Chingay 2014: The Dragonmen

Presenting “The Chingay Dragon Men”.
We learnt a fair bit from this shoot in terms of shoot approach, and post production challenges as below.

The lens did make a difference. The image contrast right out of the camera was GOOD. Pulling focus was really an art. We are used to DSLR lens and while the use of a follow focus while easy to master, we were not used to the sheer amount of precision we had on our fingertips. The CP2 is after all a cinema lens and not really designed for run and gun work. The images do tell us why many would go for it. These badies have really sexy bokeh! Refer to the interview shot.

The setup on a shoulder rig was also something to get used to. In short I wasn’t really fit enough to handle a 8kg load for long. Now I know why ENG style cameramen are mostly tall with broad shoulders! We used the 15mm and 50mm prime most of the time. There were not that heavy and I was able to get pretty usable shots shoulder mounted. In fact, it would be nice to own some =p

The 70-200mm was amazingly smooth but quite a bazooka at 2.8kg. The pain was we had to keep up with the dragon, and it was really tough to shoot shoulder mounted due to the weight (and panting from the running). So we improvised on the fly with a monopod that helped a lot in getting some smooth pans. The zoom was really handy. I was initially concerned that at F2.9, it wasn’t going to be up to speed in those lighting conditions. Fortunately I was wrong. The myriad of lighting did not cause problems for the lens and camera. Luckily we were on 50Mbps Canon Log which helped a lot in post.

The rig was a killer. I loved the Zacuto grip relocator. It allowed me to control the Aperture and ISO  which was all I needed. The focus puller is a really clever design. Only problem was the shoulder rig with the counterbalance was killing me after 4hours. Also, it was not possible to put the rig on the ground. An electronic eye piece would have helped a lot but I had cleverly declined the HDMI cable Cathay offered and only realizing I had the wrong connectors on my cable when I got to site.

I was disappointed with the response from the camera for the interview segment. There were some peaks which ruined the audio as it was set in auto. I should have been on manual gain. I had made the decision not to bring our awesome new field mixer as our grip was really part of the performers, so we could not carry so many things on the run. Jonathan Ho looked like a Ninja turtle with our lens bag and he had to shoot the BTS!

Grading in Resolve was easier in V10. (we started in V8). All we did was to apply the C-log LUT, and add some curves and improve some skin tones. We went for a saturated look this time as the entire parade was really a riot of colours. Have to admit we still have a long way to go to master the software. Will share some of the pre and post grade look in the BTS later but the great combination of the C300+CP2 showed its awesomeness in post. I now wonder what the BMCC would have turned out like in that situation…  next time…

Story wise was pretty much on the fly. Didn’t have time for some prior research but thanks to Chief Instructor Roger Ting’s detailed explanation on their history with Chingay, we were able to piece the story together. Did help that I’m also from the lion/dragon dancing fraternity. One regret was these troupers were real shy and it was hard to get more interviewees. We witnessed a lot of camaraderie, friendship, hardwork, teamwork, etc. It was like a reunion where members young and old, and friends from overseas as well getting together to put up a great show.

Hope you enjoy the video like we did shooting it.

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