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07-18-2023 - Gear

New ASC member Colin Hoult shares his thoughts on his career and the VENICE 2

By: Victoria Graham

Getting his start

While some cinematographers get their start in film school, Colin Hoult got his shot in an unlikely place: elementary school. At 11 years old, he began taking some basic introductory film classes on Saturday mornings, and - although students had a chance to try different creative roles - Hoult gravitated to the Super 8 camera and cinematography.

Hoult's real break came in high school when he met a local production manager at his school's Career Day. This landed Hoult his first opportunity to work as a Camera Assistant in Toronto during summer break. He recalled, "As I grew up, the business in Toronto grew up too. I was focus-pulling by age 19 and then worked up to camera operator by 24. As I worked in the camera department on union jobs, I concurrently worked as a DP on low-budget independent productions. I went on to become a full member of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) at the age of 29."

With his early success in Toronto, Hoult has spent the past 14 years working as the Director of Photography on shows like Chucky (2021) and Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (2022). His latest project, FUBAR (2023), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was recently released on Netfl

Finding his style

Hoult remembers learning about lighting design for the first time from reading American Cinematographer magazine, which he'd found in the local bookstore while in high school. He also learned tips and tricks from observing other DPs while working as a camera assistant and operator. As Hoult gained experience making short films, music videos, documentaries, and kid's shows, Colin used Sony products almost exclusively for video work, starting with the first-generation Sony CCD Betacams, through Digital Betacam, and on to the F-900. His work and equipment have evolved alongside the Sony product line to the high-end Sony VENICE 2 cinema camera he uses today.

Discovering Sony VENICE

"When the Sony VENICE came along, I tested it for the first season of Chucky and really loved everything about it. Having built-in ND filters in .3 ND increments is incredibly useful. Sony VENICE does such a great job with that. It's a time-saving tool and a problem solver as you don't need to sandwich as many filters up front, avoiding double reflection issues. Flipping filters at magic hour is way less stressful on the assistants! Creatively, it's also very helpful to be able to manipulate the depth of field from shot to shot. Being able to do that remotely with the push of a button is incredibly freeing. Also, switching from large format to Super 35 to allow the use of different format lenses was important to us."

Hoult gravitated towards the Sony VENICE for his work on the 2022 series Cabinet of Curiosities, where he and his DIT, Jasper Vrakking, rated the camera at 3200 EI and loved the results with extra highlight retention. He ended up shooting the entire series at those light levels. "The flexibility of the VENICE proved itself again and again. Using the Rialto camera head on a mini Libra allowed us to crawl through underground rat tunnels with our protagonist while lighting many scenes with only a flashlight."

Most recently, Hoult shot FUBAR on the VENICE 2 in 8.2K at 3200 EI and found being able to shoot with that size sensor and switch lenses and speeds on the fly was fantastic. His team of camera operators found the size of the VENICE 2 extremely useful, allowing them to get even more creative with their shots. The positioning of the cables and ports on this model were also welcome improvements over the first-generation VENICE for his camera assistant, David Nardi. "FUBAR demanded a blockbuster look and beautiful cast faces under considerable time constraints. We could depend on the VENICE 2's ability to handle a variety of color temperatures and yet always give us beautiful skin tones. Its sensitivity allowed us to capture expansive night exteriors on location without an expansive amount of lights."

Hoult also noted the efficiency of the data management system with XOCN. As a result, there was a lot less data to migrate to the lab, saving time and money in post-production. "Gautam Pinto our DIT, Chris Pare, DMT, and the labs are very happy with XOCN. With FUBAR, we tested X-OCN ST, and at 8K, it was visually indistinguishable from XT. So good the visual effects department didn't require us to go to XT. It was incredibly user-friendly." 

Hoult was tight-lipped about his next series in production, but he assured us he is using the Sony VENICE 2. Catch his latest series FUBAR now streaming on Netflix. 

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