Interview with a Pro: Up Close and Personal with Callan Green and the F65

by Callan 08/02/2013, in 4K, Sony Professional

Chances are, if you don’t work in the film/tv/video industry, you’ve never been up close and personal with a camera like the F65. (Heck, I had never even seen one in real life until a few months back at NAB). But for the select few who have seen or held it, they know it is something else. This camera features an 8K image sensor, ultra wide color palate, and can record RAW as well as 4K. Since it’s introduction in 2011, it’s been used to shoot Smurfs 2, After Earth, Evil Dead, Oblivion, NBC’s Camp, and lots more.

We thought we’d sit down and get the perspective of an actual professional cinematographer who shoots on an F65 — a camera he bought on his own accord, and was not gifted to him from us. Here’s what Callan Green (Yes we have the same exact name. No relation.) had to say:

Sony Callan: How did you get your start in the business?

DP Callan: I was given a little 2nd hand 35mm camera when I was 6 yrs old and that’s where my love for photography began.  Later on, when I was about 13 years old, I landed a role in a commercial and found myself on a big scary set, surrounded by crew and more importantly, camera equipment.  I laid my eyes upon something quite beautiful (which I later found out was an Arri BL4 with an 18-100mm century zoom, a 1000′ mag and 6″x6″ mattebox).  It was super cool. So I asked the guy standing next to the camera how he got into this line of work, to which he grumbled back to me. “A lot of hard work mate….”

And that’s what I did…  I worked my ass off after leaving school at 16yrs old and made my way slowly up the ranks of the camera dept.  At age 23 I was accepted into the AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School). They offered me 1 of the 4 placements in their 2 year full time cinematography Master of Arts course. So I moved to Sydney…Graduated in 2005 and the rest is history really.

Sony Callan: What was your favorite project to work on?

DP Callan: I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to work on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as the main unit clapper loader for almost 3 years.  That was an amazing experience especially as I was only 18 when I started.  More recently I finished shooting a music video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oLOLbwvK6c) for Australian band “The Birds Of Tokyo” which I loved working on mainly due to the freedom of visual expression that the director let me have.  The budget was almost non-existent but we made the most of what we had and I’m very happy with the results. This was shot on my Sony F65 in HD 1920 x1080 880mb/sec with Zeiss® Super Speeds.

Sony Callan: What was your first project you used a Sony on?

DP Callan: When I was about 17, I saved up some cash to buy myself a Sony Hi8 Camcorder, which I used to shoot little sketches with my mates and edit in camera.  It was great fun and very, very funny.  I unfortunately did not hold onto the tapes though which is a huge disappointment to me now.  Editing in camera was an awesome way to learn what visuals were needed to tell a story succinctly.  We very quickly learnt that telling 2 peoples stories at the same time was a nightmare as we’d have to be running back and forth between locations after every shot!

Sony Callan: Now you shoot with an F65. Why did you choose this over another camera?

A good question indeed. I have always trusted Sony and feel that they have had a long standing commitment to HD digital acquisition.  I also chose the F65 because of the creative options that it offered me which other cameras at the time of purchase did not.  Things like:

  • f651-60 fps Mechanical shutter
  • In built ND’s
  • 1-120Fps 4K RAW recording without bulky additional equipment
  • 2 x Anamorphic ready with more horizontal resolution than the Alexa plus
  • 8K Raw (Good for anamorphic)
  • Ergonomic design
  • Greatly improved debayer process.
  • Extended range of in camera data recording options in HD and 4K

Sony Callan:  What type of RIG do you use with the F65?

I don’t use any hand held rigs like an easy rig for instance.  One of those bloody things almost took my eye out once causing blood to pour down my face…  A good look for a DoP for sure!   I have also always felt that the more physically in tune with the camera you can be the more emotionally connected your images and operating will be.  That said however I need to stay quite strong by going to the gym at least once or twice a week.  Also, learning proper posture when holding a weighty object like a camera recently has made a huge improvement to my physical well being.

Sony Callan: Can you tell me a bit about your choice of lenses?

DP Callan: Lens choices always seem to rely on budget now days or at least on the jobs that I have been doing.  I was lucky enough to purchase a really nice set of Zeiss MK 3 Super Speeds a couple of years ago.  It’s almost impossible to find a good full set to buy anywhere now.  I also own a pristine set of 4 LOMO round Front Anamorphic lenses which are also a rare find now days.  I have always loved the look that can be achieved through mixing brand new camera technology with older lenses.  That aside I am hoping to one day sell my current lenses and get a full set of Leica C Primes.  As much as I love the Super S peeds they are not able to be serviced properly as Arri have stopped making replacement parts for them.

Sony Callan: What is your preferred lighting style?

DP Callan: Like any fashion or art, my lighting styles have evolved as time has passed.  Experience has had a massive involvement in my lighting approach too.  I have found that the more comfortable I have become with any given situation, the less I am tending to force light upon a scene or location.  Unless it calls for it and then I go all out to be as creative as possible with colour, contrast and visual emotion.

Sony Callan: What is your perception of how quickly technology is changing? Has it impacted how you capture your stories?

DP Callan: Camera technology has been cruising along at phenomenal speeds for many years now.  I feel that digital HD camera technology has reached a point where the cameras are good enough to stick around for at least 3 years before they begin to be overtaken by better quicker and more user friendly applications.  In my opinion however, one negative factor which digital camera technology has brought along with it is that we sometimes forget the old school appreciation of quality vs quantity. The 4 or 10 minute film rolls forced us into abiding by this rule quite nicely I feel.

Sony Callan: For you, what is more important, resolution or the “look”, or both?

DP Callan: It’s a tricky question as a “Look” is really up to the individual to appreciate I believe.  I suppose you can say that a good story shot badly will be received far better compared to a bad story shot well.  Lower resolution images definitely have negative affects with regard to the image especially when shooting wide shots for instance.  I recently purchased a Sony NEX-7 to use as my location scout stills camera.  I am in love with it as it has so much resolution for such a tiny camera.

Sony Callan: And last but not least, do you believe 4K should be an industry goal?

DP Callan: I saw a 4K Sony TV recently and was blown away by how brilliant the images were.  It felt as though I was looking through a window so I can’t see anything wrong with that.  We just need the post houses, editors, internet, monitors and storage equipment to keep up!

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These are all the questions we asked Callan, but please feel free to chime in with your own in the comments. Thanks Callan, for all the insight and for letting us interview you!

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