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Going Fast and Furious with Reds and Celeb 250s

Going Fast and Furious with Reds and Celeb 250s

Film producer Lars Sylvest has a successful track record producing features with stars such as Sandra Bullock, Kevin Bacon and Kurt Russell but he’s long harboured a passion project to share his hobby and interest in luxury sports cars.

Last year he set up Superfast Productions in with Rob Young, one of the world’s leading automotive tuners, to develop the concept into a series of documentary features. They brought on board Wheeler Dealers creator Daniel Allum as creative director.

“We wanted to show the meticulous approach to automotive engineering and the skillsets of UK automotive industry which is unique worldwide,” explains Sylvest. “Eighty five per cent of every component of a F1 car is designed and manufactured by UK firms in a small radius around Oxford. The level of ingenuity is astonishing.”

For the first Superfast feature the production filmed Young in his workshop dismantling a Porsche GT2 – already an extremely highly engineered vehicle - and tuning it up to 900 hp.

 

“We wanted our documentary to reflect the aspirational quality of the super fast sports car and the high-tech approach to modelling, building and re-engineering them which is why we wanted to film this cinematically,” says Sylvest.

The DP chose to shoot with his own camera which was a Red Scarlet-W and in order to match with the DP’s own camera, VMI supplied a Red Dragon camera kit, filters and tonnes of Anton Bauer batteries.  VMI’s media rental arm, VMEDIA were able to supply a RED Minimag SSD side module to fit to the earlier DSMC1 cameras in order for them to use the latest Minimag storage which was important for the production’s data storage demands.

The lenses selected were Leica Summicron C T2 film primes. The principal configuration was a 25mm lens on a gimbal with Red Scarlet-W’s sidekick interface. Occasionally DP Ben Scott used 35mm lenses with the second Scarlet fitted with 75mm or 100mm.  He tended to stay around T2.8 unless low light required opening up more. 

Aware of the data demands of shooting at 6K, they elected to shoot at 5K for a 4K finish with occasional 6K shots and also used a Flowcine Serene Arm on a hydraulic riser on a Ford pickup for driving shots, two additional Red Weapons, a second unit drone team under command of Primary Drift and some Lumix GH4s used for some bolt-on shots on track days.

For lighting, VMI supplied 4 x Kino Celeb 250s which had recently arrived.  Like the ARRI Skypanels and Litepanel Geminis, these punchy LED 1x1 LED soft lights offer variable colour temperature and gel simulation and were remotely controlled from a DMX desk which VMI also supplied.

“The Celeb 250 LEDs allowed us to arrange for a permanent, controllable and consistently even lighting in the workshop/studio,” explains Sylvest.  “The Celebs were mounted from the ceiling and therefore enable us to move setups freely which, in turn, saved a lot of time.”

The greatest challenge lay in filming at high speeds with the cameras onboard the Porsche.  In order to withstand the increased acceleration and deceleration forces resulting from the much heavier cameras and lenses (which combined weighed over 10kg) custom made rigs were supplied from Extreme Facilities.

“We were filming at 200mph which is unknown territory for most cameras,” says Sylvest. “The cameras needed to be stable at those speeds which is why we needed a bespoke rig.”

The production shot on roads in Anglesey, and on a former airfield in Essex. “The result looks really cinematic and the driving shots in particular are of a look and style wouldn’t look out of place in The Fast and the Furious.”

Superfast was post-produced and given a HDR grade at Silverglade in London. The director is Nick Wilkinson, and the producers are Sylvest and Young.

“Superfast is our template for what we aim to be a growing series of films about different sports car models and the skills of the teams who design and drive them,” says Sylvest. “Basically, we are documenting the build of one car at a time as a glossy hour-long mini-feature.”

 

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