November 30, 2020
Kinefinity Inc.

What it's like to shoot an entire movie with ISO 10240

As River Goes By is written and directed by Hu Zhaoxiang, with Huang Maochang as the producer, and Lang Kuo as the director of photography. This film tells the story of an aftershock caused by an earthquake twelve years ago, which connects the young Li and his childhood in time and space. The script of this film was shortlisted for the top ten venture capital projects of the Falcon Project of the 2020 Chinese Youth Film Week, and the sample filming was completed in early October.

In this sample film, six scenes were selected from the feature-length script to show the mental state, character, and relationship of the main characters. Director Hu Zhaoxiang tries to capture the sense of fantasy and "ghost" in daily life, and through"resurrection" to reach the obscurity in the protagonist's memory.

The film’s director of photography Lang Kuo chose Kinefinity MAVO LF as the main camera to complete this shooting. Let’s take a look at his creative ideas!

When talking to Director Hu about the script in May 2020, we knew that the shooting environment would be challenging, especially the last scene!

The director wanted a cloudy night in the scene, but he didn't want the light source to be too artificial.

The original plan was to ask the production team to make a 12x12x2m rack frame, and a large soft box with a soft light reflecting fabric and a black and silver reflecting fabric, and 9 ARRI S60 inside. Then add small lights like ARRI M8 around the frame to brighten the distant area of the field of view a little bit.

As a result, after looking at the scene, even a small car could barely pass the small roads around the entire riverside. But the director was unwilling to change the location, so this problem is almost unsolvable.

When asked about this project, Lang Kuo the DP said the following: I filmed Long Night Is Ending (unofficial translation) with Mei Shuxuan and saw MAVO LF. He shot at ISO 10240 at the entrance of Lou Wai Lou Restaurant in Hangzhou, using only a little fill light and very low city light. I suddenly realized that there might be a way to deal with the most difficult scene of the film by Director Hu.

After looking at the material of Long Night Is Ending, I think although it was shot at incredible ISO 10240, as long as there is a way to over expose a little, the noise would still be very good and look like the industry standard ISO 3200.

The high-sensitivity performance of MAVO LF is really beyond my expectations. When I recommended this camera to Director Hu, I said: "Let's just shoot it. As long as there is moonlight, I can shoot!"

But there comes another problem. We managed to shoot in low light with MAVO LF. How should we shoot the daytime scene?

We thought about using other cameras to shoot the scenes where the lighting was easy, but after a closer look at the test footages, the difference in image particles made this idea unacceptable because it interferes the experience of watching the film too much. And I think the sudden switch from ISO 800 to ISO 10240 is a very painful experience during watching.

So I discussed with Director Hu that we used MAVO LF and ISO 10240 for the entire film. The director really let me do whatever I want.

So we used MAVO LF for outdoor test shooting in the day time a at ISO 10240, and the footage was really full of surprises! When the lighting is sufficient, ISO 10240 looks like the industry standard ISO 1600 or 2560. This is great. When the day and night scenes were shot in this way, they look much smoother than switching from ISO 800 to 10240.

Many parts in the process of shooting this film benefit from the small size of this camera. There is a 2:30 seconds scene in one shot. I took more than 20 takes. I am an amateur Steadicam operator, but I could still manage to carry it. I don’t know if I would have to kneel on the scene if we used a different camera.

When shooting the scene in the car, we had to fit me, a camera, a middle-sized tripod head and a 60cm small slide rail in the rear seat, which was completely impossible to achieve with other cameras. We relied on MAVO LF again!

During the whole shooting process, two Kinefinity cameras were used. MAVO LF was used to shoot the main story, while MAVO S35 was used to shoot the memory of the character. These two cameras suffered violent vibrations in the car, the shooting of artificial rainfall scenes, and the water fog caused by the temperature difference between day and night, but they functioned perfectly without any problem! The ISO we chose brings a unique texture to the film. We also saved a lot of money on lighting.

The use of Kinefinity cameras for this shooting was really wonderful and enjoyable!

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