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Sesame Street’s Latest YouTube Videos Shot with Blackmagic Cinema Camera

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Josh Diamond and Timur Civan

Blackmagic Design announced that directors Josh and Jason Diamond of the Diamond Brothers recently shot Sesame Workshop’s Can You Tell-y Me How to Get to a Billion? and Counting the ‘You’s in YouTube videos with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Josh and Jason Diamond worked with DP Timur Civan on the four day shoot, and NYC-based freelance colorist, Juan Salvo, used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to color the project.

“Shooting ProRes was a plus, in that we were trying to find the best ISO to f-stop ratio,” Josh said. “All the characters have fur and fringe, and there’s much more fine detail. Being able to try a couple shots in various settings then pop the SSD out and quickly pull some keys in After Effects directly from the SSD was a huge time saver. We were able to compare and contrast while setting up, so we weren’t fighting with it in post. There was no secondary processing or transcoding to go through.”

Spending sometimes as little as 40 minutes at a location, the team had little time to set up before they were shooting, breaking down, loading out and moving to the next location.

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Timur Civan films three and four year-old children for Sesame Street’s YouTube videos.

“We weren’t able to scout any locations ahead of time, so we showed up with a small lighting package and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera,” Josh said. “The camera is small, light and doesn’t need a lot of accessories, and we were able to leave it rigged so it could be powered up and shooting in seconds. Having 13 stops of dynamic range gave us the flexibility to say ‘there’s a lot of nice natural light, so let’s throw up one Kino for fill and shoot.’ Also shooting in Log allowed us to protect our highlights much easier.”

With a Rec 709 image on the camera’s built in display, the team viewed a Log image on a secondary SDI monitor and benefited from being able to use both images to determine if the shot looked good or needed adjustment without having to waste time setting up a large producer’s monitor in tight spaces.

“We were able to roll in, take five seconds to look around, figure out who and where we were going to shoot and go,” Josh said. “We even filmed at a school with three and four year olds who weren’t going to sit patiently for long. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s versatility, ergonomics and efficiency were key to our workflow for this shoot.”

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Even children see the excitement and simplicity of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

“I was able to hand hold the Blackmagic Cinema Camera for almost six hours without a break, which enabled us to stay on schedule, get extra takes and move between the numerous locations with minimal crew. The camera was critical to the speed we required,” said Civan. “The Blackmagic Cinema Camera gave us the most image quality per pound of any camera out there, and we were able to deliver image quality on par with cameras costing three times as much, but at half the size weight and complexity. It has a great run-and-gun form factor with a big cinematic look.”

Shot in ProResHQ, the footage was edited by Sesame Workshop and then sent to Salvo for color grading. Since the footage was shot in Log, Salvo ensured the contrast, exposure and saturation were appropriate for each distinct setting, and Resolve’s Log grading tools allowed him to dial in exposure and contrast as desired.

“The latitude and tonality of the footage were excellent, and Resolve’s robust Log grading and agile secondaries made it a breeze to work with,” said Salvo. “In almost every shot, I used secondaries, qualifiers, Power Windows and custom curves to get the footage looking just right. And having all those functions available at the push of a button from my control surface made it a cinch in a time sensitive environment. Resolve allowed me to render out review versions and final deliverables in real time.”

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