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Thursday
May292014

Citation

Citation is all about having fun with the California DPT. I have gotten several tickets from them in my time in Los Angeles and used that as fuel to make this very short and hopefully comedic film. It was also a chance to give the Panasonic GH4 a dry run. I was excited about the slow motion capabilities and thought this would be a perfect story to test the camera out. 

My first step was figuring out how to handle the quarter toss. I went to a local art store and picked up supplies to do a green screen stop motion animation of the quarter as it was flying through the air. My plan was to do it as practically as possible but after some tests, I realized it was going to take a long time for me to do this properly. My next step was to buy a 3D quarter model and use Element 3D to animate the quarter within After Effects. This worked well but I needed to have a very stable plate shot over a long distance to sell that the quarter was flying through the air. I didn't have a large budget to hire out a steadicam but fortunately Alex Buono let me borrow his MōVI M10 gimbal and that did the trick for my quarter plates.

Props and costumes were next. I tried very hard to rent a smart car as the DPT hero vehicle but was unable to find one in Los Angeles. As a last resort, I ended up going with a Chevy Spark. I think it works well but doesn't have the same comedic feel that the smart car would have had. I found a yellow light on eBay for $11 and painted the DPT logo on the car in post. Everyone thinks it is the real deal, which is fun. The meter maid costume was rented from Western Costume in the valley and it was spectacular. Gary Shergill, the actor who played the parking attendant really embraced the role while in costume. All the people passing by thought he was a real cop. Nate Fetzer sported some tattered clothing from Goodwill and some heavy-duty grime make up and was great as the homeless character. I also grabbed a Trader Joe's shopping cart that someone left in my neighborhood to lend a little more authentic. Finally, Becky Shergill was a wonderful sport running around all day in her high heels and did a great job catching those quarters.

Location was also key to this shoot and Palm Drive in Beverly Hills was perfect for my final crane shot. If you look closely, you can see Becky flip off Gary as she pulls away. I used the Kessler Crane I borrowed from Vincent Laforet on this shot. I shot that sequence in 4K and love how the image pops. I also borrowed a M43 to PL mount and a vintage Schneider 24-350 lens from Illya at Hot Rod Camera. This allowed me to do the snap zoom. Finally, I added a little frosting with the DJI Phantom and GoPro Hero+ for the very final shot. We grabbed that very quickly and at the end of the day and I nearly hit several Palm Trees. 

Both Ryan Portas and Nate Fetzer provided camera support and Annie Carr did a great job producing and keeping things moving smoothly. 

As for the GH4, I have to agree with Stu's opinions over at Prolost on this camera. The image feels brittle and the 1080 content is soft, especially as you go to higher frame rates. It is also very noisy, surprisingly noisy. I shoot everything in a very flat profile and much of that noise is taken care of when I add a contrast curve during the grade but almost every shot has noise, even on a bright day at ISO 100. It sometimes has a GoPro footage feel about it. With the negatives out of the way, I do really like down sampled 4K image in 1080p. Aside from the noise, the image is wonderful. I do love a lot of the proper video features built into the camera as well. I like to say this is 90% of the camera I would like to own. I love having the option to have 4K, 1080p, variable frame rates and look forward to getting my hands on a shogun to test out the 10bit image to see if that solves some of my issues. 

This was a fun project and I had a lot of support from a lot of people. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

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