I shot/colored this web spot for the upcoming game Infamous: Second Son for the Sony PS4. The spot was directed by Sean Brown and produced by Stephen Oakey. Dan Marerro was camera operator/Weisscam Technician.
Despite the small budget and quick turn around time, Stephen managed to provide us with a Sony F65 and Weisscam HS-2 for the many high speed shots the spot called for. The F65 was used for a brief interior scene with the HS-2 tackling everything else (an F3 was also used for an insert, though the shot did not make final.
Interiors with the F-65
The F65 is a very sharp camera. It’s an 8K sensor with an internal downsample to 4K and then again to 1080p (or whatever res you’re shooting at). I’d highly recommend bringing whatever your regular diffusion filter is and then some. Color science is okay, better than Red, far cry from Alexa. It is obviously Log capapble and records to either the robust SR codec or raw (with the accompanying enormous file sizes). Lensed on super speeds at ~T2.8.
The interior sequence was achieved with a fairly small lighting package (much of the budget went to the Weisscam). Due to our tiny crew, I was both G&E which limited our setup considering the tight time window we had. We shot mostly with small tungstens heads. I believe a tweenie up top for our overhead, junior through a booklight for key, inky hard back, and a daylight 4′ four bank kino (a surprise bonus light the director brought along) thrown off to one side for some general fill.
Camera was mounted on a dana dolly for the moves.
Wiesscam HS-2 vs The Sun
Let me begin by saying I truly hate this camera.
The Weisscam HS-2 was once a competitor to the Phantom series of high speed cinema cameras. It shoots up to 4000fps at 720p, 2000fps for 1080p (6 seconds), and 1500fps at 2K. I believe we were around 1000 for most of the shots (was generally overkill).
The Weisscam and the Phantom have one very big distinguishing feature between the two cameras. The Phantom can roll a take to buffer, transfers to mag immediately, and is ready for another take. The Weisscam is not so elegant. The camera records to an internal 32GB buffer which you must play back at 23.976 (or whatever your desired framerate is) to record to either the optional digimag or an SDI recording solution (we used a Ki Pro Mini). This means if you roll 8 seconds at 1000fps, you’ve just recorded ~5.5 minutes of footage that needs to be played back live as you record into the Ki Pro. This makes the camera an enormous pain in the ass to use and really slows down the set.
The worst feature is without a doubt the dynamic range and gamma response of the sensor. The camera specs boast of “8-10 T-stops, up to the selected curve.” The higher range curves, however, have the worst shoulder I have ever seen. It literally goes from exposed to completely blown out with zero roll off. See the dust in the bottom left below:
That wasn’t some sort of reflector metering 12 stops too hot, that was a tiny amount of dust that managed to blow out into oblivion. Even the specular highlights on his hand and wool gloves are blown out. This kind of DR response is something I’d expect on a cheap DSLR or even cell phone. In the defence of the camera, we were not recording RAW.
Taking note of the awkward recording process, unforgiving DR, and large size/weight of the HS-2 and it quickly becomes obvious that this is a studio high speed camera meant to be used under tightly controlled conditions. Within the studio, its higher framerates, higher base ASA, and lower rental cost make it competitive with the Phantom HD.
Still, we made the camera work with what little resources and time we had. After the wonderful composites from the team, I think the footage really came together and gave us an effective spot.