(4K VideoJournalist) — On March 6-9, 2015, we had the privilege of performing a multi-camera, all-4K taping of the American Cup Speed Skating Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City. The problem was: we didn’t have as many cameras out there as we had originally planned. With only four 4K rigs onsite, we had to get a wee-bit creative.
In addition to one Sony Z100 and one Sony FDR-AX100, we had two awesome Sony FS700s equipped with Odyssey 7Q recording decks on the scene — cameras we had originally intended to allocate exclusively to slow-motion shots. However, without the FS700s shooting in standard 24 fps, we would not have had enough angles to perform a smooth multi-clip between just the Z100 and AX100.
I wondered to myself how we could still utilize all four cameras for the 24 fps cut, while still somehow incorporating the simply awesome slow-mo capabilities of the FS700/Odyssey 7Q combo.
Then it dawned on me: “What if we used just one of the FS700s, the finish-line cam, to first film at 24 fps, and then quickly switched to 120 fps for the bell-lap, and stunning slow-mo at the finish?” But how would we do this?
Since the Odyssey unit takes time to reboot between switching codecs, the night before the race, I timed how long it was taking to switch the unit from the 4K-UHD ProRes codec to 4K RAW DNG (required for 4K slow-mo). After timing several rounds of this, on average, it was taking about 32 seconds to make the switch — Roughly the same amount of time it takes to skate a lap on the long ice track. I knew this was going to be tight, but I still felt like I might be able to make it work.
I also figured that we could ramp the 120 fps slow-mo from the finish to 500% for yet another angle to insert into the regular-speed cut — followed by instant replay of the 120 fps version.
FINISH-LINE SHOT AT 120 FRAMES PER SECOND
FINISH-LINE SHOT RAMPED TO 500%
Well, you can see the end result just above. It turned out ok for cheating together what was a very challenging shoot in 4K that would have typically been shot, first of all, with the arena TV lights ON instead of OFF; and secondly with very fast auto-focus lenses in HD interlaced mode and not in fps at all.
We made it out ok in this slightly cobbled-together shoot, but next time, we are going to have better lighting, faster lenses, more cameras, and likely try filming the regular-speed cut at 60 fps instead of 24. Either way, these amazing power athletes, hauling caboose around turns with major G-force at approximately 40 mph, were very fun to film in 4K indeed, and we hope to do it again in the near future. Stay tuned for some of the multi-clip cuts of this exciting event on EnviroNews UnderReported Sports.