American Cinematographer - August 2014 - 14

Short Takes

I

Multiple Formats on the Fly
By Douglas Bankston

Cinematographer Michael Pescasio had a Vision Research
Phantom Flex camera. Director Mark Pellington had never worked
with one before. A mutual friend brought the two filmmakers
together in Los Angeles, and what started out as a test shoot turned
into a full-fledged music video. The band Bear Hands, who specialize in driving pop hooks fused with disco and funk melodies, benefitted from this happenstance collaboration for its single "Giants."
Although he has directed such features as Arlington Road,
The Mothman Prophecies, Henry Poole is Here and I Melt with You
- and co-helmed the concert film U2 3D - Pellington has been
synonymous with music videos since the early days of MTV. When
Bear Hands' management approached him with the "Giants" track,
Pellington recognized an opportunity to work with Pescasio and test
the Phantom Flex for his upcoming feature, Clang, which he's planning as a multi-format mixture of digital and analog mediums.
"I thought this would be a good testing ground for my film
and a chance to work with Mike, who is a really accomplished cinematographer, and be a little punk rock about it - get the band, get
some girls and get some graphic locations," the director says.
Pescasio, who recently wrapped Uncle Nick, his first feature as
a director of photography, came up through the grip and electric side
of production before moving over to camera operator and cinematographer. He purchased a Phantom Flex4K camera, but due to
production delays, Vision Research sent him a Phantom Flex on an
interim basis. The 2.5K camera is capable of frame rates up to 1,275
fps at 1920x1080 resolution in HQ Mode and even higher frame
14

August 2014

rates at lower resolutions.
"I was watching Mark's videos when I was in film school,"
says Pescasio. "We're both from Baltimore, and I remember thinking, 'This is a guy I need to meet.' Cut to 20 years later, and we're
talking about shooting something interesting in high speed, and it
evolved into this music video. It became not only a Phantom experiment, but an experiment with anything that is a capture device."
The production spanned all of one night and covered various
locations within a two-block radius of its base camp in downtown
Los Angeles. Pescasio and Pellington deployed an arsenal of cameras
both old and new, including the Phantom Flex (recording to onboard
512GB Cinemags in 2.5K raw), a RED Epic MX with Angenieux
Rouge lenses (recording to onboard SSDs in 5K Redcode raw), a
Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X with Canon L Series primes
and a LensBaby selective-focus specialty lens, an iPhone, a Sony Digital Handicam DCR-TRV120 Digital Hi8 (a.k.a. Digital8) camera, a
VHS camera (footage from which did not make the final cut), and
Pescasio's own Arri 235 and personal set of Zeiss Super Speed MK III
lenses.
"At any given moment there were three or more cameras
rolling," recalls Pescasio. "I was shooting the film camera, Mark had
the Epic and his assistant, Matt Sakatani Roe, who is a great cinematographer, had another camera. It seemed like everyone had a
camera. I've never been on such a chaotic experience, but Mark just
said, 'Go with me. It'll be a good time and by the end we will have
something great.'"
For the Arri 235 material, Pescasio pulled three rolls of Fujifilm Velvia 50D 8540 reversal stock from his refrigerator, and Pellington brought short ends of Kodak Vision2 500T 5218 and Vision

American Cinematographer

Unit photography by Shayan Asgharnia. Frame grabs courtesy of the filmmakers.

Cinematographer
Michael Pescasio
and director
Mark Pellington
turned a Vision
Research
Phantom Flex
camera test into
a multi-format
music video for
Bear Hands'
single "Giants."



American Cinematographer - August 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - August 2014

Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2014 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - August 2014 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2014 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2014 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2014 - Contents
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