Australian director Glendyn Ivin and cinematographer Germain McMicking recently relied on Blackmagic URSA EF and Blackmagic 4K Production cameras to capture a variety of scenes and shots for Gallipoli – a seven-part Australian miniseries currently airing on the Nine Network to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign. Gallipoli follows the lives of soldiers in the ill-fated WWI campaign to land Australian and New Zealand forces in Turkey.
To set the tone for the miniseries, Ivin created a visually stunning opening title sequence aimed at capturing the overall drama that the mini-series will present. He chose to shoot this opening title sequence with the URSA EF camera.
“The opening sequence has to set the viewer up emotionally, and I came up with a simple, but beautiful idea. We filled a fish tank with water and then dropped vegetable oil, ink and kids’ school paints into the water. We then projected photos of the cast and action scenes onto the fish tank as it swirled and moved around with the different textures adding depth to the projected images. A simple idea, but it had to convey some complex ideas and I needed a camera to capture the footage in slow motion at very high quality,” said Ivin.
Ivin shot the scenes in ProRes, over a weekend in a basic studio set up with minimal lighting and equipment. “The images we shot with the URSA captured the complex textures as they formed in the tank so well that people thought it was done with CGI, even though we used no CGI and most of what you see in the final piece was captured in-camera,” Ivin explained. “The sequence is visually stunning and people thought it was a far more complicated and expensive than it was. URSA made that possible and gave me great control in post, ease of use and amazing quality.”
Though Ivin has been a Blackmagic camera owner for several years, on the day he shot the title sequence, he had never used an URSA camera.
“I walked into the studio where the fish tank was, and when I first saw the URSA set up it did not look like anything I had ever seen before. In particular I had never seen a camera with a big screen on the side like the URSA. But within 15 minutes of using it, I was thinking ‘why doesn’t every camera have a screen like this?’ It was so useful and I think it will become integral to the way I will work in the future,” said Ivin. “And even though I had never seen an URSA before, within only a couple of minutes of handling it I was shooting confidently.”
Ivin used Blackmagic Production Camera 4K to capture VFX plates for CGI for the large number of battle scenes featured. Carrying the camera to the shores of Turkey with DP John Brawley, Ivin was able to capture the plates in rugged terrain thanks to the camera’s lightweight yet tough build.
“We could carry that camera up valley walls and tough cliffs, and get the high res shots we needed,” Ivin said. “We climbed into places we couldn’t have with other cameras, and we still got amazing 4K footage out in the wild that matched perfectly and easily back with all of our other footage.”