Post Magazine

September 2015

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Page 6 of 51 5 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 BITS & PIECES CHASING THE STORM: A Q&A WITH CINEMATOGRAPHER/DIRECTOR MARTIN LISIUS ARLINGTON, TX — StormStock (www.stormstock. com) is well-known for its signature weather and nature stock footage for film, TV and print. It was founded in 1993 by cinematographer and director Martin Lisius, and specializes in exceptional imag- es of storms, tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes and the like, with film credits that include The Aveng- ers, An Inconvenient Truth, and Into the Storm. Here, Lisius speaks with Post about capturing dramatic storm footage. How do you best describe the footage that your company offers? "We produce high-quality weather and nature imagery on premium formats for film, TV and print projects that require only the very best con- tent. The StormStock collection features rare and exclusive images of hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, stormy skies, blizzards, stormy seas, climate change and other dramatic natural events. Since we pro- duce our own material, we are able to maintain the quality of our product from creation to delivery. We possess an intimate knowledge of our collection and can quickly locate and deliver the best possible imagery to our clients." What made you decide to shoot storm footage? "I started photographing weather when I was 12. I shot lightning stills through the big windows in our kitchen. I grew up in Texas where severe weather is common. I entered weather exhibits into our local Science Fair and even won an award for my 3D model of a supercell thunderstorm. It was made with cotton and featured an internal light bulb for lightning flashes." Do you attribute the unique nature of your footage to the company's success? "StormStock is unique among stock footage sources because it's not a company. It is a brand of my production [company] Prairie Pictures. We are artist owned and operated. When I shoot storm footage, I treat it like any serious produc- tion job. I have a love for cinema and you'll see that in the material I shoot. I grew up shooting on film, so even when I shoot digital, I am very care- ful to have the composition, subject and exposure I want before I push the button. I regularly work on major features (Cinderella, Tomorrowland, Lucy, The Giver), so it's blown up on a big theater screen. That's a medium that pushes you to strive for excellence." How do you protect your gear? "I use rain coats on my cameras. Camrade makes a good one. Worse than rain is dust. When I return from a storm shoot, we carefully clean everything, first with pressured air, then soft brushes, and finally a soft lens cloth. It's ritual." What gear do you use? "For quite a long time, I shot Super 35mm with my Arri 35-3 and Kodak Vision film stock. Lately, I've been shooting with my Red Dragon and a Sony PXW-FS7. The Dragon is great when I'm shooting slower paced subjects. I use the Sony for quick, run and gun content like tornadoes. For audio, I devel- oped a custom, compact windshield system that completely envelopes a camera mounted shotgun mic all the way past the connector. I get good results with it up to about 35mph." How much does post play a role in the footage? "There actually is a lot of emphasis placed on post with my footage. I am careful to expose properly, so I don't have to address that so much, but the cam- eras I use do offer quite a bit of latitude if I need it. I shoot moderately flat, a balance between very flat and 'ready to use.' I do that so my clients will have some color grading flexibility but still have a nice image to start with." What tools are you using in post? "As a cinematographer with a film background, I place heavy emphasis on proper exposure. I want to capture it the best I can on-location. Given that, most shots require very little grading. Usually just a touch of contrast. I sometimes have to white balance in post for run and gun shots. Red Redcine-X has a nice white balance tool for R3D files. Otherwise, I use just the basic color tools in Apple Final Cut Pro. I also take great care in the transcoding portion of post production. I think it's very important to test and identify which one works best. I try to find a transcoding method that adds little compression or even interpolation." —BY LINDA ROMANELLO

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