We shot the feature almost entirely at 250 ISO except in very specific situations where we had to turn up the sensitivity to 400 ISO which of course doesn't affect the actual sensitivity of the camera but only the metadata. We used Zeiss Super Speed lenses for the entire feature film except for a few situations when we needed fast zooming and movement and the RED 18-50 was a better choice. The 18mm Zeiss was used sparingly because of the characteristics of how it pans and tilts. The Director of Photography Shane Foster thought of it as more of a specialty lens and so he employed it sparingly. The 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm were used very often and we had a lot of times when Ian would shoot coverage with the 85 and I would shoot the master with the 25 or 35. We got a lot of extra shots this way that never would have happened if we had only one camera.
There was a decent amount of hand held shooting in the movie and we utilized our awesome custom shoulder mount made by local DIY extraordinaire Gary Sconce. As for filters we used a variety of different ND setups with and without matte boxes. There were times when we used the IR setups and this happened ANY time we were shooting with a neutral Density of .9 or more. With on-site testing and the wealth of knowledge that we had gained form Pre-Production we knew that the Infra Red contamination was definitely noticeable at anything over ND.6. We had our Graduated ND and Polarizer and 1/4 CTB that were not used that often but were very effective in key situations. I would use them whenever the lighting was uncontrollable or did not provide the RED with optimal color balance, reflections or brightness levels. One must remember that the more tools that are at a cameraman's or DP's disposal the more chance there is to give that perfect little boost to the image or fix a troublesome issue. I am also buying a CTO screw on filter and 4x5.65 for when the exteriors are very shade lit and the RED wants to balance to something very high on the kelvin scale like 7000 or so.
As for screw on filters we employed them a lot because between the two RED One cameras it was often a better situation to have no matte boxes on and only a screw on ND.6 on both. Sometimes depending on how many stages we had available in each matte box we would use 2 screw on ND's and an IR filter in one stage and a polarizer or graduated ND in the other stage. Sometimes it is quite a task to keep 2 cameras going with multiple lens, ND, Compact Flash Card, filters and the like all going on at once. Having screw on filters can definitely simplify things in certain situations and result in less weight and quicker setups. The best practice is always determined by the shot and the situation though and so there is not one way to always do everything.
Before the shoot I asked around about screw on filter threads on the Zeiss Super Speeds Mk 3 and got a lot of different answers. On the set we used there were threads on the 18mm the 50 and the 85. There were no threads on the 25 or 35. How weird is that? This made lens swaps annoying under certain situations but helped us to determine what approach we would take depending on the scene.
Since we sent our RED One Camera #759 back in to RED headquarters to get it upgraded before the feature we had a new and great experience with the camera and didn't have to deal with some of the issues that were there before the upgrades. The main things that were great about the upgrade included the new audio board that had much better performance and made the on camera phantom power usable for the first time as a full time usable option rather then a last resort noise ridden, scratch track option. The addition of i-pin support was also cool for the RED 18-50mm lens.
Overall the movie was loads of fun to shoot. I would like to thank Skin Mead the Executive Producer for having us on his show and the director Jennifer Tadlock for letting us have a lot of room for creativity with the shots and what we could do as operators. We had a great time with DP Shane Foster and he was great to collaborate with when we had to get down to business and find a way to get the shots we needed. My old buddy Joaquin Juarez was the Assistant Director on Finding Hope Now and we got along great but I expected that since we had worked together on one of my previous features Sinister Heaven. Two LA guys came in for the show and really helped out hugely. They were Line Producer Stephen Ritchie and UPM Allan Hagan. My friend Mark Aro did all sorts of key jobs on set and was very instrumental in the success of the shooting. His brother Mike Aro was also great on sound. Nick Soares was the producer and Red One Rental looks forward to working with him later on this year on his next feature which should be a lot of fun. Christine Mitchell was our Pre Pro Production Manager / Coordinator along with the help of my bride Nicole McAleece and then during production she transferred over to Scriptie and was excellent a keeping a keen eye on what the lens saw.
My 1st Assistant Camera was Tyler Groom. I gave him a hard time but he was very cooperative and did an excellent job in one of his 1st roles. A last minute addition and huge help was my 2nd AC Robert Abilez who was super cool.
I loved the whole Grip and Electric Crew which included Troy Ruff, Ian McAleece, my old friends Alan Agazarian and Jeff Smith and some new friends Jason Orosco, Edward 'Bos' Bosworth, Kyle Gentz, and a great guy with a lot of experience Ralph from the recently disbanded Pappas Teleproductions.
Working on a set for a month you get to know pretty much everybody and so if I didn't list you by name know that I didn't forget you and it was a great experience all around.
Now we are off to shoot our next feature Phase Two in the blistering sun of Bakersfield California but I'm sure it will turn out fantastic with all the awesome locations and props we have lined for there terrific script.