Filming a portrait

In November 2014 we shot a little portrait film of Frankfurt’s famous wood carver Johannes Grosse. Local news site wanted us to create a cinematic piece that’s different compared to traditional news videos. We already interviewed Johannes a few years ago for our documentary Format Frankfurt but the interview was focused on another topic, the city and not the art of carving.

The whole interview and b-roll was shot outdoors on a grey day in fall in front of a boathouse where Johannes also works on his art. I used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and recorded in ProRes HQ. We used the Sigma 30mm F/1.4 for the interview as well as for some b-roll shots. The Tokina 11-16mm was used for a few hand-held shots, pans as well as the slider shots. The slider was the Konova K5 which is 120cm long and ideal if you need to get longer tracking shots. The close-up telephoto shots were captured with the Canon 24-105mm. All lenses were connected with the Metabones Speed Booster to get a shallower depth of field, more light and of course a wider field of view. The Speed Booster was also useful to be able to shoot at high shutter speeds to make the sawdust more visible.

Audio was recorded into the Tascam DR-40 with the omni-directional RØDE Lavalier mic. Recording the voice of Johannes was a bit tricky due to close flying airplanes. In the end the audio turned out to be better than expected. In the final film the distant sound of a plane is only audible once towards the end. The sound of the chainsaw was recorded with the RØDE Stereo VideoMic X. We plugged the mic into the Sony RX10 and put it around 2m distant to the wood Johannes was carving to capture the sound properly. The camera was running the whole time to make sure we got enough powerful sounding chainsaw sounds.

Because the sky was so cloudy and grey we decided to light the whole interview. We used the Amaran 528 lights by Aputure which we also reviewed shortly after that. The LED lights were powered by 2×2 Sony NP-F batteries which can last for max. 3 hours at full power. Although the lights are not meant to light daylight shoots they helped a lot.

Below is a photo of the setup.


The film was edited and color corrected and graded in Adobe Premiere CC.

Gear we used on this production:

Camera: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
LED light: Aputure Amaran 528

Lens adapter: Metabones Speed Booster (EF-BMPCC)
Wide angle lens: Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8
Zoom lens: Canon 24-105mm F/4
Prime lens: Sigma 30mm F/1.4

Audio recorder: Tascam DR-40
Microphone for interview: RØDE Lavalier
Microphone for b-roll: RØDE Stereo VideoMic X

Written by Moritz Janisch

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