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Production

Capturing 4K in the Field

At the recent NAB Show 2012, 4K was unquestionably the hottest new thing, at least in terms of field production and acquisition in particular. Several camera makers, such as Canon, JVC, RED Digital and Sony, introduced new 4K cameras and refined versions of previously introduced 4K cameras. For the first time, a few of these 4K cameras were priced under $10K, which is far below the previous benchmarks. These cameras include the RED SCARLET X, Sony FS700 and JVC GY-HMQ10. And while the RED and Sony 4K cameras are priced at nearly $10K, JVC’s is barely half that price. The key underlying question is whether bringing the cost of 4K acquisition within the price range of a much larger cross-section of the production community will trigger a major shift to 4K acquisition across the board, despite the fact that there’s currently a very limited demand for 4K content, even for the cinema.

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Zooming in on the Perfect Lens 


There’s no question about it. Digital technology has dramatically altered the way cinematographers shoot, whether it’s a feature film, TV show, commercial or anything other project. And now that shooting on film is becoming more of an exception than the norm, I wanted to find out how digital technology can affect a DP’s choice of camera lens.


In addition to being the co-founder and president of the Digital Cinema Society, Cinematographer James Mathers has been shooting TV shows and independent films for over 25 years. Having done over 30 features and MOWs, Mathers specializes in shooting “film-style” digital projects and he’s very particular about camera lenses. “An image chain is only as good as its weakest link,” Mathers explains. “It doesn’t make sense to me for people to use lesser quality inexpensive lenses on digital cinema cameras.” The introduction of the RED EPIC camera with its 5K sensor presented a new challenge for Mathers and other DPs. “Because the EPIC’s sensor itself is physically larger than so many other cameras, none of the existing zoom lenses could adequately cover the larger sensor area,” he says. “They were all designed to cover a Super 35mm frame size.” Mathers and a number of other cinematographers lobbied Angenieux to create a new version of its Optimo lens specifically for cameras like the EPIC.

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3D Brings Scorsese Back to the Origins of Moviemaking

“Happy endings only happen in the movies,” says the melancholy shopkeeper Georges (Ben Kingsley) in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster film Hugo. This visually stunning 3D adventure honors Georges Méliès, the pioneer filmmaker behind the 1902 fantasy film A Trip to the Moon. Nominated for a total of 11 Academy Awards, Hugo won big by taking home Oscar gold in five categories: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.

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Innovative Camera Support

Some of the new smaller cameras available this year are wonderful, as they have large chips, balanced inputs and a wide variety of lenses. But the fact that they are small in size makes them difficult to hold, leaving little room to mount the necessary accessories. Additionally, these cameras don’t have servo zooms — so trying to zoom in/out or focus is usually a shaky process.

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Shooting Live Sports in 3D to 5D

pro_liveeventproduction_photo1_openingphotoAfter nearly two years of seeing sports televised live in 3D in the U.S., it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s only been five years since the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, which was the very first live 3D sports event. It was also the first sports event that was multi-cast in 2D as well as 3D. “We fed the left-eye signal to an auditorium in the Mandalay Bay Hotel where it was shown to a small audience via twin 4K projectors,” recalls Steve Hellmuth, the NBA broadcast operations and technology EVP who spearheaded this and other early NBA 3D efforts. “The quality of the uncompressed 3D signal was amazing.” NBA has long been broadcasting events in 3D, and ESPN 3D featured 17 live NBA games during the 2010–11 season. ESPN 3D now beams a diverse menu of 3D sports, ranging from boxing and basketball to the Winter X Games, into thousands of homes via DIRECTV.

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