January has been a slow month for me, so I have been doing a few "side projects." Last year "Reckless Breakfast" uh....rocked the World Wide Web, so I have high hopes for this two shot sketch to really take things to the next level.
All jokes aside, it was a good way to test out my new Atomos Shogun + Sony a7s 4k combo, as well as some of the recent vintage Leica glass purchases I have been making. I was really happy with the quality of the footage out of the Shogun, even if there are a few minor nitpicks. The quality of the plastic feels like it was made from melted down McDonald's toys. I hope no one ever tries to drop the thing, because it feels like one 3 ft drop on concrete would crack it in two. It also makes me worry about someone tightening down onto the female theads as that could crack the lightweight plastic as well. Additionally the Shogun is insanely battery hungry and will chew through the supplied battery in about 30min so I had to leave it plugged into the wall. Looks like this years investments might be in some sort of Anton Bauer battery solution for the camera and the monitor. I'm having some minor buyers remorse especially with the recently announced Odyssey 7Q+ but Convergent Desgin seems to nickle and dime you on the codecs and recording media so I may have been unhappy there anyways.
On the lens side, the Leica Summicron-R 90mm f/2 has a very nice look to it that really works on digital cameras. Not too sharp, not too soft. On the a7s side I would have to say S-Log2 isn't all what its cracked up to be. Especially under normal lighting conditions where 3200ISO is just absurd to shoot without carrying around some heavy ND. Also I've found it to be really hard to manage the noise and almost always requires some post-production noise reduction to make it clean up some of the nasty color blotching. Cine4 has been my go to gamma profile with some minor tweaks to the black levels and color phase. I've also been playing with the Cinema/Pro color gamuts. Cinema seems to be slightly more desaturated overall especially in the red channel. Pro seems to be realistic and distributes the color fairly evenly. I also tweak the color phase (tint?) into the +3 to +5 range as my camera seems to be a wee bit on the green side. For this shoot I used Cine4, Black Level -4, Saturation +5, ColorPhase +3.
For lights I just used my two Kino Flo 4ft 4 banks to make a simple one light setup with some general fill. Nothing too fancy there. One thing I learned is louvers are your friend, they really help cut down spill from the background and make your subject pop. I feel like I've ignored or neglected them in the past.
In post I've been playing with a few LUTS from the VisionColor Impulz set to give it a quick Company3-eque look. Since I didn't shoot S-Log 2 I just used the Generic REC-709 LUTS. I liked the way the Kodak Vision 3 50D LUT smooths out the skin tones and gives them a pleasing peachy color. I made some minor secondary corrections and then "printed down" using the Cineon to Kodak 2383 FPE (D60) LUT. As long as you expose correctly and you scene has manageable dynamic range I don't think it's super necessary to shoot S-Log2 to get decent results in post. I've been happier with my non-Slog footage so far than my S-Log footage out of this camera but to each his own.