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Awesome results from SmallHD monitors across camera formats

Director/Local 600 cinematographer Graham Sheldon was given four days to shoot the first season of the series Innovators of Awesome. Sophisticated gear, ranging from GoPros to 4K cinema cameras, was put in place, with SmallHD screens being the choice for monitoring to help keep the creative vision comprehensible and cohesive throughout.

The first season of the youth-aimed science competition show from toy company KiwiCo follows three 11- and 12-year-old kids as they collaborate and compete against each other to complete puzzles requiring creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

“With a live competition show, my goal as Director and DP was to limit the moments cameras need to reset because you want to maintain momentum without interrupting the build and experimentation for the contestants,” said Sheldon. “Our pre-planning went into keeping the pace up and then maintaining quality coverage despite the fact that the cast had free rein to move in the large studio space.”

With so much to capture on set and half a dozen images to keep track of at any one time, monitoring was crucial. 17 camera bodies, with seven forming the core of a Canon multi-cam setup, including three EOS C300 Mark IIIs, two EOS C500 Mark IIs, a PTZ, and an EOS R5C, were put to use. 

The C300 and C500 bodies were each equipped with a Canon 18-80mm or 70-200mm CNE zoom that lived on its camera. Ten more cameras were used for specialty shots: a DJI Ronin 4D gimbal cam, two Freefly Embers for slow motion, six GoPros, and a Canon EOS C70, rigged for each individual experiment.

With such a hefty amount of footage captured simultaneously across diverse camera formats, consistent image accuracy was key. Sheldon chose an array of SmallHD monitors, including two Cine 18s, a Cine 24, two Cine 13s, and a 1303 HDR. 

“A video village fully populated with SmallHD monitors is always my goal on any show for both camera matching reasons and for the spiffy UI,” he said. “I was constantly bouncing between False Color and toggling waveform on and off as I verified exposure for the operators running around following the action. I was also calling camera coverage based on a complicated set of diagrams and shot lists.

A fan of SmallHD’s Quad View OS preset from previous shows, Sheldon took advantage of the Cine 24 in multi-view mode with four camera feeds. With much to review, having clear and cohesive viewing technology made all the difference.

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