Abraham Joffe Films Big Cats With the Atomos Shogun Inferno

Cinematographer Abraham Joffe ACS turned to the Atomos Shogun monitor recorders for his latest project. Filming in the bright sunlight of the Kenyan bush, Joffe could apreciate the advantages of the seven-inch display with 1500 nits of brightness. “When we are out here in the African bush we are often in pretty strong light. Even without a hood I can see what’s going on the screen,” Joffe enthuses.

Filming big cats from the safety of an 4WD.

Filming big cats from the safety of an 4WD.

Filming big cats in Kenya isn’t easy. Unlike actors, these magnificent animals don’t follow cues or take direction. Catching, focusing and framing your shots is paramount. You really need to see what’s going on. When Australian cinematographer Abraham Joffe, ACS relied on the Atomos Shogun monitor recorder

Another key feature for him is the peaking function: “Getting focus is critical, so the ability to have a really strong peaking mode with different colours is fantastic,” he says. It’s so good, in fact, that his team “often just rely on the screen, not even looking at the camera’s viewfinder,” he says. In addition to peaking, the recorders also have the ability to magnify the image to check focus if you prefer.

Lookup tables (LUT) as they are known, have become a common way of previewing what your finished footage will appear like when graded with different looks. Joffe likes “to record as flat as possible” so appreciates the ability to apply a LUT, “which gives you a very good control over your exposure”. The Atomos Inferno and Flame series have a bank where up to eight LUTs can be preloaded for rapid preview. Hundreds more can be loaded at any time if placed on the SSD.

Incredible shots like these demand the highest quality recording, something that Joffe is acutely aware of: “The most important feature for me is the recording capabilities. So, we shoot on a variety of different cameras and we like to shoot in 4K at least. We run 4K into these screens every single day.”

The high brightness display of the Shogun was invaluable for the Kenyan project.

The high brightness display of the Shogun was invaluable for the Kenyan project.

Joffe makes full use of the higher quality recording offered by the Shogun recorder: “I record in a ProRes 4:2:2 10-bit stream and it records to SSD. What I love about the SSDs is that they are relatively inexpensive and super-fast so we can dump the footage back at camp and it offloads very, very quickly,” he says. One reason Joffe favours SSDs over proprietary media is that his team can pack a lot of them: “We are never without data.”

Being able to play back recorded material instantly to show directors, producers and crew is also a key attraction of the Atomos devices for Joffe. “It can be a very bonding and motivating experience to look at footage straight after its shot,” he explains. “That is an added feature that is invaluable to me now.”

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