Blackmagic - Amazon - Bloody Sixteen - Totally Killer

Cinematographer Judd Overton, in charge of finishing Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Totally Killer,’ has chosen the URSA Mini Pro 12K OLPF and Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 digital cinema cameras by Blackmagic.

The horror-comedy, which has quickly become one of Amazon’s most-watched comedies of the year, tells the story of 17-year-old Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) and her struggle against the infamous Sweet Sixteen Killer. Thirty-five years after his first killing spree, the killer returns for another victim, and Jamie accidentally time-travels back to 1987 in an attempt to stop him before he even begins. Forced to navigate the crazy, unfamiliar culture of the 1980s, Jamie, along with her teenage mother (Olivia Holt) tries to stop the killer once and for all before she’s trapped in the past forever.

Blackmagic - Amazon - Bloody Sixteen - Totally KillerOverton explains why Blackmagic cameras gave him the look he was looking for for this production: “Totally Killer is set in two distinct time periods, and we knew we needed a way to quickly differentiate the looks to keep the audience dialed into the time travel. After much testing with both anamorphic and spherical lenses, we selected a slightly vintage, lower contrast look for 1987 and a super sharp, high contrast and slightly cooler look for the contemporary scenes. The Blackmagic cameras matched so well with the Rec. 709 of the other cameras used, and I had no issue combining the shots in Resolve.”

The URSA Mini Pro 12K OLPF camera was particularly useful for the various fashions of the 1980s throughout film. Because it was common at the time to wear clothing with repetitive patterns that create a moiré effect and excessive streaking, the unit’s optical low-pass filter prevented such artifacts and was extremely practical during the shoot: “With amazing, authentic 80s costumes by designer Patti Henderson, we knew we could have the possibly of moiré, and as we are preliminarily releasing in a streaming service, I wanted to make sure there were no technical issues. The 12K OLPF is great because it adheres to all streaming requests around keeping out moiré.”

Blackmagic - Amazon - Bloody Sixteen - Totally Killer

The key scenes of Totally Killer

The film is a constant mix of comedy and action, with some of the most iconic images you’d expect from high school life in the 1980s, as well as cinematic stylings based on the best horror and time travel features. These include dodgeball games, a pivotal scene for the film: “The dodgeball scene was thoroughly storyboarded and then previsualized by our stunt team, however, there is never enough time in the day, so after shooting out our main cast, we handed over the set and the Blackmagic cameras to camera operator Jeff Zwicker to capture the additional action beats we had on the shortlist. One great shot was when one of the dodgeball teens gets hit and spits out her retainer. We shot that at 4K using the URSA Mini Pro 12K OLPF at 98fps so we could retune or ramp it if required,” explains the cinematographer.

On the other hand, several scenes in the film take place at a fairground and in The Quantum Drop, a typical Gravitron-style game, which also doubles as a time machine. Despite not being able to shoot the game in motion due to the high centrifugal force that makes it so much fun, Overton and his team were able to use DaVinci Resolve Studio to incorporate various shakes into the images, as well as Blackmagic Design cameras outside of the Gravitron game to record the base shots for the visual effects: “When I first read the Gravitron sequence, I was amazed. I’ve never seen anything like this on film. We used the Blackmagic cameras for VFX plates outside the Gravitron that worked with the greenscreen on stage to show the speed ramping up as the Gravitron / time machine really ramps up and eventually takes off back to the future. Both Resolve and the cameras helped create an amazing scene.”

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By • 16 Nov, 2023
• Section: Catchment, Postpro