Olly Wiggins, DP and founder of hire company S+O, describes how he shot Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Fridays, 9pm, Channel 4.)
This show is a unique blend of documentary and entertainment styles pieced around an as live studio recording at the end of Southend Pier.
We shot the first series three years ago on Alexa Classics. It looked fantastic but we ate through a lot of batteries and cards and probably paid for a lot of summer holidays for the camera team’s physiotherapists.
This year I realised that the series would start to film at the same time of the release of the Arri Amira.
Both myself and series director Chris Faith decided that the new ergonomic form of the Amira would allow us the freedom to film the series with the visual look and technological benefits of the Alexa but the new compact size and weight would allow us to concentrate on the photography in what would be a tight filming schedule.
We managed to get hold of four Amiras and a mixture of Arri Alura and Fujinon zooms.
For the documentary style we used a couple of Fuji 19-90mm zooms and the 15.5-45mm and 30-80mm Alura zooms.
Combining these with lightweight Arri MMB1 matte boxes was a perfect solution for some of the more hectic filming scenarios.
For filters we used Tiffen Straight NDs: 0.3 to.6ND, Tiffen ND Soft Edge Grads and Tiffen Polarisers.
The different styles of the shoot demanded different attributes of the camera and the operators.
Lighting and dynamic range
The Cafe on the pier pushes the camera to its limits, even with substantial lighting it has always been important that the lighting feels natural to make the food and the Hollywood A list guests look fantastic whatever the weather outside is doing.
360 degrees of windows requires the full dynamic range achievable in the Amira’s Log C. The colour reproduction of the Amira was fantastic for both food and facial close ups.
The food close ups in the studio were filmed using an Arri Fujinon 45-250mm lens.
I picked this for its fast f2.6 aperture and its wide zoom range that is housed within a compact body. The relatively small size of the lens allowed us to mount the Amira and lens onto a Dolly Crane HD so we could slide the camera around the strategically placed foreground without hampering Luke Cardiff’s
close up food camera.
Food close ups
Food photography is very demanding of a camera sensor, it requires a subtlety of colours with a defined but not overly resolved image.
Having used many cameras over the years I have been filming food for TV and commercials the image the Alexa sensor captures is by far my favourite.
Whilst the control of the studio location allowed the sensor to shine it was the fast paced shooting schedule of the location Vts that really tested the Amira.
Off speed shooting
One of my favourite tools is the ability to change frame rates at the flick of one of the assignable user buttons. Prior to filming S+O had pre configured fps to 25,50 and 100.
This allowed all the operators to quickly go off speed at the director’s wish, without fiddling around in an internal menu and missing an important moment.
The 128Gb CFast cards allowed us to film at ProRes 422 HD with long stints of 100fps without frequent card changes; the early days of the Alexa burning through 32gb SXS cards seems a lifetime ago.
For this style of filming the inbuilt NDs allowed us to easily follow action from internal to external locations without changing the reportage style of the filming. Occasionally we would use a 0.3 ND if we felt we wanted to open up the iris and drop the background focus out a bit more where the internal NDs were too heavy.
Using the Amira’s commercial look allowed the director to easily monitor the Log C recording of the four Amiras from the comfort of his wooden shed on the pier.
In car set up was 2 x Go Pro 3s and Sony A7s for its small size and weight.
Director monitoring was wireless via multiple Teradek Bolts to 7” Sony OLED.
Cameras powered by Pag Link System with Pag Hub Plates providing D Tap, Hi Rose outputs and even USB phone charging.
Fantastic system with the ability to just add additional batteries in situations where we didn’t want to have to power down to change batteries.
Joker Bug 1600W HMI with Soft Tube, Arri 400W Pocket Pars, Arri 4K HMIs, 4K Alpha, Felloni 1×1 LEDs, Ice Lights.
Camera Hire & Facilities S+O Media
Executive producer Dermot Caulfield
Series producer Nicola Pointer
Series director Chris Faith
Production exec Sean Moxhay
DoP Olly Wiggins
Gaffer Mike Sarah
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