Post Magazine

January/February 2020

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UNSCRIPTED TV 20 POST JAN/FEB 2020 there's more alligators in the suburbs, and they're spreading into these towns. Someone at Gator Country got a call that an alligator was spotted in a ditch — somewhere — they didn't know where it was. And then they're looking down the storm drain. And sure enough, they can see a little eye shine of this gator and they don't really know how big it is. So Niall's job is to push the alligator, using a found garbage can, and push it out the other end while someone else ropes it as it comes out. And that was crazy because there was a moment when it was smashing into the garbage can and then scraping and trying to get his head underneath — that it could have emerged under the garbage can and God knows what...So that was scary. And he's just a very brave individual — Niall once rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat with a friend in 60 days. And he's crossed the polar ice caps in Greenland and done all kinds of things." To capture it all, von Puttkamer and DP Todd Southgate rely on the 2/3-inch 4K ENG-style Sony PXW-Z450 as his A camera and the Sony PXW- FS7 lightweight Super 35mm sensor camera as his B camera. He says the PXWZ450's 2/3-inch CMOS 4K sensor has "great sensitivity in low light, as well as sharp, colorful images overall, and its workflow is made even more flexible with HDR (Slog and Hybrid Log Gamma) capabilities. Compared to most larger sen- sor cameras, the Z450 is an ergonomically perfect fit for the mobile camera operator, with no add ons such as monitors, cables or focus knobs that might be knocked off or snagged by vines and bushes." For the team's B camera, which von Puttkamer operates himself, the team uses the Sony FS7, "which I feel is the best of the lightweight Super 35mm sensor cameras that I've encountered — al- though, for our purposes, it doesn't quite match the versatility and ease of operation of the larger, shoul- der mounted Z450, but the FS7 handheld is perfect for either tripod shots or run-and-gun shooting to capture fast action." The team saves all of the content on-location on G-Technology SSD drives and then brings the footage back with them for post production. There, 24 Frames completes most of the post work on the show, but von Puttkamer says he does the editing himself. "I actually discovered Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve for editing," he says. "I'm really, really happy with it. I mean, you're cutting on Avid, Adobe or Final Cut and then, ultimately, you go in for color and it's always on DaVinci. And there's a conver- sion that always has to happen there. So why not just edit in Davinci Resolve and you send the lab the DRP file, they have the masters, right? Then all you're sending over is the DRP DaVinci Resolve Project file, everything opens up in Resolve and away you go. Using DaVinci Resolve was seamless." Von Puttkamer says that as far as challenges go, it's mainly matching all of the different cameras and formats that the footage was captured in, once it gets into post. "If you're doing a dramatic TV show and you're going to a post house, it's relatively simple because you're essentially shooting on three matching Alexa cameras or three matching Red cameras. And you have a DIT on set doing the color correction and pre-editing segments. So it all moves into post very clean and uniform. When we do these types of shows, though, it's never clean and uniform because we are a global production with almost viral video elements involved. There are multi formats, multi codecs. On any given production, we have our main camera, HDR to consider, the FS7 camera. Then we have numerous GoPro cameras, a DGI Osmo, which is essentially like having a drone on a stick. We've also had a night vision camera, trail cameras, DGI Mavic drones. That's a lot of formats and codecs. "We're shooting 4K and we're shooting 23.98 frames per second, in some cases, we also buy a little stock footage and sometimes that comes in as 60i or 50i interlaced and then conversions have to be done. Sometimes we buy viral videos, like if we want elephant attacks or leopard attacks, things that you can't possibly get in a few weeks of shooting. Sometimes we're dealing with amateur video or iPhone footage, too. So you're adding all of these dy- namic elements to the show. So for the post house, it's really a challenge trying to balance everything. "When Niall went down into that storm sewer for the alligator, we had GoPros mounted on his chest, on his head, mounted on the barrel he was pushing. Every situation has a slightly different requirement, and in post, we have to match up those different formats and codecs. And that's definitely a huge challenge." According to von Puttkamer, the team is simply trying to create "a show that is cinematic and beautiful to look at. We're shooting it at the highest resolution possible given the circumstances, which [are] ever changing, ever changing weather, ever changing environments, animals, people. And then we have a rough and ready kind of feel to it where we're catching animals at night. Or we're having to rely on local people to give us their viral video. It's just so you get a realism and a news feel to it, so that it's not just this pristine, wildlife footage. We're on a mission to explore why these animals are attacking people in the field, trying to educate and prevent future problems between wildlife and man, so it requires a whole range of cameras and a different look, so it really comes across like we're on an adventure. It's as if we simply set up in a tent and set out a camera for six months to film cheetahs and gazelles. It's not like that. We're on a mission with our host to explore the world and meet these people and encounter the animals." Sony cameras are used along with GoPros to shoot Biggest & Baddest. The show is edited and color graded in Resolve.

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