Islaja: Pimeyttä kohti

Watch in Youtube.

This is the first video made to promote Islaja’s new album Keraaminen Pää that will be released on Fonal Records on September 14th 2010. It’s been a while since my previous video for Islaja but it is still one of my favourites. You can see Rohkaisulaulu in Youtube and it’s available for purchase on DVD from the Fonal Shop.

Making this video was a special occasion and I felt really really excited cause I got an opportunity to shoot with a Red One camera. I was contacted by Petri Teittinen who had read my blog and had recently purchased the Red One camera. He was offering us an opportunity to shoot a video with it for a minimal compensation. I jumped at the chance of course! We excahnged a few emails and phonecalls to discuss the reality of shooting with the Red One. My initial worries included low light capabilities since we couldn’t afford to rent that much lighting equipment, having enough battery life and hard drive space. On top of this I was not sure if I could manage the post processing of the Red One 4K RAW material. After all I was used to popping my freshly shot 1920×1080 material on an SD card into my laptop and start editing without creating proxies or using any intermediate formats.

Petri arrived at my place around 5pm while Alpo picked up a few lights. We started to experiment with the Red One. It’s a beast. It weighs as much as my 16mm handcrank Bolex. Quite different from what I’m used to operating lately – my tiny plastic Panasonic GH1. But the weight is always a big bonus to me. I love the look it gives to the footage. Even handheld it looks rather smooth. It’s a bummer to do long takes but I’ve always thought that it’s worth the pain. I let Petri do all the menu settings on the camera so I can’t comment much on that other than that it looked relatively simple. We got it setup done pretty quickly.

So while we were messing with the camera the girls were applying the golden glitter on Merja. it was pasted so that it covered her face totally and as soon as it started to dry up it started to hurt quite a bit and also it looked like her skin was made of paper. Not that good, more like something that you’d see on Ramblas in Barcelona. You know the human statues! We took most of the make up off and it ended up looking really cool. A totally unintended look but we decided to leave it as it looked like something rusted but was golden. A nice paradox. Merja was mainly walking and trying to lipsync to the very difficult song since it’s slow and doesn’t really give you a rhythm to follow. She did superb and for the final shot took a long dip in the lake. Big thumbs up!

We only had one 1.25KW HMI and a couple of 650W HMIs. We used one aggregator to power the lights and one super loud aggragate that was more like a lawn mover to power the smoke machine and charge the camera batteries. We had a really harsh light coming from the 1.25KW HMI and then a long stretch of black in to the lake that we wanted to be visible somewhat. We had smoke and pine trees with loads of detail. This would’ve killed most other cameras codecs but we were about to see the power of RAW. Alpo did an amazing job once again. He has a vision and I never give him enough time to see that vision through! I always promise him that next time I’ll let him fiddle with the lights as long as there’s need, well, here goes again, next time Alpo, promise! :)

We got home around 5am and while me and Alpo returned the lights Petri transferred the footage to my computer. I made him some tea and when we saw the first little snippets of the footage finally after the long night both our jaws dropped. The latitude was quite amazing. Merja’s forehead has is all gold glitter that was reflecting almost pure white light direct into the camera and the lake was totally dark but still we saw detail everywhere. We couldn’t see this detail in the monitor so luckily we went with the gut instinct that Red is awesome and it will come through. It did, big time! And mind you this is with the old sensor and has not been upgraded to the M-X sensor that has more latitude and is more sensitive. We transferred all the footage and Petri was feeling enough adrenaline to drive back home that same night… or morning actually! He’s a stand out guy with a t-shirt that reads “Joss Whedon is my master now”. What can I say! Geek friends for life! Thank you Petri! :)

Editing was quite easy. I dragged and dropped the 4K material into Sony Vegas Pro and was able to edit the footage right on the timeline. No proxies or anything. Albeit I had to keep the quality on draft to get 25fps preview. I did only a very little color correction so what you see is nearly exactly what we got. There was not much room for tweaking since we were at the both extreme ends of highlights and shadow detail. Rendering to 720p mp4 worked well and was suprisingly fast from the 4K material. The 4 minute video rendered in about an hour. I gotta say I’m mighty excited about the upcoming Scarlet and Epic cameras.

Directed by Sami Sänpäkkilä

Light designer, gaffer: Alpo Nummelin
RED Technician: Petri Teittinen
Make-up, still photography: Gabriela Gonzaléz
Shot on location in Tampere, Finland with Red One digital cinema camera. Special thank you to Petri Teittinen.
Produced by Fonal Records

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