The Technology of Providence – The Camera

Our first week of filming is complete. I’ll be sharing all about days two and three, but today was spent cleaning and catching up from filming, working on the call sheets for this week, and going to the locations to determine where to put the camera and lights to get the look we want. So in the meantime, while you’re waiting for me to post my summary blogs, Fred has written a behind the scenes look at the technical aspect of our filming. camera

Technical things may not be of interest to everyone, but for those who are interested, here’s a rundown on the various technology we are using to turn Providence from words on a page to images on a screen.

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We are shooting Providence on the Sony FS7 camcorder. It’s one of the first cameras capable of shooting high frame rates (up to 180 frames per second) and 4K right in the camera (most cameras that can shoot 4K need an add on device hanging on the back to accomplish this). It has a great built in LCD with a magnifying eyepiece loupe that really helps in bright sun and enables critical focus. And it has an extendable grip for handheld use that puts all the controls at the operator’s fingertips. We aren’t shooting 4K because we need the resolution to show the movie in theaters. Nearly all films that are shot in 4K are down converted to 2K for theater projection (and I’m doing that on a daily basis to get the file sizes reasonable for editing on a two year old I-Mac) . We are shooting 4K because it enables us to re frame or zoom in on a scene, effectively improving the composition or turning a wide shot into a close up. When our PA is holding the iPad up with the scene numbers prior to shooting, even 30 feet away, later in post I can literally zoom in and read the numbers easily, thanks to 4K origination.

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The FS7 records sound excellently on 4 channels at 24 bits. However, this means nothing to us since we went “silent”. We, the crew and the cast are all relishing the joys of filming without worrying about sound. Lawn mowers and weed eaters crank up, motorcycles rumble b,y and we just keep on shooting. The actors can socialize in the next room without affecting the shot. We may never go back to “talkies” again!

Our lenses are a combination of current and past models. They include Nikkor 35mm and 50mm F 1.8, Sigma 19mm and 30mm F 2.8, Tokina 11-16 F 2.8, Rokinon 85mm T 1.7, and a 44mm Helios lens made in Russia that is known for it’s cool lens flares and “bokeh”.

We are using one other camera in the production, the Panasonic LX100, mounted on a gyroscopic “gimbal” stabilizer. The gimbal enables us to shoot glass smooth footage while walking or even running down steps. The LX100 looks like a point and shoot stills camera, but shoots 4K video that can rival much larger and more expensive cameras.

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