I finally got the AXSM reader from Sony (they have to send it from their factory in Holland) so I could offload the one 512GB card that I managed to fill while I had the FS700 w/FW 3.0, HXR-IF5 interface unit and AXS-R5 recorder demo units on loan last week. I didn’t even know what I recorded (cause I didn’t have the reader to check) and I knew that I probably missed a few shots as the R5 recorder has some quirks but once I start to look at the footage I was really impressed. And a bit angry at Sony too, because I got the reader so late I was only able to fill one card and that was it. I had planned three shots that week but I only managed to shoot one full and a few shots on another one.
Let me first tell you about the shoot. As I started planning a month ago I had a few different things in mind. Then I saw some images of summer resort on flickr that movie maker Gunter Blokken posted when he went on holidays to Croatia. I got in love with the location right away and started thinking what could I shoot there. I knew my friend Gea, who I worked with on some previous project, does fire shows so I asked her if she would like to perform on this location. She was very keen to do it and we connected with Taja, artistic performer and Damir, costume designer all three from Teater Ponorelii to plan the shoot.
We scheduled to do a shoot on Wednesday. I was supposed to get the camera on Tuesday, so I went on location check a day before to see about the access to the location and specific spots where we could shoot. It was a deserted luxury resorts on the coast of island Krk in Croatia. The founder of the Penthouse magazine, invested 45 million US-dollars in the project and officially opened the Penthouse Adriatic Club casino located in the hotel in 1972. Today it is nothing but ruins standing lonely on the shore.
Sony unfortunately informed me that the camera won’t arrive until Wednesday. I knew that this will be another “take the camera out of the box and go shoot” situation and that there would be no time to prepare, familiarise with the camera or test the workflow. Wednesday came and the packages arrived at 11am. I quickly check if everything turned on and connected to each other and then went to pick up the crew and drove to the destination.
At the location I got to familiarise with the camera and the R5 recorder unit. As you can see the interface unit and the recorder add quite a bit of length (and there is a V-lock battery missing in the photo). I didn’t have the option to move camera plate further back where the centre of mass was so the rig was quite back heavy and a bit too much for my small Manfrotto 504 head. I decided that I would go handheld most of the time and hold it like a gun in my arms. I thought this would not be problematic as I will be shooting mostly slow motions of fabrics flowing in the wind and burning fire.
The camera has three S&Q modes when connected to the R5. Normal speed, 2k super slow and 4k super slow. 2k super slow motion is continuous at up to 200fps and you are only limited to the size of your card. 4k super slow was a quick burst of 4.28 seconds at 100fps which than translated to 17 seconds of footage. Then camera took around 10 seconds to write the buffer to card. Writing seemed quicker but I kind of missed the old 9 second buffer with end trigger because you can eat through the card quite quickly if you continuously record at 200fps and wait for something to happen. I think it would be great if there was an option to set the capture time to 8, 16, 32 seconds and use the same end trigger method as before.
A minute of 2k raw in Sony mxf format is 1.87 GB big so you can shoot around 270 minutes of footage on one 512GB card, that is 33 minutes at 200fps. 17 seconds of 4k raw is 2.12GB so that means around 68 minutes on one card or 17 minutes at 100 fps. You can see I was quite stressed knowing that I didn’t have a card reader and I would shoot mostly super slow motion. I was also in talks with Convergent Design to test their Odyssey7Q recorder (they changed their mind as the unit was still too beta) and the informed me that I could record on two 512GB SSDs 20 minutes of 2k raw. Their recording mode is Cinema DNG and as such quite big. I was quite surprised as to how much footage can I record in Sony raw format. I wasn’t sure if I recorded in raw or XAVC even though recorder said raw.
Another quirk was that you have to turn on two units before shoot. I didn’t know what was the power consumption of R5 so I turned it off when between the shoots to save the batteries and there was this one time I forgot to turn it back on. Of course I found out that it doesn’t consumes much power so I could have had it turned on all the time. Simultaneously recording to R5 and the SD card in camera (in HD resolution) only happens with normal speeds. 2k and 4k super speed only records on R5 unit. The camera doesn’t tell you that you don’t have the R5 unit turned on so it can happen that you don’t record anything if you forgot the turned it on. You also need to wait for R5 unit to prepare when changing S&Q modes or again nothing happens and you record a lot of nothingness. I lost a few shots like that before I noticed that R5 takes up to 10 seconds to prepare for the S&Q mode you select when you change it. It would be great to know about kinks like that beforehand, but I didn’t have the camera sooner and I was learning on the go. By the time I got familiarised with the camera and R5 recorder the card was full and there was nothing I could do.
The shoot turned out great. As always we wanted to shoot too much material so there weren’t even time so take some behind the scenes photos. I still have to edit the clip myself but I have here (at the end of post) a few DPX frames and a few seconds of raw footage (file sizes are large so only 2k at the moment) for you to download so that you can play with the footage and grade it to your desires.
DPX frames are exported directly from Sony RAW viewer application with S-Gamut/Linear colour space applied. You can import them in Photoshop or any other image editing application. You can play with the raw files in Sony’s own RAW Viewer or play with them in Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer NLE or various grading applications like Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, Assimilate Scratch and others.
You can find all the info about working with raw in the Workflow Guide for the SONY CineAlta® F5, F55 & F65 RAW. You can download applications, plug-ins and utilities at Sony’s site where you can find link to RAW viewer and RAW plug-ins for Adobe and AVID. I only looked the material in RAW viewer and converted it for offline editing an I have an old MacBook Pro with no ability to run Resolve and the Final Cut Pro X at the moment doesn’t support native editing of Sony raw files.
I did a quick colour grade on the frames below in Apple Aperture. If you go over the image with a mouse or touch on touch sensitive displays (iPads, iPhones…) you can see the S-Gamut/Linear Colour Space applied at the export of DPX file.
Download links, only 2k movies are be available to download at the moment (be patient with the downloads as I don’t know how the server will hold). If server holds I will also add 4k raw downloads:
Update: If you want to use Final Cut Pro X you have to export the files from RAW Viewer as SStP SR-Lite 422 files and install SR Plug-in for Mac in order to import SStP footage into Final Cut Pro X. It says that you also need to rewrap SStP (.MXF) files to QuickTime (.MOV) using SR Viewer application software but I didn’t have to do it. You can than import it to FCPX and use them in project. But they are limited to 1920×1080 resolution at 10 bit. I hope Final Cut Pro X quickly enables native editing with Sony raw files.