Shooting a Short Film on the Sony A6300
On set of Sincerely Scarlett Johnson. You can see the A6300 rigged out with all its bits and a power system that is quite an eyesore
Photos by Tyler Porznak
What a busy summer it has been. I've been out and about working on several cool projects, and today I want to talk about my experiences on this most recent film.
I had recently purchased a mirrorless Sony A6300 to be by B-cam and stills camera for future productions, and I've been amazed at the options that this little camera has. So, when our plan to shoot on a rented FS7 fell through on Prairie Kid Productions newest short film Sincerely Scarlett Johnson, I decided to take a risk and see if I could get the A6300 to shine in a role I wouldn't normally be comfortable using it in.
Concern number 1 was rolling shutter. I went out and shot some tests and was a bit worried but I've seen worse rolling shutters in other cameras. There was very little off tripod work planned for this film, so I figured I could work with it.
The A6300 base. With the camera itself being so light, I thought the weigh of the lenses would be best handled by the adapter
We were already renting lighting and grip from the Winnipeg Film Group, so I decided to borrow a bunch of bits that I didn't own to try and work around some of the other problems I had with the camera. Luckily, the WFG had just received a PL-E mount adapter. This opened up shooting on their Ziess CP.2s, so I jumped on that.
Me finishing up rigging of the camera on day one. Day two I used longer rods to help keep the heat of the HDMI splitter and power components away from the camera.
The camera fully rigged out added and Arri Mattebox and Follow Focus, a Lilliput Monitor for focus, a TC lock box from Danny our audio guy, and an HDMI splitter box to output to the Lilliput and directors monitor (this model of Lilliput did not have a HDMI thru).
Camera with Arri components removed. You can see the TimeCode lock box mounted on the rods up front, and my ugly power distribution system in the back. In the future, I'll probably get a large battery plate and D-tap all the accessories.
Quickly, the first issue arrived: After doing some handheld shots off battery power, I switched over to USB power once we were indoors. The battery drained quickly recording in 4K, and was only at 2%. However, once we started shooting, the camera died. Apparently, in 4k, the power draw is higher than the 5V USB can input, and the camera draws the additional power from the battery.
Interesting lesson. I began swapping between my two batteries, and would turn the camera off in between setups to make up the slow drain,
Backseat car setup. Best part of these cameras is the size.
The next problem: heat. This camera, like all Sony Mirrorless cameras, overheat easily (a new firmware update released today helps reduce it).
I was using a few tips I had read about: open the screen, open all the doors/flash. The first day, I was using shorter rods and had many cables and the HDMI splitter compactly tucked underneath the camera. Switching to longer rods the second day allowed me to spread out everything and notably decreased the heat warnings. Also handy was removing the battery and putting in a cold battery frequently, and using a hurricane blower to cool the inside of the battery compartment. It was a lot of babysitting.
Madison Thomas, looking very directory.
One of our few handheld shots. The rolling shutter held up pretty decent, but I very much feel better with this camera on sticks.
Madison was quick to do an assembly, which I watched tonight. Overall, Im very happy with the image quality. Im excited to do a grade on the footage, the raw 4K files look good and sharp. CP.2s look great on this camera and add the sharpness that the camera wants.
For a relatively inexpensive camera, I may use it for an A camera more than I thought. I'll update this post at a later date with screenshots, some before/after grades, and maybe a trailer. Stay tuned!
Once again, all the photos above are from our wonderful BTS photographer Tyler Porznak.