When the Rhonda CAM Deluxe released in March 2013, its target market and price range was intended for the amateur filmmaker wanting to experiment with analog film. But when ASC cinematographer James Chressanthis, (Brian’s Song, No Subtitles Necessary, TNT movie HIDE) approached us about using the trendy point-and-shoot Super 8 camera in an upcoming Hallmark production, “The Watsons Go to Birmingham” we weren’t sure what to think! Chressanthis has always been a forward thinker and has proven himself to come up with exceptional images in the most unique ways.
“We were shooting flashback of the May 3rd 1963 children’s demonstrations for equal rights in Birmingham, Alabama. I found the Rhonda CAM’s larger 1:58 aperture an easy translation to our 16:9 master. I could shoot for either full frame or recreate a 1:33 newsreel look with a slight crop. I checked the camera’s exposure meter against my spot meter readings and found it to be extremely accurate and could easily compensate for backlit shots”, says Chressanthis. (note: 1:58 aperture was a custom Max 8 modification for this production)
Chressanthis chose the Pro8/07 250D stock for rich saturated color, as well as the Pro8/19 500T without correcting for daylight to achieve a softer dreamy, more de-saturated feel. While the Rhonda CAM Deluxe shoots at 18fps and 9fps, Chressanthis shot at 18fps and transfer at 24p to an Apple ProRes 444 codec for seamless integration with his digital footage on the Alexa. Chressanthis also transferred all the footage at 6, 12 and 18fps to achieve different effects and qualities of motion blur.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham is scheduled to premiere on the Hallmark Channel in fall 2013. Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee’s wife, created the film, based on a 1995 historical fiction novel of the same name by Christopher Paul Curtis. The “Watsons” is set in 1963 and is told through the eyes of a 12 year old whose family from Flint, Michigan visits their grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. It happens to be the same year the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed, a pivotal event that year in the fight for civil rights.
Grammy Award nominee Anika Noni Rose (“Dream Girls,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “The Good Wife”) stars along with three-time Tony Award nominee and Grammy nominee David Alan Grier (“In Living Color”), Skai Jackson (“Jessie”), LaTanya Richardson (“The Fighting Temptations”), Wood Harris (“The Wire,” “Remember The Titans”), Bryce Jenkins (“Easy A,” “Have A Little Faith”) and Harrison Knight (“We the Party”) – source: Access Atlanta: http://www.accessatlanta.com/weblogs/radio-tv-talk/2013/apr/09/exclusive-atlanta-hosting-hallmark-film-watsons-go/)
Chressanthis has used Pro8mm workflows in such projects as the made for TV movie on TNT Hide (2011), No Subtitles Necessary (2008), Brian’s Song (2001). He is a three time Emmy Award Nominee, and has been a member of the ASC since 2002.
For more information on the Rhonda CAM Deluxe, visit http://www.pro8mm.com/super-8-rhonda-cam.php
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