This is a presentation of my third official short movie produced by Gorilla Film Studios, referred to as No. 2 being the second film adhering to the Dogma 16 manifesto, entitled A Curious Day at Snooper’s Haven. It was recorded, edited, mixed, colour corrected and graded by yours truly. Music by courtesy of POLYNAUT_, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/. The following two compositions were used, Morning and OPUS. Sources: https://soundcloud.com/polynaut/opus and https://soundcloud.com/polynaut/morning. Royalty Free Music found at https://starfrosch.com. No actual changes were made to either of the two soundtracks, other than mixing them together and editing out and trimming or adding certain parts at the end and beginning of each track. The film is 8:24 minutes long and had its premiere on YouTube on 7 June 2017. A Curious Day at Snooper’s Haven may be best described as a simple capture or visual documentation of a afternoon I had with my family at a snooper’s market, which we all enjoy visiting on a regular basis, presented in three chapters and featuring my daughters Wynja and Freja Dahlheim. It was shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and captured on CinemaDNG RAW, using the Zenit 16 OKS 3-10-1 f/2.1 10mm lens with the RafCamera Kinor-16SX-2 to MFT adapter. The camera was mounted to the POOLiCAGE, with the Krasnogorsk-3 wrist strap attached to one of the bottom 1/4″ – 20 threads of the half-cage using the Manfrotto 3/8″ female to 1/4″ male brass adapter. It was filmed in its entire on location at Johan Engbergs Antik, in Lilla Edet, Sweden, on April 29, 2017. Copyright © 2017 Gorilla Film Studios.
All shots were filmed handheld in a run-and-gun fashion, with no external stabilisation aids at all. I only had the camera strap around my wrist for protection in case that I had dropped the camera. The POOLiCAGE half-cage served as protective cover of the BMPCC and added some weight to the camera which aided somewhat in the stabilisation. The choice of this stripped down configuration was based on me not to stir up to much attention to my filming. I used the Zenit Meteor 5-1 lens hood during the entire shoot, wanting to block out flares, screwing it to the OKS 3-10-1 using a 62mm to 77mm step-up ring from Haida. During the exterior shoots I also attached the Meteor 5-1 NDx4 filter between the step-up ring and the lens hood. Unfortunately, this configuration turned out to be a problem for me in post (see below); I won’t be able to use the step-up ring, at least not with the OKS 3-10-1, in the future. The film was entirely shot spontaneously without a script but I knew that I wanted to capture the moment, my favorite snooper’s market which more feels as a museum and installation of different time periods, or a theme park (which inspired me to divide the film into three distinct chapters), ranging between retro 50’s, folk romance and in a last section a curious display of bisarre artefacts. The market itself is situated in a large barn which has been built upon with additional buildings. I love this place and this film is my tribute to it. I shot the movie only by myself, and it took me approximately one hour to fill one 64 gigabyte SDXC card. Although the film is supposed to be taken lightly, and hopefully as an pure entertainment, I also were consious of the OKS 3-10-1 lens and how it (and the camera) behaved in mixed environment and lighting conditions, and furthermore to explore its character, and its ease of use, such as pulling focus (with the flaps attached to the focus ring) and iris in a hand-held situation.
General camera settings: ISO 800, Shutter Angle 172.8º, 24 fps, and White Balance 3200K. (I didn’t care to to adjust the Colour Temperature to the outdoors conditions suited for the shoot, i.e. 6000K, but as I always shoot in RAW, White Balance setting, as well as ISO, is moot as it only constitutes metadata which easily can be adjusted in post.) General lens settings: F=10, NDx4 and f/ stopped down to approximately 16-22 during the exterior shots, with one exception where I stopped down to f/22 without the use of a ND filter, and no ND filter during the interior shots with f/ variable between 2.1 and 5.6. General audio settings: All sound were recorded on location using the inboard stereo microphone of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, with microphone and channel (line) levels set to 100%. The RAW footage was edited, speed ramped, reversed, and all recorded atmospheric sound mixed with Polynaut’s music, and futhermore colour corrected, graded, stabilised, and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.5. Colour correction was made manually with no LUTs, using a basic colour correction in Resolve’s Camera RAW feature, raising Saturation 90% and Color Boost 10%, and some 100% sharpening of three scenes. The following grading raised saturation as far as 60 and lowered it as low as 35 in a few scenes, and kept the Hue at level 50, with a final adjustment done with the aid of colour wheels while checking the scopes to create a more balanced RGB profile in the highlights and shadows, and in a few instances in the midtones as well. Extensive image stabilisation of the footage was performed on all shots, to remove any micro-shakes from the handheld camera, adjusted additionally with a 27% maximum Zooming to crop out any vignetting. The final result was rendered using the DNxHR 444 (12-bit 4:4:4) video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution. Exported thus, it was finally uploaded to YouTube, enhancing the image with a Saturation of +1 with no additional image manipulation to retain the flavour of the original footage.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera: Not much to add to what I have previously said concering this little fellow, other than I get stunned with awe everytime when I see the natural colours coming out of it, and the latitute it gives me in post. Also the slight macro effect of the images, i.e. how larger everything looks on camera compared to real life, probably due to the Super 16 sensor. I did notice a couple or three instances of moire when reviewing the footage in RAW, although only in one instance did it distract me from the immersion of the movie; the other two examples were in small details, usually not noticable. I also recognised one instance of aliasing along the diagonal edge of an object, however this was probably mostly due to me being forced to zoom in on the image because of the heavy vignetting of the lens; I noticed it after the tenth or so viewing in RAW. Another strange artefact I haven’t seen before was some kind of ghosting effect reminicent of edge enhancement around a cable against a noisy dark and blurry background; this was only seen when in motion though, not when freezing the frame. Strange; perhaps it was a optical illusion of some sorts? But all of these artefacts were slightly masked through the DNxHR compression, and furthermore that of YouTube. Noise (of the random kind) was visible as many shots were done in low light conditions, and I had to raise the shadows (and midtones in a few shots). But non of this noise were distracting, rather adding to the filmic and organic feeling of the sensor. Again, this noise is more visible in the RAW footage on DaVinci’s timeline, somewhat less on the compressed and rendered QuickTime file; the only benefit from such compression and downgrading of the image is that blemishes as seen in the RAW picture are somewhat mitigated or smoothed out. The sound captured on the BMPCC on this shoot was o.k. I suppose, at least it was usable, but compared to the music soundtrack it feels lackluster and to much treble without any dynamics or life. Also, it seems that in certain shots (not all shots) the mic picks up some kind of high pitch noise coming from the electronics of the camera itself. I filled up almost an entire SDXC card with footage, and if my memory serves me correctly I also emptied one entire EN-EL20 battery and the beginnings of a next (I had my second flash memory card and a total of two spare batteries with me, in my pockets).
POOLiCAGE with Krasnogorsk-3 Wrist Strap and Manfrotto Adapter: With the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera mounted to the POOLiCAGE, this combo works really good. The new added non-skid rubber pad holds the camera chassis firmly in place inside the half-cage. Although the edges on the left side of the extra camera body feels a bit more rough, because of the thick aluminum metal of the half-cage, it never becomes too uncomfortable; the added size and weight lends the camera a feeling of enhanced robustness and stability. The right side being free from inclosure, because of the half-cage design, it is still easy and fully comfortable to hold the camera by its battery compartment grip, also for extended time. I really like that the half-cage makes it easy to mount the Krasnogorsk-3 wrist strap (scrambled from my Zenit Krasnogorsk-3 16mm camera, for a new role), which is neat a the strap submitted with the BMPCC isn’t easily mounted to its body (at least I fail to do it); although being slightly shorter than the Blackmagic one, the Russian strap is broader and feels robust enough for prolonged use, being made of some sort of nylon felt material which attaches to the 3/8″ screw through a metal stud and hinge arrangement, and is large enough not to hamper any movement while wrapped around the wrist. (Although the BMPCC strap also is made of nylone felt material, and actually is thicker than the K-3 strap, it is attached to the camera through a thin nylon string which feels a bit fragile.) I much enjoy that my Manfrotto 3/8″ female to 1/4″ male brass adapter, which I originally purchased to mount the K-3 pistol grip directly to the underside of the BMPCC, and didn’t work out that well, has found a new role which actually suits it optimally, making it possible to use the K-3 wrist strap together with my camera. Of course, it is possible for me to mount it directly to the BMPCC chassis, but I prefer to screw it on directly to the half-cage as my BMPCC won’t ever part from it; I consider the BMPCC to be fully integrated with the POOLiCAGE. During this shoot, I mounted the Manfrotto 1/4″ – 20 male thread to the forward and middle female thread of the POOLiCAGE bottom plate, but I could use any of its five 1/4″ – 20 threads.
Zenit 16 OKS 3-10-1 prime lens with RafCamera Kinor-16SX-2 to MFT lens mount adapter (with screws): I really enjoy the image that comes out from the OKS 3-10-1. It is more neutral, contrasty, sharper and generally more Zeiss-like compared to my Zenit Meteor 5-1 zoom lens. It is a quite fast lens as well, and its f/2.1 (or is it T2.1?) is probably comparable to the f/1.9 of the Meteor 5-1. Although the image of A Curious Day is a bit dark, in particular during the first chapter, which for the most part was shot only with the help of an array of LED lights at the roof, it is still visible down to the details. What I wasn’t perpared for, because of my inexperience, was that shooting interior often necessitates a open wide aperture which brings a shallower depth of field compared to exterior shots (which I’m more used to in my previous films). As this movie was shot in a run-and-gun fashion, with much improvisation to the framing of each shot, I didn’t take care enough to check my focus. Granted, the screen of the BMPCC is small (3.5″) and doesn’t present a particularily good and sharp image; even though I had focus peaking activated during the entire shoot, it was a bit difficult for me to spot it, and it doesn’t help that I’m a bit farsighted either. I have to invest in a magnifying view finder with diopters, such as the LCDVF BM from Kinotechnik, not only to shade out the sun outdoors but also to magnify the image for exact pulling indoors. But most of the blame must be put on my inexperience as a videographer. Pulling focus on the lens was easy in itself, in its mechanical functionality, as the large flaps attached to the focus ring are a great aid in this regard, especially when holding the camera directly with your hands with no additional aids; in particular fast focus pulling is easy, and not so much exact focus pulling (which necessitates a follow focus). However, the good side of my lack of skill in finding and pulling focus is that the beautiful bokeh is clearly visible throughout the film! The OKS 3-10-1 creates amazing blur in the out-of-focus parts of the image, which is hard to describe. It’s not circular, as in the Russian Helios 44, but it’s dreamy, magical… You have to see it for yourself. A big downside is the vignetting, as the image circle is to small and adapted to the regular 16mm format (and even there I suspect it vignettes slightly in the corners). Mounting the Haida step-up ring and lens shade created an insanely large vignetting, resulting in large cresents on each side of the image, and even riduculously larger vignetting with the ND filter additionally mounted on, necessitating almost a 30% zooming in on the image in post to get rid of those black and dark corners. The conclusion from all of this is that I cannot use the step-up ring with this lens in the future, nor the Meteor 5-1 lens shade or its filters. Compared to the focus ring, the aperture or iris ring is quite stiff, and with the step-up ring and lens hood attached to the front element, because of the iris ring being situatied at the furthest front, it becomes really ankward to change aperture as there is little room left for the fingers to pull the iris. There is some chromatic abberation visible as well, but not much and certainly not distracting; hard to say in each case to say if it is actual CA or the result of bokeh when slightly out of focus, as pulling out of focus creates a certain ghosting or something that can be described as an edge enhancement or halo, which probably is due to the peculiar bokeh created by the lens.
Workstation and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.5: My current workstation is based on the ASUS X99-A motherboard and GeForce GTX 1060 GPU (using the latest version of the driver), as well as the Intel Core i7 CPU hardware and Windows 10 (in its latest version). On this project I have continued to use DaVinci Resolve 12.5 in its latest version 12.5.5.026, as the new DaVinci Resolve 14 is currently is in its beta 3 phase, chosing not to use it (although its new stabiliser is supposedly much more advanced) so not to ruin the entire project with buggy software. Overall, Resolve 12.5.5. worked smoother for me this time compared to with The Red Stone, and didn’t chrashed on me once, although there was some lagging now and then, in particular when stabilising the image and when using optical flow in retime slowmotion work. My editing went as usual, selecting clips that I found usable and stable enough, trimming and cutting progressively during consecutive days until I was satisfied. However, I did try out a new feature with the retime feature, that of reversing one shot (at 5:07). I did this Reverse Segment to keept the flow in one direction between two shots in a cut. This was done using the Retime Controls feature after putting the playhead on the part of the track and the clip that I wanted to reverse, chose Reverse Segment, which made the motion reversed on the entire chosen clip. The funny thing is that when using the Tracking Window, as when stabilising a shot, it tracks the clip in reverse direction, which is a bit confusing when you see it for the first time until you realise that you changed the movement of that shot in the first place! The output blanking (cropping) was set to 2.40:1 aspect ratio, to mask off the heavy vignetting. To mask the shaky footage, that I couldn’t stabilise enough with the Tracking Window in the Color page (see below), I went back to the Edit page and did a speed ramping gradually lowering the speed down to approximately 70% at the end of the main titles clip, and between 75% and 50% starting at 1:00, using Retime Curves after right clicking on the clip, as I have done previously, and enabling Retime Speed. To do that, creating an illusion that no manipulation to the speed was performed, I used the Optical Flow option in the Inspector. This time the lagging wasn’t as severe, and mostly was affected by the amount I flattened out the Retime Speed curve; a quicker and less smooth speedramping alleviated the workload of the GPU.
When it comes to the mixing of sound, I basically used the sound recorded in the camera untouched. I generally edited the audio across the video cuts, usually starting the new sound track before the cut, but sometimes also after the video cut, to make the video cuts less noticable, usually doing a short cross dissolve of the audio cuts to make the transitions smooth and as unnoticable as possible. In some instances I cut away the audio from a particular video clip and used either the audio from the previous or the following clip to keep the flow of the visuals with the help of audio. In some instances I lowered the volume of the recorded soundtrack, when there was audible music on location, so that it wouldn’t interfere to much with the music soundtrack. I have had my ears on POLYNAUT_ for quite some time now, but couldn’t find matching video until now. I wanted the movie to have a synth sound, preferable of the waporwave or synthwave kind (which has a 1980’s retro-feel to it), and starting off with a rythmic beat that was lighter in its mood, thus i chose Morning. As a follow-up I wanted a more ambient sound, and chose OPUS which is my absolute favorite track by POLYNAUT_. Both tracks were downloaded from the royalty free web site StarFrosch. I chose these two tracks also because they both have the sound of rain falling on a roof, as a dropback to the music, which would add the feeling that my daughters were at the snooper’s market during the rainy season, the market place shielding them from the summertime rain, and also to create a continuity in the soundtrack. I cut in a part of that rain sound from the end of Morning to its beginning (as the music jumpstarts in a quite ugly manner), and I cut away a big chunk from the start and finish of OPUS which contained dialoge and the sound of electronic static (which was a bit distracting from the subject matter of the movie, that is, old tech), and used some more rain sound as a cross-over between the two tracks.
Going over to the Color page, I did a general colour correction of all clips in Cinema Raw, which had the values preset to the following: Color Temperature was set to 3168K and Tint to +4.97. As usual I retained the Color Space as Blackmagic Design and Gamma as Blackmagic Design Film. The corrected values across the 64 clips were as follows: Saturation was set to 90% and Color Boost to 10%. Lift was lowered to -3 and Gain raised to +3. When it comes to white balance and sharpness, I had to adjust according to the needs of each lighting situation and the optical sharpness. In the exterior shots Color Temp was set to 6000K. In the interior shots Color Temp was varied, as the light was heavily mixed between LED lamps, two different kinds of fluorescents and sunlight coming in from the windows, sometimes all three in the same shot. The Color Temp was set to either 2800K, 2850K, 2900K, 3000K, 3100K, 3200K, 3300K, 3500K, or 4600K, but generally to 3100K. Tint was either raised to +7 or +10 (and in one case up to +20) depending to the particular lighting, but usually to +7, towards magenta to remove greenish tint. Sharpness was raised from 10% to 100% in a total of three scenes. Whenever there was visible any lights or sunlight coming through windows, I checked Highlight Recovery box, which raised the highlights so that I could recover more when lowering Gain during grading. Because of the heavy vignetting of the lens barrel, step-up ring, filter and lens shade, I had to adjust the Sizing of the image, setting Zoom to a minimum of 11% and maximum of 27%, with an average of 14.5%. I also had to ajust the alignment of the image in the majority of cases, as the vignetting generally tended downwards and to the right. Pan was set between -19.500 and +15.500, usually well below 0, and Tilt between -59.000 and +2.500, in all cases but one equal to or below 0. Unfortunately, some minor vignetting is still visible in certain shots in the upper corners (in particular the left). This heavy extra cropping of the original 1080p image of course means that the actual image resolution is as low as 780p and at 920p at an average; with the 2.40:1 output blanking, the visible image is actually 680p at an average, i.e. closer to SD rather than True HD. This adds some softness to the image but doesn’t make it blocky, at least not on a 32″ screen; it is after all a RAW image.
To add some blue tint to the image, to counter or balance out the green and magenta, I pushed the Offset wheel during grading, moving the pointer towards the right or slightly upper-right portion of the colour wheel. This created a somewhat more natural and balanced look, drawing towards the colds and blues. This was also a conscious choice as to make it somewhat easier to grade the footage, with lights coming both from LED’s or fluorescents in combination with light coming in through the windows, creating a confused colour palette between cold and warm. Grading this film has been my greatest challenge to date, and I had to make several compromises. I believe it took me approxiately two weeks to colour correct and grade the entire movie. In certain scenes I desaturated the image on the Color Wheel tab from 50 down to 35, just to mitigate the mix between warm yellows from fluorescents and cold blues from the windows. I also withheld the Saturation and Color Boost in Camera Raw out of the same considerations, as to much saturation would have emphasised the mixed lighting to a distracting level. Certain scenes required a raised Saturation of 60 to match them to the general look. But I’m quite satisfied with the result, although its not one of my prettiest movies color wise. It’s pretty enough. Following the basic Offset correction and grading towards a blue hue, I tweeked everyting using the Lift (shadows), Gamma (midtones) and Gain (highlights) colour wheels. I generally left the midtones untouched, but had to either lower them or raise them by one or two stops in certain cases when the image was either do dark or to bright, to match the footage, generally retaining the individual positions of red, green and blue. In a few instances I tried to balance the three primaries in the midtones, but generally left them alone. I raised the highlights and lowered the shadows to their furthest extensions without clipping, and making a basic leveling and balancing of the reds, greens and blues.
Using the Tracking Window in the Color page I stabilised each and every shot in the film, having shot it entirely handheld without any grips or shoulder supports. In all instances I checked the Pan, Tilt, Zoom and Rotate boxes before starting the tracking. I always began with setting Strong to 90 and Smooth to 10. In a few cases, I set the Strong lower, as low as 60, to prevent any induced and unnatural shakiness, or when the resulting image became “rubbery” or “wavy” (which was scarce). I found out, during this project, that setting the Smooth in a compensatory measure (so that the sum of both equalled 100) worked well in smoothing out micro-shakes that I couldn’t remove. I set Smooth as high as 40 (to compensate for the Strong of 60). But in some cases I only raised Smooth to 20, and in certain other not at all, although I had lowered Strong below that of 90. As a general rule, I checked the Zoom box in the lower right-hand corner of the Tracker, for auto cropping of the image to prevent a moving window, although I still had to zoom in the image in each case to remove the vignetting. The Tracker and Stabilization feature worked allright, although it did lag a couple of times. A Curious Day has a more shaky feel to it, compared to my previous two films Mirrors and The Red Stone, but works better compared to my previous handheld short, The Xmas Tree Hunt. I soon found out that the Stabilisation feature of DaVinci Resolve 12.5 doesn’t handle handheld pans and tilts that well, in particular in combination and if they are fast. It works well with handheld footage that I shoot relatively static, or if I do slow and gentle camera movements, and not to far off. The clip of the brand logos at the end credits was reused (cut’n’paste style) from my previous project The Red Stone (which used all brands that I have purchased to date) and removed those brands that I hadn’t used during this shoot, reorienting a few of those that I had retained according to the Anchor Point x and y axis. In all cases, I retained the Darken Composit feature which worked well, although it did make one blue logo (that of the Zenit) into cyan, but that was cool anyway.