2011 Feature Film shot in Camden, ME
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Category — Cinematography

Update from the DP – Prep/Week 1

Week 1  //  Day 4  // July 16, 2011

Here’s something we didn’t know…

We’re in Camden Maine, just finished day four of the shoot.  Day for night interiors at a local bar called Cuzzy’s.  But first, I wanted to mention our make-up test and what we figured out.

So the final (basic) camera gear list for the shoot is as follows:

-Sony F3

-KiPro Mini w/ 32 gig CF cards (3)

-Anton Bauer Dionic batteries + plate

-Zacuto EVF

-5.6” TV Logic (HD) on board monitor

-17” Panasonic (HD) External Monitor

Then we (1st AC Ari Davidson + 2nd AC Cole Christine + I) came across a problem, which took multiple phone calls to finally figure out what was wrong.  We are shooting at 24 FPS (23.98) at 422 HQ 10-bit onto the KiPro.  The KiPro records the video feed running from the camera via SDI.  Regardless of the camera’s actual record settings, the output signal must be set to 23.98 PsF to record that onto the KiPro, not the default 60i.  Then we run the 23.98 HD-SDI signal out of the KiPro to the on-board monitor, then HD-SDI out from the KiPro to the external monitor.  I had to make sure that the F3 we were working with had the latest firmware upgrade since that would allow us to simultaneously run HD-SDI out AND HDMI out.  The Zacuto viewfinder is only HDMI, so this firmware upgrade was necessary.  BUT here was the problem.  HDMI is a broadcast signal only, it DOES NOT send out a 24 FPS signal, 60i only.  We want to shoot at 24fps and the output has to be 24 for the KiPro to record 24.  So what happened was when we ran the HDMI out from the camera (in addition to the HD-SDI) we had no signal to the viewfinder.  So then what is the point of the HDMI/SDI simultaneous output if you want to shoot to an external recorder (not the nano-flash) at 24fps?!!?  When I would posed this question heads would spin and it took 3-5 minutes on average for anyone to really even understand me!  We were pretty sure that the Dual Link output always send a 24 signal, but it wasn’t working.  So we made some phone calls – one Sony rep, two Sony professional technicians, a couple rental houses and no one could figure it out.  Until we called Abel Cine Tech and after being transferred to two different people, someone had the solution.  It was simple – we had forgotten to switch the output display signal back to 60i for the HDMI signal, since the Dual Link SDI natively outputs 24.  Let me tell you, it was quite a bit of drama – last minute figuring out if an AJA or blackmagic or some signal transferring device would solve the issue.  Long story short – you learn new things every day.  This might have been one you already knew and now it’s one I’ll always remember.

Otherwise we’ve done four days of shooting and it’s going well.  We’re shooting with the F3 in CineGamma REC709, varying ISO from 280 – 400 – 800 and I’m pretty happy with the results.  We’re mostly shooting 5600K, one interior car scene at 3200.  The image is a little saturated on the green side, but I think that tends to happen with the F3 often.


July 16, 2011   2 Comments

Update From the DP – Camera Test Results

May Test Results:


-Panasonic 8.4” onboard monitor

-KiPro Mini

-Anton Bauer battery plate running power to monitor/KiPro/F3

-SDI out from F3 into KiPro Mini

-SDI out of KiPro into onboard monitor

-SDI out of onboard into external 17” Panasonic monitor

-Set up color chart and monitors to waveform settings – good results.

-Check focus chart on 35mm Superspeed lens – fair results, some moiré in two areas on chart, but not bad.

Set up F3 Picture Profiles:

  1. Gamma setting – Cine4 preset 5600K, lower black level (day setting)
  2. Gamma setting – Cine1 preset 3200, lower black level slightly (night setting)

(I will provide detailed gamma settings when they are resolved)

Record onto KiPro at 10bit Apple Pro Res 422 HQ in both settings on all lenses.



-KiPro Mini

-Anton Bauer plate running power to KiPro only

-SDI out from EX3 to external monitor

-Set up picture profiles to match F3 settings.



Shoot footage with each of the various gamma settings in the picture profiles

RESULT: Tested Cine1 and Cine 4, but still playing with some profiles.



Over expose image from F3 4 stops and under expose image 4 stops, use FCP Color to see how much the image can be brought back, w/ and w/out ¼ BPM.

RESULT:  Great exposure range, haven’t gotten to full post process yet, so far so good.



Both the F3 and the EX3 have the “S&Q Motion” function; test this along with speed changes while recording to the KiPro Mini.

RESULT: Not so good.  S&Q Motion doesn’t seem to work with the KiPro, since the KiPro records by bypassing the video signal, the internal settings from the camera do not transfer over seamlessly and a stuttering effect is recorded.  However, normal speed changes seem to be ok, but no ramping within shot. 


SHOOT TEST 1: “Specialty Shots”

There are a few “specialty shots” in the film that require a different look than the rest of the footage, play with settings in F3 and EX3 to achieve this look.
RESULT:  Quite nice, I wanted to take the PL mount off the F3 and place it onto the EX3 (I heard somewhere this creates funky focus, no back focus to adjust the camera and lens) BUT it was not possible to line up the mount.  However, we were able to adjust the shutter on the EX3, record onto the SxS cards to achieve the look we might use for the shoot.

SHOOT TEST 2: Driving Shots

We are going to be shooting quite a bit inside a car at the driver and also at the exterior – indie style – goal is to use EX3 “drive by” shots looking out of car, but match to F3 when inside the car with the driver.

RESULT: Looking good!  EX3 out the front window, or side window, F3 on driver.


Block, rehearse, shoot, edit a scene w/ one actor


Block, rehearse, shoot, edit a scene w/ three actors


Shoot night interior at a bar – test lighting “as is” with F3 in Cine1 gamma mode.

RESULT:  Low low light.  Lens wide open at T1.3, the image is dark, too many fluorescent bar signs that seemed to all be pulsing at different rates.  We’re going to have to fudge this interior a bit, but with some “flickerless” lights, we should be fine.



I wanted to test the EX3 and F3 footage against each other, hoping the difference would be almost imperceptible with both at 10bit 422HQ.

I also wanted to see how well the F3 held up under low light and high light situations and how much play the image allows for during post-production.


The EX3 and F3 footage blends seamlessly.  I was only able to view on a 17” monitor, but I cannot tell the difference except for some shots that obviously give away a ½” sensor’s depth of field vs. a super 35mm sensor’s depth of field.  However, there is definitely a slight visible difference when shooting KiPro Mini 10bit and SxS 8bit.  Even before attempting to go through color correcting the images, the 10bit 422HQ image holds up much stronger than the 8bit XDcam.  I did not test 8bit to the KiPro, since I will not be using that setting.  There is a chance that we will have to shoot both cameras as A and B for a few scenes, but I don’t think we are going to have 2 KiPro Mini’s, so I wanted to see how much the SxS footage would stand out against the KiPro.  It does.  We might be able to get our hands on a nano-flash recorder as our B-unit external recorder, but that device is not quite capable of what the KiPro Mini can achieve.  We’ll have to see…

As far as exposure, the F3 is accurately rated at 800 ISO.  It also has quite a nice range and can easily hold over exposure 4 stops over and 4 stops under, there is information in both the highlights and the shadows.  None of this is new information, there have been many tests done with this camera, but you always need to test it for yourself.  Both gamma settings I tested primarily provide a flatter “negative” or raw image.  This raw image was easily and quickly given contrast and tone (a one pass) to create the look for the film.  I’m not sure these are my final settings, but they worked well for the test.


The only thing I would say needs a bit of improvement before the shoot is the actual rig of the camera.  I am going to replace the 8.4” Panasonic with either a Small HD 5.6” or a TV Logic 5.6” onboard monitor.  The 8.4” Panasonic is a great monitor, but much too heavy for our setup and was attached with a noga arm that was too long and cumbersome.  Also, the KiPro Mini was attached via another long noga arm, but has a plate on the unit so that it theoretically would fit directly onto the Anton Bauer battery plate.  Instead the battery was set onto a plate to fit only onto the rods not allowing space for the KiPro and lacking hardware to attach the two.  I’m sure this is possible to achieve.  I’m also going to configure the batteries differently, maybe use the small Sony battery for the F3 and the Anton for the monitor and KiPro, not sure yet.  I will provide an image of the two different rigs, once I get the new one finalized.

The viewfinder on the F3 was a poor decision on length and placement and the flip-out screen is barely visible with any amount of daylight, it’s good to check some zebras, but that’s about it.  I was unable to rent a viewfinder for the test, but hope to have the Cineroid one for the real deal.


It rained the entire time we were testing.  So that was tricky and nothing like the weather we hope to have for the actual shoot.  Therefore, I was only able to test what the cameras can do with bright white sky, but no sun, few shadows and lots of flat light.

May 31, 2011   No Comments

Things it’s hard to learn without seeing

No matter what your position in the film business, you hear camera terms tossed around a lot. I do not retain numbers with decimals in them and my brain turns to mush when the conversation turns particularly technical. However, some things are easily retained once seen, in real terms. During our camera testing, our DP, Eve M. Cohen (pictured here), was working on the set-ups for the EX3 and the Sony F3, and she took an opportunity to show me something very basic an essential about cinema cameras (and cameras in general, I think):

What’s the difference between a half-inch and a full-frame sensor? (Sorry, Eve, my photo skills will never do your image any justice.)


See? That's the F3 on the right (Eve's left).

And now you know!

*Note: See comments below – Eve very helpfully followed up with the technical details involved in the experiment that lead to this photo.

May 26, 2011   1 Comment

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 5

Click to enlarge image. F3, ISO 800, 85mm, T1.3, 1/4 BPM filter, 1.85:1

May 24, 2011   No Comments

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 4

F3, ISO 800, 25mm, T5.6, 1/4 BPM filter, ND9, Pola, 1.85:1

May 23, 2011   1 Comment

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 3

Click to enlarge image. F3, ISO 800, 85mm, T1.3, 1/4 BPM filter, 1.85:1

May 22, 2011   No Comments

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 2

F3, ISO 800, 50mm, T1.3, 1/4 BPM filter, 1.85:1

May 22, 2011   No Comments

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 1

Click to enlarge image.

F3, ISO 800, 35mm, T8, 1/4 BPM filter, 1.85:1

May 21, 2011   No Comments

Update from the DP – Camera Test Specs

May Camera Tests:


Sony PMW F3

Arri Camera Accessories

Sachtler Support

Zeiss Superspeed Lenses

Panasonic LCD Monitors

Aja KiPro Mini Recorder

Tiffen Filters


Sony PMW EX3

Manfrotto Support

Aja KiPro Mini Recorder

Tiffen Filters



-Super 35mm CMOS sensor CineAlta 1920×1080 (HQ) @ 23.98

-Record onto CF Cards (Delkin UDMA6 32GB, 625x/91mbps)

-Into KiPro Mini external recorder 10-bit 4:2:2 Apple Pro Res HQ


– 1/2” 3CMOS Sensor CineAlta 1920×1080 (HQ) @ 23.98

-Record onto CF Cards (see above process)


Image comparison w/ F3 and EX3 from CF Cards

Image comparison w/ F3 from CF Cards and EX3 from SxS Cards

Filter Test


SONY to PL mount onto EX3 w/ prime lens for possible use as “memory shots”


Stay tuned for results…


May 19, 2011   4 Comments