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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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Editing Action Footage

Editor Stephen Myers, ACE began his career as an assistant to Director Jonathan Demme and has been cutting feature films, documentaries and TV shows for over 25 years. With The River (starring Mel Gibson) as one of his first credits, Myers knows his way around action and suspense films, and his most recent feature, the mockumentary And They’re Off, involves the world of horse racing. Regardless of the genre, when Myers edits a project he works from the premise that each scene tells a small story with a beginning, middle and end. “Any action scene to me is about telling a story and about showing who has the upper hand at any moment and who ends up being the victor at the end of the scene,” explains Myers.

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Hunting Hot Tuna in the Wild with Old and New Cameras

Cinematographer Rick Rosenthal has been filming sea wildlife for several decades and has contributed unique underwater footage to many BBC megaseries, such as “The Blue Planet,” “Planet Earth” and “Life.” The DP has also shot three one-hour specials on great whales and recently directed “Nature: Superfish” for PBS and key international broadcasters. The winner of three cinematography Emmy Awards, Rosenthal is a marine biologist by trade and has been diving for 50 years while his pioneering film work in the open ocean has been seen by millions.

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The Diverse and Cinematic Midwest Region

From its varied locations and talented crews to the irrepressible enthusiasm and hospitality of its local communities, the Midwest Region is a joy for visiting film and television productions. After a year beset with challenges, the states of Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois are springing back into action. P3 Update gets the low-down on how this region is currently handling 2012.

INDIANA

Indiana’s incredible accessibility has been the state’s biggest selling point for filmmakers around the world. With a host of game parks, pristine lakes, sand dunes and cornfields, Indiana offers productions a variety of locale options and the ability to shoot in one of its picturesque cities with a farm setting just a half-hour away. Combine that with sincere Hoosier hospitality and the thrill and excitement of the Indy 500’s car-race extravaganza, and you have the makings for an enjoyable filming experience for everyone.

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Digital Technology Brings New Editing Possibilities

After nearly 20 years of cutting news footage for the Los Angeles independent station KCAL-TV, News Editor Tom Novak has pretty much seen it all, including the changes of the station’s ownership from Disney to Young Broadcasting to current owner CBS (which has maintained the station’s independent status). As one of five editors working on the multiple evening news broadcasts, Novak notes that two of the biggest changes involve the way raw footage is captured and the increasingly rapid turnaround time made possible by digital technology.

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U.S. Virgin Islands: A Filmmaker’s Paradise

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) has a long history serving as a film and television location hotspot. However, after experiencing a dip in production, there’s a movement by the USVI Department of Tourism, industry crafts people and local service providers to bring production levels up to what was seen in the ’90s, making the USVI, once again, a preferred filming destination. “The industry needs to come back to the USVI,” says Steve Bornn, development manager at the USVI Film Office. “We’re still here. We still have the same crews that they’re use to. Our experience is just deeper. A luxury we offer besides our convenience [is that] our [crews] work the entire Caribbean. We’re a good hub. Producers should start here because we offer a lot of knowledge.”

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Landing on Utah: A Film Destination That’s Out of This World

When Actor Taylor Kitsch agreed to be transported to Mars in this month’s epic sci-fi John Carter, there was no doubt that the production needed to be set in Utah. Directed by Andrew Stanton, the action/adventure/fantasy film explores the lush landscapes of a Martian civilization — and Utah’s stunning vistas suited the visionary production to a tee. Since the 1920s, Utah’s varied scenery has offered a wide range of options for filmmakers, serving more than 700 feature films and TV shows as well as an impressive lineup of commercials. And 2012 marks the second consecutive year in which a Utah film received an Academy Award Best Picture nomination, first with 127 Hours and now The Tree of Life, which shot in the Great Salt Lake, Bonneville Salt Flats and Goblin Valley State Park.

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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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