Actor and director Damon Gameau’s new documentary, That Sugar Film, was shot using the Blackmagic cinema camera and production camera 4K. The documentary was also graded using DaVinci Resolve and premiered in competition at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November.
Directed and hosted by Gameau, known for his roles on Puberty Blues, Secrets & Lies and the cult classic Thunderstruck, the film aims to investigate how sugar has infiltrated our diet and culture, what it’s doing to us and how we can develop an arm’s-length relationship with it. The film’s cinematographer is Judd Overton, who has shot dozens of films, including Return to Nim’s Island.
The film follows Damon as he eats and drinks everyday items found on grocery shelves across the world, while at the same time visiting with people in various locations from the Australian outback to New York City’s Times Square. The documentary’s production schedule was broken into two main parts: a global travel shoot with minimal equipment and an intense set of greenscreen productions, which resulted in 200 VFX shots interspersed throughout the film. For the travel-based footage, the team primarily shot on the Blackmagic cinema camera, while using the production camera 4K for greenscreen shots.
“We knew we had to make the film accessible and entertaining for everyone, from kids to adults,” said Overton. “But it had to be educational throughout as well. So we went to town to make it as visual as possible and that included a huge amount of greenscreen work and VFX shots, as well as Damon and I jumping on planes with our entire production thrown in our backpacks as we traveled to different cities.”
“For me, the Blackmagic cameras are about the latitude and great image I can get in such a small, easy-to-carry design,” continued Overton. “With the 40-day worldwide road trip we were on, I shot in ProRes and mostly handheld or on my shoulder with a small rig. It really was amazing to be able to throw a couple of cinema-quality cameras in my backpack and just go to where the shots needed to happen. For the greenscreen productions, many of which were done for intricate VFX shots, such as Damon on a spoonful of sugar being eaten or Damon inside a digestive system, we shot in RAW on the production camera 4K. I was looking for high resolution and the ability to shoot in RAW to get everything I could out of the shots and nail down VFX plates that would be easy to work with for the VFX crew.”
Once footage was shot, the offline edit was completed at production company Madman Production, with online, VFX and final grading using DaVinci Resolve at VFX head Seth Larney’s home studio in Australia.
“The image quality, latitude and ability to easily grade and push around footage with the Blackmagic cameras were perfect for the film,” said Overton. “And I love how the cameras made the entire post workflow so easy. I have been a Blackmagic camera customer since the first camera shipped and this film really showed how powerful they are for getting amazing images and being flexible enough to use in any shooting environment.”
That Sugar Film will hit worldwide distribution in 2015.