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Smallville Genesis


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#1 glen winter

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 05:45 PM

Sorry for the late notice, if you are interested check out the season premier of Smallville tonight, Thursday, at 8pm on the CW. Our first episode shot on the Genesis. Hope you enjoy it!

Glen Winter
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#2 Tom Lowe

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 01:17 PM

glen, what do you do on the show?

i'm a fan. :lol:
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#3 glen winter

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 04:59 PM

Hey Tom
great to hear your watch the show. I'm one of the alternating DPs.
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 05:38 PM

Hey Tom
great to hear your watch the show. I'm one of the alternating DPs.



Hey Glen, welcome aboard. It's great to have industry DPs as a source of inspiration for us starter-outers.

I've never been a big fan of the show, and we don't get the CW in HD here yet, but what'd you guys use before? Wasn't yours a 16mm show?

I've noticed that a lot of guys working on TV shows say they alternate DPs, maybe Mad Men being one exception I've been able to notice.

Why is this the case? I'd imagine, not that TV is particularly aesthetic-oriented anyway, that not being able to work on every show really limits your stylistic abilities, creative decision-making abilities, which is unfortunate.

Are TV shows in general restrictive on the stylistic powers of the cinematographer, or is this more the hallmark of the more mainstream genres?

What prompted the switch, budgetary considerations? Frankly I'm surprised that, with all the good newer cameras out there (not prosumer stuff, like RED), you'd switch to that platform. The Genesis is already old at 4 yrs.


And Tom, why are you a fan, because they are shooting with the Genesis now? :rolleyes:
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#5 Tom Lowe

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 08:22 PM

Why am I a fan??

Posted Image

;)

On a serious note, the photography on Smallville is outstanding. My favorite shot in recent memory was the snowy Kent funeral:



Superb work.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 12:34 PM

Frankly I'm surprised that, with all the good newer cameras out there (not prosumer stuff, like RED), you'd switch to that platform. The Genesis is already old at 4 yrs.


Newer maybe but not necessarily better. What really are the options for high-end digital cameras for narrative work? Really it comes down to: RED, Genesis, F23, Arri-D21, maybe Viper.

F23 and Viper are 2/3" CCD cameras like the F900, so you don't get 35mm depth of field characteristics and have to use B4 lenses.

Viper and Arri-D21 need external recorders so you usually have to rent an HDCAM-SR deck and cable to it, or a data recorder. But the Arri-D21 has a 35mm sensor at least.

So if you want 35mm depth of field and regular 35mm cine lenses, it sort of comes down to the Genesis, RED, and Arri-D21. And as I said, you need to cable to a deck for the Arri-D21. Plus it is slower in sensitivity than the Genesis. In fact, in tungsten light, the Genesis is really around 500 ASA, whereas the Arri-D21 is more like a 250 to 320 ASA, as is the RED. And the RED is noisier in tungsten than the Genesis.

So if you only want onboard recording (attached hard drives in the case of the RED) it comes down to the RED, Genesis, and F23. But in the case of the F23, again, you're working with 2/3" CCD's and B4 lenses.

So maybe it comes down to the RED versus the Genesis.

Now what you have (ignoring costs) is one camera recording RAW data and another recording HD to videotape. In a TV post environment, the HDCAM-SR tape workflow is a lot more commonplace than RAW data back-ups and conversions. Though if you want, you can run the RED footage through a Scratch workstation and get real-time conversions to HD for recording to HDCAM-SR tapes.

Anyway, on the current TV series I am shooting, though the producer was amenable to the notion of using RED, the TV industry at large and the studios and post houses are still on the fence and wary about it, so it's hard to make that a battle worth fighting, especially since the Genesis creates such a nice image. But the Genesis is quite expensive to rent, even more than an F23, so that's an issue.

I think when the F35 comes out, you'll see more and more high-end television using that as well as the Genesis. And maybe they'll get comfortable with the RED and the RAW workflow.
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#7 Tom Lowe

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 02:36 PM

I haven't been following the D-21 in detail. Are they going to offer some kind of RAW compression with a hard-disk or solid-state drives at some point? Are you saying, essentially, that the D-21 needs to be tethered at all times to a deck or RAID array?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 05:31 PM

I haven't been following the D-21 in detail. Are they going to offer some kind of RAW compression with a hard-disk or solid-state drives at some point? Are you saying, essentially, that the D-21 needs to be tethered at all times to a deck or RAID array?


You can also put a solid state flash memory drive (more or less the Venom used on the Viper sometimes) on top. See:
http://www.thomsongr.../cameras/venom/

I think it holds ten, fifteen minutes or so of uncompressed HD. But the high expense of these specialty solid state drives (there is one for the Genesis / F23 as well if you want to take the SRW1 deck off, called the Panavision SSR) means that most productions are not going to rent or buy dozens of them for a day of shooting, they get one or two for the occasional handheld or Steadicam shot and them download them into the main recorder for the production (either HD, usually to an HDCAM-SR SRW1 deck, or uncompressed 2.8K RAW data to a recorder like Codex, a new feature more or less.)

So most of the time, yes, you cable to an HD deck or data recorder, just as with the Viper. There is no internal compression scheme applied to the 2.8K RAW data. In theory, you could compress it after it leaves the RAW port of the camera, before recording, maybe using Cineform?

I hear rumors of the next-generation ARRI digital cine camera being developed, I think it's called the D50 right now. Looking forward to that...
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#9 Michael Most

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 07:07 PM

Glen,

Interesting that you switched to HD capture this season. Was that by choice, by network request, or budget related?

Just an observation: With Smallville going to the Genesis, by what I can see the only remaining film shows on the CW network this season are One Tree Hill (shot on S16mm) and Supernatural (which I assume is still on 35mm - correct me if I'm wrong on that, it's in your backyard..). All other programs are captured on HD video cameras, including 90210, Reaper, Privileged, Gossip Girl, and all of the reality shows.
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#10 glen winter

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 02:29 PM

Karl to answer your questions re alternating. Not all shows have alternating DPs but it is becoming more common. Our show started alternating back in the first season when the complexity and workload of the episodes prompted the switch from one DP to two. Yes this means that you are sharing your creative "vision" with someone else but there are many great advantages to alternating.It is really all about prep. When you are shooting a series with a single DP meetings with the director are jammed into lunch breaks or between shots. Often you would not even go on a location survey and send your gaffer and key grip and work from maps and photos. We have very elaborate stunt and effects sequences that need to be organized, CG elements need to be discussed and we usually story board all major CG or action sequences. Having 2 DPs definitely costs the show more but pays off in efficiency on the set. Luckily our producers recognize that.

We also have a full 2nd unit for every episode that shoots 2 of the 10 days, it over laps with main unit allowing us to cram 22 episodes in 9 months. We would not be able to shoot our own 2nd units if there was only one of us.

As far as TV being "restrictive" I would say that you certainly need to be respectful of the palate of the show your are on, providing the look has been agreed upon by all. However this should not be considered confining. I have been given the complete freedom on this show by the producers to mix it up and go for it when the situation calls for it. In fact they really encourage as much of the style to be created in camera as opposed to manipulating the look in post.

Micheal to answer your question the switch was financially driven. In fact coming up to this season, our budget had been reduced and the producers were nervous about my reaction when they proposed going HD. They thought I would want to leave after shooting on 35mm for several seasons. Quite the opposite, I saw it as a fantastic opportunity, and went to work with Panavision as to how to make the Genesis happen. I think Warner Brothers had assumed that we would end up using 900s or F23s but I went for the top. I knew we needed smoothest transition possible and there was really never any other choice in my book. With the Genesis we could continue to use our beloved Primo zooms that we shoot 90% of the show on, while retaining 35mm depth of field. I was also excited by the prospect of shooting in Panalog and applying LUTS on set, a work flow that actually gives me MORE control than we had shooting film.

It has not been without its compromises. To afford the much more expensive Genesis bodies we have had to go from 7 full time camera bodies (between main and 2nd unit) down to 3 in total. When we need an extra body for a stunt its cheaper to rent an arri3 or 435, and roll some film. It cuts well. Thats even with Panavision giving us a really fair deal on the gear. They have been amazing with all of this. They really willed it to happen.

I have to say I am having a blast. It looks fantastic and I just came back from timing the season opener in LA and it grades like butter. My colorist was thrilled. We apply our luts for viewing on set and record un baked in. They then apply the LUTS to the down converted digibeta edit master for dailies. I find that I am having to overcompensate a little in crushing the blacks and adding saturation to keep some snap in the standard def dailies. I have a modified 5218 LUT that I have created for this. The camera eats diffusion alive and I have been really enjoying mixing and matching various layers of pro mist and classic softs. Each episode our DIT will send full res HD stills down for each scene so they can be referenced for the final grade as the uprezzed digibeta footage has proved to be not particularly useful for reference. Our DIT also records all footage simultaneously on his hard drive at full rez so we have a back up if needed and we can reference anything at any time which has proven to be really useful on 2nd units and inserts. Its all right there.

So far so good, I love this camera!! (and this workflow)
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#11 Tom Lowe

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 08:34 PM

Hey Glen, who shoots those warmly lit Kent Farm exterior cutaways? My hat is off to that person!

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#12 glen winter

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 10:56 PM

Hey Tom
that was me, waaay back on one of my first days on the show....
You can thank mother nature for the lighting!
Thanks
G
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#13 Tom Lowe

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 12:07 AM

cool! i tip my hat to you, glen.

so they have been using the same exteriors all these years? :lol:
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#14 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 03:44 PM

so they have been using the same exteriors all these years? :lol:


Heck, the old 'Superman' was using the same shot of George Reeves leaping out the window for years.

& jerry seinfeld's apartment too. 'Course that was a different show.
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