Monday, April 04, 2011

Chris Loughran, Cinematographer, Editor | shooting with the Panasonic AG-AF100

Cinematographer and Editor Chris Loughran has been working with Improv Assylum, a Boston based comedy troupe, to produce comedy shorts. Their latest is The Oscar-Winning Boston Movie, which he describes as being neither a movie, nor an Oscar winner. He shot the majority of the movie on the Panasonic AG-AF100, and edited it in Final Cut Pro.

I spoke to Chris about this project at the recent BOSFCPUG & Boston DSLR meetup where the video was one of those shown during the Screen Your Shorts part of the meeting. You can view the video on Vimeo:

The Oscar-Winning Boston Movie from Improv Asylum on Vimeo.

Who had the idea for The Oscar-Winning Boston Movie?
One of the actors in the film was also the writer and director, he’s an extremely talented guy, his name is Evan Kaufman. We like to do upcoming events, and the Oscar season was coming up and since many of the films this year were from Boston we thought it would be a really funny, not exactly a parody, but more of an homage to those films that were so awesome this year like The Fighter and The Town.
It was kind of our way of saying, 'we like your films.'

From idea to video, what was the process? How long did it take?
The writing took about two weeks. We had a couple of production meetings, that’s really about as far as it went. I worked really closely with the director, and being the writer and an actor in the film, he was very in control of it.

From script to production was two weeks. We shot it all in about four days. We probably could have shot it in two, but we were a little lazy on it, and we just wanted to take a little more time with it. The last video we did, which was kind of on this scale, we shot in one day. We wanted to take a little more time with this one.

Evan Kaufman (left) in The Oscar-Winning Boston Movie

What did you shoot it on?
I shot it on the Panasonic AG-AF100. The first scene we shot was the bar scene, and we shot that with the Canon 7D, because we really just needed to get rolling and start shooting and I hadn’t even received the camera.

We shot the bar scene with the 7D and the 18 to 135mm lens, which is a terrible lens.

I did my homework so that when I got the camera we were up and running as soon as possible. [We then] shot the scene in the police station; the two cops. Actually, I got the lens mount before I got the camera

What lenses were you using?
I have a set of Nikon prime lenses, they’re about 30 years old.

With what kind of adapter?
The Voigtlander micro-four thirds to Nikon F mount adapter. It’s great, it’s super solid, there’s no give to it when you pull focus.

So were you mainly shooting on a tripod?
Yes. Basically the whole thing was a tripod shoot. There were a couple of hand-hand shots, and at the time I didn’t have a proper hand-held rig. I have the Zacuto base plate and some rails, so I just threw the rails on my shoulder and held it as steady as possible, so we really didn’t do a ton of movement shots. Except, I have a Glidecam 4000 Pro, that we did a couple of running shots with.

Chris Loughran

Who did you have for crew?
I have a couple of kids who work with me from Emerson, and from the New England Institute of Art and from Sulfolk University. They’re kind of my go-to crew because those kids just want to work, and they want to get their hands on lights and stuff.
Most of it I shot with natural light, but the scene up on the roof in the north end, we used a 1k and a 650. I try to keep my lighting as minimal as possible.

How was the sound recorded?
Most of the time, it was wireless lavs, and you just tape them underneath the shirt. For the scene in the bar with the 7D, we used a Zoom, the H4n. The sound was terrible. We had a boom operator going in to the Zoom, with a shotgun mic, and it just sounded terrible.

We ended up going back and doing ADR on those shots, and it gives it a kind of a funny sound. I did add a little bit of medium room reverb, but I didn’t add a ton, because I really did want it to be a little bit over the top, clear, and a little bit removed from reality.

Shot from: The Oscar-Winning Boston Movie

How did you get the aerial shots?
There’s a great company out in North Andover MA, the North Andover Flight Academy, but they do helicopter tours. I actually shot them with the AF100, hand holding it in the cockpit of the helicopter and Evan was in the back seat. I brought a bungee chord and bungeed it to the ceiling to get a little bit more support, but it didn’t really vibrate all that much.

I assumed you bought it!
Everyone does. Everyone’s like “how’d you get that?” “How much did you pay for that?” Well we paid $350 for the helicopter for the hour, but it was fun to fly over Boston.

What did you edit it with?
Final Cut Pro. I graded it in Apple Color. I’ve used Adobe and I’ve used Avid; I used Avid all through school, but I’ve been using Final Cut since the day it came out, and it’s just my preferred platform.

How does the AF100 compare to shooting with a DSLR?
I bought the 7D in November. I took it to Iceland on vacation and I really loved it, and I shot a couple of things with it, but I sold it in February.

I had been shooting with the Panasonic HVX with the Letus Elite and the same Nikon lenses I’m using now. I’m a video camera guy and I need things to work like a video camera.

The AF100 is great. The dynamic range is better, the chip size is better, the low light capability and the sharpness and the 1080P, everything about the camera is another step up in a progression forward for me.


1 comment:

Rick Macomber said...

great piece! Love Chris! Good eye. Awesome DP.