InCinematographer - Issue 2 - September 2017 - 25
www.incinematographer.com | Issue 2 | September 2017
Sony F55: Mick Jones Shoots
History Channel Foxtel Promo
For almost five years Sony's F55 has been the workhorse camera
of choice for Sydney based Director and DoP Mick Jones...
Mick Jones shooting
The History Channel 2017
Image spot with his
Sony PMW-F55 camera
The Navy Seal action sequence
ith a raft of enviable TV credits on his showreel
Jones was recently commissioned to shoot
a large-scale and complex promo for The History
Channel on Foxtel and to shoot that, again, he chose
his trusty Sony F55 camera.
Jones explained: "The F55 produces a wonderful
quality picture. The History Channel 2017 Image spot
was a VFX green screen shoot needing 4K image
capture for digital push-ins that would give an HD
finish. I have done a lot of green screen work using
the F55. Its global shutter and ability to get a great
image at 2000 iso makes it a good choice for VFX. We
can also use a bit less light since our base iso is 1250,
and the image is still superb at 2000 iso."
Jones shot the spot using the XAVC codec in ultra
HD res at a shutter of 90 degrees to give a crisp
edge on the action shots making it a bit easier for
He continued: "There were also deliberate overcranked shots at 50 or 60 frames per second to
capture fast action. It was used when shooting a Navy
Seal rappelling down a rope, then a CGI helicopter
was added to spray him with water, and also for Ned
Kelly firing a pistol so we could catch the muzzle flash
and smoke as he pulled the trigger."
It's not just Mick Jones who enjoys working with
the F55. Often he gets very positive feedback from
the crew he works with and the team in post as he
added, "The feedback from compositors is always
very positive when working with the XAVC 4K files.
For this, as with the other green screen for VFX
shoots I've done, the compositors say they had a very
easy time pulling a clean key with a good edge while
working with that robust codec."
On the History Channel Foxtel 2017 image spot
shoot there were two configurations of the F55 and
due to the VFX, both configurations were used for
very measured and rehearsed sequences. The Navy
Seal action sequence Jones mentioned was a series
of locked-off shots on a tripod, all of different sizes,
for blending in post. The second used a dolly move on
a chapman which was quite a complex and dynamic
Jones explained, "We needed to push in and also to
the side of Ned Kelly as he fired a period pistol away
from the lens, and then over the lens. The camera
required some protection as the blanks and muzzle
flash still discharged quite a bit of debris during the
"This shoot was entirely a studio, indoor and
controlled green screen environment, but the nature
of my work means I have to put the F55 in a lot of
different environments. From studio, to locations
such as the Aussie bush, beach, low light, exteriors,
interiors, vehicles it's a bit of everything and as
I've said, the size, weight and features make it very
versatile for pretty much any shooting environment I
have had to deal with so far."
On this shoot the workflow involved XAVC Ultra HD
3840x2160 with Hyper Gamma 7. After consulting
the lead VFX and director, Jones agreed on HG7 for
the gamma as the lighting was completely controlled,
so they didn't need a huge amount of dynamic range,
and not much color grading was required.
As the shoot drew to a close Jones reflected on the
F55 and quite why he keeps choosing it over other
cameras saying: "I think the F55 currently sits in a
very favorable position in the market. It's versatility,
size, weight, multiple codec options and high-frame
rates make it a no-brainer for any shoot. It's very
clean at high iso and the internal codec really holds
up in the grade. I find it very easy to get a nice image
without having to tweak the camera settings very
much. I'm always able to work fast with the F55 so it
gives me an edge of speed. Having used it for so long,
it's second nature for me to set it up ready for a shot.
I have a few user files preloaded onto the built-in SD
card and as soon as one is set, then I'm ready. This
shoot required alternating between 50, 60 and 25fps
and having a frame rate option on the side panel for
quick access really kept things moving along."
With the final edit locked away and results that
speak for themselves Mick Jones concluded, "The F55
performed extremely well on this shoot and in terms
of reliability, the camera continues to be rock solid.
My clients are always very pleased with the images it
produces. It's a versatile camera, not only because of
functionality, but also for the range of looks that you
can get with it.
"Sometimes I use old, soft glass and SLOG2 gamma
and when paired with the global shutter, it gives a
very filmic look. It's also easy to switch to the crisp,
sharp edge look we wanted for this VFX shoot.
The combination of different Gammas, lens mount
options and codecs makes the F55 my go-to choice
because I know I can get whatever look the client