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Panasonic GH2 at Sundance and Slamdance: Carruth's 'Upstream Color' and Orbegoso's 'Musgo'

The Panasonic GH2 is something of an anomaly in the camera world. Out of the box it looked good enough, but it wasn’t until the hackers got to it that things really got interesting — which was a very similar situation to the previous camera, the GH1. The Panasonic line hasn’t quite taken the industry by storm the way the Canon DSLRs have, which could come down to familiarity and/or high-profile endorsements. Either way, that hasn’t stopped a couple of festival-worthy films — Shane Carruth’s Sundance film Upstream Color (which won an award for sound design at the festival and is being self-distributed in April), and Gami Orbegoso’s Slamdance film Musgo from shooting on the camera. Check out some footage and clips from both films below.

Here is the trailer followed by some clips for Upstream Color, which Shane directed and starred in, and also acted as Director of Photography:

Shane has been quiet on the budget (there are some rumors it may be under $50,000) and the camera used on the movie thanks to the situation that happened on his last film, Primer, which was shot on Super 16mm for $7,000. Primer, which came out in 2004, has become a cult hit, but he did not like that so much of the focus was about what he did with so few resources, instead of the actual film itself. It may seem like we’re doing exactly that with this post, but in fact I am pointing it out not because of what he did without a ton of resources, but that many of you reading have some of these very same resources at your disposal.

Mr. Carruth doesn’t strike me as the person who would settle for a look he wasn’t happy with, so it’s clear that the image held up on the big screen. We don’t have too many more details other than an IMDb page and some photos, but we do know that they used at least a Rokinon 85mm lens, and supposedly Voigtlanders were used for much of the shoot. Here are the only two behind the scenes photos I’ve found so far:

That’s not the only Panasonic GH2-shot film that made its way around Utah just a few weeks ago. Gami Orbegoso’s film Musgo made an appearance at the “rival” Slamdance festival. Some of you may have even seen this trailer that made the rounds just a few months ago:

Gami also made available the first 5 minutes of the film, and released a couple behind the scenes videos:

Musgo was shot in only 7 days in Spain on a budget of 3,500 Euros. They used the 42mbps patch and the Smooth profile (all -2), and the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Nikon 28mm, and Nikon 50mm lenses.

From what I’ve seen of the GH2 on the big screen (which was at the Zacuto shootout), it certainly holds up much better than Canon’s DSLRs in terms of clarity and resolution (excluding the 1D C for now). I personally felt at the time that the image looked a bit processed and sharpened (which would have happened in the camera), but it’s definitely outputting more resolution than the Canon DSLRs, and held up a tad better overall to grading. While there are so many more cameras to choose from than even a year ago, the GH2 is still a heck of a bargain when you consider that you can get one for under $1,000 and it can take basically any lens out there, including old and new PL glass.

The real lesson to take away, is that the tools exist cheaply enough to get you a professional looking result. You don’t have to spend $20,000 on a camera, especially if a sub-$1,000 camera can get you 3/4 of the image quality. You don’t need to shoot on RED or Arri to get a movie into a bigger festival. Shane and Gami both prove that it’s a combination of everything that makes your film worth watching, and it’s likely you already own most of the tools necessary to make your own feature film.

Who has a GH2? What do you think of the results the filmmakers got above? Has anyone seen either of the films above, if so, what did you think?

Links:

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COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • Yeah, I saw upstream color at the Sundance Film Festival last January and I have to say this film is visually stunning. Audio, editing, music, performance, cinematography is fantastic (in fact, I’m listening to the soundtrack right now). The script is strange, but definitely works with the setting its being presented in. Whatever camera lens he was using, it worked effectively. Try to see it in April when it comes out!

  • So I’m assuming both films were shot on hacked GH2s at 24p. One thing the GH3 can’t do (at this point).

  • We shot Tiger Lily Road on an unhacked GH2. Lenses: Oly 14-35 f2 (rented) and an assortment of nikons. It’s a great camera. better than canons. Only thing that intrigues me more right now is BMC. Cinematographer was Nils Kenaston and you know, that’s what gave us the picture. He really knows how to light in all circumstances. Some scene clips here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIImcfXY3QU&list=PLdGRnM4jgcyQ8RAz9DoJ_xvN_VaLZK-V6

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