I wanted to share a little about the challenges of underwater shooting. Certainly it varies on a job to job basis, but apart from the obvious logistic and safety challenges, it is very hard to convince a client of the real needs and time limitations I get a lot of pushback regarding safety concerns ands logistics, lighting needs etc. Working is water is slow, it's just the nature of it, also there is safety to be considered, especially when using light above and underwater. Above water are normal land lights with 208/120V power which needs to be kept dry and also have large GFI units (shock blocks in place) if anything hits water it shuts down power immediately. Underwater lights are very safe, Hydroflex has done a great job with them and providing power is run through a GFI you're good to go.
There are also considerations for water clarity, now some work certainly that somewhat murky water serves the story. This certainly applies if shooting in a lake or in the ocean. Pre planning is critical in the case of open ocean work. Not only the water clarity needed for the project as it can vary by location and with mother nature sometimes by the hour, but having all the logistical safety support and preparation in place. Certainly having an experienced marine coordinator is a must. More on that another time.
Now in a tank situation where water clarity is important, it is critical to be conscious of every element that is added to the water. All dive gear must be clean, talent wardrobe should be washed in fresh water without detergent. Any set elements, props or equipment needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Sandbags should not be used. Stainless steel ball bearing shot bags are ideal. It's amazing how fast the water can cloud up, it doesn't take much to screw things up.
Safety is the next issue and this is a big one, keeping talent and crew safe, Especially when you have underwater sets in place. Also talent is often in clothing which makes it hard to swim and often they are not necessarily "water" people. The other aspect is that quite often they need to be weighted and be supplied air from scuba air supply between takes etc. That means adequate safety divers need to be in place, things can fall apart really quickly underwater. The other factor is the scuba system itself, some training is required to put people on a scuba regulator. Even in fairly shallow water if someone holds their breath on scuba and ascends to the surface they risk air embolism, this is due to the air being delivered at ambient pressure as opposed to surface pressure. Even at 5ft deep this can be a problem So again it's important to have qualified scuba instructors in place. I have been a NAUI Instructor trainer for 20 plus years and my Key safety diver for the last 20 years, Hal Wells is a NAUI course director.
Obviously every situation is different, pool, shooting tank, open ocean all have different needs and safety requiremeets. Certainly some situations can be fairly simple but most are not. So many times including very recently, even with support of the producer the clients themselves don't understand the challenges and decline to pay for what is required for safe water work. They choose to find a cheaper and less safe route. I personally would never compromise safety to save a few bucks, I would decline the job on that basis.
I was invited by The Camera House last week as the first guest of their new series "An Evening With" for a candid discussion with owner Rufus Burnham. We spoke about my career experiences, what I've learned ,along the way and my views on the ever-changing role of the cinematographer. We touched on the differences of shooting film vs. digital imaging and the ways technology has advanced throughout the years. It was a lot of fun and hope to do a lighting workshop soon. I also put together a montage of images which was a fun process. It was good to look back though these are just a few images from a large body of work.
An informal conversation with Cinematographer Vance Burberry
Thursday Feb 9th, 2017
Vance will be featured at The Camera House for a candid discussion with owner Rufus Burnham. They will discuss Vance's career, what he's learned and new challenges facing cinematographers today. Seats for this event are still available so be sure to RSVP to. We hope to see you there!
Please email RSVP if you would like to attend email@example.com
So I wanted to share my experiences with Bright Tangerine equipment I own. After working with it for nearly a year I have to say it’s wonderful. It’s beautifully engineered and designed, robust and functional. The ability to reconfigure the matte box system and the flexibility it allows is awesome.. One of my favorite pieces is the swing away bracket. It sits low on the right side so it keeps the right side of the matte box clear, which is great when working with the filters. At the same time it is very robust and can be adjusted in a moment.
Some other pieces of gear are also wonderful, the follow focus systems are beautiful, the precision of the engineering is amazing with great functionality. The materials in all their gear is high grade aluminum, no corners cut there at all which is a must for durability. Lastly there is their new Titan on-board monitor support arm. As many of you know, with the weight of on-board monitors, most of the arms out there are flimsy at best. The Titan arm on the other hand is incredibly strong and again beautifully designed. You should check them out.
All in all Bright Tangerine is an up an coming company that makes incredible gear equal in quality and I think more functionally than the best gear out at a very reasonable cost.
Check them out!
Just a quick blast on my new Blackmagic 4k video assist. I just used this for the first time. I was shooting my 4.6K ursa mini on my steadicam flyer. I used the BM video assist as my shooting monitor on the steadicam. I was shooting UHD 4k. The monitor looked fantastic and was a great reference image for the Ursa. Very intuitive menu’s and the onboard SDI recording worked flawlessly. I captured pro-res 4:2:2 1080x1920 which avoided the need to transcode the UHD files for the post editing work. Big plus for sure. Once again Blackmagic design has produced a high quality well designed professionalproduct at a very reasonable price. This monitor is a perfect compliment to my Ursa 4.6K PL, a cannot recommend it more highly.
For me cinematography has several parts, the craft of understanding the tools you have available and how to use them. The ability to communicate with the Director and crew to bring the Directors vision to life. The ability to adapt to changing creative, logistics and the unforeseen that happens often. But for me the real heart of it is the emotional aspect. Any image you capture has to create an emotional connection with the audience. Regardless of what it is, a movie, a commercial, a music video, you have to create images that connect to peoples emotions and convey the story being told. To do that cinematography has to come from the heart, if not you are painting by numbers which is no fun.
Another thing that happens often is the desire to use a certain piece of equipment, a technocrane, a Movi, etc etc. All these tools are wonderful but you can’t put the tool before the shot, meaning select the tool that’s right for the shot or scene and the story being told. Yes, it’s fun to create these amazing shot’s but again it must serve a purpose, certainly in action scenes for example go wild and have fun, as we have seen there has been some incredible shots created for these kinds of scenes. There are wonderful creative tools available today but use them wisely and with purpose.
Another thing I hear a lot is, I really need this particular light to make this look or shot. Certainly there are situations that this maybe true, especially with either limited space or extremely large set-ups. But remember, the physics of light don’t change, it’s hard to super soft and everything in between. There are many ways to create this and sometimes it can be really fun finding solutions with the tools you have. It’s important to remember that line producers have a budget to work with and it’s our job as cinematographers to support them as much as we can balancing the financial challenges with the creative..
There is much to be liked about this camera, as many of you know I really love this camera. Here are the pros and the cons
Firstly and most importantly is the image. It’s spectacular, so good I would compare it to Arri Alexa image wise and certainly a great B camera for an A Camera Alexa shoot. it’s not an Alexa but for many applications it’s more than a great option. Most importantly it will cut seamlessly with the Alexa. Certainly in my mind , second only to the Alexa as far as the image quality is concerned.
Big dynamic range atIso 800 and really digs into the shadows. The big thing for me is the rolloff in the highlights into overexposure is very very film like.. Skin tone is also really good.
Very light and simple to use, bare body is 5lbs
Multiple choices of Codecs, pro-res and MXF plus multiple RAW options.
12G SDI out
New Firmware 4.0is fantastic check out all the new functions here, so many great functions but way too much on write on this Blog ,but all plusses,
Frame rates to 60FPS in 4K and 4,6K Raw, 40 FPS in UHD 4K 120FPS 1080x1920 and 2K.See user guide at blackmagicdesign.com for full specs.
Free full version of Resolve which alone costs $999.00
Pro Audio inputs 3 pin XLR, Time code in so you can feed timecode with audio.
Image superior to cameras costing a lot more, again I keep repeating this but Ifeel very strongly about image quality.
No Lemo connectors but you can buy a D plate with Lemo power that fits to gold mount between camera and battery.
No Lemo connection for remote run stop via Preston FF but there is now an adaptor cable that will connect Preston to LANC port. Available at Abel Cine
No built in ND’s but not a big deal but would be a nice addition.
Safe action frame guides only in white which is a pain when you have a bright background. A simple firmware update to give the option change color would fix that.
Really minor stuff considering the price of the camera and the superb image quality.
Feel free to email me on contact page with any questions
I wanted to follow up my last post on the Ursa Mini 4.6k. I believe that this camera is not getting the recognition it deserves. As a cinematographer, my biggest priority is the image. In my opinion this camera is second only to the Arri Alexa. In fact I have used this camera many times as a B cam with an Alexa as my A cam. I challenge anyone to tell me which was which after the footage has been corrected. The camera has been flawless, yes there are some things I would like to see incorporated much of which can be added with firmware updates. But at $5495 for the PL version it’s beyond amazing value. I really don’t understand why more people have not embraced this camera, they don’t know what they are missing and if they are spending more money on anything other than an Alexa they are wasting money.
In my next post I will address the plusses and minuses, but you will see the plusses far outweigh the minuses.
This camera captures spectacular images, it does not get the credit it deserves. Check out my article at the link below.
There’s much that seems to have been left behind with film, but I think it’s important to retain the fundamentals of cinematography. You still need to create a world with light, shadow and color. I believe that you still need to do as much in camera as possible. Regardless of the quality of color correction etc it is still limited by the digital image that’s sent into the color session. There is a trend to capture images with less than ideal lighting and framing and then fix it in post. It can work and does, but it puts limits on the creative process on the post side. I hear from colorists all the time how they have had a really hard time making images look good. Multiple power windows, layers of manipulation etc. Also for me there is much to be said for the feeling on set when these images are shot. It’s about being in that moment when I believe the creative process of a filmmaker is at its peak.
So, like everyone, I have boxes of old papers and stuff that I have not looked at in years. I was cleaning out one of those boxes out the other day and I came across a resume/job list from the late 80's.
So many of these jobs have disappeared from my memory until I saw this. Crazy Days for sure