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Modular cameras are the future- feature film "Under the Skin" built their own


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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Lovely film yes and the way of capturing the scenes was very good. Was it really necessary to build their own camera for the film? I mean, I think companies are giving us all forms of cameras now and there's certainly one suitable for any kind of film.

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Lovely film yes and the way of capturing the scenes was very good. Was it really necessary to build their own camera for the film? I mean, I think companies are giving us all forms of cameras now and there's certainly one suitable for any kind of film.

 

I loved this film in many ways, but frustratingly the editing and pacing were an absolute disaster.

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Editing was likely a challenge, shooting as much footage in a day as a complete feature:

 

 

 

The camera system built by One of Us utilized multiple cameras in order to accommodate Glazer’s vision of capturing multiple angles all at once. According to Mission Digital, the system was mostly used within the white van that Johansson’s character uses to hunt men. There, Glazer and his team would receive a continuous stream of footage as the army of One-Cams captured scenes from all different angles, resulting in an unthinkable amount of footage, over 16 hours of footage — per day, or 6TB worth of data. The Mission Digital article states that in a single day, “the crew shot as much data as a film would over the entire course of a feature production shoot.â€
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Editing was likely a challenge, shooting as much footage in a day as a complete feature:

 

Interesting, this may have had something to do with it.

 

I was so impressed and affected by a lot of elements of it,  it was original and like an accessible art film.

 

but the edit was like a bloated rough cut, like nails on a blackboard after a while. Every shot lingering two, three, four times as long as necessary. I'm not a low attention span blockbuster viewer either, I predominately watch older films and art films so I am all for lingering moments, but if its every shot it just gets grating. People were squirming all through the second half in the cinema I was in.

 

I hope some day a leaner version of the film gets cut as it could be a classic.

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Cinematographer Daniel Landin described the One-Cam, saying that it is about the size of your every day matchbox, and able to fit 16mm lenses.

  They must have huge Matchboxes in Scotland ! normal size is only 50x35x15mm perhaps Daniel meant fag packet.

 

Lucian "but the edit was like a bloated rough cut".

Isn't it a wonder that the test screenings didn't highlight that things were sadly wonky.??

 

 

.It was at least 30 minutes too long. It really dipped into the realm of creative masturbating way too often and this is coming from a Tarkovski fan."Another reviewers comments

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Lucian "but the edit was like a bloated rough cut".Isn't it a wonder that the test screenings didn't highlight that things were sadly wonky.

Test audience aside,  it's surprising it got past the director, editor and producer . I can only assume it was blindness caused by editing such an enormous amount of footage as mentioned above.  imagine what the actual rough cut was like, probably 7hrs long :P

 

I don't mean to poop on the film entirely though, it's a must see and one of the most interesting films so far this year..

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The "One-Cam"  looks like a typical machine vision camera with a recorder.  The 9 stops of DR is in line other such cameras.
 
Some rental houses offer the IO Industries cameras, and they have had booths at NAB and Cinegear for the past few years.
 
However, one of the most impressive machine vision cinematography set-ups is this project using a Point Grey, 4K, 11.5-stop DR camera. The guy developed an encoder that recorded real-time to cDNG.  He even made a touch control interface.  The footage looks fairly clean, too, as evidenced from this screen cap and this screen cap.
 
Also, the early Apertus cameras used open-source Elphel machine vision cameras.  Of course, the Apertus team developed a lot of stuff years ago, including encoding schemes and touch control interfaces.

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Still not sure how I feel about that film. It was interesting and held my attention, but at the end I felt like it didn't quite pay off for me. The look was mostly ok, but I think those modular cameras basically looked a bit video-ish. Not bad, but I'm not sure they couldn't have got as decent a look with GoPros.

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Under the Skin. Interesting experience. I have a lot of good things to say about the film, but ultimately I think I was disappointed. 
First off, make no mistake: it's an out-and-out arthouse movie. It's entirely oblique and it's slow as hell. 

Secondly I don't once remember even considering walking out of a film before, but I did consider doing so with this film. I don't really get bothered by violence in films and I'm always up for having my boundaries tested, but there's a scene with a small child that really bothered me. Not violent or explicit - just very distressing. It left a nasty taste in my mouth. It does have a point to it, but the rest of the film is so oblique I'm not convinced it justified that scene. Parents of small children beware.

On the positive side, I think this will probably be considered an important/infuential film in years to come. It's a "filmmakers film" for sure. It owes a lot to Roeg - particularly The Man Who Fell to Earth - as well as Kubrick and Lynch, but it really is its own thing - a genuinely original film. The VFX is some of the most compelling and effective I have ever seen, particularly considering it has to mesh with what is a largely documentary aesthetic.

It really is a very interesting film - academics are going to have a field day with it - but I came away wanting to like it more than I actually did. I'd like to see more films like this one, just with a bit more narrative verve. I do recommend going to see it, but very much with your filmmakers hat on.

 

However if like me you have a small child, I really can't recommend going to see it. My partner cried herself to sleep because of that scene. If I'd got more than just intellectual and aesthetic stimulation from the film, it might not have bothered me so much. As it is, it did bother me a lot.

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