ARRI Alexa 3.2K ProRes for UHD

ARRI will offer no codec before its time. That time is when the image and color scientists on Tuerkenstrasse declare picture perfection. In an upgrade announcement reminiscent of the famous Orson Welles line (“we will serve no wine before its time”), ARRI Alexa cameras will soon be able to record 3.2K ProRes for seamless up-rez to UHD/4K in post.

FDTimes readers recently sent a salvo of emails asking why Amira could do it and why not Alexa?

ProRes 3.2K for Alexa cameras will be available in a software update (presumably SUP 11) scheduled early next year. ProRes 3.2K allows a similar up-sampling in post to UHD as Arriraw Open Gate does to 4K.

For TV productions working in UHD,  Alexa XT cameras and Classic cameras with an XR Module will be able to record ProRes 3.2K. The data rates will be well below uncompressed Arriraw (ProRes 4444 3.2K is expected to be around 700 Mbit/s, which is 1/3 of Arriraw Open Gate’s 2.17 Gbit/s).

The ARRI Amira upgrade announced last week offers ProRes UHD recording in-camera and in real time to CFast 2.0 cards up to 60 fps. This  in-camera up-rez is possible because Amira has a powerful processor. Amira’s UHD uses the same 1.2x up-sample filter that Alexa’s Open Gate mode employs to up-rez in post for 4K distribution.

Alexa ProRes 3.2K is a 16:9 format. Image diagonal is 29.74 — so almost all 35mm cine lenses will cover. Where do the extra pixels come from? The Alexa HD image area is 2880 x 1620. The additional width comes from the 5% extra surround view area of the sensor, which is also used in Open Gate.

Numbers, Facts and Figures

  • Alexa ProRes 3.2K is 3168 x 1720
  • Amira UHD is 3200 x 1800
  • UHD is 3820 x 2160
  • Arriraw Open Gate is 3.4K
  • ProRes 3.2K for Alexa XR and XT cameras will be available in ProRes 422, 422 HQ, 4444 and 4444 XQ.

Official information on the ARRI website.

 

 

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FDTimes Issue 62-63

FDTimes-Issue62-63-cover1080Film and Digital Times double issue 62-63 will go online and in the mail on opening day of IBC–September 12th. Complimentary copies can be picked up in IBC Hall 11, Booth 11.F31 (home of Aaton-Digital, Transvideo, FDTimes) and at the many booths of our sponsors. We’re printing this IBC September 2014 Edition simultaneously in Los Angeles and in Amsterdam. See you there.

 

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ProRes UHD for AMIRA

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Kevin and David Couliau shooting a promo video with French Olympic boxing champion Brahim Asloum using PhotoCineRent AMIRA. Photos courtesy of PhotoCineRent

We got scooped by ARRI. I thought this information was embargoed until IBC–but there it is today on the ARRI website. Here’s what FDTimes learned on a very recent trip to Munich:

Documentarians dragging their feet on the way to the AMIRA store will doubtlessly hit the ARRI speed-dial button when they hear this. If their only hesitation, up to now, was caused by the ominous hyphenate “future-proof,” that anxiety is now assuaged.

Wildlife cinematographer Sophie Darlington recently wrote, “I think many wildlife production companies will be waiting for a 4K version to satisfy the pixel pickers.” Yes, Sophie, this upgrade may be for you and them.

A new software upgrade for ARRI’s documentary-style AMIRA camera will allow it to record ProRes UHD files offering future-proof headache relief.

Producers, studios and companies considering the longevity of their programs wanted assurance that they would be suitable for UHD transmission, viewing, streaming or downloading. The old mantra of “we’ll just do the re-make when the next standard rears its head” is no longer credible. (Remember how long it took stations and studios to move from standard 16mm to Super 16mm, long after every new camera in the world was already fitted with a S16 gate?)

For productions that need to generate UHD deliverables, AMIRA will  offer the ability to record all ProRes codecs in Ultra High Definition 3840 x 2160 resolution directly onto the in-camera CFast 2.0 cards, at up to 60 fps. This feature, available for purchase through a software license (and a sensor calibration for existing AMIRA cameras), comes in response to feedback from AMIRA customers, some of whom have been grilled about UHD/4K deliverables by clients. It is made possible by the camera’s image quality, processing power and reprogrammable system architecture (FPGA).

(Note that this up-rez can be done in-camera because the AMIRA has a powerful processor. You can still up-rez in post, as you can with ALEXA.)

Whether a production is pursuing UHD production from lens to living room, from deal to distribution, or simply want to archive in UHD for future-proofability and potential future profit, AMIRA will have an  upgrade that requires no additional -postproduction.

For major feature films, an up-sample to 4K can be carried out after visual effects and other postproduction tasks have been completed at 2K resolution. For certain fast-paced AMIRA productions, however, there may not be the time or resources for such processes in post, which is why 4K or UHD directly in-camera has been requested.

AMIRA’s UHD uses the same 1.2x up-sample filter that ALEXA’s Open Gate mode employs to up-rez for 4K distribution. In the AMIRA, this up-sample to UHD happens in- camera, and in real time, as just mentioned.

Outputting UHD broadens the distribution options. The 14+ stop dynamic range remains unaltered, as does the colorimetry, contrast, style and look. By making the sensor’s image data compatible with higher spatial resolution formats, the UHD upgrade addresses concerns about a 4K future.

Markus Dürr, ARRI AMIRA Product Manager, said, “Feedback on AMIRA from all over the world has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is clear that the camera is already a great success, as it is being used on an amazing variety of challenging productions. Already acclaimed for its phenomenal image quality, ease of use and versatility, the new ProRes UHD output will take these benefits even further, adding value for customers in areas like China, where 4K is a major focus of industry attention.”

ARRI will be at IBC: booth 11.F21  and at Cinec: booth 3-C01

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Jeffrey Reyes joins ZGC Inc.

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Jeffrey A. Reyes has joined ZGC as Director of Sales for the Americas—North and South. (ZGC distributes Cooke lenses in the Americas.)

Jeffrey  worked in sales, customer service, and independent film production. He recently worked for 6 years at ARRI as Director of Sales for Latin America handling camera, lighting, accessories and lenses.

Jeffrey will live in LA, on airplanes and hotel rooms.

The rest of the Cooke team continues as always: Thomas Greiser is Director of Sales, Europe, Australasia, and Africa. Geoffrey Chappell is Director of Sales, Asia and Middle-East. Juergen Schwinzer handles special projects.

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Denz Anamorphic Viewfinder

OIC-35-A_V2fdt

 

Here’s an anamorphic update on the venerable DENZ optical viewfinder.

The OIC 35-A from Munich-based Denz is can switch back and forth between spherical and anamorphic viewing. The ground glass holder has been adapted from the OIC 35 and allows use of all previous Arriflex 435 ground glasses.

The new OIC 35-A Anamorphic/Spherical Viewfinder has an adjustable eye-piece (+/-3 diopter), removable eyecup, and comes in PL or Panavision mounts.

Contacts: Präzisionsentwicklung DENZ Fertigungs GmbH, Otto-Hahn-Str. 12-14, D-85521 Ottobrunn/München, Tel.: +49 (89) 62 98 66 0

www.denz-deniz.com

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50 Years Ago Today: Ranger 7

Ranger

50 years ago, on July 31, 1964, Ranger 7 took the first pictures at close range of the Moon. These pictures were made with Angenieux 25mm f: 0.95 M1 lenses.

The Ranger program was a series of nine unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s, between 1961 and 1965, whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon: large-scale topographic information needed for the Surveyor and Apollo projects. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, transmitting those images to Earth until the spacecraft were destroyed upon impact. A series of mishaps, however, led to the failure of the first six flights.

Ranger 7 was the first US space probe to successfully transmit close images of the lunar surface back to Earth. It was also the first completely successful flight of the Ranger program. Launched on July 28, 1964, Ranger 7 was designed to achieve a lunar impact trajectory and to transmit high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface during the final minutes of flight up to impact. Ranger 7 reached the Moon on July 31, 1964.

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Angenieux 25 mm M1 lens

Read the complete story from Angenieux about Ranger and Apollo missions using Angenieux lenses. Download the PDF here:  AngenieuxRanger-50Years-fdt

 

 

 

 

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Luc Besson’s “Lucy” Opens Today… Interview with Thierry Arbogast, AFC

ABS-38858 Thierry Arbogast

Thierry Arbogast, AFC

Thierry Arbogast, AFC is an award–winning French cinematographer. He was born in France in 1957. His work with director Luc Besson began in 1989 with “La Femme Nikita.” Their most recent collaboration, “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson, opens July 25, 2014. Among many awards, Thierry won the Vulcan Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for “The Fifth Element” in 1997, the César Award for Best Cinematography in 1998 for “The Fifth Element,” and the César again for Best Cinematography in 2004 for “Bon Voyage.” Thierry’s other credits include “Léon: The Professional” (1994), “Asterix at the Olympic Games” (2008), “The Lady” (2011), “Malavita (The Family)” (2013), and about 70 more films.

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Writer-Director-Camera Operator! Luc Besson on “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson, with Sony F65. Photos in this article by Jessica Forde. ⓒ Universal Pictures

“Lucy” was directed by Luc Besson. He was born in Paris in 1959. His parents were Club Med scuba instructors. His first big success was “The Big Blue” (1988) about free diving, followed by “La Femme Nikita” in 1990. He won a César for Best Director on “The Fifth Element” as well as many other awards. He founded EuropaCorp in 2000, built the Cité du Cinema stages and post facilities in Saint-Denis in the film district of Paris, and worked on more than 50 films as writer, director and producer.

Luc Besson’s films are renowned for their highly visual style, edge-of-the-seat action, quirky characters, and delicious dialog (Léon: And stop saying “okay” all the time. Okay? Mathilda: Okay. Léon: Good.)

Besson writes and is involved in every aspect of his films. He operates the camera himself. His prodigious handheld camera work and great gliding moves deserve recognition by the Society of Camera Operators. He has always favored the latest, most innovative technologies. He also seems to be daring in his choices of cameras, no matter the size or weight—as long as it fulfilled the high technical bar he required. At a time when most people shunned the Arriflex 535—Bill Bennett, Gary Thiltges, Jim Jannard and I were lonely members of the original unofficial 535 owners’ association—there was Luc Besson in many production stills, shown fearlessly handholding the 535 on “The Fifth Element.” For “Lucy,” he purchased two Sony F65s at a time when few people in Europe were using those cameras. Colleagues noticed and the camera gained acceptance.

Behind the scenes video from IMDB (4:38 min)

Jon Fauer, ASC spoke with Thierry Arbogast a few days ago. Thanks to Julien Bachelier, DIT, for additional editing on this interview.

JON FAUER: What cameras were you using on “Lucy?”

THIERRY ARBOGAST: We shot most of the film with two F65 cameras. We chose them after doing many tests with all the major brands. After screening the results in a theater, our favorite camera for the look of this film was the F65—especially for its color space.

Did you shoot it in 4K?

Yes, of course, we shot in 4K. I think there will be selected screenings in 4K. But probably 90% of the film release will be projected in 2K.

Where did you rent the equipment from?

The camera equipment came from the rental house Next Shot.

I visited there last year—in la Cité du Cinema, Paris.

They bought two F65 cameras for the movie because they didn’t have any when we chose the F65 for the film. So Next Shot bought two Sony F65s for the movie and also an ARRI/FUJINON Alura 18-80 mm zoom.

Tell me about the lenses that you used on the show.

We shot with the Cooke S4/i primes. The Cooke S4 is my favorite prime lens. We had the complete set (12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, 27, 32, 35, 40, 50, 65, 75, 100, 135, 150, 180 mm). And we had two zooms. The 18-80 ARRI/Fujinon and an Angenieux Optimo 24-290. I like this Optimo zoom; I think it is one of the best. The 18-80 is a very good zoom for Luc because he likes to operate the camera with a short lens but he sometimes wants to zoom during the shot. The 24-290 was for long lens shots, but we didn’t use it that much. Just sometimes.

Since you had two F65 cameras, were you shooting both at the same time?

No, we never used them simultaneously. We had two cameras because Luc likes to have the second camera ready to go any time. The main camera, operated by Luc, usually had the 18-80 zoom. But the second camera was always on the side ready to go with a Cooke S4. For example, we might be shooting with the “A” camera and then Luc would ask for a Steadicam shot. But, of course, he’d supervise the Steadicam shot.

Isn’t the F65 heavy for Steadicam?

Not really. The F65 looks a little bigger than other cameras—especially bigger than the RED, which is very small. But if we compare weights, the F65 is not very heavy. (11 lb / 5 kg.) The Sony’s body is made of something lightweight (magnesium). It looks big, but it’s completely lightweight. Unfortunately, the F65 looks like a cheap camera. If we compared the styling of the F65 to other cameras, the others look much better.

But in our tests, we and our colorists found that the images on the F65 had the best picture, the best color space for this film.

What was the look or the style for this film?

We spoke about the style of the movie during pre-production. Luc told me he wanted something like “Inception.” He told me he wanted something close to that look and we decided with the assistance of some reference photos with the art department. Especially in Taipei, the look was very colorful, very shiny.

Did you soften the image with filters or shoot clean?

Just clean. Luc always works with a clean picture. Always. No diffusion, no filters.

So you and he are not afraid of 4K for faces? Unlike some of our other colleagues who seem to be concerned about that?

No, we always try to find something sharp, with high definition, and we are not afraid of 4K.

I love anamorphic lenses, but Luc has not wanted to work with anamorphic lenses for quite some time. When we did “Fifth Element,” Digital Domain asked for it to be shot in spherical, Super 35mm. Since then, Luc has worked with spherical lenses. He came back to anamorphic lenses only for “Malavita” (“The Family”) with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. The French title “Malavita” comes from the name of the dog in the story. It was a very famous book and this was an adaptation. It made a lot of money. Luc asked me what I thought for lenses on his last 35mm film. He was thinking it would probably be the last movie that he was going to make using motion picture film. He asked me if I agreed to shoot in anamorphic. And I said, “Wonderful, I love anamorphic lenses.” We used the Panavision anamorphic G-Series lenses, Primo Close Focus, and some anamorphic zooms.

But for this movie, “Lucy,” he told me he preferred to shoot in spherical because it’s would be easier with effects, and also there would be a lot of close focus. It was Luc’s choice. Also with the F65, it would be bad to shoot in anamorphic because the sensor is not tall enough.

Because it’s 16×9 and the sensor height is less than 18mm?

Yes, it will crop. So we tested spherical lenses with the F65. We liked the Cooke S4 set. They are very good lenses, very sharp, very beautiful. But they are not too “crispy,” you know? I think it’s good for digital to be not too sharp…not too hard or harsh.

Where did you get the S4 Cookes? From EMIT?

Next Shot already had many S4s primes. But I wanted a complete set, so they just bought the rest.

You shot the entire film with F65 cameras?

Yes, most of it.

What is “Lucy” about?

It’s a story about a woman. You can get some information about the story from the Internet. But I can’t speak about the story because it’s opening soon.

I’m reading online: “A woman accidentally caught in a dark deal turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.” So it’s science fiction and action, right?

Yes, exactly. Some parts are science fiction. But it’s not complicated science fiction. It’s a story in the reality of the city. It’s a normal movie, but there are some parts that are a little futuristic.

Getting back to the style. Your lead actress is Scarlett Johansson, a beautiful woman.

She’s a beautiful woman. We used ring lights on the camera all the time. Because I wanted to have very good highlights in the eyes. I wanted her to be as beautiful as possible. I used the ring light a lot of times, with a dimmer. The dimmer was controlled wirelessly. When the camera moved, I could dial the brightness of the ring light up and down.

Is it wireless? Do you do it by remote control?

Yes, exactly. For example, if I do a travelling shot with Scarlett, and if at some point we go in front of a mirror or glass, I can go down or turn if off if there is a reflection of the ring light in the glass. Also, if the actress comes close to the lens, I can go down or I can go up if she goes a little further away.

This is on the zoom lens?

The ring light was attached to the zoom lens. And also on the Steadicam with the Cooke S4 lens.

Really? You had a ring light on the Steadicam?

Exactly, but we built a special ring light for the Steadicam. The ring light was in daylight, but we had some filters that we put in front to go warmer and to go to tungsten. I asked my gaffer to make one with different LEDs. Warm and tungsten and daylight. But it was not possible to do it so quickly. So we only had one in daylight and we used gels to warm it. But next time if I have to do a movie with a ring light again, I’m going to try to build one with two different LED colors: tungsten and daylight so we can mix them together and chose the perfect color that we want.

Let’s talk about the lighting in general.

On this movie we used all the latest technology in lighting, LED, and so on. In Taipei, I used some ARRI LED units that can go red, yellow, blue, every color. You can turn the button and it goes to any color you want. I used that for the Taipei shots with Scarlett in a taxi. When we had a close-up of her at night in the taxi, or in the street, there were a lot of different color signs outside. Taipei has many huge color signs everywhere in the street. So we put some LEDs near the lens and I changed the color to red, blue, green. It was very nice.

We also used these lights in the nightclub scene. It’s a flashback. The look of the movie is quite colorful.

What key lights did you use for your big setups?

I used big 18K lights in the stage. We had a lot of sets on stage and I recreated daylight for the hotel scene. We had a lot of scenes in the big hotel and we created a lot of daylight—big sources of light from outside. We used a lot of blue screen also. Actually, the majority of the movie was shot on the stage. After shooting the real locations, we matched them on the stage. In Taipei, we shot in some real locations—including some bad restaurants and some crappy locations—but they are very beautiful in the movie.

With all of those different locations, did you use the built-in ND filters inside the F65?

On stage, not so much. There, I adjusted the ISO sensitivity of the camera. But outside, of course, when we shot in real daylight with the sun, we used the ND filters.

For exteriors, did you use HMI lights?

Not so much. We used a lot of natural light. We had a chase sequence in Paris that was very sunny, with very natural light. Afterwards, we matched it with the car and the actors on stage. So the big chase was in the real location, with the car moving; but inside the car, we matched everything on the stage with the actors because we didn’t want to have the actors doing this chase in the streets of Paris.

What lights did you use on the stage to match?

HMI to recreate daylight. We put a circular track around the car and used an HMI—probably 12K—to recreate the sun. This HMI sun was on the track so we could move it around the car to have the feeling that the car was turning.

Did you shoot in slow motion?

Not really. Luc didn’t use slow motion for this movie.

Where did you do post production and grading?

At the Digital Factory (www.digitalfactory.fr) in the Cité du Cinema. On Lustre. Luc always wants to do the grading in France. Since his very first movie, he has done the grading in France.

When you were shooting, did you have a DIT to set the looks?

Yes, I have a DIT on the set all the time to check the exposure and to be sure that there are no technical problems. And also I have a Data Manager to take care of the back end.

Do you operate the camera or one of the cameras?

Luc does the camera operating himself. Always. From the beginning, from his first movie, he was always behind the camera himself. Luc usually works with only one camera. If there are some action scenes, sometimes he uses the second camera for something very special, but not usually. If there is a second camera, I take it. But because we had the Steadicam 75% of the time, it was standing by, ready to go, already configured.

When you are not operating second camera, are you watching on a monitor?

Yes. We had a Sony OLED monitor that I liked very much for the whole movie.

I’m looking at IMDB. It says that you used an Alexa and an Epic for some shots?

Yes. For the car chase in Paris, as background plates. We needed to match the chase with the actors later in the studio. We shot the chase during the middle of August. Paris is completely empty during August. It’s the best time to do a chase. But the chase was supposed to be with the actors and the actress and they were not available at this time. Scarlett came to Taipei in September. So we filmed the chase elements without the actors. We mounted six RED cameras on a camera car: one in front, one behind, two on the sides, one tight, one wide. At every point, we needed to match the actors. We had this camera car do the chase along the rue du Rivoli in Paris. At the time, it was very difficult to find six F65s in Paris. It was easier to find six RED cameras in Paris. That’s the reason why we shot with the RED in 4K, which was very comfortable.

So the RED cameras were for the car chase and what was the Alexa for?

Alexa was also used from time to time because it was easier to find for occasional extra camera shots. I love the Alexa too. We also did some shots with the Canon 5D. We used the 5D for some very small, very quick shots. But when you have an action scene, quickly cut, it’s not a big deal to match everything together. There are some shots that are just two seconds long.

Since we may have people from Sony reading this, do you have any comments to them on what you liked about the camera, what you didn’t like, what you’d like them to improve for the next camera?

If I have some suggestions for the F65, it would be a bigger 4:3 sensor for the anamorphic lenses (18 x 24 mm). Not the 16:9 sensor. The bigger the sensor, the happier I am. At minimum, an anamorphic lens should cover it (without cropping).

On this show, what aspect ratio was it? 2.35:1?

Yes. We shot 2.35:1, spherical, Super 35mm. But for the next movie, if I want to use anamorphic lenses, I would be happy to have the quality of the F65 with a bigger sensor that captures the full 4:3 anamorphic squeezed frame (23.76 x 17.82 mm).

Why are so many people interested in anamorphic?

Because of the style of anamorphic, because of the depth of field anamorphic lens, and especially the quality. There are some old lenses that provide a very nice atmosphere and picture. We don’t always need to be so realistic and anamorphic offers something that may be a little more poetic in style. It’s my point of view but it’s the same for a lot of cinematographers.

A lot of us love anamorphic lenses, especially in digital because it blocks the digital style. I am very open. There are some movies I prefer to make in Super 35 with prime spherical lenses. But there are also some movies that I prefer to make in anamorphic. I choose ARRI Alexa for anamorphic because it’s the only camera that has a digital sensor that covers the full anamorphic lens. The new RED Dragon camera has a sensor that is bigger—it crops a little less – but it still crops. But the F65 crops too much when we use anamorphic lenses.

If you had a choice of shooting anamorphic 35mm, which lenses would you prefer?

At the moment, I am shooting a movie using a set of Panavision Primo close focus anamorphics. They are heavy, but I don’t care. Because the camera is on a dolly. The minimum focus is 2.5 feet. For the Steadicam or handheld camera I have 3 Kowa anamorphic lenses… not so bad. I have a 40, 50 and 75 mm. Good quality. So I match them with the Primos. It’s nice. I think it’s a good combination. And no zoom.

What camera are you using for this?

I’m using ARRI Alexa. Because of the 4:3 sensor. If Sony had the same sized sensor, I might use the F65.

How would you describe the color space of the F65?

I made tests—almost ten different shots, two shots outside, three shots in stage, two shots in the real location. We tested three different cameras and then we worked on the grading. First we graded the images to make the cameras’ picture as similar as possible in the DI. When we adjusted the three cameras almost all the same, Luc came to the screening and said that he liked the F65 best for the color and look of the film we were about to make. We tried to match everything. We tried to match the three cameras together to have the same look, but it was impossible to be the same, of course, because they are different cameras. Luc was referring to the green of the trees, the costumes, the skin tones of the models. For the look of “Lucy,” we felt the F65 was the best for the skin tones and for the colors of the film. I mean, it’s not a huge difference. You have to look a few times to be sure because it was very close when we tried to match in the DI. Also, the person doing the grading told me that with the F65 it’s very easy to find the natural color.

Was this the first digital film for Luc Besson?

Yes. It was the first digital film for him. The first one that he directed. But not the first one that he produced. On “Malavita,” we did some night shots with the Alexa. Because it was easier to catch the streetlights of the village. If we had done it in 35 mm, it would have been at 500 ISO. With Alexa, we could go to 1200 easily. And also we could open the shutter. I don’t mind opening the shutter to 360 degrees if there is not too much motion blur on the actors’ faces.

So whose idea was it to shoot “Lucy” in digital as opposed to film?

It was an evolution. A while ago I asked Luc if he wanted to shoot in digital and he said, “No, I want to shoot in 35mm.” But we did some tests back then with the F35 and the Panavision Genesis. Also at night, in the Place de la Concorde. I used the two cameras together, F35 and Genesis for a few shots. Because he didn’t want to use cherry pickers with HMI lights at night. He wanted to catch the natural light from the street lights in the Place de la Concorde. So we started in digital with Luc on this movie. On other movies, except “Malavita,” he asked me if it’s possible to use digital for night scenes. On “The Lady” we shot the whole movie in 35mm film. But with the evolution of digital, the quality of the cameras was getting better and better, and I said to Luc, “Now maybe it’s good to go digital.” For “Malavita,” he said, “No, I want to make ‘Malavita’ in 35mm. It’s probably the last movie that I’m going to do in film.” But for the next one, he said, “OK, I agree to shoot in digital.” When he saw the test, he approved the Sony F65. It’s nice because digital is getting technically better and better. I am not sure – but maybe Luc will go back to film for his next movie. It’s not impossible, you know? But for this movie, he agreed to shoot in digital.

It’s interesting that you chose the F65. I know a couple of rental houses in Paris bought F65s and they really couldn’t rent them for a while. And then all of the sudden you started using them and now everybody wants to shoot F65.

I know the F65 was not very popular a few years ago. The F65 came out 3 years ago, but this camera was not very popular until now. Two years ago, nobody wanted to use it. From the beginning, Sony said why not use the F65, make some tests, try it. Few people knew about it before.

I think also in the beginning people were afraid of 4K and maybe now it’s more accepted in France?

I don’t think so. The RED was already in 4K, you know? The RED was very popular. So I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason that the camera was not popular is it’s a little ugly. It looks a little cheap. And it’s a little too big. So people stayed away from a big camera. It’s a big camera. Much bigger than the others.

The film business is almost like the fashion business. If the camera’s not stylish, they’re not going to use it. It’s like fashion.

Yes, exactly. Not fashionable. Sony has to think about that. The Genesis was very ugly too.

Actually the Genesis, the Panaflex, and the F65 all kind of look the same?

The Alexa and the RED have the best designs at the moment for sure. The ARRI D-21 was not very pretty.

Do you use a light meter or how do you determine exposure?

No, no, I rarely use a light meter. Sometimes I use one during pre-light when I need to have a little reference of the level of the light. But on the set I don’t need it. Because we have the monitor. We know the exposure exactly: the blacks, the whites, if we are over or under, we know. Especially with the DIT, we speak about that. We don’t need light meters anymore with digital. I know there are some DPs who use light meters, but it’s a little funny. But sometimes it’s good to double check to be sure that the camera is doing well.

So physically on the set, you’re watching the same monitor as the DIT and then you say make it darker, lighter and so on?

Yes. I advise the DIT on the exposure because sometimes I want it to be much darker or sometimes I don’t care to be overexposed in some part of the picture. I might say, “No, no, you can go up in the picture” or “You can go down.” I love digital cameras now because you have the complete picture on the set. You don’t have to wait for the lab to process the film and screen the film dailies the next day. It’s very comfortable to have the picture on the set and to know is exactly where you go.

No more scary telephone calls in the middle of the night from the lab.

Exactly. I waited a long time for the digital cameras to have the quality they have now. In 1990, we saw the first digital cameras, but they were really still photography cameras. And I was thinking if there were some digital still photography cameras in 1990, probably in 10 years, we would have the similar digital technology in motion picture cameras. But it was not completely true. We waited a lot longer. I think the Genesis was probably the first good camera in digital. Before that, I didn’t really want to use a digital motion picture camera because I didn’t feel the quality was not good enough. So the first good quality camera in digital was the Genesis from my point of view. And when the Genesis appeared, I wanted to use it as soon as possible.

You didn’t like the F23, a 2/3 inch camera?

No. There were no digital cameras before the Genesis good enough for me. Of course, I am very happy to work in digital now, but I am not happy to work in digital if the digital is not the same quality as film. Because there is no reason to go so fast to digital if it is not as good as film. But I think with the Genesis, it was maybe not the same quality, but close enough.

And the F65 is definitely as good as film?

Maybe better. Especially now that we’re screening in 4K. The F65 has an 8K sensor.

How did you screen your dailies on “Lucy?”

I saw the picture on the set. I did the grading with the DIT. And after that we had an iPad with a reference of every scene. But on the set I saw every shot, every setup. After, I don’t care to see dailies. It’s not my thing to see dailies. The dailies are for the Director and for the Editors later on. But for me, I don’t need to see dailies. When we finish the day, for me, it’s completely finished. I don’t need to come back to the dailies. But I keep every picture on the iPad. It’s a still frame. Sometimes I want to be sure to have the same reference if I have to match something, so the iPad helps remember what picture we did.

Does Luc watch dailies on a big screen like a 4K projection or something?

Luc just wants to be sure that post-production is happy and there are no technical problems. He doesn’t need to see dailies on a big screen. Post-production makes a DVD or whatever that he sometimes uses to see the dailies for himself. Or he starts editing during shooting. I think sometimes during the weekends he goes to the editing room or to see some sequences or to see some dailies.

Have you seen the finished film yet?

Yes. I’ve seen the movie. But not the 4K screening yet. Luc asked me to come to a screening a few days ago, but I was not available because I am shooting the Jean-Paul Rappeneau movie (“Belles familles”) now.

How did you get started in film? Did you go to film school?

No, I never went to film school. When I was a child, I wanted to make movies and be a DP. When I was about 12, I had a Super 8mm camera and I would make films by myself. And at one point, when I was 17 years old, I began working with a DP as a First Assistant on some very small, cheap movies in 16mm. I worked my way up. After eight years as an assistant, I began working as a DP.

Are you also teaching film these days?

No, not really. I’m too busy working. I don’t have time to teach. But if La Femis asked me to come, I would go maybe one day. I taught one day at Luc’s school in the Cité du Cinema.

How was that?

Good, I was very happy to do that.

Is there anything else you would like to add about “Lucy?”

I think we made a very nice movie with Luc. I think the picture looks good in the trailer And I am sure it’s going to be a good film. I have a feeling that the movie is going to be a big success. It’s just my feeling.

Congratulations in advance. I think you’ll have a great success and you’ll be widely applauded.

Also, I just want to say that Luc’s films are always very beautiful. Because it’s Luc’s style. It’s something that we work on together. He helped me a lot to make this picture so good. It’s a collaboration. Luc has a very good style.

Your first film together was which one?

“Nikita.” In 1990. It’s a long time ago. And we have worked together ever since. I have shot all his films since “Nikita.” “The Professional,” “The Fifth Element…” I’m very happy to work with him all the time.

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Blackmagic Camera Updates

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Price Reduced

Blackmagic Design announced a discount for their  Pocket Cinema Camera, previously  US $995, now $495. Limited time: sale ends August 31, 2014, subject to limited availability. Price reverts back to original rate, or (pure speculation–is a new model coming for IBC?)

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a marvelous, little, point-and-shoot-sized video camera with a Super 16mm size 1080 HD sensor, with 13 stops of dynamic range, built in SD card recorder for Apple ProRes 422 HQ, 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW, and active Micro Four Thirds lens mount that accepts a multitude of MFT still lenses and mount adapters (including PL).

  • Standard connections including mini jack mic/line audio in, micro HDMI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay, headphone mini jack, LANC remote control and standard DC 12 power connection.
  • Built in LCD for camera settings via easy to use menus..
  • Supports 1080HD resolution capture in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 fps.
  • Compatible with DaVinci Resolve Lite color grading software.

Apple ProRes formats for all Blackmagic Design Cameras

Blackmagic Design also announced the immediate availability of Camera 1.8.2 software which adds three new Apple ProRes file formats for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. Camera 1.8.2 update is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website (support-Professional Cameras).

Blackmagic Design cameras recorded in both CinemaDNG RAW or compressed ProRes 422 HQ formats. This new software update adds three additional Apple ProRes file formats: ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT and ProRes 422 Proxy. This means significantly smaller video file sizes allowing much longer recording times on the same media card in 10-bit 4:2:2.

With ProRes 422 Proxy it is possible to record 230 minutes of 1080 HD video on a single 64GB SD drive. Selecting the type of ProRes format for recording can be set via the on screen menus and all ProRes types can be played back instantly.

All ProRes files recorded with Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K can be opened directly in DaVinci  Resolve 11 and Apple Final Cut Pro X for immediate color correction, editing and finishing.

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Criterion Collection on British Airways

British Airways began showing some Criterion Collection in-flight movies this month.

Criterion Collection has provided some of the highest quality DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming transfers of original films since 1984 – uncut and in the original aspect ratio. Hopefully they will be presented without the dreaded words “reformatted to fit this screen.”

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Passport Expirations and Travel Woes

With the IBC-Photokina-Cinec trifeca rapidly approaching, check your passport.

  • Does it expire in 6 months?
  • Do you have at least 2-4 blank pages for stamps/visas?

The tales of woe from many colleagues and the lack of clear guidance from the airlines means it’s wise to check. Many people we know were denied boarding when they checked in because the passport was due to expire within 6 months. Since the airline asks you to enter  passport data, including expiration date,  when you buy your ticket — it’s ridiculous that they don’t catch this in advance.

It gets worse. A prominent board member flew all the way to Europe (airline didn’t catch the expiration date upon boarding), but was held at EU immigration upon arrival. Luckily the US Consulate was open and he had connections. All the more ironic, since he was detained in the city of his birth.

The rules are online — but you have to check:

http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html

I never heard of the 2-4 page blank page rule before, but it’s there.

 

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Leica Cine Camera 1911

L1000151-Barnack-CineCamera1911Leica Camera. Wetzlar, Gemany. We’re back at Leica’s new headquarters, investigating a mystery. Last month several jaws dropped at the sight of a 1911 hand-cranked 35mm cine camera, built by Oskar Barnack, on display in the lobby. Why did this camera not go into production? Instead, another Barnack project, the Liliput 35mm still camera, was developed and became the legendary Leica. Experts are weighing in. The adventure continues…

 

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ARRI Alexa gets ProRes 4444 XQ

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ARRI Alexa now supports Apple’s new ProRes 4444 XQ codec. This is now the highest quality version of ProRes — with a 1:4.5 compression ratio and a data rate of around 500 Mbps.

(In comparison, ProRes 4444 had a compression of 1:6.8 and a data rate of 330 Mbps.)

Final Cut Pro version 10.1.2 handles ProRes 4444 XQ. Alexa XT and Classic cameras with the XR Module will be able to encode ProRes 4444 XQ with ARRI’s Software Update Packet SUP 10, which is scheduled for an open beta in July and a final release in August. Alexa XR/XT cameras will support ProRes 4444 XQ in both HD and 2K resolutions.

As Marc Shipman-Mueller explained, “the higher the data rate, the less compression, the better the image.” It’s as simple as that — however, there’s a lot more information:

See ARRI’s page on ProRes 4444 XQ.

Read Apple’s ProRes Report.

Here is a Q&A from Marc:

Q: What is the advantage of ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: ProRes 4444 XQ has a lower compression ratio (about 1:4.5) than ProRes 4444 (about 1:6.8). This means a higher data rate, which is great for doing extreme color grading in post. The fact that it is a 12 bit RGB codec (like ProRes 4444) also helps in preserving the superior tonal range of ALEXA’s Log C signal.

Q: Who will use ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: ProRes 4444 XQ is one more choice available, in addition to the other ProRes codecs, ARRIRAW and DNxHD. Customers can choose the recording format that best matches their post workflow, distribution format and budget. This flexibility has always been one of the great advantages of ALEXA cameras. While we expect ProRes 4444 to continue to be the most popular recording format for ALEXA shows, we think that a number of commercials and high end TV shows will want to use ProRes 4444 XQ.

Q: When will ProRes 4444 XQ be available for ALEXA?

A: ProRes 4444 XQ is a feature of the free-of-charge Software Update Packet SUP 10.0, which is scheduled for an open beta in July and a final release in August. We are currently deep in the testing phase of SUP 10, and depending on how testing goes the releases will be earlier or later in those months.

Q: Which ALEXA models will support ProRes 4444 XQ ?

A: ProRes 4444 XQ will work on all ALEXA XT cameras and all ALEXA Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade. The reason is that the XR/XT cameras have a much more powerful compression board than the ALEXA Classic cameras. The compression board of ALEXA Classic cameras cannot handle the higher data rate of ProRes 4444 XQ.

Q: Will ProRes 4444 XQ work with ProRes HD, 2K, 16:9 and 4:3?

A: Yes, all currently supported ProRes resolutions (ProRes HD and ProRes 2K) and all supported aspect ratios (ProRes HD 16:9, ProRes 2K 16:9 and ProRes 2K 4:3) can take advantage of ProRes 4444 XQ.

Q: What recording medium can I use to record ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: You can use SxS PRO cards, CFast 2.0 cards and XR Capture Drives.

Q: What is the maximum frame rate for ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: We are still in the fine tuning phase, but here are our preliminary findings: When recording ProRes 4444 XQ in HD/16:9 resolution onto an XR Capture Drive, you get a maximum of 75 fps. In ProRes 2K/16:9 resolution that will be 60 fps. The maximum frame rates for CFast 2.0 and SxS PRO cards will be lower. We are working on an overview table that shows all recording formats/recording media combinations with the resulting maximum fps.

Q: Which post software supports ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: Apple’s Final Cut Pro X 10.1.2 supports ProRes 4444 XQ for editing, compositing, rendering, and exporting. FCPX 10.1.2 is available now. We are sure, however, that others will follow soon and we will list all compatible tools on the ‘Working with ProRes’ web pages in the Workflow area of the ALEXA web pages.

Q: What is the data rate for ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: See table below. For comparison: ProRes 4444 HD/16:9 at 29.97 fps is about 330 Mbit/s, while ProRes 4444 XQ HD/16:9 at 29.97 fps is 495 Mbit/s. Thus the ProRes 4444 XQ data rate is 1.5x higher than the data rate of ProRes 4444.

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Q: Does this mean that I need more storage capacity when I shoot ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: Yes. Since ProRes 4444 XQ has about 1.5x the data rate of ProRes 4444, you will need about 1.5x the storage capacity. In exchange you get a higher quality image.

Q: Will AMIRA also support ProRes 4444 XQ?

A: That’s possible in the future, but at this stage ProRes 4444 XQ will only be available for ALEXA XT/XR cameras.

 

 

 

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Adam Wilt’s Cine Meter II

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Adam Wilt has done it again. His new Cine Meter II is an essential app for every cinematographer. I just downloaded it from the Apple App Store. Adam’s original Cine Meter app for iPhone and iOS was brilliant. This one is even better.

The new Cine Meter II app turns your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into a shutter-priority reflected light meter, an RGB waveform monitor, and a false-color picture monitor. Here are some of the new features:

  • Cinematographer-friendly controls let you set shutter angle, ND filter compensation, and arbitrary filter factors.
  • Use the front-facing camera for “lightmeter selfies” – aim the iPhone camera at yourself (not available on iPhone 3GS).
  • The spot meter zooms in up to 15x (requires iOS 7 or later on iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, iPad Air, iPad mini 2G, or later devices).
  • Add a Luxi photosphere for incident-light readings ($30 from ESDevices for iPhone 4/4S or 5/5S; support for other devices coming soon).

Cine Meter II doesn’t use WiFi or mobile data — it runs natively on your iDevice. This is good to know when you have to explain to your family why you absolutely must have the next, new iPhone 6, and why your perfectly fine iPhone 5s will not trickle down to them but will instead be pressed into service as a stand-alone Cine Meter II.

More details:

  • The light meter displays T stop in decimals (e.g. 3.2) or stops and fractions (4.0 ⅓). You can set shutter speed or shutter angle (11.25º to 360º) and add neutral density filter corrections and other exposure compensations.
  • The waveform monitor shows how light levels vary within and across a scene.
  • False-colors show shadows that may be under-exposed and highlights that may clip.

See the Cine Meter II webpage for more details. Cine Meter II works on any iDevice with a camera running iOS 5.1.1 or higher.

Cine Meter II costs $19.99 and is now available on the App Store.

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Nikon D810

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Nikon revealed the new D810 full-frame (FX) DSLR camera today. It has an OLPF-less  36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912) CMOS sensor. As photosite count increases,  dreaded moiré decreases, and there’s less need for an optical low-pass filter to “smudge” the image.

  • Sensor Size: 35.9 mm x 24 mm
  • ISO: 64 -12,800 (Lo to 32, Hi to 51,200)
  • Approx. Weight: 31.1 oz. (880 g) camera body only
  • Video: Full HD 1920 x 1080 at frame rates that include 60, 30, and 24p
  • Crop: FX and DX crop modes
  • HDMI output: Uncompressed digital video via HDMI to external recorder and monitor, with simultaneous video display on the rear LCD monitor.
  • Record to the internal card (compressed) and to an external recorder (uncompressed) simultaneously.
  • Smooth in-camera time-lapse and interval timer
  • Built-in stereo microphone
  • External microphone can be attached
  • Auto-ISO function available while recording to adjust exposure without having to change aperture in manual mode, ISO 200- 51,200
  • More than 80 Nikkor lenses are supported
  • “i” button for quick access to commonly used settings

The Nikon D810 will be available in late July for the suggested retail price of $3299.95

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Keslow Camera’s New Space

Keslow Camera has moved to a stunningly beautiful new building on Blackwelder Street in Culver City (off La Cienega, just south of I-10). The 35,000 square foot space looks like it jumped right out of the pages of a coffee-table book on architecture. The Bauhaus meets Southern California style was designed by architecture firm Abramson Teiger. With clean, efficient lines, custom space-light-like LED lighting, form-following function — it is a bright, clean, cheerful, efficient place that is a pleasure to work in and will delight camera crews coming to do check-outs.

CEO Robert Keslow said, “We finessed the layout to greatly improve the speed at which we can get the equipment into the hands of our clients. Our new location provides a state-of-the-art facility.”

Keslow Camera has been renting camera equipment since 1990. In additional to the new LA Headquarters, Keslow Camera also has offices in Chicago, Santa Fe, New Orleans, and Miami.

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Cine Gear Expo 2014

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Cine Gear Expo 2014 Slideshow

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photos by Evan Davies

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Fauer Face-Friendly 4K Filter Factory

The idea arrived with the first bottle of Kanzler 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Ahi tuna tempura sashimi at Chinois on Main yesterday. By the time the Shanghai Lobster with curry sauce came with a second bottle of Pinot, Howard Preston had the name: “Fauer Face-Friendly 4K Filter Factory.”

The company was born. Venture capitalists were salivating and circling.

Dr. Hubert Nasse, Senior Scientist of  ZEISS Camera Lenses once said that old lenses often look better in 4K digital than they ever did on old analog film projection. But now you can forget about painstakingly restoring those pesky vintage Kowa, Baltar, Todd-AO and Panchro primes. No need to sand-blast expensive coatings off perfectly good glass.

Instead, our face-friendly filters are perfect for your current inventory of  high quality lenses. Slide one of our ancient glass filters in your mattebox and you’ll hear a chorus of angels.

Fauer Face-Friendly 4K Filter Factory staff are currently scouring the earth and plundering ancient cathedrals in search of vintage glass to degrade and soften any lens.

Fauer Face-Friendly 4K Filters elevate your images to new heights. Using medieval cathedral glass from York Minster (11th century, above), Chartres, St. Ouen, Augsburg and elsewhere, shooting through our filters reveal more things in heaven and earth than ever dreamt of in any screenplay.

Seriously though — take a look at Tiffen’s 4K Diffusion Test Film. The Tiffen GlimmerGlass, Pearlescent, ProMist, Satin, Soft FX, Diffusion, and Smoque filters are definitely 4K Face Friendly and a lot more controllable than 11th century shards of glass.

 

 

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Camtec Lens Tests

Here’s an interesting test from Camtec with some of their popular modern and vintage spherical lenses. The tests were shot with an ARRI Alexa XT Plus in ProRes 4444 Log-C. Framegrabs were exported from FCP 7 as high-rez .PNG files. Note this is a test mostly of flare, contrast and hightlights—not a test of skin tones or how portraits are handled. The comments come from Kavon Elhami. Tests by Tim Jensen. Your mileage may vary, and that’s why there are so many different flavors of ice cream—and lenses.

Download 2-page PDF: 61FDTimesCamtec

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Issue 61 Now Online

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Film and Digital Times Issue 61, June 2014 Cine Gear Edition is now online. Subscribers can download the 16 MB PDF. iPad Edition goes lives Friday, May 30. Print Editions ship week of June 1.

Free copies of the 48-page print edition will be everywhere at Cine Gear Expo in LA on June 6-7, in the booths of our sponsors and in our booth #77. (We are next to Servicevision, and on the way to the In ‘N Out Burger Truck.)

Picture above is from the article “How to Desqueeze Anamorphic.”

 

 

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