DOUCE CHINE, a Music Video shot with 5 different cameras: Leica M240 + Lumix GH2 + Lumix GH3 + Panasonic AF100 + Nikon D800
Birth of the “Douce Chine” Project:
Twice a year I am teaching a 7 weeks (25 hours) filmmaking course in Shanghai.
For the this term, I decided to help one of my friends, by shooting a music video for his new Album: Douce Chine (China Delight).
This was an interesting project for my students as well, as we had time to work on lighting set up and camera positioning.
Song is about a guy who is used to travel from France to China, mixing up jet lag feeling with night life, good wine and wave of exciting emotion spicing up his life in China.
This 4 minutes video was integrally shot in 10 hours (2 afternoons) in our classroom which is only 25m2. That means we could only walk 5 steps max in the different directions of the room.
Why multi cameras shoot?
Out of my teaching work in photography and filmmaking, I am both a pro photographer and DP/cameraman. I am having lots of gears and this shooting was a good place to put all of my cameras at work for the good of the students; Nikon D800, Lumix GH2, Lumix GH3 and Panasonic AF100.
I hired one of my Photography students (Richard) to be my main assistant and he brought along his Leica M240 he had never tried in video mode so we decided to give it a try on that project.
Music video is the place for multi camera shooting as you cannot ask the singer to repeat the exact same performance many times in one afternoon. Despite the lack of space in our classroom, we managed to position the camera to cover as many angle as possible in our 3 different sets of background: Simple black back drop, (fake) Bed and Chinese curtain, Window with (fake) street light reflection. There is no use to get many cameras in action if their position and angle of view are not both different and matching.
Image bank from extra cameras
On the image shot for the music video, I add a layer of images I shot in the previous years in France and China. They were shot with GH1 (night shots and on board shots) Panasonic HVX200 (club and slomo of people walking) and HVX200 with Letus Ultimate (Water shot, airplane, traditional places…). I followed up with the HD evolution but all my HVX shots (720p 50fps) still looks real good even blew over scaled to 1080p.
Great cams always existed and any day, I can still grab my HVX200 if it matches my need on a new project.
I am having some great lenses and I used some of my favorite on that shooting; Voigtlander 25mm f0.95, Nikon AIS 50mm f1.2, Nikon 85mm f1.4 AFD, Computar 75mm f1.4 (a rare but cheap CCTV lens great for portrait)
Prior to the shoot, I bought a 35mm f1.8G (DX version) which is doing very well on the D800 even in FX mode as I knew I would add some vignette in post. I am always taking advantage of this type of experimental project to test new things without pressure.
The GH2 was hanged to the ceiling on top of the fan with the Voigtlander 25mm which was wide enough to get the establishment shot at once. The D800 shared the 35mm and 50mm at f2. The GH3 always used a Speed Booster (great tool that I highly recommend) with the Nikon 85mm 1.4 which is an amazing lens (older AFD version half price than the new G version). The AF103 mainly used the Computar (200 USD lens). For the Leica, Richard brought along his 50mm f0.95, 35mm f1.4 and 90mm f2.
Those 3 lens costs more than my complete equipment, but they are already sharp fully open and get their own character which makes their full frame image looks more like Medium format camera.
Light and camera settings.
This is not a proper camera test as the aim was to complete the music video shooting. Therefore, we didn’t try different set up on camera or aperture on lenses to compare. Instead, we kept everything pretty much the same. I am used to set up a lighting to be able to shoot at f2 on all camera at ISO200 (base iso for GH2, GH3 and AF100).
This Aperture offers great sharpness on all my lenses and it also allows me to use lenses of any angle of view from 12mm to 180mm at f2(with speed booster) on M43 (which means 24mm to 320mm on FX).
I am also working at f2 most of the time as I know the combination of lights able to deliver this result which is time and budget saving. There is just some slight correction according camera position versus light position. Playing a bit on the ISO or the aperture can handle that. On the other hand, Richard wanted to go shallow depth of field (f1.4) on the Leica and sets the ISO at 100. Sometime, he went too much on that direction (while being close to the subject) and you can notice that some of Leica’s shots are a bit out of focus as depth of field is too limited. I guess that Richard went as far as f0.95 few times on the 50mm due to noticeable overexposure on some shots.