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  • We have some fantastic events coming up, but no confirmed dates yet - watch this space.
  • 07 Jul 2021 6:39 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    With a background as an artist in technical design and visual content creation since 2011, Mads is a Māori filmmaker and emerging cinematographer based out of Christchurch. 

    With strong family ties to both Ngāi Tahu and the Cook Islands, Mads grew up on the road with his mum and brother where he developed a love for film, photography and art. After binging heaps of anime and smashing a degree in 2014, he bootstrapped a startup with two long time friends and Māui Studios was born. 

    Today Māui operates as a creative powerhouse, where he runs a tight knit film production team as creative director. They deliver end to end content solutions in the realm of digital creation, talent discovery and tech exploration so they can give back to the communities and organisations that helped raise them. 

    Mads has been blessed with opportunities to travel through film as a DP on a range of different productions; leading an expedition of Ngāi Tahu youth across Silicon Valley, spontaneous haka on the great wall of China, eating fire ramen in Japan, surviving twenty days across the pacific ocean aboard celestial waka Fa’afaite in the Land of Voyagers and shooting 70+ short stories of indigenous social entrepreneurship in the whānau ora space for Te Waipounamu.

    With aspirations to write and direct his own screenplays and business ambitions to facilitate more productions being led in the South Island, Mads and the team at Māui are launching a Virtual Production Studio right now. They have their LED volume in place and are refining acoustics that will be ready for action any second!  All of which are means to provide innovative and accessible solutions for local and international filmmakers seeking space to shoot their own productions.

    You can check some of Mads work here.

  • 22 Jun 2021 1:51 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    The NZCS recently held a one-day intensive workshop aimed at providing an overview of the Assistant Camera role for those hoping to move from camera trainee to 2nd AC role, or 2nd AC to 1st AC.

    The course was tutored by 1st Assistant Cameraman Michael Paletta, who has worked extensively in the US and NZ. Michael designed the type of course he wished had been available when he was first starting out.  The emphasis was on attitude, professional approach and philosophy of the job, rather than an overly technical session (which would take much longer than a day!)

    Because numbers were limited to a manageable twelve places (to give everyone a chance to participate in the practical exercises) applicants were chosen who the NZCS felt had the right level of previous experience, and a strong desire to make this a serious career path.

    Feedback was very positive from the course and because demand was so high, another course is planned for late August, when Michael finishes a current run of full-time work.

    Here is a sample of the feedback from several participants: 

    “The course was definitely what I expected and super helpful in highlighting the kind of attitude, behaviours and set etiquette needed to get work in this field. I think It was helpful to my career moving forward as it highlighted the differentiation of roles, from trainee to 1st AC, and it also gave a wide overarching insight onto all the different factors required when you’re starting out such as: cold calling, rental house liaison, communication skills and being personable."

    “It was really nice hearing Michael stressing the importance of balancing your work and personal life. I feel like many people in the industry have quite a fanatical work ethic that makes them vulnerable to getting burnt out. It was really refreshing to hear someone like him not say something along the lines of 'you have to tough it out to make it in the industry'.” 

    The course was sponsored by Screen Auckland with venue provided by Unitec Screen Arts. Camera gear was supplied by Imagezone and Topic Rentals. DP’s Will Prosor, Kirk Pflaum and Murray Milne also supplied gear and operated cameras, and Esther Mitchell explained the 2nd AC role. 

  • 31 Mar 2021 2:16 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    A great sadness swept across the industry this week when the family of Paul Richards announced that Paul died peacefully at home on 29th March 2021 surrounded by his loved ones. 

    Paul was one of those people who formed the backbone of the Kiwi screen industry. He always seemed to be there with a calmness, good humour, and a willingness to help that meant a lot to many people.

    At NZCS, Paul was an active committee member, served as a Vice President, and often contributed his gear and facilities with humble generosity. He was a very experienced cinematographer and, more than that, he was our friend. 

    Paul was very proud of how he built up his Nutshell camera rental business. He was very generous with his time and advice, so he helped encourage many young film makers. Paul loved a good yarn over a beer or whiskey, so any visit to Nutshell could take a lot longer than intended!

    His long-serving membership to the NZCS, the Screen Industry Guild and WIFT, demonstrate his great involvement and commitment to our screen community. 

    He will be greatly missed and we send our heartfelt condolences and love to his family and to those closest to him.

    A celebration of Paul's life will be held on Thursday 1 April (tomorrow) at 12 noon, Okahu, 18 Tamaki Drive. For those who can not attend in person, here is a link to the live stream. Instead of flowers, donations would be appreciated to

    Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne
    (the tōtara in the great forest of Tāne has fallen)

  • 26 Mar 2021 10:22 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    The NZCS Cushla Lewis Gender Diversity Program, invites applications for a mid-career female cinematographer attachment on a large international TV series, currently shooting in Auckland.

    The Attachment provides the opportunity to shadow the Director of Photography and experience first-hand aspects of the craft in pre-production planning, studio/location recces, and the on-set shooting process.

    This will be a paid Attachment (details on request) for a maximum duration of fifteen days i.e. 5 days per week for a 3 week period, commencing Monday 19th April. Shooting is already underway and the dates of the specific days can be negotiated around what is suitable for the applicant, but also around what would be a beneficial learning experience. 

    This placement is intended for an Auckland based applicant or for a candidate who can self-accommodate. The selected candidate will be issued a standard contract by the Production and joins the payroll, per other contractors. 

    The aim of the Attachment is to:

    • Up-skill a mid-career female cinematographer and empower with the confidence and ability to contribute to the cinematography of quality future television productions.

    • Provide another training pathway to the limited opportunities currently available. 

    • Note: this is an observational mentorship program and not a creative input opportunity.  

    To be eligible, applicants must:

    • Be a member of the NZCS, and have industry experience in this chosen field.
    • Have a track record of working as an up-and-coming cinematographer on short films, music videos, web series, or other genres.
    • The applicant may possibly not yet have an exclusive career as a director of photography.
    • Note that NZCS committee members will not be denied the opportunity to apply for this position, and will be judged on merit along with all other applicants in a transparent process.

      To apply:

      Please submit the following in electronic form only (Word file or PDF) by 9am Tuesday, 6th April, 2021 to with 'Gender Diversity Attachment' in the subject line:

      • Your NZCS Membership Number
      • A full CV and Filmography including links to your website, selected works or showreels.
      • A reference (from a senior screen industry practitioner)
      • A proposal (maximum of 1-page) outlining why you want to do the Attachment and what you look to achieve from the opportunity.

      A shortlist will be developed from applicants and an interview (online or via phone call) will be required, at which time further details of the production itself will be provided.

      The NZCS gratefully acknowledges the New Zealand Film Commission Capability Fund and participating Production Companies in supporting this program. 

      We look forward to your application.

      Amber Wakefield
      NZCS Executive Officer

    • 09 Mar 2021 10:35 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      Christchurch hosted its second camera workshop in 2020 with a full-day Camera Assists workshop. Taught by accomplished 1st AC Michael Paletta, it was sold out within 48 hours and demonstrated the demand for hands-on concentrated learning, without the pressures of an on set environment.

      Paletta moved here from LA in 2017 and said he wanted to give back to the NZ film industry for 'adopting' him. "It's been a real struggle to find ACs with all the work going on right now, and I wanted to do what I could to help deepen our talent roster." 

      "We approached the workshop from the perspective of, "what are all the things we wished someone had told us before we started in the industry?" So we covered all the basics like how the camera department is structured and functions, how to network, and perhaps most importantly, set etiquette. Then we dove deep into the fundamentals of being an AC. We covered the essentials that need to have in their kit, how to prep a camera package, slating, camera sheets, and gave everyone a crack at pulling focus."

      The workshop was attended by a full range of experience levels, from students to full-time DoPs looking to brush up on knowledge. Caitlin Paul, who is looking to study filmmaking at South Seas next year, found the workshop catered to all experience levels. "Everything was taught in a way which didn't exclude those of us who were less experienced, but was not wasted on those who were experienced." Also among the attendees were sisters Charlotte and Peata Panoho, who traveled down from Blenheim to attend. Charlotte says the workshop helped them fill in the gaps that can often be difficult to grasp when trying to learn in a high-pressure environment. "Communication skills and etiquette that you learn on the job but no one explains beforehand." 

      "It was good to network and see how other people - who do the same thing - do it differently and tips and tricks that I'd not thought of," says Anna Florence, who was looking to perfect her skills as an AC to form a more cohesive team with her DoP. 

      John Chrisstoffels (L) with ARRI Amira, and Charlotte Pãnoho (R)

      Auckland-based DoP Kirk Pflaum helped operate a camera during the workshop, and he hoped that it would help attendees discover "a role with skills and opportunities they might not have known even existed and that AC'ing is a viable career or pathway to being a cinematographer themselves one day." That's a path taken by many, including NZCS President Aaron Morton NZCS who started on 'very' small commercials and short films, slowly getting to know people and learning those important skills he still uses today. "So many of the core skills we need to learn as film technicians are transferable to any level of production."

      Kirk Pflaum (L), course attendee (M), and Michael Paletta (R)

      The changes in the industry due to COVID-19 have placed New Zealand in a unique position as an ideal safe environment to shoot. Morton suggests the eyes of the production world are looking to NZ as a place to shift production to, placing a need for large numbers of crew ready to go. "Right now there is a huge demand for crew, across many levels of production. We are becoming a very popular place to shoot given the precarious nature of the shooting environments offshore." 

      John Chrisstoffels (L) and John Ross (R) operate cameras for the course participants

      With the expected increase in productions, there has never been a more important time for proper training, to grow the film industry at all levels. "Any and all training opportunities in the AC role, whether grassroots, on the job, or at a formal education provider is important to maintain a good level of skilled crew to sustain a growing industry in NZ." Says Pflaum. 

      Following on from the success of the Christchurch workshop, plans are being worked on to share knowledge across the country to foster industry development from the ground up. NZCS President Aaron Morton says "The NZCS is here to support the art of Cinematography, training people to be awesome, to enjoy, and to elevate the art form, is why we're here." 

      ~ Written by John Ross ~

      ~ Stills photo credit go to: Andrei Talili ~

    • 09 Mar 2021 10:20 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      Charlotte Panoho, from Marlborough, attended the NZCS Assistant Camera workshop with her sister, hoping to gain answers in preparing for her first camera assistant job on a feature film.

      As Peata (my younger sister) and I departed Blenheim, a glorious sun rose over the Pacific Ocean, radiantly greeting us as we entered Kaikoura and keeping us company all the way down to Christchurchʼs CBD. Our call time at Lightworks Studio was 0945. Upon arrival we met two other young women and joined a friendly crowd being ushered into a low lit studio to be seated before our hosts.

      Michael Paletta, first assistant cameraman and designer of the course, was introduced to us before beginning his powerpoint presentation. He offered experience and advice from years of working in the industry, with content ranging from schedule management and networking, to perspective and survival in the industry. Each tip was accompanied by helpful anecdotes and a good measure of common sense. My favorite slide, his on-set etiquette, included points such as “if youʼre on time youʼre late” and “no call outs and bus throws” (incidentally I had a literal near-miss bus experience only a few weeks later). A “can do” attitude is everything.

      The second part of the workshop took us through a day in the life of a camera assistant. Covering rental houses, camera kit, and tasks, Michael and the team enacted many of the varied scenarios that would take place on the job and responded to questions from us all. At this point I found serious blanks in my knowledge. Only a few ʻtermsʼ from my theatre technician background could be transferred to my new camera assistant role (eg... “barn door” is the theatre equivalent of “top chop” etc...). The topics and different techniques presented were comprehendible but until you are ʻonsetʼ there is nothing that can really prepare you for this part of the job.

      My old arch-enemies - self doubt and ʻfear of failureʼ, started getting the better of me… until I heard Michael tell a story of dropping a filter early in his career and still being cautious 10 years later. Evidently, even the best make mistakes! More juicy stories involving mistakes, hazards and injuries kept us thoroughly engaged and my fears gave way to an appreciation and renewed passion for film-making.

      Having worked as a 2nd AC recently, I wish now that I could revisit this particular part of the workshop. Experience makes all the difference in retaining new lingo, which my oversaturated brain was at first impervious to.

      The final section of the workshop was a real-life studio shoot which gave us all the practical hands-on opportunities we needed, to apply what we had learnt.

      Rotating around the studio set, each one of us practiced slating, calling, marking and focus pulling with personal tuition from Michael, Zac and the rest of the team. This one-on-one tuition was possibly the biggest highlight of the workshop.

      For me the kinesthetic learning on this course was really helpful. Onset a few weeks later, I started to proactively assist the 1st AC with marks. If I hadn't observed the laser measure being demoed in the workshop and practiced it myself on course, it would have taken me some time to realise what the 1st AC was actually doing. While everyone was taking turns onset we had opportunity to meet others and make some valuable connections. The age range of attendees was diverse, and professions represented included videographers, photographers, actors, signwriters, business owners and students. I enjoyed having a laugh with the creatives from Maui Studios, the first film makers I have come across to work fully immersed in te reo Maori.

      By the end of the day, the room was buzzing and people were reluctant to leave. We exchanged email addresses (or instagram accounts) and farewelled our new film buddies, camaraderie already evident after only a few hours together.

      Jumping back in the car, we headed up north to Kaikoura again for a late dinner, finally reaching home around midnight and falling into bed exhausted, but content. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Definitely.

      This workshop was an informative, productive, professional rundown of a 1st ACʼs working life and the opportunity to apply new information in a “real-life” studio shoot. I gained a confidence to be better prepared onset and was reassured that the most helpful asset that I can cultivate is a positive, teachable, “can-do” attitude.

      Charlotte Panoho ~

    • 26 Feb 2021 10:31 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      NZCS accreditation is recognition as a master cinematographer with a substantive body of work that reaches a consistently high, world-class standard. A prestigious accomplishment which ordinarily we would celebrate out our black-tie Awards ceremony, which was deferred last year due to Covid-19.

      NZCS accreditation is not easily achieved. It recognises professional accomplishment within the field or genre in which you work and the letters 'NZCS' after your name is seen locally and internationally as recognition of skill and experience. 

      Therefore it gives us great pleasure to announce the 2020 recipients:

      • Mark Lapwood NZCS ACS
      • Neil Cervin NZCS BCS
      • Jacob Bryant NZCS

      Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition!

      Special thanks to the Accreditation Committee 2020: Murray Milne NZCS (Chair), Denson Baker NZCS ACS, Sigi Spath NZCS, John Toon NZCS, David Paul NZCS, James Cowley NZCS and Richard Bluck NZCS.

      You can find out details about how to apply for 2021 accreditation here

      To view a full list of our Accredited members, click on the link here

    • 05 Nov 2020 12:55 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      On Tuesday 27th the NZCS along with Big Picture and Optic Shock hosted a dynamic evening showcasing the latest in LED Virtual Background technology.

      NZCS members gathered to learn from experts Ross Mackay, David Eversfield and Paul Carpe about the hardware involved. 

      Plus acclaimed Cinematographer Dave Garbett and his lead tech on ‘Sweet Tooth’ Olivier Jean spoke from a Cinematography perspective about their discoveries in these new ways of transplanting characters and props into alternative environments. 

      Thanks to Sponsor Panavision NZ participants were able to experiment using an Arri Amira with Primo lenses to capture images of our lovely model Sam in front of a desert landscape in the Avondale Big Picture facility. We were able to adjust the LED screen brightness, key and fill lighting along with camera settings and virtual tracking capabilities to create the most believable results on screen. 

      All in all, it was a very inspiring experience to see these tools in action and gain some hands-on experience with what very well may become standard issue tools in the future of film production. 

      Thanks to all who helped make this event possible. If you'd like to find out more about this technology, please let us know by emailing

    • 09 Oct 2020 12:45 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      By Trevor Hogg, special to Canadian Cinematographer Society
      With permission to re-publish from the Canadian Cinematographer Society

      Photo credit: Mayo Hint

      First appearing in New Teen Titans #21 (1982), Vanessa Van Helsing has graduated from comic books to carrying on the family tradition of eradicating vampires on the small screen in an American-Canadian co-production that is airing its fifth and final season on Syfy. Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men) created Van Helsing and was subsequently replaced in Season Four by Jonathan Walker (Wu Assassins). Also changing over up on the mythology of vampires and Van Helsing by re-watching some of the classics, such as Nosferatu and Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola,” Uegama explains. “I spent many hours gathering references and narrowed down hundreds of images for a look book that I presented to everyone. We tested a lot of things, such as blood, vampire makeup, and lighting them with firelight and sidelight.

      Credit: Courtesy of Nomatic Pictures
      Kelly Overton as Vanessa Van Helsing in Van Helsing, Season 1.

      Since it was a post-apocalyptic world and there was no power in the cities in our storyline, shooting night scenes in the course of the series have been the cinematographers, with Brendan Uegama csc (Child’s Play) being responsible for Seasons One and Two, associate member Ronald Richard (Dangerous Lies) shooting Season Three, Gerald Packer csc (Schitt’s Creek) lensing Season Four, and Neil Cervin csc (Arrow) taking charge of Season Five. “For the pilot, my research started with freshening the city could not be accomplished at true night due to the thousands of city lights we would need to paint out. Day for night became our solution.” Four weeks were spent in prep with director Michael Nankin (Stargirl), while principal photography for the pilot lasted 21 days. “Michael and I decided to allow scenes to play out and not get into ‘traditional coverage’ if we could avoid it,” Uegama states. “We talked about the characters’ emotional arc and if something was important to really highlight it, we would talk about how to do so.”

      Credit: Daniel Power
      (L-R) Camera operator Glen Dickson, Brendan Uegama CSC, and director Kaare Andrews

      The aspect ratio was 1.78:1, while footage was captured 5K and often with three cameras. Seasons One and Two were captured on RED DRAGON cameras with Ultra Prime lenses, according to Uegama. Production was based in Vancouver. “Our studio was the old Canada Post building located right downtown,” the DP says. “Production designer James Hazell [Siren] built most of our sets for the first half of the season there. Story-wise, the characters were living in an abandoned hospital in downtown Seattle. At the end of Episode 107, they need to escape the hospital, and we spend the remaining episodes of the season on the road.” A constant from the beginning of Van Helsing has been lead actress Kelly Overton, who was pregnant while shooting the second season. “Kelly is a rock star,” Uegama remarks. “She would come in and do her work day after day. Our typical approach was to shoot out her dialogue or any shots we would see her face, then let her go, and clean up the scenes with her double. On a visual side, we had to try and be as conscious as possible at hiding her belly. Wardrobe helped the best they could by dressing her in black with a partial cloak that would help hide from side angles.”

      Blood, gore and violence are natural extensions of the subject matter. “We wanted to make sure the blood read on screen, but we wanted to keep it darker when used on vampires and redder when it came from humans,” Uegama says. “We also decided in prep that we wouldn’t use squibs for any gunshots. We knew right away that would always be done with visual effects. But when it came to blood on an actor or on the ground, we used a lot of it! As for the gore and violence, the network wanted it to be gory.”

      Using the visual language established by Uegama as a guide, Richard took over for Season Three. “I knew Brendan from shooting second unit on Riverdale and talked to him about the process for Van Helsing,” Richard recalls. “Neil LaBute loves doing things that he hasn’t done before, which opened a giant sandbox for me as a DP. I told him what I liked and would do differently. I wanted to have long takes and lots of camera movement accelerating the story forward. I do a lot of gimbal on a pipe where you treat it like a Technocrane that can go anywhere except vertically. We would elaborate and create these long shots. Neil liked that approach. We were in a doctor’s office set and I remember looking through an orange needle tray with the camera to see what that would look like. Neil loved it and said, ‘Let’s make a filter out of that piece of plastic.’ He wanted it burned in.”

      Credit: Courtesey Nomadic Pictures
      Aleks Paunovic as Julian in Van Helsing, Season 2

      Six days of principal photography were devoted to each episode. “There was no alternating DP, so a lot of it was based on instinct because you would only get to prep ahead so far,” Richard says. “Your gaffer and key grip would come back, and the production designer would show you a couple of photos. You would have to come up with a plan for what you’re going to do in three days when you go and shoot there without ever seeing the location.”

      Shooting blocks were determined by locations rather than episodic order. “The show was literally 90 per cent location shooting, and they would augment by putting in or changing a wall. It was hard because you’re limited by where the windows are, and you can’t pop in a ceiling. The production designer [Grant Pearse] made sure that I had options,” Richard offers.

      Credit: Courtesey of Nomadic Pictures
      Van Helsing, Season 3.

      A big change in Season Three was the emergence of Daywalkers, which meant that the series was no longer confined to nighttime settings. “It opened the door for us to embrace sunlight,” Richard eplains. “Shooting outdoors was faster as I didn’t have to set up a bunch of stuff. You position things according to the sun; that was the hardest part with some directors as the sun would be in the wrong spot for the blocking that they had in mind.” 

      Credit: Courtesy Ronald Richard
      (L-R) Ronald Richard with director, Jason Priestley on the set of Van Helsing, Season 3

      The footage was captured with the ALEXA Mini camera and ARRI Master Primes lenses. “I wanted to shoot with a lower light and shallow depth of field, so I upgraded to the Master Primes,” he explains. “It has the same look as the Ultra Primes, but you can shoot a lot faster. We used wide lenses for 80 per cent of the show.” Problems were solved by creative solutions. “It stimulates you in a way that is enjoyable. Van Helsing embraced the risk because the potential reward was greater than playing the safe way.”

      Replacing Richard for Season Four was Packer, who got to work with new showrunner Jonathan Walker. “Jonathan wanted to change things up a lot. It was a whole new crew; he and [executive producer] Michael Frislev wanted more camera movement and more fights handheld,” Packer recalls. “Just more immediate frenetic stuff. We followed lighting and certain things, like the last episode of Season Three was a cliffhanger where they are fighting in a mausoleum, and Episode 401 picks up in the middle of that fight.”

      Credit: Courtesy Nomadic Pictures
      (L-R) Aleks Paunovic as Julius and Rowland Pidlubny as Scab in Season 4. 

      A significant story decision was made with the focus shifting towards the children of Vanessa Van Helsing hunting vampires, he adds. “There is a lot of license for what you can do once you start changing the story. However, you don’t want to change everything when you have three seasons of fans.”

      Lighting is essential in retaining a consistent look going from director to director. “A lot of directors are going to have their own ideas about how they want to cover a scene,” Packer observes. “You have a time limit, so you try to do it as economically as possible.” There was a balance shift in favour of studio shooting with the production being based in Surrey, B.C. “I used an ALEXA Mini and had a set of Leica Summilux lenses. We used a Ronin on a crane, dolly and handheld or on a SlingShot rig,” he says. “When using the Ronin, you have to rebalance it every time you put a new lens on. But you can pop Simmilux lenses off in moments without adjusting. The camera was always moving. I wanted to get some nice staccato images. We tried to get a lot of coverage for the action and worked with two cameras all of the time, plus a third for fights. I had a 29 mm right in there to get a closeup and moved the camera with the actors as they fought.”

      Credit: David Power
      Gerald Packer CSC (right) and a camera assistant on the set of Van Helsing, Season 4

      Fights are trademark of Van Helsing, with stunt visualization put together by the stunt department. “With stunts and fights you have to get the right angle so that the punches look like they’re actual punches not Batman and Robin stuff,” Packer notes. “What was great about the stunt guys is that they really understood where a punch did and didn’t work and knew where the camera should be.”

      Various methods were deployed to distinguish between the past, present and future. “For the past, I desaturated the colours, had more contrast and a different blue than was in the room. It was treated again in post. The director wanted to do the flashback episode in one take, so the 42-minute show is a series of seven one-ers. It added a whole level of tension. It makes you feel that you’re in the room with these girls getting chased by zombies.”

      Reflecting on Season Four, Packer adds, “The biggest challenge was getting the work done and the right amount of footage during the day. You had to keep moving forward.”

      Credit: Courtesy Nomadic Pictures
      Keeya King as Violet Van Helsing in Season 4.

      After lensing episodes for Seasons Two, Three and Four, Cervin – who this summer won a Leo Award for Best Cinematography Dramatic Series for the Season Four episode “Miles and Miles” – was in the midst of shooting the fifth and final season when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the production. “I shot Episodes 501, 502 and 503 in Slovakia before they closed that country down, and I got involved with the Kamloops, B.C., shoot where we did episodes 505 and 506. Afterwards I got asked to do the rest of the show.”

      Often shots were combined, and the resolution went from 4K to 6K if a frame was going to be extracted later in postproduction. “There was one scene that we were doing in Kamloops last year where the sun was going in and out of clouds, so I had an 18K in line with the sun,” Cervin recalls. “It was the only way to keep it going and stay on schedule.”

      Tricia Helfer as Dracula in Van Helsing, Season 5.

      The camera package was altered for the principal photography in Slovakia as the scenes take place during the Middle Ages. “Most of it was going to be shot with candles and moonlight,” Cervin explains. “It’s a vampire show so there were going to be a lot of night shoots. I went for a camera that would give me 6K, which was the RED MONSTRO with a Helium sensor that actually does 8K and looks good in low light. I used Vantage lenses that are T1, which is amazing because normally lenses are T1.4. I got those for the big castle exteriors. When we were doing stuff in the castles I was going for wide lenses, 12 mm, 14 mm and 17 mm. These castles were the most amazing locations that I’ve ever been in my life.” Lighting needed to be augmented. “There are these fantastic lights made by Astera called Titan and Helios,” he says. “The Titan is a 4-foot tube and the Helios is a 2-foot tube; they throw out a bit of light, come with some light controls, you can put eight of the four-footers in one big soft light rig, which a guy can pick up with one hand, and both of them have internal batteries that can last for ages. The Astera tubes were nicer than actual candlelight flicker and are easy to rig.”

      Following the COVID-19 film production lockdown, the remaining episodes were set to be captured with a revamped camera system. “We are getting lovely images from the Sony FX9, but it’s not as production friendly as the VENICE,” Cervin states. “It does 6K but samples down to 4K. We’re shooting Super 35 all the way through.” The camera change will not be visually jarring as the rest of the season occurs in the future. “We’re also going to be using a Z CAM. It’s made in China and has 15 stops of latitude. It’s basically a 3-inch cube with a hole for a PL lens mount. We’re going to use that on a Ronin. It’s such a tiny camera that it can go anywhere; that’s 6K and is connected to a wireless.”

      Credit: Mayo Hirc
      (L-R) Director Jonathan Scarfe and Neil Cervin CSC on the set of Van Helsing, Season 5.

      Life on set has been impacted by the pandemic. “The crew is coping well with the COVID-19 protocols. Keeping safe distance when we can, always wearing face masks and lots of handwashing. We all know that it is in our best interest to shoot safely,” he says.

    • 07 Sep 2020 10:03 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

      If you follow our NZCS Instagram account, you will be familiar with our recent host, cinematographer Joel Froome ACS.

      Joel is an accredited member of the Australian Cinematographers Society and has been working as a professional cinematographer since the start of 2010. 

      Joel's Dad is from NZ and he still has lots of family over here, so NZ is a very big part of his life and he really wants to be more involved with the industry here and therefore joined the NZCS.

      You can check out his website, with a showreel and full length work here

      You can also check out his IMDb here

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