’s a really great system and hopefully more manufacturers will integrate it. The show was, of course, tested on a variety of devices, but we didn’t attenuate any of our lighting or grading choices to favour less than perfect displays or bandwidth. All we can hope for is that people have the opportunity to see the show on the highest quality screen available. Def: What colour pipeline are you using to control the colour ACES? Is it CDLs?
EM: The combination of faster sensors and LED lights is constantly changing the way we work. Personally, I find the nuanced degree of colour and exposure control I get with LEDs to be life-changing. We used a lot of LED sources, primarily Litegear Litemats and Arri Skypanels. On Mindhunter I worked very much in the toe of the sensor so I rated the camera at 640 ASA to help with shadow detail a bit. Lighting at low light levels is great but it can be challenging as five foot-candles of change can be a whole stop of light, so it’s not necessarily easier to work at 1600 ASA. I do like playing with vintage lenses, particularly in commercials where we have a lot of freedom to experiment, but flawed optics and anamorphics are so in vogue now that I think there is something to be said for making a great image with a crisp, clean modern lens, too. The optics choices we make are just part of a comprehensive visual plan – they aren’t the only piece of the puzzle. Vintage lenses and filters can work well under certain lighting conditions but not in others, so I try to think about optics and filters the same way I think about lighting, colour pallete and camera movement.
EM: I prefer to work with one show LUT, in this case it was Redgamma3. I don’t do any live colour on set and we didn’t even grade dailies. We kept it very simple and I tried to get the look as close as possible to where I wanted it through lighting and exposure alone. Def: With the huge increase in production technology such as LED lights and very sensitive sensors, how is all of that impacting on your shooting intentions? Do your lighting plans become more subtle? Is vintage glass a factor for you, with digital cinematography, or are new lens designs helping? What are your general reactions to technology enhancements?
ABOVE Many of the intense, dialogue- heavy scenes took several days each to shoot.
THE OPTICS CHOICES WE MAKE ARE JUST PART OF A COMPREHENSIVE VISUAL PLAN
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34 GEAR GROUP STABILISED SYSTEMS
STRONG AND STABLE Ever since the camera was moved, its movement was stabilised. We look at the new systems offering that stabilisation, whether the movement is man-made or generated elsewhere
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STABILISED SYSTEMS GEAR GROUP
HFS TYPHON 6 ARRAY
SHOTOVER G1 / U1
The DJI Osmo is a real mini-marvel of a stabilising device, with a full brushless electronic gimbal that’s small enough to be taken anywhere. It’s fast becoming an essential part of many filmmakers’ gear bags as it’s portable, easy to use, and can add amazing moving footage to spice up any edit. It comes in three main types: the original, which uses its own fixed-lens wide-angle X3 12-megapixel camera; pro versions that take the far better 16-megapixel X5 camera with replaceable MFT-mount lenses; and a mobile version, which uses your mobile phone’s camera. It’s the first two types that are most popular with filmers, as the images from DJI’s own cameras are excellent. Both these types use your mobile phone as a viewing device, connected to the camera via DJI’s own app – the same app that controls many of the company’s drones. Freelance series producer at Pioneer Productions, Mark Bridge, makes programming for broadcasters such as Discovery and started using the DJI Osmo with one job in mind. That turned into another when he saw how adaptable it was. “We were going on the road with light kit and quite tight time constraints, and we were going over desert-like terrains with a few mountains, that kind of thing,” he says. “We thought we would use the Osmo to get some ‘jib’-style shots, and that’s all. It certainly could do some of that but I think the main use that we had for it – and what it was incredibly good at – was putting it on a stick. What we found was that a jib shot is tremendously useful because the iPhone controls the head of the camera. So you can have your Osmo on a pole 15 feet away from you in the air and looking at the iPhone in your hand – you can use your fingers to control the head of the camera. So you can move it around and you can have contributors walking into frame, kneeling down on the ground and picking up things and looking at them, and getting those fantastic top shots.”
The Shotover G1 (this is the gimbal from the U1 without the aerial component) can easily be detached from the multirotor and be used as a stand-alone gyro-stabilised platform for mounting on motorcycles, tracking vehicles, cranes, cables and almost anything that moves. So, this is a lightweight, weather- resistant, gyro-stabilised gimbal platform that delivers unshakable stability with ultimate functionality – but at a cost. The U1 is Shotover’s first multirotor craft with features such as redundant flight control and battery systems, customised downlink with two HD video feeds, and great stability even at full zoom. The Shotover has four arms and eight motors. Jeremy Braben from Helicopter Film Services (HFS) owns a Shotover G1: “Shotover has dual redundant flight controllers, and the way they’ve done it is very clever. If one fails, the other one automatically takes over and you can bring the aircraft home. Companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers won’t entertain any UAV unless it can demonstrate the ability to come back with fewer motors than it went out with.” Shotover are also working on ballistic recovery with parachutes, but every time you add something onto these aircraft the payload suffers. The G1 offers remote camera control for RED, Arri, Sony, Canon and Phantom cameras. You get 360° continuous pan, tilt and roll, also HD video encoding and decoding for two video streams (HDMI or SDI). The stabilisation is three-axis with high performance non-ITAR sensors and proprietary gimbal control algorithms. Field of view includes a pan of 360° continuous, tilt of +65 to -120 and roll of +/- 65. The gimbal weight is 5.7kg or 12.6lbs, and payload varies depending on what camera you’re using (unsurprisingly), but Shotover have tested all the major camera and lens combinations for compatibility.
Next on our list is HFS’s Typhon 6 Array, added mainly because of the engineering achievements the company has pulled off, incorporating six ARRI Alexa Mini cameras mounted in a Shotover K1 system, in order to shoot plates that can then be stitched together in post production. The Array is designed to enable both aerial and ground-based filming of sequences when a particularly wide field of vision is required. Oliver Ward, chief technical officer at HFS, explains: “We created the Typhon to meet ever greater need for a stabilised Array, primarily based around the ARRI Alexa camera and using industry-standard prime lenses such as the 24mm LDS Zeiss Ultra Prime.” Tim Wellspring, unit production manager on Paddington 2 , explains: “We had a first use with the Typhon 6 Mini Array on the Shotover K1, and it worked beautifully.” The Typhon 6 was used extensively on a tracking vehicle with a hydroscope crane on Paddington 2 for the train chase sequences. Glen Pratt at Framestore was visual effects supervisor: “The Typhon Array gives us a huge field of view. This provides a better sense of the environment you’re moving through and means that, within the frame, there are a lot of points of interest that can act as a background for areas you’ve shot before. The Typhon can also be used for a photogrammetry aspect, so you can run at a slower frame rate with a hard shutter to build this large field of view, creating a successful piece of tracking geometry. “Only a super-stable system can allow the use of this frame rate/shutter. Having this Array also brings benefits when creating any CG fields on top of what we’ve already shot. When creating a wholly graphic environment, it gives a very thorough starting point, meaning we can reduce the number of CG builds so there’s less work required in post. That means less pressure on budgets and schedules, and more time to finesse the work.”
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