SAN FRANCISCO—As I was coming up in the ranks at “MythBusters,” a camera operator— much wiser than me—imparted an important fact of production: “If post ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Actually he didn’t say that phrase exactly; in fact, I think I may be confusing what he said with a slogan I read on a coffee mug. Either way, the key to happiness is to keep post stocked with good coverage.
With that in mind, when we wanted to improve image quality by upgrading our secondary cameras we went to post production for advice. We originally considered DSLRs or larger sensor cameras, but DSLRs are too unreliable and the record formats were problematic for post. Post suggested Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Cameras for their ability to record ProRes, which not only is an easier record format for post, but also streamlined workflow on the production side.
Popular Discovery Channel series “MythBusters” used Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Cameras to film new title sequence.
“MythBusters,” which has been in production for 13 years, is a show based around experimentation and the scientific method. Five days a week, we film experiments where we don’t know exactly what will happen, but whatever it is, it will only happen once. We use an arsenal of Pocket Cinema Cameras to capture the unpredictable.
A CINEMATIC QUALITY
At the start of this season, we shot a new opening title sequence and added cold open sequences to the start of each show. Much of the show’s new title sequence and cold opens have been filmed on the Pocket Cinema Camera because of the image quality and the way the cameras lend a more cinematic look to the show.
The very first cold open we shot was for our “Indiana Jones” episode. In the cold open, our host, and Indiana Jones enthusiast, Adam Savage steals a golden idol from inside our shop. As he escapes, he’s assaulted with blowguns and pursued by a giant boulder. It was great fun to shoot.
I decided to shoot the Indy cold open with the Pocket when I first saw how it looked with the MetaBones Speed Booster and our old Nikon F mount lenses. I was really pleased with the image; its dynamic range and shallow depth of field added a more cinematic look to the sequence. I think it’s the best-looking show opener that we’ve done so far.
WIRELESS COMMAND CENTER
After years of rolling cameras and running for safety, we’ve built a wireless command center for our second cameras. Using the Blackmagic Design MultiView 16 with the SmartView monitor and nine analog-to-SDI Mini Converters, we can wirelessly monitor nine of our Pocket Cinema Cameras. With the addition of a LANC-based wireless control system, we can monitor and roll each of our Pocket cameras from the safety of a blast bunker.
Day-to-day, our Pocket Cinema Cameras find themselves in a variety of strange, tight, and usually dangerous spaces. We could be setting off 800 pounds of explosives under a boat, firing an autonomous machine gun from the trunk of a car, building a lawnmower from hell, dueling with light sabers on the lava planet of Mustafar, or tearing through city streets in an automotive game of cat and mouse. Through all of it, the Pocket Cinema Cameras get the shots we need.
Scott Sorensen is a director of photography for Discovery Channel’s series “Mythbusters.” Scott can be contacted at,firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or visitwww.blackmagicdesign.com.
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