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Blackmagic Design: Rachel Black and White Horror Movie Shot with Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design: Rachel Black and White Horror Movie Shot with Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Pocket Cinema Camera 4K was used as the main camera for “Rachel”, a horror short film shot in black and white.

Blackmagic Design has revealed that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K digital film camera was used as the main camera for the new horror short film “Rachel”. The shark attack film, shot in black and white and on a minuscule budget during Covid restrictions, was selected from more than 900 candidates for the Festi-Short du Printemps Anglophone film festival and is being made into a feature film.

Created by filmmakers Glenn Cutler and David Kotkin, “Rachel” tells the story of a man seeking sobriety who seeks revenge on the shark that ruined his life. The short appealed predominantly to practical effects, with Cutler playing a dual role as the protagonist, spending most of his time balanced on a small inflatable raft floating on a lake.

Kotkin, a former high school art teacher, inventor, and now filmmaker, teamed up with creative partner Cutler, and together they learned to use editing software, color grading, visual effects (VFX), and post-production software from sound DaVinci Resolve.

“As filmmakers, one of our philosophies is to take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. We had no help from qualified professionals in the production of the film. While it seems like a disadvantage to play so many roles, in our case it turned out to be an advantage because it forced us to learn and keep thinking of ways to do things better and faster. The Pocket camera is so powerful and affordable that we could practice and then go for any kind of shot,” Cutler said.

Initially, the two had hired a crew to shoot with an expensive rental camera, but felt that the first few images from the camera didn’t match the film’s aesthetic. Within a week, Cutler and Kotkin had used up most of their budget.

“We thought that would be the end of it,” Kotkin said. “But then I remembered that I had seen some clips of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on the internet and thought we should give it a try. We decided to focus on shooting it as a short film, and we couldn’t believe the Pocket 4K was as good as the most expensive camera. In fact, in certain situations, it was much better because of portability.”

The Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s compact design allowed filmmakers to work on the go, setting up and dismantling quickly.

“On a typical filming day, we would wake up at 4am, get all the gear in the car and prepare our first scenes before sunrise. The light was good in the morning, for an hour or so, and then for another hour in the late afternoon, so between those two golden hours we spent most of our time editing, preparing props, and working on the visual effects. DaVinci and Pocket 4K allow us to be efficient and creative,” continued Cutler.

Shooting in black and white for a richer look and more sinister water scenes, the filmmakers were able to create a dramatic film with charismatic characters rather than a simple shark attack short. The camera’s lightweight design also made for some of the more dramatic scenes, where Cutler, balanced on a small inflatable raft, tries to hunt the shark.

“Firstly, our advice to anyone filming in the water is to start exercising and invest in good quality fins. The boat scenes were very difficult to film, considering that one of the two crew had to act. Elements like the tide, wind and rain can make for a beautiful look, but they can be unpredictable. There were times when David needed to adjust the boat while the camera was still recording, so having a small, lightweight camera was critical,” Cutler said.

Kotkin and Cutler used DaVinci Resolve’s editing, color correction, and VFX features in post-production. Shooting in Blackmagic RAW and taking full advantage of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s high dynamic range, the duo were able to create high-quality scenes for much less than they imagined.

“DaVinci allows us to turn good scenes into amazing ones. We knew the camera could provide the data we needed to work on DaVinci. The Fusion VFX page in DaVinci Resolve was especially helpful when we couldn’t get anything done using practical effects. And you can jump from the Fusion page to the color page with a single click without missing a creative idea,” continued Kotkin.

“Honestly, the big difference was the fact that we shot at the right time of day, so we got cool lights and shadows. Then, in DaVinci, we were able to accentuate the contrast and make it much richer. We got ultra-accurate color grading every time, and that doesn’t happen in other editing apps,” said Kotkin.

“One shot that we nailed down thanks to DaVinci was that of the actress who plays Rachel in a hallway on a tricycle. We could have just shown the character heading towards the darkness, but the scene needed to have a lot more emotion than that. Rachel needed to slowly get lost in the shadows. We used DaVinci to mask a part of the hallway, and as the character enters, we gradually darken that area, so it looks like Rachel disappears into the abyss,” Kotkin said.

The two filmmakers are currently filming “Bull”, the full-length version of “Rachel”, using Pocket Cinema Camera 4K cameras and DaVinci Resolve.

“One of the things we are considering is using a real bull shark for the final battle. We shot most of the film with a single Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K, but are considering using multiple Blackmagic cameras for the final scenes. If it works, it will be the most realistic and terrifying shark cinema has ever seen. The ability to execute on great ideas like this is what sets Blackmagic products apart,” concluded Cutler.

Source of information: Panorama Audiovisual

December 2022

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