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HomeNewsViper used for Nike spots

Viper used for Nike spots

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By Scott Lehane
While Thomson’s Viper continues to make advances in feature work (see main story), the camera is also making inroads in the shortform arena. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda recently used it to shoot two commercials directed by David Fincher: a Nike football ad called “Gamebreaker” and a spot for European cell phone provider Xelibri called “Beauty for Sale.”
For the Nike spot, the producers rented two Vipers from Plus8digital along with the S.two digital film recorder. For the Xelibri spot, they rented from Bexel and used a DVS uncompressed storage device.
According to Miranda, “The problem that a lot of people have [with Viper] is just what to do with all this data that it creates. There’s just so much that it produces. Thank God David is pretty specific in terms of cuts.”
However, he reported that on occasion Fincher would call for a lot of takes. “The S.two had 18- and 36-minute mags and you could pretty much only delete the last take,” he explained. “Sometimes David would do over 40 takes, but at the end he would wind up with only ten takes because he was constantly deleting the last take.”
For Nike, the crew had six magazines which had to be uploaded frequently at VFX house Digital Domain. According to Miranda, the spot was heavily CG and required a lot of motion capture and greenscreen work.
“It’s a freakin’ load of information,” said Miranda. “Nike was just huge. Digital Domain had to completely revamp their system to be able to accommodate the Viper camera.”
Miranda reported that working with the camera is a little different from working with film. “It’s not really quite as nice looking through the lens and it has to be completely powered up. And you have these long tethers that attach to the camera that can be quite limiting. Also you have to check your lighting by looking at the big monitors and the scopes.”
But he added that in FilmStream mode, “there’s a lot of manipulation room in terms of things like highlights; you can soften the curve of highlights. It gives you pretty much the whole information band similar to what a flat pass would be in film. It actually held up the highlights very well. There’s a scene in the beginning of the Xelibri spot where you’re actually looking up at a bright building and there’s the sun glaring through it. It did pretty good there.
“There are no real camera adjustments,” he added. “You don’t even white balance the camera. It’s kind of like a portal in FilmStream mode.”
“Gamebreaker” was Miranda’s third spot with Fincher. Does he think the camera is ready for prime time? “I’ve never put it in a harsh environment. I’d be a little bit concerned in the desert or camera cars bouncing around because the hard drives are sensitive, but I think it’s so close. It’s almost there,” he said.

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