Cinematographer Adam Beck (@adamwbeck) calls ice hockey “the fastest game in sports.” To give viewers an impassioned experience, he likes the cinematic look of Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon FF-Prime lenses on his RED Dragon camera. “You can put an FF-Prime on anything and it covers the sensor—no worries.” His work with the Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) is delivered to a variety of screens, from the 360 ribbon light display and huge HD monitors at the rink to 4K YouTube clips and high-end commercials.
Beck aims for impact images of sticks flying and bodies moving, placing spectators in the action. Why choose primes instead of a zoom for a fast-paced game? “Zooms are physically longer, heavier and slower,” he says. “In the press booth, pushed against the glass, being compact and quick is crucial. Plus I’m going for a different perspective—Xenons give that cinematic look I’m after.”
He often shoots 4K and 5K at 96 fps with a 90-degree shutter, handheld. “At 2.8, I need plenty of light for higher frame rates. Some shots are nearly wide open. At 2.1, 2.8 or 4, the images are crisp enough to pull frames.”
The image transition from super-sharp to out of focus “is gentle, like feathering,” he explains. Because the action is quick and he’s up against the glass, maintaining focus during the game can be challenging. He adds, “With the camera’s large sensor, shooting at 6K creates shallower depth of field, increasing the difficulty pulling focus on this unscripted event. If I happen to buzz the focus for a split second, that feather transition can sometimes save the shot. The way I ride the focus, I’m thankful for the Xenon’s quality build.”