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Templestone Productions Shoots Candlelit Concerts for Music Documentary with Micro Studio Camera 4K

At Dallas based Templestone Productions, Brad Ballew's main goal is to help his clients tell their story. He recently had the opportunity to shoot a unique concert series for a music documentary featuring the Irish choral group Anúna. The group sings a cappella arrangements of traditional and ancient texts from around the world. To keep the quality of his shooting high but his travel kit light, Brad purchased Blackmagic Design's Micro Studio Camera 4K.

"The reason I got the Micro Studio Camera 4K was because I have started to travel a lot and I need to be able to pack light but still get great production value," said Brad. "I really like the idea of being able to shoot high quality 4K footage on a gimbal but keep it all incredibly compact. It's really amazing, and I could store my whole set up in my laptop bag if I needed to."

Learning to Work with a More Creative Workflow

Brad first got started in the industry in 2002, shooting news in Abilene, TX for a local NBC affiliate. Looking for ways to work on more narrative and creative projects, he enrolled in the Film and Television program at Full Sail University in Florida. There he made it a point to learn all he could in various aspects of production - producing, writing, shooting and editing. He then moved to Los Angeles and worked various jobs on a number of projects ranging from indie films, commercials to docu-reality shows for History Channel and TruTV. After settling down in Dallas, TX, he worked as a producer, writer, shooter, editor and motion graphics artist for the CW show "Nightcap." 

"This was an amazing experience for me in a few ways," said Brad. "The amount of creative freedom we were given was incredible. The show put together nightly news and sketch comedy in a way I hadn't seen before. It was during this time that I also started shooting on Blackmagic Cameras. I purchased a Blackmagic Cinema Camera and opted to use it on my stories rather than the studio cameras they had."

He continued, "Looking back, my workflow was really odd for the environment I was in. We had one or two days max to work on a story and get it ready for the air, yet this didn't stop me from shooting almost all my stories in CinemaDNG RAW and doing heavy motion graphics work on everything. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I wanted to create the highest quality and most spectacular work I could in the amount of time given. Eventually the show's format got rebooted into something else, and I decided to leave and start my own company in 2014, Templestone Productions."

Touring the World with Anúna

Based out of Dublin, Anúna consists of about 20 top vocalists from around the world. Brad toured with the group throughout Europe in 2016 and worked with performers from Poland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and America. The group's unique performances of traditional and ancient texts are meant to be a portal to the time and place in which the texts originate. The singers move around the audience, surrounding them with their sound. 

"I have wanted to try and capture this experience on film for some time and started speaking with director Michael McGlynn around two years ago about possibly collaborating on a music video," said Brad. "We talked off and on about the project, and as time went on, the idea evolved from a music video into a concert video, and then finally into a full documentary."

Brad had been looking for a small camera specifically for his portable jib, which could only hold a small camera load. He also specifically wanted a 4K camera so that he could have the option to reframe or zoom in post production. After some research he decided to purchase the Micro Studio Camera 4K along with an external 4K recorder to film concert footage. He used the Micro Studio Camera 4K in various ways during the tour. At the two shows the group did in Dublin he put the camera on a jib. In the Netherlands he not only had it mounted to a jib, but also put it on a motorized slider, and even put it at the top of a light stand at one point. He also used a Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Pocket Cinema Camera to shoot footage while on tour. 

When Anúna is walking through the audience they are only being lit by the candles they are holding. While Brad understood the Micro Studio Camera 4K may not have been designed with candlelight shooting in mind, he discovered that he could use a Pocket Cinema Camera Metabones Speedbooster on the Micro Studio Camera 4K and mount it to a 16mm 2.0. 

"I did a test shoot with a few local singers and was surprised at how well the footage came out," said Brad. "I had the gain up to around 12db on the Micro Studio Camera 4K, and there was some visible noise, however the noise was very fine and didn't seem to warp the image like some other cameras I have pushed in lowlight situations. I was able to easily remove the grain using Neat Video and ended up with a very nice image. I took my set up to Dublin where we shot two concerts and was very happy with the results."

Brad's camera set up also included a Blackmagic Cinema Camera and a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for additional shooting for the documentary. They also came in handy for another project he shot simultaneously while in Dublin. All the footage for both projects was color graded in DaVinci Resolve Studio. 

"I also shot footage on another camera, so DaVinci Resolve Studio is a very important part of my workflow when it comes to matching footage and making it all look like it belongs together," said Brad.

High Quality Images with a Portable Camera

"I do quite a bit of traveling, so I like to keep things very streamlined and small," said Brad. "I also like to own the gear I use, and avoid renting as much as possible. I am always looking for gear that can get the best production value in the most portable package. Since this concert shoot was a last minute addition, it was important to keep costs down and be as streamlined as possible. Having the gear I had was a huge advantage."

He continued, "What I really like most about the Micro Studio Camera 4K is that it gives me amazing 4K footage in an incredibly small package. It takes up almost no space in my camera bag, but I can use it almost anywhere, and its compact design also meant that it was not distracting and hardly noticeable to the audience. Just like the other Blackmagic Cameras, it has a very simple and straightforward menu, which I love. I can get in and out in no time and start recording. This helps me keep the pace I need and not miss anything. A gorgeous shot can be gone in no time and I was fortunate enough to capture some great moments for the documentary up in the mountains in Wicklow County, Ireland during a rare snowfall. Michael draws much of his inspiration from land around him, so capturing these images are of great importance to what we are trying to do."
He added, "I have been very pleased with the image I get from the camera. It still blows my mind that I can get such amazing 4K footage in such a small package. It's portable, but its footage has the flexibility I'd expect from larger more expensive systems. I am already getting ideas on how I can utilize this camera in new and exciting ways on future shoots."

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Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, Micro Studio Camera, Pocket Cinema Camera Metabones Speedbooster, 4K video


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