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Filming Tigers in 4K

I was recently hired as the 1st assistant camera on an exciting new documentary project, directed by George Butler and being shot by Tom Hurwitz, ASC. The film will follow the big cat conservationist, Alan Rabinowitz, into the remote mangrove forests of India and Bangladesh’s Sundarbans region in search of the elusive Royal Bengal tigers.

In addition to the exciting subject matter and locale, the film has some technical challenges as well. The movie could potentially go to IMAX, so to best capture the beauty of the story and meet the stringent IMAX technical requirements, we must shoot in 4K. We are taking a number of cameras with us, including Steadicam and a remote camera helicopter, so the camera and format need to be capable of supporting these operations. Additionally, the Sundarbans environment can be harsh. Production will be living on a boat in the remote mangrove forest / swamp for a month, so our media management solution will need to be rock solid. We have a rockstar camera department, with Matthew Schroeder as DIT and Jenni Morello as 2nd AC. We are working with AbelCine for everything camera and Goldcrest Post for the post-production needs, so needless to say, we are in great hands all around.

These are truly exciting times for high resolution acquisition. Recently, there have been some great announcements that will give us a variety of options to test. Sony announced two new additions to their CineAlta line, the F5 and F55, capable of outputting 4K, or recording internally with the F55. Canon has the C500, the bigger and beefier 4K brother to the popular C300, which outputs 4K RAW and can shoot up to 120fps. In addition to cameras, there are some recorders to soon hit the market worthy of our attention as well. AJA announced the KiPro Quad, a larger version of the KiPro Mini, that will record 4K video in either RAW or in Apple ProRes. Convergent Designs has the Gemini 444 that will record 4K RAW. And Codex has a new, smaller recorder called the Onboard-S that also records 4K RAW, as well as supporting up to 120fps from the C500.

Since many of these items are either brand new, or yet to be released, we can’t wait to see what we can get our hands on to test.

Stay tuned to see how our testing goes and what we ultimately decide on using and why.

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