Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - Simone vs herself

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K has been used to shoot several scenes for Simone vs Herself, a seven-part documentary series available on Facebook Watch.

Produced by Religion of Sports under the direction of Gotham Chopra and broadcast exclusively on Facebook Watch, the series is about the life of gymnast Simone Biles and aims to give viewers a “unique insight” into her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

The format is part of Versus, a set of Facebook documentaries that explores the personal motivations that drive some of the world’s most accomplished athletes. In the case of Simone vs Herself, it was necessary to follow the athlete around the world and record different moments as they happened, without interfering with them. For this, cinematographer Jessica Young chose the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K model because of its compact design, ease of set-up and transport, image quality and high dynamic range.

Young began filming in September 2019, but given the delay in the Olympics caused by the COVID pandemic, the series was not completed until August 2021, when the event had already begun and deadlines for each episode were extremely tight. Young shot with a variety of micro four-thirds lenses, including 12-35mm, 35-100mm and 100-300mm models, as well as a 14mm fixed focal length version, following Biles around different countries and recording moments with her family.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - Simone vs herself

Shooting in 4K resolution

Jessica Young shot the documentary in Blackmagic RAW format with 5:1 compression. In her own words: “I set the camera at 4K DCI recording Blackmagic RAW at 5:1. The base log of this camera plays so well with other recording platforms that were used on the series. I knew once we finished color grading on DaVinci the footage from the Pocket would cut seamlessly with the other cameras. And it did.”

Post production was handled by Tony Shek, lead technician and colorist at post production company Fancy Film. Shek was in charge of color grading, organizing the footage shot with the various cameras and preparing the content for distribution via Facebook Watch. For the completion of the documentary, Shek relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio, a Blackmagic tool whose efficiency was essential to “get this all done” and, at the same time, “maintain the high quality of Facebook Watch. Resolve’s collaborate mode in particular let me work in real time with other parts of post and let me work on being creative instead of dealing with technical fixes.”

The technician and colorist, in particular, highlights some of the program’s features that were especially useful during the post-production process: “With Resolve, I could experiment. We wanted the viewers to get the feeling of what a real life interview feels like to Simone. To do that, we created in Resolve a verite monochrome golden look with the contrast mimicking flash photography for her interview shots. And we used Resolve for subtle highlight work that let me replicate a flashbulb from a camera or go in and get details from footage where intense flashes threatened to blow out an image.”

“The face refinement tools in Resolve were also a huge time saver for the interview scenes and a number of other scenes where specific details of faces needed to be brought out or adjusted. Resolve’s face refinement tools turned what used to be a 30 minute process into a 2 minute one,” he adds.

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By • 10 Dec, 2021
• Section: Catchment, Postpro