URSA Mini 4.6K and DaVinci Resolve Studio on National Parks Film Series
Blackmagic Design recently announced that the online series ‘More Than Just Parks’ is captured with an URSA Mini 4.6K digital film camera and graded with DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Founded by brothers Will and Jim Pattiz, ‘More Than Just Parks’ is an online short film series designed to encourage the exploration and conservation of the United States’ national parks by making their stunning landscapes, coastlines and forests come to life. With each short film focussing on a different park, ‘More Than Just Parks’ features a combination of familiar visual landmarks, as well as never before seen compositions and landscapes, such as Redwood National Park’s mammoth namesake trees. To make the film series as eye catching as possible, the Pattiz brothers shoot anywhere from 150 to 300 time lapses per park, ranging from as short as ten minutes to as long as an entire day.
The Pattiz brothers chose to shoot the series with an URSA Mini 4.6K so they could capture and deliver hyperrealistic images of the parks, to help foster an emotional connection between their audience and the parks, and successfully execute their mission to preserve them. The brothers equipped the camera with an URSA Viewfinder, which allows the duo to achieve incredibly accurate focus and eliminate guesswork when focusing in on a shot.
“We start by finding an interesting composition that includes a moving component, usually water, clouds, or lighting. Next, we set up the camera and adjust the settings that we think will work best for the shot. One feature we love about the URSA Mini 4.6K is that unlike DSLRs and most third party time lapse gear, when we press record on the camera it just records until we want it to stop. Many other systems force you to input the duration for the time lapse to run or a specified stop time, which can cause you to miss the shot. With the URSA Mini 4.6K, we don’t have to worry about that,” said Will Pattiz, cofounder, ‘More Than Just Parks’.
So far, the brothers have covered 14 of the 60 U.S. national parks, including the latest, Hawaii’s Haleakala National Park. Unlike the other national parks that the brothers have covered, they wanted to convey a laid back look for Haleakala, since it’s one of three U.S. national parks located in a tropical climate. To achieve this, they relied on the URSA Mini 4.6K for all live action shots, leveraging the camera’s ability to film at 60fps. They then slowed the footage down to 24fps in post, to achieve an easy paced, island time feel without compromising the quality and look of the shot.
The URSA Mini 4.6K’s lightweight, magnesium alloy build came in handy during the Pattiz’s shoots, as they trek around the park capturing waves breaking along the shore, clouds rolling over mountain tops, and tropical waterfalls.
“Since we’re hiking with the camera throughout the parks, we need something lightweight and durable. Despite extreme conditions, the URSA Mini 4.6K has never faltered. When we were filming in Arizona’s Saguaro National Park on a 120° day, the camera continued to run all day without overheating. At Haleakala, we started down at sea level where it was 80° and humid, and then drove up to 10,000 feet above the clouds where it was 40°, but we never doubted that the camera would stand up to the conditions,” explained Pattiz.
The Pattiz brothers rely on the URSA Mini 4.6K’s 15 stops of dynamic range to keep the footage as real to life as possible. “We want the footage to replicate what we saw with our own eyes. For example, in the time lapse of the clouds moving over the mountain tops, it was critical to pull back on the exposure and draw out the shadows to really make the texture of the clouds pop. With the camera’s dynamic range, we can bring it as close to real life as possible,” said Pattiz.
The brothers then use DaVinci Resolve Studio in post to further develop the series’ vivid look. “We love that DaVinci Resolve Studio is node based, so you can keep stacking different effects on top of each other during the grading process. For example, when we were grading the footage of the turtle swimming in Haleakala, we wanted to isolate specific colours on its shell and manipulate them one at a time, without affecting the whole turtle. In the footage, the turtle had really dark colours in its shell and on its face, so we used DaVinci Resolve Studio to isolate the dark spots and give them more of the brownish hues they have in person. Then, we used a different node to pull the yellows in its shell and make them a bit softer and greener. The result was a shot that perfectly mirrored what we saw in real life. DaVinci Resolve Studio helped us bring the image to that level of hyperrealism,” Pattiz concluded.
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