The new CBS legal drama "Made in Jersey" is the latest high-profile production to showcase the capabilities of Sony's F65 CineAlta camera. The production team for the new show is using up to six F65s at any one time, taking advantage of every aspect of the camera - from image quality to low-light performance to workflow flexibility.
Veteran director of photography Daryn Okada, ASC, said the camera fits his style of shooting in terms of matching his previous experience with film to his more recent work in the digital domain.
"I never once had to baby the camera," Okada said. "I shot it like film as much as possible. I didn't ND one window for this whole show and it is not even lit that brightly. There are no power windows, or secondary color correction. It's just a straight primary ACES color grade. The camera has such a wide color gamut, I can mix lighting easily -- tungsten with daylight coming in and it all feels right. That's something I've only been able to do with film - until I started working with this camera.
"But the coolest stuff is light," Okada added. "I really stretched the heck out of the camera. For one scene, we were in a SOHO loft with a lot of direct sunlight. The lighting was just done with Kino Flos and in existing light bouncing off the floor. I shot at f5.6 and it read like f32 - and there was still information in the blue sky. You could color time if you wanted to bring it in more, but it's entirely natural. The only thing I'm doing with the Kino Flos is just getting a little bit of face here and there, but most of it is just coming off the floor."
The F65's ability to handle varying lighting conditions presented a new palette of tools to use during shooting.
"Some of the things we did on this show, previously I would have only tried with film," he said. "It's not just dynamic range, it's the color gamut and the way the camera represents different luminances to make it all work. So even though direct sun is hitting the set, there's no clipping at all. You're reading all the way into the actors' faces. All I did was tweak the exposure just a little bit on the camera. The light's beautiful to start with so you don't have to do a whole lot. We couldn't get this kind of production value any other way and if we had to ND with a bunch of windows it would have been a mess."
Okada and team were trying to achieve a certain look for the show, and the F65 was the perfect match for the show's rich textures and bold colors.
"When people look at the images out of the camera, they're just ecstatic when they see the textures and the way it holds different color mixes," he said. "It gives you a wider palette to work with. I feel like I'm shooting more with the latitude of film. I'm not obsessing about where somebody's face or exposure goes. I'll light it by eye and use my meter as the only measuring device. If I notice something really hot there, I'll just expose it down slightly with the confidence of knowing that I have all this other information."
The F65's ability to handle and process light meant Okada didn't have to spend as much time on lighting the set and was able to get the shots he wanted with minimal lighting, he could focus his attention more on other creative aspects of the production.
"Even if I had time to light it, we wouldn't have been able to do it on our schedule," he said. "With this camera's ease of use, I was able to plan it out right so that the light would be just where I wanted it and we could get our ideal production values with just two lights placed in the right spots."
A Complete Workflow Solution
The F65's shooting capabilities were just one part of the production's success. The unique and flexible file-based ACES workflow was critical to the entire project.
Okada monitored the F65 signal on-set through Technicolor's DP Lights real-time color correction system. Technicolor inserted the IDT, RRT and ODT into the system, allowing Okada to create custom looks through the ACES pipeline. These looks traveled as the ASC Color Decision List (CDL) so Okada's creative vision would be applied to all of the dailies material as well as the final on air product. This is the first use of ACES in a major studio television series, and the first for DP Lights.
The footage captured by the F65 was recorded onto Sony's SRMASTER memory cards (512 MB and 1 TB capacities) using the F65 4K Raw "Lite" Codec. The cards were inserted into a Sony SR-PC4 card reader, and the footage was logged and ingested into a Technicolor FrameLogic Dailies Creation system, located near set, in an office space at Brooklyn, New York's Steiner Studios, where the show is shot.
Tim Hedden, the Technicolor Dailies Colorist, synced the sound with the picture and applied the ASC CDL through the ACES color workflow. He was able to add additional color as needed to match cameras and previous scenes. Hedden would then render out the editorial deliverables, viewing materials and studio deliverables. The material was pushed to Technicolor's high speed production network (TPN) each night so that the L.A. based staff was able to view and cut the material the next day.
"If we started a regular day at 7 am, by about 9 o'clock east coast time Sony Pictures Television in California is already posting the dailies in their system," Okada said.
The camera's ability to fit seamlessly into the right workflow solution was key to Okada.
"We're turning out an episode a week in post so we had to be able to go through the whole process quickly and efficiently with titles and visual effects and everything else that has to be done to it. The combination of the F65 camera and the ACES/Technicolor workflows was perfect."