I was excited to embark on the next stage of a third film together with my friend Mark Brecke. He’s been busy doing the research and gathering a number of elements together for the past couple of years. Until recently, he had been living in Nairobi, using it a his base camp (once again) and made a number of expeditions into Somalia, specifically into Mogadishu, to capture stills and footage to help tell the story. As one might imagine, this was a difficult task with many roadblocks and hazards along the way that saw him in direct danger on more than one occasion.
We’re prepping up for our artist portrait of Charmaine Oliva, and in exploring ideas figured this was both a still and motion portrait. Her work consists of lovely young ladies in luscious tones on dark, velvety backgrounds. She has a show coming up at Shooting Gallery that further helped to guide our look and feel to keep it relevant. The resulting approach to her motion portrait includes tight captures of shallow depth of field, moody motion, and over cranking. In other words, the perfect opportunity to do a really good work up on our new Epic.
The camera is set up for 4K over cranking (so no lens match math) up to 96 fps, more than enough for most of our needs. The smaller body and configuration will allow me to move the camera faster, closer, lower and with less effort. And with the new SSD drives I won’t have to worry about the drive hanging off, being in the way, or taking a knock and dropping frames. (I also took this opportunity to upgrade our Red to SSD for many of the same reasons.)
I will give a bit of handheld a turn in this, but without the side module and another handle config I fear this will be less than its ideal config for this. As we’re just capturing little scenes I’ll most likely just use the top handle, as balanced as I can manage, for most of this work. I’d also like to see the Nikon mount come to fruition so I can take advantage of my Nikon G series lenses. These fast, good looking primes could make a super lightweight, full-frame setup. And I could get this whole rig in a 1650 case to make transport easy.
So this brings me to the other part of the equation, matching up the pulled stills from the Epic with the digital captures from my Nikon D3x. Red swears by the application of the Epic for still photos (of course they do, it’s their job). But they have focused on its editorial use which requires a smaller capture than what my 24.5 megapixel D3x is capable of. I am more interested in how big these can blow up to for commercial and fine art application. Bigger often equals more money, especially for fine art. We’re already looking at switching our personal fine art work over to medium format so we can get larger print sizes from it. I know Red trotted out Peter Lik and his stitched landscapes, but — believe it or not — I usually want to capture our images in one frame as often as possible. This part of my test will be easy as I’ll pull a frame and hand it over to Stacey. I’ll get the feedback soon enough on how she’s able to push the pixels around.
My assumption going in are that for some instances the epic will be fine for both still and motion like in our portrait of Rachel Brice for Coilhouse 06 — perhaps also in small commercial applications. But even so, I may still favor the compact, lightweight, higher res, uncompressed RAW of my D3x. Especially as I’ve grown more fond of Lightroom’s RAW processing speed and ability, even on my older laptop. I’ve taken to doing a good push on the shaping and exposure control there in RAW before dumping it in Photoshop for cleanup and finishing.
Keep an eye on Tumblr for the fruits of our adventures with Charmaine and the Epic.