Capturing Perth’s Live Music Scene in Peter Renzullo’s “Anticipation” with Blackmagic Design Cameras and DaVinci Resolve for Editing and Color Correction
Peter Renzullo knows the Australian music scene. He is a top level musician, musical producer and owner of Scudley Records in Perth and has been part of the film world as a composer and creator of several soundtracks. But with the film “Anticipation,” Renzullo made the leap from musician to filmmaker as he stepped behind the camera as director and cinematographer, as well as editing.
The film was his first time behind a camera. Beyond the usual learning curves any new filmmaker had, Renzullo also had to contend with being legally blind and only having 3 percent vision. This forced him to develop creative ways to get the shots he needed and work with actors and sets.
To complete “Anticipation,” Renzullo used a Blackmagic Design 4K camera, along with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to edit the film. The film’s colorist, Benjamin Knibb, also used DaVinci Resolve for color grading.
Capturing Perth’s Nighttime Music Scene
“Anticipation” tells the story of Lenny, a struggling musician trying to make it big on the local music scene while struggling with social anxiety and stage fright. The film is almost entirely shot at night and in venues that were open to the public. This meant shooting in low lighting, dealing with securing venues and overcoming crowd noise.
“The best way to catch the music scene and create a film that brings you right into live music is to be right where it happens when it happens,” Renzullo said.
Using a Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and shooting in RAW, Renzullo was able to work in the tight spaces of Perth’s small venues and get high quality 4K footage that could be easily brought into post production. Using the camera’s focus guide, he was able to light up an area of the image to a bright green when the shot was in focus. This allowed him to work out which shots were in focus and get what he needed.
“We did have to make sure that the actors did not wear anything green,” joked Renzullo. “But the camera let me capture high quality shots, I could use my existing EF lenses and it was easy to use and intuitive. Blackmagic has really thought of everything that I needed in a camera.”
One of the biggest advantages of using the Blackmagic Design camera was the ease with which Renzullo was able to go from shooting into post production without having to waste time on format conversions. Footage from the camera was moved directly into DaVinci Resolve for editing, and then sent again in DaVinci Resolve for color grading.
For Renzullo, who handled the editing of the film himself, this was the first time he had used DaVinci Resolve.
“I was looking for a high end NLE to take on this job, as I knew my current editing software was just not up to the task. I researched many options and just couldn’t pass on Resolve. It looked very user friendly and had amazing scope for the intricate cuts I intended to utilize. I also shot this film entirely in 4K RAW, so it was the obvious choice to handle the workload ahead of me,” he said.
“With editing live music and so many scenes in music venues, with I found it easy to sync the camera audio to the mic/line audio using. Being able to line up the waveforms of the different audio files in Resolve made it very easy and fast to get clips lined up. And having a multi angle approach to my shots of the music venues meant multiple clips to sync, and of course splice together. All of which was so damn easy to do in Resolve,” he said.
Renzullo also found DaVinci Resolve’s dynamic tools, in particular the dynamic zoom feature, to be particularly helpful with editing the film.
“I’m a massive fan of the Dynamic toolkit. I was able to take a static shot in 4K, then use the dynamic zoom, dolly, tracking to really give my shots the feel I wanted. The software is intuitive and a joy to work with,” he said.
Edited RAW footage was then sent to colorist Ben Knibb for grading and online editing.
“Working in the same program as the editor is a total gamechanger. It means that Peter can be finishing his edits while I am getting a head start on grading before the project is even finalized. The project becomes so much more efficient when we can both work on it concurrently. When Peter finishes his edit, I am able to use the Color Trace system to pull my grades across to the final timeline and finish the project form there,” Knibbs said.
“I first started using Resolve in 2016 when I received a license for the program with my Ursa Mini 4.6K. I initially used Resolve for editing and then discovered the color grading features, which opened up so many options that are not available in other programs. Since then, Resolve has become my primary NLE, motion graphics platform and DAW. I even negotiated for the production company I work for to move away from another program to take advantage of the networking capabilities of Resolve. That production company now runs four computers with Resolve and are about to complete their first feature filmed in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii using Resolve, Fusion and Fairlight which was shot almost entirely on Blackmagic cameras,” he continued.
With the film, the filmmakers chose a high contrast look that they built in with DaVinci Resolve. He also used the software to help pull details out of the shadows that are a natural part of any live music venue at night. Through shooting in RAW, Knibb was able to work with an incredible amount of detail in each image.
“Resolve was a hugely powerful tool on this project. We decided that a high contrast grade would give the film a unique look and fits that grungy aesthetic of the film. By using luminance contrast as well as complimentary color contrast on skin tones to background we tried to give Peter the best opportunity to be able to see the final product. This contrast treatment would have been next to impossible in any other program other than Resolve.
Resolve was indispensable in recovering details that would normally be lost in the blacks. This was especially helpful as we were going for such a high contrast image. It would have been very easy to lose detail if we didn’t have such great control through the curves and other tools that Resolve offers,” he continued.
“The film was shot with a lot of mixed lighting utilizing practical lights, like street lights or bar lights, in combination with Peter’s Arri Freznel. Fortunately, Peter filmed this project in RAW which lets me take full advantage of Resolve’s RAW processer and Power Windows to control different areas of the image and adjust white balance and exposure. Stylistically, we are also using the keying features to separate skin tone to help make the characters stand out from the background by shifting luminosity and hue to contrast them. In addition to this, I used Resolve’s very powerful noise reduction on most dark shots.”
“Anticipation” has begun to be shown at film festivals across Australia, with a global launch planned for later in 2019.