AMIRA in fashion
After investing in his own ARRI AMIRA, British DP Robert Shacklady immediately put it to use on a TV commercial for the online fashion retailer boohoo, directed by Mark Harrison and Antoine Piazza of London-based production company Hatch Creative. Taking advantage of the camera's ergonomic design, optimized for fast, responsive shooting with minimal crew, Shacklady shot handheld to achieve a vivid, energetic visual style. He spoke with ARRI News about his first experience with AMIRA on set.
British DP Robert Shacklady put his new ARRI AMIRA to use on a TV commercial for the online fashion retailer boohoo.com. Taking advantage of the camera’s ergonomic design, Shacklady shot handheld to achieve a vivid, energetic look.
Can you describe the look that was wanted for this project, and were you just shooting for a TV spot or for multi-media content as well?
boohoo.com is a Manchester-based global online fashion retailer and for this commercial they wanted a New York feel to match with that season's fashion trends. It's primarily a TV commercial but will additionally provide online content, and when I'm shooting for boohoo I also work in conjunction with the company's own stills photographers, so they get product shots alongside shooting the video.
What appealed to you about AMIRA and made you think it would be right for the kind of work you do?
The work that I've done with ALEXA previously has tended to follow a ProRes workflow, so the AMIRA melds perfectly with that. The smallness, lightness and versatility of the AMIRA make it a great companion for the ALEXA; and having the same sensor in the AMIRA is really useful because it means you can bounce between cameras.
In terms of specific features, the 200 fps high speed of the AMIRA is fantastic and the ease with which you can change speeds is impressive as well. The internal filters are helpful and let you work faster on set. The reduced weight is an advantage when it comes to projects like this boohoo shoot because it's a very easy camera to move around with. In fact, Hatch Creative had previously been big ARRI fans but had recently started shooting with other cameras, and the AMIRA has brought them back to shooting with ARRI again.
And once they started seeing the AMIRA images, were they happy?
They were. I remember I had a fairly simple shot up on the monitor and Antoine, one of the directors, pointed at it and said, "That's beautiful." Everyone was very happy and I think that comes down to the ALEXA/AMIRA sensor being really well suited to fashion; it's so great with skin tones because it gives skin a completely natural sheen, and that helps a lot. We needed a look that was vibrant and lush, with a lot of substance to it, and the AMIRA provided that with its very natural and beautiful colorimetry.
What lenses did you use?
I used T1.3 Zeiss Super Speed lenses, which have an organic softness to them because of their age, but with minimal depth of field, which is good for the fashion look. Everything we shot was wide open and the directors really liked the shallow focus in the images.
Your focus puller was using a wireless hand unit from the ARRI Electronic Control System; did shooting handheld at T1.3 make life hard for him?
It wasn't easy but Matt Smith is an excellent focus puller and is always by my side. As well as the lens control system we were also using a kiss light (ring light) and there was a situation where the 15 mm bars we had were slightly too long to make everything work. Our solution was to use the Steadicam plate that comes with the AMIRA -- a sort of cheese wedge that can go on the top or bottom of the camera. I put the plate on top of the camera and used 15 mm bars coming out of that to mount the lens control system and kiss light. So the modular nature of the system let us find a solution for a configuration we hadn't anticipated in advance.
British DP Robert Shacklady put his new ARRI AMIRA to use on a TV commercial for the online fashion retailer boohoo.com. Taking advantage of the camera's ergonomic design, Shacklady shot handheld to achieve a vivid, energetic look.
How was your image workflow?
Workflow has always been a big thing for me. I always appreciated the ALEXA's simple workflow, where there's basically nothing to go wrong, and the AMIRA is the same. One other thing that I do appreciate with the AMIRA, as well as the ALEXA, is the simplicity of the menus. Both cameras have the same logic behind them and that makes working with them incredibly quick and efficient. Over this last year I've shot with a range of different cameras from other manufacturers and none of them came close to the sheer usability of the ALEXA and AMIRA.
What's next for your AMIRA?
I'm actually just finishing an American TV series called OBSESSION, for which we've got one ALEXA and one AMIRA because we can cut the footage together so easily. As often happens, they want a high-end look but don't have a high-end budget. In those situations the image quality of the ARRI sensor goes a long way towards helping me elevate the overall production value.