The plan was grand. High concept. Great location. Great actor. But as seems to happen a lot these days things went pear shaped the day before.

Arri were kind enough to let me borrow their wonderful camera the Alexa for a weekend and I had lined up a superb project to shoot it on but as I said above, it was not to be. Well I wasn’t going to waste my first time with the camera so I decided to simply shoot a little entry for my own “End of the world” challenge. Low concept, no actors, just me…but a chance to simply get used to the camera as it was my first time hands on with it. I decided to do some indoor lit scenes (lit with practicals and 1 Litepanel 1×1 bi colour) and some high contrast outdoor scenes.

It’s actually a really beautifully easy to camera to use. Incredibly intuitive with one of the simplest and easily accessible camera menus I have ever seen. It was also a chance to use the 3D mic pro that I am trying out from Mitra. It’s an utterly bizarre looking mic that pics up sound 360 around you and when listening through headphones (which I recommend you do with the piece) is is remarkably effective! It’s not cheap though. Around $1600 or so…I have to admit I was expecting very little from the mic. It’s big, funny looking, has horrible 9V battery connectors. But as soon as I heard it on location with the wind and sound around us I was wowed. The sound is incredibly immersive. Very impressed.

 

 

Video streaming by Ustream

 

The Alexa is a cinema camera. That is what it is designed for and that is what it excels at. It produces 14 stops of latitude which is just exceptional for a video camera. Most cinema camera simply need a team to operate them. Not the Alexa. I shot most of this on my own. All the stuff inside my house was all just me. All the dolly moves here done programmed on the Kessler Crane Oracle controller and the dolly used was the 3ft Cineslider which can take the weight of a DSLR and a fully loaded Alexa and let me  tell you…that Alexa is one HEAVY camera!

How do you get camera movement when you are filming yourself and have no operator? Exactly the same as if you were using a DSLR that’s how! Although due to the camera’s weight the Cineslider was the slider needed, coupled with the Oracle controller and it couldn’t have been easier!
I placed the Cineslider on my kitchen table, mounted the Alexa to the caddy, ideally you would use a high hat but I wanted the camera to be as close to the table as possible, so I mounted the camera plate to the caddy. Plugging in the Oracle I simply peformed a real time slider move using the joystick and got the Oracle to remember it by holding down one of the 3 program buttons, then simply performed the move in real time. Once the move was performed. I simply returned the camera to the start position and pressed the program button and off it went, although at the start of the program I did press the top button of the joystick waited for ten seconds then started the move. This gave me enough time to get in position before it started! I did the same thing on the beach in Dungeness.
The Cineslider can take the weight of your smallest camera to the beast that is the Alexa. I don’t use it as often as my own PB dolly but there is no way that could take the Alexa. The Cineslider is the most versatile slider on the market and coupled with the Oracle I was able to give the illusion that the crew was bigger than just me!
I did a little live USTREAM whilst I was doing it which you can see above. Sorry about the ad and the poor quality.

 

I shot everything at Pro Res HQ using SxS cards, the same ones I use with my F3 and EX3! I also shot it Log C. A superflat looking image a bit like the Cinestyle on the Canons we are using right now but even more extreme. It looks awful when recording but you can monitor on the EVF and monitor in REC 709 which makes it look much nicer. Above is a shot of Log C and a graded version of the shot. Don’t try and shoot with Log C in your viewfinder. It’s horrible but the information you can pull out of it is simply amazing!

Lenses wise I use the Duclos Tokina 11-16mm, 35, 50 and 85mm Cp.2, and a Red 18-50 T3 lens. I also used an ARRI MMB1 matte box, some Tiffen filters including grads and the excellent Lightcraft workshops 4×4 Fader NDS which work a treat. Put A filter in the back, B filter in the rotating tray and it works just like the screw on ones!

Anyway…enjoy the little film. As I say it’s not much. Just me getting used to the camera. ARRI have been kind enough to let me borrow it again. Next time I won’t let my big plans get screwed up!

The challenge was to create a sense of misery and finality through the images and sound design. If I can’t tell a story through my images then I am not doing my job!

This piece shows you just how bloody easy it is to use an Alexa. My first time with it. No crew apart from down on the beach. All self operated and in it! Remote camera moves thanks to the Cineslider. In the shot of me smoking the cigar, I even pulled focus with my spare hand!

For me that camera is my Aston Martin. I shed a tear when I gave it back earlier. One day…

Big thanks to James Miller and Greg Richters who helped me lug the gear around on Dungeness beach!!

 

Terminus from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

If you are worried about the fish. A fisherman had just caught it and I simply shot it where it lay. It was already dead. Just nerves twitching…

 

Comments

  1. Lucas says:

    I hope you’ve put that fish back in the water! -other than that, it was a great video :)

    1. abeduenas says:

      if you would have read the whole blog you would have noticed, the fish was already dead

      1. Philip Bloom says:

        I added that after I saw the comment

  2. Piers Goodhew says:

    Looks gorgeous as usual. Love the cameos from the Hendricks bottle and your new watch.

    Presume the mitra is doing “binaural” recording: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording

  3. Nice piece… glad to see you’re keeping up with your “Aston Martin.” One day I’ll be able to do the same. How was that 3D mic? Was it a quality piece?

    Keep up the excellent work. I love your pieces and always look forward to your future work.

    1. Soumya Mitra says:

      Hi Johannes,

      Philip should able to answer this question. I can only say we use the best best components in its category to manufacture 3D Mic Pro. Each and every mic is hand assembled at US. Even the 9V battery snap Philip has mentioned in his blog is the very best available in the market :-) We have designed it for the professional field use and we take pride in our workmanship and offer limited lifetime warranty on our microphone. By the way, the 3D Mic Grey Fox windshield is phenomenal in its wind sound reduction capability. Just check how windy the situation was when Philip shot this film.
      Here is a second opinion from Vincent Laforet after his initial shooting with 3D Mic Pro:

      “I was VERY impressed with the mic – very impressed!”

      Vincent Laforet

      I will be happy to answer any question you may have on 3D Mic Pro.

      Soumya Mitra
      CEO
      3dmicpro.com

  4. Daniel Weber says:

    Philip,

    This is your best film yet. So strong visually and in the way it creates so many questions. The audio is amazing as well.

    It moved me.

    Well done.

    Daniel Weber

  5. LFK says:

    A great piece of work with this splendid camera.
    Bravo Phil !

  6. Adam says:

    Hitting the bottle pretty hard ay LOL. Great shots with the Alexa Arri, dark a little too dark but great ! Just wondering what it was all about ? Don’t have any audio on my computer so I watched it without sound so maybe I’m missing a piece.

  7. chris says:

    Uh OH! Philip is going to be buying an Alexa now! Resist Philip! Resist the temptation!

  8. kelly hofer says:

    Philip,
    About that microphone. I discovered something called holophonic sound a long time ago, especially this one recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrVmr72TqyE It seems to demonstrate the true capabilities of a microphone of that specific design you mentioned above. It’s incredibly immersive, and MUST be listened to with headphones

    1. Soumya Mitra says:

      3D Mic Pro utilizes psychoacoustics in its patent pending design. You can listen to 3D Mic Pro recording through stereo or 5.1/7.1 surround sound speakers and it will still sound great. Like any audio setup, speaker placement plays a big role in immersive experience. For best 3D sound experience use a pair of headphones as it works like the 3D glasses which you need to wear to watch 3D movie. Like 3D glasses, the headphone eliminates the channel crosstalk.

      You will get all the details at http://3dmicpro.com website.

      Best,

      Soumya Mitra
      CEO, 3DMicPro.com

  9. aaron shadwell says:

    well done-
    shit you do it right !

    drop a line when you are in boston I like to buy you a few drinks.

    best A

  10. beautiful images–loved slider shot of you walking away towards the boat, and the sound design really gave it an empty and helpless feeling atmosphere.. the rattling of the beach rocks was pretty eerie. I was worried about the fish! haha not sure if the nerve twitching makes me feel better though..
    looks like that flat raw image leaves you with a lot of detail!

    loved it
    Jordan

  11. I’m really bummed that I didn’t make a film for the challenge. Finals week at school I got too busy..

  12. louie says:

    watching your shorts shot at dungeness makes me homesick!

  13. Ben Halnan says:

    You know he’s going to do something mad. Next blog, “I’ve sold my house for an arri Alexa!” Beautiful short as well :)

  14. bigmac says:

    Just utterly beautiful, Philip. Sure, at first you marvel at the amazing smooth quality of the Arri, but almost immediately I get immersed by the story, look and feel of this little short. Well done. Very well done.

  15. Paul Kennedy says:

    Phew! You didn’t do it, whatever it was. Cheer up – it’s sunny now.

    (But really) – Thanks, the film looked great, and the mood was broken only by the knowledge that you may have been enjoying the chance to smoke a cigar.

    Paul
    ps Thanks for all of your stuff – very inspiring.

  16. Tyler Bjorkman says:

    That was actually the best piece of work I have seen you post. Looks straight out a film, great sound and editing.

  17. Hi Philip. I love this short film! Especially, since is very hard to film yourself. I tried after you did “Home Cooking” with your mum, to film myself as I am preparing my lunch. It was great fun too, but real hard! Congrats!! :) All the best!

  18. Love the fact that you just went and shot it anyway. That’s the spirit for making films..

    Really moody with excellent cinematography as always. Absolutely love the apocalyptic timelapses.

    More of a mood piece than a short film but that’s fine too…

    Well done Phil

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Cheers Richard. Although what is a short film? Simply whatever it is the artist decides…taking it to extremes for fun this is a short film: http://vimeo.com/17158218

      But I get your point! :)

      1. Very funny video! I think I’ve worked with some of the ‘artistes’ who worked on it :)

        I take your point. I have a narrative background so I’m always looking for the story but you’re right, there are many other ways to express yourself on film.

        Terrence Malick (aka God) is certainly not particularly interested in simple stories.

  19. paul wood says:

    Philip, this is a really nice piece! The stereo soundscape and music plays a big part too. The Alexa what can i say, excellent. Didnt know you were an actor as well as DP :) Good expressions for end of the world.
    Impressed by the mood created here, doesnt always have to be lightning bolts and mass destruction CGI. Well done mate !

    1. Soumya Mitra says:

      Philip has done a phenomenal job in this video. It is now possible to capture 360 stereo sound with 3D Mic Pro with a single operator setup and does not require complex time consuming surround sound decoding, editing, re-encoding workflow. I just wish I had the background video of this session using 3D Mic Pro :-)

      Soumya Mitra
      CEO
      3D Mic Pro

  20. Xander Collier says:

    Great looking short Philip! Very thought provoking! Congrats on the step up to cinema cameras! I’m always excited to see your work – they all have so much soul and we can tell you put a lot of effort to every frame you shoot, plus you gotta love cliff’s music!

    We were shooting with it a few weeks ago on a tvc and had a team of 5 working with it… so to have just yourself doing everything… well frickin done sir!!

    Can you give us an example of the size of the data files shot? how many mb/s? Is it 4:4:4? How much a day does it go out for in the uk?

    I tell you what its almost like you’ve promoted the area of dungeness so well & interestingly i want to visit it myself! Ha!

    Good times phil, and well done!
    Xan

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      I shot pro res HQ. I got about 25 minutes or a bit less on a 32gb card…8 gb gave me less than five…444 was overkill for what i needed…so was HQ really!

  21. Ron W says:

    Did you have to use a light meter for the Alexa, or did you just eye it through the viewfinder/monitor? It looks fantastic!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      no light meter needed

  22. Nicholas Allen says:

    Yes, you did your job. I’m miserable now…..

    Ok , good now.

    You know it’s done well when it makes you feel against your will.

  23. Hi Phillip. I’ve been reading you the last two years.

    This is the first time I write something here.

    I just wanted to send you a hug.

    Thanks for the spirit.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      thanks for the hug

  24. jim goodlett says:

    Philip, can you tell us what camera you utilized in the Ustream shot that watched you huffing cigars and splashing liquids down the back of your neck, as well as watching the kessler move back and forth with the Alexa cam…?…more specifically, what was the mic on top of the camera you used to catch all of it?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      that was just my little iphone 4 as it was a live broadcast

    2. Soumya Mitra says:

      That was 3D Mic Pro

      http://3dmicpro.com

      If you have any question regarding 3D Mic Pro, just shoot me an email or call me.

      support@3dmicpro.com
      510-299-3871

  25. Truly amazing!! What did you color grade this with?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      thanks, i used colorista II and magic bullet looks

  26. Phil Arntz says:

    Do you have any videos or pictures on the lighting setup used in the kitchen scene?
    I remembered seeing something but I cant find it!

    Thanks

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      you mean like the picture in the post? :)

      1. Phil Arntz says:

        Whoops, how did that get there? Completely missed it. I guess thats one of thei 1×1.. Thanks! :)

  27. Omran says:

    Only if the price is close to the 5D..i’ll buy one :P

  28. Ove Ellemark says:

    That is simply stunning – and I love your visuals in this one!

  29. Carl Olson says:

    Beautiful, Philip! Man I envy and aspire to your style and craft. Alas, I am a mere mortal :) Seeing what you have done is inspiring to get to the rest of us to get out there and film. Well done!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Thanks so much Carl

  30. Jason Madeja says:

    One of my favorites of yours. I would have opened with the fish though.

    1. Dimitrios says:

      Ha I would have ended with the fish.

      1. Thats a tough choice

        Probably would go with opening as I think that’s the most important stage of a film.

  31. tschikay says:

    Nice film! The sound was great and quite 3d. How about the microphone, what do you think..I search for an all purpose (I know there isn’t one, but I mean close) microphone for short films, documentary work and commercials:

    What suits better this 3D Mic Pro oder the Sennheiser MKH 416?

    They are both around 1500 $, thanks in advance for an answer.

    1. Soumya Mitra says:

      Hi tschikay,

      MKH 416 is a shotgun mic and 3D Mic Pro is a 3D psychoacoustics mic so they are designed for absolutely two different applications.

      If you compare them with camera and lenses, then:-

      3D Mic Pro = 360 degree panoramic camera
      MKH 416 = camera with long telephoto lens

      If you want to record 360 immersive sound, only 3D Mic Pro has the ability to record the psychoacoustics. No other stereo mic can do that. Visit 3DMicPro website for sound samples.

      Listen to this through surround speakers or headphones

      http://thephotomagic.com/3dmicpro/sound/Ping%20Pong.mp3

      I will be happy to answer any technical question and best practices for recording immersive sound for your audio video production using 3D Mic Pro.

      Soumya Mitra
      http://3dmicpro.com
      support@3dmicpro.com

  32. Ron Dawson says:

    Thanks for all you do Phil to keep us edumacated and inspired! :)

  33. Bob Lorrimer says:

    You have given me much inspirational influence in the past…but this short film really takes the biscuit as it combines so many of your skills into a solid narrative.

    Gorgeous, tight and beautifully graded.

    I offer you my own death on a beach:

    http://vimeo.com/7556112

    The slider is next on the list!

  34. Greg says:

    Nice film without the dying fish….Great film with the dying fish! Terminus, was that the name of cigar you were smoking….would better to EAT the fish!

  35. Jeremy Doyle says:

    I would love to see a side by side of the entire edit color corrected and SOOC, especially after seeing the pic posted.

  36. Willy B! says:

    Hi Philip,

    Just beautiful!

    I was hoping you could pass along a little more info on your light panel and practical set up. Power, where to buy, etc.

    Thanks so much.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Litepanel 1×1 bi colour. Practicals were my overheads spots dimmed right down and candles!

  37. Fernando says:

    Hi Philip,

    I’m a longtime/devote follower of your blog and never posted a comment but after watching this piece I felt compelled to write something! I’m not gonna say anything about the camera and the images it produces since that doesn’t even match to your skills as a cinematographer! What moves me in this film is the amazing sense of composition, light and overall feel of the film… It’s plain genius!
    Anytime you’re coming to Lisbon just drop me a line… I’ll be more than happy to show you the place around (amazing locations and beautiful light) and buy you a few beers!

    Fernando

  38. Bill Vincent says:

    Geez Philip, if you wanted a drink, all you had to do was ask – you didn’t have to go and make a whole film just to do it! ;)

  39. Philip, I love this. Very moody and lonely. Like you’re in deep thought about something. You should add a narration to it…your thoughts on filmmaking or something. Great job as usual!

  40. Nice work Philip. I’m impressed that you were able to do all this by yourself. Please do more work with these types of cameras!

  41. charles says:

    hi philip, having had the chance to both use the f3 with s-log and alexa with c-log. How would you compare the 2 in terms of 1 latitude, 2 color and 3 use?

  42. Albert Saenz says:

    Always great to watch your films. Even the ones you downplay as “not much.” Great work sir!

  43. Guy says:

    Great piece, one of your best, but cut the fish scene, it’s totally out of place with the other images. ( I laughed when I first saw it )

    …One last thing, what was LED light panel that you used in your kitchen ?

    1. Phil Arntz says:

      The fish scene was great!!!

      Its a litepannel 1×1.

  44. Hi Philip,
    Did you shoot 2K 1:85 then cropped the image or is there a squeezed recording to make it look cinemascope ? ( and if so what are the resolutions after post ? )

    thanks
    Emmanuel

  45. Great short full of very nice pictures.
    I can’t wait until you can get your hands on an Epic to see what you’ll do with it.

    However, it seems to me that on some shot there might be a lot of noise ? Maybe that’s just my eyes…

  46. Christian Lefevre says:

    Hmmmm… I don’t think the fish was dead, it was dying. That was why its gills were still moving, the same way a person’s chest still moves when they’re dying, but doesn’t when they’re dead. The nervous system of a dead fish won’t produce gill movement.

    At the end of the day it’s a living creature that simply shouldn’t be taken for granted or dismissed as inferior, as should no other creature, including humans.

    Christian

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      quite and odd comment Christian…not sure why you are saying it?

      1. Christian Lefevre says:

        Hello Philip

        I’m only commenting as I believe the mistreatment of any living creature, however insignificant it may seem, is unnecessary. If the fish was caught by a fisherman then it is unlikely he needed to eat it to survive, therefore making its suffering and death unnecessary.

        To take it from its own natural environment and then leave it to slowly die is totally unacceptable, as far as I am concerned.

        I work as a cameraman but, due to my beliefs, could never stand by and watch an animal suffer, never-mind take advantage of its suffering for the use of illustrating a point on screen.

        My comments are only an expression of my beliefs about life and everything associated with it – they are not meant to offend or to be inflammatory. My apologies if it seems that way.

        Christian

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          Having you own beliefs are fine but honestly the points you raise I simply don’t agree with, to a degree, because you have your beliefs and I have mine. Fisherman can catch fish if they want. This fisherman catches fish and sells them. He makes money from it. The fish he caught I filmed on the beach where it lay. No exploitation simply filming what was already there. I would never have caught a fish for myself to film it die for the purpose of my film.

  47. Jon Chema says:

    Phil isn’t the Alexa great? Working at a camera shop for a few months I got to play with it a lot. It really is what you’d want in a camera. So simple to use and as you mentioned- doesn’t require a huge crew. My only gripe is the battery consumption. I’ve found it chews through even the largest Hy-tron AB bricks in like 20 minutes. Did you have similar experiences?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Oh yeah. Had HUGE issues with power consumption. I don’t own anywhere near enough batteries for a full days shooting with this camera and I own a lot of large bricks!

  48. Jon Chema says:

    Yeah, regardless man love the short. I can tell you really pushed the camera in some low light situations. The cool thing is- the grain looks so organic and the highlights rolloff so smoothly. This is truly the closet camera to 35 out right now IMO

  49. Richard says:

    ARRI Alexa one of the best cameras out there.. beats the DSLRs hand down

  50. andi says:

    this about the show of 3d mic, what the different between record with 2 rode boom mic with 180 degree like 3d mic. Or direct from tascam/zoom h4 microphone it self with 180 degree for sure.

    form the spec of 3d mic, this microphone is ideal for capture human voice. their spec is roll of start from 500hz-down and 10khz-up.. the spec also doesn’t mention how much degre of polar captured, but i think from their function, this microphone can capture more wider than spec on boom mic to getting 3d effect.

    maybe this help.
    If you don’t have an extra money to reach this good stuff. i think you may have 2 condenser mic that have wide polar degree and good in mid area 500hz-10khz to remove wind and sharp of treble.. Or maybe Zoom H4n and Tascam DR100 are good opponent to this micropone..

    salam nggo kabeh..

  51. Tony LaPron says:

    You’re my hero, Phil =)

  52. luigi tadiotto says:

    Amazing! i’m very interested in the movement of the cineslider, by your experience can you use it with a cooke varotal 18-100 or it is too heavy? only the lens without alexa is about 15 KGs.. I would like to attach it to the cartoni c40s head. Let me know if it is possible!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      should be fine. it takes a huge load. although i would check with chris@kesslercrane.com first

  53. Dear Philip,

    I hope you are having a good weekend.

    I hope you do not mind me asking but I wondered if you could let me know how sharp you find the Red 18-50 lens. I mostly shoot documentaries including some work for the beeb. I have heard some reports that they tend to be quite soft. So far I have been using some Nikon zooms and I just wondered whether the Red would constitute a definite step up in terms of optical quality alone. Obviously mechanically I realise that they are different altogether but I am purely intrigued about the optical quality.

    I would very much appreciate any input.

    Warm regards,

    Alex

    1. In my experience with the lens, the quality/sharpness was pretty impressive all the way through the lens.

  54. Finally a shoulder cam ready to film with an beautiful picture, not like the red concept , where you need to buy all sort of stabilizers and accessories to work with.
    40 000€ is a price …
    ARRI above all, i want one !!!
    The 3d sound mic is a gadget, i’m not convinced at all for stereo output. A simple MS one would have done equal.

  55. How much planning do you put into your short films like this one that was unexpected? Do you storyboard this? Or do you go out with a basic concept the go out and shoot whatever might suit that concept? Please give some insight on your planning? Thanks

    1. I can almost guarantee that Philip caters to the needs of the project and does not have only one way of doing things ;)!

  56. Takeshi says:

    I’ve been checking your blog for a few years now, but this camera seems to suit you the best! Great short film. Hopefully you get some more time to work on your acting side of things.
    Thanks always for the inspiration.