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									DIGITAL FILMMAKING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             DIGITAL FILMMAKING

                                                                                                                                                                                                           at NAB, complete with accessories             head and pulled together his small
               PJ and the Mysterium Chip Affair                                                                                                                                                            (drives, batteries, mounting systems).
                                                                                                                                                                                                           However, the cameras would be ready
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         army and was ready to shoot a mini-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         movie. How incredible is it that Peter
                      Zane Holmes provides the exclusive, behind-the-scenes story of the making of Peter Jackson’s short                                                                                   mere days before the show and there’d         would embrace this with such passion!
                                       Crossing the Line with the prototype RED ONE digital camera.                                                                                                        be no time to film (or, rather, shoot)         On the other hand, [cameras] Boris
                                                                                                                                                                                                           footage. So, with only three weeks until      and Natasha were completely untested
                                              offered a tantalising glimpse of what       Jim’s words.                                    again, as the RED team struggled to                                                                            – they were assembled just a few days

        ate March 2007: three Americans                                                                                                                                                                    the mid-April trade show, Jim Jannard
        attempt to leave the USA carry-       this new breed of camera will do. This          The industry buzz about the scale of        satisfy their self-imposed standards.                            picked up the phone and called Peter          before we arrived to shoot a movie, we
        ing two top secret devices code-      is the exclusive, behind-the-scenes story   the team’s ambition reached fever pitch             To put those standards in context,                           Jackson.                                      didn’t really know if they would make it
named “Boris” and “Natasha”. Customs          of the making of that film.                  thanks to a one-two punch of announce-          most existing high-end HD cameras                                    Peter had already reserved five RED        through two minutes of shooting, and
apprehend one at the border, but the                                                      ments. In the lead-up to NAB 2006, the          end up recording to various types of                             cameras and, having watched some              Peter had assembled the troops for this
                                                                                          team announced they’d developed                 tape, thus limiting their resolution to                          early tests in LA, had offered to field test   test. Lots of pressure here...”

others escape in a private jet to the South         he RED camera and company
Pacific where an eccentric millionaire               are the brainchild of Jim Jannard,    a sensor – branded the “Mysterium”              HD video’s 1920 x 1080 standard, while                           the cameras when they were ready. After
                                                                                          – that would allow the capture of im-           even Super 35mm film ends up being                                ascertaining he was keen and available,

with an arsenal of WWI weapons awaits               a self-confessed photo fanatic                                                                                                                                                                                 nd there was plenty more pres-
their arrival, eager to lay his hands on      with a vast collection of cameras and       ages at 4520 pixels by 2540 pixels; they        2048 x 871 when scanned for a digital in-                        Jim told Peter the date that he and his                 sure to go around.
the “Mysterium” chip…                         30 years’ experience using them. His        followed up at NAB ’06 by declaring the         termediate. 4520 x 2540 is huge – every                          team would fly down to NZ and that                           “You could say this was a
     Although this sounds like a James        love of photography extends to cinema       camera would be priced at US$17,500             frame is 12 megapixels, and RED’s aim                            was that, leaving the small matter of         rushed job,” DOP Richard Bluck says
Bond plot, it’s actually a pretty accurate    and digital cameras and led him, in         and they’d be manufacturing matching            was up to 60 per second!                                         what the field test might comprise of          with a wry smile and no small amount
– if melodramatically phrased – descrip-      December 2005, to set about building        low cost, high quality lenses. (At this             Also, instead of a dedicated (and                            undiscussed.                                  of irony.
tion of real events.                          a motion picture camera that would          year’s NAB they announced the pricing           potentially limiting) tape recorder, they                            “Jim and the RED team got on their             Indeed – the two prototype cameras
     The imminent release of the RED          overcome the shortfalls of the existing     for the RED Prime Set – five lenses for          were intending to output pure data                               plane before I had figured out what to         arrived in Wellington on the Wednesday
ONE camera will herald, many believe,         film and digital ranges.                     US$19,975, or about the cost of a single        to “RED Drives” or solid-state media                             shoot. They had no idea, other than a         at about 7pm and the team was shoot-
a new way of making films and a new               “I wanted to build a camera for          35mm prime lens.)                               dubbed “RED RAM” that they would                                 ‘test’, and neither did I!” recalls Peter.    ing by 5.30am on the Friday. Which
perception of the costs involved with         myself that no other company seemed             Doubt, incredulity, even anger fol-         also manufacture.                                                “I did think about a few boring ideas         wouldn’t have been too big a deal if
filmmaking. In March the RED Digital           interested to build,” recalls Jim. “My      lowed this announcement, but there                  The question of how so much data                             involving scenery, jet boats, etc. I was      not for the fact that Boris and Natasha
Cinema Camera Company flew two                 bet was that there might be others who      was a greater groundswell of excitement         and such large images could be handled                           trying to think what we could do that         were essentially two blocks of machined
of the prototype (alpha) cameras to           would be interested in it as well...”       that finally there was a product in the          had been answered at NAB ’06 – a com-                            would make their trip worthwhile, and         steel with a PL mount at one end where
Wellington and Peter Jackson became              A tall order perhaps, but – thanks       works with the potential to be consid-          pression codec called REDcode would                              put the camera through its paces in the       a lens could be fitted and a start/stop

the first filmmaker to put the camera           to founding the Oakley sunglasses           ered in many respects better than film,          reduce the amount of data by a factor                            right kind of way.                            button – and that was it… No controls
through its paces; two weeks later, the       company in 1975 – Jim is a billionaire      rather than the promise of many HD              of 10, while work was underway with                                  “So they were in the air, and we were     for shutter speed (angle) frame rate, no
finished film was shown to much ac-             with a background in manufacturing          formats to be “as good as film”.                 Apple to integrate a RED workflow into                            putting a crew together. Whatever we          viewfinder (it hadn’t been built yet), not
claim at the NAB conference in Las            and optics, arguably making him the             At this stage customers could reserve       Final Cut Pro. However, these solutions                          were going to shoot had to happen             even any handles to hold the cameras

Vegas. (Yes, you read that correctly – the    ideal person to set about rocking the       a camera for US$1000, with the com-             were largely theoretical and, as each                            within 48 hours of their arrival.             with. So the team had just one day to
words “Peter Jackson”, “two weeks”, and       cinema camera boat.                         pany hoping RED ONE would be ready              deadline was missed, the number of                                   “Because of my involvement with the       test video splits and camera monitors,
“finished film” being used in the same             He began by pulling together a team      to ship by the end of 2006. However, as         naysayers increased.                                             Omaka Easter Airshow, I had access to         as well as build some sort of cage so
sentence!)                                    of experts and forming a private com-       late as April this year there were still only                                                                    a collection of WWI equipment that we         the prototypes could be hand-held,
     With RED set to ship worldwide in        pany with a single purpose – to build a     a few photos and snippets of footage                                                                             use for the live re-enactments during the     and find ways to mount and power the

                                                                                                                                                 ome early 2007 and RED team
the next few months to thousands of           digital cinema camera that would “skip      online for public consumption – release                was confident they’d be able to                            show. I thought we could put some of          recording drives, not to mention power
pre-order customers, Peter’s short film        several generations of evolution”, in       dates had been delayed, and delayed                    present working factory models                            that to use, and film a little battle scene,   the actual cameras.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           which would be the ultimate ‘field test’            Adding to the challenge was the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Images: camera op Peter Jackson; DOP Richard Bluck
                                                                                                                                                                                                           for the camera. Within a few hours, our       fact that Jarred Land, the RED team
                                                                                                                                                                                                           producer Caro Cunningham had sent             authority on the actual operation of
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Dan Hennah to Masterton to create a           the camera, was stopped by US customs
                                                                                                                                                                                                           WWI battle field, Matt Appleton and            due to an expired passport and so didn’t
                                                                                                                                                                                                           his WETA Workshop team were pulling           make it to Wellington until the day
                                                                                                                                                                                                           together uniforms and equipment, and          the actual shoot started. Fortunately,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           a group of WWI re-enactors were driving       notes Jabez Olssen, who edited the
                                                                                                                                                                                                           down from Auckland.                           short, “everyone is a jack of all trades
                                                                                                                                                                                                               “A key moment came at about the           at RED”, and Deanan DaSilva – the
                                                                                                                                                                                                           time the RED team were landing in             other member of the RED team and
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wellington,” Peter says. “I was bringing      their on-the-ground workflow expert                                                                    War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?: Making a gripping 12-minute short film in
                                                                                                                                                                                                           my partner Fran Walsh up to speed             – had no real problems answering all                                                                  a matter of days, apparently… Three screen-grabs from Crossing the Line.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           with the plans, telling her about how         the probing technical questions the Kiwi
                                                                                                                                                                                                           cool this battle scene would be, with 30      camera crew peppered him with.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           extras, three aircraft, two field guns and          In addition, as Peter’s team set                                                               – and one out of five times it won’t work,     backdrops of bright sunlight as well
                                                                                                                                                                                                           a tank. She looked me in the eye and          about modifying Arri base plates to fit                                                              we don’t know why. The RED recording          as vistas of storm clouds. The crew
                                                                                                                                                                                                           said, ‘Haven’t you forgotten the most         the RED they also discovered the only                                                               light won’t go on and you just have to        shot in the pre-dawn, in the harsh
                                                                                                                                                                                                           important thing?’ I kind of blinked with      monitoring out of the camera was via                                                                restart.” Fortunately, Richard Bluck’s        Kiwi midday sunlight and after dark,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           confusion, and she said, ‘A script’. We       a 720P HDMI connector or an HD-SDI                                                                  team solved this issue for RED when           although the story is meant to take
                                                                                                                                                                                                           talked about a few ideas, and I didn’t        connector. As a result they had to com-                                                             they discovered that, when the camera         place over just a few minutes during
                                                                                                                                                                                                           get much sleep.                               mandeer video split systems from Wel-                                                               and its accessories were powered up in        “golden hour”.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               “First thing in the morning, we had       lington rental outfit Rubber Monkey’s                                                                a specific order, it started up every time,       Besides the technical issues, Peter
                                                                                                                                                                                                           our first production meeting – this was        two Grass Valley Viper kits.                                                                        guaranteed.                                   also had a pressing creative dilemma
                                                                                                                                                                                                           the day before the shoot. The RED guys             In lieu of the yet-to-be-manufactured                                                              So after one hectic day the team had      as well. “The last minute appearance
                                                                                                                                                                                                           were there, and Jim says, ‘So I hear          RED viewfinders, Boris and Natasha                                                                   the cameras fighting trim, although a          of an actual plotline meant we needed
                                                                                                                                                                                                           we’re shooting a WWI epic?’ I sat with        were fitted with Marshall 7" HD-SDI                                                                  couple of potential snags remained            a couple of young lead actors,” he says.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           everyone and pitched the little storyline     monitors, and because the RED Drives                                                                – the cameras would only shoot at             “We turned to friends and family for
                                                                                                                                                                                                           involving a photograph and teddy bear.        weren’t ready, off-the-shelf 10,000                                                                 24fps, the shutter angle was fixed at          help and Sarah Peirse and Philippa
                                                                                                                                                                                                           There was never a written script, and         RPM Barracuda SATA drives were                                                                      180 degrees and, of most concern to           Boyens offered up their sons, Tom
                                                                                                                                                                                                           I kept refining the storytelling right         used. And because the alpha models                                                                  Richard, the cameras’ dynamic range           Hobbs and Calum Gittens, who did a
                                                                                                                                                                                                           through the shoot.”                           couldn’t power the drives as the RED                                                                was two stops less than the final RED          terrific job.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Jim Jannard took it all largely in his    production-line cameras will, dedicated                                                             ONE will have when it ships.                     Once out in the field, the majority
                                                                                                                                                                                                           stride. “When we landed and heard the         power supplies for the drives had to be                                                                                                           of operating was done by Peter and
                                                                                                                                                                                                           plan, we were thrilled and terrified at        jerry-rigged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    s the first shoot day dawned            Neil Blomkamp [the director named
                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Jim Jannard

                                                                                                                                                                                                           the same time,” he says. “In the time              Then, Jabez says, another problem                                                                     on March 30, the skies over            for the on-hold Halo].
                                                                                                                                                                                                           it takes to fly from Orange County to          raised its head: “Jim said, ‘You connect                                                                   Masterton conspired to test               “These two prototypes were way
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Wellington, Peter built a story in his        all these things – the drives, the batteries                                                        the cameras’ latitude by throwing up          heavier than we imagined,” says Pe-
Winging it: At Hood Aerodrome, just outside Masterton, Peter Jackson briefs pilot Gene Demarco about the aerial combat
sequence in short fiJULY 2007 camera test Crossing the Line.
                    lm/RED                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              JULY 2007                19
DIGITAL FILMMAKING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           DIGITAL FILMMAKING

ter. “They were nothing more than a          being recorded to disk, a deliberate        is Peter, down in the dirt, hand-hold-                             honouring April Fool’s Day.)                                        had time to sync the sound. So while         duction period, WETA Digital’s I/O           name as part of their clip names,” says        Clare Burlinson flew down from Auck-
camera body, so all the extra stuff like     feature that allows operators to see        ing Boris and directing the hero while                                  The next day Jabez and Peter sat                               they edited mute, Rhys synced the            department had been working with             Jabez, “so we were able to refer back          land and graded the film over two days
monitors, batteries, disc drives, etc had    what’s just outside their frame while       shooting – with a big smile on his face.                           down to edit the 4K rushes on Final                                 rushes on a MacBook Pro laptop using         RED in order to capture the 4K footage       from the timeline (or EDL) to those            under the guidance of Richard Bluck
to be bolted on to a bulky set of rods       they’re rolling (and something film          Peter was literally in the trenches for                            Cut Pro…                                                            copies of the 4K media.                      so the WETA vfx artists could realise sev-   parts of the original REDcode files we          and Peter.
that we jerry-rigged. I found myself         cameras’ optical viewfinders generally       two days of shooting.”                                                  I pause here to let that sink in – yes,                            (It’s time once again to pause and to    eral vfx shots involving the dog-fighting     required for the online. There was,                In case you’re wondering, the film
handholding an awkward 40lb tangle           allow for).                                     As for Peter’s experience of camera                            they were editing 4K on an-off-the-shelf                            let that sink in… 4K media was being         biplanes exchanging tracer fire.              however, no timecode or reel names,            was graded in a 709 linear colourspace
of equipment for two days – which of             Also operating on the shoot were        operating on his own film for the first                              Mac Pro with Final Cut Pro, when most                               edited on a lap top!)                            WETA’s Nick Booth, Lucas Putnam          which made things trickier.”                   rather than log colourspace, due to
course is no reflection on what the           Richard Bluck on Steadicam and              time in over a decade? “I loved it,” he                            suites are still struggling with regular HD                             Rhys passed over the clips with sound    and their teams had been under con-             After a little trial and error the right    a limitation with REDcine – while in-
finished RED camera rigs will be.”            James Cowley for the aerial shots in        enthuses. “For me the dynamic on set                               resolutions. Just how is this possible?                             as they were done and Jabez dropped          siderable pressure to work out the best      frames were found, converted to 4K             tended to be able to extract log files,
    While Jim and the RED team would         the Heliworks chopper flown by Alfie          if I’m operating is so different to blob-                               Well, when the RED camera captures                             those required into the edit. (When          way to extract the frames required for       DPX files and passed onto Park Road.            RED team had not tested it and were
probably have liked each shot pre-lit and    Speights.                                   bing in a chair in front of a monitor,                             its footage as REDcode files (RAW and                                the RED ONE ships there will be both         vfx from the REDcode 4K files – and in        Head of DI Adam Scott and techni-              much more confident with a rec709
made as gorgeous looking as possible,            The team used a set of Cooke S4         waiting for things to happen. It’s way                             recording to tape over HD-SDI are also                              the ability to record up to four tracks      a format the vfx team could use. With        cal operations supervisor Phil Oatley          workflow. (For those unacquainted
Peter left such niceties behind as he        Prime lenses, a set of Zeiss standard       more stimulating from a creative and                               options) it compresses the footage to a                             of uncompressed audio and timecode           only eight days to NAB, the problem          were on hand to get the files fed into          with these terms a very basic explana-
kept the crew moving relentlessly for-       lenses, an 18-70mm Optimo Zoom              energy point of view. I’d need to con-                             10:1 ratio file (ie, the data recorded to                            functionality to make syncing either         needed to be solved by Thursday’s            the Quantel Pablo DI suite (DPX files           tion is that HD video generally grades
ward and the shoot transformed from          and a 24-290mm Optimo Zoom, and             sider the circumstances of a particular                            disk takes up a tenth of the space of the                           redundant or a lot easier. With these        handover meeting – where Peter would         are individual frames although like            in a 10-bit linear colourspace, whereas
a camera test to Peter simply telling        Richard felt there was no discernible       project, but will try to operate a lot more                        data the sensor actually captured) using
the story to the best of his consider-       difference between his experience with      from now on. However, I couldn’t oper-                             a wavelet-based method. I’m going to
able abilities. Because the hard drives      these lenses on a film camera and using      ate on something as complex as Lord                                forego trying to explain exactly how
allowed for up to an hour’s footage,         them with the RED.                          Of The Rings, just because of the need                             this works as I must admit I’m out of
                                                                                                                                                            my depth – you’ll just have to trust that
                                                                                                                                                            the wavelet theory has been around for
                                                                                                                                                            about a century and seems to work.
                                                                                                                                                                 What’s important is this compres-
                                                                                                                                                            sion allows RED to create Quicktime
                                                                                                                                                            reference files that reference the 4K
                                                                                                                                                            files and down-convert the footage in
                                                                                                                                                            real time to predetermined sizes. As a
                                                                                                                                                            result, Jabez had the option of work-

                                                                                                                                                            ing with a 1K (ie, about the size of
                                                                                                                                                            widescreen standard definition image)
                                                                                                                                                            or 2K reference file. In the end they
                                                                                                                                                            edited at 1K as they found the 2K a bit

                                                                                                                                                            jerky on playback due to the Mac not
                                                                                                                                                            being quite grunty enough to process
                                                                                                                                                            that resolution in real time.
                                                                                                                                                                 Jabez then imported the 1K Quick-
                                                                                                                                                            time reference files (one for each
                                                                                                                                                            individual shot recorded) into Final
                                                                                                                                                            Cut, a process that was almost instan-
                                                                                                                                                            taneous. Now Final Cut was linked to
                                                                                                                                                            the 4K camera files that remained on
                                                                                                                                                            external FireWire drives and by using
                                                                                                                                                            the wavelet technology was able to play,
                                                                                                                                                            down-convert to 1K and edit in real
                                                                                                                                       Photo: Jim Jannard

                                                                                                                                                            time – all without the time-consuming
                                                                                                                                                            process of transcoding the footage to
                                                                                                                                                            a lower resolution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Photo: Jim Jannard
                                                                                                                                                                 In the future the reference Quick-
Product shots: Peter Jackson with the jerry-rigged handheld configuration of the alpha prototype on Crossing the Line;                                       times will be generated by the RED
inset – beta prototype “Mars”, a handheld configuration currently being used in Prague on the feature Wanted, which is                                       camera itself but for this field test they
being directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch).                                                                                               had to be generated in post. Since the                                Shooting in no man’s land: From left to right are grip Maurice (Moose) Kapua, production manager Carey Johnson, Garth Michael, RED’s Jarred Land, camera
                                                                                                                                                            camera breaks every take up into 2GB                                  op/director Peter Jackson, DOP Richard Bluck, and grip Dion Hartley. (For a profile shot of RED on sticks, click here.)
Peter would frequently shoot 20 minute          The shoot went largely without a         to monitor two or three other units,                               chunks, there was a separate clip for
takes, leading Jabez to speculate that a     hitch, except for the footage shot from     and deal with a hundred questions                                  each two minute section of a take. Worse                            features unavailable for the shoot, the      outline the vfx he needed and what he        targas they can be put in a Quicktime          scanned film is usually graded in a
new system of continuity may need to         the helicopter on the first day, all of      between set-ups.                                                   still, a technical error in the form of an                          age old clapperboard did the job just        expected of the shots – if the effect art-   “wrapper”). Once in the Pablo, Adam            12-bit log colour space.) At press-time,
be developed to accommodate such             which was lost due to the hard drives not      “After a couple of days lugging that                            incorrect setting on the Quicktimes re-                             fine.)                                        ists were to have a hope of delivering       edited out all the handles that had been       however, Richard was regrading the film
an approach – in fact, continuity may        being able to withstand the vibrations      camera around, every muscle was so sore                            sulted in a five frame jump cut between                                  The only real snag Jabez faced dur-      their shots in time to be shipped to LA      placed on each shot for safety, placed         in log space, which he feels is providing
simply have to be done retrospectively       (an issue the solid state RED RAM will      I could barely walk. So the RED shoot                              these separate sections when they were                              ing the edit was the fact that while Final   for the grade.                               the shots in the correct edited order          a better result, including “an expanded
to log all the individual moments and        overcome). The problem was solved by        has had the added benefit of sending                                joined up again in FCP. This problem                                Cut Pro was able to read REDcode files,           Then, on Friday 6 April, RED team        and then they made sure the 4K edited          colour palate and a more organic feel
angles captured in these long takes.         running the maximum length of cable         me scurrying back into the gym.”                                   was rectified by using Apple’s Cinema                                it couldn’t render them.                     announced they’d like the film con-           sequence in the Pablo matched the 1K           in the highlight areas”.
    Meanwhile, while the camera team         possible from the camera to the drive,                                                                         Tools software to change the playback                                   “It meant that we had to either cut      formed at 4K and graded in Wellington        Quicktime reference of the off-line edit           Then, once VFX shots were dropped
was shooting, Deanan was diligently tak-     which was placed in the helicopter’s                                                                           speed of the Quicktimes slightly.                                   in a sequence set to the REDcode co-         by Peter’s people. While flattering, this     provided by Jabez.                             into the edit and graded, video post

                                                                                               ollowing the shoot Deanan
ing the footage from the cameras and         cabin, and having someone lie on the              handed Jabez copies of the                                        (Of course, for an R&D assignment                              dec and never do anything that would         did turn up the heat on WETA’s I/O                                                          was complete.
copying it for safety, as well as running    floor to nurse the drives through the                                                                           like this, these problems are pretty                                require rendering,” he says, “or else cut    team by several degrees – rather than                                                           Parallel to this process, Chris Ward

                                                                                               rushes, which totalled about                                                                                                                                                                                                       ow they were ready to grade…
spot checks and tests in the little space    shot. As a result the aerial footage from   600GB (or roughly seven hours of foot-                             minor. I mention them by way of em-                                 in another codec and render every bit        extracting the frames required for vfx,              well, almost. Peter headed into        – who had recorded much of the loca-
that had been made for him in the            day two (Saturday 31 March) came            age). The RED team were preparing to                               phasising how important this change                                 of footage. So we cut in REDcode, then       they now needed to extrapolate the                   the Pablo suite and worked             tion sound – had been creating the
camera truck. By the second day Jabez        out fine.                                    fly out on Sunday 1 April when Jabez                                to the post-production process is, one                              when the cut was locked we changed           entire film. This meant Nick, Lucas           with Adam to resize, reframe or dy-            nightmarish trench warfare soundscape
had a Final Cut suite set up on location        “It was one of the most incredible       had his major panic-inducing moment                                that will lead quite quickly to online – ie,                        the sequence settings to MJPEG-A and         and team had to delve into the roughly       namically rack nearly every shot in the        with colleague Brent Burge and their
so they started testing the footage on       experiences of my life to watch Peter,”     of the shoot – the drive with his copy                             HD – conforms of your edit being done                               rendered the cut so we could do some         605,000 frames Peter had shot and            film using the Pablos DVE features.             team. Once they had the sound locked
that as well.                                says Jim Jannard of the shoot. “The         of the footage wouldn’t mount on                                   almost instantly as you switch from the                             resizing etc in FCP.”                        retrieve the 18,000 or so in the final           “We did a lot of blow ups just to see       and Peter approved it, it was loaded
    Jarred Land finally arrived in-coun-      speed at which he worked was mind-          his computer, making it potentially                                1K “virtual” proxy files to the actual 4K                                Four long days later, the edit was       film and convert them to DPX files,            how far we could push this stuff,” says        onto a hard drive, while the final 4K
try and was on set by the middle of the      boggling. He has built a team of trained    unusable, and there was a frantic dash                             output of the exact same media.)                                    finished on Thursday 5 April, and             ready for grading. (There’s software         Adam. “On some shots we would’ve               pictures were loaded onto a separate
first day, where he was able to give the      professionals that love to work with him    to the airport to secure another copy                                                                                                  Peter and Jabez had their first real op-      called REDcine Pull List in the works        blown up at least 60-80% and there’s           FireWire drive as 4K DPX files (a process
shooting team some helpful pointers          – you can feel Peter’s enthusiasm while                                                                                                                                            portunity to relax and watch the whole       that among other features will automate                                                     that took three hours, even though the

                                                                                         before the RED jet left. (It later turned                                    ith NAB now only 12 days                                                                                                                            no loss of anything in there.”
– like the fact that the image Peter and     he works and it is contagious. I have       out that swapping the “problem drive”                                        away Peter and Jabez had                                  film roll down at the vfx handover            this process.)                                  Camera shakes to match the off-             film is only 12 minutes long), and yet
the crew were seeing on the monitors         a thousand mental pictures from the         to a different enclosure fixed the is-                                        to crack into the editing                                 meeting.                                         “All the Quicktimes we were cutting      screen and on-screen explosions were           another drive carried an exact copy of
was considerably larger than what was        shoot and the one I’ll carry the longest    sue, perhaps it was the drive’s way of                             before assistant editor Rhys Bonney                                     Since the extremely brief pre-pro-       with had the original magazine and file       also added at this point, before colourist                      Continued on page 29

20                   JULY 2007                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         JULY 2007                 21
                                                                                        DIGITAL FILMMAKING                                                                                                                                       DIGITAL FILMMAKING

                                                                                                                                               Digital Devil, Magic
            Film user-friendly                                                        DOP Duncan Cole discusses shooting The Last Magic Show, for which he’s been nominated for technical contribution to a digital feature
                                                                                                in the upcoming NZ Screen Awards, and The Devil Dared Me To, which is in contention for best digital feature.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Prestige results
            camera redefines                                                           The Last Magic Show
                                                                                      I’d met Andy Conlan a few years before
                                                                                      we started on TLMS, while shooting a
                                                                                                                                     was in front of the camera, on a shoot
                                                                                                                                     which had to move pretty fast most of
                                                                                                                                     the time, was a big job.
                                                                                                                                                                                                never seen any Back Of The Y, so when
                                                                                                                                                                                                producer Karl Zorab emailed me about
                                                                                                                                                                                                shooting a digi feature about a kiwi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               and could be set up to act a lot like a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               film camera with variable frame rate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               up to 60fps and the equivalent of a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          on standard
            the state-of-art                                                          short he had written (and was starring
                                                                                      in). He showed me an early draft of the
                                                                                      script not long after that, and I liked it
                                                                                                                                         The viewfinder on any 2/3in camera
                                                                                                                                     is a pretty terrible place to watch the ac-
                                                                                                                                     tion from. It’s monochrome, contrasty
                                                                                                                                                                                                stuntman I was kinda dubious.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had just got back from a month-
                                                                                                                                                                                                long photography job in Asia and I was
                                                                                                                                                                                                jetlagged and sick, but Karl persuaded
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               variable shutter angle from 0 to 360
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               degrees – pretty cool tricks for a digital
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The trade-off for the tricks is in reso-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          definition budgets
                                                                                      right away. It has a very straight-faced       and is more of a framing guide for the
                                                                                      humour to it that I was keen to see            operator than anything else. Much as                       me to come meet director/actor Chris           lution, with the Varicam recording 720
                                                                                      brought to life.                               I like to be operating the camera, we                      Stapp and producer/actor Matt Heath.           lines rather than the 1080 recorded by
                                                                                          The script is the story of Ronnie          realised early on that I would have to be                  Despite intending to politely decline,         most HD formats.
                                                                                      Roman, a down-and-out stage magi-              in front of a monitor if I was going to                    I came away from that meeting with                 After testing and using a wide
                                                                                      cian trying to make a comeback, set in         be Andy’s eyes and ears as well as DOP.                    a copy of the script and a “welcome            range of ENG style zooms on SD video
                                                                                      a non-specific time and place. There is         We were lucky to get great operators in                    aboard” handshake. I got home with the         cameras, the cine-style zoom was a
                                                                                      a Victorian flavour to Ronnie, and to           Matt Meikle and Dev Verma, and the                         fearful realisation that not only had I        real improvement in both quality and
                                                                                      the ‘Fancy Magic Show’ he performs             whole process worked well.                                 been tricked, but it appeared the project      usability.
                                                                                      in, and Andy wanted to give the film a                                                                                               was being run            But the real treat was C4’s set of Fuji-
                                                                                      bit of a ‘period’ feel but still have it set                                                                                        by maniacs.          non prime lenses. While not really part
                                                                                      in contemporary times.                                                                                                                 That night I      of our kit, C4 let us use them whenever
                                                                                          So we chose locations carefully, and                                                                                            read the script,     they were not booked, and for the first
                                                                                      the visual style was quite restrained – not                                                                                         which made           time I got to see really impressive lens
                                                                                      too much colour or movement.                                                                                                        me laugh ’til I      performance on a 2/3in camera.
                                                                                          As with so many of the decisions, the                                                                                           hurt, and I was          As with The Last Magic Show, having

                                                                                      format was determined by the budget                                                                                                 hooked.              the director in front of the camera a lot
                                                                                      (or lack thereof), so from the outset we                                                                                               Chris really      of the time meant I had to stay focussed
                                                                                      were committed to shooting principally                                                                                              loaded me up         on a lot more than just lighting and
                                                                                      on a standard definition tape format.                                                                                                with visual refer-   composition so as to back Chris up.

                                                                                          There was nothing about the script                                                                                              ence. I spent a          From the moment I looked into the
                                                                                      that warranted the use of a handicam                                                                                                week watching        Varicam viewfinder, I knew this meant
                                                                                      – the story has a quirky deadpan-ness                                                                                               documentaries        I would once again be in front of a
                                                                                      to it, which would have been under-                                                                                                 about suicidal       monitor with an operator behind the
                                                                                      mined by a handheld camera or a lot                                                                                                 stunts, and a        camera. The electronic viewfinder was
                                                                                      of crazy moves. This meant we got to             More bangs/format/suck: The most challenging thing about shooting The              whole raft of        truly terrible, and no accurate calls on
                                                                                      look at 2/3in cameras, which is really           Devil Dared Me To for DOP Duncan Cole “was definitely using a digital format        Evil Kineval do-     composition, lighting or focus could
                                                                                      the best-case scenario in terms of lens          to get good footage of over-big, over-bright explosions. Especially shooting       cos, bios and        be made without checking some sort
            SRW-1                                                                                                                      explosions at night. That just sucked.”                                            dramatisations.      of external monitor.                                        HDW-F900R
                                                                                      and image quality.
                                                                                          For a film-based DOP, the world                                                                                                  He also got me           The shoot was 33 days – shooting
                                                                                      of SD tape, with its ever-growing ag-              I think we shot 23 days. It’s just a                   watching TV shows from the ’70s and            around three minutes a day. Once the
                                                                                      gregation of cameras and formats, is           distant, blurry, sleep-deprived memory                     ’80s, action movies, and to top it all off     shoot finished and the edit started,
                                                                                      a daunting place at the beginning of           now.                                                       I watched Top Gun three times.                 Chris and Matt started coming up with
                                                                                      a project.                                         The post production process was                            We decided the best way to make it         ideas for detail shots and close-ups to
                                                                              F23         Sifting through the options exposed        slow and painful. It seemed no provision                   funny was to shoot it in the most serious      make the cut funnier. So began the
                                                                                      an early favourite – the Panasonic             had been made for any sort of post, and                    way possible (think about that next time       pick-up shots.
                                                                                      SDX900 recorded a progressive scan             Andy just hooked into editing the film                      you watch Top Gun), to really shoot it like        Pick-ups became the weekend hobby
                                                                                      mode, on a true widescreen (16:9)              himself at home using miniDV copies                        a ‘movie’, rather than a documentary           for the next year or so. They started on
            F23 acquisition camera                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        HDW-F900R HD production camcorder
                                                                                      2/3in chip, which satisfied my principal        of the camera tapes. This took more                        or a crazy TV comedy.                          Varicam, with a skeleton crew, and slowly
            • New creative tool for the top-end of movie-making, commercials and      requirements. Its DVCPRO50 tape for-           than a year, and at the end of 2006 he                         As a Headstrong film, practically the       degenerated to the three of us with                        • A compelling business case
              television production.                                                  mat sported good specifications – more          brought me a rough cut and we set                          first decision made was the choice of           an HD handicam – flicking switches,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • The ideal medium for television drama, documentaries or commercials,
            • Supports full 4:4:4 1920 x 1080 RGB imaging direct to HDCAM-SR          compression than DigiBeta but less             about finishing it.                                         camera. Before even reading the script         burning stuff and maiming anatomi-                           HDCAM offers superb full 1080 High Definition picture performance.
                                                                                      than the miniDV formats – but was cost             Rebuilding the cut from DVCPRO50                       I had been told we would be shooting           cally correct models.
            • Can capture and record variable speed images from 1 to 60 frames                                                                                                                  on a Panasonic Varicam.                            One of the first tests I did was to take                • Employs HDCAM format, the "in-house" HD format of choice for
                                                                                      effective in the tape-stock department.        tapes, using the utterly corrupt EDLs
              per second                                                                                                                                                                            It was the first time I had ever shot       some Varicam footage into a high-end                         broadcasters and production companies around the world (over 31,000
                                                                                      Weirdly (and perhaps worryingly) not           generated by Andy’s infirm edit system,
                                                                                                                                                                                                HD, so there was a steep learning curve        colour grading suite to see just how                         units worldwide).
            • “film user-friendly,” - the camera body is compatible with a variety     many people were using it.                     will live on in my mind as a low point.
              of film camera accessories including bridge plates, matte boxes and          After a hard-fought campaign, we               Once we had the movie in Final Cut,                    to negotiate as I tested the gear.             much scope there was for adjustment                        • Shoot at 24P, 25P or 30P to give your television productions a prestige,
              follow focus units.                                                     got permission to mix up our formats           we spent a few weeks tidying the edit                          The Varicam kit came from C4 Cam-          once the picture was shot. As a result,                      filmic look. Alternatively, select 50i or 60i for a more immediate feel.
                                                                                      and shoot sections of the movie on film         and getting the running length down                        era in Auckland, and our primary lens          we went into the shoot well prepared
                                                                                      – 16mm for Ronnie Roman’s reminis-             to a more manageable figure.                                was a Fujinon 15x7.3 ‘cine-style’ zoom.        – knowing what we could and couldn’t                                                                                        HDW-D1800
                                                                                      cences of past stage-shows, and 35mm               Then it became my late-night hobby                     The camera was pretty straightforward,                           Continued on page 27
                                                                           SRW-5500                                                                                                                                                                                                                       HDW-D1800 production VTR
            'Dual Format' Studio VTR                                                  for the final few scenes as Ronnie’s story      – onlining and grading in Final Cut
                                                                                      reaches its conclusion.                        and After Effects, until finally we had                                                                                                                               • New cost efficient HDCAM VTR
            • High quality 1080i, 1080PsF or 720P                                         The SDX900 rewarded us with a              a finished movie – two years after we                                                                                                                                 • Offers 1080 HDCAM recording
              recording and playback capability                                       good result. It came with the usual dy-        first started shooting.                                                                                                                                                 and playback at 24P, 25P, 30P,
            • 4:4:4 RGB 10-bit recording support                                      namic range limitations and highlight              My perspective as DOP evaporated                                                                                                                                   50i and 60i.
              with 12-channel audio                                                   clipping hassles, but it recorded motion       about a week after becoming the de-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Compatible replay of MPEG IMX
                                                                                      really nicely – giving any movement a          facto online editor. I’ve been working
            • Internal format conversion with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               and Digital Betacam
                                                                                      very film-like feel. This really helped         on it for so long now, it’s not really a
              HDCAM-SR™ & HDCAM™ formats
                                                                                      when it came to cutting the digital            movie any more. It’s just a sinister edit                                                                                                                            • Inbuilt HD to SD down-converter.
                                                                                      footage with the stuff we shot on film;         timeline that haunts my nights – shot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Optional HDV (i.LINK) interface
                                                                                      rather than being too jarring, these           by shot, frame by frame…
                                                                                      cuts were just a nice subtle change in
                                                                                      richness and texture.                          The Devil Dared Me To
            Sony New Zealand Business Division                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sony New Zealand Business Division
                                                                                          DOPing for a first-time director who        I’m not much of a TV watcher, and I’d
            Shane Ormsby 09 488 6135                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Shane Ormsby 09 488 6135

            22                JULY 2007                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       JULY 2007
DIGITAL FILMMAKING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DIGITAL FILMMAKING

                          Kiss and tell                                                                    Second time a charm                                                                    Feverish filmmaking                                                                                                             Gimme Five
         Elric Kane and Alexander Greenhough talk about aspects of                                         Writer/director Athina Tsoulis discusses aspects of her                       A quick chat with Team Good Times, winners of the Wellington                                         Director/producer Amit Tripuraneni discusses his camera choice
         Kissy Kissy, which is screening at the 2007 NZ Film Festivals.                                              HD sophomore feature Jinx Sister.                                        leg of the 48HOURS competition two years running.                                                               for self-funded feature Five.

Elric Kane: Kissy Kissy was self-funded;            ploring your options with performances              t was privately funded. I just          you try and make the savings.                                                                    was a really useful item.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Mathew Knight (DOP): There are                                                                                   hile shooting [previous fea-                         doesn’t have a native 16:9 chip, so the
the final budget came out around                     and developing new ideas in staging the             wanted to get it made… We                   The advantage [of the format]        several reasons 2006’s The Baby Farmer                  Jeff Hurrell (editor): The post hardware                 ture] Memories of Tomorrow                           image resolution was not the greatest as
$2000. Now, that’s with a lot of freebies           action. And there’s definitely no excuse             shot on Varicam HD, which in-           was that we could shoot pretty fast.     and this year’s Mäori Detective and the                 is a G5 Dual Core with Final Cut Pro                     we already got to know the                           we were shooting 16:9 FHA [full height
and favours...                                      to stop until you get it right.                 stantly doubled my budget. We did           I know you can with film, accord-        Boogie Fever were shot on a Panasonic                   5. The DVX is a great camera, certainly      Panasonic DVX102 and felt we could                               anamorphic] on a 4:3 chip.
    We shot it in MiniDV on a Panasonic             EK: Except time; time is always against         it because it was cheaper than film         ing to my DOP Rewa Harre, but as         DVX-102 (shooting miniDV) from                          the best DV camera on the market, and        use its strengths while shooting Five.                               The second disadvantage was the
AG-DVX102A at 25p. This is a much                   you…                                            – processing is where the costs lie         soon as you begin shooting on film,      Rocket Rentals.                                         in terms of integrating with FCP it’s a          One of its biggest advantages is the                         inherent low bandwidth and colour
smaller camera than we had worked                   AG: We wrapped in November 2006,                – in the short term. It is also a digital   everyone takes more time and you              It’s quite a simple camera to use                  breeze – FireWire in/out with our HDV        way it handles natural light and its                             sampling of the miniDV/DV format,
with in our previous films, so it freed us           and finished an assembly in early 2007.          format that I was advised was best if       need a bigger crew. I could spend        but has a quite impressive range of                     deck. The aspect ratio was 4:3 shot for      ability to shoot in low light conditions                         which meant the camera had problems
up to shoot that many more set-ups per              We had a final cut after a couple of             we wanted to do a 35mm blow up              more time concentrating on per-          adjustments for its chip size and price.                cropped 1:85 /1. All cutting was in real     (with the right tweaks in the settings).                         dealing with the changing light and the
day; in the Marlborough Sounds, espe-               months of editing, mostly after hours           at a later stage.                           formance. And I don’t mean more          I really like shooting progressive (25p)                time as was primary three way colour         As a result, about 98% of the movie                              green spectrum. That obviously was a
cially, it was really good to have a smaller        and during weekends.                                                                        takes. It’s more that we did not have    for drama stuff and I particularly like                 correction. Quicktimes and OMFs              was shot with natural light while the                            huge problem since we were shooting
set-up. But I’ve always loved shooting                  We cut it on Final Cut Pro at Execam                                                    to spend hours waiting for lighting      how the cine-like matrix has a really                   were output for audio post and music         night scenes were lit up by candles or                           in the bush, where it’s all green and the
with this model; for a “prosuma” camera             Television and Video Production in                                                          and then the finals that need to         pleasing colour palette to it. Also in                  composition at the conclusion of fine         gas lanterns. Considering the location                           light keeps changing rapidly.
it produces quite beautiful images.                 Wellington. Except for a couple of stray                                                    occur. Consequently, the perform-        terms of contrast, the DVX’s ‘cinelike-D’               cut, then I did a grade/effects pass while   had no electricity it was a huge bonus,                              If I have to keep making movies out
    The quicker set-ups encouraged us               booms in the frame that needed remov-                                                       ances are pretty amazing.                gamma setting gives you the impression                  the sound was being worked.                  as we didn’t have to carry a generator or                        of my own pocket then I will definitely
to adopt a really fluid handheld camera              ing, there was no digital manipulation                                                           The other advantage was that        that it handles a wider range of contrast                   The key to workflow efficiency of          lights to make things look good.                                 keep using the same format as it makes
style, which led to a feeling of capturing          after shooting.                                                                             we had a very small crew – three         than many video cameras. But a huge                     48HOURS is to not stitch yourself up             The second advantage was the cam-                            storytelling possible in an affordable
the events, rather than constructing                    The sound mix was fairly time in-                                                       in the camera and lighting depart-       part of the final look for our 48HOUR                    with high definition, given the end           era battery life – since they last a while                       manner.
them. This was always the aim for this              tensive, as we were keen to premiere                                                        ment, and about five others. That        project was done in post.                               result must be delivered standard            we didn’t have to worry about constantly                             Ideally, however, I would have loved
film, and it’s mirrored, I think, in the             it at this year’s NZFF. Luckily we had                                                      means less people to get in the way           It’s really pretty user friendly. De-              definition 4:3 on DV format. We kept          charging them through the day (to                                to use a Panasonic HVX200 to shoot
fluidity of the performances…                        a very strong relationship with Dayton                                                      of performance, which I do believe       pending on the project, you need to be                  it native the whole way.                     cover ourselves we rented out extra bat-                         this movie – mainly because it would
Alexander Greenhough: We’ve always                  Lekner, our sound editor on our two                                                         is central to any film.                  a little careful deciding whether to shoot              Bonnie Slater (producer): We’d ferry         teries from A2Z Technologies)...                                 have given us DVCPRO-HD in native
shot fairly conservatively on digital. On           prior features – he introduced us to                                                            It was not going to be possible to   progressive rather than interlaced. For                 tapes back to Jeff at the end of each            The third advantage was that, since                          16:9 while still keeping the form factor

our prior films we shot on DVCAM,                    Brett Stanton, who did a fantastic job.                                                     create a look with the conventional      some projects the strobing aspect of                    scene we shot so he was cutting while        it was miniDV format, we could shoot                             small, portable and unobtrusive. Plus we
which is pricier than MiniDV, of course,            The composer, Stephen Gallagher,                                                            tools and we relied on finding good      shooting 25p is not always welcome…                     we were shooting, and his weekend was        60 minutes on each tape and that,                                could have used different lenses with the
so on Kissy Kissy we had the luxury of              did a great job, too, with very little                                                      locations in the absence of an art            The other factor was the grip gear                 just as long as ours. It meant [director]    combined with the low cost of the                                M2 adaptor attached – and that would

a slightly higher ratio because of the              time.                                                                                       department as such. We also decided      we had access to. Both years we used a                  Sam [Kelly] could get a few hours sleep      tapes, make it a very affordable way to                          have added a whole new layer to the
cheaper cost; roughly 15-1. There is                                                                                                            to go for minimal lighting and used      small glide-cam that I could put a DVX                  before having to start the edit…             shoot a feature.                                                 visual aesthetics of the movie.
certainly less pressure when you’re ex-             For the full Q&A, click here.                                                               daylight as much as possible, with a     on, but not a larger camera. Since we                                                                    One of the biggest disadvantages
                                                                                                                                                few red heads and blondes. These         had no dollies or cranes the glide-cam                  For the full Q&A, click here.                we faced with the camera was that it                             For the full Q&A, click here.
                                                                                                                                                decisions were based very much on
                                                                                                                                                the needs of the script as well as
                                                                                                                                                our small finances, so I do not feel                                                                                                             f e a t u r e                   f i l m s

    More than 20 producers attended a recent weekend HD seminar sponsored by Panavision,                                                        anything was compromised. In fact,
    DigiPost and CineGlue. Intended to cover every aspect of HD from budgeting to post, it was                                                  I think the film looks great!                                                                                                                    S U P E R M A N R E T U R N S — Dir: Bryan Singer . DOP: Newton Thomas Sigel ASC
                                                                                                     Highly-strung sibling: Sara Wiseman                                                                                                                                                         C L I C K — Dir: Frank Coraci . DOP: Dean Semler ACS ASC
    centred around three presentations. Roi McGregor spoke about producing a TVC using a                                                            I found the Varicam HD very
                                                                                                     plays the out-of-control lead character                                                                                                                                                     F L Y B O Y S — Dir: Tony Bill . DOP: Henry Braham BSC
    Genesis camera for the first time, while Matthew Metcalfe discussed utilising the Genesis
                                                                                                     in Jinx Sister.                            user-friendly and would definitely                                                                                                               S C A R Y M O V I E 4 — Dir: David Zucker . DOP: Thomas E. Ackerman ASC
    on feature The Ferryman (only the fifth film to have done so at the time). Both acknowledged
    some drawbacks but still intend to use the Genesis again. CineGlue’s presentation involved                                                  use it again. However, I tend to be                                                                                                              A P O C A L Y P T O — Dir: Mel Gibson . DOP: Dean Semler ACS ASC
    mapping out the entire digital pre-production, production, post-production, and deliverables       If you costed it out, the financial      a bit of a purist and love 35mm.                                                                                                                 L A M A I S O N D U B O N H E U R — Dir: Dany Boon . DOP: Jean-Marie Dreujou AFC
    pipeline. The most compelling point to emerge during the weekend was the need to ensure         advantage may not be as big in the          Film still has the edge but digital is                                                                                                           E M P T Y C I T Y — Dir: Mike Binder . DOP: Russ Alsobrook ASC
    your project is a collaborative process and to seek specialist advice from the creative stage   long term. However, when you make           rapidly catching up.                                                                                                                             G R I N D H O U S E — Dir: Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino . DOP: Robert Rodriguez
    through to your deliverable format in order to avoid unnecessary problems, particularly in                                                                                                                                                                                                   A T I G E R ’ S T A L E — Dir: John Boorman . DOP: Seamus Deasy
    post. The sponsors plan more seminars in the near future.
                                                                                                    an independent film, the amount of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 D E J À V U — Dir: Tony Scott . DOP: Paul Cameron
                                                                                                    money you spend up-front is where           For the full Q&A, click here.                                                                                                                    N E X T — Dir: Lee Tamahori . DOP: David Tattersall BSC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 T H E L O O K O U T — Dir: Scott Frank . DOP: Alar Kivilo ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 T H E F E R R Y M A N — Dir: Chris Graham . DOP: Aaron Morton
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 A S T É R I X — Dir: Frederic Forestier . DOP: Theirry Arbogast AFC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B A L L S O F F U R Y — Dir: Robert Ben Garant . DOP: Thomas Ackerman ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 B E F O R E T H E D E V I L K N O W S Y O U ’ R E D E A D — Dir: Sidney Lumet . DOP: Ron Fortunado
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 C O N D E M N E D — Dir: Scott Wiper . DOP: Ross Emery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 H I S M A J E S T Y M I N O R — Dir & DOP: Jean-Jacques Annaud

               GET EPIC QUALITY ON A TV BUDGET!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  S L I P S T R E A M — Dir: Anthony Hopkins . DOP: Dante Spinotti AIC ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 R E V E N G E O F T H E N E R D S — Dir: Kyle Newman . DOP: Lukas Ettlin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 T H E C O M E B A C K S — Dir: Tom Brady . DOP: Tony Richmond

               THE NEW SONY HDW-F900R CINEALTA CAMCORDER                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         T H E O T H E R B O L E Y N G I R L — Dir: Justin Chadwick . DOP: Kieran McGuigan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I N O W P R O N O U N C E YO U C H U C K A N D L A R RY— Dir: Dennis Dugan . DOP: Dean Semler ACS ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                               The American Society of Cinematographers                                          S U P E R B A D — Dir: Greg Mottola . DOP: Russ T. Alsobrook
                                                                                                                                                                                                               21st Annual Awards                                                                I K N O W W H O K I L L E D M E — Dir: Chris Sivertson . DOP: John R. Leonetti
                                                                                                                                                       Rent now from                                                                                                                             T H E T O U R I S T — Dir: Marcel Langenegger . DOP: Dante Spinotti AIC ASC
                                                                                               • Full 1080 HD
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Nomination in the Feature Film Categor y
                                                                                               • Full CIF (1920x1080) imaging                                                                                  for an Outstanding Achievement Award:                                             d r a m a t i c                         t v

                                                                                               • Incredible contrast range                                                                                     Dean Semler ACS ASC                                                               N I G H T S TA L K E R      (SERIES)—   DOP: Bob Primes ASC, Rick Maguire & Sandy Sissel ASC          (SERIES)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 CONVICTION            (SERIES)—
                                                                                               • Total creative control                                                                                        for Apocalypto                                                                    W H AT A B O U T B R I A N
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOP: Ernie Holzman ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (PILOT)   & John Thomas ASC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               DOP: Russ Alsobrook ASC & Joe Pennella


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 FA C E L E S S   (PILOT)—     DOP: Mauro Fiore ASC
                                                                                               • Universally accepted by all major
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 IN CASE OF EMERGENCY                     (PILOT)—    DOP: Victor Hammer
                                                                                                 US and European Networks                                                                                                                                                                        BROTHERS & SISTERS                 (PILOT)—   DOP: Tom Yatsko
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 52 FIGHTS         (PILOT)—     DOP: David Hennings
                                                                                               • Check out
                                                    The international                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOP: Adam Sliwinski
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             DOP: Dermott Downs
                                                     HD benchmark                                (HDCAM links) for programme                                                                                                                                                                     3 POUNDS          (SERIES)—     DOP: Dejan Georgevich ASC
                                                      now in NZ!                                 references

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 P A N A V I S I O N A U C K L A N D — 318 Richmond Road Grey Lynn . Phone 09 360 8770
                                                                                                                                                                                                               w w w. p a n a v i s i o n . c o . n z                                            P A N A V I S I O N W E L L I N G T O N — 15 Jarden Mile Ngauranga . Phone 04 470 5500

24                       JULY 2007                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JULY 2007                     25
DIGITAL FILMMAKING                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DIGITAL FILMMAKING

                                                                                                                                                                                     says it’s easy but when you start look-
                                            HD storm on course                                                                                                                       ing at the complexities –1080i, 1080p,
                                                                                                                                                                                     720p, VariCam, frame rates … – all
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steady as he goes: Written,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    directed and produced by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ketzal Sterling (of High
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DVT V1P HD Production System

              NHNZ’s Michael Stedman and Sony’s David Colthorpe provide a snapshot of the NZ industry’s adoption of HD.                                                              those things have a huge bearing on                                                            Octane DVD series fame)
                                                                                                                                                                                     the path you take to post-production,                                                          “Kiwi gangsta” feature
                                             New Zealand and the rest of the world is          “We’re not dogmatic about 1080

         perfect storm of high definition                                                                                                     But it’s important to start that pro-   and that’s where people are coming                                                             You Move You Die was
         pressures is about to sweep the     lessening, with broadcasters preparing       – we support both 720 and 1080 – but           cess from the end, warns NHNZ man-          unstuck.”                                                                                      shot in a total of five days
         screen production industry,         to transmit in HD from next year.            we believe 1080 will be core of the high       aging director Michael Stedman.                 He points out the market wants                                                             o n Pa n a s o n i c Va r i c a m
says David Colthorpe, the manager               The Freeview consortium has still         definition industry.                                “One of the things with high defini-                                                                                                    and Sony 900 HD camera
                                                                                                                                                                                     content that’s HD-generated, not con-
of Sony NZ’s broadcast & production          to finalise its HD standard for the                “Consumer display panels in 2-3           tion is you have to go to the end of the                                                                                                   equipment. This feat was
                                                                                                                                                                                     verted from 35mm or Super 16. “The                                                             achieved by shooting a
group’s business division.                   digital terrestrial, or aerial, service it   years will only be 1080 … So if you’re         process and then work backwards.            problem with [conversion] is Super                                                             majority of the movie on
    “Throughout the world there is           will launch but it could to be 1080i         receiving 1080, it will display it perfectly       “A lot of people grab a hi-def cam-     16 quality is very marginal and nobody                                                         Steadicam with very long
a perfect storm of high definition            whereas Sky, with less bandwidth and         without interpolation.”                        era, go out and shoot, then discover        wants to make television programmes                                                            takes (for eg, intro segment
happening. It’s going to happen on           more channels, is opting for 720p.                Colthorpe believes the industry           there is a whole lot more to it when        using 35 millimetre.                                                                           is a nine-minute one shot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    wonder). The film has been                  Sony HVRV1P HDV camera
a global scale, irrespective of where           “Most production companies                already punches above its weight with          they get to the post area.”                     “That technology was being used
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    nominated for best digital                  2 x Sony NPF970 batteries
New Zealand is.”                             would support 1080 as a platform,”           its very high-end post-production capa-            NHNZ is helping the Screen Coun-        before the new generation of hi-def                                                                                                        Battery charger / AC adaptor
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    feature at this year’s NZ
    Colthorpe cites the rising popular-      Colthorpe says.                              bility, citing the widespread use of the       cil to organise courses on HD, tenta-       cameras came out. The cost of the                                                                                                          Storm case with foam insert
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Screen Awards, with DOP
ity of flat panel TVs with their HD                                                        premium mastering format, HDCAM                tively scheduled for next month.            cameras came down, the quality went                                                            Rhys Duncan also tapped for                 62mm UV and CP filters
resolution; consumers’ awareness and         “Throughout the world                        SR, at Park Road Post, Digital Post,                                                       up, and that means you just don’t want                                                         his technical contribution.                 Vinten Pro 6 Tripod Kit
demand for HD content through the                                                         Images Post, and The Toybox.                   “Multiple formats are                                                                                                                      For Sterling’s account of                   Rycote Windjammer
emergence of formats like Blu-ray
                                             there is a perfect storm                          “There’s been a good uptake in high
                                                                                                                                                                                     to go down the film path.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    making the movie, click                     Wireless microphone system
                                                                                                                                         not a big problem so                            NHNZ switched to HD generation
(which is built into the new Play-           of high definition hap-                       definition shooting equipment. The                                                          about five years ago. Being an early
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    here. The photo shows                       Wide angle conversion lens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sterling and co-star Julian
Station3 games console); the increase        pening. It’s going to                        HDWF900 camera has been embraced               long as you set it up at                    adopter was costly, Stedman acknowl-                                                           Harrison.
in bandwidth with compression tech-                                                       quite broadly across New Zealand – it’s                                                                                                                                                                                          Purchase for $10,700+GST
                                             happen on a global                                                                          the beginning of the                        edges, “but it means we’re now produc-
nologies and the ability to transmit in                                                   pretty much the benchmark camera.                                                          ing about 80% of everything we do in                                                                                                  Lease for $420 per month*
IP technologies; and post-production         scale, irrespective of                            “There’s also quite a few VariCams        process. What you shoot                     hi-def and next year it will be 100%.      Digital Devil, Magic                       the Varicam format still looked great           Rent for just $195+GST per day
and production technologies becom-           where New Zealand is.”                       around. They’re not quite hi-def but           on will determine what                      That’s about 60-80 hours a year.”          Continued from page 23                     on the big screen, and our punchy
ing cheaper and more efficient.                                                            have nice over and under speed capa-                                                                                                                                             cartoon treatment translated to film
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 DVT Final Cut Studio 2
    “All these fronts are about to col-                                                   bility as a creative tool.
                                                                                                                                         you can deliver it on.”                         NHNZ’s HD costs have reduced           rely on the grading process to fix. There
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                High Definition Edit Suite

                                                                                                                                                                                     from about 50% above standard defini-       were no bad surprises.                     really well.
lide,” he says. “It’s happened already          “The bandwidth available on ter-               “There’s a lot of XDCAM HD, which                                                     tion to 15-20%. “The more hi-def you          We graded the movie with colourist
in the United States and Europe.             restrial will support 1080 quite easily.     is the new professional, non-broadcast             “We’re happy to share our experi-       do, the lower the cost will become,”       Clare Burlinson at RPM Pictures on         Compare & contrast
    “They were slow to begin but have        Also, the production standards are all       HD format using Blu-ray disc.                  ence and to run some one-day work-          Stedman says.                              Final Touch – a system that has since      These two projects have really demon-

now quickly embraced it and got up           in 1080, so pretty much everything is             “And coming at the end of the year        shops that will hopefully stop people           “Over the past two or three years      been bought by Apple and packaged          strated the speed digital acquisition is
to speed with it.                            shot in 1080.                                is the new broadcast version, which is         ending up in some of the situations         we’ve spent several million buying         as Color.                                  advancing in quality. In both cases we
    “Europe is a very good model for            “It’s self-evident that if you’re         going to be a huge leap forward. The           we’ve found ourselves,” Stedman             cameras. We can now do everything in          Subtlety was abandoned as we            had really good, capable formats (for                Quad Core 2.66Ghz MacPro
New Zealand. Obviously they’re on a          involved in production and post-pro-         XDCAM HD 4:2:2 will be the work-               says.                                       hi-def, from idea to delivery.”            embraced the colourful, sharp digital      their cost), despite them both being                 4GB RAM
much larger scale so it’s very hard for      duction technology that the future will      horse of HD production.                            “The courses will present you with          Among NHNZ’s latest HD series          footage, and pushed it further – going     formats that were well below the top-                3 x 320GB Video Drives
us to do what they do.                       be 1080p – progressive capture and                “It’s very much similar to what           everything you need to know. It’s not       are Buggin’ With Rudd (which Prime         for an almost cartoon-like look.           end available.                                       2 x Apple 23” cinema displays
    “But nevertheless the same factors       editing. That’s likely to be the norm        standard definition XD CAM capability           that you’re going to walk out of there      screens in standard definition) and            Just as we finished the grade, we           But having tried HD, and lenses that              Edirol digital speakers
will tend to propagate around the            in the next few years.                       did for the television industry and will       an expert but you’re going to walk          the Emmy-nominated Equator: Circle         received news that we had the funding      are a match for the quality of the for-              Colour coded keyboard
world and become factors here – and             “New devices, like PlayStation3 with      be just as affordable.”                        out knowing what are the questions          of Life.                                   needed to output to film and get The        mat, I would hate to go back to SD.                  Final Cut Studio 2 including
at an accelerated pace.                      Blu-ray playback, and potential new               Colthorpe says cost isn’t a reason        you’ve got to ask before you embark                                                                                                                                                    * Final Cut Pro 6
                                                                                                                                                                                         As well as its stunning, cinematic     Devil into mainstream cinemas. This           The next improvements that come
    “If the professional market here         protagonists in content delivery, such       not to adopt HD, which represents              on it, and knowing where you can go                                                                                                                                                    * DVD Studio Pro 4
                                                                                                                                                                                     clarity – Stedman likens the SV vs HD      meant a whole new raft of tests to see     should be really exciting. As a stills               * Compressor 3
– producers, broadcasters, post-pro-         as telcos with IP delivery, will almost      a “huge opportunity” for aspiring              to get those answers.”                      difference to 16mm vs 35mm – HD            how our grade was going to translate       photographer I have seen what sort of                * Color
duction people – don’t monitor this          certainly use MPEG4 delivered content        filmmakers.                                         Stedman says the courses are timely     futureproofs programmes. “We’ve got        to film, since we didn’t have the budget    image quality difference comes with an               * Soundtrack Pro 2
and prepare for it, they may find them-       and probably in 1080p.                            “Other things like software – Final       given the broadcasters’ move to HD          product we made in hi-def seven or         for a dedicated grade for film.             increase in digital sensor size – a move             * Motion 3
selves surprised by their competitors           “You will tend to compromise your         Cut Pro – low-price computers, faster          and NZ On Air’s new recoupment              eight years ago that’s still selling. So      Overall the results were really         we’re finally starting to see in motion               Apple Protection Plan
who are looking for opportunities.           position if you choose a standard that       computers and cheaper hard drives              policy, which will encourage more           that futureproofing is a very important     impressive. The lower resolution of        picture cameras.                                     Full system setup, training
    “A lot of people in the industry have    won’t allow for these new competitors        mean you can sit in your spare room            producers to seek offshore markets          part of our strategy.”                                                                                                                     and phone support
got this worked out. So it’s important       coming in. So 1080 would seem to be          at home and script a movie, shoot it           for their programmes.                           But HD is also a more demanding
that others, who don’t have plans, get       a sensible standard to adopt.”               on a Z1 camera, edit it on Final Cut               “And if you’re doing that, you          format. “It’s a lot less forgiving than                                                                                               Purchase for $11,990+GST
some plans.                                     Colthorpe acknowledges 720p can           Pro on a Vaio computer and put it to           have to be hi-def ready and to be able      standard def,” Stedman says. “It will                                                                                                 Lease for $470 per month*
    “The ‘storm’ is perhaps a little omi-    be better for movies and sport “but          Blu-ray disc.                                  to deliver in hi-def. So a whole lot of     show up blemishes, you need to take
nous but it’s something to prepare for       1080i will look equally as good with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This system is capable of editing all of
                                                                                               “Indie filmmakers can have control         things are converging.”                     a lot more care in your lighting and                                                                                                    these standard and high definition
and ride with, not batten down for.”         the majority of content so it’s not as       of the production process from begin-              According to Stedman, “There are        in a lot of cases you need a lot more                                                                                                   formats in real time.
    Colthorpe says the HD lag between        significant an issue.                         ning to end.”                                  lies, bloody lies and hi-def. Everybody     light.”
                                                                                                                                                                                         He adds producers also need to                                                                                                         Call 09 525 0788 for full details
                                                                                                                                                                                     realise they’ll have to deliver on not
                                                                                                                                           SONY DSR-450WSP / 50i, 25p
                                                                                                                                                                                     only multiple HD formats but also
     SHOOT                                                                                                                                               LOW BUDGET DRAMA
                                                                                                                                                        CROSS-SHOOT OPTION
                                                                                                                                                              SD, HD GLASS           PAL or NTSC standard definition in
                                                                                                                                                                                     non-HD markets.
     DIGITAL                                                                                                                                                                             “If you’re going to have something
                                                                                                                                                                                     that has to meet all of those outcomes,

     HIGH                                                                                                                                                                            you’ve got to think carefully about
                                                                                                                                                                                     where the process begins. Decisions
                                                                                                                                                                                     over the camera, decisions over frame
                                                                            HIGH-DEFINITION GEAR
                                                                            22x, 18x, 4.5wa
                                                                            PANASONIC HD LCD 9” & 17”                                                                                rates … all sorts of decisions have
                                                                            ARRI MB-20 MATTEBOX / 19mm
                                                                            ARRI FF-5 HD FOLLOW FOCUS                                                                                to be made at the beginning of the
                                                                            HD TRANSFERS &                                                                                           process to achieve the outcomes you
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                                                                                                                                                                                     want …
                                                                                                                                                                                         “Multiple formats are not a big
                                                                                                                                                                                     problem so long as you set it up at                                                                                                             *Terms and conditions apply
                                                     PANASONIC HDX900 / 720p, 1080i                      PANASONIC 27H VARICAM / 720p
                                                     CINEGAMMA FUNCTION                                  CINEGAMMA FUNCTION
                                                                                                                                                                                     the beginning of the process. What
                                                     24p, 25p, 30p, 50i, 60i, 50p, 60p                   VARIABLE FRAME RATES (4-60fps)
                                                                                                                                                                                     you shoot [a programme] on will                                                                                                                   Ph 09 525 0788
     CALL JULIAN                                                                                                                                                                     determine what you can deliver it on                                                                                                   
     0274 961 925, 09 378 1449, GREY LYNN AUCKLAND NZ, 24/7                                                                                                     or, more importantly, what you can’t
                                                                                                                                                                                     deliver it on.”                                                                                                                         

26                   JULY 2007                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              JULY 2007                     27
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           DIGITAL FILMMAKING

                                                                        PJ and the Mysterium Chip Affair                 As for Jabez Olssen, “I think Peter’s
                                                                        Continued from page 21                       very keen to make Park Road very
                                                                        the same files.                               friendly for the RED camera,” he en-
                                                                            And so on Friday 13 April, two weeks     thuses. “Build up the knowledge and
                                                                        to the day since the shoot had begun,        expertise – it just makes sense.”
                                                                        Jabez, Richard and Chris boarded a

                                                                        plane to the States carrying a drive                  o with RED’s field test a suc-
                                                                        each. With the international dateline’s               cess for all involved, there’s
                                                                        assistance they arrived in Las Vegas the              perhaps one question left to
                                                                        same day and handed over the finished         answer. While the appeal of RED’s
                                                                        film to RED’s Jarred Land.                    high quality and low cost to those
                                                                            The next day saw Chris helping set       without big budgets is obvious, what
                                                                        up the RED booth’s makeshift theatre         drives Peter Jackson’s interest in the
                                                                        sound system, while Park Road’s Ian          format, given his budgets allow him to
                                                                        Bidgood was on hand to lend his              shoot and print several million feet of
                                                                        expertise in helping set up the Sony         35mm film?
                                                                        4K projector. Jabez and Richard also             “I’m curious about the way in which
                                                                        pitched in to ensure the images that         digital images are progressing,” he
                                                                        screened at NAB matched what they            explains. “I like the idea of lightweight
                                                                        saw in the Park Road DI theatre as           cameras. I’ve never worked with an

 Rent it                                                                closely as possible.
                                                                            The footage and sound were trans-
                                                                        ferred onto a digital cinema server and
                                                                        then on Sunday 15 April Crossing the
                                                                        Line played to the public at NAB.
                                                                            The RED booth was the hit of the
                                                                        show, with the queue to watch the film
                                                                                                                     actor who doesn’t like keeping the
                                                                                                                     camera rolling and working their
                                                                                                                     performance up over time. Having
                                                                                                                     the director yell ‘cut!’ all the time, and
                                                                                                                     allowing hair and make-up to swoop
                                                                                                                     in, turns the day into a series of tense
                                                                                                                     100 yard sprints. I suspect digital will
                                                                        stretching for hours.                        allow for a whole different creative

                                                                    ON O
                                                                            Jim Jannard found even the big           momentum to develop on set.
                                                                        Hollywood players gobsmacked by the              “The digital image quality – from
                                                                        film, with Steven Spielberg asking “Did       several different companies – seems to
                                                                        Peter really shoot this in two days?!”       be getting to a place that it can look

                                                                                                                     like 35mm, or whatever you want it to
                                                                                 nce back home in NZ, Adam           look like. The creative tools in the DI
                                                                                 Scott found his phone run-          post-production pipeline are becom-

                                                                                                                                                                  Photos: Zane Holmes
                                                                                 ning hot with interest about        ing so powerful that whether the actual
                                                                        the project. “The cool thing about           capture system is film or digital is fast

               Shoot it
                                                                        the whole RED thing,” he notes, “is          losing its relevance.
                                                                        that from that day forward, when                 “There’s been a general feeling
                                                                        everybody saw it for the first time at        within the digital world that 2K resolu-                            Peter’s friends: Pictured top are Park Road head of DI Adam Scott and technical
                                                                        NAB, it changed the rules – it’s all         tion is just fine, and that’s true,” Peter                           operations supervisor Phil Oatley, while below are DOP Richard Bluck and editor
                                                                        changed.”                                    continues. “However, I suspect the                                  Jabez Olssen. “I was struck by how excited these guys all got when talking
                                                                                                                                                                                         about RED,” says this article’s author, Zane Holmes, “and how much fun they
                                                                            Richard Bluck, meanwhile, has some       industry will start to realise that 4K is
                                                                                                                                                                                         seemed to have making the film.”
                                                                        thoughts about how the RED ONE               the digital equivalent of shooting in
                                                                        might help NZ film escape being a “cot-       65mm or even Imax and, for some
                                                                        tage” industry, “where half the people       projects, that’s pretty exciting.                                     “If the cost of these films can be           title sequence of Shortland Street and
                                                                        have to go off and do something else             “Finally, the cost advantages of                               reduced in any way, it will hopefully          acting as co-producer on Maddigan’s
                                                                        just to survive”.                            using digital for low budget films are                              allow the studios to relax a little and let    Quest. He has also recently joined
                                                                            “I can only see this as a good thing,”   widely accepted. However, at the other                             some more creative risk-taking sneak           forces with Vanessa Alexander
                                                                        he says. “Having RED as an option will       end of the market, the costs of the big                            back into the genre.”                          to commence development of
                                                                        mean that our industry can lose some         tent pole movies are rising so fast, the                                                                          interesting dramatic projects under
                                                                        of the overhead that can at times be de-     risk factor is rising with it. So much so                          • Zane Holmes is a freelance                   the banner Collective Vision. Any

 Post it
                                                                        bilitating, and local hire companies and     that most of the big event films now                                producer and director with a history           feedback about the article or ideas you
                                                                        individuals can have gear to compete         are very studio-driven and franchise-                              in post-production and visual effects.         would like to pitch should be sent to
                                                                        with the big internationals.”                based, rather safe and bland.                                      Recent credits include the opening   

                                                                                                                                                                    RED COMING SOON
“there’s just something about the look.”
For further information contact:

Pete Fullerton or Rick Haywood | Panasonic NZ | (+64) 09 272 0100
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         JULY 2007               29

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