We think this may be the first finished documentary film shot entirely on an Digital Bolex D16. And the D16 may be the only camera that you could fit into this tiny cafe in New York
We are excited to announce that our short documentary film “Peter Pan Bakery” is now official released online as of today! It is one of the earliest films to be completely shot on the highly anticipated Digital Bolex D16.
As many readers of Red Shark know, we’ve had access to a production model of the D16 and have been shooting some small experiments with the camera. For our upcoming longer review, we have decided to take the camera out of the laboratory and drop it into a real-life production scenario.
This documentary is the result, and we’re happy to share some initial thoughts about shooting a verité documentary completely on uncompressed raw!
Our resulting short documentary film "Peter Pan Bakery" examines locals who work and dine at the family-owned Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, a long-standing establishment withstanding waves of change that are engulfing the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint.
There's no doubt that the Peter Pan Donut Shop has become a dessert-foodie destination, but the popularity of the long-standing bakery comes from the culture of shop as well as the donuts. Our film highlights the personalities of the family that owns the shop as well as the the folks who work and dine at the typically crowded counter space.
The analog, filmic look and feel made the Digital Bolex combined with a bag full of vintage c-mount prime lenses were a perfect match aesthetically, and added the type of ‘warmth’ we wanted to use to capture this story.
Thinking ahead to post
Pre-production is an important part of any film; but we knew that in addition to the typical subject related homework, we would have to do a little more investigation on how to handle raw in a very run-and-gun scenario both on location and in the edit room.
First, we knew that the shooting verité was going to create a lot of footage. When you translate that into data, the numbers add up very quickly, especially so when you’re shooting raw and know you’re going to need plenty of backup copies. Even though we planned on working in an offline format, we knew from our previous film’s shooting ratio that we were talking multiple Terabytes.
I approached Adorama who took an interest in our film and not only helped us develop an onset data-wrangling workflow but kindly provided all of our digital cinema storage. I honestly can’t thank these guys enough for their interest and support, without them our film wouldn’t have been possible.
On location, camera in hand
The uninterruptible daily hustle and bustle combined with the very limited space we had available at the bakery provided a particular challenge. It was unlikely that we would be able to use any conventional camera, tripod or lighting setups. The D16 ended up being a perfect match for this scenario for several reasons.
The form factor alone allowed for hand-held shooting without the use of any rigs. It was a bit of a rocky start as my body got adjusted but I quickly became very happy with how little space I took up operating camera.
The bright windows on the far side of the bakery often required harsh splits in our exposure. There was never going to be any chance to hang ND, so we often exposed more towards the subject, losing a lot of the background.
An equal challenge was the bakery itself. There isn’t much natural light back there, and there was absolutely no space to bring more than a small on-camera light. Even so, shooting at ISO 400, wide open at ƒ1.8, it was still difficult to nail exposure.
In each case I was blown away in post with the camera’s ability to pull detail out of both the shadows and highlight. Some before and after images: [see below]
Working with the D16 was a fantastic opportunity, and I look forward to detailing my experience in an in-depth review!
I’m excited to share this film with everyone, so please enjoy and help spread the word!
See the film after the break
For more info, visit the Peter Pan Bakery Film site here