Time Travel, Ham Sandwiches and the Pocket Cinema Camera and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
Shooting Kanen Flowers's New Film 18:20
If you are one of the two time travelers in Kanen Flowers's new series "18:20," the search for the normalcy of a simple ham sandwich, one of the running plot points in the series, is just one of the many reminders that everything changes when time traveling. Sights and sounds are all different, and for a viewer watching the show, the subtle changes in each image is hugely important to suspending disbelief and connecting with the story and characters.
"18:20" tells the story of Maple, an 18 year old girl who travels through time, following another time traveler. She is aided by her grandfather, a scientist who has been trapped inside a balloon due to a time travel experiment gone wrong. Throughout the series, the two are pursued by a shadowy organization of time police with their own agendas as they try to stop Maple through any means necessary, chasing her around the globe and through the centuries, past and future.
As part of chase, the two are attacked by humans and monsters alike, on top of their regular time travel adventures.
Kanen, an award winning filmmaker who has produced and directed a number of science fiction films and series, has a very specific vision for "18:20," which includes a mix of sci-fi, steampunk and capturing the nuances of each time period. The audience has to feel like they are part of each era that the main characters are thrown into, and the action has to be believable and visceral. To achieve this, Kanen chose to use Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and Pocket Cinema Cameras to capture high quality images, and final color by Juan Salvo at New York City's theColourspace, equipped with high-performance DaVinci Resolve systems.
The production of the first part of the series included three Blackmagic Cinema Cameras (EF models) and two Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, all shooting in RAW. The Blackmagic Cinema Cameras were used for "in the studio" production, while the Pocket Cinema Cameras were used in outside scenes.
"We used the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras in any of our controlled environments, on tripods, handheld or with different cranes. The Pocket Cinema Cameras were used with any run and gun shooting we had. And both cameras matched each other's images perfectly, which let us know that we could get very creative with our set up and shooting choices," said Kanen.
One of the main "run and gun" scenes involved Kanen and Guest Director, Patrick Johnson along with Cinematographer Paul Del Vecchio, taking his actors and crew to Mt. Hood, Oregon.
A pivotal scene in the first episode features Maple and her grandfather being chased by the time police, as well as a rampaging alien monster, which Kanen describes as a giant alien monster frog. The two are chased to the top of a mountain in a driving snow storm.
Because Kanen's 18:20 production was based in Portland, OR, Mt. Hood was the natural choice for shooting these scenes. To get the perfect shots, Kanen and the crew had to shoot during the winter, deep in the woods and high up on the mountain. And as luck would have it, the crew started shooting in a snow storm.
For this shoot, Kanen and his cinematographer Paul Del Vecchio chose to use the two Pocket Cinema Cameras, one on a tripod and slider and one operated on a remote controlled helicopter.
"When we left our cars, we were actually trucking through several feet of snow. So carrying light was an absolute must, and the Pocket Cinema Cameras were perfect for this. It is an incredibly small design, but gives us 13 stops of dynamic range. I was able to build and manipulate a rig that didn't bog me down, didn't limit my choices and still gave me amazing images," said Paul.
Kanen explained the difficulties he faced shooting on an open mountain set in the winter: "A lot of filmmakers avoid shooting in the snow because most cameras just do not capture snow well and the shots look blown out. With the Pocket Cinema Cameras and shooting in RAW, we get a beautiful 13 stops of dynamic range and can expose the snow and hold the details. We never worried about the image with these cameras."
Of course, in addition to the snow and the difficult hike up the mountain, temperatures also dropped below zero, and some of the camera's rigging, including the camera slider, started icing up. The crew powered through the elements and was able to capture some of the series' most dramatic shots. "It was pretty amazing. The snow was coming down hard and cameras were great," said Kanen.
Beyond the shots on Mt. Hood, the Pocket Cinema Cameras were ideal for shooting around the city of Portland and other crowded areas. "When we were shooting scenes where the general public came into view or could react around the set, we didn't really want people to see what we were doing. The characters had to look like they were blending in, and the size of the Pocket Cinema Cameras allowed for a level of discretion, while still giving us high quality images," said Paul.
"One of the great things about choosing Blackmagic cameras is that they give me the ability to easily afford to do a multi-camera production where I get absolutely amazing quality images. And because the cameras were designed to fit into a post production workflow easily, we would just shoot, take the images right off the cameras and start editing," said Kanen.
"18:20" will initially be distributed to a number of online networks, including iTunes and Amazon as well as direct-to-consumer HD by That Studio, and will be distributed worldwide in 2015.
Watch the "Script to Screen" for 18:20, which shows some of the post production process and see more behind the scenes and the teaser trailer at www.ThatStudio.com