LIGHTING SPECIAL THE EVOLUTION OF CONTROL P56
October 2018 £4.99
GRIPPING NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S AWARD WINNING FREE SOLO DIRTY LIGHT HOW STRANGERS MADE HONG KONG LOOK BAD
EDINBURGH TV FEST REPORT MYCASEBUILDER FIILEXMATRIX II LIGHT FUJI X-T3 NEWFULL FRAME
CAMERAS FOCUS ON BIGMOVES
FIRST TEST ASTERA TITAN TUBE LIGHT
New reincarnation gets the filmic look
EDITORIAL Editor Julian Mitchell 01223 492246 firstname.lastname@example.org Editor In Chief Adam Duckworth Contributors Zena Oliani, Phil Rhodes , Adam Duckworth Senior Sub Editor Lisa Clatworthy Sub Editors Siobhan Godwood, BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK email@example.com Sales Manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 firstname.lastname@example.org Key Accounts Nicki Mills 01223 499457 email@example.com DESIGN Design Director Andy Jennings Design Manager Alan Gray Designer Lucy Woolcomb Ad Production Man-Wai Wong PUBLISHING Managing Directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook @definitionmagazine Twitter @definitionmags Instagram @definitionmags MEDIA PARTNERS & SUPPORTERS OF Felicity Evans ADVERTISING Sales Director Matt Snow 01223 499453
A mazingly, Definition hasn’t really looked at the subject of large-movement gear for a while. We decided to base our Gear Group on the subject but had to decide where we started and finished. If you talk to the large, non-telescopic arm guys they will say that their arms will imitate a drone, will act like a small, handheld gimbal, and with the right vehicle will give you breathtaking, stabilised footage at speed. As you can imagine, those claims are refuted by other engineering companies who evolve their machinery to achieve similar shooting situations. So what’s new? Well, you’re always going to have competition and back-chatting, but what is new is the level of engineering involved that can offer you whatever shot you can imagine and is often repeatable. There are now contactless braking systems from companies like Idea Vision, and Panther’s new S-Type dolly is a feat of supreme engineering, with its negative distance arm technology. The trackless and tracked robots are also on their way – and we even found a new one in Hungary. Perhaps, though, it’s only a matter of time before a company like DJI joins that market. WELCOME
JULIAN MITCHELL EDITOR
Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
OCTOBER 20 1 8 | DEF I N I T ION 03
SE T- UP TITLE SEQUENCE Oscar winners Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone join Olivia Colman in The Favourite . FULL FRAME MIRRORLESS The Photokina show in Cologne threw up a number of new full-frame cameras with some serious video capabilities. FIVE MINUTES AT EDINBURGH Zena Oliani discovers where the commissioners are and how content quality is still king. SHOOT STORY MIXING CARS AND MUSIC Gun Hill Studios has been custom built to become a Mecca for the car cinematographer with music on their mind. FREE SOLO DOCUMENTARY Hero climber Alex Honnold was the first to ascend the mighty El Capitan face without the use of any ropes. STRANGERS ITV drama that makes Hong Look sickly and exotic while London was cool. FE ATURES GEAR GROUP We discover some new big-movement gear from stabilised heads to large arms. TALK TO THE HAND For lighting control, it’s all about the APP. CONTENTS 06 08 14 26 30 40 49 56
ON THE COVER DOCTOR WHO For the new regeneration of The Doctor, the BBC needed a look that could rival Netflix.
GE AR TESTS FUJIFILM X-T3 CAMERA After the X-T2’s impressive pro video abilities, the X-T3 had much to live up to. CASE BUILDER Case Builder does exactly what it says on the tin (website). If you want a custom case, try it out. FIILEX MATRIX II LIGHT For its RGB light Fiilex has its own way of doing things and it’s all about colour groups. ASTERA TITAN TUBE Astera enters the pro lighting LED market with a very impressive tube design. SONNET EGFX BREAKAWAY This great outboard cage uses Thunderbolt 3 to outsource some serious graphic power. 4K CAMERA LISTINGS Our famous camera listing now concentrates on 4K and above camera systems.
OCTOBER 20 1 8 | DEF I N I T ION 05
No, it’s not Queen Victoria, but Queen Anne: or really actress Olivia Colman in a behind-the-scenes moment. Olivia is playing the monarch in Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite, also starring Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, and is also currently in production playing Queen Elizabeth in The Crown Season 3. Also pictured is the director of The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos, who is pointing a very small camera at Olivia and Rachel while holding his director’s monitor enabled by his favourite wireless technology, Bolt, powered by Teradek. The film opens in the US in November and the UK next year. WE ARE NOT AMUSED
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OCTOBER 20 1 8 | DEF I N I T ION 07
SET- UP | MI RRORLESS CAMERA LAUNCHES
PANASONIC GOES LARGE An alliance with both Leica and Sigma sees Panasonic reveal a new full-frame mirrorless pro camera range with an established lens mount
WORDS TERRY HOPE
I n terms of a hush-hush preview, the briefing from Panasonic was right up there. Nothing revealed in the invitation, a non-disclosure agreement and a request that no images be taken of any product that might be shown. All highly intriguing and there were lots of inspired guesses as to what we might be shown, and the announcement of a pair of full frame mirrorless models a week before the world debut at Photokina certainly didn’t disappoint. All this hullabaloo was centred on the new Panasonic S1R and S1 , cameras firmly aimed at the top end of the professional market, and although there are scant technical details, there is enough to make it clear that these models will shake up the opposition in this fast-moving sector. With new full-frame mirrorless cameras from Nikon and Canon revealed in the past few weeks, joining established players Sony and Leica in the market, the march to a whole new world of professional is clearly underway. Panasonic’s big reveal was that the cameras would feature Leica’s L-Mount – perhaps not such a huge shock, given the relationship between the two companies – which means that there’s already a
sight of the lenses themselves nor any indication of likely price it’s difficult to judge just how well they will do. However, given the level that the new cameras are being pitched at it’s fair to surmise that these optics will be at premium level, powered by Leitz expertise. Regarding the cameras themselves, alongside the fact that we know the sensors will be full-frame, Panasonic would only reveal the S1R will feature 47 megapixels and the S1 24 megapixels – a similar scenario to Nikon’s 45.7-megapixel Z 7 and 24.5-megapixel Z 6, or Sony’s 42.2-megapixel A7R III and 24.2-megapixel A9. We were told that S1 and S1R sensors have been newly-developed and we asked, but were not told, whether these are proprietary Panasonic sensors. We’ll have to wait to find out in due course. Other tantalising facts revealed included that these cameras would be what Panasonic claims are the world’s first full- frame mirrorless cameras to support 4K 60p/50p video recording, so there is plenty here to appeal to the hybrid operator that needs to shoot video alongside stills. The only other mirrorless cameras to do this have smaller sensors, such as the APS-C Fujifilm X-T3 we test in this issue and
selection of quality optics out there ready and waiting. What is more surprising is that Sigma is also included, in an unholy alliance that will see the Japanese lens maker producing L-mount versions of its own well-respected glass. Panasonic will also be expanding the line-up by at least ten further lenses over the next two years, which will include a 50mm/f1.4 prime lens, 24-105mm standard zoom lens and 70-200mm telephoto zoom. That covers the most-used lenses by professionals, and differs wildly from the new glass announced by both Nikon and Canon which is firmly in the wide and standard-zoom ranges. At first sight this has all the makings of a really usable outfit, though without The announcement of pair of full-frame models did not disappoint
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Panasonic is launching Lumix Pro, a hub for professional users that will provide an extensive support and service network. It’s a recognition that professionals want reassurance that they can continue to shoot wherever they might be, should they encounter a technical issue. The programme is an expansion of the service already running in Japan, and GH4, GH4R, GH5, GH5s and G9 customers will be able to register for Lumix Pro services within the USA, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain. A range of maintenance and repair benefits will be available, including sensor, EVF or body cleaning or a lens calibration. Members will also have access to expedited and guaranteed turnaround time, or access to loan equipment when turnaround time cannot be met. Membership levels will be allocated depending on the amount of equipment registered and membership fee. The bundle of services is designed to fit the requirements of the individual photographer. applicable benefits for their level of membership in countries that offer the repair service. Registration opens in Europe in early 2019 and there will be an initial free period. Panasonic will continue to expand its service into other countries. www.lumix-pro.com SUPPORT FOR THE PRO Photographers that travel, for example, will receive the
ABOVE The two new full-frame models, the S1R and S1, signal Panasonic’s intentions for the market.
This was interesting, however, because it did tell us that the camera is going to have a traditional look, down to the incorporation what looks like a pentaprism on the top of the camera, perhaps there so as not to present professionals with too radical a new look. And it’s also not going to be compact or lightweight. It looked to be around half as big again as a GH5S, but this is not likely to be an issue with a professional audience that’s accustomed to gear being built like a tank and in scale with the larger, faster lenses traditionally associated with this sector. There’s a school of thought that would suggest a camera that’s too small and lightweight might be confused with a consumer model, so the added bulk makes the whole ensemble look and feel more professional. The launch signals that Panasonic is going to be going very seriously for the high-end professional market from here on in. It’s great news for the pros to have another option to consider and perhaps a sign to the competition that they need to be looking a little nervously over their shoulder from now on. MORE INFORMATION: www.panasonic.com
Panasonic’s micro four-thirds GH5 and GH5S. Panasonic’s GH5 and GH5S focus on video with 10-bit internal capture, high bit rates, fast frame rates and advanced video capture tools like waveforms. It’s not known whether any of this technology will be usable on the full-frame models. There is the assumption that the S1R at least, given its high pixel count, is going to be primarily a stills model. Both cameras also feature a Dual IS image stabilisation system. They’re said to be the world’s first full-frame cameras with in-body stabilisation as well as lens stabilisation; this reflects the trend amongst current camera models for a facility that’s designed to reduce reliance on traditional support. Also on board is a double slot for XQD and SD memory cards, which is a first for Panasonic, and on the back of each of the new models there’s a rugged triaxial tilt LCD, that’s there to provide flexibility for those working in the fields of both professional photography and videography. Both cameras are due to be available ‘early in the new year’ but it’s clear there is still quite a lot of work to do before fully-functioning samples are available. At this event all there was to show was a non- functioning mock-up.
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SET- UP | CANON EOS R
R YOU READY FOR THIS! BRAVE NEW WORLD Canon’s new EOS R is not just its first full- frame mirrorless camera but the forerunner of an entire new system
The straight answer to this is no, and, to be fair, Canon itself has not suggested this is what it’s intended to be. After all, the first EOS model was the 650, a consumer model, with the pro-spec flagships not arriving until later down the line. That’s not at all to say that the Canon R can’t do a decent job for a pro. Clearly it’s got a very high spec sensor at its heart, backed up by the kind of performance that even the top-of-the-line models wouldn’t have been able to match just a short time ago. I spoke to one professional who showed me a selection of really high quality shots that he’s printed straight out of camera with no post at all and they looked terrific, so there could be less of the computer work involved as well for those that can’t resist diving in. If you’re set on a fully professional RF model, however, you might be better off waiting a while to see what’s coming next. There will undoubtedly be one in due course, but in the meantime the R looks like a model that could happily fill in and could get you started in the system. IS THIS A PROFESSIONAL’S CAMERA?
T he letter R can stand for a number of things, such as Respect, Revolutionary or even perhaps Risky, but the jury is, by and large, out right now regarding whether any of these words might apply to the latest camera launch from Canon. By now you may have devoured reams of information about the R and the line-up of four lenses that accompanied it, but in terms of us making a judgement on what it’s got to offer the pro user, we’ll need to wait until we get one in for a full-scale test. However, I attended the London launch of the R – which consisted of a dimly-lit indoor theatrical set representing the world 400 years into the future, populated by colourfully made-up actors. Fortunately, I was armed with a fully functioning, full-production sample of the R. It came complete with the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM that’s due to be the kit lens in one of the outfits Canon is offering, so I was well prepared for all eventualities and also able to find out for myself how well the camera could cope in low light – both from an exposure point of view, and in terms of AF speed and accuracy. WORDS & PICTURES ADAM DUCKWORTH
FIRST IMPRESSIONS All manufacturers are inclined to reach for the hyperbole when launching a new product, but this felt like something special. Much as Nikon had done two weeks earlier, this was not a one-off new model that was being announced, rather the start of an entire new system centred on a brand new mount. With four impressive but expensive new lenses being available in the new fitting from day one, there was the further tantalising taster of an extensive line-up of anonymous lenses shown in one of the introductory slides, with the promise that there was a lot more glass to look forward to over the next few years. There is going to have to be, as right now there is not enough to keep a pro happy. Until then, there is the EF-EOS R mount adaptor to fill the gap, ensuring that the entire line-up of EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses will be compatible with the camera. There is more, however: in addition to the standard mount adapter, Canon has also created a drop-in filter mount adapter, or control ring mount adapter, to add additional functionality – such as filters
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SET- UP | CANON EOS R
For those who remember early EVEs, which resembled ancient TV screens, this is worlds apart and a customisable control ring – when adapting lenses. The drop-in filter mount adapter is available with a variable neutral density (V-ND) filter or a circular polarising (C-PL) filter, while a third clear (CL) filter is also available if you don’t wish to have any effects. The ND variety in particular is going to be of keen interest to filmmakers. So Canon is making sure its army of current users can take the journey to the mirrorless promised land without the inconvenience of losing the use of all those lenses they’ve so expensively acquired over the years. However, there can be little doubt that the long-term future of Canon lenses will be RF-shaped, and that this is where all the advances will be seen. The new mount features short-back focus and the widest lens throat of any sub-medium format system, and Canon say this will enable future advances in lens design and performance. CAMERA DESIGN So to the camera itself, and this did indeed feel good in the hands, being noticeably smaller than a conventional DSLR but nicely balanced and solidly made. It’s not easy to get to grips with a new model when you’ve only had it placed in your hands a few moments earlier, but I started off in the auto modes and slowly but surely investigated a few of the many customisation options – such as autofocus, ISO and white-balance – that are available, these being accessed via a swipe or a tap on a multi-function touch bar just to the right of the EVF. The EVF itself is one of the most impressive features of the new camera, as it needed to be for a mirrorless model to make any sense. For those who remember early EVFs, which resembled ancient TV screens complete with horizontal lines and flickering, this is world’s apart. It’s so good, in fact, that one professional who had been working with the camera said that he’d forgotten this wasn’t a direct view and had then been surprised when wording suddenly appeared. The reason for the low-light setting was to demonstrate how well this camera
ABOVE A high-spec sensor and top-level performance means the EOS R signals a system to watch.
SHOOTING VIDEO I managed a few short video clips, and having subsequently spoken to a few filmmaking pros they tend to agree that there’s enough onboard here to satisfy most professionals that might want to shoot some video around the stills for the benefit of their clients. The EOS R can shoot in 4K at 30fps – though, as many have pointed out, not at 60fps, which is only available at 1080p. This, however, will still be more than enough for most pros, and there are further video-orientated features on board such as Canon Log with 12 stops of dynamic range, 10bit 4:2:2 HDMI output and a maximum recording time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds. The side of the camera also features mic and headphone jacks, but this is still clearly a photographer’s camera rather than one specifically aimed at filmmakers. Then again, if it was, where would that leave the C-Series? CONCLUSION It’s disappointing to some to find that there’s only one SDXC memory card slot, especially if you like to have an automatic back-up – but there’s much else to enjoy. The full benefit of the new RF system will reveal itself in the fullness of time, but lenses such as the new 50mm provide a tantalising taste of what can be expected, and this is where all the innovation will be coming in the future. There will also be a line-up of R camera models to choose from as well, with this first one destined to be somewhere in the middle of the range. Maybe it’s best to hold judgement until we get a clearer idea of what’s coming, but there can be no doubt now that mirrorless is the bright new technology, with DSLR the technological dinosaur with its best years behind it.
functions once the light starts to drop. In short, it’s very well indeed: in fact looking through the EVF or on the 3.1in LCD viewing screen you get a much clearer view of things than you do using your eyesight. The idea was also to show us how good the new AF system is, thanks to the impressive number of autofocusing points it features, no less than 5655 manually selectable points up to f/11 (compared to a more modest 61 in the EOS 5D Mark IV). It uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocusing system and can acquire focus in very low light, right down to -6 EV. It also focuses extremely quickly, with Canon suggesting that it’s 0.05 seconds. Focus acquisition is the fastest in the world, claims Canon. Suffice to say that I found AF to be lightning-fast, even when the lighting got really atmospheric, and this is set to be one of the big selling points. Although it wasn’t necessary in the situation I was in, I can also confirm that the camera operated in complete silence, which could be crucial for those in wedding or tense sporting situations. So quiet is the whole process that, at first, it can be difficult to believe that the shutter has actually fired, but fortunately Canon has thought this one through and there is confirmation in the viewfinder that the shot has been successfully taken. At the heart of the camera is a 30.3-megapixel CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 100-40,000 (expandable to 50-102,400), backed by a DIGIC 8 image processor. There’s a low pass filter in front of the sensor that helps combat moiré patterns at the cost of slightly reduced sharpness, and the camera features an 8fps continuous shooting speed for bursts of up to 100 max- quality JPEGs, 47 Raw, or 78 C-RAW. The shutter lag is as short as 50 milliseconds, and start-up time is 0.9 seconds.
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SET- UP | ED I NBURGH TV FEST I VAL
WISE UP TO CONTENT We visited this industry favourite festival to give you the low-down on what’s coming next in the world of telly
WORDS ZENA OLI AN I / PICTURES WI LL GREEN
T he word festival in the film and TV world conjures up images of at the annual Edinburgh TV Festival the screening rooms are swapped for lecture halls, the awards are glass and the after- parties… Scottish? Indeed, this is a different kind of festival to what most filmmakers are accustomed to: successes of the past year are discussed rather than screened, the focus is firmly fixed on the future and for many attendees a good festival means coming home with a six-figure commission. COMMISSIONING INERTIA Running from 22 to 24 August, this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival saw the Edinburgh International Conference Centre swarmed by thousands of producers, writers, directors, students and more from across the globe. The overwhelming focus of the festival is on commissioning so it’s particularly useful for those directly involved in pitching and content creation. With panel sessions and 1:1 meetings bookable in advance, the TV festival offers a unique chance to find out from a broad spectrum of controllers and commissioners exactly what they’re looking for – well, that’s the theory at least. press-filled screening rooms, golden awards and glitzy after-parties. But
The festival is useful for those directly involved with pitching and content creation
In reality a lot of the commissioning sessions blurred into one another, with decision makers from different channels all seemingly singing from the same hymn sheet, professing that they’re not afraid to ‘take risks’, are especially looking for ‘unique access’ and welcome ‘celebrity- driven vehicles’. It’s a shame, really, as you can’t help but feel that those commissioners will be decidedly underwhelmed by the generic pitches they receive following the festival. There seems to be this awkward cat-and-mouse game at work whereby commissioners don’t exactly tell producers what they want (though they have an idea) and producers tentatively offer up a buffet of ideas that probably aren’t quite what the commissioner had in mind. Although not being able to predict what the decision maker is looking for could be as much to do with postmodernism and the notion that there are no new ideas, as Discovery ID’s Sara Kozak said, “Don’t just send me one idea. Send me 13 ideas because I can guarantee that the first 12 [ideas] someone else has already pitched to me.”
ABOVE The Edinburgh TV Festival remains a ‘must be at’ event if you want to learn more about the mystical art of commissioning.
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SET- UP | ED I NBURGH TV FEST I VAL
Part of the regular ticket price covers two talent schemes, which offer aspiring tv professionals fully-funded places at the festival, bespoke sessions and year-round events and mentoring. If you’re looking to change careers or are newly graduated and you’ve had fewer than three months’ paid TV experience, The Network is worth a look. Whereas if you’re looking for career progression, the prestigious Ones to Watch scheme offers 30 individuals from all production backgrounds with at least three years’ experience unrivalled networking opportunities and creative sessions at the festival. APPLY AT www.thetvfestival. com/talent-schemes/ STILL STRUGGLING TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY?
IMAGES YouTube, Netflix and the traditional broadcasters all had a heavy presence in Edinburgh. Congratulations to Ben Frow who picked up Channel of the year award for Channel 5.
NETFLIX Fortunately, the vague sessions made the specific ones all the more noteworthy. While Netflix is notorious for not sharing its viewing figures there’s no denying that audiences are flooding to on-demand services. YouTube also made a big splash at the festival, sponsoring a bar with free food and drinks at regular intervals each day. Equally popular was the session with the Head of YouTube Originals Luke Hyams, so much so that attendees were sat on the floor and others had to be turned away. Refreshingly, Luke gave specific advice on what kind of content YouTube Originals are looking to commission, notably content that is: • Targeted at 18- to 35-year-olds with a buzzy, pop culture-adjacent theme (celebrities are also a win). • Continuing Google’s mission of disseminating information – content with a social impact that’s also entertaining. • Making use of the platform with live events or utilising the comment functionality. • Ultimately, when pitching to Luke, you need to answer one question: what about this idea is going to drive subscribers?
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SET- UP | ED I NBURGH TV FEST I VAL
PRODUCTION VALUES The talks weren’t just one-way lectures, either; the festival also ran audience Q&As at the end of each session through their app. Presumably the speakers advise which topics they are happy to talk about beforehand as there seemed to be some hot moderation going on. Our question to Brandon Riegg of Netflix regarding whether the high production values of the Netflix Originals are reflected in the budgets was deleted, whereas in another session a delegate sat nearby posed a question to Ben Frow, Director of Programmes at Channel 5, about whether or not he tints his eyebrows and he gave a very detailed response (he does, and he uses a pencil from Boots). That sense of openness really differentiated the Channel 5 session – this year they produced a short film with honest sound bites from various people about what it’s like to work with Ben – one colleague went as far as to refer to Ben as Chairman Frow. Dictatorial in style or not, there’s no denying that Mr Frow knows what he wants (no more dogs or train-themed content please) and something must be working as he went home with the Channel of the Year award. Surprisingly, other than Ben Frow’s make-up bag, there was very little discussion of kit, with the focus firmly on talent, content and access rather than style. The only exception to this being the exciting world of immersive content. One panel session called ‘Tomorrow’s World of TV’ looked at how accurate the industry had been at predicting technological
advancements in the past and gazed into their own metaphorical crystal balls to talk about the next big thing. Most panelists put their money on increased personalisation and VR once the teething problems with the headsets are resolved. While excitement for VR is still high there’s a long way to go to make it a feasible income stream for the majority of content creators. Even the BBC’s commissioning editor for virtual reality, Zillah Watson, conceded that while their R&D teams are making incredible content they haven’t figured out how to budget it and they’re still a way away from being able to commission content in this sphere. MORE INFORMATION: 2019 dates and prices have yet to be announced but traditionally the festival runs the weekend before the August bank holiday, keep an eye on the website for more: www.thetvfestival.com
While excitement for VR is still high there’s a long way to go to make it a feasible income stream
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SHOOT STORY | DOCTOR WHO SER I ES 1 1
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DOCTOR WHO SER I ES 1 1 | SHOOT STORY
THE DOCTOR WE DESERVE The Doctor Who of 2018 uses all the cinematic tools at her disposal, we talked to Denis Crossan, DOP of the pilot
WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL / PICTURES BBC
F rom the Doctor Who of grainy 16mm film through to the heavy analogue composite video of the 70s then on to soft standard definition, we’ve always been disappointed at the ‘look’ of the Doctor. But circa 2018 and we might have the look that we’ve always wanted and that’s born from the Netflix generation of production. This is our conclusion anyway from talking to pilot DOP Denis Crossan about his new aesthetic ideas, even before we have seen any footage. Denis had worked with director Jamie Childs on an ITV drama Next Of Kin and
“They wanted new writers and wanted to give it fresh ideas and a new lick of paint. Part of that was shooting anamorphic and supposedly having a filmic look was part of the deal. I thought it was kind of interesting and agreed to do it. Before I actually arrived in Cardiff for pre-production I didn’t have much to do with it and hoped that they were keeping all the new ideas, like the anamorphic look. I was pleasantly surprised especially when the writer Chris Chibnall said that he wanted it to be as bold and exciting as possible and for me to do as much as I could do to make it that way.”
afterwards was asked to work on the next series of Doctor Who . “ Next of Kin was very good and I really enjoyed working with Jamie,” he says. “Towards the end of it he mentioned that he was going to do the Doctor Who thing and he wondered whether I would be interested. I thought it sounded great especially with the new ideas surrounding it. I had never really watched the programme and I didn’t know much about it but when he described what he wanted to do I was definitely interested. The idea was to change everything around along with the new woman doctor and some new characters.
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SHOOT STORY | DOCTOR WHO SER I ES 1 1
PAST FORMATS THE CHANGING LOOK OF DOCTOR WHO Over the years of shooting Doctor Who the programme has used many formats but is mostly remembered for the very video-y look from the late 70s and 80s. Format-wise there have been many camera choices, including 16mm film, 35mm film, Sony Betacam Cameras, Sony HDW-F900 and now ARRI Alexa XTs. Different formats included the film formats, HDTV and now digital cinematography with maybe UHD on the way. Master formats have included HDTV, digital intermediate in 2K, ProRes 4444 XQ (3.2K) and Digital Betacam. But for Series 11, this is the first time that the BBC has allowed Doctor Who to shoot in the anamorphic format which is hugely exciting for Doctor Who fans everywhere.
NETFLIX COMPETITION The feeling was that in 2018 there is major competition from production juggernauts like Netflix and Amazon Video and to make a Doctor Who for this era you have to bear that in mind. The production values, for instance, are so much higher than they used to be. The brief Denis was given was quite wide at the same time as being non-specific on what was expected: but he saw that as a good thing. “It gives you a free range of where to go and doesn’t bury you in what went before. They weren’t tying me down to recognise what went before or to go down the ‘family friendly show’ route. Once you are shooting you can then be more precise in what you do to achieve that new look. “Shooting in a filmic way is something that is hard to quantify for me. I will light something in a certain way that I think is aesthetically pleasing for me; if it’s filmic that is for someone else to decide. But I’ve shot enough film and anamorphic to know what is meant by that. You want something that is not over-lit, nothing shining in your face, that kind of thing. Something that will fit in with the story. “Shooting anamorphic with that slightly wider landscape gives you that scope that I guess is the shorthand for whatever ‘filmic’ is.”
SHOOTING IN CARDIFF Once those expectations of what the show was going to look like were firmed up, Denis moved on to the specifics of the day-to-day shoot. “To add to the drama I tried lots of smoke and lots of light and dark between scenes. In fact for the first one we did, the pilot, we ended up doing a lot of exterior night shooting. We ended up doing big set pieces rather than shooting stuff in a studio with green screen. So there was practically no green screen in the first pilot that we did.” As Denis was in the seat to design a look for the show he was able to set down some guidelines that could be followed by other DOPs – Denis shot one more episode in the series. That included his use of only primes and in this case Cooke anamorphic primes, “I tend not to use zooms very much, I like the idea of choosing lenses and being specific about a shot. Generally I’m not a fan of putting a zoom on and constantly moving the focal length just to get a frame. But I knew with Jamie the director that there would be a whole load of moves so there were a number of handheld shots as well.” But for Denis and Jamie all options were open, if it felt right they would follow their instinct – again this goes against the grain of some of the venerable Netflix USA shows where there is a distinct template for shooting.
I tend not to use zooms very much, I like the idea of choosing lenses and being specific about a shot
IMAGES Denis was free to create an entirely new look for the all-new Doctor Who cast.
SHOOT STORY | DOCTOR WHO SER I ES 1 1
The rain brought some softening, which helped; it took the edge off things
NATURAL ATMOSPHERE Shooting in Cardiff and Sheffield this time last year brought some luck to Denis’ look design as drizzle brought its own atmosphere. “The rain brought some softening, which helped; it took the edge off things which I liked very much. Generally it worked well especially for the night stuff and other bits and pieces. “It also helped with the flashing lights and VFX which I managed that was embellished in post, but those guys were great as there wasn’t constant green
mush your picture up or make it look flat or too soft. It’s just another layer that enhances the whole look of it. It makes it look a little bit more painterly especially at night with the haze in the air.” DOCTOR UP TO DATE The new look for a new doctor joins the ever-maturing digital looks that we see every day in streaming or live broadcasts; that alone promises much for the new series. “There’s no reason this new series can’t look as good as films we are watching on television,” says Denis. He was sure not to look back at what had come before, such was the impetus to brush up the gloss of the new adventures. Lighting details include the ubiquitous ARRI SkyPanels but Denis’ experience pushes him towards reflected light more. “My staple for lighting is always bouncing stuff. If you’ve got a Fresnel and a hard light you can basically do anything. You can use it hard, you can diffuse it or bounce it or wrap it round. I think bouncing light is still the softest way of using any light. For this because sometimes the story called for it, I would put up tube lights that stayed in shot and just had them there as elements that made it interesting.” THE FIRST EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO WILL BE ON BBC 1 ON SUNDAY 7 OCTOBER
screen everywhere, we worked out what they could do with backgrounds and what we achieved on-set.” Once the agreement was to choose an anamorphic look for the new Doctor, Denis chose the Cooke anamorphic primes against other similar lenses. “Cooke
DID YOU KNOW?
Dr Who is broadcast in 94 countries across six continents
anamorphic don’t flare the same as for instance C-Series Panavision lenses. They have a certain type of flare that doesn’t give you the streaky lines. Usually when I work with anamorphics you kind of end up working with only three lenses, a 35mm, a 75mm or use a 100mm for close-ups. You can pretty much shoot the whole show on those focal lengths.” DESIGN FOR THE DOCTOR With a new doctor, especially the first time woman doctor, was Denis conscious of a singular shooting design just for her? “Sometimes I would go quite wide on her although we did a variation of stuff for her. Initially we enhanced her because she was still in the middle of regenerating. But for this series there are a few new cast members around her. So that was the great thing about shooting in this wider format; you could encompass all of them and follow them in a mid-shot as a group. There wasn’t any specific lens I kept going back to for her, she always moved around, it was a bit frenetic. You have to build that into the sequence and still keep the camera moving. It was very kinetic and hopefully that will come across when its shown.” Denis shot two cameras all the time but there was no cross shooting with one a wider version and slightly different angle than the other. Denis also used a favourite filter of his called Black Satin which took the edge off the digital. “When you’re getting oval out of focus if there are any real hotspots, using black satin diffuses that a bit by halating the edges on it. It doesn’t
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DOCTOR WHO SER I ES 1 1 | SHOOT STORY
IMAGES Showrunner Chris Chibnall, Executive Producer Matt Strevens and cast members on the set of the new Doctor Who.
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SHOOT STORY | DR I VE - I N MUS I C
MIXING CARS & MUSIC STARS Gun Hill Studios, set amongst the rolling hills of East Sussex, has been custom designed from the ground up to offer a mouthwatering selection of facilities for both car and commercial specialists
WORDS TERRY HOPE / PICTURES GUN H I LL STUDIOS
I f you’ve worn yourself out on a mission to find a shooting space that offers the facilities you need, sometimes the only solution is to create something from scratch yourself. That was the conundrum facing photographer and filmmaker Rupert Cobb, as he struggled to locate a studio within striking distance of home that had the space and height for cars to drive in and be lit in the way he wanted. Eventually Rupert gave up his lonely search and set about finding a location where he could create a space that ideally suited his situation. The result is Gun Hill Studios in East Sussex, designed around
demanding lenses, along with 24K of DMX-controlled motorised downlight augmented with an extensive selection of Arri Lights. Although many other light sources are available we are still big fans of tungsten light and the rich colour spectrum it brings, and it does, of course, mean that the studio is equally able for both photographic and filming projects.” Naturally a space such as this encourages car manufacturers, dealers and owners to book filming and photographic sessions with Rupert and his team, and there have regularly been the likes of Ferraris, McLarens, Rolls Royces and
a wish list that would put right all of the shortcomings that had been experienced in other venues. “We wanted a place that was big enough to accommodate all of the jobs we were likely to take on,” says Rupert. “There had to be the facility for cars to be driven in, of course, and then we put in a massive infinity cove that’s 10mx10mx5m, with an adjacent blackout studio space that’s the same floor size. Both spaces feature a turntable, so the cars can be moved around and filmed while turning if required. “We also ensured there was enough space behind the set for the most
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DR I VE - I N MUS I C | SHOOT STORY
also undertakes multi-track recording with Pro Tools and Presonus flying faders. “We like to be able to morph to whatever a shoot needs,” says Rupert. “So it could be award-winning cars one day and legendary bands another. For example, we’ve just shot all the videos for Paul Carrack’s new album in this space, while we’re constantly having rare cars turning up to be photographed and filmed within our facility. Our latest shoot in the cove features a band that’s a brilliant new signing to Marshall Records, Elswhere, and their single This One’s for You .” And there is one final advantage to that cove that, while perhaps not initially foreseen, has totally delighted Rupert: “We’ve discovered that the sound in the cove is stunning. The big space without any hard angles makes for excellent live sound quality, so it’s been great to record many bands live in a performance video.” USING THE SPACE One of the challenges of running a big space such as this is that the overheads are understandably going to be high and so it’s crucial that the studio is fully utilised on a regular basis. Often it will be personal projects designed to highlight the When we’re screening a band or car, they can be moved while the camera stays fixed within the green screen area
Aston Martins turning up for a spin on the turntables. However, Rupert also has another major string to his bow, one that the giant cove has also proved itself to be equally useful for. “My background is that I have a long history in music,” says Rupert, “playing trumpet with artists such as Mike and The Mechanics, Bad Manners, Bono, Arthur Brown and so on, as well as co-mixing the revolutionary Series One and Two of Live From Abbey Road , an internally financed performance/documentary series that was filmed at the legendary studio aired worldwide from Channel 4 to Sundance and mixed at our facilities down in Sussex. “When we moved to our own custom- designed premises I wanted to be able to bring that sensibility to the cove, and this led us to redesign our white turntable so that it had its own mains power supply. This meant that a band could play and be rotated with no lead required, enabling the smoothest of dolly shots and Matrix-style freeze frames. It also means that, when we’re green screening a band or car, they can be moved while the camera stays fixed within the green screen area.” Alongside the filming, Gun Hill Studios
IMAGES With Gun Hill Studios, Rupert Cobb has created a space that suits the work he does, complete with turntables and a blackout studio space.
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Manufacturers have responded by delivering new optics that have a more achievable price point
interest in filmmaking manufacturers have responded by delivering new optics that have a more achievable price point. Fujifilm, for example, has delivered a matched pair of MK cinematic zooms that collectively cover the zoom range of 18-135mm, and for a combined price of around £7000/$8000, which is massively below what a dedicated lens of this type would once have cost. However there are also other Fujifilm cinema zooms that have recently joined the range, one of the most intriguing being the XK6x20 20-120mm T3.5 Cabrio. Whilst commanding a price of around £13,500/$13,500, this optic still costs considerably less than some of its closest rivals, and it comes with an impressive feature set that includes a detachable servo drive that can be removed to accept industry standard cine motors and matte boxes. There is also LDS and /i metadata compatibility if you want to record the position information of zoom, iris and focus for computer animation and other uses.
and delivers Dual Native ISOs of 800 and 2,500, which allows you to film in just about any lighting environment. What I really like about it, however, is its footprint, which is really small, and that helps a lot. For example, if I’m trying to look inside a car to get a close up of the steering wheel then it’s compact enough to enable me to do that.” The filming of Drive-In Music is usually carried out using three cameras, either three EVA1s or possibly two EVA1s and a VariCam LT. “We like to shoot with two cameras that are fitted with primes and one that’s partnered with a zoom,” says Rupert. “Every episode of this series is being shot like a movie with no presenter between the audience and the talent, and we often need the flexibility of a zoom so that we’re ready to re-frame quickly to grab those impromptu special moments.” Until recently the specialist cinema zooms available have been ultra-expensive, to the point where, for many, they would have been purely rental items. However, things have moved on over the past few years, and with the mushrooming of
versatility and quality of the brand that will be set up there, but an exciting recent development has seen Gun Hill Studios working on a show entitled Drive-In Music . “It’s an original and ground-breaking hybrid show,” says Rupert, “that combines two of man’s greatest passions, namely motors and music. The show is set in a drive-in and the charge for parking is a performance in the cove. Breaking artists mingle with unusual vehicles and speak candidly about what drives their creativity and passion.” The fast moving nature of the production relies on camera set-ups that are ergonomic and easy to handle. After a long search Rupert settled on the Panasonic AU- EVA1, which is used alongside a Panasonic VariCam LT, and he’s been delighted with the performance the camera has offered him and his team. “For the price – around £6000/$7345 – it’s incredibly well specified,” he says. “It offers a robust and wide codec range, and features a 5.7K Super 35mm sized sensor that can capture up to 14-stops of latitude
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DR I VE - I N MUS I C | SHOOT STORY
“Everyone here is a stills photographer as well as a filmmaker,” says Rupert, “and being able to test all sorts of lenses in this studio environment is an absolute treat. Added to that I’ve always liked the footage that those with a photographic background are capable of outputting, and I’ve found that skills learned in one discipline give you a good grounding in the other. “I’m also a big fan of prime lenses for filming work, but there is no doubt that zooms such as the Fujinon XK6x20 20-120mm T3.5 Cabrio are indispensable on those shoots where you have to be able to adapt quickly when there’s no time to change lenses. It’s great that the quality of optics such as these, mean that there’s little sacrifice and much gain in being ready for that instant interview with the owner of the £20 million Ferrari or an opportunity to film a 360˚ shot of a set on the cove with all the flexibility offered by a stunningly sharp 20X zoom.”
earnest with the EVA1, and to do this we’ll need to come up with a compact power solution.” FOCUSED ON CARS One of the sequences to be filmed for ‘Drive in Music’ featured a very special car, no less than Donald Campbell’s AC Aceca prototype, a three-year restoration job by the Jim Stokes Workshop, and again this involved the EVA1 and XK6x20 20-120mm T3 Cabrio combo being put to the test. It was a challenge passed with aplomb. “We shoot all the full car sequences with this set up,” says Rupert, “recording the footage at 5.7K Raw on the Eva1 direct to the Atomos Shogun Inferno HDR monitor/ recorder using the recorder’s 6G SDI connections.” The Shogun Inferno is also capable of supercharging the EVA1’s slow motion performance, since it can record the Raw output at up to 240fps direct to Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHR. Needless to say the results were stunning, and the outfit has thoroughly endeared itself to the whole team at Gun Hill Studios.
In terms of size, the lens is 114 × 226 mm, making it just a tiny bit larger than the Cabrio 19-90mm (114 x 223 mm), while its weight is 2.9kg, or 2.4kg with the servo unit removed. By using an EOS adaptor Rupert was able to match it with his Panasonic cameras to create a set up that was both nimble yet capable of stunning image quality. “It was really interesting to try this combination out,” says Rupert. “The XK6x20 worked exceptionally well with both the VariCam LT and the EVA1. It’s very smooth to operate and delivers really sharp footage, while its 20-120mm zoom range is extremely useful and practical. The Motordrive worked really well when the lens was paired with the VariCam and we’re looking forward to now testing this out in
MORE INFORMATION: www.gunhillstudios.com
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SHOOT STORY | FREE SOLO
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FREE SOLO | SHOOT STORY
Climber Alex Honnold rehearsed his moves for a year before taking on the mighty El Capitan rock face – without ropes
WORDS PH I L RHODES / PICTURES NATIONAL GEOGRAPH IC
F ree Solo is a production that could hardly have been designed for anything but the big screen. The documentary, directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, depicts climber Alex Honnold’s ascent of the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite national park. Made on June 3, 2017, Honnold’s climb was the first ever without the use of safety equipment – the ‘free solo’ of the title. El Capitan is 3000 feet high, so in some ways no screen could ever be quite big enough to capture this achievement. Jimmy is himself a hugely experienced mountain sportsman, having both climbed
HONNOLD Given the sheer risks involved in a production like Free Solo , it ’ s no surprise to find that Jimmy, Alex and the rest of their team have climbed and filmed together for years. “The upper echelon of the climbing community is pretty small,” Jimmy says. “I met [Alex] through the climbing community. He joined the North Face athletes team a little over ten years ago, and I ’ ve been a member of that for over 20 years. I was with him on his first international expedition to Borneo – that was the first time I shot with him.” Although Alex made his ascent of El Capitan ’ s Freerider route in a hair
and skied on Mount Everest and a host of other imposing terrain features across Africa, Asia and South America. His credits include cinematography on the 2010 documentary 180° South and direction on Everest: Shooting the Impossible and Meru , which covers an ascent of the eponymous Himalayan peak. Jimmy is, in his own words, a climber who became a filmmaker, not the other way around. “I was a climber first. I just started to shoot a lot of climbers in my peer group... I was a photographer, then I became a filmmaker. When I first started shooting it was on transparencies – I was filming before the digital SLRs came onto the scene.”
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