“Dialogue, stunts, linear storyline, car photography, pyrotechnics and physical special effects, the commercial could only be described as a pot-boiler,” he said. “Add to this the complication of a night shoot, and the fact that it all had to be crafted and dovetailed into a 45-second commercial, alternative production thinking was needed.
“This came in the form of the Genesis camera. A joint invention by Sony and Panavision, Genesis is the first film-style fully portable digital imaging camera that utilises all existing spherical 35mm lenses. Hollywood film crews used it to shoot the box-office hits Superman Returns
, Scary Movie 4
and Casino Royale
,” he explained.
Toyota was the first local commercial shot in South Africa on the Genesis camera. And the digital experience was new for Tony too.
“This shoot was my first venture into the digital world. Admittedly, I found not being able to hear the sound of the camera and constantly thinking about film stock consumption quite unsettling at first, but I soon got used to it.”
According to Tony, the Genesis is all about ‘freeing up the director' – not having to worry about the expense of 35mm film running through the camera and enabling the director to focus on the other important things that are his responsibility, like performance and staging. It also allows the director to see exactly what the shot actually looks like. Being able to instantly monitor look and feel is obviously a great creative advantage.
“Comparing the Genesis technology with 35mm film, I think the single significant development is that the chip size is the same as a 35mm negative. This means that the depth-of-field characteristics of the lenses are exactly the same as 35mm film, and Genesis is the only camera that performs on this level.
“Of course, the exposure characteristics of the Genesis are fabulous. I think they may exceed the performance of film. It also appears as if the picture quality produced by the Genesis camera is comparable to 35mm film in every respect; I can barely see the difference between the two, particularly when the final product is on Pal TV,” he adds.
Despite his very positive first experience with Genesis and HD technology and desire to utilise the technology again and again, film purist Tony won't turn his back on 35mm yet.
“Remember, image acquisition is only one aspect to consider; other aspects such as post production workflow are also different and directors have to get to grips with that as well. That said, I can see a time when everything is shot on high definition formats like that used by Genesis. In the mean-time there is a valid place for film, the choice is really a function of budget and size of project,” he concludes.