Mscope and IBC Amsterdam 2009

by Yves Cape

par Yves Cape La Lettre AFC n°191

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I shot Renaud Bertrand’s film, Just the Three of Us (produced by Fabio Conversi at Babe Films). When I arrived on the project, the decision had already been made to shoot in HD, but we still needed to determine which camera use !

Following the tests that I had the opportunity to make for the film by Patrice Chereau, we were leaning towards the D21. We then discovered the Mscope process, which allows you to shoot anamorphic in a 4:2:2 configuration recording on to HDCAM SR.

After doing comparative tests between 4:2:2 with Hawk anamorphic lenses and 4:4:4 2.35:1 with spherical lenses, we chose the Mscope. For reasons of co-production, the camera equipment was subcontracted by Arri Luxembourg but came from Vantage Films in Munich.

Yves Cape, AFC, SBC - sur le tournage de "Nous 3"
Yves Cape, AFC, SBC
sur le tournage de "Nous 3"

It was not easy to establish a workflow for the dailies, the Avid ingest and postproduction. And that’s because we were the first feature film in the world to shoot in Mscope. In the end, the dailies and Avid ingest were entrusted to Frederic Savoir of Amazing Digital, and the DI and film-out to Duboi-LTC.

A little flustered by Arri’s uncooperativeness during this period of testing and establishment of the workflow, I deluged Arri with emails asking them for their help ! Finally, we obtained the precious assistance of their technicians, for my tests and for my post-production. On this occasion I had the pleasure of meeting Milan Krsijanin from Arri London.

Milan is the inventor of the Mscope process and was extremely valuable in helping us get in touch with good technicians or companies who provided the software for post-production. During IBC, Milan asked Frederick Savoir and myself to do a presentation on the use of this camera during shooting and on the workflow established for the dailies.

As for production, having had very little experience with video and not wanting to turn the set into a lab, I insisted on establishing a way of working that was as close as possible to shooting in 35 mm : an exclusive focus on the artistic problems and ergonomics that allowed the director and actors complete freedom in the frame.

Stephano Accorci et Emmanuelle Béart à côté de la caméra D21 - sur le tournage de "Nous 3"
Stephano Accorci et Emmanuelle Béart à côté de la caméra D21
sur le tournage de "Nous 3"

There were three of us on the camera : a 2d assistant cameraman with a reference monitor and HDCAM SR recorder, a 1st assistant in charge of focus and the waveform monitor on the D21, and myself to operate and light. I worked with my light meter set to 200 ISO (the sensitivity established after my tests) and only very rarely looked at the waveform and reference monitors. Following my tests, I worked exactly as if I was working with a film with 9 stops of latitude, always keeping the highlights a little low.

The camera was cabled (see below), its ergonomics and weight approaching that of an Arricam Studio, so it didn’t really allow for handheld. On the other hand, we put it in all the other possible configurations.

As for the dailies, Frederic Savoir gave us DVDs with Quicktimes in full HD resolution, and the dailies were also available on an internet site to interested crew members. A USB key with all the dailies of the film allowed us to review our images whenever we wanted. This system worked very well, and so that is what we explained to the audience at Arri’s IBC presentation.

The DI of Just the Three of Us has been completed at Duboi-LTC and I have had the opportunity to see 35 mm "dailies", which I find absolutely extraordinary in terms of quality. Still there remain some skin tone problems due to different factors.

Nathan Gorgelin à l'œilleton de la caméra D21 - sur le tournage de "Nous 3"
Nathan Gorgelin à l’œilleton de la caméra D21
sur le tournage de "Nous 3"

I spent some time walking the aisles of IBC to kill time and I saw two or three interesting things. First an initial unavoidable conclusion : the halls where television gear and software are exposed are full of money, while the hall where film is concentrated is low budget !

Cooke had two new sets of lenses : the panchromatic (smaller set) and 5 / i (wide open set) / cooke.nsf / products / panchro.html / cooke.nsf / products / fiveilens.html

S.two presented the OB-1 magazine for HD camera - enabling 30 minutes of recording in RAW 4:4:4 or 4:2:2. It will allow us to do away with the cable to the camera.

Arri presented, among other things, and as a world premiere, its new digital camera based on a new ALEV III sensor. This camera comes in three versions at prices ranging from 50 to 130 thousand Euros. The latest model is the evolution of the D21 with an optical viewfinder, ISO 800 sensitivity, weight reduced to 9 kg and other improvements in camera software.

Considering the results obtained with the D21, this new version is very promising. This model will be available late 2010. Arri is definitely throwing itself into the manufacture of HD cameras, this is an important milestone for them, and no doubt for us as well...

See / teaser

Translated by Benjamin B