HP: Shooting on the Cutting Edge
COW Library : What Computer Should I Buy? : Shane Hurlbut : HP: Shooting on the Cutting Edge
Things have been cracking!
Last summer, I shot a Boeing commercial campaign made up of six spots. The job started on May 23, and I ended up finishing it on August 23. I've never been on a commercial shoot that lasted eight weeks! It was like shooting a feature film!
We shot with several cameras: the ARRI Alexa, and three Canon cameras: the EOS C500, EOS-1D C and EOS C300. I used multiple formats to showcase the best characteristics of each camera. I also wanted to be ready for all of the shooting environments we worked in, so I had the Alexa on Steadicam, and the C500 on a Technocrane.
Shane with his Canon EOS 5D Mark II
When we shot a lot of day exteriors and factory interiors in Seattle, I used the Alexa because I knew this camera would handle the extremes we would be putting ourselves into. When we shot in flight simulators and very, very tight places, under wings and inside wings, I brought the Canon 1D C out, the 4K DSLR that's perfect for these tight spaces. To get a more documentary feel for all the veteran and community service-based spots, I used the C300, uusing the high sensitivity of that sensor for night shoots and other difficult situations.
CAMERA MONITORING WITH DREAMCOLOR
The HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional Display was my lighting monitor on set for the Boeing shoot, and for most of my other projects.
I was introduced to the HP DreamColor Display on Act of Valor, which was my first digitally captured film. (The 18 films I'd shot before that had all been on film.) When I began working with Bandito Brothers on Act of Valor, Bandito's Mike McCarthy brought the DreamColor Display from their color correction bay to have on set with us. It was a computer monitor with a little stand for your desk! I asked, "Mike, what is this?" He said, "Trust me, this monitor rocks." He wasn't kidding.
Never before have I been so impressed with the visual accuracy of a display. What you see with the DreamColor is what you get.
This is huge for me. I am not a big histogram guy. I go with my eye and not some graph developed for still photography that means absolutely nothing when you are shooting HD. If you expose your histogram in four of the five fields, which is what they say is recommended, you'll be overexposing your image and making it look like video very quickly.
It's all about riding the fine line of starving the CMOS chip of light, and giving it just enough so that the footage doesn't look underexposed. It's a balance that turns this platform from an HD video capture device to a Digital Film capture device.
As soon as I saw what the DreamColor Display could do on Act of Valor, I ripped the little stand off the bottom and crafted mounts so that it could be mounted on dollies, c-stands, and cases to use on location. No matter how badly I beat it up, the DreamColor Display holds its calibration for 4000 hours. It gives me a lot of security to know that when I yank that thing out, that I'll be good to go.
Using the DreamColor Display has become like looking through an eye piece on a Panavision 35mm camera for me. Instead of using a light meter for exposure and contrast, I'm doing it off of the DreamColor. I have never gone to the color correction bay and seen something that I hadn't seen when I was on the set. It has given me confidence as a cinematographer working within the limited latitude of HDSLRs.
The same is true for monitoring much wider latitude shooting. For example, I shot The Ticket, a short film for Canon to showcase its new 4K DSLR, the Canon EOS-1D C, and because the DreamColor has billions of colors, I knew that it could be my eye into the 4K colorspace.
Shot with the Canon EOS-1D C, THE TICKET tells the story of a young couple who were just involved in an accident. It begins with a man waiting in the hospital, as his girlfriend comes out of the emergency room. It's her birthday and he wants to give her the gift of her dreams -- a ride on the Ferris Wheel at Santa Monica Pier -- and they have just one hour to get there.
A scene from The Ticket.
HP ELITEBOOK MOBILE WORKSTATION WITH 17" DREAMCOLOR DISPLAY
I also love the new kick-ass 17-inch HP EliteBook 8770w Mobile Workstation. The first thing that caught my attention was the 17-inch DreamColor Display -- the same display I'd already been using with complete confidence, with the same billion-plus colors, but on a laptop. Just like the standalone DreamColor Display, it can be calibrated to a variety of color spaces: sRGB, Rec. 601, Rec. 709, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 Emulation.
The power on this thing is crazy, too. Real-time playback of massive files, short render times, easy transfers. We're able to download all the ARRI Alexa and Canon C300 footage, transcode it as well as color correct it, all right on location.
Connectivity is another great feature of the HP mobile workstation. It has eSATA, an ExpressCard card slot, FireWire, USB 3, SDHC, and the ability to quickly swap internal 2.5" hard drives. CompactFlash, SxS cards, SDHC, you name it, this laptop can quickly import the footage. Then back it up to an internal raid, send it out to an external hard drive, or burn it to a Blu-ray. Absolute redundancy is critical with handling the digital negative on set and HP mobile workstations make this so much easier.
These HP mobile workstations are also rugged enough to meet military standards for drop, vibration, dust, temperature and altitude, which is good for the kind of run and gun shooting in remote locations that I often do.
The 17-inch HP EliteBook 8770w Mobile Workstation.
Next up, I'll be shooting Need for Speed, based on the videogame, with director Scotty Waugh who did Act of Valor, and Steven Spielberg producing for DreamWorks. Scotty and I have already had a conversation about cameras. We're planning on shooting anamorphic, and our main camera will be the ARRI Alexa Plus 4:3. I'm going with the Codex Onboard M Recorder so we can record ARRIRAW.
We'll also have the Canon 1D C 4K and the Canon C500, and, yes, I'll be using the standalone DreamColor Display for all the Canon 1D C shooting.
The 17-inch HP EliteBook 8770w Mobile Workstation with the DreamColor Display has allowed us to reshape our workflow. It provides a new immediacy with watching dailies, editing, and coloring in the field.
Bottom line, it's a powerful tool with a small footprint that gives us immediate feedback, and lets us get to work while we're still in the field.