Film noir. This is a genre that I’ve wanted to dab into recently, so being “recruited” by April Pabon on the project was perfect timing. She made it a point to express the mood and tone needed for the project, so like any good cinematographer should, I had a bunch of notes to reference from. These became especially useful for the scout, which took place in a single location in East Harlem.
The second point to this fashion film was to finally put to the test Magic Lantern’s own 14bit RAW capture abilities for the Canon 50D. I was able to pick this baby up at Adorama for about 450-beans after playing around with the 60D’s RAW capabilities from Magic Lantern and I haven’t looked back since.
We waited until the evening to begin; total darkness with Magic Hour completely gone *cries*. Our lovely models were already prepared as well, being a first from dozens of experiences (FYI, talent tends to usually be late *gugh*). Gerrard Lobo is an actor that I’ve worked with on Pearl Naidoo’s shoots before, so he was total familiar territory. The wild card ended up being Ali Ferrandino, whom April recruited on her end. She was a critical decision for the Director, most likely based on her persona, confidence and of course, ya’ gotta’ look great in lingerie. Ali was just awesome on all levels. She was very confident, but not obnoxious and was willing to give just about anything a try (including changing into her look in the middle of the street. Don’t worry, we didn’t get many stalkers passing by). Ali and Gerrard had great chemistry on camera and I’m really looking forward to working on a collaboration between the two again.
Once again we pulled from some of the lovely jewelry designs from Pearl Naidoo, which accented the entire look beautifully. If you get a chance, please visit her site at http://www.pearlnaidoo.com. She’s an AWESOME South African designer with a lot of wind in her sails now. When you get there, tell her Kahl sent’cha’.
The biggest fun challenge for this shoot was playing with my new Digital Cinema camera in the 50D. I dressed ‘er up in a small action-cam cage, which allows me to move around quickly and capture the most odd of angles at a moment’s notice.
The first challenge at the time (mind you, this is from an OLD BUILD) was in the recording itself. Most of the time it began filming successfully and other times the software would crash. Fortunately ML is a card-based software, so this was easily remedied by removing and replacing the battery quickly. Much like the Red in its early days, this is in fact a Beta version (or is it Alpha phase, I’m unsure O_o), so there will be wrinkles in your shoot workflow from time to time. However, as of this writing, this issue, along with others, are being ironed out and happens much, MUCH less, if at all.
Keep in mind, you DO NEED a large card. RAW filming takes up a ton of space and quickly, so I would recommend a good 1000x 128GB CF card. Preferably 100MBps or more. Right now on the 50D, it uses up anywhere between 60-70MBps depending on the resolution and aspect ratio selected in the ML UI. So like with anything, speed kills!
RAW, actual RAW—hell, actual 14bit RAW is no joke and cannot be used for everything. I wouldn’t recommend it for documentary shooting (unless they’re for interviews), which would benefit from high quality video recording in large, large quantities.
However, when you DO have this opportunity, it’s very hard to go backwards. Speaking from experience as a hobbyist stills photographer, RAW gives you the most latitude, color depth and in this case, resolution than in shooting in any compressed format. So this makes the Magic Lantern RAW (known here on out as “ML RAW”) capture very similar to shooting on film (sans 2-3 stops of latitude, really).
In post, I extracted the frames using the raw2cdng program (I’m a Windows PC user), then imported them into Davinci Resolve Lite for a DNxHD 444 video export. After some time, the edit was done in Premiere CS6 and then colored in After Effects CS6.
This was an incredibly fun project, even with the single location as a backdrop to the story. We plan on filming part 2 to the story, if we quit being distracted by other work.
It’s always the personal projects that allow us to take the most risks and experiment. I mean, how else can we evolve as artists if we don’t choose to take risks in our work?