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HELGA - narrative BMCC test with Meteor 5-1 17-69mm 1.8

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  • HELGA - narrative BMCC test with Meteor 5-1 17-69mm 1.8

    Hey everyone,

    This narrative test was shot on impulse in the Spring.

    I wanted to experiment with my recently acquired vintage Meteor 17-69mm 1.8 lens, initially deciding to head up to my favourite architectural structure in London The Barbican Estate to shoot some of the awesome buildings.

    It just so happened that on that morning my actor friend called me up seeing if I wanted to hang out, so I thought why not try and make something together. We dreamt up this simple Soviet Era Spy-themed single-actor narrative over the phone, a couple of hours later she turned up for coffee in costume then we explored the Estate, essentially storyboarding and shooting as we explored.

    The theme and tone were inspired by the location and by the lens itself. Heavy vignetting on the EF BMCC through all focal lengths forced me into employing the (then) new firmware update for its 4:3 frame guides. The character of the glass with this sensor reminded me of some of the Polish films from the 70's I'd seen at the BFI Polish season recently, too, particularly 'Illumination' (1973) Krzysztof Zanussi, so I tried to mimic this where appropriate with its wandering zooms and slightly milky, low contrast 16mm aesthetic. I'm also a big fan of the way that an environment can be a character in itself, and the way Kronenberg used buildings and space in his earlier films to oppress, dominate and provide sanctuary. The Barbican Estate has such character I tried to make it oppressive in itself, and even with a lack of an actual human antagonist aid the feeling that Helga is trapped in this big concrete maze.

    All of this was shot without supporting lighting. The scene inside the stairwell is quite underexposed, particularly on the low angles. The footage gets a little too grainy there.

    With the flange distance between this lens and the BMCC EF sensor (I was using a cheap M42-EF adapter), the minimum focus distance is about 2 metres away. I also don't think you can reach infinity focus, either.

    The focus through is long, but the little zoom lever is incredibly sensitive. You can really snap from 17-69, not that I chose to.

    I love what the lens is doing for the bokeh in the last scene, the way it curves around the edges.

    I've been using the Meteor with the BMPCC and double-adapters. The smaller 16mm sensor is actually a near-perfect fit for this lens with very minimal vignette at any focal length. I absolutely love this combo. You can already see some beautiful work by RYAN FIELDING on vimeo using the BMPCC and this glass.

    I'm not sure I'd use the BMCC with the Meteor again unless the project truly demanded 4:3 and 2.5K RAW, but the experiment was really fun.

    I hope you enjoy it!
    Last edited by jamesburt; 09-08-2015, 07:16 AM.

  • #2
    that was amazing! i love everything about this...being a sound guy, love the soundtrack as well (that "Helga" title sound effect was perect!).


    • #3
      Can you post a link for tablet/smart phone users? Thanks!


      • #4


        • #5
          Wow, thanks for the kind response mcnys I'm really glad you liked it.


          • #6
            Love it! Very well timed. Especially the opening shot (but not at first). Big tilt shot of a boring concrete car park. Meh. Tilt down revealing more of the same concrete structure... Down... Down... (yawn) Down - WHOA! Your took me right back to the '70's Eastern Bloc espionage films I loved.

            I think the low lighting and deep grain worked perfectly for the subject matter. If you shoot the feature version of this I'm good for 2 tickets.


            • #7
              Love this!!! Amazing job, and you made all the right choices. I love the atheistic, thank you for sharing your work!
              Forrest Schultz
              Atlas Lens Co.


              • #8
                Very impressive piece! I too love the opening shot and the overall look. Did you add some digital film grain? Looks great, whatever you did.
       | My Reel


                • #9
                  Thanks everybody for the really kind and constructive feedback

                  UTR-Labs - I appreciate your opion on the opening tilt - I was thinking it could go one way or the other with that shot, it could lose people or create suspense. I'm glad your interest was renewed by the reveal of Helga. If I continue or expand this story and/or style then I'll drop you a message, would be great to hear what you think

                  RevDesign Industries - ace, thanks mate!

                  KyleMcConaghy - Thanks again! Yes I added some grain to give a little more texture and balance the cleaner shots with those that were underlit. The colour was done in Filmconvert, as was the grain. Love Filmconvert, definitely my favourite place to give my stuff its first pass.