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First Grade: the best grades of the year

Following on from Televisual’s ranking of the UK’s best colourists, we detail the productions that were picked out by colourists and producers as the best graded pieces 
of the year

In last month’s issue of Televisual, we profiled and ranked the UK’s top grading artists according to votes cast by fellow colourists and producers as well as awards nominations.

Alongside voting for their favourite fellow colourists, we also asked those same respondents to vote for what they felt was the very best graded work of the year across TV, ads, and film. Over the following pages we detail the top eight productions that caught the eye of the grading profession as being truly standout work.


01 Peaky Blinders
Graded by
Simone Grattarola, Rushes
The most voted for production of the year was graded by the colourist who placed fourth in our poll of the UK best commercials graders, Rushes’ Simone Grattarola.
“The grade was beautifully considered and realised.” Thomas Urbye, The Look
“You’re thrown right into 1920s industrial middle England yet it still looks modern, stylish and sexy. I love the tobacco palettes and film noir shadows that pushes the gangster vibe.” Katherine Jamieson, Halo
“Simone’s use of tonality and the interplay of shadow, creates a strong sense of atmosphere which is totally complementary to the story’s post-war setting.” Joe Stabb, Suite.
“Making British drama look as good as the American stuff.” Duncan Russell, Glassworks
“Bold, cinematic and moody. Just like the show.” Jamie Parry, Dock 10




02 Vodafone The Kiss
Graded by
Jean Clement Soret, MPC

The poll’s top placed colourist graded the second placed production, the romantic Vodafone spot, The Kiss directed by Frederic Planchon that shows the life of a couple as their kiss continues across the years.
“Such a beautiful flawless grade.” James Bamford, The Mill
“Executed with perfection.” George K, MPC
“Great transitions. Good combination of technical and artistic talent.” Duncan Russell, Glassworks
“It has a texture that is hard to describe in words, but is perfect for the piece... VFX and grading working together beautifully” Chris Rodgers Splice



03 Utopia
Graded by
Aidan Farrell, The Farm

The first placed colourist in the TV and film poll, The Farm’s Aidan Farrell,  produced the grade for Channel 4’s paranoid thriller, Utopia
“Brought to life by the grade – bold and pushing boundaries.” Tim O’Brien, Evolutions.
“Stylish and different.” Paul Staples, Encore.
“A brilliantly shot drama with a fantastic look.” Dan Coles, Tecnicolor
“The dynamic and bold use of colour complemented its dark and enigmatic narrative which was incredibly captivating” joe stabb suite


=04Total Greek
Graded by
Seamus O’Kane, The Mill

The Mill’s Seamus O’Kane provided a grade that pefectly complemented the spot’s look of 1920s footage brought back to life.
“A combination of photochemical and digital techniques which perfectly evoke another era. A great example of a colourist working the look of a project from shoot to final grade.” Chris Rodgers, Splice. “Like watching an old print brought back from the brink of destruction, the grade captivated me from the first frame.” Ross Baker, Halo
“Very creative, clever and technically impressive interpretation of an early photographic process” james tillett mpc



=04 Sherlock
Graded by
Kevin Horsewood, 
Prime Focus

Kevin Horsewood has provided the grade across the various Sherlock series and worked wonders again with 2014’s outing.
A great series complemented by a rich and complex grade.” Tim O’Brien, Evolutions.
“Incredibly rich and clean grade.” Danny Wood, Envy
“A high quality grade with strong contrast but one that didn’t crowd the story.” Simon Astbury, Unit



=04 Luther
Graded by
Jet Omoshebi, Encore

Encore’s Jet Omoshebi provided the grade for the series that the word “gritty” was made for.
“Horrific and stylish. Difficult to do, eh?” Jamie Parry, Dock 10
“It has warmth and depth of colour.” Vince Narduzzo, Narduzzo Too.
“Nice contrast between de-sat gritty scenes and colourful night shots.” Danny Wood, Envy
“It manages to make London look gritty and real yet still beautiful, despite the dark subject matter.” Katherine Jamieson, Halo.



=04 Galaxy Chauffeur
Graded by
Steffan Perry, Framestore

“Loved the Technicolor feel.” George K, MPC
“Stunningly graded cg and live action.” Ben Rogers, Gramercy Park Studios.
“It Looked stunning and the 3D worked seamlessly 
in the grade”
james bamford the mill



=04 Bridgestone Tyres Everywhere
Graded by
Matt Turner, Absolute

“Would have been really easy to have overdone it.” Derek Moore, Coffee & TV
“A really distinctive piece of work.” Denny Cooper, Rushes
“Full of looks all well done and stitched together into an interesting piece” Chris Rodgers Splice



Posted 23 April 2014 by Jake Bickerton

Creative showcase: Animated 3D printed bears

Here are a couple of interesting pieces of creative work to start the week. First off is creative agency DBLG, which has been experimenting with combining a 3D printed character with stop-frame animation (and a little bit of 3D animation for good measure). 

 

After 3D printing lots and lots of models of a bear in different stages of a walk cycle of climbing the stairs and stop-frame animating the results, the outcome is an eye-catching, brilliantly executed animation of a bear climbing the stairs thats beauty lies in not just being the usual cg fodder.  

 

DBLG says: "The most exciting [of our recent work] is a studio project we've been working on over the last few months, which combines 3D animation, 3D printing and stop-frame animation. DBLG's in-house studio projects are a platform for us to experiment with creative ideas and above all have fun. Massive thanks for Blue Zoo for the character animation and Resonate for the audio mix and sound design."

 



BEARS ON STAIRS from DBLG on Vimeo.


    

Next up is some work for Fujitsu called Together We Can Make It Happen, from Blink director Tomas Mankovsky, which messes around with perspectives to create some interesting results. The spot was posted at MPC, which says the following: "A combination of complex set builds and a range of vfx techniques were used. MPC’s vfx team, led by Timo Huber, approached the spot utilising vfx techniques including matte painting, set extensions and clean up to remove extras and props on-set."

 

"The brief was to visualise the support and solutions provided by Fujitsu with ‘stage-hands’ that are seen providing invisible assistance to empower businesses. MPC was present on set to advise the production team on the complex shots where choreography was paramount."

 



Fujitsu - Together We Can Make That Happen from Blink on Vimeo.

 

 

CREDITS

Fujitsu - Together We Can Make It Happen 

 

Director: Tomas Mankovsky

Production Company: Blink Productions

Agency: mcgarrybowen London

Creatives: Brad Woolf and Dan Bailey

Executive Producer: James Bland

Producer: Ewen Brown

Agency Producer: Ben Catford

VFX: MPC

VFX Producer: Chris Allen

VFX Supervisor: Timo Huber

Grade: MPC

Colourist: Jean-Clément Soret

Posted 14 April 2014 by Jake Bickerton

Brilliant vfx breakdown from MPC

It's always really enlightening to see visual effects breakdowns and witness just how much creative and technical work goes into key visual effects shots. Here's a great example from MPC, showing a generous selection of the 550+ visual shots the company completed for Disney's The Lone Ranger. The vfx covered in the film ranges from full cg canyons, caves and Comanche attacks to cg trains, horses, birds, arrows, fire and scorpions.

MPC's team was led by vfx supervisor Gary Brozenich and producer Oliver Money and was completed at both MPC Vancouver and MPC London. The London team created a group of cg scorpions that emerge from the ground and crawl onto the faces of Tonto and Lone Ranger before being licked by a cg muzzled Silver.

The scorpions are full cg throughout the shots built and animated by the team, and any time Silver laps at them his head and mouth are cg. The creatures were created through high-end Shader work and development, and used MPC’s proprietary hair and fur simulation software.
 
The team also completed horse and rider simulations and full cg cave interiors.

MPC’s VFX Supervisor Gary Brozenich on working with Director Gore Verbinski

“The Lone Ranger needed to bring the epic scope of the classic cowboy film but made with the tools and perspective of a modern filmmaker," says MPC's vfx supervisor Gary Brozenich. "It allowed us to go bigger and bring greater spectacle than its predecessors, taking the possibilities vfx brings and pushing the visual as far as they could be, but without tipping into anything fantastical that may take you out of what is a very rooted and aesthetically earthy film.”


Posted 17 February 2014 by Jake Bickerton

Polaroid's US$999 Ultra HD 4K TV

There’s been a lot of speculation and educated guesswork about how long it will take for 4K/Ultra HD to become a mass-market consumer format over the last year. The general thinking seems to be that once the cost of the screens is slashed from the £10-15k price point to a price much more within the reach of tech-enthusiast early adopters things would start to accelerate quickly.

Well, that has now happened at CES 2014, which has kicked off in Vegas, showcasing a plethora of the next generation Ultra HD screens, including a $999 model from Polaroid.

Polaroid’s president and CEO Scott W. Hardy described the 50” Ultra HD 4K Television as, “a state-of-the-art product at an affordable price point”.

We’ll have to see if the floodgates open up with similar priced TVs from competing manufacturers, but for an Ultra HD set to be priced at such an amount so quickly is a sign the adoption of all things 4K might well happen sooner than many had previously expected.

Now all anyone who buys one of these screens needs is a decent range of 4K content to show off their TV and a means of getting hold of that content in the first place.

The dramatic decrease in the cost of ownership of Ultra HD TV screens has triggered analyst IHS to radically increase its forecast for Ultra HD TV sales. It says there will be growth of 500% in Ultra HD LCD TV shipments this year, to 10 million screens shipping in 2014. And by 2018, IHS predicts 38.5million Ultra HD LCD TV sets will be sold.

"While television brands will show off their massive new ultra-high-definition sets at CES, the real focus for Ultra HD makers in 2014 will be cost reduction," says Jusy Hong, senior analyst for consumer electronics & technology at IHS.

“But Ultra HD sets still have a long way to go before they command a major share of the overall market. In 2018, Ultra HD will account for only about 16% of all LCD TV shipments."

Posted 07 January 2014 by Jake Bickerton

The Art of the DP

The quality of a production’s images rests with the director of photography (DP). The DP has to light the set, decide on the camera positions and ensure the director’s vision is perfectly captured in the footage being filmed. Here I talk to eight leading DPs about the craft of the cinematographer.



Mark Patten
Prometheus David 8 viral, 10 Minute Tales, Metro Last Night, Darkroom

Once the location of a shoot is set, I like to get a feel for how the set should be lit. I light the set so it doesn’t detract the viewer from the narrative but complements the actors and allows the director to shoot the scene without the complexities that might hinder or distract from the scene in any way. To this end, I feel it’s important to light the scene as simply as possible, so as not to distract the viewer with a crane move or dolly track that doesn’t need to be there for cinematic punctuation and only leads the viewer away from the storyline. I like to leave establishing the look of the lighting until the technical recce; the moments of discovery on a recce often set the tone to where the lighting will end up. The advances that continue to be made in motion image capture never cease to amaze me. It has become increasingly cost prohibitive to shoot on film on many commercials projects, but many feature films still embrace 35mm negative as well as 70mm film. Even so, films such as Gravity have totally used the advances in digital cinematography to produce excellent results.

The DP’s collaboration between both production and the director’s vision may sometimes lead to friction, but what must never be lost is the collaborative process filmmaking adheres to. This is what leads to a successful production, as well as securing future projects. Diplomacy between all departments must be of utmost importance; the creative ego can be a fickle creature.



Tony Miller
Small Island, The Passion, Murphy’s Law, Zen, Killing Time

Working with a director, you have to start by listening. I try to avoid saying too much in the first meetings and try to get a strong sense of the director’s vision. Then I try and build on that vision and expand it visually. What is so exciting about working with directors is they are all different. The art of making films is so vast you have to collaborate, and it is these collaborations that make this job such a pleasure.

As a DP you are key in designing the look and making the visuals work on screen, but you do that with the input of many people, from your crew, the production designer, your gaffer and especially the director. You need a strong vision and you need to be decisive. You also need to be sensitive. Transposing those ideas on to the screen under pressure on the day often demands a shorthand with the director. But having said that, I did some of my best work with a director who I found very hard to understand.

The world has changed dramatically and continues to. I am currently very excited about shooting with older lenses and anamorphics and have just bought a set of Super Baltars that were used on the Godfather and a set of old Cooke S2 Panchros. The new digital sensors are so hard, finding lenses that give you new looks is now a major part of our art. I am just starting a BBC three-part mini series that is contemporary but we want it to have a period feel. So we are using the Cooke S2s.



Ed Wild
Fleming, Prisoners of the Sun, Welcome to the Punch, Chalet Girl, Shifty

Making a film is a balancing act, but everyone involved just wants to make a great film. Sometimes people’s views differ on how a great film should be made, particularly in prep. These conversations are absolutely vital to the filmmaking process because in amongst all the viewpoints of these talented and committed people there is the heart of the film you’re all trying to find. Sometimes passions run high in these conversations and listening is a more important talent than speaking. But when you do speak, make sure your argument holds together, rather than just voicing an opinion simply only to have voiced an opinion. Because time is precious and hot air wastes time. Being a DP is a wonderful crossover between the creative and the technical. I always start in the creative form, as I read the script, themes and visual ideas come to me. I mull over the ideas, discuss them with the director, and then later you creatively use your technical knowledge to achieve those things. But technique should never override the ultimate aim of emotionally connecting the audience to the film.

Learn to light sets by travelling loads and look at how light falls everywhere from the mundane to the extraordinary location. Shoot loads of stills. Try and build up a library of stills, films and paintings – you’ll not only learn a lot, you’ll get a sense of the aesthetics that make you happy. You’ll also have a library of images that will help you communicate your ideas.



Adam Suschitzky
Silent Witness, Outcasts, Upstairs Downstairs, The Deep, Hustle

Like all art, cinematography is prone to trends. Historically these trends have been heavily influenced by technology. We’ve been influenced by advancements in cameras, film stock sensitivity, lens technology, lighting tools, and of course the DI suite. When film stocks were 100 ASA or less, not so very long ago, cinematographers tended towards hard light, partly in order to obtain an exposure, I suspect, but then this became the fashion. The cameras were way heavier and larger so handheld was largely avoided in favour of the dolly. Jump cut to today, with the advent of high-speed film stocks and such digital cameras as the Alexa, Red and Sony, we now can work comfortably at 800 ASA with smaller, more powerful lamps, lightweight cameras, fast lenses and extraordinary DI equipment.

Changing Styles
These changes in our tools brought about a style in cinema and television that, more often than not, has become highly naturalistic, with a great deal of handheld camera work and lighting that often appears found. Interestingly enough, I believe 3D films have inspired a return to a more classical camera style because our eyes cannot cope with fast cuts or much handheld in 3D. These films have also discovered that wider focal lengths often give more depth in 3D where, until recently, the trend had been to use longer, shallower depth-of-field lenses in 2D work. When building the look of a piece, I always follow the lead of the script, the director, the designer, the locations and the instincts of the actors, rather than any trend of the day. However, I feel one shouldn’t work in a vacuum, and, as the DP, you are the guardian of taste throughout the shoot as far as the look goes. That can mean many different things at different times, but it’s good to be informed of trends in cinematography so that no matter if you decide to go with the trend or against it, you are doing it for the right reason: to support and enhance your particular story and characters.

Collaborative Partnership
A famous DP once said: “I am a different cinematographer on every film”, which is exactly how I feel. I try to start every project afresh with an open mind about what it will look like as much as about how I will collaborate with the director. Filmmaking is an adventure in relationships as much as it is in story telling – when the key partnerships on set gel there can be extraordinary results that seem to happen quite effortlessly. Each job is different; some directors want to author all the key decisions, choose precisely where the camera goes and the lenses to score the beats of the scene, others prefer a much more collaborative partnership.



Martin Hawkins
Outnumbered, Holby City, Derek, Life’s Too Short, Extras, Phoneshop

It’s difficult to say what skills you need to be a DP. Obviously you have to know how to light and operate a camera but I guess being able to adapt is up there. Things change all the time and being able to go with it and keep to the schedule will win you lots of brownie points. If patience was a skill then you need that too.

I don’t think anyone has ever told me how to light a set. I’m told that I light fast and I’m happy with that. No director likes waiting for a shot to be set up and lit. They’re most happy when the camera is turning over and that’s the way it should be. So the more time I can give the director with the actors on set, the more takes they will be able to do – and quite often the ‘one for the hell of it’ take (because you have the time) is the one they’ll love.

I’ve been very lucky and worked on some superb productions throughout my career, but I guess Extras and Outnumbered are two that stand out. Extras because it was the first show Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote and directed after The Office. There were a number of different camera and lighting styles in each episode along with some amazing Hollywood stars.

Outnumbered I chose because of working with the three children and the whole concept from the writer/directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin about how we approach shooting the series. We would never rehearse a scene, never give the children marks to hit and never stop filming until the kids had stopped talking.

Picture Perfect
I love grading. It’s the icing on the cake and I’m very passionate about it. It’s the moment where all your hard work on the shoot is realised on the screen. I have a great relationship with two fantastic graders and apart from loving what they can do, they are both fun to spend days in a dark room with. The more a person knows you, the more he or she will know what you like and don’t like. This then speeds up the grade and you’ll have more time to finesse.

Handheld Shooting
Over the last few years I seem to have shot more and more productions with the camera handheld on my shoulder. (Outnumbered, Life’s Too Short, Derek, PhoneShop). It’s interesting that some were shot that way to give it the look of a ‘fly on the wall documentary’ where the camera can happily crash zoom in or whip pan to grab moments. Other productions were covered just as if the camera was on a tripod except that it’s on my shoulder. Although it’s not great for my back, I do like that style, and I do think it is a style. Steady handheld camerawork can add another dimension to a scene.



Ed Moore
Doctor Who 2nd unit DP, Atlantis 2nd unit DP, Common Ground

One of the many reasons I think this is the best job in the world is how varied it is, and how many skills (creative, technical, social) you need to learn to be good at it. I spend a lot of time digesting all the technical stuff between projects so that once pre-production starts I can keep my creative goals first and foremost without getting obsessed with the technology.

There are tonnes of people on set looking after all the technical aspects but you’re the only one looking after the overall cinematographic aesthetics of the project. I’m there first and foremost to serve the director and deliver their (or hopefully, our shared) vision of the film. Many times on set it can be a resounding chorus of nos – no to extra time, expense and so on. Often it is solely the director who wants to push for better results. I make sure I’m the first voice in support of them.

Lighting Tricks
People outside the industry often see the DP as essentially working with the camera. The reality is the majority of my job is lighting-orientated and there’s no light source in a scene that wasn’t placed or adjusted to my intent. I’ve been learning for 10 years and every day light surprises me. It’s an extraordinary medium to work with, capable of saying a huge amount with no words and creating an environment for drama to take place. There are tonnes of rules of thumb and tricks I’ve learned but I would say the crucial ones are: always be bold with the look – one big light 50-feet away almost always trumps a bunch of little lights in the set; don’t shy away from the classics – back and side light beats front almost all the time. And finally – the worst thing you can do is get trapped trying to slavishly maintain ‘lighting continuity’ – cuts can hide almost anything, so make sure each shot looks great before connecting it to the previous one. Obviously the true greats manage to break all these rules!

Camera Choices
I like the Sony F65 at the moment – the images are staggeringly high quality; the mechanical shutter helps a lot and personally I usually prefer working with a slightly bigger camera as it lends itself to more considered filmmaking. The camera choice obviously has an effect on post production workflows, but I’ve found there’s often a lot of hearsay in place of experience. Testing a proposed camera and workflow is crucial for a happy shoot and edit. The Red Epic, for example, has a lot going for it on paper but in practise my camera team and I have found it fiddly and relatively unreliable on set. Others love it to bits. We’re spoilt for choice, fortunately.



Tim Palmer
Doctor Who, Being Human, Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, Bedlam, Cold Feet

As far as hierarchy goes, the director is the most important person on set. The DP has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the director’s vision is translated into an effective image on screen, so tends to be held to account the most on set as he or she has to deliver the goods on schedule. Some DPs are much more technical than others. I wouldn’t consider myself very technical and will always bow to the greater experience of the focus puller and grip when dealing with complex pieces of camera equipment. Less is more when it comes to lighting. The simpler you can light, the better. Time is the most precious commodity and if you can make one lamp do the job of three you have saved half an hour.

DPs have to be able to light a set and a face very well in any conceivable situation, compose a frame properly and shoot quickly.

The Digital Revolution
The first 15 years of my career were spent on film, for which I am very grateful. However, I love digital. It’s very intuitive, extremely quick, looks great and there are no problems with hairs in the gate, damaged rushes or film run outs on short magazines. There will always be a demand for film but not really in television any more and for feature film production I think it will become (if it hasn’t already) a niché. My favourite camera right now is the Arri Alexa, but they are all good. I like the Alexa because it’s well designed and is the first digital camera to make me feel like I’ve stepped back into my favourite pair of old slippers. There’s not a great deal of difference in cost between cameras so it comes down to size and ergonomics.

The Career Path
The traditional path to becoming a DP is through the camera department: trainee, clapper loader, focus puller, camera operator, DP, but those lines have been blurred over the last 30 years with the advent of film schools and high quality digital cameras. Most people can now purchase a broadcast standard camera for relatively little money and deliver a great looking image without needing a great deal of technical knowhow. However, time spent working one’s way up through the ranks teaches a person how to work with a crew and deal with production, which are invaluable skills when it comes to becoming a successful DP. I started in cameras as a trainee then clapper loader but then went to film school and came out three years later as a fully fledged DP, so in a way I had the best of both worlds. Having said that, I often think my ‘range’ might well be greater had I spent many more years as an assistant on other people’s films and learning skills from the great DPs. I do miss that.



Gavin Finney
The Fear, Going Postal, Hogfather, Keeping Mum, St. Trinian’s, The Guilty

To actually call yourself a DP, to persuade a producer to entrust you with a large portion of the budget, the schedule and how good their very expensive actors will look, as well as being technically excellent and consistent, takes time. I spent six years at two film schools and two years in between as a camera trainee and camera assistant before I dared call myself a DP, and even then I was probably chancing it.

The camera department is a difficult one to rise through because all the jobs are so different. A great focus puller won’t necessarily make a great operator or DP. All you can do is watch and learn as much as you can. If you have a great yearning to be a DP, shoot as much of your own material as possible. You need to build some evidence that you can actually do the job, which is where film schools can help.

A DP needs innate compositional skills, a deep understanding of light, shade and colour in all its guises, inquisitiveness and a delight in storytelling through pictures.

This Year’s Model
I’m less and less interested in what I capture the image on, so long as it’s appropriate for the project, and that it’s my choice. My favourite camera is the one that is appropriate and affordable for the job. Things move so quickly now, that if I said what my current favourite was, it would be different by the time this came to press. More and more I’m using multiple camera systems, each to do a particular job within a production. We used four different cameras on The Fear. The best camera manufacturers are the ones that listen to the people who will actually use the camera rather than impose their own (marketing-led) idea of what we should be doing. It still amazes me when someone likes something I’ve done, and then asks what camera I used; would you ask an artist what brushes they paint with?

Film vs. Digital
Digital has opened up a whole new palette that I enjoy exploring, film still possess a beauty and depth that is hard to replicate. Take your pick. People have been telling me since I left film school there would be no demand for film, but it’s still hanging in there. The BBC have finally recanted and are allowing 16mm film back on their HD channel.

Fashion Victims
I avoid trends at all costs, unless I started one! If you are fashionable, by definition you will go out of fashion pretty quickly, and the look of a project should come from the story you are trying to tell. Imposing a ‘cool’ new look can stand out like a sore thumb and is basically plagiarism. Come up with your own ideas.

Posted 02 January 2014 by Jake Bickerton

Cinesite Beans: The Making Of

Following an overwhelming number of views for Cinesite's spoof baked beans ad – now over 2.3m in only five days – the company has now released a making of film.

The short, written and directed by Alvise Avati, follows a space monster launching a devastating attack on a group of astronauts, as they plant a territorial flag on the moon, resulting in the irresistibly immature ending.

“We are passionate about animation,” says Eamonn Butler, Producer of Beans and Animation Director at Cinesite. “So we have been overwhelmed by the positive response from clients, ad agencies, visual effects artists, the press and the general public.  Their support has been very inspiring to everyone who worked on it.”

Here is the making of:








Posted 20 December 2013 by Jake Bickerton

First 4K footage from Blackmagic Production Camera

A bit more Blackmagic news for you...If you fancy having a look at what the delayed Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is capable of shooting, some full-res ProRes clips are now available to download, courtesy of CEO Grant Petty. The camera, which was originally going to be available by now, has been delayed while the company is "working hard on redesigning part of the camera due to differences in the production sensors to what we experienced in the early camera builds, however that work is completed now and we are in final testing."

So, while in final testing, Petty took the liberty of shooting some footage himself and he's now made this available to download - the link is below.

"The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is very different to our other cameras, but I personally think it's quite filmy in its look, even though it's not really a digital film camera but more of a general production camera," says Petty. However, he adds: "This camera is not a low light camera – I have included some clips at night so you can see that."

It's a fair point, as the low light clips are very grainy and not a patch on the stunning looking images he's captured in the daytime outdoors. Grant explains he "spent a few weeks wandering around with the camera taking some different types of shots. One shot of the jetty has some clipping in the sky to see the affect of clipping. All the shots are ProRes as I did not shoot RAW. I did notice that later when the guys did some more tests on the camera and lens that it was not shimmed correctly so I think the results could be better than this. Some of the shots have different shutter angles and I used standard still camera lenses."

"I know you might want to colour grade these shots so I allowed some clips to be longer at up to 10 seconds for some of them. I think when working in higher resolution, being able to see the movement in the distance in these shots is quite interesting. I will be excited to see if anyone colour grades these shots up nice because I am a terrible colourist," admits Petty.

The download is available here. It's a whopping 10GB file though, so be prepared for a bit of a wait before you can get your hands on the clips.






Posted 19 December 2013 by Jake Bickerton

Shane Meadows on Blackmagic's cameras

Shane Meadows directed the latest pop promo for Jake Bugg on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It’s a faux-comedy, Benny Hill style film for the track Slumville Sunrise. Obviously wanting to capitalise on the Blackmagic link, Blackmagic did an email Q&A with Shane Meadows and asked if I wanted to do anything with it.

Whilst I wouldn’t usually post something where the motivation for the interview is to market a company or product, the interview with Meadows is interesting, informative for anyone considering using Blackmagic cameras, and well worth a read. Here are the highlights:

What led to you directing this video? How do you and Jake know each other? I first met Jake at a Stone Roses gig in London, he was supporting them and I’d heard his music and loved it. Following that I saw him a few times in Nottingham and knew we had to collaborate on something.
 
How did the concept of the video come about? Having spoken to Jake, I knew he was interested in doing a bit of acting so I had that in my mind. The video idea itself came from images brought up listening to the song; it’s really catchy and has a great rhythm, so it came together through that. Until I had a story and shape for the video I wanted, I didn’t run it past Jake. Luckily when he heard the idea he really liked it. The Slumville Sunrise lyrics and meanings helped shape the locations, costume, feel and effects of the video.
 
Which scenes were shot with the Cinema Camera and which were with the Pocket?
The Cinema Camera was used as the main camera with the two pocket cameras picking out details or different angles, to bring something a little different with the images they capture. The pocket was the one we could literally throw anywhere and we even sellotaped it to a motorised wheelchair. We were often restricted by small spaces and lots of action, so the pockets came in mega handy, although we did need some very wide glass to get round the small sensor size. The 16-mm sensors gave a documentary look to the project, which matched Jake’s costume and the low-key locations, furthering the organic feeling of the video as a whole. At the same time the pocket cameras were of a quality that could stand up to the micro four-thirds sensor of the Cinema Camera.
 
Why did you choose these cameras? They’re all small, light, very accessible to users – it meant we could be very quick and ad hoc during the shoot, which is great when the time scale is so tight. This also complemented the fun nature of the shoot as we could chop and change, or grab anything interesting as we went along without worrying about long setups. We shot a lot of the backgrounds separately from the main body of the shoot. We did a lot of it just by shooting the two Pocket cameras and Cinema Camera out of the windows of a car. The sensitivity and latitude of the cameras allowed us to largely shoot with only incidental lighting, or daylight, making them incredibly versatile on location. In the studio, the camera can of course be treated as any professional camera and adapted to the various environments. The cameras have great adaptability, latitude and quality - at times too good for this video so we actually pulled down some of the quality of the images to give to look we wanted.






Posted 19 December 2013 by Jake Bickerton
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