A few weeks back I was asked to shoot a promo piece for a local LA model who needed content for her new website. This was a very small project I shot/edited with no crew, and had the intention of also showing in here on the blog to discuss slow motion work on the GH4. I rarely get to show my work on NoamKroll.com as the projects I’m usually working on can’t be openly posted online, but that’s where projects like this come in. They give me a chance to test out some of my gear while shooting something fun and low key.
The main thing I wanted to test on this shoot was the ability to intercut regular speed 4K/24p footage with slow motion 1080/60p footage. In other words, I wanted to know if there would be a noticeable drop in quality in a real world shooting situation between 1080/60p and 4k/24p.
I shot this video in about 4 hours – most of which was spent waiting for the sun to change. There was less than an hour of actual shooting during that time, and I probably captured 30 minutes (at the very most) of footage. I knew I wouldn’t need a lot of footage since the edit was supposed to be about one minute long, and there wasn’t any storyline that would call for more coverage.
I decided to shoot every shot in both 4K/24p and 1080/60p so that I would have the option in post to use either format. Normally, I would have been inclined to shoot the entire video in slow motion as it’s conducive to this piece… But I wanted to challenge myself to use some regular speed footage too, although I didn’t use as much of it in the edit.
The only two lenses that I used were the Lumix 20mm F1.7 pancake lens, and an adapted Nikkor 50mm F1.4 manual lens. I didn’t have any stabilization other than a tripod, so my shots were somewhat limited to either sticks or some very light handheld work. I didn’t even have a shoulder rig, so it wasn’t really possible to do many tracking shots. As you might imagine, this was a very tiny micro-shoot, but that was part of the fun. I like to shoot in a very bare bones way from time to time to challenge myself to make the most of the gear I have. Sometimes it sparks some creative stuff… Other times it’s limiting.
In terms of camera settings, I shot this at Cine D with no other settings tweaked in camera. Sometimes I’ll dial in the picture profile settings a little bit, but more often than not these days I am avoiding messing with the GH4 settings too much.
I cut this together in about an hour using FCP X and graded it in FCP X too as I didn’t have time to send it out to Resolve. I also ran it through Film Convert at the very end and added a subtle look to it.
Here is the cut:
All in all, I was really happy with what the GH4 was able to deliver. If I had more time, resources, or a crew there are certainly things I would have done differently or added on to the shoot. But considering the limitations that I was working with, I was happy with the quality the GH4 was able to pull off.
In terms of mixing and matching the 4K and HD footage in post: I had no issues at all, and would happily intercut 1080p material into many of my 4K GH4 projects in the future. I’m sure if I were to master this in 4K and display it on a UHD TV the resolution difference would be more noticeable, but for the purpose of this video (which will be web based) it didn’t matter at all. In fact, if I were to do it again I would shoot it all in 60p since the slow motion effect is more critical than the added resolution in this case. But of course, that was the whole point of this test in the first place…
Why I Shoot 60p
I wrote an article a while ago about why I don’t shoot in the 96fps mode on the GH4. Essentially my point was that the data rate at 96fps is spread so thin that the image quality can suffer. I still feel that way. I know many of you out there have shot some great 96fps material, but for my needs it usually doesn’t work as well. I tend to need to grade my footage past what I would consider the GH4’s breaking point at 96fps, so to play it safe I like to stick to a lower frame rate. That said, even though I prefer to have more information in the file so I have maximum color flexibility in post, I also sometimes break that rule and sneak in some 96fps shots.
60p is always my go-to setting however, as it is just gorgeous. The compression is being pushed significantly less in camera which allows for a much stronger and more gradable image, in my opinion. I have also had some great results at 48fps, but for whatever reason I prefer the look of 60p footage – specifically when shooting in actual 60p mode, and not 60fps in over cranked variable frame rate mode.
The GH4 is a great tool. I knew that going into the shoot – which of course is why I used it. But I haven’t really had the opportunity to shoot this type of guerrilla style run and gun footage with the GH4 until this point, and it was nice to see how it performed under very limited conditions. Testing the camera in these circumstances really showed what the GH4 is made of, and solidified for me the quality of the 60p mode.
Feel free to post in the comments and let me know how you’re liking the GH4 – and slow motion in particular!
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!