When Director of Photography Mike Gomes began prep for the feature documentary “The Dwarvenaut,” he was unfamiliar with the Sony FS7 camera. “It was just hitting the market,” explained Gomes. “Producer Jason Diamond introduced me to it. With the XDCA Extension Back I could use proper batteries and other accessories, but most importantly I could get 4K RAW out of the camera and into an Odyssey7Q+. I wanted to have a monitor for director Josh Bishop anyway, and when I mentioned this Jason smiled and said ‘already on it.’”
“We had to hit the ground running,” noted Diamond, who co-produced The Dwarvenaut with his brother Josh Diamond. “Production began in December 2014, and I think we were the first people in New York with the extension back to get the RAW out of the camera and we also had one of the first Odyssey7Q+ units. The benefit to us was that we could let the extension back pull the RAW signal out of the camera and then the Odyssey7Q+ could transform that 12-bit RAW data into 4K Apple ProRes. We shot everything on the FS7 this way, capturing all the footage in Sony S-Log3 for color correction in post.”
“I operated off the Odyssey7Q+ OLED screen a lot;” noted Gomes. “Our subject, miniature sculptor Stefan Pokorny, is a small guy and he moves around a lot. 95% of this movie is handheld, and for much of it I was cradling the camera in my arms with the Odyssey7Q+ facing up so that I could just look down at the screen. I almost always had one of the exposure tools – waveform, histogram, false color – on the screen. We recorded in S-Log3 and I mostly viewed the image with a Rec709 LUT applied using the built-in Odyssey LUT System presets. It helped me to judge exposure and besides, the screen just looks great. I couldn’t possibly have been as mobile if I tried to use the FS7’s little LCD.”
Producer Diamond explained the post workflow. “During production the Odyssey SSDs were offloaded to G-Tech shuttle drives. We then loaded everything onto 64TB and 24TB G-Tech Studio XL raids in Raid-6 configuration. We were cutting on AVID so we AMAed the Apple ProRes in and created 1080p proxies for our editor who was working offsite. We had about 60TB of 4K24p footage so that would have been a bit much to pump over to the editor, and by generating the proxies inside AVID in the AMA stage we could tie the material directly back to the original 4K files. When we finished editing it was a simple process to conform within AVID back to 4K Apple ProRes. Then we sent the movie to colorist Chris Ryan at Nice Shoes for color correction. The final 4K DCP master was generated by Nice Shoes and “The Dwarvenaut” will premiere in 4K on Saturday, March 12th at the Alamo Ritz at SXSW.”
“The Dwarvenaut” is director Josh Bishop’s second film and also his second to be shown at SXSW. In 2015 the festival premiered his first film “Made in Japan,” also produced by the Diamond Brothers.