Viper captures ‘Sibling’ for filmmaker Farnsworth

Filmmaker Matt Farnsworth relied on the Thomson Grass Valley Viper FilmStream camera to shoot “Sibling,” his second, independent feature.

The camera’s uncompressed imagery and lowlight capabilities played an important role in establishing the characters’ personalities and environmental surroundings. It also provided a streamlined digital cinematography workflow for the production that helped bring the picture in on budget and saved time in post.

Farnsworth, who shot his first feature “Iowa” on Kodak Vision Super 35mm stock, chose to use the Viper after his first test of the camera when he saw the camera’s ability to capture “a full range of information and color” in the 4:4:4 RGB signal.

“Now that we are in post production, I can easily say the Viper stacks up and even surpasses film on multiple levels,” Farnsworth said. With the Viper, the filmmaker was able to shoot 2:37 aspect ratio easier than on film, he said.

The Thomson Grass Valley Viper saved the crew valuable time during production because they were able to immediately see what they were getting in real time on set.

Director of photography Aaron Medick had used the Viper on a previous project and was insistent on using it for the “Sibling” shoot. During production, he worked with film engineer Dave Satin of New York-based post facility Mega Playground to create a series of look-up tables (LUTs) to create a specifically defined look for each period in the characters’ turbulent lives.

During the post process, these LUTs allowed the project’s colorist to immediately recognize the vision of the director and DP and helped maintain a consistent look across the entire picture.

The feature is crafted with a number of color schemes, ranging from brilliant and saturated to stark lowlight, to capture the emotional tone of the phases of the characters’ lives. When they are young, set in the ’80s, the film has a rich, saturated look. The contemporary scenes are dark, leveraging the Viper’s CCDs to portray small details in extremely low light.

The production was shot in FilmStream 4:4:4 mode with a single Viper camera and recorded to tape using a Sony HDCAM SR VTR, with the equipment supplied by Plus8/Panavison in New York City.

Farnsworth owns an edit facility in Phoenix, AZ, where the movie is being cut for a planned late 2008 release. It will be color-corrected using Apple’s Final Cut Pro software.

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