A significant gap in the industry has been identified when concerned with “Virtual Production Capabilities” in New Zealand. Most training institutes and programs only focus on using game engine technologies for teaching game development.
In contrast, the film and media industry only focus on the traditional Camera, Scriptwriting, Lights, Acting and Art Departments, which has created a void for the emerging field of Virtual production and the talent who understands the complexities of bridging the gap between traditional storytelling mediums and gamification.
As a think tank training program, Virtual Production Dojo aims to fill this void by offering hands-on training in Virtual Production and Gamification, and more significantly, supporting the ethnic communities in New Zealand and globally.
The program aims to add resilience and confidence in the next generation of graduates and those ready for a career change, bringing a more resilient and curious talent pool into the market prepared for the coming age of virtual production, animation, gamification, and mixed entertaining experiences by building Virtual Production Capabilities and talent pool and engaging Ethnic Communities and provide better economic growth opportunities.
For anyone who may be considering to upskill in the emerging field of Virtual Production they are currently accepting enrolments for their pilot program starting in September 2021.
More information about Virtual Production Dojo and the Training Program can be found here: https://virtualproductiondojo.com/
WELLINGTON - Friday 13th August
AUCKLAND - Friday 27th August
The ScreenSafe/SWAG Screen Industry Professional Respect Training Project – is back up and running for 2021.
The ScreenSafe/SWAG Professional Respect Training Project was developed to support WORKSAFE's health & safety guidelines around harassment.
The course will address predominately sexual harassment and also includes bullying, harassment, definitions, disclosures, and respectful behaviours in the workplace. Be a part of this screen sector culture change and help make the sector a safe environment for everyone.
The initiative designed and implemented by ScreenSafe and SWAG, and with the financial support from NZ Film Commission, NZ on Air and Te Māngai Pāho.
ScreenSafe and SWAG encourage everyone in a position of responsibility to upskill accordingly.
To secure your seat, please email the details below to firstname.lastname@example.org
Date and town of workshop:
Company (if relevant):
Preferred role title:
Numbers for each workshop are limited to 24, so book your space now.
Time: 8.45am arrival for a 9am start – 5pm
Note: This workshop focuses on sexual harassment prevention within the Screen Industry. If you would like to talk with someone about the content of the training and the safety of participants during the workshop, please contact Kelly Lucas at ScreenSafe (email@example.com ) or our independent Sexual Harm Prevention Specialist and Workshop Facilitator Rachel Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jaron Presant ACS, international cinematographer from L.A.
In June Christchurch was fortunate to have Jaron Presant ASC share a conversation around XY Chromaticity and it’s uses. After being in NZ for nine months, Presant found a gap in his schedule to hold a conversation with some local cinematographers.
After production on the Apple TV+ production Mr Corman, Los Angeles was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presant found himself relocating, along with production, to New Zealand.
An attempt to restart production in LA under COVID-19 protocols proved too costly and the decision was made to shift the production to New Zealand, with Wellington doubling as San Francisco. “It was a difficult task to say the least, but that process I think made us really focus in on what aspects of the environment were critical to the story and in what way.” Says Presant, “I think the show benefited a great deal from the shift even beyond the obvious ease of process.” From there Presant jumped from Mr Corman into another international Amazon production, Don’t Make Me Go.
And it’s not just the ease of process that has won him over. Presant says that the crews here have been so creatively engaged and unbelievable to work with. “It’s been an absolute pleasure and at the end of long days I looked around to see a group of faces, all of which I would gladly go spend an evening with.”
Local cinematographer Bevan Crothers was second unit DP on the production and suggested that while the shoot was fast paced at times it gave a real insight into the "vision, experiences and processes of Jaron Presant ASC."
Bevan Crothers, Cinematographer and NZCS committee member
“I feel like that’s the goal of any group one puts together, that you can go through massively stressful scenarios together and still want to hang out.” Says Presant. The New Zealand scenery was not lost on Presant, calling it ‘unbelievably inspiring’ during his two week break and extensive scout. “I spent my down time seeing the West Coast of the North Island and a large journey around the South Island. Across the board New Zealand is so stunning, and also so varied.”
While in New Zealand, Presant had an opportunity in his schedule to share some of his extensive knowledge with the local Christchurch cinematography community. New NZCS member Simon Waterhouse had nothing but praise for the evening describing the knowledge shared as a real treat. “I'm a new member, so this was my first NZCS event - being in Christchurch we don't get much exposure to the wider industry so it was lovely to meet some NZCS regulars.”
Attendees gather at the venue foyer, with an opportunity to network and socialise.
The topic of the night, lighting using XY Chromaticity coordinates, which Presant described as the most exciting part of the cinematography of today. “With new technology comes new forms of control. Running lights in xy modes, where the color is determined by a chromaticity coordinate on the CIE Yxy graph, allows us to color match instantly and accurately like we have never done before.
Waterhouse says of his biggest takeaway, “I found it really enlightening seeing the industry shift towards RGB sources and the supporting technology. I'm definitely keen to explore shifting my lighting workflow towards XY controllable sources.”
Jaron Presant ACS
While the excitement of colour and light control was a hot topic, it was met with the broader context of pipeline control. “With all new technology, our job is being split farther across the entire production process, spreading forward into prep with pre-visualization and virtual production and farther into post with all the nuanced color correction and vfx we can do. It’s still our job to control the image and to me, our job is to follow that image from conception through presentation.” He says developing a deep understanding of how a camera responds to light and the corrections planned for before final display is the key to allow a cinematographer to be artistic with confidence.
The event was extremely well received, with Bree Loverich of Screen CanterburyNZ in attendance, saying the evening was a “fantastic opportunity to learn more about the craft from such an internationally accomplished DOP, but also a great chance to network and be part of the growing screen community in Christchurch.”
Perpetual learning is something Presant is especially passionate about. “I think that the process of learning is integral to the art of cinematography. Every job I’m trying to test something new, try something we haven’t done before. We have to keep learning, keep pressing forward into new areas, and part of that process is passing on what we learn to others. I make it a point of teaching when I am not working, whether through universities, film schools, film festivals or mentorships. My hope is that those that I teach go and learn on their own and then come back and teach me something. That’s the goal - that we all move forward learning together.”
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.
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.
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 melanoma.org.nz/donate
Kua hinga te tōtara o Te Waonui a Tāne
(the tōtara in the great forest of Tāne has fallen)
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:
Please submit the following in electronic form only (Word file or PDF) by 9am Tuesday, 6th April, 2021 to email@example.com with 'Gender Diversity Attachment' in the subject line:
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.
NZCS Executive Officer
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 ~
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 ~
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:
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
Ariel Camera LimitedCR Kennedy NZ Ltd
Māui Virtual Production Ltd
Prices include GST© 2008- 2021 New Zealand Cinematographers Society