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Case Study: Creating A Professional Looking Short In 4K

Neil Matsumoto

Using a DSLR or mirrorless camera to create a narrative film with a pro cast and crew can be a huge undertaking. Yvonne is a good example of a film that pulled it off while working with a simple Samsung NX1 setup.

Images from Samsung USA

Yvonne, a short film from screenwriter Steven Rowley (based on a short story by Sandy Frances Duncan) and directed and produced by Andrew Putschoegl (BFFs, Nerdgasm) perfectly demonstrates how to create a professional-looking movie with a $1,699.99 compact mirrorless camera—all in 4K.

The film was shot with the Samsung NX1 and stars Marissa Jaret Winokur as Yvonne, a woman who struggles with her identity as a wife, mother, and homemaker. To escape her routine, Yvonne starts an alternative life inside her refrigerator, which Putschoegl creates in a visually original way.

Creating A Professional-Looking Short In 4K: A full kit Samsung NX1 designed for motion picture capture.

‘Yvonne’ was part of Samsung 4K content series in which they teamed up with filmmakers across the country to showcase the NX1, especially in regards to 4K capture. The program collaborated with RocketJump, Wittydud and Pitchfork.

Although Putschoegl has worked with DSLRs in the past, he had sworn off the platform for awhile because he was “more frustrated than happy with the quality he was getting” compared with high-end digital motion picture cameras like the ARRI ALEXA. The mirrorless NX1 was an interesting alternative, outputting 8-bit, 4:2:2 4K files to an Atomos Shogun recorder. The NX1 contains a 28.2MP BSI APS-C CMOS sensor, which can capture 4K or UHD video on board to standard SD cards.

Putschoegl had numerous discussions with cinematographer Robert Brinkman (The Rules of Attraction) and the look of the movie was motivated by Rowley’s script. Putschoegl explains…

We talked about at the beginning we wanted Yvonne to have this muted color palette to accompany the fact that she’s very underappreciated and not having much of a life outside of the small space that she inhabits on a daily basis. We also talked about keeping things a little tighter and more controlled.

As the film moves on, the team expanded the film’s color palette and developed Yvonne’s wardrobe and makeup, which ultimately leads to her freedom at the end of the film.

Creating A Professional-Looking Short In 4K: On a dolly, cinematographer Robert Brinkman - Samsung NX1

The production shot with the NX1, outputting 8-bit, 4:2:2 4K files to an Atomos Shogun recorder. The NX1 can capture 4K and UHD to SD cards but it’s in the H.265 format, which is a more compressed format than H.264. H.265 is also not yet compatible with any of the current NLEs.

Putschoegl and Brinkman also put the camera in a cage housing with professional camera accessories for focus pulling, as well as an Anton Bauer battery solution to power both the camera and recorder. According to Putschoegl, since they were shooting in a studio space, they didn’t have any problem controlling highlights since they had total control over lighting.

Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes video of Yvonne

For lenses, the NX1 contains a proprietary NX-mount, which gave Putschoegl some concern since there are only a handful of professional NX lenses on the market. He used Samsung’s Premium S-series zoom lenses, including the 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS and 50-150mm f/2.8 S ED OIS.

In terms of developing a flat, neutral color profile, Putschoegl and Brinkman employed the NX1’s D Gamma setting to increase the camera’s dynamic range. “We wanted a really flat profile so we could have more flexibility in post,” explains Putschoegl. He continues…

I would love — and I know a lot of filmmakers would love — a Log profile and I think Samsung will be including it in a future firmware update. You can certainly get a pretty flat profile, but it’s not quite the same as Log yet. That said, once we started color correction, we ran into no issues whatsoever, so I don’t think that we ever said, ‘Oh man, I wish we could have shot this in Log — it has so much more latitude.’ We had zero problems.

Here’s the the finished video…

Samsung recently screened Yvonne at Social Media Week LA.

Looking for more information about shooting in 4K? Here are a few PremiumBeat articles you might find interesting:

Think you might be up to the challenge of shooting a professional-looking film with a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Sound off in the comments below and let us know how YOU would approach the situation!

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