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2022.01.21

01-21-2022 - Case Study, Gear, Technology

Shot on VENICE – Adele: One Night Only – Part 1 – The Interview

By: SonyCine Team

Keith Walker has been a DP for Oprah for over 25 years. Most recently, he headed the crew that shot the interview between Oprah and Adele as part of the Adele: One Night Only special that ran on CBS and is streaming on Paramount+. Both the interview and the concert were shot on VENICE cameras. We recently sat down with Keith to discuss his work. And stay tuned for an upcoming article with the DP of the concert segments of the special.

 

SonyCine:

The special looks great, both the interview and the concert. You were DP of the interview. How did that come about?

 

Keith Walker:

I am a co-owner of a production company here in Chicago, Media Process Group. We've been around for 30-plus years.

 

SC:

You sound too young to be around that long.

 

KW:

I'll take that as a compliment. This particular project was two-fold in that there were two separate productions that went into one big final show. I’ve been a DP for Oprah for 25-plus years, starting with her Oprah show that would tape in Chicago. I've always been an on-location specialist so I would do a lot of shooting with her when she was out in the field. I've traveled all around the world with her over these 25-plus years, both for the show itself and then after the show once she started her own network. I've worked with her on all of her big projects throughout the years.

 

When this particular project with Adele came up, the producers of the show reached out to Oprah and wanted to somehow include her in the concert. Oprah ended up doing the open for the concert, introducing Adele. The concert is interweaved with an exclusive interview that Oprah did with Adele prior to the actual concert night. The interview segues back and forth between songs and Adele and Oprah having a sort of fireside chat, if you will.

 

SC:

Did you shoot the interview on the VENICE?

 

KW:

Yes. We had five VENICE cameras for the interview itself.

 

SC:

Where did the interview take place?

 

KW:

The interview took place at Oprah's home in Santa Barbara. It's an expansive estate, pretty huge. We shot the interview in her rose garden.

 

SC:

Why did you select the VENICE?

 

KW:

It was two-fold for me, but the overall production [the concert] was going with the VENICE camera. I work with a number of different cameras depending on what the project is. A lot of times, as DP, I am able to pick the camera for the project, and then sometimes the camera that we use is already selected for whatever the reason so you just have to go with the program. But if I had my pick of the litter I would go with a VENICE all the time. I shoot a lot of documentaries as well. The VENICE is a great camera for interviews but it can be a bit heavy if you're doing verité.

Interview A Cam

SC:

Do you have another preferred camera that you use for docs?

 

KW:

Yes, I have two FX9s. And I have two FS7s. For documentary verité, I want a full-sized camera so I’ll go with the FX9 any day of the week because it gives you a little bit more latitude in terms of high quality but not being that heavy.

 

A lot of times, if I have a say so in the matter, I’ll pick the camera that I think will best work for the application. For sit down interviews, I’d select the VENICE all day, without a doubt.

 

SC:

How many cameras did you have for the interview?

 

KW:

We had five cameras for the interview. We normally shoot in an interview fashion, more like a talk show than a 60 Minutes style interview. We have two closeup cameras side by side that give us our main closeups on the guest and the interviewer, and a center camera on a two shot. Sometimes the center camera will also pick off singles from that position.

 

And then we also had a jib that was straight down the pipe that bounced around to give us moving lateral shots and up and down shots. They were seated in a rose garden and there was a lattice of flowers, plants and greenery all around them. So the jib could come down from a shot of just flowers and move left to right, right to left, up and down. And then the fifth camera was a roaming shot, if you will.

 

SC:

What lenses did you use on the VENICE?

 

KW:

We used the Angenieux 24-290 Optimo.

 

SC:

On all five cameras?

 

KW:

No. The jib had an Angenieux 15-40 but the primary cameras, which were the two closeups and the center, all had the 24-290s on them.

 

SC:

In what codec did you record?

 

KW:

XOCN-ST.

 

SC:

How did you go about synchronizing the time code of all the cameras?

 

KW:

Our audio person jam synced them.

 

SC:

Did you do anything specific to match cameras?

 

KW:

The color space we shot was S-Gamut3.Cine, S-Log3. On location we used a 709 LUT just for the producers to look at.

 

SC:

What ISO were you guys set at?

 

KW:

Base ISO, 500.

LEFT to RIGHT: DP Keith Walker, Lighting Consultant Ralph Wolfgang, Lighting Director Chris Landy

SC:

How did you light the interview?

 

KW:

We had a lighting director. The set was lit with HMI lighting with DMX. I think we were at a 4/5.6 split. The producer we worked with likes to see a lot of the background in focus, which is counterintuitive to what we all shoot, or how we like to shoot. There's always a compromise because he likes to see everything in focus as much as possible in backgrounds.

 

SC:

Interesting.

 

KW:

It's not how I normally shoot. There was so much depth in the shot but it turned out fine because the backgrounds weren't close. In the rose garden, with a lot of flowers he likes some of the flowers in the background to be in focus.

 

SC:

Did you have a camera assistant pulling focus for each camera?

 

KW:

Yes, we had ACs for each camera.

 

SC:

What resolution were you recording, 6K, 4K?

 

KW:

We recorded in 6K full frame.

 

SC:

Your final deliverable was what?

 

KW:

I don't know what that was because I was not part of the post end of things. We do a hand off and that's it.

 

SC:

Right.

 

KW:

We did do backup recording with Ki Pros, which are off-board digital recording boxes that you send a feed to and it and it records the signal and a backup.

 

SC:

Did you use the camera’s internal NDs?

 

KW:

I love them. I love them to death, yes. I think between those and the variable ND on the FX9, I don't know how we got along without them all these years. I'm glad that the technology is there. I think we dropped in a .3 ND.

 

SC:

What do you think makes the VENICE stand out compared to other cameras that you've used?

 

KW:

The latitude that it has. The dynamic range is awesome on that camera. I don't think there's anything out there that matches it, actually.

SC:

And how about the color science?

 

KW:

I think the color science has come a long way. And I especially like the new S-Cinetone in the FX9. I actually use the FX9 a bit more than the VENICE because I own them. The color science is awesome in that camera and the VENICE.

 

SC:

What about skin tones? How do you think the VENICE, or the FX9, handles skin tones?

 

KW:

Exceptionally well. The skin tones and texture are superior.

 

SC:

Was it your decision to go with VENICE for the interview?

 

KW:

Yes. They gave us the option and I chose to go with the VENICE camera.

 

SC:

What do you like about shooting full frame? VENICE, FX9…

 

KW:

The richness that it gives you. We've been waiting for this for a long time. I like the depth that it has, what it allows you to capture. And also the ability to get a bigger, wider frame. To capture a wider frame with the sensor and not have to back up further to get it. I shoot full frame probably 95% of the time.

 

SC:

When you're shooting with the FX9 what lenses typically do you use?

 

KW:

I'll use primes, for the most part. I have some ZEISS primes and the Sony G Master zooms, the 24-70 and the 70-200s.

 

SC:

How do you like the G Masters?

 

KW:

I've been using those more for the verité work. They're really sharp lenses, I like them. And with the autofocus, Sony's really advanced their cameras with that feature. I'm old school. We always were taught autofocus was more consumer and not professional. And to be honest, I kind of fought it when it first came out. I was like, Ah, that's cheating, we should be pulling our own focus. But the technology is so advanced that it pulls that focus faster than you can lock it in with your own hand. I like it a lot. I think that technology has really advanced.

 

SC:

Was HDR at all a concern on this shoot?

 

KW:

No, no it wasn't.

 

SC:

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the camera and your experience with it?

 

KW:

I have another DP who works for me. My business is such that I have two camera packages. If I could afford it I would buy two VENICEs in a heartbeat. But everything I need I have to buy two, sso I rent them all the time.

 

SC:

By the way, did you shoot the Prince Harry and Megan interview as well?

 

KW:

I did do the interview with Prince Harry and his wife, yes.

 

SC:

Was that on VENICE?

 

KW:

That was shot on Sony F55s.

 

SC:

Cool. Ok, thanks for your time.

 

KW:

Yep, thank you.

 

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