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The Industry Takes a Step Toward the Future with 8K Resolution

Special to Markee

Holland on the set of Forged with the RED Weapon 8K.

Holland on the set of “Forged” with the RED Weapon 8K. All photos: Phil Holland

The biggest camera manufacturers in the industry are ushering in a new generation of resolution with the adoption of 8K, including RED Digital Cinema. Their new 8K WEAPON Vista Vision/full-frame 35mm camera is already being used to shoot major Hollywood films, such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

But before that film makes it to the big screen, director/cinematographer/photographer Phil Holland was one of the first in the industry to use the new 8K camera for his short film Forged.

The emerging technology of 8K

“Anton/Bauer’s CINE V-mount batteries have a form factor that works very well with the RED Weapon camera body,” says Holland.

“Anton/Bauer’s CINE V-mount batteries have a form factor that works very well with the RED Weapon camera body,” says Holland.

8K is steadily starting to creep its way into the film and broadcast industry, one major event at a time. Along with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it was recently revealed that certain sections of the Olympics this year will be shot in 8K so they can use virtual reality technology to bring a more immersive experience to audiences worldwide. This includes the opening and closing ceremonies along with a few popular sports, such as swimming, basketball, and football.

Some might consider this a bit premature since 8K hasn’t become mainstream to the average consumer. But this kind of innovative step by both Hollywood and the Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) to create 8K content could be the push that the industry needs to get 8K completely on board by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. And with major films and events using 8K, this could easily be the starting platform for more content creators using 8K cameras, such as the RED 8K WEAPON.

The man behind the 8K camera
With 8K on the rise, filmmakers are more eager than ever to get their hands on the new camera. Holland has been heavily involved with 4K and 4K+ filmmaking for years and always has been fascinated by the technology. Even before his career as a director of photography, he made his start as a digital imaging specialist for Rhythm and Hues Studios, where he developed advanced Panorganizer rigs for film.

Holland sets up a shot of blacksmith Tony Swatton for Forged.

Holland sets up a shot of blacksmith Tony Swatton for “Forged.”

“Combining Spherical Panorama with High Dynamic Range shooting techniques enabled us to capture a full 360×180 degree Spherical High Dynamic Range Image, or HDRI,” Holland says. “When I started shooting Spherical HDRIs, we used film cameras and custom rigs, which eventually led to a system I created called Panorganizer. This system allows for quick onset capture, organization, and delivery of high-resolution HDRIs, meeting the speed and workflow needs for VFX productions. I’ve personally shot thousands of HDRIs at this point, and there are now several Panorganizer rigs capturing HDRIs on feature films shooting around the world.”

With his own technological advancements helping improve film sets, Holland couldn’t help but familiarize himself with the new RED WEAPON camera in the 8K format.

“As a visual storyteller, you can actually reveal more to the audience when you’re working in 8K and this larger-than-VistaVision sensor size, which is very appealing,” he adds. “Your wide shots hold more detail, and you can extract more depth from a scene.”

One of the first 8K productions in the world
With his newfound 8K camera, Holland went to work to film something complex enough to test such high-resolution shots.

“For four days, we followed blacksmith Tony Swatton as he forged a modern fantasy take on the Roman Gladius sword using the Damascus process,” Holland explains. “With 8K, I was able to show the smoke, sparks, and other details on the close-ups that you couldn’t see with the naked eye. Every shot had a real three-dimensional pop to it that I really enjoyed. And once he started, we only had one chance to get the shot because the metal was constantly changing, so we needed reliable power for the RED camera.”

“RED Weapon's compact size allowed me to wedge myself and the camera in pretty tight spaces,” says Holland.

“RED Weapon’s compact size allowed me to wedge myself and the camera in pretty tight spaces,” says Holland.

For such a new, power-hungry camera, Holland chose to use Anton/Bauer’s CINE battery. With 12 amps of continuous power and next generation Li-Ion cell technology, the CINE battery series is specifically designed for high-power consumption digital cinema style cameras.

“Every set I’ve been on has Anton/Bauer batteries,” the DP notes. “The new CINE line is really exciting. They’re short, cubic in shape, and fit the form factor of these modern digital cinema cameras perfectly. Typically, especially for V-Mount, other batteries tend to protrude high above the camera, but the CINE batteries are low-profile and keep the camera balanced and weighted properly while I shoot. They can even communicate with the new 8K camera, so it reports the time left on the battery, which was so crucial for a shoot like this where every second mattered. It’s the first time we’ve seen any innovation in terms of the design of these lighting bricks.”

While its Fuse Link technology protected the battery in case of a cell anomaly or severe impact to prevent catastrophic damage, the CINE’s LCD showed the battery’s charge in time and minutes when it was on the camera and as a percentage when off. And it’s PowerTap for 14V accessories also helped power Holland’s Litepanels Astra 1×1 LED lights along with his camera throughout the day while he was on set.

“Using the Anton/Bauer CINE 150, we got about two and a half hours of runtime,” he reports. “We didn’t have an opportunity to have any major camera down time. So between the long runtime and the CINE’s compact size, we were able to shoot all day and get the camera in places that would’ve been impossible with a larger battery.”

Even though 8K has yet to hit the market on a grand scale, it’s this kind of definition that the entertainment industry is gravitating toward. With 8K offering more resolution and higher frame rates, the CINE battery is a much-welcomed addition as film technology gets more innovative and power-driven.

April 18, 2016