DEFINITION January 2018



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


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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