Q and A with Jonny Mass and Edward Khoma of Abandon Visuals
Jonny Mass and Edward Khoma are Action Sports Videographers and the co-founders of Abandon Visuals, a production house specializing in film, TV, and commercial content. We caught up with the duo to ask them about using Sony’s cameras for their high-octane videos chronicling Motocross and NASCAR driver Cole Moore, among others. See what they had to say:
Can you tell us about Abandon Visuals?
Jonny Mass: Of course! My buddy Edward Khoma and I founded Abandon Visuals in February, so we’re still a fairly new venture. Edward and I had collaborated on a few projects before, so we decided to start a production company together – which led us to shooting a variety of commercial, automotive and action sport jobs.
You also have a background in shooting action sports, is that right?
JM: Oh yeah – I’ve been shooting action sports since I was a kid. I used to make action sports videos for my YouTube channel, which quickly gained a large audience. From there I ventured into weddings and quickly thereafter some automotive work.
Edward Khoma: I got started filming motorsports at local racetracks such as Sonoma Raceway, Thunderhill Raceway, and Laguna Seca. I progressed quickly through the industry and started filming for various race teams in the Formula Drift Series and many other major automotive companies.
Describe the project you’re working on now.
JM: Our most recent project is called Area 27 Outside the Gates, and it follows a video we shot earlier this year called Area 27.
Area 27 is about Cole Moore, a young Motocross and NASCAR driver. Our first video is an introduction to Cole and focuses on the Motocross aspect of his racing. For Area 27 Outside the Gates, we’re focusing on the NASCAR racing.
We followed a few NASCAR events throughout the season to show Cole and his dad – who is also a NASCAR driver – competing head-to-head. We even shut down a NASCAR track to shoot a big scene of Cole and his dad racing each other underneath the race track lights. It should be a visually stunning video once it’s completed.
That sounds amazing! Did you use a Sony camera for the original video?
JM: Yes, we used the F5 for Area 27. We hadn’t heard much about the camera but decided to rent it for the shoot, and we’re so glad we did. The image that came out of it was simply stunning. We tested it in some extreme lighting conditions, with and without slow motion. Needless to say we were very impressed.
We are glad to hear that. Was the Area 27 shoot your first time using Sony cameras?
JM: We’re huge Sony supporters and have made two viral videos with the α7S. We worked on Moonlight and a recent aerial video in San Francisco called Perspective using the Atomos Shogun to showcase the 4K.
We use Sony professional camcorders for nearly all of our jobs now. After our experience with the F5, we decided to use the FS7 for Area 27 Outside the Gates.
Why did you choose the FS7 for this second video?
JM: The primary reason was reliability. We’ve worked with this camera on a number of our jobs this year and haven’t had a single failure. The slow motion and lowlight settings were a must for us, and there is currently no camera on the market with the same features for that price. It is a solid camera that produces a stunning image.
EK: The workflow with the FS7 is seamless in post. The files drop automatically into Adobe Premiere Pro CC and we can start cutting and creating the story. The footage plays natively without any codec issues and plays instantly without having to do any transcoding. From editing to color correcting and then final output, the image out of the FS7 stays flawless for our viewers to enjoy. The profiles such as S-log3 and S-log2 are amazing key features to have. We are able to match our α7S II, FS7, and F5 footage in post to have a unified finished product.
Tell us how you used the FS7 in the field.
JM: On Area 27 Outside the Gates we needed a camera that had 4K, slow motion, high dynamic range, easy battery situation, and cost effective memory. Being able to shoot half a day on one battery saves us from running back and forth possibly missing an important moment in the race. Being able to switch to 180fps using S&Q mode saved us time and allowed us to control the moments we were planning to bring to our audience. For example, if we shot the driver in his car, we could get tight shots of his eyes in slow motion to show the intensity of the race and to immerse the viewer in the shot.
The FS7 is also relatively lightweight and medium sized, so it fits perfectly on our gimbal. We were able to run around with it all day and shoot comfortably. We love the top handle as it allows us to get really low shots without using a full cage. The EVF is also really good, we actually opt to shoot with the EVF when shooting the racing over a monitor as we don’t have to deal with any glare. It’s essential for shooting outdoors if you want precise focus and exposure.
JM: Being able to switch into 180fps and capture those micro moments is what we live for.
We want to put our audience into the seat of the car, feeling the intensity the driver feels before he goes out to race. When we were shooting in 4K, we got this amazing shot of the father and son side-by-side, and we were able to pull a high-detail still for them.
Another prime example of the camera delivering is when we were shooting in the snow a few months ago and our hands were frozen but the camera was still working perfectly fine!
What lenses and accessories did you use with the camera?
JM: We use Sigma Art lenses when we need shallow depth of field and we use a few Canon L lenses as zooms.
As for accessories, we use the Atomos Shogun as monitor when we are in a controlled environment. Occasionally we will have a follow focus, matte box, and a cage.
EK: Also worth noting is the media. With the FS7 we use Sony’s XQD media cards, which are extremely fast and reliable, two major factors when it comes to the continuous amount of content that we capture.
JM: Shooting at night was a huge production requirement. We needed a camera that could perform well in lowlight situations. The FS7 was the first camera that came to mind as we had used it for an extreme lowlight shoot awhile back, and it performed flawlessly.
We’ve been able to shoot in regular motion and slow motion during the races at night with no issues. The practices are typically held in the middle of the day in harsh light and having built-in ND’s is a lifesaver for us. We don’t have to worry about changing filters on our lenses which saves us a ton of time.
What features of the Sony cameras have you found to be the most useful in capturing specific shots or achieving the look you were after?
JM: The slow motion and the high dynamic range sensor. We are able to get the exact look we desired while color grading. The medium-sized body is a must for us due to our ridiculous amount of gimbal work. It fits on our Ronin perfectly and is solid when balanced.
The video project sounds very exciting, and we look forward to seeing the finished work. How can people learn more about Abandon Visuals?