(4K VideoJournalist) — If you’re a videographer or cinematographer, sometimes when your on the fly, you just don’t have all the tools you’d like — and more specifically, lenses you’d ideally want in any given situation. That can be a real bummer if you run across something cool you want to capture, but you just don’t have the right piece of glass to accommodate your run-and-gun creative vision. Well, it’s 2015, and 4K’s the craze — and thankfully, just shooting in 4K, versus HD, can help put a patch on at least one of those lens-lacking problems.
Recently, while traveling in Northern California, I came across an incredible hatching, and borderline infestation, of the magnificent and benign crowned orb-weaver spider, a.k.a. California Garden Spider.
They pose no threat to humans and are quite passive really, but they weave the most remarkably round orb-shaped webs you can imagine — and fast too. They are incredible fly catchers and are really quite beneficial to have around. This arachnid can be quite comfortable with humans and often doesn’t mind us getting up right next to them while they camp out in the center of their elaborately spun, magic orbs for days on end, patiently awaiting the next meal to fortuitously land in their strategically placed, sticky webs. Also noteworthy, these large spiders are like Carl Lewis on their feet, possessing blazing speed to get out of harm’s way, or get from one place to another.
I had two 4K rigs with me — the Sony FS700 with Odyssey 7Q 4K deck by Convergent Design, and the Sony FS7, not decked-up, but possessing on-board 4K nonetheless — both of them wearing their out-of-the box, multipurpose Sony zoom lenses — 18-200mm and 28-135mm respectively. Not the perfect lenses for shooting the fuzz on the tips of spider eye-lashes, but two pretty diverse pieces of glass nonetheless. Unfortunately, I had no macro lenses with me. “DAMN!” I though. Macro is totally what you want and need for a situation like this. But sometimes, ya’ just gotta make due with whatcha got.
When I’d find a spider camping out in an orb, I’d push the glass as far forward as possible, and get the camera as close as I could while still maintaining focus. It’s wasn’t too bad, but not anything near what you could get by using macro. You couldn’t fill out your frame with something as small as a spider and still be in focus to be sure. 4K to the rescue! In post, you can just zoom in, up to 2X, and still maintain a pretty darn nice HD resolution.
The video below features a few clips of the spider that were shot on the FS7 with it’s onboard, 4K, 4096X2160 resolution, using the XAVC codec, where I cropped in after the fact to fill the frame with the creeping creature. The clips can also be sharpened in post to increase detail, which I have not done to these clips as of yet.
Another benefit to this technique, is that you’re not only zooming, you have the whole frame to play around with, so you can easily reposition your object when you zoom in for the HD version of your cut.
To be clear, this is NOT a replacement for macro lenses, but it definitely provides a pretty good bandaid if you need a super close up shot, and don’t have any macros — especially if most of your audience is going to be watching it in HD anyway. If you are broadcasting in 4K, this bandage basically does nothing for you, and you need macro lenses to get super close and not suffer a drop in resolution. Or you need to bump up to the Sony F65 or something beyond 4K, so you can shoot in 6K or 8K and crop in to 4K in post. Disney used the Sony F65 for Monkey King, which likely provided a huge advantage for zooming and cropping after the fact.
All told, after zooming in on the crowned-orb weaver in post, I think it looks pretty decent all things considered. It doesn’t provide the detail of getting super close with high quality macro lenses, but it’s still pretty good. Having 4K capability is a fantastic tool to have in the tool-bag — even if you are typically working in an HD workflow. If you’re creating projects in HD, you can switch over to 4K when you can’t get close enough to an object, or are lacking the appropriate lenses to fill your frame with tiny targets such as the creepy little critters featured here.
4K POST-PRODUCTION WORKFLOW TIP
When shooting projects in 4K, but also broadcasting in HD:
First: cut your film on a 4K timeline that matches your 4K clips. Preserve this as a 4K full-rez version of your project.
Second: create an HD timeline that wields the settings of your highest quality desired HD output.
Third: copy and paste all the contents of the finished 4K cut to the new HD timeline.
Fourth: scale all clips to 1920X1080 frame size.
Fifth: go back through the edit and zoom, crop or reposition any clips you want on the timeline for the HD export.
Sixth: when satisfied with the newly zoomed and repositioned version of the film, export for HD and you’re done!
FILM AND ARTICLE CREDITS
- Emerson Urry - Journalist, Author