Photography of ‘The Madones’ by Becky Parsons (1 of 2)

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number one of two: capture resolution and effects

‘The Madones’ by Barrie Dunn, a black and white independent feature film. Distributed in Canada by Level Film.

Faced with a black and white film I always first explore the RED camera systems. I find the cinematic capture particularly good within the shadows and a rich crisp black. David Fincher’s ‘Mank’ was a film I was looking at in preparation for ‘The Madones’. Fincher and DOP, Erik Messerschmidt, discovered the superior tonal quality of the 8K HELIUM black-and-white camera by RED. For ‘The Madones’ it was not possible to have the monochrome sensor, however, suitably for the project the WEAPON housed RED HELIUM 8K S35 1.9:1 was our fortune to utilize, its sensor’s colour filter remaining. As well as superior tones it enabled us to have a 7K resolution motion picture capture.

The choice to capture so much picture information was for a handful of reasons and most of all it enabled the full design of the film to continue into the post production stage for Barrie, the editor Sarah Byrne and for the final picture grading stage. The greatest utility for capturing so much resolution was to facilitate a considerable punch in on a character when necessary and therefore loading up the choices for the edit.

‘The Madones’ is a portraiture piece with an intensely emotional look at the many faces of mental health struggle. For the creative process between Barrie and his cast, particularly within the harder hitting scenes, I wanted the camera to stay further out of the way, knowing there was option for a quality punch in. This came into its own on days, for example, with a full ensemble of characters in Stella’s living room.

Having this sort of freedom throughout the edit stage is powerful for the story to emerge.

From the first days of designing ‘The Madones’ there were to be visual themes that would have their finesse in the post production suite. With a 7K resolution capture, we had all the pixels we needed to easily create smooth and realistic effects that would blend with the nostalgic tone of the photography. For an example, we purposefully augmented smoke.

There’s a scene on a beach at night that we had captured on a cloudy day in the afternoon. Here’s the before and after of one of the shots from this scene.

PART TWO of this will be posted here 26 March, with The Madones going to the streamers. Google Play, YouTube Movies, Apple TV, Prime Video, The Cineplex Store, Telus, Bell, Shaw, and Rogers.