Gallien Chanalet-Quercy, CEO & founder of Cow Prod, talks about the challenges and benefits of shooting extreme sport film, ‘Ride & Fly’ at 48 frames per second.
‘Ride & Fly’ follows three speed-riders in the ski resort Les Arcs, in the French Alps. The film takes the audience alongside the riders who share what drives them, why they do what they do and how they handle the notion of risk and danger. In its core, it is a story about sharing, not just techniques and tricks for specialists of the sport, but also about sharing the lifestyle they have chosen.
Like the soon-to-be-released The Hobbit, Cow Prod shot the movie in 3D and at 48 frames per second or HFR3D, giving two times more detail in 2D and four times in 3D. In this joint interview with 3D Focus, 3D Content Blog started by asking what the reason was to shoot in HFR when there are so few opportunities to exhibit it outside of a theatrical release:
Gallien: We shot it in HFR originally simply because we could. Therefore we asked ourselves “why not? It will be useful for future references”. Then, we noticed that the quality on a 50hz TV was way better than the 3D content we had shot previously in “normal” 25fps. Then the question of the 3D HFR DCP came more as a challenge. Because it had never been done it before, it attracted the interest of Ymagis (the lab). As we were so pleased by the result, we started to show the first 10 minutes around, and that’s how we got given offers for a cinema release. In a word, we can say that it was originally pure R&D which eventually gave the film a new career perspective.
Was there a cost implication shooting in HFR in terms of extra storage, costs of cameras etc?
Gallien: Because the choice of cameras were driven by a whole lot of parameters – size & weight, chip size, resolution etc. – HFR almost became an available option de facto, and there were basically no extra costs other than a few extra data storage hard drives for the shoot. In post, online was a little bit longer because of the extra data to deal with, but if didn’t made the offline process any harder at all, therefore costs were, again, extremely close to our usual 3D projects.
With some saying HFR gives film an unpleasant video look, did you grade the show in postproduction to make it look more film like?
No, we did not grade it to give a more “film” look, probably because as a documentary, shot in nature, the crisper the image, the better it is, and it that way it is not in our interest to do so. The whole idea of the film and reason for those POV rides in 3D, was to take the audience onboard an as realistic as possible experience as realistic as possible. HFR simply helps the film perform this better, so we were happy with the crystal clear video look from the very beginning.
Why does 3D suffer flicker during fast motion shots?
Gallien: This question gets quite too technical for me as it involves a shutter speed and shutter sync question, but that is exactly what HFR resolves.
Are Cow Prod looking at shooting in 4K next or TotalD as 3net call it.
Gallien: We are absolutely looking at shooting 4K 3D in the very (very) near future. But at the moment we are facing two issues : first the lack of internal genlockable 4K cameras. That means we would have to sync the cameras with an external genlock, and that could cause shutter issues with high speed actions (sport actions, bird flying, rain etc.), so we are currently very careful in what we decide to potentially shoot in 4K as we try to avoid any compromise on quality when we shoot 3D…external genlock being one for us. The other issue we’re facing is the online (edit). So far, we have been dealing fine up to 2K 3D, but 4K is another level up, and we are yet to get a satisfying, stable, online editing solution.
With some arguing that the feel of the footage of The Hobbit was toolifelike (thus breaking the suspension of disbelief), is this why HFR could more suitable for documentaries?
Gallien: Although it appears obvious that HFR is incredibly suitable for documentaries, I really think we should wait until seeing The Hobbit in proper screening conditions, let alone in its final version, before judging.
Why shoot in 48fps rather than shoot some scenes with high speed cameras?
Gallien: I think it is absolutely not incompatible. I.e. why not shooting the entire film in 48fps, and some scenes in 300 ? The thing here is that 48fps has not the same role as a high speed camera as far as slow motion is concerned (and one the main reason why high speed cameras are used). 48fps simply gets image quality to a new level, high speed camera allows the most amazing slow motion effects. But in the end, they are just tools, which are only useful if they help the narration. In the end, remain and will always remain those three things : story, story, story.
The sports documentary Ride&Fly (1x50min) is available for licensing from 3D Content Hub (link includes a promo video).