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All Access: Hangman Goes on the Road with Robbie Williams

James Tonkin of Hangman was tasked with covering the development of Robbie Williams' 2017 European tour, from rehearsals to live shows in the U.K. and Europe.

James Tonkin of West London production/postproduction company Hangman was tasked with covering the development of Robbie Williams’ 2017 European tour, from rehearsals to live shows in the U.K. and Europe. Tonkin and his team chose Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini Pro and URSA Mini 4.6K, as well as DaVinci Resolve 14, to capture and edit backstage moments and live performance highlights that were posted on social media channels.

Tonkin explains that the URSA Mini Pro fulfilled his specific touring requirements. “Not only did we have to turn around short edits for social media as we toured, but we also had to factor in that there might be a need for a longer form documentary at the end of the tour. Because of that, whatever I shot with needed to be reliable and roadworthy to handle the rigors of touring.”

Tonkin designed a gimbal setup with remote focus system for a Laowa 12mm f/2.8 or Carl Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4 lens, together with clean audio running from the URSA Mini Pro’s top microphone. “The URSA Mini Pro’s size and weight matched the gimbal perfectly,” he says. “I even balanced the rig so I could use the built-in screen to make setup quicker and avoid adding extra hardware and weight. I hadn’t previously relied too much on the camera’s focus peaking, however it proved invaluable here as I would often work alone, walking backward to follow Robbie on stage and adjusting the ND filters while walking from inside to outside in one fluid shot.”

A handheld URSA Mini 4.6K complemented the gimbal and was paired with EF lenses, as well as a Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder for concert shooting and general backstage coverage. “I absolutely love the viewfinder—such a solid design and perfect for working in bright daylight,” continues Tonkin.

With improvements to its performance and handling of camera formats, DaVinci Resolve now forms an integral part of Hangman’s production and postproduction workflow, according to Tonkin. “Anything we shot I’d offload into Resolve for review each night, adding corrective LUTs and correcting aspect ratio if we’d filmed in anamorphic. We’d then create proxies to work from and store on portable bus-powered drives.

“While sitting in Manchester station waiting to take a train back to London after a show, I was able to quickly proxy 10 minutes of 8K and 5K footage into 1080p H.264 files using a five-year-old laptop and then upload via 4G back to the edit so we could meet an editing deadline. The fact that we were traveling at the time didn’t stop the process of sending the files where they needed to be, or our ability to work with them. This is exactly what software should always be: a tool to enable creativity regardless of where you are and what you’re running it on.”