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“Go Further South:” Shooting for Slow TV

“Antarctica was seductive to the visual storyteller and we were collecting images that could easily sit on screen for ages.”

“It might seem weird to dedicate an entire day to a show where nothing much happens, but that’s the beauty of slow TV,” explains Tara Ward, discuss the recent 12-hour “slow TV” special Go Further South, broadcast in New Zealand in April. “There are no commercial breaks or interrupting voiceovers, just 12 soothing hours of stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife. Go Further South is the perfect show to sink into during a national lockdown, a restoring balm to remind you that even though things are a bit stink right now, the world is still filled with beautiful and astonishing wonders.” To read the full article, click here.

“The advantage of being in lockdown is that you can have Go Further South playing while you’re going about your day to day life in your house,” the show’s producer Spencer Stoner tells Ward. “You can check in and out of the show, and get the full experience in the way it’s meant to be watched.

“There are chunks of time when we’re just at sea, appreciating the different phases and characteristics of the Southern Ocean. There are also times where, in classic slow-TV fashion, you can let the camera linger on a shot for minutes at a time People have the opportunity to visually explore the landscape, without having a story shoved in their face.”

“This is not a natural history documentary,” cinematographer Yves Simard explains. “There is nobody explaining what you are looking at. There are no curated stories. Shots are long—they tell their own stories, allowing the viewer to digest what they’re seeing, and to muse about it. This poses a challenge from a cinematographer’s perspective. Every shot needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. A pan that may have a spectacular start position cannot end on nothing.

“A viewer won’t sit through a 45-90 second shot unless there is some sort of payoff. Shots need to be grand, full of detail and rich with light. They need to be epic, which means your shooting needs to be brave. You need to take chances and be willing to ruin a merely good shot to get an incredible one. Our aim was to have a handful of these throughout our program and in Antarctica, we were rewarded in spades.” To read his full report on the show’s production, click here.

“Shots are long—they tell their own stories, allowing the viewer to digest what they’re seeing, and to muse about it.”

“As soon as I held the [Sony FX9], I knew it would be our kit,” Simard recalls. “The form factor was perfect and I instantly fell in love with the look of its images. The full frame was fun, something slightly different, and was perfect for this project. The results exceeded our expectations. We used it in 6K Full Frame mode and recorded internal in S-Log3 in XAVC 4K at 25P. We decided to use V-lock batteries with the Core adaptor for power longevity and reliability given the extreme conditions.

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“The look we wanted was simple,” Simard continues. “Clean air meant we could see for many many kilometres, and the light was like nothing I had seen before, especially at night (the Antarctic summer is a 24 hour day). We kept the lenses at their optimal range of f/5.6 or higher and worked the full range of the LOG file. Pastel blues from the water showed hues that seemed impossible. Sunlight hitting mountain peaks blended yellows and oranges with hundreds of shades between them, and shadows with detail that screamed 1000 shades of grey.

“The camera has a terrific dynamic range and we took advantage of it. Antarctica was seductive to the visual storyteller and we were collecting images that could easily sit on screen for ages—tableau after tableau, and it was all in motion right in front of us.” To read his full report on the show’s production, click here.

 

 

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