Tag Archives: Optimo

Duran Duran concert shot with 12x PMW-F3’s

Duran Duran at the MEN

Last night was a big deal. 12 PMW-F3’s shooting the legendary pop band Duran Duran. Back in the 80’s DD were one of the first bands to embrace the video age with ground breaking, big budget films to accompany their top 10 singles that were very different to anything done before. I have to admit I was and still am a big fan. Back in April, I had a discussion with my good friend Den Lennie about possibly shooting a Duran Duran concert with F3’s. That led to a trip to Berlin in May to shoot the band at a small concert, however, lead Singer Simon LeBon had vocal problems and the entire tour got postponed at the last ┬áminute.

F3 and Optimo 24-290 rigged in Berlin for the concert that never happened.

We were fully rigged at the venue, ready to go when we got the last minute call that it was off. This was very disappointing. Despite a second attempt to stage the show, it never went ahead and that was about the last I heard.

Being a Duran fan, I went to see them in concert at Birmingham about 2 weeks ago. It was a fantastic gig and the whole family had a great night out. As I watched the amazing light show, I thought to myself that it was a great shame that this was not being recorded.

Then almost out of the blue I get a phone call from Den Lennie and James Tonkin of Hangman Studios. The question was… Did I think we could shoot a Duran Duran concert with just 7 days to prepare? Of course I said yes and having seen the show, I recommended that we should try to make it happen. So James and Den got together with Director Gavin Elder who has been working with Duran Duran since 2003 and the magic started to happen. Just 48 hours latter I got a message from Den to say we were on! My task was to look after most of the technical aspects of the shoot, things like camera settings, picture profiles etc.

Now, I could tell you all about the tech issues that we discovered during the recce we did when we went to a gig at the O2 arena in London, but sadly you’ll have to wait. Den, James, Gavin and myself will be doing a full write up of how we made the choices we made and some of the many challenges that a concert shoot with super 35mm cameras throw up. I can tell you, it’s not as easy as a traditional OB, not in any way. But when you start pairing up Sony F3’s with 1000mm, yes 1m, lenses, beautiful Arri Alura 18-80mm and Optimo 24-290mm lenses, shooting an incredibly dynamic light show at a massive sell-out arena concert, I think you can see why this project was so exciting!

A pair of F3's with Optimo 24-290's and NanoFlashes on O'connor heads.

Everyone pulled out all the stops. Changes were made to the gig lighting and I created a picture profile to match. Audio was worked to perfection and the band put a massive amount of extra energy into the performance with the end result of an electrifying atmosphere and from what I’ve seen so far, jaw dropping images. This is one of those incredibly rewarding projects that I’ll remember for a long, long time.

Den and James did an incredible job organising kit lists, camera plans and crew lists. I’m sure they will tell their own story in due course.

James Tonkin checking out on of the 12 F3's.

It’s interesting to note that as DoP, Den’s main role was an organisational role and this is something often forgotten, a Director of Photography is not just a cinematographer, but also an organiser, arranger, overseer of the cinematography. I think the term DoP is often miss-used these days often simply being used as a fancy term for cinematographer or camera operator. A true DoP does not shoot, the camera operator does that. The DoP, directs the camera operators and directs the lighting crew to produce images to his or her satisfaction.

The final Duran Duran film is going to be distributed many ways, some of which I’m really excited about, but I can’t say more at this time. I hope you will all get a chance to see it. At this stage it is still to be edited, graded etc. James and Gavin will be working hard overseeing that stage of the production.

Me, at my camera just before the start of the set.

My role.. camera setup, creating a custom picture profile, helping on lens and kit choices, on site tech support and then operating one of the two PMW-F3’s using a B4 to s35mm adapter along with big ENG zooms. I used one of the MTF B4 to s35 adapters that I designed along with a Canon 10 to 400mm zoom. When you add the 2.5x magnification factor of the adapter system that equates to a 25mm to 1000mm zoom. My role was to shoot the close ups of lead singer Simon LeBon from the Front of House area, 160ft from the stage. With such a long lens the DoF was tiny and the shoot was hard work, but incredibly rewarding.

I promise that there will be a much more in depth write up in the future from Den, James and myself covering all aspects of the project as well as a full behind the scenes video (we had a crew shooting BTH footage). Watch this space!

Duran Duran Mega Shoot – Berlin – Almost!

The Berlin Duran Duran shoot was quite an adventure that twisted and turned this way and that. The plan was to shoot a Duran Duran concert using a range of Sony Super 35mm camcorders, however in the days running up to the shoot the band had been forced to postpone some other gigs due to illness. On the Monday before the shoot we were all sat at home waiting for the go – no-go phone call from the producers. The call came at 9pm, we were go, so first thing Tuesday I was off to the airport with 75kg of kit to fly out to Berlin with the very real threat of either Heathrow airport or Berlin airport getting shut down by Volcanic ash from Iceland. In the end my flight left 20 mins early and the plane was even backing away from the gate well before everyone had taken their seats in a mad dash to get to Berlin before airspace got closed.

The first of the cameras arrive.

My self and Den Lennie (of F-Stop Academy) in the advanced party got into Berlin OK and spent Tuesday collecting some of the rented and borrowed kit and getting it in to the venue.
However by the Wednesday morning the whole shoot was turning into a serious challenge as Berlin airport was closed by the Ash cloud from the Iceland volcano just as key members of the crew including Gavin the director and James the producer were due to fly in. They ended up going to Dusseldorf and getting the train up to Berlin. In addition some of our rented kit was delayed as well as the stage and rigging crew, so everyone was running behind, frantically trying to source more kit locally. We have to say a BIG thank you to FGV Schmidle in Berlin who went out of their way to help us out.


5 of the 6 PMW-F3's awaiting setup.

We had 6 F3’s, 2 FS100’s the SRW9000PL and an EX3. The EX3 was going to be used on the back of a Canon HJ21x7.5 Cinestyle lens with a 2x extender from the back of the venue to get some close up shots that we just could not get with any of the PL mount lenses we had on the 35mm sensor cameras. Long, fast 35mm lenses are few and far between.


To get the look that we wanted the cameras were all set up with custom picture profiles. I designed a picture profile for the F3’s that would give maximum latitude to help handle the high contrast range that the concert lightning would bring as well as de-saturating the image to prevent the coloured lights from clipping and thus give more scope for grading and post work. Detail correction was set up to give a small amount of very fine detail boost to keep the images crisp without looking like video.

Optimo 24-290 Zoom Lens on F3



Two of the Sony PMW-F3’s were kitted out with Angenieux Optimo 24-290 T2.8 lenses and Pre-Production Zacuto EVF’s. What a gorgeous lens, the EVF’s aren’t bad either! Hopefully I’ll get more time to play with both of these in the future and a review of the EVF’s should come soon. The Optimo’s allowed us to get beautiful mid and close up shots from the venue sides with nice bokeh and super shallow DoF. At the rear of the venue as well as the EX3 we had an F3 with an Angenieux Optimo 15-40 on a track to shoot wide shots of the stage through the crowds. The remaining F3’s were to be used with Nikon DSLR lenses in the 75 to 300mm range via MTF adapters (thanks Mike) and a prototype Adaptimax adapter (Thanks Steve). The other F3’s were going to go on tracks at the front of the stage or on the stage wings to pick off close ups of instruments and band members. We also had a pair of Sony MC1P mini-cams but we could not rig these until the stage crew arrived and we weren’t expecting them until early on Thursday morning, the day of the shoot. The FS100’s would be on stage, hand held and on tracks using prototype Birger mounts and Canon L series lenses.

Then the bombshell dropped. The event was postponed. The lead singer Simon LeBon has been suffering from Laryngitis and he still wasn’t well enough to sing. So the remainder of the evening was spent packing all the kit away and rebooking flights and schedules. The concert will now be held on the 8th of June, again in Berlin. I’m going to be flying back to London from Cinegear and a 3D event at Samy’s cameras on the 6th, passing through London ( 3 hours between flights) on the 7th where I will pick up my F3 kit and then travel on the Berlin, where we will once again try to complete the shoot. Photo’s and more gear porn to follow.