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Experiencing the Wunderbar with Blackmagic Design
John Byron Hanby
Discovering his passion for filmmaking at age eight while making a documentary about his local martial arts studio, John began to dabble in short films and corporate videos. In December 2012, he founded his production company, Fractal Visuals (www.fractalvisuals.
John chose the name Fractal Visuals based on the mathematical concept of fractals, or shapes that are infinitely complex, because each new project he creates is more complex than the last, and every project builds up to the next in both understanding and experience. Over the last year and a half, John has put this ideology and equipment to good use, from being featured at SXSW 2014 for his short film "Beautiful," to interning on Warner Bro's "Revolution," to producing his first TV commercial, "Experience the Wunderbar," for Wunder Audio.
Shooting a Corporate Video
Wunder Audio is a company based in Austin, Texas that designs and creates award winning, high end, vintage style microphones, pre amps, equalizers, and audio recording consoles. "Experience the Wunderbar" is a commercial designed to showcase the abilities and beauty of the Wunderbar analog console. To shoot and color the commercial, which is featured on Wunder Audio's website, John used one of his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras and DaVinci Resolve. He also shot B roll footage on the Pocket Cinema Camera used in a series of additional Wunder Audio videos.
After a three day shoot to capture the Wunderbar footage in ProRes HQ on the Pocket Cinema Cameras, John edited and color graded the project on a new 2013 Mac Pro with D700 graphics cards. He graded the footage using DaVinci Resolve Lite.
Deciding What Really Matters
"Shooting ProRes HQ in such a small form factor guarantees portability while also ensuring a beautiful final product, something that no other camera on the market can offer at this price point," said John. "The small form factor allows for great flexibility when shooting in all kinds of situations. In addition to my corporate work, I shoot a lot of period pieces from the WWII or Vietnam eras, and the option to use Super 16 glass on the Pocket camera is very exciting and allows me to share the ambience of that time period with the audience."
He continued, "The battery life is also good. Even using the internal batteries, I don't have to change them too often."
In addition to the Pocket Cinema Camera's form factor and the quality of the footage it produces, John appreciates the camera's seamless integration from production to post.
"Workflow is a major buying criterion," said John. "It's only me on most of my corporate videos, including the Wunder Audio shoot. I personally handle every aspect of the project, from conception, to filming, editing, color grading, and final delivery. As a result, having the Pocket Cinema Camera that can integrate so easily into the post workflow is huge."
Discovering the Wide World of Color
Being able to use DaVinci Resolve in conjunction with the Pocket Cinema Camera has allowed John to discover the world of color correction and has added another layer of professionalism to his projects.
John found DaVinci Resolve's support of the new Mac Pro graphics cards to be extremely beneficial, as it allowed him to render out his clips from the Pocket Cinema Camera four times faster than real time even with 15 nodes of adjustments. Shooting in ProRes also gave him the ability to round trip from FCPX to Resolve and back.
"The Pocket Cinema Camera has allowed me to explore the world of color and push images to the extreme while maintaining a gorgeous, professional final product," said John.
In choosing the look he wanted for the "Experience the Wunderbar" commercial, John considered the history of the console. The design for the Wunderbar was based off of the Allotrope modules made for John Paul Jones, the bassist for Led Zeppelin, back in the 1970s. With this in mind, John decided to go for a clean but vintage look to capture the vibe the board gives off. As a result, he opted for a cross processed grade. Back in the 1970s, this look was achieved by exposing film in the wrong order, giving the footage an old yellowish vintage feel, but also an artistic, hip, and clean look.
"Resolve was crucial in helping me achieve this look, but the amazing results I got were also partly due to the massive color flexibility the Pocket camera offers," said John. "Having the ability to bring up the shadows by that critical percent, while maintaining an excellent, clean look really added to the filmic look I was going for."
Balancing the Classroom and the Real World
"Being in college can make scheduling tricky at times, and in many cases the productions that I do require ultra fast turnaround," said John. "It is really great that I am able to fit everything I need to operate the Pocket Cinema Camera in a single carry on sized Pelican case, including batteries, lenses, audio, and the camera because I know that if I need to do a shoot between classes, I can grab my case and a tripod and I'm good to go.
"For me, there is no better feeling than creating a film," he concluded. "The capturing of a moment in time that will be kept forever is incredible. When it's done there is a great sense of fulfillment, and the fact that I can share that film with others so they can experience the journey is beyond incredible. I'm thrilled that I'm able to use Blackmagic Design to accomplish this."
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