December 4, 2015
By Rechelle Tangcangco
Sony FS7 cameras on the set of the Glow Girl TVC
Sydney, Australia – ACS committee and Steadicam Operators Association member, and hard-working DOP Franc Biffone recently made the decision to use the Sony FS7 camera to shoot the Frame Set Match Glow Girl TVC for UBK through Ogilvy.
Here Biffone explains why, “The first TVC I shot with the FS7 was for FSM – UBK by Kotex Sport – Glow Girl directed by Phil Meatchem. This was a night-time, handheld shoot with an Easyrig and the talent was wearing a body suit covered with 2000 LEDs.
“I chose the FS7 for its dynamic range, 4K recording and the fact that it’s a lightweight camera. Considering the shoot was at night, and on location with only security and street lighting and the light from Glow suit, I achieved surprising detail in the blacks and extreme highlights of the LEDs. I also used a Fujinon Cabrio T2.9, 14-35mm zoom so I could “crash-bump in” during the shot and readjust framing on the run.”
The surprising detail capture isn’t the only reason Biffone chose the FS7 though; he was also impressed by its versatility, quality and speed.
“The FS7 is quick to set up, which is a huge asset with a very limited time schedule on location,” he said. “I wanted to set up and shoot slo-mo quickly on the same set ups required from the storyboard without wasting any time, while gaining extra coverage and options. I tend to shoot most non-sync at 50 frames, especially when graphics need to be incorporated. The wide-dynamic range of the FS7 gave me the confidence to shoot without lighting the background locations, which saved time and the producer’s budget.”
Such was Biffone’s success with the FS7 that he’s made it his camera of choice adding, “This is currently the only camera I would consider buying to use for my clients’ productions, which cover a wide variety of TVCs, promos, dramas and online content. The technology is being updated and superseded every six months so equipment needs to earn its keep very quickly.”
Before making the switch to the FS7, Biffone really put the camera through its paces. Known as a hard-working perfectionist, he realised the camera had to perform if he was going to take it on board.
“We put the test shots through the post-production path to check colour rendition, compression and the final result,” said Biffone. “I was obviously very happy with the results. The rental hire costs make it an economical ‘bang for your buck’ camera for all my clients that have used it.”
In addition to the FSM TVC, Biffone has gone on to successfully use the FS7 on many other shoots, discovering its versatility is a big hit with his clients.
“I have used the FS7 on several promos and TVCs for Channel 7 and 7 Mate, and have suggested the FS7 for multiple projects currently in pre-production,” Biffone explained. “Clients also appreciate being able to choose a lens package that suits their budget and the look I create for each production. I’m currently quoting on docos here and overseas with the FS7, as it is the best camera in its range across all brands. I can carry it on-board airlines easily and the batteries are smaller than V Locks. It has a great viewfinder in the right place on the camera body too.
“The handgrips and accessories provided in my kit are comfortable and strong and I tend to use EF lenses on 50% of the shoots as they are economical and readily available,” Biffone continued. “I’ve also shot with the Sony lens, which is easy to work with and well suited to run ‘n’ gun doco-style shooting. Having a native ISO 2000 is a huge benefit of the FS7 and the built in ND filter wheel range to work exteriors adds to its versatility.”
For the FSM Glow Girl shoot Biffone used the 4K XAVCi 10-bit 422 codec with S-log2 for its huge colour range and the way it handled the contrast range between a glowing suit, available light and complete darkness.
He added, “I have also shot tests for large green screen work and the FS7 seems to handle this without any issues. I have shot phones and iPads with green screen apps and tracking markers, which worked perfectly even when everything – phone, car, camera and lighting – was moving. The camera is very versatile both in look and budget, with the range of adaptors available for lenses including E mount, EF, Alpha and PL mounts. 150pfs slo-mo is a great advantage with this camera and I love being able to offer my directors slo-mo and creative shots for their productions. S-log2 gamma and colour space is my preferred setting.”
All in all, Franc Biffone is clearly delighted with the FS7 and his decision to make it his camera of choice. He concluded, “The FS7’s edge is price, functionality and picture quality. Compared to other cameras, its use and ergonomics are easy, fast and light, with an ability to customise the camera settings for each production.
“The power efficiency and ergonomic design makes it well suited for use in the field. It’s also a very reliable unit and a great workhorse, better than many others. There are lots of accessories available and the XQD cards are quick to transfer and easy to use. The built in shoulder pad is a huge plus and all buttons and access seem to be in the right place, including audio inputs.
“It’s fair to say I’m very impressed with the images for a camera in this price range. There are other cameras that I also love using, but nothing else comes close for the cost.”