I need to say this straight off, I am not advocating you all going out with your cameras, I am just explaining what I am doing and why. Please do not do this if your country/ city is in lockdown! Mine isn’t…for now. Also, don’t forget I spent 17 years as a news cameraman in some pretty dodgy places. I know how to be discreet and safe. I don’t take risks.
We are all going through a very scary time, something that most of us have never experienced anything like. I am not going to go into my opinion about the situation and if my government or other governments are doing the right thing. I am not going to go into the financial impact it will have on us all, most of us already know this. What this short blog post is about why, as a documentary filmmaker, I feel that I have to try and capture what I can of London, my home, over the next few weeks/ months. Naturally, this will only be possible if we don’t have an enforced lockdown imposed on us and of course as long as I don’t get ill.
The way I will be documenting will be through images, not words. My first video is of Richmond, the part of London where I live and the subject of many many camera tests! I wanted to capture the mood and the atmosphere during this time. Every few days I will go out, not just to Richmond, but to other parts of London to do the same. Things will change here over the next few weeks, things are changing rapidly day by day after all! I know countless people are filming the capital but I need to do this for myself.
I will be taking no risks, I will be driving. I will be keeping my distance from people, as you will see this video was shot entirely with long lenses, the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS L II and the Sigma 105mm F1.4 ART. I will be taking all the precautions necessary. I have no desire to catch the virus, although there is a chance I had it a month ago when I got very sick as the symptoms were quite similar, but until I can get a test that shows that I had it and am not carrying it then I will be staying clear of people. Not just for my benefit but for theirs. I cannot even go and see my parents which is really hard for me as I want to be there for them. I am stuck at home on my own, just with the cats for company!
This first edit was filmed 3 days after the Prime Minister asked us to avoid pubs, restaurants, bars etc. and for social distancing. Are people listening? For the most part yes, but not all. Richmond was certainly no ghost town last night. Today though he ordered them to close from midnight so it will be a very different picture tomorrow.
I shot this video with the Kinefinity MAVO LF in 6k at 50fps which is a nice frame rate as it is super easy to go to normal speed, plus the Kinefitnity cameras always record audio no matter what you are recording. If you are off-speed like here it saves the audio as left and right .wav files. The microphone I used was the RØDE Video Mic NTG. The pre-amps in the MAVO are OK, but the great thing about this mic is you can send in a really strong signal and set the camera level nice and low for good clean sound.
Get the RØDE Video Mic NTG here: https://bit.ly/rodevideomicntg
The image out of this camera is just superb. It was a bit out of practice with tracking people with manual focus after shooting with the Sony FX9 so much but I did OK! I have the new 7″ Kinemon which is nice and bright and has excellent peaking. Plus Canon EF lenses tend to be easier to manually focus with than their Sony equivalent as they are mechanical not just electronic. Why this camera and not my brand new FX9? Well, I am finally going to finish my review of the camera so the more footage I get the better…plus this does 6K at up to 60p which is pretty great!
The second video was shot on the first day of lockdown and again was shot with the MAVO LF, this time at 3K 190fps.
These were graded with the amazing new Film Convert Nitrate using the ARRI ALEXA profiles as the image is so similar to them. I was shooting at high ISOs of around 12,800 fairly frequently, especially when using the 70-200 F2.8 later in the evening. The end shots by the river were at 25,600. I did use a little bit of neat video there because I was still under-exposed as it was so dark there. If you can get exposure with high ISO this camera is remarkably clean!
The Vimeo version is compressed less. I shot in ProRes 422 and I have uploaded ProRes Proxy as the 6K 422 version was too big for my Vimeo weekly upload limit as it came in at 32gb for 4 minutes 15 seconds.