Sony goes Old School with F55 4K CineAlta camera

06 June, 2014 by IF


SYDNEY, 6 June 2014: Old School, the eight-part Australian television drama series currently screening on ABC1 that follows the adventures of retired criminal Lennie Cahill and retired cop Ted McCabe, was shot with Sony’s PMW-F55 4K CineAlta™ camera by top Australian DOP Garry Phillips ACS.


Commenting on his choice of camera Phillips explained, “We tested the F55 camera and the results were great, so we went ahead. We rented the F55s from Panavision so we were able to use the bracket they have fitted to all their F55s. The bracket has more power output options, safety covers over the built-in rotating ND filter and a safety cover over the on/off button. It also allows many options to secure handles and on board monitors, all of which serve to enhance drama production.”

When shooting TV drama the choice of camera is important and making sure you can work effectively and efficiently are equally as important as Phillips highlighted saying, “The Sony F55 is quite a light camera. It makes it that much easier to hand-hold and to rig, whether on cars or just for general use on a dolly and slider. On Old School we used two F55s as the A and the B cameras. The A cam was mostly on the dolly with a slider, so it was fairly stable. The B camera was more often hand-held or on a monopod, so it was more maneuverable.”

Old School was shot on location in Sydney, mostly in the southern suburbs of Botany and Matraville with some additional scenes in The Rocks, Newtown, Vaucluse and Five Dock. Having to shoot in multiple locations was again something that Phillips was conscious of when choosing the F55.

He added, “The F55 being lighter and that little bit smaller than most cameras really helped us get in and out of a location quickly. We also shot a chase sequence in some actual storm water drains and the camera performed really well. We shot in XAVC HD and the results were great. Even though we were only shooting in HD, the camera still exhibited its full dynamic range in S-Log2. For me, that meant I didn’t need to worry too much about the outside view from inside a room completely burning out. For the grade, which went very well, we used Dwaine Hyde at DDP Studios. We increased the contrast and added saturation throughout the eight episodes as well as gave the flashbacks to the ”heist” their own particular feel. We seemed to have plenty of room to move and were able to experiment with a few different looks before deciding on the final one.”

The post workflow on Old School was particularly straightforward. Once shooting commenced, dailies were delivered to DDP’s data lab for transcoding for offline and at this point, the LUTs were applied. The rushes were delivered overnight via Sohonet to the offline house. At the same time all rushes were stored on DDP’s SAN and LTO backups were created. Once offline was complete EDLs were delivered to DDP and their Smoke operator in turn linked these back to the original camera files on the company’s SAN creating a high res online master for the grade.”

Commenting on the grade and the F55, DDP Studios’ Dwaine Hyde added “It was a very easy workflow for TV from the chosen F55 data, the files were small enough to manage easily and the Sony S-Log2 images provided a generous amount of latitude to grade with. I really like the images from the F55, they are clean and crisp and as mentioned before, S-Log2 is a great flat starting point for grading as, when exposed correctly, it provides an excellent amount of latitude in the captured image in both blacks and whites. All the preferred cameras these days provide great range in the raw captured image and they all have their own unique qualities and look. I like the clean look of the F55 (and F65) as a point of difference from the images I often see from more frequently used cameras. I also like the S-Log starting point for grading as I feel you begin with a much more natural gamma curve. All in all the post experience on Old School was very enjoyable, Garry captured some great images and we were able to get a great look from them. To anyone thinking of working with the F55 I would say go for it! The F55 images I have worked with on this project and on several others have not only been a pleasure to grade but also look amazing.”