All posts by alisterchapman

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 UV 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.


Hi Guys and Gals.

So, IBC is just a few days away. I’m packing my bags, ready to go and I’m really rather excited. I’m under NDA so can’t reveal anything and maybe even writing this post will get me in trouble.

Unless you have completely had your head in the sand (or have been working hard) you will have probably seen the leaked picture of a new XAVC badged camcorder that has become known as the FS700 MK2 by many. You might also have seen a teaser video from Sony featuring several well known DP’s and bloggers talking about a new camera, if you haven’t click here. It doesn’t tell you much, but talks about what some people would like in a new camera, with the tag line “Be first to discover true freedom of expression”. So I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets by saying that it looks like there will be a major camera launch at IBC and it’s one that’s going to rock the boat a bit (well quite a LOT actually).

In recent months we have seen Sony release a new line of PXW XDCAM cameras that have Sony’s new and really very good XAVC codec. Yes, it’s a little confusing but these are still XDCAM cameras…. XDCAM meaning digital recording on to SxS or Optical Disc. So far we have seen the diminutive PXW-X70, the mid range 1/3″ PXW-X160 and X180 as well as the update to the PMW-300 to add XAVC. So IBC will be a great time to see the full range of XAVC cameras and I’m sure we can expect more news about XDCAM and XAVC in general.

There has also been a lot of commotion around the “hack” that allows owners of the PMW-F5 to get internal 4K recording. So far Sony have only responded to this with a brief “we do not approve and it may invalidate your warranty” type statement. I’m hoping we will get clarification from Sony over what they will do about this in future firmware updates. Will they leave it (doubtful), block it (likely) or just give F5 owners a 4K upgrade path (the BIG unknown) other than getting the entire camera upgraded to an F55. Again I’m sure we will get lots of news on the development of the PMW-F5 and F55 cameras.

I’ll be there at the show helping out on the Sony booth (no, I am NOT a Sony employee. I just get asked to work the booth to share my practical experience with the cameras). So I won’t get a lot of time to reveal all the secrets when they are announced here on the blog, but if you keep an eye on my twitter feed ( @stormguy ) I’ll try to tweet the news as fast as I can. The Sony press event is on Friday morning (12th Sept) so you can expect to see a flood of very exciting news immediately after that.


From Script to Screen. SEVA Fest 2014 film makers festival, South East Virginia.

I’m really please to be involved with the Mid-Atlantic Conference for film professionals which will be held in SouthEast VirginiA. . I’ll be running workshops along side Bruce Logan, the man that shot the blowing up the Death Star in the original Star Wars movie, was a cameraman on Tron, Batman Forever and many other films. Bruce, as well as bing a very talented DP is also a script writer, producer, director and colourist. Actor and Director Michael Copon, known for his roles in Power Ranges and Scorpion King – Rise of a Warrior  will  also being running sessions during the course of the 3 day event.

SEVA  is open to anyone with a desire to network with other film professionals, discover new talent, and to better learn the creative technologies, techniques, and tools of the industry.

The inaugural SEVA Fest will be held at the Chesapeake Conference Center from October 17 through October 19. It will feature workshops and panel discussions hosted by Bruce Logan, Alister Chapman, and Michael Copon with the emphasis of storytelling using today’s modern technology. It will also feature a short film competition, to be held at the Roper Theater in Norfolk.

Workshops will include: Script to Screen with Bruce Logan, Painting and setting up digital cameras, by me. Acting and Producing with Michael Copon. There will be lots to learn, a great chance to meet some amazing people and hopefully a lot of fun.

There’s student and early bird pricing so jump on over to the  SEVA website for full details: