September 10, 2014 at 5:44PM

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Narrative with GH4?

How come I haven't seen any real examples of narrative stuff (short films etc.) shot with this camera? Can any point me in the direction of some good examples? I'm thinking of buying the camera but haven't seen enough footage, outside of the tons of scenery and landscape video, to make a decision.

34 Comments

Well, it is a relatively new camera so no outstanding narrative films shot with it spring to mine. (just lots of videos like you mentioned, which take far less pre-production to make) But I'm sure in the months to come some great ones will come out.

I'm going to get a GH4 myself, as you can be quite confident in Panasonic's product here because they've had a great track record already with the GH3, GH2, and GH1 (which I have myself). Plus of course all their others such as the G6, GX7, and GM1.

Here is a couple of feature films made with the GH2 which were covered on NoFilmSchool:
http://nofilmschool.com/2013/02/panasonic-gh2-shane-carruth-upstream-col...

September 11, 2014 at 11:09AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2302

I'm familiar with the GH2 and the films it's been used to shoot. I've been reading comments about how whatever they did to make the GH2 so great has been lost in the following cameras. And I've seen that type of comment come up multiple times so I'm just nervous to dive in.

But I do have faith in Panasonic. I'm an old HVX200a user and am finally replacing it. I feel like this is probably the way to go, but it strikes me as odd that nobody is really using it at all for that type of thing. Even if it's just to screw around and film something short and fun without a whole lot of prep going into it. (narrative wise anyway)

September 11, 2014 at 5:44PM

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Zachary Eglinton
Writer / Director
288

I don't think you should be concerned at all. I haven't shot my first narrative work with it yet, but I've shot enough music videos, interviews and a TON of test charts to know that any limitation to narrative filmmaking is going to come more from me and other factors than the camera.

September 11, 2014 at 6:57PM

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Joseph Moore
Director
288

Good to know!!! It was a toss up between that and the BMPCC but really, the GH4 blows it out of the water in so many ways, I don't think I'll miss anything by skipping over that one.

Zachary Eglinton

September 11, 2014 at 8:40PM

Hi Zachary,

I've just shot my first feature on the BMPCC, with a couple of scenes (in/underwater) shot on the GH4. It's a great camera, but to be honest I think the BMPCC beats it hands down in terms of great looking footage - for drama it has a texture, dynamic range and feel that I've not seen from the GH4 yet.

I've got a load of sample screengrab stills on our Facebook page for the film: www.facebook.com/dsrmovie

The screengrabs in the water are from the GH4, the other screengrabs are from the BMPCC. Any black-and-white stills are production shots taken on a 5D Mkii.

Cheers!

Alex.

September 13, 2014 at 5:00AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3439

Thanks for the share, man! Stuff looks great! Even the stuff in the water. I've been going back and forth on those two cameras. I'm concerned about the raw images needing color correction/grading and when I just want to do something short with my friends outside of professional work, It won't have a quick turnaround. What's been your experience with grading the BMPCC footage?

Zachary Eglinton

September 14, 2014 at 6:59AM

Hi Zachary,

I've only shot RAW with it so far (so can't comment on grading any of the ProRes flavours). It definitely adds a hefty extra stage to your workflow (and gobbles up a lot of hard-drive space in the process). To be honest - if you're wanting to do things quick/easy, my personal opinion is that the BMPCC isn't the right camera!

Alex Richardson

September 14, 2014 at 7:35AM

Probably Alex is right, the BlackMagic is maybe just a LITTLE bit better, but is also like 800$ above the GH4 price. I own a GH4 and if you shoot on CineD mode, correct use of color correction,and some good lights, you can definitely get a very nice filmic look.

We have to also remember that is not 100% the camera we use, but how we use it and WHAT we do with it.

September 13, 2014 at 8:35PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1934

Ooh, not sure which Blackmagic camera you're thinking of Tommy - I'm talking about the Pocket - which is definitely cheaper (here in the U.K.) than the GH4.

Agreed though - what camera you use is less important than what you do with it, and when it comes to low-budget narrative you're best off with the camera that gives you good results easily. The BMPCC is great, but does have its issues!

Alex Richardson

September 14, 2014 at 4:16AM

Yes, this is totally true. I know that it's the nut behind the wheel that's more responsible for the look of the flick. But when investing money into a camera, I want to know which is going to get me the best bang for my buck. Ya know?

Zachary Eglinton

September 14, 2014 at 7:01AM

>>>I've been reading comments about how whatever they did to make the GH2 so great has been lost in the following cameras.

This is the biggest bullsh*t statement I've read this year.

Exactly WHAT is missing from the GH4 that the GH2 had ?

The answer: Absolutely nothing.

The GH4 does EVERYTHING a hacked GH2 ever did and a HUGE amount more.

Anyone who says otherwise had better back it up with empirical evidence, because there is so much bullshi*t floating about the web these days, especially from people who don't know how to properly use their own gear.

September 13, 2014 at 10:48PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30885

He's asking a question dude - not making set-in-stone statements! And I can see where he's coming from - the GH2 had a strong community behind it, who really managed to get the most from the camera and the results were there for everyone to see.

The GH3 never really had this (I own a GH3, and it definitely felt like something had been 'lost'), and the look of footage from the GH4 hasn't entirely grabbed me yet - that doesn't mean that it's not a good camera - more likely that I've not seen the right videos, OR people haven't yet got the most out of the camera.

Either way - it's a camera, not a family member! If someone isn't keen on it, nobody's hurt!

Alex Richardson

September 14, 2014 at 4:22AM

I've shot with it enough to say it's extremely capable, and would make a great primary camera for a feature. Keep in mind, a lot of the footage out there hasn't been color-graded properly, which might lead you to think it looks overly digital, when this is the farthest from the truth. With a couple tweaks to the settings, and feeding it through something like FilmConvert, you can get incredibly cinematic shots

September 14, 2014 at 5:01AM

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Peter Lipay
Director/Producer/Writer
177

Do you have any examples of footage you've shot with the camera? I'd love to just take look at some stuff if you do!

Zachary Eglinton

September 14, 2014 at 7:04AM

Yeah I don't want anyone to think I'm baiting gh4 hate or anything. I'm literally just relaying some statements I've read that have got me on the fence about the camera. If I'm gonna replace my faithful HVX with another camera, I'm going to want to know it can do the job.

That's all. No hate. I really like the camera. I just wanna see some examples of narrative stuff before I buy. Short films etc...

September 14, 2014 at 7:08AM

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Zachary Eglinton
Writer / Director
288

It was 2 years after the GH2 was released before films like Shane Carruth's "UpStream Color" or Gami Orbegoso's "Musgo" came along, so I would not expect to see the same from the GH4 or AS7 any time soon.

Guy McLoughlin

September 14, 2014 at 2:37PM

Here's one I did if I helps. We went wayyy to far with the teal/orange look though lol. Scopes are super important with this cam to get accurate skintones. https://vimeo.com/102787724

Dave

September 16, 2014 at 10:53AM

yea dude, i moved from the HPX170 pretty much straight to the GH4 and AMAZING. I also owned a 5D mkII but never liked it for filming because it didnt have the features although i did like the look, but the gh4 looks awesome and has everything in the menu you could need. Only thing that really is missing is ND, but nothing a tiffen variable ND filter hasn't solved. Take the plunge, you will be happy you did :)

September 14, 2014 at 11:51AM

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Jarrad Cody
Guy who likes film stuff
243

FYI: Both Olympus and Panasonic are announcing new firmwares for the Olympus EM-1 and the Panasonic GH4 at Photokina on Monday, and this may change the outlook for both of these cameras in a big way. ( especially the EM-1 camera )

http://www.43rumors.com/ft5-announcement-time-olympus-at-900-and-panason...

September 14, 2014 at 8:31PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30885

Total fail for Olympus and Panasonic with the firmware upgrade. Yes, 4K photo-mode will be great for still shooters, but there's almost nothing for video shooters in this upgrade.

I guess there will be no new GH4 news until the Atomos Shogun is ready to ship. ( drag )

Guy McLoughlin

September 15, 2014 at 3:58PM

I guess the answer to your question is no, no GH4 fanboys can post a link to any narrative videos. This is probably because many people are so excited about the newest tech they put no thought into actually creating a story outside of their nature test shots. Here's my two cents: Any camera now-a-days is going to be efficient for whatever you want to shoot. Do you need 4k? Probably not but is it nice to have in an affordable camera? Sure. Will it be "Filmic" well, I'm sure it's possible with tweaking but honestly it comes down to user preference as each camera has a unique look. I personally am not a fan of the look of the camera but in all honesty I could have posted a link to a narrative and told you it was shot on a GH4 when in actually it was shot on a 5d and you would not be able to tell the difference. This is why there is no camera shootout anymore. I would suggest renting it, it's really cheap off of borrow lenses -shoot some stuff then make your decision based on your own material/experience -that's safer then making a decision based on what anyone else says. http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Panasonic-Lumix-DMCGH4-Mirrorless-Mi...

September 15, 2014 at 3:09PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1495

GH4 4K footage is easily recognizable, especially when down converted to 1080 HD. ( it's 1500 lines of resolution in 1080 HD format versus 800 lines or less with non 4K cameras )

As for the "look" of GH4 footage it all depends on camera settings, lenses used, how the scene was lit, and how it was processed in post. Just like almost any other video camera, you can get a huge range of looks depending on your process. Take a look at Kendy Ty's Canon T2i footage that looks nothing like any other T2i footage because of how he processes his footage in post. You can do the same with any other video camera.

Guy McLoughlin

September 15, 2014 at 4:06PM

At this point, I'm inclined to agree with you. People say they've shot with it but other than a still from a scene in a short film that was filmed mostly with the black magic pocket... nobody has any examples? That's so weird to me. I go out and shoot short narrative stuff with my friends all the time. Nobody at all is doing that with the GH4?? That's weird to me. I see way too many stats and not enough footage. Maybe I will have to rent it. Although trying not to spend more money coming out of my camera budget.

Zachary Eglinton

September 15, 2014 at 6:52PM

I shoot corporate education and training videos for 99 percent of my work, and occasionally I shoot short narrative films with friends, but it's so much work to create something that doesn't look cheesy. ( friends are not too keen on doing the work, which is often a big limitation )

Guy McLoughlin

September 15, 2014 at 9:25PM

I agree with Guy McLoughlin - it all is really up to you and accepting that you as the director (or DP) are the one in charge of creating the filmic look and creating a narrative piece, not the camera. I shot a microbudget feature "12 Til Dusk" on the T3i. It's what was available, and so we made the best of it with our time, budget, etc.

Jake the film guy Keenum

September 16, 2014 at 11:07AM

https://vimeo.com/102787724

Here is a short we shot a few months ago, we think it came out well as far as displaying the capabilities of the cam. We have another coming out of post soon which is much better as we learned how to better deal with skintones.

There are many great GH4 shorts of vimeo, just search GH4 groups to find them.

It's true that 'test' videos vastly outnumber narratives but that is true of any cam and it still hasn't been out long enough to compile a large dy of examples.

September 16, 2014 at 10:48AM

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Dave
152

I hadn't checked the gh4 groups on Vimeo but in search all that was usually coming up was gh2 stuff.

But that was definitely something to showcase the camera. I'd love to see more I that kinda stuff so I'll have to give those groups a look!

Zachary Eglinton

September 17, 2014 at 4:13AM

878 GH4 Videos on Vimeo

https://vimeo.com/groups/gh4

Guy McLoughlin

September 17, 2014 at 11:29AM

Nice looking GH4 footage...

https://vimeo.com/groups/gh4/videos/104830277

September 17, 2014 at 11:32AM, Edited September 17, 11:32AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30885

Ya, you have to realize that executing a good narrative short can take months of hard work. I guarantee you you'll see lots of great looking shorts done on the GH4 within a year, but you can't just expect that stuff to be there out of the gate. If it was just something randomly thrown together in a weekend with a stock lens, it's probably not a good demonstration of what the camera is capable of. And as Stephen rightfully points out, lens choice, lighting, and framing are going to play a huge factor in this as well.

I shot this on a weekend hike https://vimeo.com/96299341 and was pretty happy with it given the conditions, but it's not even 1/10th of what the camera can achieve on a controlled shoot.

TLDR, ask me in 4 months

Peter Lipay

September 18, 2014 at 1:05AM

This one is for nofilmschool. I don't like this new layout, very confusing. The old one was quite easy to understand and to follow.

September 18, 2014 at 8:40AM

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The GH4 has a lot of contrast, sharpness and saturation, especially in the highlights, compared to cinema cameras. I would dial those down to the minimum and record as well in 10 bit so you can work on the color in post.

I would also find lenses with character. Lenses like the Panasonic 12-35mm gives it a very clinical & digital look. I find Nikon AI lenses are preferable to give a more analog look.

September 18, 2014 at 10:31AM

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Heri Rakotomalala
DP/Camera, Studio owner, Associate Producer
222

In my opinion the key to making video look "cinematic" or "filmic" is the lenses and lighting. Sure, the camera specs and dynamic range certainly help, but a BMCC or a Red isn't going to perform any better than something with less dynamic range unless you know what to do with it.

I'm getting ready to shot a feature in November, and we've decided to use the GH4. I did various tests and side by side comparisons between the GH4 and the BMPCC, ungraded and graded, and while the BMPCC obviously had more dynamic range, it wasn't anything significant enough that couldn't be fixed with adjustments in lighting for the GH4. Both cameras have very distinctive aesthetics, but in terms of actual quality of the video the differences were negligible. But, again, this is just my opinion. This is our indiegogo which was shot with the GH4. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/calamity-feature-film

In terms of 8-bit vs 10-bit, 10 is always better if you plan on doing "heavy" color grading. Otherwise, 8-bit is just fine. The GH4 has a high enough bitrate (100mbps in 4K and 200mbps in1080p) where you could grade it and not have to worry about banding or other issues.

And I agree with Heri. I have a set old Nikon AI lenses that I've converted into cine lenses and they are absolutely amazing on the GH4, especially in 4k. If you can get your hands on some good clean vintage Nikon glass I highly recommend it. They are very crisp and detailed, but not sharp and contrasty.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is compared to other cameras out there the GH4 is fine for a feature. We're shooting ours on one. And from what I've seen (again, just my opinion) the camera only has a little to do with what makes something cinematic or filmic. Lighting, composition, lenses, motivated camera movement. Things like that are what really matters.

September 18, 2014 at 1:51PM

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Andrew Greco
Director of Photography/Editor/Writer
149

I agree with Andrew. If you understand how to control DOF, how to use ND filters and how focal length affects DOF. If you can adjust contrast, sharpness and saturation in your camera. Then almost any camera can produce a cinematic look. A camera is only as capable as the person using it. That aside.........always remember......the story is everything.

Jerry Roe

November 2, 2014 at 8:09AM, Edited November 2, 8:09AM

I think there is something about about highlight roll of gh2 which made it the most cinematic looking camera and i haven't seen that in other dslr or mirrorless cameras ( looking at the footage on the net). like you I'm also planning to go for gh4 and like you i'm looking for some footage that will make me go for the camera. here is something i think is good looking footage of gh4 but still not impressed as gh2: https://vimeo.com/107965238

October 8, 2014 at 11:13PM

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