“The Paranormal Journey: Into the Unknown” Gets Real with URSA Mini 4.6K and DaVinci Resolve Studio

Now in its third season, “The Paranormal Journey: Into the Unknown” follows the paranormal team known as the Phantasmic Ghost Hunters, with hosts Gavin Kelly and Paula Purcell as they seek out the existence of life after death by visiting haunted locations, including jails, hospitals, battlefields and museums, and collecting compelling evidence.

Available on Amazon Prime, the third season of the unscripted, original series took the team to six haunted locations: Poasttown Elementary School in Middleton, OH; The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH; Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, KY; 101 The Para Café in Winchester, IN; Benton Farms in Walton, KY; and the Farrar Elementary School in Maxwell, IA.

“‘The Paranormal Journey: Into the Unknown’ is produced by In The Shadows Entertainment Group,” explained Kelly. “Heading into season three, we wanted a new look for the show: crisp, sharp and cinematic.” 

In addition to shooting at haunted locations, the team films interviews with people who’ve had firsthand encounters with the supernatural and who are familiar with the locations and their stories. “The interviews let the stories come alive more to the audience, so viewers can learn more about a location or an event directly from the person who experienced it,” said Kelly.

The interviews are essential to the overall storyline of the show because they provide background, context and real-life examples, which help to further cement believability and credibility. When dealing with the supernatural, a topic many approach skeptically, a high quality, professional look is key.

“Realism is what we are going for, and it’s why we chose Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini 4.6K digital film camera. It really came through for us,” Kelly noted. “Shooting in RAW was perfect, allowing us to create our own color grades in DaVinci Resolve Studio or use premade LUTs. The URSA Mini 4.6K gave us that ‘pop,’ creative cinematic feel to our show when it came to filming compelling interviews.”

End-to-end Production

Kelly and Purcell wear many hats on the show, both in front of the camera and behind it. In addition to being a researcher and historian, Purcell is a host, writer and production manager. Also a host, Kelly is the lead investigator, director of photography and colorist.

“The good part about being involved in the show from the ground up is that we are really dialed into everything. I always have camera angles in mind and am thinking about how I want the shots to look,” said Kelly.

Used as the A camera for interviews, the URSA Mini 4.6K was either mounted to a locked down tripod or used on a slider. A Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was also used as the B camera during interviews and mounted on a shoulder rig.

“We used the Pocket Cinema Camera in the interviews as well for a wide shot, while the URSA Mini 4.6K got the up close and personal shots,” noted Kelly. “The Pocket Cinema Camera is great because you can just place it on a shoulder mount or tripod with the lens of your choice and put it in tight spots to get a perfect cinematic angle.”

“Scenes filmed using the cameras look just like a Hollywood segment on television or a broadcast talk show. Professionalism to the max,” he added.

Keeping It Real and RAW

According to Kelly, shooting in RAW afforded the team many advantages both during production and in post.

He explained, “When filming the interviews, looking at it on the view screen with an LUT attached gave us the ability to test out numerous colors for the scene. When it came to color grading, we knew what worked and what didn’t. In post, using DaVinci Resolve Studio’s nodes to create new looks by changing colors and adding different elements really helped make the grade successful.”

Heading into season three, the team knew they needed a new look for the show, and Blackmagic Design helped them deliver. “We wanted to up the production value and professional quality of the show, and the URSA Mini 4.6K delivered. It’s definitely not an ‘over the counter’ camera; it’s a Hollywood television show and movie camera,” concluded Kelly. “Watching the interviews shot on the cameras and graded with DaVinci Resolve Studio is like watching a talk show or a documentary – cinematic, yet real – and we love that look.”

About Gavin Kelly

Gavin Kelly is the host and lead investigator for Amazon Prime’s paranormal television series “The Paranormal Journey: Into the Unknown.” He’s been in the paranormal field for three years now and is joined by researcher and historian Paula Purcell. Called the Phantasmic Ghost Hunters, Kelly and Purcell set out on a journey to find answers to questions they have about life after death.