Journal

Updates from KAMIOKANDE and collaborators.

Shooting 'A Foot of Turf'

Shooting 'A Foot of Turf'

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Every film project has its own challenges when it comes to deciding a visual style + workflow, and subsequently picking out a camera package — and often the budget, or lack thereof, is the significant deciding factor. In the pre-production process for ‘A Foot of Turf’ we settled on a distinct style early on — using the open scenery of Arranmore to tell the story of the islanders from the perspective of the landscape in a series of composed vignettes.

This approach lent itself to a more film-like and less documentary style of shooting, and the first camera package I specified was an Arri Amira & Cooke Varotal 20-100 T/3.1, along with all the regular associated support, and a small lighting package for interviews.

However, with the shoot date approaching, and our funding unsecured we needed to quickly change course and figure out how to shoot the film without a budget. This meant the camera gear needed to fit into half a Storm iM2500 case — no extras, no tripod — just the bare essentials. We ended up using a Sony A7R2 & Canon 24-70 L, along with a lightweight shoulder pad, follow focus, mattebox, Rode VideoMicro microphone, and a Xiaomi USB battery.

I ended up shooting mainly in S35 mode, PP7 (Slog) at ISO800. Occasionally I’d switch to FF to get a wider FOV, and I found the reduction in image quality to be marginal - however I wouldn’t recommend switching when shooting drama. As I would be finishing the film myself, I was confident to expose-to-the-right by a generous amount.

Grade

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With the colour of the film we wanted to communicate the atmosphere of being on the island — foggy washed-out skies and cold and salty ocean winds. Very little was done in the grade, after performing an input conversion which retained limited contrast, most work was matching exposure shot-to-shot because of the very changeable weather conditions.

Some shots were stabilized—using the tools available in Resolve 15—to reduce hand-held fatigue for the viewer, but this was used sparingly. Additionally a small amount of sharpening and grain was added to introduce some texture into the final image.

When encoding high-quality video for streaming using the ‘-tune grain’ flag in ffmpeg, along with a multi-pass encode helps to preserve the texture as much as possible.

Stu McOmie
[email protected]