ALEXA 35 and ARRI lights enhance visual effects of “Fruitcake”

ALEXA 35 and ARRI lights enhance visual effects of “Fruitcake”

Through meticulous collaboration and with the aid of ALEXA 35, SkyPanels, and other ARRI lights, the team behind the Filipino film “Fruitcake” brings VFX-intensive scenes to life.

Jun. 14, 2024

The Filipino comedy film “Fruitcake” follows a diverse cast of characters hailing from different walks of life, struggling with personal issues. As each person faces the worst day of their life, their paths unexpectedly intertwine on a fateful train ride. Produced by Create Cinema and Cornerstone Entertainment, “Fruitcake” celebrated its theatrical release in the Philippines on June 12. Speaking to ARRI, director Joel Ferrer DGPI, cinematographer Tey Clamor LPS, and the Malasmalas visual effects team reveal how they worked together to achieve captivating images for the VFX-heavy film. 

“With a mishmash of different characters, we decided on making the visuals chaotic, but at the same time preserve a sense of naturalism against the funny, absurd, and fast-paced storytelling to ground the characters within a realistic setting,” says director Ferrer.

Embracing the director’s affinity for movement in his past films, the team decided to make camera movements their primary way of pushing the visual storytelling forward, mimicking the dynamic motion of a train. “We aimed to have the camera act as a unifying element stitching the various narratives together. Having train scenes that needed a significant number of VFX shots, coupled with the challenges of dealing with multiple characters with diverse skin tones, I chose to go for the superior image quality and robust build of the ALEXA 35,” reveals DP Clamor.


The ALEXA 35’s gorgeous visuals and outstanding caliber blew my mind. The image quality is second to none, and it made the film a hundred times better.

Joel Ferrer

DGPI, Director

“The ALEXA 35’s gorgeous visuals and outstanding caliber blew my mind. The image quality is second to none, and it made the film a hundred times better, reaffirming our confidence that ‘Fruitcake’ belongs on the big screen,” adds Ferrer, who had his first encounter with ALEXA 35 on this project.


Joel Ferrer DGPI and Tey Clamor LPS framing a scene from the film

Due to the intricacies of the project involving a myriad of characters in a confined space, complex shots, and multiple shooting days, the team opted to shoot inside a stationary Light Rail Transit (LRT) car and employ VFX to simulate a moving train. DP Clamor recounts, “It was my first time lighting a non-moving train and making it appear in motion. It presented quite a unique challenge, so I collaborated with my gaffer and key grip, conducted thorough research, observed actual trains, and meticulously planned a detailed lighting diagram.” 

“We dedicated a separate day solely to installing and lighting all the green screens while simultaneously rehearsing blockings and shot lists with the crew. Each shot was thoroughly discussed and blocked. Not only to prepare for filming but also to equip the VFX team with a clear understanding of what to expect and enable them to devise a plan for any possible obstacles early on,” continues director Ferrer. 

The production utilized a range of ARRI lights to illuminate the green screens, including several SkyPanels, controlled remotely via DMX by Clamor and co-operator Mico Manalansay, as well as ARRI D12 and D40 fixtures. Clamor explains: “Each light source was of premium quality, ensuring an even tone for the green screens and providing the appropriate lighting for dynamic movements in my train scenes.” 

“In terms of workflow, the ALEXA 35’s LogC4 functionality significantly enhanced my flexibility in exposing images, a boon given our limited lighting resources. I was genuinely pleased with the newfound freedom it offered, particularly when contending with the intense Philippine sun,” says Clamor, who had prior experience with the camera and now considers it an invaluable asset.

“The camera's impressive dynamic range proved to be a game-changer. Additionally, the exceptional performance of the REVEAL Color Science added another layer of excellence, making the color grading experience thoroughly enjoyable for both myself and my talented colorist, Joe Nico Ebora," continues Clamor. 

Two ALEXA 35s capturing the interior of a train

Two ALEXA 35s capturing the interior of a train

Malasmalas Studios, a local post-production boutique, also played a vital role in the entire filmmaking process from pre-production to post, breathing life into the film’s VFX and CGI. “We needed to navigate through more than 100 shots for the film. It was definitely a demanding task of handling each shot and choosing which one to prioritize, but overall, we were satisfied with the results. The footage wasn’t grainy, even in sequences filmed during nighttime or under low-light conditions. The clips exhibited an outstanding dynamic range, allowing us to access abundant details in the highlights and shadows,” say CG artist Vladimer Castañeto and VFX artists Tricia Bernasor and Shaine Robles.

Crew members installing and lighting the green screen for VFX sequences

Crew members installing and lighting the green screen for VFX sequences

As visual effects and virtual production continue to progress in Asia, including the Philippines, the selection of gear and equipment has become crucial.

“Advancements in camera and lighting setups will help bolster the local visual effects industry. These technological strides enable post-production creatives to access clips with better dynamic range, clean noise profiles, and easy-to-manipulate footage,” says the Malasmalas team. “If productions are mindful about their VFX shots early on, post houses could be granted greater liberty to be more imaginative and collaborate effectively with the film’s overall creative direction.”

Catch “Fruitcake,” currently showing in theaters across the Philippines.