Sony - Cameras - Russell Crowe

Several Sony cameras helped capture the soul of the Russell Crowe ‘Indoor Garden Party’ tour: 17 performances from iconic venues such as the Sydney Opera House or the Australia Zoo.

Joe Machart, director of photography, explains that Crowe himself demanded to have “six or more cameras for each concert,” as well as the opportunity to shoot rehearsals, interviews and backstage scenes. After exploring the market and considering some of the creative requirements to be met by the cameras (such as that they should have a similar look and feel to facilitate color correction), he eventually decided on different Sony Cinema Line equipment: “I chose to utilise an FX6, four FX3s, three FR7s and an A7RV. They all have S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 profiles and can be effortlessly matched in the grade. The versatility of the whole Sony Cinema Line meant that we could use each camera’s strengths to our advantage.”

Sony - Cameras - Russell CroweWith the FR7, Crowe and his team were able to operate three cameras at once simultaneously; the FX3 stood out for its compact nature and IBIS for smooth movements, while the FX6 provided key features such as its built-in ergonomic controls and variable ND: The speed and durability of Sony’s CF Express Type A cards were essential. We had quick turnaround times in between shows and these cards enabled us to data wrangle footage onto mirrored SSDs in minimal time,” adds Machart.

The tour always featured a mega deck riser at the back of the room with an FX6 and an FX3 on tripods. The FX3 had a wide-angle locked with a 24-70mm SEL2470GM2 and the FX6 offered a medium shot with a 100-400mm SEL100400GM (sometimes with a SEL20TC doubler) and manned by one of the crew. The FX6 also took the line mix’s left and right audio channels from the sound desk. The cameras were accompanied by the Sony RM-IP500 control system, which allowed precious controls to be provided via joystick and dials.

As for the typical tour workflow, Machart and the team started by using FX6 to enter timecode on all cameras. They then typically chose the positions for their three FR7 cameras. Benefiting from Progl+Gerlach’s PGX FR7 mounting plates, they had a wide variety of mounting points and a simple 4mm safety chain solution. They also traveled with a selection of gripping equipment that gave them flexibility to mount the FR7s in different ways.

Sony - Cameras - Russell Crowe

Behind the scenes with FR7

Since this entire tour was an inside look at Russell Crowe’s musical life, the performer wanted to film rehearsals and the recording of new songs in his music studio. Once again, Machart saw the FR7s as the perfect solution: “We placed three FR7s around the studio and ran Ethernet cables to an operator’s desk in an adjacent room. Not only did this reduce our footprint in the room, but it also allowed the musicians to not feel pressured by the presence of cameras. The FR7’s full frame sensor allowed us to achieve cinematic, shallow depth of field shots with amazing low light performance and 4K resolution.”

Sony - Cameras - Russell CroweThe tour ended with a performance at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech Republic). With the help of local production companies and crews, the final show was filmed with 19 cameras in front of 15,000 people. For Machart, the balance of using Sony cameras is very positive: “It was invaluable to have a family of cameras, each with different strengths to meet every situation. (…) The high dynamic range of these cameras in CineEI mode also gave us the confidence of knowing that the shadows and highlights were protected. Typically, there were areas on stage with bright follow spots and other areas of deep shadows. Preserving all these details was essential in producing the best image possible. The autofocus on these cameras is truly remarkable. The facial recognition continued to lock focus to a subject’s eye in the constantly changing lighting and movement of the musicians.”

“It’s clear that Sony is committed to the highest standards of sales, service and support. They definitely listen to feedback from their community. Kenan Sarac at Sony Australia was outstanding in bridging the gap between a big company and its customers. I particularly like how Sony and Lemac work together to ensure that the customer has a positive experience and custom solutions. It’s been a real pleasure to use the Sony Cinema Line to film a large project and it has further reinforced my confidence in these exceptional cameras,” concludes the cinematographer.

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By • 17 Jan, 2024
• Section: Catchment