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"BogBody" HdCam Feature Film


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#1 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 04:42 PM

I started my first feature film as DP about 4 weeks ago, when i got a call to replace another DP about 4 days before the first day of principal photography. Undaunted by a lack of prep i jumped on board. "BogBody" features Vinnie Jones, Jason Barry and Nora-Jane Noone, and is a comedy horror so i had plenty of creative scope.

The format had already been decided prior to my arrival. We shot in HdCam on Sony 750's (25P) using Canon E series Film style zooms. No budget for primes unfortunately. The film is spread over two days, day and night, and features several flashbacks so there was room for different looks within the main narrative. Most of the film was shot either handheld (i operated myself) or on long lenses, loose on the head.

I setup the camera in prep to a calibrated HD monitor, stored the settings on a memory stick, and kept them unchanged for the duration of the production, (apart from ocassionaly changing the shutter angle). In this way i was essentially shooting on one stock for the movie, albeit tungsten or daylight when i needed it.
I rated the camera at 640 asa and used my meters to prelight the sets. Then id just tweak the exposure based on the Astro monitor that i was using instead of the cameras eyepiece. With this method i found i could work with the camera as if it was a film camera. The director used an SD transmitter to view eveything on a small handheld monitor allowing him to stay close by the camera and actors at all times. Because of the tight schedule (17 days) i didnt want to waste time dragging around cumbersome HD monitors so they stayed on the truck, and i relied totally on my meters and astro. This system worked perfectly for me, for this job, and it turned out to be a very liberating way of working, and i was surprised at how well the camera handled some of the varying lighting scenarios.

The director had liked my previous work with colour and contrast so we worked with a lot of camera filtration and gels on the lights. I kept a classic soft 2 on the lens throughout the shoot; the day exteriors were shot with a combination of antique suede and sepia filters (with the camera at 6500K), night int/exteriors were shot with a mid blue grey or jade on the lens and Liberty green on the HMI's (camera at 3200K). I used a modest package of HMI's and Kinos but fell in love with the mini lite panels kit which worked as a superb eyelight as well as a fabulous key light for some of the low light scenes.

Production wrapped late last week, is due to be cut in LA over the next few weeks before coming back over here to complete the post. It may also get a blow up for cinema release.
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#2 Keith Mottram

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 10:32 AM

Stephen,

what will you be grading on, we've been using final touch to grade all the footage for the show i'm working on (also shot 25p on 750's). despite its slightly buggy nature (though not more than any other DI system really), i think it's an excellent grading system. did you decide to use so much filtration on camera as you were not sure of the post route and how much post is there?

keith
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#3 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 02:20 PM

Stephen,

what will you be grading on, we've been using final touch to grade all the footage for the show i'm working on (also shot 25p on 750's). despite its slightly buggy nature (though not more than any other DI system really), i think it's an excellent grading system. did you decide to use so much filtration on camera as you were not sure of the post route and how much post is there?

keith



Not sure what system ill be grading on yet - probably hd pogle in screenscene dublin as thats where most of the post is taking place - producers got an all in deal prior to me joining the job. The reason why i shot with so much camera & light filtration is because i didnt want to give them a flat image to work with. Id rather the editor and director have the images looking the way i intended them to be seen - im not a huge fan of heavy grading. There isnt much post needed which suits the projects small budget (half a million euro) but there is talk of getting a blow up for theatrical release so that will be interesting. A hd short i shot on 750's last year was blown up recently by a company called RPS in the uk so ill be viewing the resultant print of that next week and if it looks well ill try and take the feature there. Have you got a link for finaltouch's website?
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#4 Keith Mottram

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 11:06 AM

Not sure what system ill be grading on yet - probably hd pogle in screenscene dublin as thats where most of the post is taking place - producers got an all in deal prior to me joining the job. The reason why i shot with so much camera & light filtration is because i didnt want to give them a flat image to work with. Id rather the editor and director have the images looking the way i intended them to be seen - im not a huge fan of heavy grading. There isnt much post needed which suits the projects small budget (half a million euro) but there is talk of getting a blow up for theatrical release so that will be interesting. A hd short i shot on 750's last year was blown up recently by a company called RPS in the uk so ill be viewing the resultant print of that next week and if it looks well ill try and take the feature there. Have you got a link for finaltouch's website?


It's siliconcolor.com they also make a 2k version. funny thing is they were bought out by apple the other week so everythings a bit weird with them development wise (though they do still exist somewhere in apples cellers). i find it the to be the best system i've worked on, it seems to produce better results and has more toys than a baselight which costs about a hundred times as much. FT renders in floating point and has most of the tools you'd find in a lustre. but at the end of the day its down to the colourist. i have yet to use a pogle hd is it similar in the fact that you are working with pure data, like you would with scanned film? Agreed about the flat image issue, did you inherit any of the 'looks', due to your lack of prep, or were you given carte blanche. Loved the dramatic skys of the first shot. and recognise Jason from when i did Mirrormask...
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#5 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 11:57 AM

i have yet to use a pogle hd is it similar in the fact that you are working with pure data, like you would with scanned film? Agreed about the flat image issue, did you inherit any of the 'looks', due to your lack of prep, or were you given carte blanche. Loved the dramatic skys of the first shot. and recognise Jason from when i did Mirrormask...


Thanks Keith, regarding the pogle HD as far as i know yes but dont take that as gospel - only used it once on the aformentioned 750 short. If i do grade the movie on it ill find out for sure. That shot with the sky had 5 filters in there! An antique suede 3, sepia 1, classic soft 2, s/e nd grad 3, and a tobacco grad 1. i had carte blanche - didnt have to inheret anything from the previous dp, and took it in quite a different direction from what the director was expecting - both he and the producers were very happy with how it looked. Jason was a lovely guy and one of the best actors ive worked with for being camera aware; very good grasp of his craft and lovely to work with - spoke highly of his time on mirrormask.
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#6 Alex Lindblom

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:24 PM

Sounds very interesting, I am planing to use the Sony 750 for a shoot In January, could you please list some pros and cons with the camera, and how did you like the Canon lens?

Bye the way did you shot it in the UK or Ireland?
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#7 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 03:37 PM

Sounds very interesting, I am planing to use the Sony 750 for a shoot In January, could you please list some pros and cons with the camera, and how did you like the Canon lens?

Bye the way did you shot it in the UK or Ireland?


Hi alex,

This project was shot in Ireland.
I really enjoyed using the camera, but i was quite familair with it as i had used it several times over the course of the last two years as a camera/steadicam operator. This was only the second time i had used it as a DP. Ergonomically its nicer then the F900 even with an Astro in place of the viewfinder. We had a stellar package form the Production Depot in Wicklow who are the best camera rental company in Ireland (IMO); I used the Arri "Blue handle" handheld kit and my own Anita shoulder pad which kept it all very comfortable. The lenses performed very well; obviosuly id have prefered Digiprimes but the budget wouldnt stretch that far. The two zooms i had matched well, and we had no back focus problems. The only down side compared to the 900 is its smaller bit depth. If you search the archives there are a few other threads that compare the 750 and 900 in more detail. Hope this helps,
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#8 Alex Lindblom

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 04:39 PM

Thanks for that answer Stephen.

I have indeed read the previous 750 vs 900 topics. A little strange that they did not budget for the digiprimes though, oh well you seemed happy enough with the canon lenses.

You said that he movie was a largely hand held, roughly how many set ups did you manage each day?
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#9 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 05:29 PM

Some beautiful stills there, looking foward to seeing a trailer in the future.

In regards to the HD, what was your approach to it, try and keep it as 'filmic' as possible or go with the HD look and craft that into a specific look?

Either way you seem to describe the experience as being quite enjoyable, liberating even.
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#10 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 04:59 AM

Alex,
We averaged approx 22 set ups per day over a 17 day schedule, shooting 10 hours on camera.
Andy,
I tried not to make any concessions to the fact it was HD. In the film world i like blown out highlights and on a tight schedule like this i didnt have the time to pay extra care to not having my highlights blow out, so i shot and lit the picture as if i was shooting film. Because i was shooting with such a heavy diffusion filter the highlights all bloomed beautifully and there was only one scene where i was unhappy with how hot they got.
Obviously id have prefered to have been shooting film but the experience was such that if i am asked to shoot hd again id be happy to embrace it. When the movie gets finished ill put a few clips up on my website.
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