SHOOTING ON THE FLY: THE RISE OF DSLRS

It’s the great shootout in Southeast Asia as more directors of photography turn to DSLR.

There has been a rise in the use of DSLRs in the filming industry. Despite memory capacity issues, the portability, affordability and professional quality of these digital cameras make them an obvious choice for short-film makers in Southeast Asia. Unlike video camcorders, professional stills cameras are full-frame (35mm) or cropped sensor, which are significantly bigger than the largest 2/3inch professional broadcast camera sensor. This results in a shallow depth of field, which allows you to focus on the subject, leaving the rest out of focus. This isolates the subject from the background and allows you to control where you want the audience’s attention. This is a common practice in the world of professional cinema, and is something a DSLR can do. A growing number of TV shows, short films and documentaries are being shot with DSLRs, such as the season six finale of House, which was shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The second season of Channel 5s Fighting Spiders was also shot with a Canon DSLR. The 13-episode drama was mostly filmed using the Canon EOS 7D, with only a few scenes shot using the LEGRIA HF S11. The EOS 7D is used to produce a cinematic effect while filming. Accompanying the two units of EOS 7D used for the shoot were a variety of Canon lenses ranging from macro to telescopic lenses, which provided the production house with the flexibility and creativity to achieve various effects, which ultimately contributed to the overall tone and feel of the series. For the action scenes in Fighting Spiders 2, the production team turned towards the Canon LEGRIA HF S11. With its superior lens quality and small compact design, the LEGRIA HF S11 is the perfect blend between performance and mobility. “Using a DSLR and a handheld camcorder not only provided us with the flexibility and mobility while filming, it also gave us an opportunity to try out different tricks and effects,” said Glenn Chan, director of photography and director of Fighting Spiders 2. At the Singapore screening of the 48 Hour Film Project, several participants shot their short films with the Canon 5D. In an earlier interview with Asia Image, Nicole Midori Woodford, who co-directed The Arrival (winner of the Audience Choice award), said shooting at a high ISO with the Canon 5D allowed them to use ambient light, practicals and indoor lightings. She added, We did not need extra lights that would weigh [us] down. Saturday Night Live director of photography Alex Buono used Canon’s new 5D and 7D cameras to shoot the tenth season’s title sequence and most of the season’s commercial parodies with Canon’s new 5D and 7D cameras. Most recently, Buono continued his experimentation with Canon DSLRs as the second unit director and director of photography for the new ABC drama series Detroit 187. At BroadcastAsia, Buono said the portability of Canon’s DSLRs enabled the crew to easily rig the cameras on top of a cab in New York for the iconic shots in the title sequence of Saturday Night Live. Part of Canon’s popularity in the DSLR market may have to do with its campaign to support filmmakers. “Canon is an ardent supporter of the local film industry, and we constantly seek partnerships with promising local filmmakers. Over the years, we have forged a close partnership with local filmmakers, especially those who are committed to showcasing Singapore’s talent to an international audience,” the company’s regional headquarters in Singapore told Asia Image. The company regularly loans out its equipment to independent filmmakers and supports the marketing of the films. Recently, it sponsored Steadfast, a short action film by Singapore filmmakers Linus Chen and David Liu. Canon’s sponsorship helped keep the film’s budget at S$10,000. As camera makers continue to address storage capacity issues, could DSLRs become the go-to camera for independent filmmakers in the region? ——————————– HI-DEF FIDELITY Despite 3D being all the rage, there is no shame in sticking to HD – especially a well-made HD camera. Asia Image takes a quick look at some of the latest HD cameras on the market.

ARRI ARRI’s ALEXA is a new compact, lightweight and affordable digital camera that utlises ultra-fast workflows and image quality akin to 35mm film. By combining proprietary ARRI technology with ubiquitous tools from industry-leading partners, ARRI are quoting the ALEXA as the most complete and powerful digital production system it has ever built. The ALEXA camera is unique in that it can simultaneously record Apple ProRes files, output uncompressed HD-SDI video and uncompressed ARRIRAW data. This output versatility makes it ideal for a myriad of productions and workflows from telenovelas to feature films. As one of only a handful of companies that have licensed the ProRes codec, ARRI has worked closely with Apple on creating camera electronics that can encode images with the ProRes codec and combine them with audio and metadata into QuickTime files in real time. The Apple ProRes codec family provides an unparalleled combination of multi-stream, real-time editing performance coupled with impressive image quality for 1920 x 1080 HD or 2K at reduced storage rates. The availability of such a high powered codec for ALEXA is a revolutionary step that offers a number of dramatic improvements for straight on-line as well as for off-line/on-line workflows, collectively known as “Direct to Edit” (DTE). ARRI is also shipping, in-camera, all the required hardware expansion for its brand new DTE (Direct-To-Edit) capability, which through the use of Apple’s ProRes 422 (HQ) and ProRes 4444 codecs allows high fidelity footage to be recorded onto Sony SxS PRO removable media cards, providing immediate availability of material into Final Cut Pro and AVID editing systems.
Sony Sony is adding to its line of professional high-definition tapeless memory camcorders with the launch of the HXR-MC1500. Capturing moments in both HD as well as SD formats, superb visual quality is certain with proven features such as Sony’s state-of-the-art proprietary G-Lens and Exmor R CMOS sensor (up to 4 million pixels). The superior extreme wide angle optical G-lens provides wide capture mode of up to 29.8mm at 12x Optical / 160x digital zoom. The HXR-MC1500 boasts a wide variety of functionalities to allow for hours of recording capacity to capture important moments, including the built-in 32 GB hard disk drive (HDD), supporting simultaneous recording of up to 175 minutes in FX mode. Utilising AVCHD format, it allows for highly efficient video compression that enables generous hours of high definition footage stored at good quality levels on a multitude of affordable consumer media including memory stick Pro Duo, SDXC and SD/SDHC cards. Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensors have the ability to produce brilliant videos even in low light conditions. The new camcorder adopts a back-illuminated technology that enables the image sensor to utilise incident light more efficiently, reducing the amount of noise by approximately half. This helps users achieve rich image quality and smoother movement even during shooting in low light situations. The HXR-MC1500 comes with Optical Steady Shot image stabilisation (Active Mode) with 3-Way Shake Cancelling feature to reduce the effects of hand shake in three directions – vertical and horizontal shake are corrected by optical image stabilization and the third, by way of electronic image stabilisation which corrects lateral-roll shake. This advanced stabilisation system results in brilliant, accurate and sharp video footage – even for fastmoving, on-the-go experiences. The HXR-MC1500 will be available in Asia Pacific from December 2010.
Panasonic At BIRTV in August Panasonic introduced the AJ-HPX3100, a new recorder in the P2 HD series solid-state memory card recording system. Incorporating a 2.2 megapixel 2/3 type CCD image sensor (3CCD) and the latest AVCIntra Codec for broadcasting (compatible with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), the new AJ-HPX3100 records high image quality HD video with full-pixel resolution using full sampling in P2 memory cards for professional use with a large capacity and reliability. It has a high sensitivity of F11 (2,000 lx) in 1080/59.94i mode or F12 (2000 lx) in 1080/50i mode and high image quality with S/N ratio of 59 dB*1. It also supports high-quality 24 bit audio recording (in AVC-Intra mode). The new AJ-HPX3100 is lighter (approximately 3.9kg or 8.6 lb without accessories) and consumes less power (approximately 34W*2) than the conventional 2/3 type 3CCD camera recorders. Its compact design featuring a low center of gravity ensures an unobstructed view of camera operators. The new recorder also includes wireless metadata input capability and a new video encoder board capable of proxy recording supported in a Final Cut Pro editing system by Apple in the United States and a nonlinear editing system by Sobey Digital Technology in China as options. These features realise further improved workflow. The AJ-HPX3100 rolls out in October.
JVC At IBC 2010 JVC’s new GY-HM790 camera was the flagship of the ProHD product line, offering new features for both studio and ENG applications, while implementing popular features from established ProHD models. In the studio, its modular design creates a cleaner integration for multi-core or fibrebased production. In the field, its three 1/3-inch CCDs allow a lighter, more compact form factor for better manoeuvrability. It produces 1920×1080 images and can record in 1080i, 720p, and even SD (576i) for operations that have not yet made the move to HD. The camera records to solid-state memory at 35 Mbps (HQ mode/variable bit rate) or 19 Mbps/25 Mbps (SP mode/constant bit rate). With broadcasters facing an expensive transition to digital television, and consumers wanting more high definition programming, JVC identified the need for affordable HD production equipment for local, regional and national network news. Since the inception of the ProHD product line, JVC has had a clear vision for ProHD and has remained true to its objectives. All three cameras in the ProHD range (the hand-held GY-HM100, the shoulder-mounted GY-HM700 and the new GY-HM790 studio/ENG camera) use industry standard long-GOP compression with a low bit rate, creating manageable data streams and file sizes. They record to inexpensive SDHC solid-state media cards, and customers love the convenience, reliability and low cost. The GY-HM100 and GY-HM700 have again been chosen by IBC TV News for filming this year’s event; the multi-media nature of IBC TV News means that a quick shoot-to-edit workflow is essential and was a key factor in their choice of camera.

——————————– NEW LENSES CARL ZEISS CP.2 100 MM/T2.1 CF Carl Zeiss has expanded its popular Compact Prime CP.2 lens series with two new focal lengths: the 50 mm with macro and 100 mm with closed focus function. These lenses have been specially developed for filming with HDSLR cameras and will be presented for the fi rst time at the IBC in Amsterdam (September 10-14). Product delivery is scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2010. Retail price starts at EUR 3.700 excl. VAT. The CP.2 100 mm/T2.1 CF is based on the Planar design and is the longest focal length in the Compact Prime CP.2 lens series so far. It extends the series by adding a very fast telephoto lens with a close-up focusing range of 0.7 meters. The CP.2 50mm/ T2.1 Makro is based on the Makro-Planar design and allows close-up shots to be taken with the object at a distance of just 24 centimeters from the front lens. This responds to the wishes of many filmmakers. All Compact Prime CP.2 lenses come with interchangeable mounts, guaranteeing maximum flexibility now and in the future, in every situation, and for various camera platforms. Thanks to the lenses’ aperture of T2.1, they are perfectly suited to filming in low-light situations. The macro lens, allows the capture of even the smallest details, such as an engraving inside a ring. By contrast, the telephoto lens can be used to draw attention to picture elements at a distance, such as the facial expression of a main character. Both lenses reduce reflections, thus contributing to the creation of contrast-rich, expressive shots. THALES ANGENIEUX 14 X 4.5 HD VIDEO WIDE ANGLE LENS Thales Angenieux has extended its line of HD Video Lenses with the introduction of a 14 x 4.5 HD Video Wide Angle Lens. The new 14 x 4.5 lens perfectly complements Angenieux’s high performance 19X ENG and 26X Telephoto HD Video Lenses as all three HD Video lenses in the line offer the longest zoom range in their respective categories. The new 14 x 4.5 HD Video Wide Angle Lens joins Angenieux’s 19 x 7.3 and 26 x 7.8 HD Video Lens offering. The new lens offers a focal range of 4.5 to 63mm (9 to 126mm with 2x extender) and an aperture of f/1.8 (4.5 to 41mm). The lightweight 14 x 4.5 HD Video Wide Angle Lens weighs just 4.6lbs and is available in semi servo and full servo versions, as well as with 16 bit digital connection for zoom and handle connection.



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