05-23-2022 - Case Study, Gear, Technology
Why the VENICE 2 was a Game Changer on DP Max Goldman's Dazzling Gatorade Spot
By: Oakley Anderson-Moore
Goldman's signature "stylized grit" is 60fps all day, every day. Now, he can do that without compromising on image quality.
When you walk on set in the high-end commercial world, there's a good chance you're shooting 60 frames per second and up. That's the case for Max Goldman, who pairs high frame rates along with vintage lenses as part of his signature visual style.
In the past, shooting high frame rates often meant reducing sensor scan area, which came with the headache of altered focal lengths. And using vintage lenses often meant a softer image.
Not with the VENICE 2.
Using a higher resolution imager, such as the VENICE 2's new sensor, allowed Goldman to accurately capture the character of his vintage glass. The combination of the VENICE 2 with vintage lenses, was perfect for Goldman’s Gatorade spot, The Moment Possibilities Are Born.
SonyCine caught up with Max Goldman to find out how the VENICE 2 performed on his fast-paced shoot.
The VENICE 2: like the original but better
Max Goldman has been an early adopter of many things. He decided as a kid he'd become a cinematographer. He cut his teeth on music videos in the 2000s when the music video industry had huge budgets and he could explore any visual idea he could come up with. So it's no surprise he was an early adopter of the original VENICE when it came out nearly four years ago.
"I was right at the beginning," Goldman says. "A great colorist friend, Tom Poole, told me about the VENICE and its dynamic range. Once I saw it with the Rialto, I knew it would provide me with a lot of options on set."
Since then, Goldman has been a convert. He's used VENICE on a ton of commercial work, including gorgeous spots for David Yurman featuring Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) and Scarlett Johansson.
And when it comes to the VENICE 2, the advances in image quality and the higher dual base ISO are an added bonus for Goldman.
"I just like how VENICE renders colors," explains Goldman. "I like the contrast and the way it shoots. So what was already great about the original VENICE, the color depth and rendition, has been upgraded. And then resolution, workflow, exposure range, and dynamic range is an upgrade in every way."
Why the VENICE 2 is a perfect match for vintage glass
Why is the higher image quality on the VENICE 2 such a big deal? For starters, it means you can get more out of vintage lenses – including the ones Goldman used on the Gatorade shoot.
"I tend to almost exclusively use vintage lenses," says Goldman. His knowledge of the exciting growing vintage lens market is vast. "The problem with vintage lenses is their resolution, the way they render images," Goldman continues. "It's not actually a problem, it's just what they do. They're softer. But what you get is a much more painterly image that I enjoy. It's more impressionistic. The idea of emulating a painterly feel always seems like the right choice to me, but you deal with loss of resolution, especially if you're shooting wider open, closer to the 1.4 that I like to shoot at. That can get a little muddy. With the higher resolution on a VENICE 2, I can shoot older, more extreme vintage lenses but capture them on a very high-resolution chip. You get a really great combination of two conflicting forces. That was the thing that stood out to me the most. That was a game-changer for me."
Wondering what vintage glass Goldman used for the Gatorade spot?
"They are vintage lenses provided by a company called Lensworks, which is run by a friend of mine," explains Goldman. "Type SK Large format cinema lenses are basically a bespoke set of lenses that Stephen Gelb at Lensworks put together after years of trial and error. They range from different Canon glass to Yashica rangefinder lenses."
In commercial art, slow motion is king
"In the short-form world, in the commercial world, whether it be fashion or sports, especially a lot of the shoots that I do, you're mostly shooting 60 frames a second," says Goldman.
"You'll do a four, five-day shoot, and every shot is slo-mo, and sometimes it's higher than 60 FPS. We used to really struggle with other cameras, because you'd have to drop the resolution so much, that sometimes your focal lengths change. I hated when the chip size goes down, and then your focal lengths change, and suddenly you're not really shooting the same lens. It feels like the camera's dictating more than it should. To be able to shoot 8.2K at 60 frames per second on the VENICE 2 was something that I've been waiting for, for a long time."
The truth about life and commercials: it must be fast without compromise
Max Goldman only had four days to shoot Gatorade's The Moment Possibilities Are Born spot at locations across Los Angeles. So every off-the-cuff decision that came up had to look great.
"A lot of times in short-form, the clock is ticking," describes Goldman. "You get yourself into these situations where you need to make really fast decisions while not compromising the creative. The VENICE gives you the tools for that. The dual-base ISO, for example. It scares me these days to go on a shoot without that option! That's why I'm always working with the VENICE. The color depth and rendition, the Rialto, I think that it allows you to make quick decisions that aren't compromises."
Pairing opposites, like fast with good, is part of what makes Max Goldman so good at what he does.
"I like this term, stylized grit," says Goldman about his style on the Gatorade spot. "They're almost opposite ideas, but it's this magical realism, or heightened realism. But you don't want the audience to feel like you're lighting in a way, or making it look a way that feels out of touch with reality. You want them to connect to it as a real emotional image and situation. It's that sweet spot between what feels real and magical at the same time. I think that's what I'm always after."