Hero Punk is a sci-fi thriller set in 2042 in a dystopian society where the government is working to rid the world of people with mutant abilities. Because more than half of the film was shot on a 1,100 sq. ft. green screen, the team had to mark the virtual world via tracking markers and capture enough latitude in the images to separate the actors from the background, ensuring that lighting the actors would not decompose in the footage.
“After shooting some tests, we realized we needed a camera that could handle the richness of the green screen and the fidelity of the tracking markers, but that was flexible enough to support our sometimes ‘run and gun’ workflow where we could grab SSDs and go,” said Kanen. “We also had to stay conscious of our budget and the fact that we needed two cameras for weeks of shooting.”
Kanen, along with cinematographers Paul Del Vecchio and Patrick Johnson, found everything they needed in Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s super wide 13 stops of dynamic range, high resolution 2.5K sensor, built in SSD recorder, open file format support and compact design. Shooting in ProRes 442 in a 10-bit color space against green screen, the team was able to easily capture tracking markers and correctly light the actors, preserving their natural look without requiring a tremendous amount of tweaking in post.
“We set both cameras at the same f-stop and shot flat, which allowed us to light the talent correctly because we didn’t have any interference from the green screen. The camera’s high dynamic range ensured that when we added the color back later, we could pull a better key in the composite,” said Kanen. “The Blackmagic Cinema Camera was perfectly suited for our workflow. ProRes is a great native codec, and the ability to pop out an SSD with ProRes and seamlessly copy it over to the editing system was amazing. We even edited on site, and the rough composites allowed us to stay on track with what we needed.”
Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s ease of use and flexibility were essential in accommodating the production’s workflow and allowed the team to focus on performance, directing and storyline. Shooting 10 pages a day, the team was constantly setting up new shots, experimenting with perspectives, from 12 ft. in the air hovering over actors or sliding along rails underneath them, and numerous handheld and shoulder shots.
“During one scene, we had the two cameras on shoulder rigs in a very tight kitchen. The scene would have never happened if not for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. There was so much movement that a DSLR would have sacrificed quality and any other camera would have been unwieldy and sacrificed movement,” said Kanen. “The Blackmagic Cinema Camera feels like a DLSR but shoots like a professional cinema camera. And it’s so intuitive that I was able to take over shooting one day. It provided us with the freedom to experiment with shots, let us achieve the look and feel that we wanted and allowed us to make the movie we wanted to make.”
While the film is still in the final editing and finishing stages, Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve will be used for color grading.