Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sony FS700; a new era begins....

My new camera, the Sony FS700. But first let's take a journey
looking back at the previous cameras i've owned and shot on 
over the years,,,

Oh how things have changed in 6 years. When i begun my Film studies degree at Victoria University in the mid-2000's any project that i wanted to undertake would have me relying on my parents trusty old Sony Hi-8 Video Camera. It shot to Digi8 DV tapes at a not so great SD and interlaced resolution.

 The Sony HRV320 Camcorder in all it's glory, suction cup
mounted on my car of the day, an '89 Toyota Corolla....

 Which helped myself and my friends, Derek and Adam, create 
memorable car shots for our short project 'Urban Blackout' (above). 
Although i believe we did not have  asuction cup at this point, so 
ample amounts of masking tape had to suffice.

After shooting a few successful short projects and Uni shorts on the Sony Handycam, and wanting to further explore filmmaking and camera operating i invested in a 'Prosumer' level Video Camera. I picked up a Canon XM2. 

 The Canon XM2, recorded to MiniDV tape, 20x zoom, shot Progressive and in 16x9. 
A nice step up from the Handycam.

The XM2 was the 'little brother' to the hugely popular Canon XL2. I was familiar with the XL2 as i used it throughout my Film degree at Vic and would later shoot my Honours degree short film 'Vanished' on it. The camera still shot to DV tapes but it did so using a (comparatively) larger quality sensor than simple 'Handycams' while also recording a progressive image file and in a wide screen 'anamorphic' mode. This camera was another great tool to learn with and while it didn't shoot a huge amount of work with the camera, it had a second life....

Urban Blackout 2, a short film/trailer project was shot using the XM2, we also got 
arrested at gun point whilst filming this particular scene. But that's another story...

Times were-a-changing, and the indie filmmakers search for the elusive 'Film like image' on a low budget led to the creation and adoption of the 35mm Film Adaptor. A device that basically took an image from a 35mm still camera lens, projected it onto a piece of ground glass, in which a video camera was then used top record that image. Voila! 35mm depth of field characteristics in a video camera. A hunt on TradeMe led me to a Letus 35mm adapter kit selling cheaply, i picked it up and gave my XM2 its second life.

The Canon XM2 with a Letus 35mm Film adaptor on the front. My camera rig 
had just doubled in size and weight. 

Another tool, another concept: 35mm depth of field. From a music video 
'Babe i'm just Scared' by Tommy and the Fallen Horses that i was DP on

Mission Impossible with V cans? yes please.

Once again though, the camera game was changing. With the Video shooting DSLR's taking the market by force, my Canon XM2 and Letus 35mm were on the market within a few months. It was time to embrace the Canon 5D mk II/Canon 7D...

 The Canon 7D mini rig, Full 1080p HD images with shallow depth of field 
and up to 2x slow motion in 720p. Another step up in technology and filmmaking tools.

After a brief fling with the Canon 5D mkII i settled on the Canon 7D as my camera (due to to its higher frame rates and slow motion capabilities). I owned my Canon 7D for nearly 2 1/2 years and shot some of my favourite projects on it, everything from music videos, showreels and 48 Hour Film festival entries. It's compact size, HD image, shallow depth of field and superb capabilities in low light made it my ideal camera for a long time.

Music video 'Cushions' by Tommy and the Fallen Horses that i was Director and DP on.

   My showreel video 'At the End of it All', shot at Castlepoint in mid-2011

 48 Hour Film fest entry 'It's Always Night in Space', shot mid-2012.

and the obligatory 'car shot'. Things have definitely changed since the Handycam days.

So after nearly 3 years with my faithful DSLR, the Canon 7D. what changed? Well, the camera manufacturers finally caught up with the idea that people wanted the incredible filmmaking aesthetic which they could get with a DSLR but in a video camera body. One that came with built in ND filters, like a Video Camera. One that was able to record quality sound, like a Video Camera. One that had things like a histogram, sound metering levels, quality video recording codec, like a Video Camera.

 Sony NEX FS700

So when the announcement of the Sony NEX FS700 came earlier this year, a camera that had all of the features above, while also being able to record at an unprecedented 240fps+ level of slow motion, and all at an 'affordable' price tag. I knew it was time to invest again.

Of course, at this stage i probably come off as quite the camera whore, but the decision to upgrade was not taken lightly by myself. Every time i have upgraded cameras, i have tried to justify it by the amount of work i have done with the camera i have owned beforehand, and whether it matches the skills and techniques i've learned in the process. Now of course justifying purchases this was is not a precise art, but i'd like to think i dont make completely blind purchases. If you don't believe me then, well.... i just blame the accelerating pace in the improvement of technology haha.

So over the past few months what began as a methodical penny pinching campaign ended with the addition of a cannibalistic 'sell-off' of a good chunk of my camera gear. Spare lenses, rig parts, glidecams, they all had to go! 

Three words of happiness. 

 Super35 Sensor goodness.

With the last of my sold camera gear shipped off to various TradeMe buyers last wek, i got the call shortly afterwards that my camera had arrived into the country. Fantastic timing! So, a new era in my filmmaking life begins, my first project saw me set up a makeshift studio in my garage and do a number of slow motion shots with all the fun things in life like water, fire, aerosol cans and M&M's...

Shooting at 200/400/800fps required a ton of light! 2x 650 watt Fresnels,
 1x800w and 1x 300w

M&M's and macro lens action.

A good looking city indeed.

With that said, here is my first short film piece shot on my new camera. hope you enjoy :)

'Threshold' - A Sony FS700 Short Film from Luke Frater on Vimeo.

So when will the next camera come out and 'invalidate' this one? Hopefully not anytime in the next few years, i dont think my savings can take it! In the meantime, i'm just going to do my best by learning new skills, new techniques, creating interesting projects, having fun and somehow justifying my mad purchases haha :D

- Luke

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