Blackmagic Design has announced that the ABC’s Indigenous comedy drama, ‘The Warriors’, has been filmed using Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini 4.6K PL as the show’s A camera by DP John Brawley. Brawley also used Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Cameras as secondary cameras on the show. Color correction for the film was completed by Melbourne-based Soundfirm.
The Warriors is an authentic, fresh, funny and poignant take on the often public drama and big business of professional sport – touching on universal themes of identity, belonging, success, failure and the lure of fame. It follows the once-great Warriors Football Club, which pins its hopes and dwindling reputation on three untested rookies and a jaded star. For the untested rookies, Maki, Zane and Scottie, sporting success means leaving home and finding a place in an unfamiliar world. The change is particularly pronounced for the season’s number one draft pick, Maki, who swaps the remote Aboriginal community where he grew up for the bright lights of Melbourne.
Working with vision, speed and an inherently collaborative nature, John Brawley has developed a reputation as one of Australia’s most talented and sought after Directors of Photography. Since graduating with an MA from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, he has built an impressive slate of feature films and television credits, including Queen Of The South, Beautiful Lie, Hunters, Offspring, Puberty Blues, Party Tricks, Underbelly and Hiding.
Filmed on location in Melbourne, as well as the remote Kimberley region, authenticity and naturalism were key elements of ‘The Warriors’ production.
Brawley explained: “Heightened naturalism is what we were going for. We wanted to observe this story and also be IN the story. We wanted the cameras to be reactionary and engaged. To run alongside the play, not just watching from the sidelines. The Blackmagic 4.6K sensor has a great look and I especially love the way it handles skin tone. You don’t really have to do much to get it to sing. This is the first job I’ve done where I’ve used it as the A camera and haven’t been trying to match it to another camera. When you only have the URSA Mini 4.6K to grade you can take your image almost anywhere.”
To ensure authenticity shooting hard hitting game play, Brawley used a number of URSA Mini 4.6K PL cameras, as well as Micro Cinema Cameras, to capture every part of a match and the stars’ reactions during a game. This included views from the ball itself.
“The URSA Mini is a flexible camera. It has a high resolution sensor that has a really great look of it’s own once you set it up. The A and B cameras were built as hand held cameras, and the C and D cameras were built as production mode cameras with larger lenses, rails, extension viewfinders etc. This enabled us to very quickly change between hand held and production mode within the scene.
We used Micro cameras when we couldn’t physically get a 4.6K camera in there. Like as a replacement for a handheld camera that an actor uses and we need to see the footage. Or for security camera footage. We also used a Micro Cinema Camera where it was built into a hollowed out football so we could give the ‘football cam’ to the actors/footballers and they could pass and kick the football giving us a view of the play we would otherwise never have,” continued Brawley.
As many of the cast were first time actors, Brawley tried to cross shoot as much as possible so as to not inhibit their acting and to make sure the priority was always placed on their performance.
“We wanted to make sure we always had a priority on performance. A small agile camera like the URSA Mini 4.6K is perfect because you have much longer endurance for operating hand held without really sacrificing your look. Normally smaller and cheaper cameras come with caveats about lower bit depth codecs, but I was able to shoot ProRes 444 which gives us GREAT flexibility in the grade. It means you can handle mixed lighting more, and those times you sometimes can’t fix things in lighting, you have the extra little safety net of fixing it in the grade,” he said.
The series was shot in some of Australia’s toughest weather, and Brawley relied on URSA Mini 4.6K’s ruggedness to handle any shot.
“We shot in some very difficult conditions for the seventh episode where we travelled to Warmun in the far north west of Australia. Daily temperatures there easily get to mid 40s and the cameras weren’t at all troubled by the heat and dust. In fact over the eight weeks of shooting we had no failures or glitches at all. The cameras didn’t skip a beat and we were shooting easily five to six hours of rushes every day,” said Brawley.