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DP Mick Jones Shoots Foxtel History Channel Promo with Sony F55

Sydney based director and DP Mick Jones. was recently commissioned to shoot a large-scale and complex promo for The History Channel on Australian network, Foxtel. For almost five years Sony’s F55 has been his workhorse camera of choice, and to shoot the promo he chose his trusty Sony F55 camera.

Jones explained, “The F55 produces a wonderful quality picture. The History Channel 2017 Image spot was a VFX green screen shoot needing 4K image capture for digital push-ins that would give an HD finish. I have done a lot of green screen work using the [Sony] F55. Its global shutter and ability to get a great image at 2000 ISO makes it a good choice for VFX. We can also use a bit less light since our base ISO is 1250, and the image is still superb at 2000 ISO.”

Jones shot the spot using the XAVC codec in UHD resolution at a shutter of 90 degrees to give a crisp edge on the action shots making it a bit easier for compositing.

He continued, “There were also deliberate over-cranked shots at 50 or 60 frames per second to capture fast action. It was used when shooting a Navy Seal rappelling down a rope, then a CGI helicopter was added to spray him with water, and also for Ned Kelly firing a pistol so we could catch the muzzle flash and smoke as he pulled the trigger.”

Green screen shot for the Histroy Channel promo.

Green screen shot for the Histroy Channel promo.

On the shoot for the 2017 History Channel Foxtel image spot the workflow involved XAVC Ultra HD 3840x2160 with Hyper Gamma 7. After consulting the lead VFX and director, Jones agreed on HG7 for the gamma as the lighting was completely controlled, so they didn’t need a huge amount of dynamic range, and not much colour grading was required.

As the shoot drew to a close Jones reflected on the F55, “I think the F55 currently sits in a very favourable position in the market. It’s versatility, size, weight, multiple codec options and high frame rates make it a no-brainer for any shoot. It’s very clean at high ISO and the internal codec really holds up in the grade. This shoot required alternating between 50, 60 and 25fps and having a frame rate option on the side panel for quick access really kept things moving along.”

With the final edit locked away and results that speak for themselves Mick Jones concluded, “The F55 performed extremely well on this shoot and in terms of reliability, the camera continues to be rock solid. My clients are always very pleased with the images it produces. It’s a versatile camera, not only because of functionality, but also for the range of looks that you can get with it. Sometimes I use old, soft glass and SLog2 gamma and when paired with the global shutter, it gives a very filmic look. It’s also easy to switch to the crisp, sharp edge look we wanted for this VFX shoot. The combination of different gammas, lens mount options and codecs makes the F55 my go-to choice because I know I can get whatever look the client needs.”

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