All posts by alisterchapman

IRATA Rope Access – Why?

I recently completed an IRATA Level 1 rope access technician course. Quite a few people have asked why I did this. First of all, I am not leaving film and TV production.
I did the course because I really enjoy the circus filming work that I do. Being a rope access technician is going to make it easier for me to get up into the rigging of a big top or circus installation for different camera angles. I’ve never had an issue working at height, whether from a tall crane filming a motor race, operating from a scaffold tower or from a tall building. I had previously do a working at hight course, so this seemed to be the next step.

I have also developed my own cable cam system and I now have a better understanding of how to rig ropes safely. I’m also developing a camera system that can be lowered over big drops such as cliffs or tall buildings plus I’m studying circus rigging as well as show and event rigging. Being able to rig lights from trusses safely is a useful skill.

In addition I hope that it might bring in some work on other productions where there is a need to get camera operator to unusual spots using just ropes. Stunts often use rope access techniques. Plus it keeps me fit!

My IRATA level 1 rope access qualification allows me to do many things with ropes. But rope access work needs at least 2 people to be safe. There should always be someone capable of carrying out a rescue in an emergency as often you end up working in a position that even the emergency services are unlikely to be able to get to, certainly not quickly. If someone gets into trouble and ends up hanging in their harness for an extended period, just hanging there immobile can quickly become life threatening due to something called suspension trauma. So all rope access technicians are trained how perform the rescue of another technician and always work under a level 3 technician.

From a more personal point of view I also find many of the techniques used in rope access and climbing quite fascinating.

The Wingman by James Friend

I was recently involved as a technical advisor for the filming of a short film by James Friend ASC BSC for Sony using their new Burano camera. You can see the film as well as a BTS film on the Sony website. There were many challenges for this production as it was the first time a Burano would be fitted to an aircraft.

There was very little preparation time and only a small budget considering the scope of the project. But James Friend brought together a really great crew and I think the end result is really great.

Short Films

For a very long time I have been producing short films. Sometimes these are very short indeed, perhaps to show off some new piece of equipment or a new technology. Sometimes these are longer scripted pieces to tell a story. I really enjoy scripted work. Each drama brings new challenges, what style to use, how to shoot it, how to make it look great. Often it’s the lower budget productions that can be the most fun as you try to work out how to make something look great on a tiny budget. There is nothing as rewarding as delivering a great looking film that audiences enjoy watching.

Volcanoes and Natural Extremes

I have always been fascinated by natural extremes. So when the opportunity to go and shoot a volcano, thunderstorm, hurricane or tornado presents itself I can be ready to go at a moments notice. My natural extremes footage has been used in feature films, natural history programmes, TV commercials and I expect there is a good chance that you will have seen some of it somewhere at some point. I’ve been shooting severe weather for over 25 years, so know how to stay safe in bad weather.


Another subject I love to film is contemporary circus and other similar performing arts. I have been luck enough to have been the main cameraman for the Theatre and Circus fields at the Glastonbury festival for the past few years and this has given me many wonderful opportunities to meet some truly amazing performers.

I’m not afraid of heights which helps and I’m certified for working at heights and not afraid to climb up into the big top rigging to get the best shots if that’s what’s needed. This year I hope to get my IRATA rope access technician level 1 qualification to help me gain access to even more extreme locations.

Northern Lights and Aurora

If there is one thing I love to shoot it is the Northern lights. Every year I take a couple of small groups on an expedition to the frozen north of Norway. I’ve been running these trips for 15 years and we have never not seen the Aurora. In that 15 years I have developed and perfected my techniques for shooting the Aurora, whether timelapse or real time 4K and 8K video. I have the cameras, the lenses and the know how to get great Aurora pictures and video.

Website Overhaul

My personal web site needs some love. Over the years I’ve spent most of my time over on and this is where you will find most of what I write. But, I am still a freelance cinematographer and I still get to do some really interesting work, so over the next few months I hope to write about more of what I do when I am not doing workshops or making training films. The image above is actually a frame grab from an event I ran in Kuwait in May.


I won’t be updating this blog page any further. For all my camera information, tips, tricks and news please follow this link to XDCAM-USER.COM where you will find the latest version of my blog.

This is my personal web site with information about me. In the future I will be adding information about projects that I am working on here, but the camera reviews, tutorials, news and other similar information will remain on XDCAM-USER.

So, if I can hack an F5 for 4K, can I also get the F55’s color gamut?

So, we have seen that it is possible to trick an F5 into thinking its an F55 by altering an all file from the F5 and adding some F55 4K settings. This enables 4K internal recording and 4K output over HDMI on the F5. Internal 4K is one of the key differences between the lower cost F5 and the much more expensive F55. Another major difference is that the F55 has a global shutter so no CMOS image skew or other rolling shutter artefacts and the F55 has a larger colour gamut allowing better colour rendition and capture.

A question that has been asked is: Well if we can get 4K, can we also enable the larger colour gamut? One thing we do know is that the sensor used in the F55 is different to the sensor in the F5 as the sensor is replaced if you upgrade your F5 to an F55.

A cameras gamut is determined more by the sensors colour filters than the recording gamut. The recording gamut is like a bucket, the sensor a scoop. If the scoop isn’t big enough you won’t fill the bucket.

The color filters on the F55 are very different to those in the F5, so the F55 can capture a much greater gamut than the F5.

If you think about it, if you hold a red gel up infront of your eyes you will only see an extremely narrow colour gamut, just a single narrow part of the red spectrum. Imagine if you have a red, green and blue filter, you will now see a bit of red, a bit of green and a bit of blue. But you might only see a very narrow part of the full blue spectrum or a very narrow part of red or of green, you won’t see the full spectrum or a large gamut, just narrow slithers of it. The trick is to make filters that are wide enough and with the righ charcteristics to pass all of the R, G and B spectrum but sharply cut off unwanted colors, infra-red or UVĀ at the exactly the right point. This is very hard to do. So the quality and accuracy of the color filters determines both the gamut and the precision of the colors that the camera can capture.

In practice it can be hard to see this difference as none of the monitors available today can show the full gamut that the F55 can capture so you can’t directly see it. But it does make a difference in post as the F55 is able to separate subtle hues more accurately and capture an extended tonal range, for example very subtle differences in skin tones that may be lost on a camera with poorer filters. This means when grading you are able to draw more tonal information out of the image when you transform the color space in to Rec 709 or DCI-P3 and it results in a more natural looking image.

The F5’s sensor gamut is probably somewhere around the size of DCI P3, maybe a bit bigger, but it’s clearly not as big as the F55’s. In addition the colour precision is not as great so some subtle tones are lost. It’s not a massive difference and the F5 does a great job. It’s not something that can be changed with software, it’s all down to the sensor hardware. The F5 just can’t fill the S-Gamut recording bucket so by using S-Gamut your wasting a lot of data. By using a smaller recording gamut like S-Gamut3.cine you can more effectively fill the bucket and make better use of the data available to you.