MARCH 2023 DEFINITIONMAGAZINE.COM
BRIGHT IDEAS FOR LIGHTING INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS
How the latest mirrorless tech gives filmmakers more
Join the great explorers Retracing the most intrepid journeys
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W elcome to the March edition of Definition . Unless you’ve been living off-grid since mid-December, you’ll be aware that Avatar: The Way of Water has been making waves at the box office. Pun most certainly intended. We were fortunate enough to speak with the colourist on the sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time – and find out how he made Pandora and its inhabitants look so beautiful. The Peripheral garnered acclaim for its thrilling first season last year, and we secured access to the VFX company that found a novel way to depict ‘cloaking’ – that well-worn staple of the sci-fi genre. Elsewhere in the magazine, you’ll find our preview of Cine Gear Expo New York, which takes place at the historic Industry City complex in Sunset Park from 10 to 11 March. We speak with Juliane Grosso, chief executive and director of the event, who explains what awaits when landing in the city that never sleeps. Last, but by no means least, our two gear features keep you up to date on all the industry’s kit happenings. We delve into the pros of renting kit – as opposed to buying – and extol the manyfold virtues of mirrorless cameras. Enjoy the issue.
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Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck
Cover image © 2022 Lionsgate
3. MARCH 2023
07 ON THE COVER
Keanu Reeves reprises the role of John Wick in the franchise’s fourth instalment 08 INDUSTRY BRIEFINGS Production giant StudioCanal invests in UK indie – and other news 12 POWER OF ATTORNEY A deep dive into the deepfake used in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law 21 CHANGING GEAR What awaits at Cine Gear Expo NY? A whole host of exciting new tech 30 AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH Retracing the intrepid journeys of history’s great adventurers
SITTING PRETTY Panasonic’s new Lumix S5 II is one of a stellar crop of recent mirrorless machines with cracking moviemaking credentials – don’t miss our breakdown of the current landscape 69
37 MAKING LIGHT WORK
60 THE ART OF VANISHING A VFX specialist makes ‘cloaking’ tech seamless in The Peripheral 69 MIRRORLESS MAGIC Check out the latest and greatest body and lens combinations from leading camera manufacturers 79 CAMERA LISTINGS A look at the best and latest products
In this lighting solutions round table, we seek the advice of industry luminaries 42 WATER WORLD How colour set the mood for Avatar: The Way of Water – the latest epic in arguably the biggest movie franchise of all time 53 GOING RENTAL Why hiring kit could be the smart choice
5. MARCH 2023
JOHN WICK 4 ON THE COVER.
JOHN WICK 4 Here’s Johnny! BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE F ans of John Wick will be delighted to hear that the fourth instalment of the super-stylised, neo-noir action thriller – still starring Keanu Reeves as the titular assassin – will hit the big screen in late March. John Wick: Chapter 4 (also styled as JW4) is almost a year late in its release. That’s due to a combination of the pandemic and Reeves’ commitment to 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections . Following on directly from the events of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum , Wick takes on his most lethal adversaries yet as he travels across Berlin, New York, Osaka and Paris. Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane reprise their respective roles. John Wick: Chapter 4 is slated for theatrical release in the US and UK on 24 March
© 2022 Lionsgate/Murray Close
ON THE RUN This film promises more of the slick action and stunt work that epitomises the series
07. MARCH 2023
Industry briefings SONY UNVEILS TWO 4K IP-BASED PTZ CAMERAS Claire Lam from Sony discusses smart technology embedded in its game-changing pan-tilt-zoom cameras Sony Electronics has added to its line-up of pan-tilt- zoom (PTZ) cameras by introducing a brace of 4K models accompanied by built-in AI analytics. The SRG-A40 and SRG-A12 automatically and consistently track, as well as naturally frame, the presenters regardless of their movement or posture, for seamless content creation and control. This is all achieved without operation of a computer. Highlights of the cameras include image quality with automation, flexibility of IP, powerful zoom and remote control, all while having an uncomplicated approach to configuration and operation. “Our latest PTZ cameras truly represent a new generation,” explained Claire Lam, head of network camera solutions at Sony Europe. “While they incorporate the image quality that is Sony’s bedrock, these efficient new models are even smarter than ever with the addition of built-in AI analytics, enabling PTZ Auto Framing, paired with the potential resulting from remote control,” she emphasised. The SRG-A40 and SRG-A12 made their debut showcase at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) event in Barcelona earlier this year and are expected to be available in the summer of 2023, with a list price of £4300 and £3600 respectively.
KEEN EYE Hands-free automation and remote control make for smooth, intuitive use for presenters
Production giant StudioCanal to invest in UK indie StudioCanal is going to be backing a scripted drama indie co-founded by the Vigil director, James Strong. The French production
Strong and Loretta Preece are joint creative directors, with Tombs managing director. Preece most recently worked as series producer on Series 2 of the BritBox International and UKTV show, Sister Boniface Mysteries . A source near to the situation says the deal is close to finalising, but offered no further information. StudioCanal didn’t respond to request for comment.
and distribution giant is set to invest in Strong Film & Television, which was founded by Strong in 2020, alongside Matt Tombs, former BBC and Paramount Comedy executive. However, producer Richard Stokes, also a founder, left the company in 2021.
SEALING THE DEAL StudioCanal will support founders of Strong Film & Television
MANDY WALKER NOMINATED: CAN SHE BECOME FIRST FEMALE TO WIN CINEMATOGRAPHY OSCAR?
be nominated for the gong. She goes up against two other first- time nominees: James Friend for German WWI picture All Quiet on the Western Front and Florian Hoffmeister for Tár . Other nominees include two-time winner Roger Deakins for Empire of Light and two-time nominee Darius Khondji for Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. The 95th Academy Awards are due to be held on 12 March 2023 at Ovation Hollywood (formerly Hollywood & Highland Center).
Mandy Walker could become the first female to win the Academy Award for best cinematography for her work on Baz Luhrmann’s biographical drama, Elvis . Following the late king of rock ‘n’ roll’s childhood in Mississippi, all the way up to his big shows in Las Vegas, the story is told through the eyes of controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Walker follows Ari Wegner ( The Power of the Dog ) last year and Rachel Morrison ( Mudbound ) in 2018 as only the third woman to
ALL SHOOK UP Mandy Walker could change the all-male track record of cinematography Oscar winners
Schneider-Kreuznach’s new neutral density filter collection, Classic ND, will supersede the current ND line effective from 31 March, the company said. A single specially coated filter glass, Classic NDs offer the highest possible colour accuracy throughout. According to the company, this is true for all stops and between batches, enabling flexible filter stacking while reducing colour grading time. ND filters help manage the amount of light that hits the sensor independent from the CLASSIC ND FILTER COLLECTION GIVES NEW COAT OF PAINT
Workerbee and MIM ink first-look deal Workerbee has signed a first-look deal with Made in Manchester (MIM) that will see the two production companies join forces to generate fresh film and programming ideas. Combining the efforts of Workerbee’s factual film division and MIM, the two will work closely in order to develop new ideas and delve into the latter’s rich catalogue of radio documentaries and podcasts; with a view to developing projects for the screen. Rick Murray, CEO of Workerbee Group, said he looked forward to developing and expanding the company’s factual offering. “This co-production deal marks the first in a small number of key creative partnerships we are planning, helping Workerbee Films develop its next generation of world-class projects,” he added. MIM creative director Ashley Byrne said his company – which celebrates 18 years in business this May – and his programming slate ‘are perfect for the big and small screen’.
PICTURE PERFECT New line-up of filters from Schneider-Kreuznach offers filmmakers control with the aperture – even in the brightest of conditions. The new filter collection is coated for 380-780nm, so its effect reaches from visible light up to the near-infrared spectrum; infrared pollution is greatly reduced. A special multi-resistant, anti- reflection coating complements the characteristics of the Classic ND.
aperture, allowing filmmakers to take control of depth- of-field
BALDWIN CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER, REMAINS IN LEAD ROLE Actor Alec Baldwin faces an involuntary manslaughter charge following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust in October 2021. The 64-year-old star of Beetlejuice and Glengarry Glen Ross was rehearsing a scene when a prop revolver he was using fired a live bullet. Rust ’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was charged with the same offence. Baldwin won’t be charged with shooting director, Joel Souza, despite being hit by the same bullet that killed the Ukrainian. Baldwin remains in the lead role as filming continues, his lawyer has confirmed. Matt Hutchins, the victim’s widower, stays as executive producer. Hutchins worked on 30-plus feature-length films, shorts and miniseries, including Archenemy , Darlin’ , Blindfire and The Mad Hatter , in roles such as DOP and associate producer. An investigation by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is yet to find how rounds got on-set.
Atomos provides onboard monitoring and recording at Sundance 2023
Video technology specialist, Atomos, supported the Sundance Film Festival with onboard monitoring, recording for the daily recap and distributing videos across its social media channels and theatres. Workflow for 13 production crews included using the Ninja V Atomos Connect module, with cloud connectivity and Adobe Camera to Cloud powered by Frame.io. “Being entrusted by Sundance to ensure all content for the film festival’s in-house productions was captured, distributed and shared is a great honour,” said Trevor Elbourne, CEO of Atomos. Sclera Digital, a well-trusted cinema equipment rental company based in Los Angeles, provided five Peplink bonded dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi systems with two embedded LTE modems.
Canon, the exclusive provider of cameras for the film festival, supported the event with a combination of EOS R6 mirrorless DSLRs, EOS C200 digital cinema cameras and EOS 5D Mark IV DSLRs. The Sundance Film Festival took place 19-29 January in Park City, Utah both in-person and online.
SPECIALIST TECH Atomos helped things go smoothly with its Camera to Cloud capability
11. MARCH 2023
PRODUCTION. SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW
Power of attorney
The visual effects supervisor behind She-Hulk: Attorney at Law explains how deepfake and VFX made this Marvel character unique
WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Marvel Studios
W hen the very first feature film based on a Marvel comic was released in 1986, there were very high hopes. Howard the Duck (known in Europe as Howard: A New Breed of Hero ) had George Lucas, Lea Thompson ( Back to the Future ), Tim Robbins ( The Shawshank Redemption) and a hefty budget to its name. Upon release, the film was panned by critics and haemorrhaged money at the box office. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the film as one of the costliest box- office flops ever made. However, despite that false start, Marvel Comics, now part of the Walt Disney Company stable, has had more than ten billion-dollar-grossing films to its name. Late last year, the eighth Marvel Studios television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released on Disney+. It’s about Jennifer Walters, a lawyer who specialises in cases involving superhumans. She also happens to be the green superhero, She-Hulk. Digital Domain, a VFX and digital production company based in Los Angeles, had already worked on Marvel productions such as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame , so it made sense for Marvel Studios to call on its services again. “It was kind of a natural fit and we wanted to push our VFX technology to the next level, to create a living, breathing,
emoting computer-generated character for an episodic,” explains Michael Melchiorre, VFX supervisor at Digital Domain. “It was kind of a natural fit that I would slide over there and help that team push it across the finish line. On-set, we’re there to make sure the performance is captured properly. We’re making sure we get everything we need. The performance, that’s the director’s territory, and we don’t want to step on any feet. But we also want to make sure that while we’re there, we get what we need to bring the character to life once principal photography is over.” The series benefits from virtual production, too. “Towards the end of the series, She-Hulk goes into an underground secret room hidden in the Marvel offices,” Melchiorre says. “That’s where K.E.V.I.N., the brain who controls Marvel, resides. For that, we did a lot of pre-vis and post-vis using Unreal Engine to help the filmmakers visualise what that environment would ultimately become. It’s helpful every step along the way. You get a better idea of what the environment’s going to look like and how the character’s going to move within it. This gives the director on-set freedom to shoot how they want to shoot and not be hampered by any type of VFX methodology down the line.” As far as Digital Domain’s sequences are concerned, it was responsible for
“We wanted to push our VFX technology to the next level, to create a living, breathing, emoting computer- generated character”
SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW PRODUCTION.
TRIAL BY FIRE Creating a photorealistic CGI main character for an nine-part series was, to say the least, a challenging prospect
13. MARCH 2023
SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW PRODUCTION.
EXHIBIT A Digital Domain was tasked with all She-Hulk scenes that took place in the courtroom – and within Jennifer Walters’ office
She-Hulk when she was in her office and the courtroom. Melchiorre explains how the panorama outside the protagonist’s windows was Los Angeles, and that the shots were all filmed with green screen. “I prefer green screen over blue because it’s easier to light evenly, and for this it worked exceptionally well – because it was a bit brighter and more luminous,” adds Melchiorre. “So when we’re putting our bright exteriors outside, that all helps blend into the plate photography. Instead of attempting to add extra light around the window frames in comp, we get some of that in-camera, and we can then play into that to help integrate our backgrounds. The GLK&H law firm where She-Hulk works is situated in downtown Los Angeles. We had multiple panoramic 360s, so whenever the script called for it we were able to pull up the correct time of day and correct angle of lighting to match the scene.”
“We had multiple panoramic 360s, so whenever the script called for it we were able to pull up the correct time of day and angle of lighting”
THE BIG CHALLENGE The entire series was shot during the pandemic, but unlike many other shows, there was no hiatus placed on production. “As long as the correct protocols were in place and followed, we were able to move on,” explains Melchiorre. “We had iPads on sticks for folk who couldn’t be on set, getting direction like that. Everyone else was masked up, testing constantly. Either because of the pandemic or other reasons, there were situations where
ORDER IN COURT Pre-visualised assets from Digital Domain helped the director shoot in a more natural way
15. MARCH 2023
PRODUCTION. SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW
an actor couldn’t be there, so there was split screening on occasion.” The spread of Covid-19 wasn’t the biggest challenge facing Melchiorre and his team. “I’d say it was the volume of work and getting it to the level we needed within the timeframe – and on a slightly reduced episodic budget,” he adds. “On previous films like Avengers , all the work we did for Thanos amounted to about 12 minutes of screen time. For She-Hulk , we were creating 43 minutes of walking, talking, emoting, giggling, drinking, you name it. The range of emotions she had to convey – to me that was the biggest challenge. How do we now take what we learnt on those films and get to the
“Our deepfake tech is called Charlatan – it’s our proprietary system that allows us to do a deepfake-like face generation” Melchiorre explains. “We used it for a number of face replacements, especially in the courtroom battle between She-Hulk and Titania early in the season. We used it again in the last third of the season, on some face replacement of the next level – and then some – in this small timeframe, but surpassing what we did with Thanos?” FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT Lots of deepfake was deployed in She- Hulk , thanks to Digital Domain’s very own technology. “Our deepfake tech is called Charlatan – it’s our proprietary system that allows us to do a deepfake-like face generation,”
COURT ADJOURNED Some scenes were filmed using split screening as the pandemic affected the cast’s availability
IDENTITY PARADE Digital Domain used its proprietary deepfake software – Charlatan – for face replacements in the series
PRODUCTION. SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW
stunt actor who was playing Daredevil. We were also able to use it to create a Charlatan version of Tatiana Maslany, who plays Jennifer. “We managed to seamlessly blend from She-Hulk to our Charlatan version of Tatiana… and that turned out to be the bridge that the compositing team needed to get from a fully CG She-Hulk to our plate photography.” Melchiorre says it was particularly important to use deepfake because the team had found it tricky with the transformation of the Skrulls in Captain Marvel . “When She-Hulk transforms, it’s not a painful process,” he says. “There aren’t overly exaggerated muscles bursting everywhere or quick camera moves. It’s a more elegant and sophisticated, measured approach to her transformations. Because of that, the director wanted to see the transformation in long camera moves and not cut around it. We really needed to get seamlessly from A to B and make it convincingly believable the entire way.” Technologies and practices such as deepfake and VFX are certainly more sophisticated and ubiquitous than they were, but Melchiorre says whether these methods will make productions cheaper remains to be seen. “I think it’s another tool in the box – another way to solve the problem,” he adds. “There are always multiple ways to attack whatever challenge is in front of us, and a lot of this
LET THE RECORD SHOW Blending from plate photography to the Charlatan version of Tatiana Maslany allowed Digital Domain to create the transformation scenes found throughout the show
just gives us another option. For example, now we can do this as a deepfake – and that’s getting a lot more mainstream now. You have this tech that helps you and pushes things forward.” At time of writing, rumours abound that a Howard the Duck animated series is in the works for Disney+ and could be announced shortly. With access to the talent and technology wielded by effects houses like Digital Domain, perhaps Marvel feels ready for another bite of the cherry? Second time lucky? She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is available to stream on Disney+
CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
Cine Gear Expo New York is back – with a very local feel
WORDS. Robert Shepherd
I ndustry luminaries and other professionals can look forward to experiencing the latest filmmaking art and technology when the two-day Cine Gear Expo New York arrives from 10 to 11 March with the theme… Cine Gear in New York. Juliane Grosso, chief executive and director of the event, says such was the demand for a Hollywood- style expo in the Big Apple ‘on their turf’, the organisers wanted to celebrate the booming production activity in the city. New York hasn’t been on the roster in recent years due to the ever-changing needs of the production industry. “Atlanta became the new Hollywood in the last
decade, meaning that demand for an event such as Cine Gear became very high over there,” she points out. “So that became our focus and the show has been a great success.” However, she says New York’s time is, unequivocally, now. “The prolific and progressive New York production community – from New Jersey to Long Island City, Brooklyn to Manhattan and beyond – have all been waiting for Cine Gear to come back, and we will not disappoint,” Grosso insists. “We think the timing is right to deliver an international networking event such as Cine Gear Expo for the film, television
21. MARCH 2023
INDUSTRY. CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW
COMMUNITY FEEL Bringing panels and educational series to professionals and students alike
ON LOCATION The first Cine Gear Expo took place in Hollywood in 1996, but this is the first time the event will come to the Industry City portion of NYC, the fast-growing, thriving production community along the Brooklyn Upper Bay waterside. Grosso says the historic Industry City complex in Sunset Park has become home to numerous motion picture technology companies and is a melting pot for creatives. “It is poised to become New York’s preeminent filmmaking educational centre,” she explains. “Both days will feature panels and educational series conducted by leaders in the field. The location also offers an entertainment complex of international eateries, bars,
and cinematography professionals of New York, including an exhibition and seminar programme.” Grosso says the expo is receiving a warm welcome from the local production societies, guilds, unions and media – as well as state and city officials. “We are seen as an exciting new addition to the industry events calendar,” she adds. “This expo will offer the film and television industry a great opportunity to showcase its brands and network in person, as the production business in New York continues to rebound from the pandemic. Working with partners, building strong relationships and supporting local business has always been our priority.”
RUNNING THE SHOW Juliane Grosso, Cine Gear Expo’s chief executive
CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
breweries and factories, with ample outdoor and indoor spaces – all within view of the Manhattan skyline.” Moreover, the event has already secured ‘unprecedented sign-ups’ for the expo, including Arri, Zeiss, Aputure, Creamsource, Core SWX, IDX, Videndum, Astera, Kino Flo and Chimera – among many others. “Industry City is poised to become New York’s preeminent filmmaking educational centre”
23. MARCH 2023
CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
MELTING POT Find a universe of fresh technology at March’s enormous entertainment tech expo in Industry City, Brooklyn, New York
“Unique in concept, Cine Gear Expo offers artists and technicians the chance to discover state-of-the-art technology and techniques including content capture hardware, workflow software, support equipment and the latest production services,” illustrates Grosso. “The latest and greatest tech has always been our main theme for all of our shows.” This is the fourth in-person Cine Gear Expo since Covid-19, following two successful shows in Los Angeles (2021 and 2022) and one in Atlanta (2022) since the lockdowns. However, the pandemic is a distant memory according to Grosso. “We had a hybrid version of Cine Gear Expo in September 2021 – which filled the need at the time,” she explains.
“Cine Gear Expo is the largest, most important event of its kind in the United States”
“We believe Cine Gear Expo is all about in-person networking and reconnection with colleagues and friends worldwide. Invitees receive hands-on training, gain knowledge and skills from world technology leaders, and network with peers in a professional, comfortable studio setting. We have Cine Gear On Air events throughout the year, too, which feature panels and noteworthy speakers alike.” Due to Los Angeles and Atlanta bouncing back with higher attendance each year since the pandemic, Grosso and the team are confident every production person in the New York community ‘not currently on-set’ will stop by. “Our events are about connecting with colleagues to discuss the most recent cutting-edge developments in a casual atmosphere with food and drinks at hand,” she adds. I can’t think of too many New Yorkers saying no to that. Cine Gear Expo is the largest, most important event of its kind in the United States and is an acclaimed and well-attended occasion attracting global professionals. From
Key exhibitors The two-day event will feature Cine Gear Expo’s trademark show booths, with over 50 exhibitors and sponsors from Arri to Zeiss including the top camera, lens, grip and lighting mainstays, in addition to Industry City-based AbelCine, Lux Lighting and motion control firm, The Garage. See the full list at: cinegearexpo.com/ny-expo/ ny-expo-floor-plan/#exhibitors producers, directors, cinematographers and members of all other production departments, to aspiring students – we look forward to welcoming them all.” Cine Gear Expo New York will take place 10-11 March
GATHERING STEAM Paper Factory Hall: the setting for big brands to reveal some of their best gear to date
25. MARCH 2023
INDUSTRY. CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW
What’s on show at Cine Gear NY 2023?
Don’t miss out on these brilliant brands displaying their wares in the Big Apple this year
APUTURE Booth 229 Aputure will parade the MT Pro, its first ever full-colour mini LED tube light. Condensed into a compact, one-foot frame, it shines brightly with swathes of professional features – including industry-leading pixel density as well as wireless CRMX connectivity. The MT Pro is designed to accommodate all levels of filmmakers, photographers and content creators. It can be utilised as an in-camera practical, an on-camera fill light, a hidden accent, or for on-the-go content creation and product cinematography. aputure.com ASTERA Booth 123 Through its trusted distribution partner Inner Circle Distribution, Astera will be showcasing its entire range of lighting solutions and accessories at this year’s Cine Gear Expo NY. There will be a particular focus on the recently launched Hydrapanel; a lightweight and highly flexible 1300-lumen LED panel, which achieves exceptional colour mixing and dimming by virtue of the integrated Titan LED engine. Designed to maximise flexibility, its compact and robust IP65 casing incorporates six snap-on light modifiers, a range of mounting solutions and dual wired/wireless operation. Further extending the flexibility of the Hydrapanel will be the Snapbag, a softbox which allows incorporation of up to four Hydrapanels. The Snapbag uses DoPchoice’s Snapshape material to ensure wrinkle-free set-up and a bright and even output. This is the first live demo of the Snapbag (as well as the directional add-on, the Snapgrid) at a US expo, and in combination with other products on display – including the newly launched Runtime Extender – the Astera booth’s focus will be the flexibility, versatility and creative agility that its products embody, not only in terms of the quality of their
individual designs, but in the many ways that they can be coordinated and integrated in professional settings. Astera will be taking a particularly personal approach to client engagement at Cine Gear in New York this year. The company looks forward to welcoming clients old and new to the hustle and bustle of the main stand and giving them personal attention, taking time to outline the exciting portfolio growth scheduled for the near future. astera-led.com CORE SWX Booth 112 Core SWX will be showing its new Apex 360 battery system, designed to answer the call for an onboard battery solution to increase runtimes for high-powered
LED lighting. Apex packs offer a 367Wh lithium-ion V-Mount solution capable of outputting up to 24A continuously. With Apex, the crew can focus on video production rather than worrying about restricting light usage, thanks to the limiting onboard powering options that are offered. The load output allows a more ‘true’ runtime while operating high-power LED lighting systems. Apex is offered in both a 14.8v (APX-360V) pack suitable for the majority of lights, plus a higher-voltage 29.6v variant (APX-360HV). coreswx.com CREAMSOURCE Booth 221 Make the impossible possible with Creamsource FrameSync. See how its lighting effects can open up the door for
“The focus of the Astera booth will be the flexibility and creative agility that its products embody”
LATEST AND GREATEST Some of the most recent advancements in the world of cinema production equipment will be on show
CINE GEAR NY PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
START SPREADING THE NEWS Cine Gear Expo returns to New York! LA and Atlanta editions are due to come in June and October, respectively
new creative techniques when syncing to your camera’s shutter. Also on show: LNX Mounting System, Vortex4 and Vortex8, SpaceX and Micro range creamsource.com NANLUX & NANLITE Booth 240 Nanlux will display its whole range of powerful LED fixtures for larger-scale productions. Leading the family will be the Evoke 1200B Bi-Colour LED Spot Light and its daylight-balanced sibling. Both feature 1200W power draw and are comparable to a 1.8kW PAR or 2.5kW HMI
fresnel. Making the party more colourful will be the Dyno 650C/1200C RGBWW soft panel lights, boasting a variety of colour modes such as HSI, RGBW, Gels and XY coordinates. Nanlite will cover the demands for prosumers and content creators with its Forza and Pavotube line-ups. Forza 720/720B can take care of every specific requirement in terms of power all the way up to 800W, while the Pavotube II X series complements with colour capabilities to make the set-up more complete and versatile. The Forza 60C LED hard light is powered by an RGBLAC six-colour system, building on the strengths of the classic Forza 60/60B but with hardware and colour fidelity improved considerably. nanlux.com en.nanlite.com VIDENDUM Booth 135 Videndum will showcase an array of its solutions through its subsidiaries at Cine Gear Expo New York. The Litepanels Gemini 2x1 Hard LED panel delivers up to 23,000 lux of high-quality cinematic lighting in a lightweight and agile fixture. Users can seamlessly switch from a powerful 20° beam to a soft 100° wash, and it offers full RGBWW output as well as special effects. Also on display will be the 600Wh VCLX NM2 block battery by Anton Bauer, which delivers reliable power at 14.4v, 28v and 48v for high-current cameras and lights. Camera
operators will be interested to see the Sachtler Aktiv fluid head, which allows you to mount and level your camera in seconds. Users can adjust the level or swap between tripod, slider and handheld with ease thanks to its unique Speedswap and Speedlevel technology. The Illuminated Prismbubble offers clear confirmation that your camera is level from any height or angle, day or night. The Aktiv range supports payloads from 0-8kg/0-17.6lb to 0-16kg/0-35.3lb. Another Sachtler product on the stand is the Flowtech tripod, which streamlines a camera operator’s workflow with its quick-release brakes and height adjustability. Last but not least, the Double Rainbow (RR) linear LED light by Quasar Science offers vibrant colour and bright white light, thanks to its two rows of high-fidelity RGBX pixels. videndum.com ZEISS Booth 109 Find an extensive range of high-end cine lenses from Zeiss, including the highly anticipated wide-angle 15mm T1.8 lens which completes the 14-lens Supreme Prime set. Attendees will also be able to get hands-on with the Supreme Prime Radiance family – known for its stunning blue flare capability – as well as CZ.2 full-frame cinema zooms and CP.3 cinematography lenses. zeiss.co.uk
DAZZLING DISPLAY Industry players such as Nanlite, Aputure and Astera will be showcasing their latest lighting
27. MARCH 2023
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TAKE ME OUT At 85mm in length and 58g in weight, the Samsung portable drive is ideal for those on the move
SAMSUNG ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE.
LONG, HIGH-ENERGY days, a mountain of creative tools, rapid turnaround of assets – that’s the nature of Scott Harvey’s genres. “I specialise in music videos and sports,” he begins. “I spent 2022 travelling Europe, creating content for a world champion speedway rider. When I’m in the UK for the off-season, I shoot music videos, handling pre-production, filming and editing, so I suppose I’m a jack-of-all-trades.” Tasked with producing a new video for a London-based rock band, Harvey made a considered addition to his kitbag. Old hard drives were left behind – replaced by the powerful Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch. “Thankfully, I’ve got plenty of memory cards, so never need to strip footage during a shoot,” Harvey explains. “But, it’s the first thing I do when I wrap. As many filmmakers can attest, footage may look great on a camera’s LCD, but the real test is seeing it on a large monitor. It’s an important part of the process – and not usually quick. “I couldn’t get over the rapid transfer speed of the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch. I moved 200GB of footage in just a few minutes – that would normally take half
an hour! It was so fast, I thought I couldn’t have moved the whole day’s worth of files in such a short space of time,” he laughs. What Harvey was experiencing was a jump between outdated storage and a cutting-edge portable SSD. With respective read and write speeds of up to 1050MB/s and 1000MB/s, the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch is close to 10x faster than many external HDDs. But the creative knock-on goes further than crucial moments saved. “Comfortably using the resolutions and bit rates I want is a game changer,” Harvey explains. “I thought data-heavy workflows were the problem, not the devices I was using to store and transfer files. I’ve been editing video straight off the portable drive, which is as smooth as butter.” When there is limited time to produce a final cut, but standards are high, delays simply can’t happen. Storage that works as hard as you can’t be overvalued. Having poured 40 hours in over a handful of days, security is at the front of Harvey’s mind. “You’ll protect this level of time investment with your life,” he notes, “so the portable drive’s durability is very welcome.”
GO WITH THE WORKFLOW Move files at speed wherever you are in the production process
With no moving parts and a tough aluminium housing, it withstands drops up to 2m. But physical security is only half the equation: the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch is designed with a fingerprint scanner, backed by AES 265-bit encryption and surrounded by a status-driven LED. “You never know who’s picking up a drive on-set and clearing it thinking those files have been stored elsewhere. If I have sensitive footage, there’s an extra layer of security between it and anyone else.” You’d be mistaken for thinking such a high-spec portable SSD would come with a size compromise. Its stylish body measures 85mm in length and weights 58g. Due to the extensive list of kit Harvey requires for music videos, that’s an important factor. “I consider size with every product,” he says. “Moving so much equipment all over is one of the hard realities of the job. On shoot days, I’ve got bags full of lights, cameras, lenses, modifiers, gimbals, smoke machines – you name it. It’s all essential kit, so having a small and compact portable SSD that fits in your pocket is amazing. The Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch is about a third of the size of previous hard drives I’ve used, but infinitely quicker.” With his off-season coming to an end soon enough, and life on the road beginning once more, Harvey is envisioning the mighty portable drive’s potential in perhaps even more challenging circumstances. “I’m looking forward to taking it out on the next speedway tour. We are travelling constantly and only get short stops to shoot behind-the-scenes content, which often needs to go straight out on socials. I know that the usual 15-minute transfers will be done in a few minutes, which is huge in this context,” he concludes. “I want a whole set of Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touches now, just for the speed alone. Time is money.”
“I couldn’t get over the rapid transfer speed. I moved 200GB of footage in just a few minutes – that would normally take half an hour!”
GET CONNECTED Scott Harvey needs quick and reliable kit to keep up with speedway riders. And the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch even comes with USB Type C to C and Type C to A cables – for complete convenience
29. MARCH 2023
PRODUCTION. TALES FROM THE EXPLORERS CLUB
Ain’t no mountain high enough How virtual production and a talent for improvisation brought humanity’s final frontiers within easy reach of one pioneering documentary crew
WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. © 2021, Discovery, Inc. All Rights Reserved
TALES FROM THE EXPLORERS CLUB PRODUCTION.
M any of us spent a large part of our childhoods dreaming of becoming an explorer. Whether we’ve been inspired by watching the 1969 moon landing, reading about Howard Carter’s discovery of the intact tomb of King Tutankhamun or watching Indiana Jones racing the Nazi army to the Holy Grail, we have all flirted with the idea before settling on a ‘normal’ career. If you still harbour ambitions to experience some of the greatest achievements of mankind – but from the comfort of your own sofa – Tales from the Explorers Club could be the series for you. A six-part documentary by Ping Pong Productions/Circle the Globe for Discovery+, it explores some of the most inhospitable environments in the world. Presenter Josh Gates takes viewers from the peaks of Mount Everest to the unknown expanses of space, the densest forests to polar expeditions, all to recount history’s great achievements. ‘The Explorers Club’ is a very real society, with past members including Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Jane Goodall, Edmund Hillary, John Glenn, Sally Ride and Bob Ballard. The series recounts club members’ death-defying exploits to the top and bottom of the world. Of course, Gates doesn’t really fly to the moon or scale Mount Everest; a certain amount of television trickery is employed in the retelling of these tales – but that doesn’t mean the production of this show was in any way simple. “In VFX, snow is notoriously difficult as it tends to blow out and lose detail. We had to control the highlights for each new set-up” TO BOLDLY GO Tales from the Explorers Club includes fables both worldly and extra-terrestrial – such as that of Apollo 13
PEAK PERFORMANCE ARwall’s speedy set-ups bought a taste of realism to the show’s re-enactments
31. MARCH 2023
TALES FROM THE EXPLORERS CLUB PRODUCTION.
GLOBETROTTERS The locations required for LED-screen re-enactments included the Arctic, Antarctic, the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the top of the Himalayas – and even outer space!
“ARwall’s focus over the past six years has been on making software that moves at the speed of production”
TRICKY TERRAIN The first shoot on the series lasted a week and covered six locations, spanning various climates, including snow, ocean, desert and space sequences. No, the crew did not have access to a chartered space shuttle, they achieved these with virtual production techniques alone. Rene Amador, CEO and co-founder at ARwall, details how the most technically challenging element for the series was perfecting the snow backdrops. “In VFX, snow is notoriously difficult as it tends to blow out and lose detail, so we had to bring down and control highlights for each new set-up while ensuring depth and richness in the frame,” he says. “We also had to deviate from reality in order to tell the story. In scenarios where a real-life location would have been a white haze, we achieved a more cinematic aesthetic that still depicted a believable and mysterious
CREATIVE LICENCE Due to the difficulty of recreating snowy scenes, some tinkering was required
story. When you’re using extensive practical special effects, there’s going to be downtime associated with setting those up. ARwall’s focus over the past six years has been on making software that moves at the speed of production.” Fortunately, ARwall has worked on numerous virtual productions over the years and learned a thing or two along the way. During filming, Amador says the team anticipated the downtime associated with producing high-quality special
33. MARCH 2023
PRODUCTION. TALES FROM THE EXPLORERS CLUB
INDY FILMMAKERS ARwall’s team of experienced industry professionals know precisely how to roll with the punches on a fast-paced shoot
effects. “Coming from a background of creatives and indie filmmakers, we understand the fast-paced nature of
seen another team attempt to achieve at this level,” enthuses Amador. “It was a credit to the ingenuity of a team focused on guerrilla documentary re-enactments; they truly unlocked the tech’s capabilities and gave themselves time to learn and become comfortable.” IMPROV CLASS When it comes to key scenes, ARwall was charged with providing backdrops for nearly all the re-enactment sequences in all six episodes of the first season (Discovery has yet to announce if Season 2 is on the horizon). “This includes all stunt and outdoor sequences,” states Amador. “We did the backdrops for the Tibetan temple and Mount Everest, as well as the Himalayas, the Gobi Desert, the frontlines of World War I, a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the edge of the stratosphere, dense mysterious forests, the Arctic Circle and Antarctica!” Despite having skin in the game, Amador admits Tales from the Explorers Club is unlike any other project he and his team have worked on before. “On some days, we had 50 set-ups where we went all around the world – that’s getting into the territory of the fastest TV productions out there,” he recalls. “When we inquired about how they achieved this speed, we learned that the team came from sketch comedy. There was some level of improvisation on-set
productions,” he assures. UNLOCKING THE TECH
“Technical challenges can make or break a project, which is why we developed user-friendly software to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible,” Amador explains. “By having tools in place such as the ARFX Pro Plugin, we were able to eliminate and deal with any technical issues quickly and efficiently. Its ease of use means practically anyone on set can tag in and help. This demonstrates how easy it has become to incorporate virtual production into shows.” ARwall used its own on-set solution, which consolidates all virtual production settings from Unreal Engine’s Editor software into one place without need for coding or programming. It relied on the colour management system, which allows much quicker control over an image, an advancement in software UI/ UX and an easier workflow for a single operator. This was spearheaded by the virtual production technician at ARwall, Ryan Arms. “From the production’s side, the extensive use and variety of special effects and practical set pieces in combination with the virtual environments and LED backdrop was something we’ve never
PLAY IT BY EAR The combination of advanced tech and the agility of sketch comedy made for quick work
as well. New locations were thought up by the filmmakers and generated on the same day using stock assets by ARwall’s team. We were excited to explore how the technology could integrate well with sketch and improv comedy. In particular, the combination of virtual production, comedy and inhospitable or historical settings could mean a boom in comedic period content. Especially when you consider that, at ARwall, we’re historically saving productions up to 70% of what would typically be spent on effects and location budgets for such sequences.” Each episode is peppered with eye- catching moments: “The team pulled out all the stops on production design and
“On some days, we had 50 set-ups where we went all around the world – that’s getting into the territory of the fastest TV productions out there”
TALES FROM THE EXPLORERS CLUB PRODUCTION.
special effects,” Amador claims. One scene in particular immediately springs to mind. “I was on-set and they’d placed a rock face on the ground with the actor lying on it, as if he was climbing up a cliff,” he says. “When I looked at the monitor, it looked like we were above the actor with a snowy cliff-side below him going into the distant slope below; it was shockingly convincing. This demonstrates how we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible with virtual production, when combined with an incredible production and art team.” Watch Tales from the Explorers Club on Discovery+
35. MARCH 2023
LIGHTING ROUND TABLE INDUSTRY.
High-end cinematography requires powerful lighting, but it must be sustainable. Our panel of experts share some of their best advice Making light work
INTERVIEW. Robert Shepherd
What role are you playing in the production of energy-efficient lighting? BRANDON LE: LED technology has been available for years, and as a lighting company, LEDs are the only technology Aputure has ever used. We started out with the goal of optimising LED technology to make high-quality, affordable lighting available to filmmakers and creators of all levels. With the rapid growth of the technology, they are no longer just a source of energy- efficient lighting, but natively capable of a plethora of features that enhance the workflows of our users, from wireless app control, colour tuning, weather- resistance and easy modifiability. The field is growing at a rapid pace, and we are making an effort to lead the charge. NILS DE MONTGRAND: Rosco DMG Lighting has fully embraced LED technology for its versatility in colour reproduction, longevity, consistency – and of course, its lower power consumption compared to traditional lighting products. TIM DUFF: Creamsource has been at the forefront of LED technology, introducing the first RGB space light to hit the market, and now delivering a wide-ranging product portfolio for filmmakers to have in their arsenal. Dedicated to driving innovation, Creamsource offers high-
BRANDON LE Senior product marketing
quality, energy-efficient fixtures such as the groundbreaking Vortex, a series of waterproof, hard panel LED lights. JAVIER VALDERRAMA: Velvet proposes and develops innovative technologies to produce more energy-efficient luminaries, to give more creative possibilities and to speed up the lighting set-up and adjustment process. Designed with lightweight equipment to facilitate the work of technicians, without fans so there are no problems with direct sound – and battery powered while still giving 100% light intensity. LED technology uses up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs. Our flagship fixture – the Velvet Kosmos – is a new-generation fresnel colour light, with true glass and advanced features such as motorised zoom. Kosmos needs five times less energy to give the same intensity as an equal tungsten light. All fixtures in the Velvet portfolio are highly efficient lights in which
NILS DE MONTGRAND Vice president LED products & engineering Rosco
TIM DUFF Director of North America Creamsource
JAVIER VALDERRAMA CEO and co-founder Velvet
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