Guest Post: David Lawless, Producer, Director & Brand Storyteller EMC, talks about Digital Cinema Gear and field production.
August 28, 2012 Leave a comment
I am honoured to have David Lawless write a guest post for the blog.
David is an incredibly talented and creative individual who works as Producer, Director & Brand Storyteller for EMC Corporation. David previously worked in RTE where we got to know each other as we both grappled with the production technology and gear required for quality Large Chip / DSLR production. He is a powerhouse of knowledge, a rare hybrid who combines extensive technical know-how with an profound creative streak. He regularly tweets amazing photographs as he traverses the globe shooting for EMC you can catch him on twitter @davidlawless
After spending a few years directing and shooting content with the new wave of HD DSLRs I was excited by the launch of the NEX-FS100 and the serious advantages it offered over both DSLR and 2/3” chip ENG cameras and the like. So when I started working for EMC in their marketing department a NEX-FS100 was top of the shopping list and it did not disappoint.
We shot two projects in recent months, one in Djibouti, East Africa and the other in the Nevada and Utah deserts of America. On both the NEX-FS100 not only met my expectations but in some circumstances it dramatically exceeded them. This is a really powerful tool and we are still amazed at how far we can push the image it produces.
We’ve built up a fairly versatile cine rig with the NEX-FS100. Carbon fibre rods, EVF mount, PL mount, V lock battery plate, shoulder mount and quick-release handles all add a substantial amount of weight but the camera itself is very lightweight and despite how plastic-looking the construction it withstood sand, dust, salt and a run in with a disgruntled local in a market in Djibouti. Through thick and thin it performed beautifully, even in punishing heat and a driving sandstorm.
I’m really impressed with how the camera performed in high-contrast conditions. Whilst not having built in NDs is a bit of a drawback for run-and-gun style shooting, we made do with a mattebox and filter set and some variable NDs. Where this camera really shines though is in low light. I am constantly surprised at how clean the footage is at 0db gain and even when pushed up to 18db the picture shows very little noise compared to other cameras.
I have to say, I love that super-35mm chip! I learned about filmmaking on super-16mm and 35mm film cameras so having a chip that size in a video camera form factor really is a step into the future as far as I’m concerned. Being able to use PL lenses opens up a whole other avenue when it comes to picture quality and the low price of the NEX-FS100 means you can invest in glass confident that it will be future-proof.
Whilst we use an external recorder the majority of the time we also record on the internal AVCHD format in certain situations, like when we need to strip the rig down to a low-profile setup or mount the camera on our jib system. The picture quality is still extremely impressive and we can easily cut the ProRes files our external recorded produces with the AVCHD recorded on the internal SD cards.
I’m very excited about the future of digital cinematography, especially now that super-35mm shooting is so attainable and the resulting pictures so good. I think Sony have really produced a winner in the NEX-FS100 and I look forward to many years of happy shooting with it. And boy, is the footage it produces is gorgeous to look at.
We’ve now added a Canon 5DmkIII to our arsenal as a second camera and for run-and-gun work. With the right picture profiles we can easily intercut and grade the NEX-FS100 and Canon files together. We have also invested in some Carl Zeiss ZF.2 prime lenses. We opted for these over the CP.2s as they are more compact for travel and also suit documentary style shooting as they have a shorter focus “throw” than the cine-ready CP.2s. This can play a large part in grabbing footage as things unfold around you as a longer focus throw can take more time to find focus.
With a shoot in Brazil in September and the Sahara in October, our gear is battle-tested and ready for action. Don’t let anyone tell you small cameras aren’t tough.
Watch Trust: The Power of Transformation on Youtube
Producer, Director & Brand Storyteller
Brand communications, social interaction and marketing for EMCTV, part of EMC Corporation.