On Set with the Gemini 4:4:4 – Sprite Refreshing Films 2013

Using my cup holder for a delicious Sprite!Paint the City

Last weekend I was on set for a Sprite Refreshing Film’s contest entry for SCAD’s Paint the City as the Editor/DIT! For those who are unfamiliar with the contest, basically Sprite picks so many scripts, four this year, from hundreds of entries from approved film schools across the country. If you want to know more about the contest check out the Wiki. Please follow us at @SCADSpriteFilms and #Paintthecity!

Preparing for Sprite

Sprite FilmsWe did a lot of preparation work to get everything we needed in order to make everything come to life beautifully. One of the biggest questions asked was “What camera should we use for this project?” At SCAD the best options for our film projects are the RED One or Sony F3 with the Gemini. They both have their pros and cons. The discussion ultimately came down to the fact that the RED has a distinct look, especially outside (where the entirety of this shoot takes place). I am definitely not knocking the beautiful images the RED creates, it’s just that every story needs a fitting look and style. In this story we have three SCAD_Sprite_Films_Ross_Helton_DIT_VFXdifferent street paintings. Each of them have very detailed color variances. We also have a shot that is VFX heavy that must be composited into place. These were the issues we considered when choosing a camera. Do we go with RED and benefit from the 4K for compositing but possibly sacrifice the color of the murals and also get stuck with RED’s color palette? Or do we get the full benefit of RGB and 10bit color that will really make the colors in the paintings pop but loose the really nice 4K composite?

SCAD_Sprite_Films_Ross_Helton_DIT_004

Ultimately after discussions between our great DP, VFX Sup, and myself we decided that we would go with the Gemini. It’s often funny how these things happen but wouldn’t you know on the second day of shooting our Gemini 4:4:4 died. Now what!? We rush to the cage to get a replacement but the other Gemini is with another student set. The only option now is the Red One. We ended up finishing the rest of the day on this camera. We used it mostly for insert shots and while doing so we really saw the color diferences between both camera options. Thankfully we only have insert shots and were able to get the other Gemini for day three and finish out the rest of our shots. Stay tuned for a complex workflow for a combined RED and Gemini 4:4:4 process!

SCAD Sprite DIT

Setting up a Blue Screen shot for the big reveal in Paint the City

Working with the Gemini is a pain and a pleasure. My experience with the Gemini 4:4:4 has been very excellent. This is the second project I’ve used it on and other than it not powering on (probably from wear and tear from other students’ misuse) the second day it worked great. I’ve included some of the things we considered when making this choice. I hope this helps guide you into making a good decision for your next project.

The RED OneSCAD_Sprite_Films_Ross_Helton_DIT_RED_001

PROS CONS
1. 4K! 1. Very specific look
2. Relatively small file sizes. (500-700GB=Short Film) 2. 720p monitoring (RED One)
3. REDCODE
4. Access to RAW coloring options
5. Every NLE can edit with it.

Sony F3 – Gemini 4:4:4SCAD_Sprite_Films_Ross_Helton_DIT_GEMINI_001

PROS CONS
1. 4:4:4 RGB Sensor capture! Massive file sizes! (12GB = 1min) (Seriously Huge! 12min Short Film = 3.3TB of storage!)
2. 10 Bit Color! Massive files = Long offload times (Better have esata or thunderbolt)
3. DPX wrapper! DPX must be transcoded to proxy file for editing. (See editing workflows)
4. S-Log No access to RAW metadata

WEATHER

SCAD_Sprite_Films_Ross_Helton_DIT_TENT_002Not only did we battle a camera dying but we also fought the rain. The worst fear for someone who brings all their electronics on to set is water. The fist day we battled wind but the second day it was on and off downpours. We ended up upgrading our open tent for sand bagging tarps all around to keep it from blowing away. I bring this up because one of the most critical qualities a DIT must have is

Fighting the harsh weather with a Tarp Tent!

Fighting the weather with a Tarp Tent!

understanding the importance of data protection. I will not put a film in danger. I would not have rolled on to set if I did not have a tent that was secure enough to protect not only the production’s footage but also my gear. It’s better to say no to a dangerous production than put the footage and equipment in a situation that could associate you with data loss. Preparations were taken seriously and everything is safe and we all sleep better because of it.

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