DoPs want simple systems that allow us to get on with our jobs, says Ed Moore
I recently finished comedy-drama series Common Ground for Sky Atlantic. With a seriously ambitious schedule of often 10-11 pages a day, it was the perfect testing ground for some new kit.
For the lighting package, I selected a lot of products by K5600 - in particular, the Joker-Bug system, which allows a large range of light modifying attachments to be swapped onto a simple base unit.
They were light enough to require only simple rigging but with enough power efficiency that we rarely required a generator. But best of all, instead of having a typical drama lighting package on a huge truck, of which maybe only 20-30% would ever be in use on any given set, we had 10 or so units in total, which were usually all in use on every set.
That’s more efficient for me, the lighting crew, and the production.
When I first started working as a director of photography in 2006, I did a lot of shoots where the state-of-the-art set-up was an HDCam camcorder wedged into a Pro 35 adaptor with PL-mount prime lenses on the front. T
he resultant contraption allowed more control of depth of field but, at nearly four feet long, it was an unwieldy physical presence.
Thankfully, over the past seven years the camera market has transformed, and we’re now spoilt for choice with physically small, large sensor cameras.
I’m particularly impressed by the designs that aim for simplicity in form and use, because complexity doesn’t sit well with the pace of drama production. But I do find that on almost every production, the same sea of accessories ends up plastered all over the cameras.
I’d like manufacturers to look at ways to integrate a lot of this into a cleaner, simpler design.
The built-in lens control on Arri’s Alexa Plus and the neat bolt-on 4K recorder on Sony’s new F55 are great examples of this.
We need camera manufacturers to include higher-bit-rate recording formats in-camera as standard.
The current trend of attaching third-party recorders to get anything above 50Mbps results in hideous Franken-rigs with additional points of failure to worry about.
As productions speed up and data flies around the set, between DITs, offline edits and the grade, I’m increasingly investigating simple systems that will ensure my intentions for the look of a shot are maintained through the whole production and post-production process.
In an ideal world, I’d press a button on the camera that would instantly zap an image to a simple grading interface on my iPad. Any changes would be saved as metadata on the recording medium and would automatically be burned into dailies and act as a starting point in the grade.
If you’ve got any suggestions about how to achieve this, send me your answers on a postcard!
Ed Moore is a director of photography. His credits include Common Ground and Red Dwarf X (second unit).