Category Archives: cinematography

Black Magic Pocket

I’ve had a distaste for the Black Magic cameras since using the original cinema camera. I was tempted with the initial buzz of the pocket camera, but poor battery life and lens options deterred me to the mainstream.

Recently I had the chance to shoot a creative short film with one. The director of the project owned one and we decided to give it a go. Once caged up and accompanied by my SmallHD dp4 I could use it more effectively. The flat look that it displays was still difficult to focus with like using LOG on the Sony, but mostly everything was in focus. ;)

We shot in RAW or Cinema DNG format to give the most flexibility in post. We were using a Metabones speed booster converter to allow us to use Canon EF lenses. Primarily a Sigma 18-35 and an old NIKON 50mm. There was also a POLA filter and sometimes a vaseline filter on the lens.

I have to say the material looked pretty amazing once we got it into post and started applying different looks. Even simple BM to REC 709 looks gave it a very filmic-16mm-Ektachrome quality.

My initial bias aside I think it is a fine little camera. Maybe someday I’ll get to film with it again.

Here is a frame grab with the temp grade applied using Sigma lens at 35mm.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.48.08 AM

This is a frame grab of the close up using the Nikon 50mm. Lit with F&V z96 light.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.47.26 AM

new primes

Matthew Duclos has touted the Rokinon Cine primes since they debuted. Now they have rehoused the lenses and branded them as Xeen Cinema Primes. They have the physical look of a Zeiss CP2 or other large cinema lens with a price tag of $2500. So now you can get them in a variety of mounts and all that. Sounds great, anyone want to buy my used Cine DS primes?

Sony Fs7 first shoot

So I had the opportunity to rent and use the Sony Fs7 last week. I expected to like this camera, had one on order but postponed until some more work comes along. This outing was straight forward vox pop style interviews. I encouraged the producer to go with it so they could easily cut into the 4K image without a loss in resolution.

The camera really is well laid out and easy to jump into using (for someone that has used dozens of cameras). The number one thing that myself and any other user is going to need to spend some time with is the the CINE settings. Shooting in Slog with LUTs can be confusing and an extra step in the process for post. Make sure that you and your post pipeline are familiar with this and do some testing. For this project we went with a fairly flat “Alexa” style LUT and baked it in by selecting that the LUT be applied to internal recording.

If you are planning on filming long interviews I would recommend that you get the 128 GB cards. Shooting at 4K chewed through the 3 64GB card I had in no time or 32 minutes each. If you are downloading cards on set the reader is USB3 so make sure you bring a computer with this connection speed or you’ll be waiting a while.

I was using the camera with the Metabones Ultra lens adaptor. This worked great with my Canon Full frame glass. I really appreciated having the built in ND filters on the camera rather than messing with screw in filters on the lens.

I didn’t get to take advantage of the slow motion features too much on this project, but did run through it in my prep for the shoot. Like the Fs700 it has the capability to do slow motion in 1080. But unlike the Fs700 this camera can run at 180 FPS continuously.

I look forward to taking the camera out again on the next shoot.

sony fs7

see the film

Every once in a while you see a film and it strikes you as being something exceptional. Maybe the story, the cast, etc. Recently I viewed “Ida” on Netflix having read about it in American Cinematographer some time ago and obviously didn’t see it in the cinema. What I really responded to in the film was the pure visual storytelling. The Cinematography is excellent. They came up with a way of composing many of the frames with extra room above the characters which is a bold move. They framed the movie in 1.33:1 which gives it a classic pre-50s feel along with being in black + white. Overall I think it is the simplicity of the film that was interesting to me. See the film and check out the details and analysis of the cinematography on the ASC website.

Helix

I’m sure I’ll post more about the Helix soon. The Helix is a stabilizer designed and built by Letus. They came to be during the 35mm adaptor fad. They made a quality product and have continued to make accessories for the changing market. I first saw a clip about the Helix at NAB and thought the design idea was cool. They center the lens for 360 degree rotation. It has a flat base so you can set it down. It is designed to be a camera stabilizer not a helicopter gyro. Anyway, I got to try one out today at Cinequipt. Just a couple of minutes and my first impression is sold. The Ronin is great, but much heavier, difficult to hold for long periods and just not as refined. I’ll be putting in an order soon.