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NZ Film ‘The Vampire Next Door’ Sinks Teeth into Blackmagic Workflow

Blackmagic Design has announced that New Zealand Son Films used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera to shoot “The Vampire Next Door” horror film. The film, which was also graded using DaVinci Resolve and Blackmagic Cloud, is the latest in a string of horror and comedy films from the prolific filmmakers, who have made 16 feature films since 2015 that have been viewed by millions of people around the world.

Starring Alex Matthews, Jessica Ferguson and Bella Chadwick, “The Vampire Next Door” is a coming of age horror film that follows 20-year-old Cameron as he discovers he has a female vampire, Victoria, living next door who enlists him to help her avenge the murder of a former lover. Cameron, who is also desperately in love with his high school crush Diane, reluctantly agrees and goes along on the adventure, until he discovers all is not what it seems.

The film from Sean and Taylor King, the father and son founders of New Zealand Son Films, is now available around the world on a number of global streaming services. Together they have written, directed and produced all of the company’s films, which can be seen in 160 countries on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Tubi, Flix, Plex, and 16 other platforms.

Both filmmakers take pride in creating films with blockbuster quality visuals at independent film budgets, mixing physical and digital effects and using different visual styles, such as shooting their recent film noir “Devil in a Dress” in black and white.

Sean described their process for creating the look of the film: “For ‘The Vampire Next Door,’ we wanted to create our own lore. Without spoiling anything, our goal was to have Victoria and Diane be variations of past vampires in film, with subtle differences in features between the two.

“We started playing with a look for the film in Resolve months before production and would pull in stills from films we liked in these genres to see how they looked on the scopes. Then we did some lighting tests and using that footage, created a LUT in Resolve to load into our Pocket Cinema Camera 6K.”

Shot almost entirely with the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K paired with vintage Nikon manual lenses, the majority of “The Vampire Next Door” was shot at night or in low light situations. The film also includes a large number of moving car shots, fight scenes and has a mix of practical and VFX work. It was shot in 6K 5:1 compression and delivered in 4K and 2:35 formats. The versatility of the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K was an important reason why the filmmakers used it on “The Vampire Next Door.”

“‘The Vampire Next Door’ was shot with the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K using a variety of rigging. Steadicam, car mounted, a crane, sliders and a monopod were used a lot for small camera moves. The size of the camera allowed us to move it quickly and get it in tight places,” Sean said.

“For the car shots, we used a 60W LED mounted to the hood for a face fill light. For the basement shots, we used small tube lights mounted to the ceiling with some flickering and others for colour. And during a big fight scene, we had the Pocket 6K on a gimbal and monopod. Taylor could push in or pull back to create more action in the frame. The scene was lit with candles, practicals in the lamps and one soft box,” he added.

The workflow between Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and DaVinci Resolve gave the filmmakers a lot of options for creating scenes, especially with shooting at night or in low light situations. This was especially important since any vampire film needs to embrace the art of working in the near dark.

“We found that even in scenes where the actor was moving from dark to light, by overexposing the actor’s face by one stop, the dark areas would have very little noise. In Resolve during post production, any noise that was left was easily removed with the combination of noise reduction tools that Resolve has built in. And with the Pocket’s large image, we could reframe and push in shots during post.”

For drone shots that were done with a different camera, the Kings also relied on DaVinci Resolve to make sure the footage perfectly matched the look of the film shot on Blackmagic Design cameras. By using DaVinci Resolve’s colour management features and creating a node tree, they could quickly apply a set look to all drone footage, saving time better used for creative editing instead of repetitive matching of each shot.

Taylor explained: “We started using Blackmagic cameras in 2017 because of price, and they gave us the most value for the money. We’ve stuck with the cameras because of the look and reliability. Over the last seven years, we’ve shot in South America, Europe and all over the US. From the Mojave Desert in summer to below freezing temperatures, the cameras have never failed to perform.”

“‘The Vampire Next Door’ is our 16th film using Blackmagic cameras. The skin tones look great and the workflow from camera to Resolve is seamless. Over the years, Blackmagic keeps improving the colour science, and now with Blackmagic RAW combined with cloud proxies, our workflow is more streamlined than ever,” he concluded.

Visit https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/ for more information.

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