Selfmade Movies

The Red Stone (2017)

Dogma 16 No. 1, a Gorilla Film Studios production entitled The Red Stone. Directed, filmed, edited, mixed, colour corrected and graded by Tomas Stacewicz. Music by György Ligeti (1923-2006), Lux Aeterna: Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tui in aeternum quia pius es. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis (“Let perpetual light shine upon them, O Lord, with your saints for ever, for you are merciful. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them”).

RAW capture

A experimental short shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Zenit Meteor 5-1 f/1.9 17-69mm lens, through the RafCamera M42 – MFT adapter and using the RafCamera follow focus gear, being fully rigged to the POOLiCAGE, SmallRig top handle, POOLi™ S-BASE-2 Ø 15 x 60 mm rods system with attached 30 cm rods, SmallRig lens support, Petroff follow focus, and Fancier FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head. Captured on CinemaDNG RAW. Filmed on location in Klippan and Röda Sten, Göteborg, Sweden, on April 22, 2017. 7:58 minutes. Published on YouTube on 8 May 2017. Copyright © 2017 Gorilla Film Studios.

RAW capture

The title The Red Stone grew naturally out from the main subject, the red stone (“Röda Sten”) and its vicinity. It may best be described as a film with religious and alchemical undertones, drawing upon Christian, Pagan and Hermetic symbolism, overlaid on a maritime setting and coastal landscape. On the surface, it is simply a movie that tries to capture the beaturiful millieu and atmosphere of Klippan (“The Rock”) and Röda Sten, situated at the very entrence of the Port of Gothenburg and the mouth of Göta Kanal. But the physical and profane artefact is also attached to the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, referred to as the Red Stone.

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The film was entirely shot without a script but I knew that I wanted to capture three main subjects, the small stone church upon a hill overlooking the harbour, the small harbour with vintage ships, and the Red Stone and its surroundings. Beyond that, everything was filmed spontaneously in a run-and-gun fashion carrying the rig attached on the tripod while walking between shots. I used my car as a base and drove between a total of three locations, within an area of approximately one kilometre in diameter, disassembling the rig from the tripod and reassembling it again each time. I shot the movie only by myself, being a one-man crew.

RAW capture

This is not a test movie per se but I still took time and care to put my new BMPCC rig to the test, in field conditions, including the Petroff MatteBox. Some limited follow focus pulling exercises were conducted on this shoot, using the Petroff Mini Follow Focus together with the RafCamera Follow Focus Gear For Meteor 5-1 1.9/17-69mm zoom lens. The zoom control of the LOMO Meteor 5-1 lens was also used on several occations throughout the shoot. This was also the first time that I made excessive outdoors use of the FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head to stabilise my footage, using panning and tilting as s central part of the narrative.

RAW capture

General camera settings (including Camera RAW): ISO 800, White Balance 6000K, Saturation +100%, Color Boost +30%, Lift and Gain individually adjusted, Shutter Angle 172.8º, and 24 fps. (Note: Together with the added Saturation in grading, my ambition was to recreate an old-school Technicolor look.) Lens settings: F=17 to 69, and f/18 to 22. Filters: NDx4. Sound: Although sound was recorded, because there were so strong winds creating distortion it became unusable, and everything was deleted in the edit. Only music composed by György Ligeti was used, being a piece for 16 solo voices performed by Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks Hamburg and conducted by Helmut Franz, which was entirely left alone without any remixing or boosting.

RAW capture

The RAW footage was edited, mixed, colour corrected, graded and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.5, using a workstation based on the ASUS X99-A and GeForce GTX 1060, as well as Intel Core i7 and Windows 10. Manual colour correction without LUTs, using a basic colour correction in Resolve’s Camera RAW feature, adjusting with a final grade with the aid of color wheels while checking the scopes to create a more balanced RGB profile in the highlights and shadows. Grade settings: Saturation 70% and Hue 50%, Zoom 6-8%. Extensive image stabilisation. The output blanking (cropping) was set to 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Retime speed lowered to 50% using frame blend in one scene and freeze frame in another. Render: DNxHR 444 video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution. Uploaded to YouTube, enhancing the image with a Saturation of +1 and no additional image manipulation.

Some comments and feedback from fellow filmmakers:

Interesting. Can’t help but think of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. I did have a problem with the ease of reading the opening text on the moving background of the first clip since my eyes would be drawn to the background while I’m trying to keep my attention on the text. The title technique may work well when the background video is not 100% visible if possible, as if the titles were on top of a layer that is 75% opaque so there’s just a hint of the moving video below the titles. That might look quite attractive without distraction. – Rick Lang

I like your sense of camera shot, espessially the first part of the movie. It’s really involving into the film. Well done. All the best. – Mikhail Fyodorov

Chromaticity is very high, in the shades of blue. At the expense of lenses – do not use them as [they have] a very strong aberration. – Alexey Bekker

Well done Thomas. What were your thoughts behind the maritime/religious themes? I couldn’t sense a link between the two ideas. I wonder if there is enough to sustain people’s interest for 7 mins – maybe something shorter would be more effective? I also wondered if the shots would be more compelling with a more ‘filmic’ look (less saturation, lower black level, etc). Perhaps shooting at dusk would be more dramatic? Finally, the gear-logos at the end gave the impression you’re sponsored by those companies – not really a problem, but worth bearing in mind. Keep experimenting and best wishes.Ben Johnston

Aside from the saturation the colour is off almost in every scene (except for the black and white section ). Colour being off meaning white balance and hue are off. You can have an over saturated image but the hue and white balance needs to be spot on at least. More attention to colour. Technicolor had rich colours that were amplified by the grit of film grain, not over saturated colours – two very different looks. Also, if you saturate the shadows it’s never pleasant to look at. You can enhance colour by boosting the mids or the highlights with a bit of extra saturation. Also, use your meters on resolve. You can know how much saturation you have. Keep shooting and grading. The pocket is a magical little tool – it is a fantastic camera to learn colour grading with on par with some of the most popular cameras out there.. every time I show clips from the pocket people think it’s shot on RED. – Marko Hila

Mirrors (2017)

Camera Test Movie III presented by Gorilla Film Studios. Filmed, edited, colour corrected and graded by Tomas Stacewicz. Music by courtesy of Jonas Olsen. A test film shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the LOMO 16 OKS 3-10-1 f/2.1 10 mm lens, through the Kinor-16SX-2 to MFT adapter by RafCamera, using the Fancier FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head, partly attached to the Cobra dolly, as well as mounted to the Flycam HD-3000 stabiliser. Captured on CinemaDNG RAW. Filmed on location in Kungsladugård, Göteborg, Sweden, on February 8, 2017. 6:57 minutes. Originally published on YouTube on 1 March 2017 in 2160p. Copyright © 2017 Gorilla Film Studios.

RAW capture
RAW capture

The film is entitled Mirrors, as these figure a lot in the movie, both direct and more indirect. There are regular mirrors seen in several shots, but there are also a lot of reflections in glass and windows. Also, one of the subjects of the movie is the Kinor-16SX-2M, which originally housed the OKS 3-10-1 that is tested in the clips; in the movie the Kinor-16 is seen with its lens mount open where its reflex mirror shutter is vaugly visible. All shots were filmed either with the camera mounted to the Fancier tripod, with or without dolly, or onto the Flycam stabilisator. The film was entirely shot without a script, but I had a vauge idea what and how I wanted to shoot, some basic scenes, and what stabilisation I wanted to use, including the dolly shot.

RAW capture
RAW capture

Camera test experimentation was conducted on both the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the OKS 3-10-1 lens to see how well they behave and cooperate together in creating a good filmic image and cinematic experience in an indoors or interior location. Especially low light capabilities were measured, as well as contrast and colour handling. Follow focus was not conducted during shooting, as a proper follow focus arrangement was absent, so all focus was set prior to each take. Lots of minimal focus distance test were conducted though. Optical quality on the lens was tested, measuring sharpness, internal reflexion and scattering (i.e. lens flare).

RAW capture
RAW capture

General camera settings (including Camera RAW): ISO 800, White Balance 6000K, Saturation +100, Color Boost +20, Lift and Gain individually adjusted, Shutter Angle 172.8º, and 24 fps. Lens settings: F=10 and f/2.1 to 32. Sound: Although sound was recorded, because there were no ambient sound that was usable, everything was deleted in the edit. Only music composed by Jonas Olsen was used, an electronic drone piece entitled Dresonor, which was relatively left alone without any remixing or boosting.

RAW capture
RAW capture

The RAW footage was edited, colour corrected, graded and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.4. Manual colour correction without LUTs, using a basic colour correction in Resolve’s Camera RAW feature, adjusting with a final grade with the aid of color wheels while checking the scopes to create a more balanced RGB profile in the highlights, midtones and shadows. Grade settings: Saturation and Hue 50%, Zoom 2-18% (averaging 10%), Pan -34.5 to 34, and Tilt -149.5 to 0. Image stabilisation of the footage was only performed once, in the dolly shot. The output blanking (cropping) was set to 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Retime speed lowered to 55% using optical flow in one scene. Render: DNxHR HQ video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution. Uploaded to YouTube, enhancing the image with a Saturation of +1 and no additional image manipulation.

Some comments and feedback from fellow filmmakers:

Beautifully shot and rendered. – Steven Sclafani

Great shots. Love the way the bmpcc sensor looks. Nice vid[eo], cheers! – Sid the Jet

Nice vid[eo] and interesting interiour! – Andrew Drogin

I couldn’t deal with chromatic aberrations. That’s totally mess up keying footage. I could signs of it there (in your video).  I mean it can look good for effect. But baked in it’s going to be a problem. Even sharpening is an issue if its done in camera. I mean if it is there or in general. When you try to pull a key there’ll be this line around the footage where it’s slightly lighter and makes it hard to remove without pushing the key harder. – Greg Chin

The XmasTree Hunt (2017)

A short film presented by Gorilla Film Studios (formaly MasterPlan Productions). Directed, recorded, edited, mixed and graded by Tomas Stacewicz. Music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) license, Jingle Punks, December Nightskies and Mathieu Lamontagne & Emmanuel Toledo used under a Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/) license, and BethMcDonald used under Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/). 15:06 minutes. Published on YouTube on 10 January 2017 in 2160p. Copyright © 2017 Gorilla Film Studios.

RAW capture
RAW capture

A narrative documentary shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 and LOMO Meteor 5-1 lenses. Captured on CinemaDNG RAW. The majority of the shots were filmed handheld in a run-and-gun fashion, with no stabilisation, the exception being the shot taken of the decorated Christmas Tree. Filmed on location in Vättlefjäll and Kungsladugård, Göteborg, Sweden, between December 18 and 24, 2016. The exterior woodland scenes were filmed on 2016-12-18, and interior scenes of the decorated Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve, 2016-10-24.

RAW capture
RAW capture

The film was entirely shot without a script but I wanted it to have a narrative based on our plan to cut a fir-tree, bringing it home and decorate it as a Christmas Tree; the place of the scene was already chosen at a farmer’s estates in a beautiful landscape on the outskirts of North-Western Gothenburg, at Vättlefjäll, where you can pick your own tree for a small fee. Everything was filmed spontaneously in a run-and-gun fashion while following the subject, my wife Jessica, while she were looking for the optimal Christmas Tree. So it’s a documentary, but it has its narrative which vaugly follows a three acts structure. The title grew out from the narrative and was tweeked to become a pun on the most famous pirate copy of the Tilta cage for the BMPCC, the CamTree Hunt.

RAW capture
RAW capture

This is not a test movie per se but I still took time and care to test out a native Micro Four Thirds lens, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6, and how well the Backmagic Pocket Cinema Camera behaves with its electronic button focus and iris controls. I tried to observe the optical quality on the Olympus lens, in particular its sharpness, internal reflexion and scattering (i.e. lens flare), as well as its general look. I also tested out the Fancier FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head during the end titles sequence, as well as the zoom control of the LOMO Meteor 5-1 lens.

RAW capture
RAW capture

General camera settings: ISO 800, Shutter Angle 180º and 24 fps. Exterior shot camera settings: White Balance 7000K, F=17, and f/3.5 to 5.6. Interior camera settings: White Balance 3200K, F=17-69, and f/1.9. General audio settings: All sound were recorded on the inboard stereo microphone of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, with microphone and channel (line) levels set to 100% (generally untouched in post, with some exceptions where sound levels either had to be lowered or raised).

RAW capture
RAW capture

Edited, graded and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.4. Colour correction was made manually using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera Film to Rec. 709 v2 LUT somewhat as a reference, raising Saturation to 100 and keeping Hue at level 50, adjusting the final grading with the aid of color wheels to create a balanced RGB profile in the highlights. Extensive image stabilisation performed on the majority of shots, adjusted additionally with a 2% maximum Zooming. Rendered using the DNxHR HQ video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution. Exported and uploaded to YouTube, enhancing the image with a Saturation of +1 with no additional image manipulation.

RAW capture
RAW capture

As stated above, I tested  the zoom control of the Meteor 5-1 during the final shot of the decorated Christmas Tree. I attached the rod to the zoom lever on the side of the barrel. And I did some fast zooms, and moderately fast zooms as I suspected that the rod and lever arrangement would provide for really fast zoom effets. And as you can see on the end credits of the film, my suspicions were confirmed. I actually cut out the most experimental part of that shoot, which I have attached in a separate film below – the deleted scenes or extended version of the Christmas Tree or Camera Test Movie II, simply entitled The Christmas Tree. I uploaded it using the same wrapper, codec and resolution as above.

As you may have noticed, during the end titles sequence of the Christmas Tree, out of sheer ignorance, I managed to disregard the rule of using a 172.8° shutter angle while shooting in natural light coming from a 220V power mains with 50Hz frequency; I learned the hard way that you cannot use the standard 180° setting of the shutter angle, which is adapted for countries with 60Hz mains power supplies. I saw the effect already when reviewing the take on camera, on the LCD screen, but thought it was some kind of interferance of the screen itself. When I imported the footage to DaVinci Resolve, I could see that the strobing was actually captured on the CinemaDNG files. However, I decided to keep the footage and edit out the most severe strobing. You can see a short tutorial that I shot during the postproduction process and edited together below.

Some comments and feedback from fellow filmmakers:

I thought everything looked really good but what killed it for me was the lack of stabilization. It was so shaky it was jarring to watch and made it hard to watch. If your budget allows for it sometime you might get a three axis gimbal. I use the Beholder DS1 with my BMPCC and 12-35 lens and it looks great. – Marshall Baker

Seems the bumpy factor in the clip is a bit beyond what I would be comfortable with sending out the door, but screen size counts, and I watched it on a 65″ screen… it might be ok on a 5″ phone screen, and I’m used to interpreting what I see on a 65″ screen and thinking about how it will present on a 10 meter cinema screen. – Dermot Shane

Really fun trip. I’m going to cut down a real tree this xmas. Great video, best wishes. – Sid the Jet

Great short movie 🙂 – Alan Saillet

The eerie music + santa combination was interesting-reminded me of The Village for some reason! – VisualRogue

Lux ex Tenebris (2016)

Camera Test Movie I presented by MasterPlan Productions. Filmed, edited, mixed and graded by Tomas Stacewicz. Music by Chase Rayment (starfrosch.com/hot-100/artist/chase+rayment) used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported Licence (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). 17:32 minutes. Originally published on YouTube on 25 November 2016 in 1080p. Republished on YouTube on 4 Decemberd 2016 in 2160p. Copyright © 2016 MasterPlan Productions.

lux-ex-tenebris-kungsladugard-bokeh
RAW capture

A “Dogme 95” style experimental test film shot on CinemaDNG RAW with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Zenit-LOMO Meteor 5-1 f/1.9 17-69 mm lens, using the RafCamera M42x1-MTF lens adapter. All shots were filmed handheld using a pistol grip and telescopic stock shoulder brace taken from the Zenit Krasnogorsk-3 camera kit, the exception being the timelapse take which was shot during four hours using a tripod. Sorry for the shaky footage; I was totally unprepared for the lightweightiness of this little camera, with no innate stabilisation whatsoever! Filmed on location in Kungsladugård and Slottsskogen, Göteborg, Sweden, between October 13 and 29, 2016, at the peak of Fall. Night scenes were filmed on 2016-10-13, day scenes on 2016-10-15, and timelapse on 2016-10-29.

lux-ex-tenebris-mariaplan
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Camera test experimentation was conducted on both the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Meteor 5-1 lens to see how well they behave together and cooperate in creating a good filmic image and cinematic experience. Especially low light and night scene capabilities were measured, as well as contrast and colour handling in both night and day scenes. Lots of depth of field and focus pulling test were conducted on both night and day scenes. Optical quality on the lens was tested, measuring sharpness, internal reflexion and scattering (i.e. lens flare), and bokeh. Also, the timelapse function of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was tested successfully. The handheld rig, using the Krasnogorsk-3 pistol grip with attached shoulder brace, was tested unsuccessfully as many shots exhibit distracting micro-shakes.

lux-ex-tenebris-moon
RAW capture

The film was entirely shot without a script; it’s a test movie after all. Everything was filmed spontaneously in a run-and-gun fashion. I knew which locations I wanted to shoot in but each scene developed creatively on each shoot. I also knew that I wanted to test the camera and lens combo during the night followed by the day in full sunlight; I wanted to enchance this contrast through the urban environment against nature and woodland. It soon felt natural to also shoot a timelapse sequence, not simply to test that feature on the camera but also to bridge the contrast between darkness and light. The title “From Darkness to Light” developed naturally from this bridging sequence. Lots of attention to detail was put on the soundtrack, with music and sounds that sometimes blends well with the nervousness of the shaky footage.

lux-ex-tenebris-oto-flare
RAW capture

General camera settings: ISO 800, Shutter Angle 180º and 24 fps. Night shot camera settings: White Balance 3200K and f/1.9. Day shot camera settings: White Balance 6500K, f/1.9-7 and ND x4 filter. Timelapse camera settings: 10 seconds timelapse, White Balance 3000K (Color Temp raised to 3500K in post), Focal Lenght F=25, f/1.9-22 (continuously stepped down during timelapse; Exposure -3 and Highlights -100 in post) and ND x4 filter. General audio settings: All sound were recorded on the inboard stereo microphone of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, with microphone and channel (line) levels set to 50% (upmixed in post approximately 8 dB).

lux-ex-tenebris-azalea-flare
RAW capture

Edited, mixed, graded, stabilized and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.2. Colour correction was made manually using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera Film to Rec. 709 v2 LUT as a reference, raising Saturation to 100 and keeping Hue at level 50, adjusting the final grading with the aid of color wheels to create a balanced RGB profile. Vignetting was adjusted with a 16% maximum Zooming. 1080p version rendered to QuickTime containing the DNxHR SQ video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec. Enhancements was made on YouTube by raising Saturation +1 and retaining Contrast 0; this level was chosen as a average to accomodate for computers and monitors that desaturates and flattens the original image quality, as well as not exaggerating saturation and contrast on well calibrated monitors; contrast were left at level 0 to be able to properly experience the night scenes.

lux-ex-tenebris-slottsskogen-short-depth-of-field
RAW capture

Not being fully satisfied with the result of the Test Movie after being compressed by YouTube using 1920 × 1080 resolution, following the suggestions by others, I finally made a second upload to YouTube using the DNxHR HQ video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution, enhancing Saturation +1. Apparently YouTube streams at about 40 Megabits per second in 4K compared to about 7 Mbps in 1080p, making it more watchable in 4K. YouTube now presents Lux ex Tenebris HQ in 720p, 1080p, 1440p and 2160p. Even though it took me more than an entire day (circa 33 hours) to finish the entire uploading process, considering that the .MOV file was approximately 90 GB in size (compared to the 15 GB .MOV file of the 1080p version, which took approximately four hours to upload), now finally YouTube does justice to the native CinemaDNG RAW 1080p footage coming from the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the LOMO Meteor 5-1 lens! (I have saved the original YouTube clip for comparison.)

Some comments and feedback from fellow filmmakers:

That soundtrack was so fitting to carry the visuals along. It all felt like a dream and a nightmare. And in the end, the cat is waking up and we are the cat! – Rick Lang

This video is so hard to watch, you need some stabilisation. Those micro jitters in [the] BMPCC are terrible. – Andrew Kolakowski

Well done with the recoding in the end. The quality looks great on YouTube 4K. – Tobias Nilsson