HBO’s Billie Holliday Biopic Shot With Ikegami-ARRI Single-Sensor Camera

HBO and production company Two Hands Entertainment used three Ikegami HDK-97ARRI cameras to capture a multi-camera performance of the Billie Holliday musical “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” shot at New Orleans’ Café Brasil” before a live audience. Jointly developed by ARRI and Ikegami, the HDK-97ARRI is a broadcast-style production camera with digital cinema characteristics, such as a large Super 35mm sensor.

“Ikegami’s HDK-97ARRI was the right choice, it has several attributes that are incredibly helpful,” said Rick Siegel, an Emmy award-winning cinematographer for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” “The HDK-97ARRI sensor produces exquisite pictures and was the perfect canvas to paint our 1959 period story on. The large sensor offers the capability to use any of the PL/35mm film lenses ever created. The advantage to that was the wealth of creative choices and depth of field control: my pictures became more painterly, which was essential for this period movie. ”

Siegel and director Lonny Price (who also directed the Broadway musical) deployed the Ikegami HDK-97ARRI cameras together with several Ikegami 2/3-inch conventional HD cameras in a complex and challenging shoot at the historic Café Brasil, a 100 year-old saloon in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. Equipped with Fujinon’s Cabrio PL Cine lenses, the HDK-97ARRI provided unprecedented flexibility for the three days of shooting, capturing six-time Tony Award-winner McDonald from a variety of camera placements as she performed the show from beginning to end each day.

The crew said they found the Ikegami HDK-97ARRI to be extremely easy to use throughout the time-sensitive shoot for “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill.” “This camera takes the visual attributes that HD filmmakers are accustomed to and brings them to TV,” Siegel said. “The downstream signal can be used in a very familiar way by people who make multi-camera TV productions, while still having the super 35mm sensor’s incredible capabilities and the ability to utilize a wide range of PL lenses.

Jointly developed by ARRI and Ikegami, the HDK-97ARRI is a broadcast-style production camera with digital cinema characteristics, such as a large Super 35mm sensor.

Jointly developed by ARRI and Ikegami, the HDK-97ARRI is a broadcast-style production camera with digital cinema characteristics, such as a large Super 35mm sensor.

“Throughout the shoot, the Ikegami HDK-97ARRI’s were as plug-and-play as you can get,” he continued. “You can operate the way you would any TV camera, and you don’t have to wait on these cameras to work. I would consider the HDK-97ARRI for almost any TV show, going forward.”

“Everyone on the set was amazed by the Ikegami HDK-97ARRI,” adds Jim Moriarty, Vice President and General Manager of New Orleans-based YES Productions, which supported Two Hands Entertainment throughout the shoot. “It achieved phenomenal saturation, richness, crispness and contrast ratios. The HDK-97ARRI was instrumental in realizing the vision for Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill – everyone who worked on this production is eager to use these cameras again.”

The HDK-97ARRI offers a large-format front end famed for its film-like, organic look characterized by extended, clean highlights, an extremely low noise floor, natural skin tones, excellent color separation, and a cinematic depth-of-field. Employing large pixels and a custom-designed read-out architecture, this critically acclaimed 35 mm CMOS sensor demonstrates exceptional dynamic range. The large format front end is married to the latest video processing and transmission technology, providing conventional broadcast camera operation and classic video operator control of multiple cameras.

“The HDK-97ARRI is a stellar product for multi-camera TV shoots, I can’t stress that enough,” Siegel said. “Not only does if offer new choices and a great look, but it provides speed on the set. These cameras met HBO’s extremely high expectations for picture quality, and made our star look absolutely beautiful – the HDK-97ARRI was the gem of the show.”

The Ikegami HDK-97ARRI cameras were rented from Video Equipment Rentals (VER). 

You might also like...

Creative Analysis - Part 7 - Cinematographer Chris LaVasseur On Warrior Nun

“‘Chris,’ she said, ‘it’s about an order of nuns who’re protecting the world.’”

Is Gamma Still Needed? - Part 4

Now the CRT is history, we have to justify the retention of gamma on its performance as a perceptual compression codec. That requires its effect on human vision to be considered.

Creative Analysis - Part 6 - The Middle Man With DOP John Christian Rosenlund

Director of photography John Christian Rosenlund has at least a three-decade history with director Bent Hamer. Their most recent collaboration, The Middle Man, depicts a town in the northern United States during a post-industrial depression. It’s perhaps not a s…

DOPs & Post Production: Is This Our New Livelihood?

Before pandemics and the downsizing at traditional, broadcast news operations, many news and non-fiction DOPs were already assuming a significant role in post-production. Whereas frame rates, f-stops, and the character of our lenses, once formed the backbone of our expertise…

HDR - Part 13 - Cameras And The Zero-Sum Game

For a long time, selecting camera gear has been fairly easy. For twenty years, digital cinema cameras have never quite had everything we wanted, and the choice often boiled down to comparing the compromises. That’ll always be true to a…