I know that there are going to be some film-makers, photographers and camera geeks popping by this blog who are going to want the answer to a very important question – what kit did you use to shoot No Evil? So, for the gear freaks (like me), here’s the list.
The camera was a Nikon D800, because that’s what I have. I know that the film-maker’s DSLR of choice is the Canon 5D mk.III, but as a photographer I’ve used Nikons most of my career. (I actually started off with a Canon FTb, which I still have, but that’s a tale for another day.)
The glass we used was mostly a Nikon G AF-S ED 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom, which gave us most of the focal lengths we needed. The majority of shots were at the 35mm, 50mm and 70mm settings, although we did go out to 24mm for one. We also used an old Nikkor 85mm f/2 which I’ve had for about two decades and still love.
We used an Edelkrone Pocket Rig, which provided 15mm rods on which we could mount the excellent Focus One Pro follow-focus from the same company. The Pocket Rig also has a collapsible rifle stock, which was useful for some hand-held shots, although not as good as a proper shoulder rig (which is now on my shopping list).
To help with my rheumy old eyes, I invested in a Zacuto Z-Finder – a loupe (with diopter adjustment) that fits over the LCD screen on the back of the camera, giving you something that’s much like an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
On the D800, there are two ways of attaching this: you can permanently fix a self-adhesive frame to an LCD cover; or you can use the supplied ‘gorilla plate’, which attaches to the camera’s tripod socket. I started off with the former. However, on one particularly hot day, the frame became unstuck! Switching to the gorilla plate was okay, but the join between gorilla plate and Pocket Rig sometimes slipped, allowing the camera to rotate slightly, away from the follow-focus. All a bit irritating.
In order to ensure shallow depth of field, we used Tiffen neutral density (ND) filters – both a variable ND and a set of fixed filters (0.6, 0.9 and 1.2). The only problem with the variable ND was that it didn’t allow the mounting of the lens hood, and flare was a problem in some shots. Morgan, the camera assistant, ended up shielding the lens with a black Lastolite sometimes. So a matte box is also on my shopping list.
This kit was mounted on a $99 slider from Glide Gear, which stayed attached to the Manfrotto MVH502AH fluid head pretty much the whole time. It’s not a bad slider, for the price, but needed very careful use to avoid jerkiness. I’ll buy a SliderPlus from Edelkrone one day…
Supporting all this was my trusty old Manfrotto 075 tripod, which I bought back in the days of medium format photography (for my Mamiya RZ67, if you must know). It’s damn heavy. Fortunately, I also had Morgan, who proved more than adequate to the task of hauling it around and setting it up. What a great thing it is to have assistants.
How did it all shape up? The Zacuto finder was a godsend and the Edelkrone Focus One Pro performed brilliantly. As I did most of the focus pulls myself, as camera operator, having the indicator dial facing me, rather than to the side as with most follow-focus units, was extremely helpful. The only problem was that slippage between the Zacuto’s gorilla plate and the Pocket Rig. I’m thinking of replacing the gel pads on top of the Pocket Rig with some non-slip rubber like you find on tripods. Otherwise, it was all great kit.