London’s most famous landmarks, two helicopters and Atomos recorders were the keys to a new film to raise awareness for London Air Ambulance, a charity organisation which swoops in to rescue around ten critically injured people each day.
Phil Arntz is a DP who specialises in aerials and is perhaps best known for his work on the Emirates ‘Hello Jetman’ promo film. He works together with Helicopter Film Services (HFS) on feature films, commercials and high-end dramas. Shot air-to-air, the 30-second film captures the work of the organisation, which relies on donations, as they fly past some of the capital’s best-known landmarks.
“Anyone who spends a lot of time in the air above London is aware of the great work that the London Air Ambulance do. I’ve always wanted to do something more to help them out and together with HFS we decided to do this as a charitable project,” Arntz explained. “When we were filming them, they were constantly ready to go with a pilot, paramedic and co-pilot always on-board. As we finished, they dashed out on a mission”.
Arntz took to the air in the HFS Twin Squirrel helicopter with a nose-mounted RED Helium 8K camera and Angenieux 25-250mm Cine zoom inside a top-of-the-line Shotover F1 gimbal system. This allowed for super-stable, high resolution imagery that few others could match. Sitting in the back of the chopper, Arntz remotely controlled the camera setup using a control panel, checking all the critical settings and framing on the new Atomos Sumo19M HDR high brightness production monitor.
“It’s essential to rig a large production monitor in the back of the helicopter so I can really see what I’m doing. At this level, critical focus and exposure is everything. The hard part is that once in the air you find yourself in a bright environment where the lighting conditions can change instantly. Previously I didn’t have a monitor with the brightness of the Sumo19M - the extra brightness and easy-to-use tools make it the perfect choice for this kind of work,” he said.
A new trend in cinematography is the need to create HDR versions of the work, alongside regular SDR ones. As more and more features and commercials are shot this way proper monitoring has become vital. The AtomHDR on the Sumo19M does just this. Arntz explains, “The AtomHDR function also proved especially useful on this shoot because we needed both SDR and HDR grades done. Being able to see and expose the HDR image correctly while shooting gave me the assurance that I needed.”
The DP isn’t the only person on-board who needs to see the image during the shoot: the pilot having a clear overview of what’s being filmed is just as important. In this case, the pilot had a Atomos Shogun Flame connected to the Sumo19M.
“Atomos recorders have the capability to route signals to other devices via SDI or HDMI, and even apply LUTs to send to send other monitors,” Arntz noted.
“It’s great to have high brightness on the Shogun Flame as well. We use these all the time for pilots and directors. We also use them to record proxy files for instant playback – it’s great to be able to show clients what was shot straight after a shoot, without having to have our whole helicopter system powered on.”
Of course, great features are not the only thing that matters in professional production. Reliability and durability are key. The Sumo19M has a rigid metal chassis, flexible mount options and the ability to continuously power from three separate sources. “When you are up in the air you need equipment that you can rely on. Every minute of flight time costs a lot of money and a lot of the shots we do can never be repeated,” said Arntz. “I’ve come to trust Atomos in these mission-critical situations - they’ve never let us down. The Sumo19M is super solid and looks like it will stand up to everything that I throw at it.”
Even though the Sumo19M is high brightness, there are times when a sunhood is very useful. It cuts glare and reflections to a minimum - especially useful when shooting Log and/or HDR. “I love the new Atomos sunhood, it’s so quick and easy to attach. Some sunhoods just flop around, but the Atomos one is rigid and just the right size,” Arntz said. He added: “The combination of image tools on the Atomos Sumo19M, combined with the really high brightness of the panel, make it a really good monitor for our line of work. It’s a keeper.”
You can find out more about Phil Arntz and his work on his website: http://philarntz.com
You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/a5jLjMAqY74