Vantastic Has Begun
Friends of mine, Justin Downing and Brent Henry wrote an amazing comedy web series about two friends who while pursue a dream of becoming private detectives, stumble on a real murder case. They've asked me to direct it, which I am honored. It will be a rough ride but the production process has already made me realize I have some amazing friends. So many people have sacrificed their time, and pulled their connections for us so this thing can happen. The coolest part! I'm shooting all A Cam on the Sony A7r.
My Experience Using The Sony A7r For Video Production
Because of the insane schedule and lack of budget I'll be shooting and directing the whole show myself. It makes the process a little quicker since you spend less time delegating what you need to even more crew. Although it is twice as much work.
I do love shooting my own stuff though. For the first couple of years living in L.A. I made my living primarily off shooting. It's something I truly love and I'm glad that I'm able to get back into it.
In the past 10 years, I've shot with a lot of different cameras. In college it was the Canon XL1, then the Sony Z1U, and shot a feature on the first Red camera back in 2009 when I was just a youngen. And recently I've shot on the Red Epic, Red Scarlett, 5Dmkii, 5Dmkiii etc etc. Because of the size and weight of the Sony A7r, shooting is way easier than these other cameras. On our first production day I was shocked how easy it was to use and how light it really is. My friend Sean Hewitt was shooting B Cam with my old Canon 5Dmkii. I picked it up for a moment and was shocked at how heavy it was. You could kill someone with that thing, not that I would want to kill someone with it but it would always dawn on me when shooting photography in different third world countries that if someone tried to jump me, I basically had a weapon in the form of a magnesium club with a Canon logo on it. I'm surprised they let you take those things on airplanes
Now in comparison to all the other cameras I've shot with in my life. Using the Sony A7r feels like you're cheating. The image quality and the size of this camera just makes everything way to easy. Now we just need some super light weight fluid head tripods, cranes and dollies to go with it.
Quality In The Palm Of Your Hand
The quality you get from this Sony A7r feels a lot better than my old 5Dmkii. The skew from the rolling shutter / jelly effect seems not nearly as bad on the Sony A7r. The ability to shoot slow motion is really nice as well and the image seems way sharper. It's low light capabilities are far better than the Red Scarlet, which I also had the option of shooting with, and it's 1000x easier than shooting with a Red Epic, Alexa, or any other big rigs. With those cameras you suddenly find yourself losing the ability to quickly run and gun. All the gear, accessories, tripods end up weighing and slowing your production down. It's fine for big movies when you have the team to handle it. But when you're guerilla shooting in front of the Beverly Hills Police station, you need to be quick, and have a low profile.
One of the coolest things about this Sony A7r is being able to use my old Canon Lenses with an adapter. I shot almost all of A Cam with the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II and the Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2.8. I'm still working on getting a bunch of old Zeiss Lenses from a friend, but I think I'll probably shoot the whole show mostly on the Canon 70-200 anyway. Getting further back with those telephoto lenses really gives you that cinematic look. The downside is on a lens that long, your depth of field is just a sliver, so focusing is a bitch and pulling focus on Photo Lenses is even more of a bitch. So you can find yourself taking 10 takes on those complicated shots, just to get it right.
All in all, I'm really glad I got the Sony A7r for this production. I just wish I had a little more time to figure everything out and develop my camera muscle memory out before shooting. But the cameras user interface is borderline genius making operation easy. Even better than Canon's which is hard to top.
I'll be posting more shots and behind the scenes in the next few weeks as this thing comes to life.