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DOUCE CHINE, a Music Video shot with GH2/GH3/D800/Leica/AF100
  • DOUCE CHINE: THe music Video

    DOUCE CHINE: Technical detail for every shot (Camera/lens/Aperture)

    Birth of the “Douce Chine” Project: Twice a year I am teaching a 10 weeks (25 hours) filmmaking course in Shanghai. www.shanghai-classes.com/filmmaking For the 2014 spring term, I decided to help one of my friends, by shooting a music video for his new Album: Douce Chine (China Delight). This was an interesting project for my students as well, as we had time to work on lighting set up and camera positioning. Song is about a guy who is used to travel from France to China, mixing up jet lag feeling with night life, good wine and wave of exciting emotion spicing up his life in China. This 4 minutes video was integrally shot in 10 hours (2 afternoons) in our classroom which is only 25m2. That means we could only walk 5 steps max in the different directions of the room.

    Why multi cameras shoot? Out of my teaching work in photography and filmmaking, I am both a pro photographer and DP/cameraman. I am having lots of gears and this shooting was a good place to put all of my cameras at work for the good of the students; Nikon D800, Lumix GH2, Lumix GH3 and Panasonic AF100. I hired one of my Photography students (Richard) to be my main assistant and he brought along his Leica M240 he had never tried in video mode so we decided to give it a try on that project. Music video is the place for multi camera shooting as you cannot ask the singer to repeat the exact same performance many times in one afternoon. Despite the lack of space in our classroom, we managed to position the camera to cover as many angle as possible in our 3 different sets of background: Simple black back drop, (fake) Bed and Chinese curtain, Window with (fake) street light reflection. There is no use to get many cameras in action if their position and angle of view are not both different and matching.

    Image bank from extra cameras On the image shot for the music video, I add a layer of images I shot in the previous years in France and China. They were shot with GH1 (night shots and on board shots) Panasonic HVX200 (club and slomo of people walking) and HVX200 with Letus Ultimate (Water shot, airplane, traditional places…). I followed up with the HD evolution but all my HVX shots (720p 50fps) still looks real good even blew over scaled to 1080p. Great cams always existed and any day, I can still grab my HVX200 if it matches my need on a new project.

    Which lenses? I am having some great lenses and I used some of my favorite on that shooting; Voigtlander 25mm f0.95, Nikon AIS 50mm f1.2, Nikon 85mm f1.4 AFD, Computar 75mm f1.4 (a rare but cheap CCTV lens great for portrait) Prior to the shoot, I bought a 35mm f1.8G (DX version) which is doing very well on the D800 even in FX mode as I knew I would add some vignette in post. I am always taking advantage of this type of experimental project to test new things without pressure. The GH2 was hanged to the ceiling on top of the fan with the Voigtlander 25mm which was wide enough to get the establishment shot at once. The D800 shared the 35mm and 50mm at f2. The GH3 always used a Speed Booster (great tool that I highly recommend) with the Nikon 85mm 1.4 which is an amazing lens (older AFD version half price than the new G version). The AF103 mainly used the Computar (200 USD lens). For the Leica, Richard brought along his 50mm f0.95, 35mm f1.4 and 90mm f2. Those 3 lens costs more than my complete equipment, but they are already sharp fully open and get their own character which makes their full frame image looks more like Medium format camera.

    Light and camera settings. This is not a proper camera test as the aim was to complete the music video shooting. Therefore, we didn’t try different set up on camera or aperture on lenses to compare. Instead, we kept everything pretty much the same. I am used to set up a lighting to be able to shoot at f2 on all camera at ISO200 (base iso for GH2, GH3 and AF100). This Aperture offers great sharpness on all my lenses and it also allows me to use lenses of any angle of view from 12mm to 180mm at f2(with speed booster) on M43 (which means 24mm to 320mm on FX). I am also working at f2 most of the time as I know the combination of lights able to deliver this result which is time and budget saving. There is just some slight correction according camera position versus light position. Playing a bit on the ISO or the aperture can handle that. On the other hand, Richard wanted to go shallow depth of field (f1.4) on the Leica and sets the ISO at 100. Sometime, he went too much on that direction (while being close to the subject) and you can notice that some of Leica’s shots are a bit out of focus as depth of field is too limited. I guess that Richard went as far as f0.95 few times on the 50mm due to noticeable overexposure on some shots. Bokeh Otaku!

    Main differences between cameras - GH2 and GH3 are classic, great tools, the most efficient, my favorite and they get even better with Voigtlander lenses or Speed Booster + Nikon. They are easy to set for a flat image for post processing purpose. Still, I think the GH1 was the best in term of cinematic colors out of the box. Image is sharp and it is up to your treatment to smooth them up. Those cameras are easy to handle due to their size, articulated screen, electronic viewfinder with all needed information minus peaking. - AF100 (AF103): Often described as a weak product by people who don’t own one and just judge on technical data, this camera is a workhorse, the one I pick up first for my paid job due to its form factor and ergonomics. Great for sound recording and flexible with its ND filters (the feature I am missing the most on GH series). Image quality is good and it had never been an issue for me or my client. Interesting point, it is the most accurate camera of the bunch in matters of color rendition. Green is much more right on the AF100 than on the Gh2 or Gh3 for instance. I love this cam and it is far better than its reputation. - D800: I used it once for a very short movie just for a test. (

    ) and I like its character. There is something tough in its image (might be the sharpness and details) and paired with old lenses it seems a great tool I want to try again. I used Pentax 645 and 67 lenses with adaptor for the previous short film and it gives a real organic feel to its images. It is not the most convenient and comfortable to use (Mirrorless is more convenient for video). Its fixed screen doesn’t help for composition and the camera is heating up on long shot. I prefer to preserve it for my photo shoot. - Leica M240: I never considered this camera as a potential choice for video shooting, but it has nice feature such as peaking on the viewfinder. I was surprised by the size of the file. Bit rate is the highest one with the GH3. Might be a lack of compression as the image gets many out of focus area and it should not need that much data. Usually data rate depends on the details of the scene you shoot. Here there is lots of darkness, lots of out of focus area so the bit rate can get lower. Here are the average value: D800 (25fps) = 25MB/s - AF100 (50 fps) = 25-28MB/s – GH2 (25 fps) = 35-45 MB/s - GH3 (50fps FHD) = 50 MB/s - Leica (25 fps) = 65 MB/s. The Leica delivers a sharp and contrasty image with beautiful colors. We tried different set up to get a flatter image, without success. This high color/high contrast image brings us into trouble as the M240 had difficulties to render the intense red and intense blue, while over cams were fine with it. I think the Leica needs a light set up which delivers the intended final result (WYSIWYG) as there is less room to post process compare to the other cameras. Few words on lenses: I think this is the strongest point of that system as Leica fast lenses deliver an incredible sharpness at full aperture, which is quit unique on a full frame camera. None of my Nikon lens or Voigtlander lens can be that sharp fully open. For sure, I will try another type of shooting, a fiction with the Leica to enjoy its unique look and possibilities.

    Final words: Camera model, Full frame or M43 does it matters? This was not a camera test, but a real world shooting with very different gears. As far as I am concerned the possibility to get a flat image out of the camera, working on a nice lighting set up, taking care of camera positioning and making a wise choice of quality Lenses are more important than camera type, model or brand. Cinematic look is not about crazy shallow depth of field. Watching great classic films help to reset some mind on that matter. Pilling up image with crazy smooth out of focus area is sometime so obvious that it takes over the story itself most of the time… The real advantage of FX is to be able to offer more separation between element with wider lens (even with an f2.8 zoom) and at longer distance from subject. If one day I am trying to shoot a fiction with the leica, I am going to write a story with that idea in mind and I might shoot in flat light, colorless environment to compensate the high saturation of the footage.

    Franc Péret French Filmmaker/Cameraman/Photographer/Teacher based in Shanghai cn.linkedin.com/in/francperet View my video on (need a VPN from China): http://vimeo.com/channels/659428/videos Filmmaking and Photography classes www.shanghai-classes.com

  • 3 Replies sorted by
  • @eurocameraman Thanks for sharing this, great information. Eventhough this kind of music is not my cup of tea, it's very well done. Regarding your short, will feature that on my page if you don't mind. Very powerful storytelling! www.facebook.com/christianwengercine

  • @Chris74 Thanks for your comment. I think this kind of video gives a change compare to usual camera shoutout done for technical purpose only. Dantes is a friend, a very professional minded guy who is doing everything on its own (music, text, performance, production, promotion...) and his style match Chinese market. I fully respect his choice and just try to find out visual for his type of song. It is not my personal taste as I prefer alternative rock and crazy performer. If any musician based in Shanghai and matching this description is looking for someone to shoot his/her Music video, he/she is welcome to contact me. I covered the spring music festival in Shanghai for French consulate. Check the guy at 00:27

    You can search my "Fete de la Musiqu"e Album, I am having bunch of music video there.

  • Here are some screen shot to compare the look of the different option we used on this music video, Full Frame vs M43 Leica, Nikon D800, GH3, AF100 and GH2

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