Filmmaker Andi Hoffmann proves that with a lot of creativity and a little help from Atomos you can make a high quality, high concept music video – even without the very latest camera.
Why did you choose to shoot on the FS700 with Atomos Shogun Inferno for your latest videos?
I had looked at the newer Sony FS7 for quite a while, especially because of its continuous slow-motion capabilities. I very nearly sold my old FS700 to get a new FS7 before finding the Atomos solution. I had already worked with an external recorder from another manufacturer, but found the handling to be somewhat cumbersome and the RAW update was only available at additional cost. Then, about a year ago, I started researching and came across the Atomos Shogun Inferno. I knew immediately that this would be my equipment of choice, as it provided a huge upgrade to my old FS700, so it could keep up with the quality of a FS7. In my previous experience, I had found the FS700 in combination with short, fixed lenses to be a very comfortable setup to work with.
What was your camera setup?
I decided to take my time experimenting with the Inferno. For more than two weeks I tested all kinds of setups and looked at the results. During this testing, my relationship with the Atomos intensified. The device is very user friendly - it provides not just a solution for recording but also a perfect display with control over various settings. One thing I did discover on my first shoot with the Inferno was that it is quite power hungry, so you’ve got to be well prepared with enough batteries.
What lenses were you using?
I like working with a very shallow focus, often shooting completely wide open. My favourite lenses are the 50mm by SLR Magic and wider aperture lenses from Canon coupled with a Metabones Speedbooster, allowing me to shoot with F-Stops between 0.95 and 2.0. The built-in ND-Filter on the FS700 provides the opportunity to shoot with a completely open aperture.
Was it mainly handheld, gimbal or something else?
Mostly I prefer shooting handheld, or with a monopod. On the monopod, I carefully let the camera wobble a little for effect. With high frame rates, filming in a handheld setup makes sense.
Were the drone shots also on FS700, or something else?
The drone shots are produced in cooperation with my film partner. He works with a DJI Phantom4 and the Mavic Pro. We use LOG-profiles to match them with the shots from the FS700.
What format and frame rate were you shooting?
I like ProRes and work with it most of the time. The workflow is smooth and fast. If you’re careful with exposure the 10-Bit Data allows for a lot of flexibility in post-production. The S-Log workflow in combination with the Lumetri-Colour tool in Adobe Premiere is simply fantastic. For this project, I shot everything at 200 frames a second with a shutter speed between 1/215 and 1/600. Working
with variable speed settings in post-production was loads of fun, and the 200fps footage was the perfect match for
this. For other FS700 projects I usually work in 4K 50p, which still provides some wriggle room in the speed
settings and provides an absolutely fantastic image.
Shooting FS-Raw can be noisy. How did you expose the images?
I faced this problem at first, because I shot too dark. It’s important to get enough light to the sensor to reduce the noise. The HDR function on the Shogun Inferno allows me to see the image correctly when exposing to the right. It’s also important to constantly have a good eye on your Waveform. In darkness it is not advisable to shoot in S-Log and in my experience it’s better to choose REC.709, which results in a less grainy image.
What is your background in video?
As a self-employed filmmaker, I create short and experimental movies and video clips. I’m an all-rounder and enjoy working in small teams. Besides camera work, I also take care of the post-production by myself. That way I can provide cost-effective solutions to my clients. I got into making movies as a teen, shooting funny and experimental films with friends on an old Super-8 camera from my parents. We had a great time and I gained lots of experience. Back then, we were completely oblivious to technical issues and camera settings, we just went wild and set our own boundaries.
Around the turn of the millennium I witnessed the digital film revolution and started filming with a Sony VX2000 and cutting on a computer. What bothered me then was the lack of options to control depth of field. Then Letus came along with their 35mm adapters and we finally had a way of mounting Photo lenses on a film camera, but these setups were inconvenient and far from comfortable. I gladly switched to a Canon 5D Mark II when it came along, but as a big Sony fan I was happy to switch back to a FS700 again later.
How did you come up with the concept for the video? Was it based on you having a camera capable of slow motion?
The story refers a lot to the fairy tale theme of the song. I listened to the song again and again, sketching fragments of stories and characters. I deliberately omitted parts of the narrative to make the plot more mysterious. The video is powered through the force of the water, setting the story arc. Transience and magic were central ideas in this project, and some objects point to that. I was also very keen on making the characters meaningful.
How long did the shoot take you?
We worked in two locations in the Swiss Alps for five hours each.
How much data did you shoot?
Since I was shooting everything in HFR, I ended up with a total of around 800 GB of footage in ProRes.
How did you grade the video?
Adobe Premiere’s Lumetri-Color editing appeals greatly to me. I also like to use LUTs by Vision Color; the Kodak film looks are my favourites. If I encounter problems with grain, I use Neat Video to deal with it. That said, the image on the FS700 is always a bit grainy and this is part of the camera’s character, but I utilise this for a pleasing look. The FS700 is not the right camera for a production without any grain at all.
Do you have any other top tips for this kind of video work?
I like working in mini-teams. The journey from idea to production is much shorter and can be realized with less compromises. The team I work with interacts well which means we can produce video very cost-effectively. Equipment like the Atomos Shogun Inferno makes working a lot easier. It provides control and professional results at an affordable price. It also allows me to work on set without assistants.
What is your next project?
My next project just got released: https://vimeo.com/226665687
On https://www.andihofmann.ch you’ll find an overview of my previous works.