National E-News Christmas Bulletin 2013

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In this Issue:

  • From The President
  • A Postcard from Ross Emery
  • Congratulations to SA ACS Members Kirsty Stark, Victoria Cocks & Vivyan Madigan
  • Cinematography Courses - AFTRS OPEN
  • Lah’s Lah’s Adventures shot with Sony PMW-F55 Cameras in 4K
  • Shadowcatchers Christmas Special
  • Women Film Something
  • Griffith Film School chooses ARRI Alexas
  • ACS Special Christmas Merchandise Offer

From The President

Greetings ACS colleagues,

Happy Christmas to you all, and thanks for your support of the Society over the past 12 months.

Christmas has come a little early for us all at the ACS, as it is with great delight that I confirm that the 2014 AACTA – Byron Kennedy Award has been awarded to the ACS, with the following “Citation” attached to this prestigious Award reading as follows:

“To the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) under the stewardship of Ron Johanson, for its enduring and pivotal role in the pursuit of excellence throughout Australian cinema. With its cohort of world-renowned cinematographers, the ACS is about enhancing skills, exploring new technology and passing on knowledge to those who follow in their footsteps. Their enthusiasm and generosity of spirit makes them the backbone of our industry.”

It is difficult still, to hide my emotion at receiving the news and to read the citation, as it is a fitting tribute to the founding fathers of our Society, who bravely took those first steps in 1958 in Sydney as a forerunner to the National Society with Branches in all States and Territories we have now become

But it’s so much more… It is recognising the work we have all done together in forging growth and engaging with industry to further promote the role of the cinematographer in today’s rapidly changing technological times. Together we have encouraged our fellow cinematographers across all genres, to strive harder and to always shoot the very best images possible, retaining at all times the integrity of the images they create.

We have together encouraged students and younger members of our Society to aim high in order to achieve greatness, but to understand that technology is not necessarily the key to great cinematography, it’s the spirit, determination and respect within us all, that also plays a great part in defining a cinematographer.

Together we also recognise and acknowledge the contribution from all those who have gone before and who continue to inspire us with their achievements and their life’s work.

To Alan Finney and the AACTA Board, Dr. George Miller and the Byron Kennedy Award panel, I thank you for this Award which recognises the achievements of our members and our Society.

This is a truly humbling and most appreciated honour for all in the ACS, as well as being a very special Christmas gift for us all.

The 3rd AACTA AWARDS CEREMONY will take place on 30 January 2014 at the Star Event Centre Pyrmont, Sydney. It would be fantastic to see you there to help celebrate, so go to www.aacta.org for ticket details.

Until next time, all the very best for 2014.
Warmest regards
Ron Johanson ACS
National President

A Postcard from Ross Emery ACS on location in South Africa

Hi David
Hope you’re well…

In Cape Town and around South Africa shooting "The Giver" with Phil Noyce Directing, starring Jeff Bridges, Merryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Katie Holmes.
Been a tough shoot but working with a lot of great local crew who all seemed to have worked with John Seale and David Burr on Fury Road which gave a head start on understanding Australian slang especially from Phil, so they all knew what a dunny was, where the donga is, and that if you call someone a bastard, its actually means you like them.

Finishing in Capetown soon, them off to Utah for sequences to be shot in the snow.
Cheers to all at the ACS
Ross

Camera operator, Roberto DiAngeles and 1st AC Jem Rayner

Key Grip, Big Red Gilman and Camera Operator Roberto DiAngele

Augrabie Desert location

CONGRATULATIONS TO SA ACS MEMBERS Kirsty Stark, Victoria Cocks & Vivyan Madigan

along with the other members of the amazing EPIC FILMS creative team, on the announcement of WASTELANDER PANDA being the first project for MADMAN PRODUCTION COMPANY

Screen Australia today announced on Monday funding support for WASTELANDER PANDA, a multimedia project consisting of six TV/online episodes, a graphic novel and interactive website. Production will be supported by the ABC, with the episodes to premiere on the iView platform in 2014.

WASTELANDER PANDA will commence production in March 2014 and will be shot in South Australia. The project is a co-production between Madman Production Company and Epic Films. This marks the first project from Madman Production Company to receive production investment since the company’s establishment in 2012.

The team behind WASTELANDER PANDA includes Writer/Director, Victoria Cocks, Producers; Kirsty Stark (Epic Films) and Nick Batzias (Madman Production Company), and additional writers Mike Jones and Matt Vesely.

Writer/Director Victoria Cocks commented “After creating previous versions of WASTELANDER PANDA independently over the past two years, we feel extremely fortunate to be working alongside Madman, and to have Screen Australia and the ABC believe in the project as much as we do. I’m looking forward to going back to the Wasteland.”

Head of Madman Production Company Nick Batzias commented; “It’s incredibly exciting to be able to announce WASTELANDER PANDA as our first project out of the gates. We’ve been busy behind closed doors working on this and a number of other properties on our slate, and hope to be able to announce a number of projects from Madman Production over the next 12 months.”

The new project from the team behind WASTELANDER PANDA follows a three-minute Prologue released online in 2012, which has accumulated over 100,000 views. Since releasing this initial Prologue, the team successfully raised over $25,000 via a Pozible campaign, completed three further online episodes and presented a panel on the series at South by Southwest.

Development and production partners include Screen Australia, The South Australia Film Corporation, Epic Films and Madman Production Company.

(ACS E News thanks IF E News for the above article.)

CINEMATOGRAPHY COURSES - AFTRS OPEN

Specialised courses in the New Year include: ADVANCED LIGHTING SKILLS with Louis Irving (22 - 24 Jan), PETER JAMES ANAMORPHIC LENS MASTERCLASS (15 - 16 Feb). Plus there are still some spots in introductory SUMMER SCHOOL courses in January including TV CAMERA, SOUND & LIGHTING SKILLS. 10% AFTRS Open Discounts apply to all ACS members. For details of all current AFTRS Open courses visit the website:
http://www.open.aftrs.edu.au/

Advanced Lighting Skills (22 - 24 Jan)
http://www.open.aftrs.edu.au/course/C547

Peter James Anamorphic Lens Masterclass (15 - 16 Feb) http://www.open.aftrs.edu.au/course/C548

Summer School: TV Camera, Sound & Lighting Skills (6 - 10 or 20 - 24 Jan) http://www.open.aftrs.edu.au/course/T542

Summer School: Filmmaking Intensive (20 - 24 Jan OR 3 - 7 Feb)
http://www.open.aftrs.edu.au/course/Z501


LAH LAH’S ADVENTURES SHOT WITH SONY PMW-F55 CAMERAS IN 4K

Mick Jones with his Sony PMW-F55 camera on set

New children’s television series airing on the Seven Network and Ceebeebies in 2014

2014 will see a new children’s TV series called Lah Lah’s Adventures air on the Seven Network and Ceebeebies. The show was shot exclusively with Sony PMW-F55 4K cameras and the man responsible was Mick Jones, Director of LitUp Digital & Rusty Gate Films.

Jones explained, “When the Lah Lah's Adventures production came up there was some discussion around shooting the show in 4K resolution due to the fact that it was a green screen live action/animation production. This would give the compositors and animators more freedom for resizing elements closer to the foreground without compromising the resolution. So I started looking at options for 4K acquisition.”

Jones knew his serious options were limited as he needed a camera that would have a relatively simple workflow, 4K resolution and excellent reliability for the two-month shoot.

Jones continued, “My research very quickly told me that the Sony PMW-F55 was the camera for this job. I was one of the first to purchase the F55 and there was no time to play with one before placing a pre-order, so I had to go on specs and Sony's reputation. I was quite impressed with the versatility of the camera. Having a choice of codecs to come, high sensitivity and low noise, compact and lightweight were all factors, but the onboard compressed 4K option was a huge draw card for me.”

Lah Lah's Adventures will be finished in HD but after several discussions with the animation post house based in Canada, Jones decided to acquire the show in 4K. The shoot was all done on a green screen stage with the 4K resolution giving room for the digital camera moves of objects and people to shift within the frame without becoming pixelated.

Jones said, “For this show I enlisted the services of my good friend and colleague Bruce Logan ASC, as a green screen advisor. We had a limited budget and needed to be able to get an amazing key. Bruce brought so much knowledge to this production, his feature credits include some of the most iconic films of all time such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars IV (he blew up the Death Star!) and of course Tron. Bruce helped develop a green screen lighting plan that would work within our budget but also work really well for the compositors.”

“We were both blown away by how sensitive the F55 camera was. Compared to other green screen shoots we had worked on, we could use a fraction of the light. This kept not only the lighting budget low, but also the temperature on set making it much more comfortable for the performers and crew to work within the space as we weren't blasted with heat and light constantly. We did extensive testing of the different gammas, ISO and shutter combinations in order to find out what would work best for the compositors. As this is a 26 episode series there would be a lot of footage coming down the pipeline and we wanted it to be right. The feedback from the compositors was fantastic and they found it easy to work with the image.”

“I connected a ProRes recorder to the F55 camera in addition to the onboard XAVC 4K that we were recording. This meant that editorial could begin working immediately on scenes and producing dailies on one machine, while backing up the camera cards and sorting the projects with the XAVC footage. At the time we started shooting XAVC was not natively supported by Adobe so the ProRes material was used to cut the initial scenes. We then re-linked to 4K files for the shots that required scaling. The F55 camera performed flawlessly throughout the forty days it was on set. I was very impressed with the reliability of it. It truly is a workhorse camera.”

Prior to his purchase of the Sony F55 Jones had been using a variety of other cameras with varying results. He added, “I’d been using the Sony FS700 and FS100, Canon C300 and occasionally the Red Scarlet and Epic. They’re all great cameras in their own right but the F55 seemed to roll the best bits of those cameras into one unit - the low noise from the FS cameras, a nice log mode like the C300, 4K and high speed like the Red cameras. The F55 therefore became the most versatile camera I have used, which is why I’ve continued to use it beyond this production.”

Mick Jones is one of Australia’s busiest filmmakers and one who truly cherishes his craft. As an independent he appreciated the value of good equipment and the versatility it brings.

Jones said, “I love using the Sony F55 and I think it’s the closest I've found to a camera that, as an owner operator, has all the bases covered. The fact that there are three choices of compressed codec and a RAW shooting option is a huge plus. I like that once you set your shoot mode it is so simple to use. The six hot keys on the side let you get at the main functions really quickly and easily without having to dig through menus which is great. I keep coming back to the fact that the camera is so versatile. It does high speed, super clean in low light, the unit itself is very lightweight and easy to configure into a shoulder-mounted rig. I also love how you can choose from multiple codecs and also multiple resolutions HD, 2K or 4K all internally - another huge plus.”

Programme makers, like Mick Jones, are often looking for production equipment that gives them an edge and allows them to create content in a way no-one else has done before. When describing his Sony F55 in this context Jones said, “I think the S-Log 2/S-Gamut mode is fantastic and the range it affords me can really save time in the field. Recently shooting documentary content for the History Channel outdoors in harsh full sun with a backlit subject, I really saw how the S-log just nails it. I was able to get an exposure on the subject's face, keep detail in the shadows and the sky all at once. We had a gaffer with diffusion and scrim on hand, but sometimes a shot needs to happen without those elements. It's good to know just how much it can take.”

Jones concluded, “I recently updated the firmware to Version 2 which allows for 120fps shooting onto the SxS cards in HD resolution. It looks amazing and again, I found it quite simple to dial in and flip between regular frame rate and HFR on the side screen hot keys. I recently shot some kite surfing and wind surfing with 120fps and also some cooking content. Not having to wheel in another camera for these frame rates is a big time-saver on set.”

SHADOWCATCHERS CHRISTMAS – YO HO HO!!

It’s almost Christmas so as a special Christmas treat for ACS members, we are offering a Standard Edition copy of The Shadowcatchers along with an ACS Beanie in an ACS gift bag for $66.00. This would make an ideal gift for any member, sponsor or supporter. THIS CHRISTMAS OFFER CLOSES DECEMBER 20!!

Simply go to www.shadowcatchers.com.au

Nice looking Santa, who will happily sign your copy for you!

WOMEN FILM SOMETHING proudly supported by the ACS

An exciting new short film competition ‘Women Film Something’ was launched on the 20th November, at the tenth Women Say Something event: The Power of Music. The announcement was made by Women Say Something Founder and artistic director Steph Sands, who has teamed with up and coming young film maker Epiphany Morgan to create a unique film competition focussed on participation at a grass roots level by women for women.

Entrants are asked to consider the theme ‘Use Your Voice’ as a springboard to tell a story, communicate a message, introduce an idea or express themselves within a five minute short film, documentary or animation. The theme is designed as a broad platform to inspire creativity and diversity, with the film being judged on its relevance to women and its content, rather than technical genius. The films need to tell women’s stories, whether the story is personal or historical, fact or fiction, funny or serious. “Entry is free, so if you have something to say, and a smart phone, you are halfway there. You don’t need a big budget or excellent cinematography skills to have a great idea, or make a great film - or to use your voice,” Steph says.

As well as encapsulating the theme ‘Use Your Voice’, films will be assessed according to the Bechdel Test, where it must include at least two women having a conversation about something other than a man. Hollywood films have historically failed the Bechdel Test due to the predominance of male directors, writers and studio executives telling stories about men. The Los Angeles Times reported that members of the academy who vote for the Oscars each year are 94% Caucasian and 77% male. When looking at the 2013 Oscar nominated films for best picture, only three out of nine passed the Bechdel Test – unsurprisingly, they are also the two with a woman co-screenwriter or woman director. While the Bechdel Test is not perfect, it provides an alternative focus for entrants of Women Film Something and together with the theme ‘Use Your Voice’, will ensure women’s stories are told.

The films will be judged by eminent industry professionals and the three finalists will be screened at the Women Say Something Mardi Gras 2014 event at the Sydney Town Hall on 28th February, where the audience will decide the overall inaugural winner. Some great prizes are up for grabs and will be announced over the coming weeks.

Entries close on 31st January, more information available at www.womenfilmsomething.com.au

For further information, please phone Steph Sands 0411 242 605 or email [email protected]

GRIFFITH FILM SCHOOL CHOOSES ARRI ALEXAS

Queensland Branch sponsor; The Griffith Film School (a part of the Queensland College of Art) has been a premium education provider for film education for over 30 years with some of Brisbane's most notable filmmakers the school’s alumni. Through its Bachelor of Film, Media and Screen Production, and the Master of Screen Production, the Griffith Film School is focused on single camera work, and prepares graduates for work with feature film, documentary and commercial production. Recently The Griffith Film School was looking to upgrade its high-end cameras to compliment the newly implemented Master of Screen Production program and as such they turned to ARRI Australia for two ALEXA digital camera systems.

Griffith Film School Studio Supervisor Brett Wiltshire explained, “We have been keeping an eye on the camera market for a while. We follow industry lead, and the ALEXA has acquired a considerable following and the respect of the international and local industry.”

The Griffith Film School required a camera of proven pedigree and the ALEXA’s reputation was a big contributing factor to their decision to purchase.

Wiltshire continued, “An additional bonus is that the ALEXA also fits in with our existing post production infrastructure. The image quality of the ALEXA is excellent, so we feel we have made a wise investment.”

The ALEXA alone wasn’t the full story as Wiltshire and The Griffith Film School's Head of School, Herman van Eyken, were also particularly interested in establishing a solid relationship with ARRI Australia.

Herman van Eyken added, “ARRI Australia has been excellent. It is hard to go past a company with a century-long reputation of film engineering and they have made a smart transition into the digital realm. ARRI Australia MD Stefan Sedlmeier has a thorough engineering knowledge of his product and he knows how it fits into the filmmaking process. Stefan has made a point of demonstrating how excellent ARRI's after-sales service can be and we feel confident that Griffith Film School students stand to enjoy ongoing gains from our new relationship with ARRI Australia.”

ARRI’s policy of supporting the local film industry in every way possible has proven invaluable to film schools and filmmakers across Australia.

ACS SPECIAL CHRISTMAS GIFT OFFER

Why not purchase some ACS merchandise from the ACS store, and if you purchase $100.00 or more we will offer you a copy of The Shadowcatchers for half price of $33.00 incl. gst

NOW THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE BARGAIN!!

Click the link below to see all the merchandise on our website
ACS Merchandise

ACS National Headquarters
Level 2, 26 Ridge Street,
North Sydney
NSW 2060
Ph: 02 8920 8535

Just a reminder that there are no specified opening hours for the HQ, but our resident tenant Ashley Roan (God love him!) is there most days of the week Mon- Fri between 10.30am and 4.00pm to let you in.
On Saturdays and Sundays you will need to contact us on the emails below.

HQ Manager: David Lewis ACS email
Assistant HQ Manager: Anna Howard ACS email

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