It would be an understatement to say that camera technology is advancing rather rapidly at the moment. In the last twelve months alone the major manufacturers together have released more than 25 new models of camera, it’s an interesting time to work in the moving images business. A cynic might suggest that this technological push has a little more to do with profit margins than it does image quality per-say. None the less there’s been a huge push for the modern magic lanterns to be capturing in Ultra HD or 4K (yes that’s right 4x the resolution of current full HD).
While not suitable for every project there are certainly some jobs where it’s just what ‘s required. Red Bikini had recently been given the task of creating a teaser video for the new Kangaroo Island tourist attraction – The Wilderness Trail. The South Australian Department of Environment Water & Natural Resources (DEWNR) are investing five million dollars to develop the track that will allow walkers to explore the coast line and heartland of Kangaroo Island. They needed some stunning aerial footage of the tracks key features.
Without a budget for a full Tyler Mount heli shoot, we needed to find a solution that would allow us to smooth out the footage while also giving the option to reframe in post for particular geographic details. Fenton Film Hire very kindly helped us out with their new MOVI M10 for some gimbal stabilised goodness, and Urban Cine sourced us a 4K Blackmagic Production camera.
Being a weather dependent shoot we needed two consecutive days of good weather that would give the best chance of golden hour footage at dawn and dusk. Peter McSherry from South Coast Helicopters did a great job of getting us down to Kangaroo Island from Strathalbyn at short notice and keeping the chopper as stable as possible in some of the windy conditions we experienced.
While myself, Peter and Justin were in the air, Dani from Red Bikini was on the ground shooting the additional trail footage with DEWNR staff on the 5D MkIII.
To maximise options in post we were shooting uncompressed 4K (3840×2160) on the BMPC, this did lead to a few tense moments as we backed up the footage in the evening from the solid state drives as we couldn’t preview the individual captured frames (as it turned out the footage needs to be ingested into DaVinci Resolve to see these properly). But after two days of filming we had more than 350GB of footage to be massaged into the final edit. I’d love to be able to say that the awesome end result which you can see here came straight out of the camera, but that would be denying the amazing work of Dan Principe at Red Bikini who worked some magic of his own in grading, stablising and interpolating the footage.
DEWNR are very happy with the end result, and justifiably so I think. The quality of the 4K image when scaled down to the HD frame looks incredibly lush and rich. Uncompressed 4K is not the easiest of workflows however and places a fair few demands on the hardware end of postproduction, its not to be tackled for fast turn around work unless you wish to increase ones stress levels to an equivalent 4K level.
Thanks again to Dani, Justin and Dan at Red Bikini for the work, red wine and golden hour grading and to Peter at South Coast Helicopters for the great flying and tolerance at Kiwi humour. Last up a few pics snapped on the iPhone on the way back to Strathalbyn, Kangaroo Island really is quite stunning. It’s enough to make one want to go on a five day walk!