With a switch from film to HD, one has to ask: How was it setting the scene to record on a 35mm-sized sensor with an estimated latitude of almost 10 stops in a true 4:4:4 RGB array?
“The first thing that springs to mind is keeping control of the highlights through windows because we like to show outside views that pop with blue skies,” says Glassing. “It was a concern at first, but the Genesis handles it well. We’ve adapted the camera settings to the CSI: Miami look. I think the episodes we’re producing this season are phenomenal, now that we understand the potential of this camera.”
But hiccups do occur, including one day when shooting at 12 fps with a 90-degree shutter—a look that creates the familiar flashback sequences featured regularly in the show…at least that was the assumption.
“It just didn’t look right when we watched it,” admits Glassing. “Then we realized an accidental flick of a switch on the camera left us rolling at 29.97 fps instead. But small problems are to be expected with any new setup. You garner the info, slide it in your pocket and remember it when you’re back shooting a similar scene.”
Previous seasons shot on film required a colorist to color-correct each day’s footage, later distributed as dailies on set via DVD. One notable change this season has been the erasure of the colorist for a digital imaging technician using Technicolor’s DP Lights system. “Manipulating the image on set with DP Lights feels like you’re in a telecine bay,” says Glassing, who was very impressed with Technicolor’s hands-on system. “It really allows you to get what you want. In a way, it’s unified the look on the show because the image and manipulation that we create on the set become the guidelines tracked right through to post. At the end of the day, it gives me more creative control as a cinematographer, so it’s an invaluable tool.”
As with many digital productions, anxiety using the Genesis on CSI: Miami turned out not to be so much behind the camera as in front of it. “The principal actors were understandably concerned switching to digital after so many years of familiarity with film,” says Glassing. “But we tested the camera, and they all saw the footage and expressed how much they liked the look. They’d actually never looked better on the show.”
That’s because Glassing focused on using bigger, softer key lights for the actors, with specific filtration, to boot. “I found this created a very nice feel on the Genesis,” he says. “For basic diffusion, I had to take it up a notch—1⁄2 [Schneider] Classic Soft filters for wide shots—and bump down to 1⁄4 Classic for close-up work. The [Tiffen] Black Pro-Mist also works great for a softer overall look. Now I try to shoot everything in backlight, whereas before on film, a touch of fill on someone’s face would do the trick.”