Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Arri Amira shoots cars well! And Adobe makes post easy!

This past weekend I got to visit the guys out at what is affectionately known as The 'Cudashop in Wylie, TX to shoot some new and old fast cars, modified for the need-for-speed. These cars were beautiful and the day had perfect lighting conditions, just a thin layer of cloud in the sky for the most part. The concept was a tribute to guys who love fast cars and keep the vintage ones on the road.

Whenever possible, I prefer to set the camera up 2K ProRes 4444, 23.98fps base and Log-C. I was shooting the cars peeling out at 23.98fps and 100 fps mostly, but a couple shots were 120fps and one was 200fps, which felt a little too slow, but very cool. 

My lens is a Canon Cine Zoom 30-105mm that really delivers that nice cinematic yet sharp look. I also used a IB/E 2X extender for many of the peel outs for that tighter, more compressed, dynamic image. I thought about increasing the shutter rate but opted to allow natural motion blur at 180 degrees. Also thought about adding a pola filter but decided it might cancel out the reflections in the glass and I wanted them to retain the sheen the sky was naturally providing. It's the sheen that makes cars look great!

What was cool to see was how the Amira in Log-C really retains the highlights in the sheet metal and glass that reflects the sky while at the same time seeing into the shadows at the front of the cars. All the cars were pretty much 3/4 back lit or back lit in the peel outs. I generally stayed low to the ground to maximize the power of these cars.

Upon ingesting the footage into Premiere Pro CC 2014 (updated) I found the Log-C clips were automatically given a Rec.709 LUT, which is cool to edit with without correction, but of course at some point I'm going to want to tweak it in SpeedGrade. So I learned I could turn off the LUT in the Master Clips (though one clip at a time) before linking to SpeedGrade, where I reapplied the Amira 709 LUT, but now was able to tweak the primary layer. I then added another primary layer on top to create a grad filter affect in the sky as if I had used a tobacco grad.

The beauty of this approach, compared to adding a traditional grad filter in camera, is I now have better control over the grad placement and how soft or hard an edge I want, or even what color I want the grad to be, or whether I really want the grad at all. And because of the wide 14+ stops of dynamic range of the Amira, I can actually pull detail out of the sky, (should there have been some clouds). Lower dynamic range cameras would lose that information unless they used some type of ND grad filter. In SpeedGrade I allowed a little soft transition from warm to natural blue.

Now I have always loved using grad filters, ND and colors, but the problem is they cover the entire upper third even if you don't want it entirely covered, plus they don't adjust for the action as the composition changes. They can become very apparent. And if I decide to grade the entire scene warm, as I did in this case, a "baked in" grad would go warmer still, which might not be what I want. In SpeedGrade I can decide the amount of warmth in both elements independently.

We also took a few cars out on the road for a traveling shot. I just set the tripod low in the bed of a pickup truck. Here I shot slow-mo simply to help minimize the bumps in the road. And by shooting 2K I had a slightly larger frame over 1080 to stabilize the shot in Affect Effects using Warp Stabilizer.

My computer is a HP Z800 with a single 6 core processor and it handled the ProRes footage very well, even switching back and forth between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade. 

Many thanks to Adobe for finally updating SpeedGrade to allow display output to my Dream Color monitor. Before, I always had to "guess" my grading on the system's non-color accurate View Sonic and then go back to Premiere to get output to the Dream Color via the Blackmagic card.

Ultimately, Amira and Adobe make life easy and full of creative choices. This whole shoot was pretty much available light, just a little bounce card for close ups on people. Mind you perfect lighting conditions truly helped, and being able to select ideal angles too, but I like the technology combination.

A big thank you goes to Clint Cash who organized the great guys at The Cudashop. And also a big thank you to Mark Montgomery for helping out and taking those production stills of me and the Amira.

Here's the link to the finished spot.

Sometime in the next few weeks I'm planning to upgrade my Amira to UHD and blog about that experience. Stay tuned! And thanks for your visit.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent and educational piece. Thanks for writing it.