Panic! At The Disco Shot on URSA Mini Pro in Blackmagic RAW

Blackmagic Design has announced that the latest music video from Panic! At The Disco titled ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ was shot on the URSA Mini Pro and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K using Blackmagic RAW. The video, shot by music video veteran Brandon Dermer, has become one of the fastest watched videos in the world and supports the bands hugely popular ‘Pray for the Wicked’ world tour.

The video follows the puppet Beebo, a caricature of lead singer Brendon Urie that has already starred in other Panic! At the Disco videos, as he gains back stage access to a live concert, but misses his chance to interact with the band after partying too much. Urie developed the idea for the puppet and came up with the concept for the video, then contacted Director Brandon Dermer for execution.

“For ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ we wanted to thrust Beebo into the real world, and what better place than a Panic! Show.” The team used the URSA Mini Pro for more rehearsed moments, and the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for less planned shots. “Having the Pocket 4K available for those incredible unexpected moments of spontaneity was key,” said Dermer.

The production relied heavily on a documentary style, despite the added complexity of a live puppet in nearly every shot. “Working with puppets is a special effect that most people forget is a special effect,” said Dermer. The camera team, led by cinematographer Wojciech Kielar, enjoyed the flexibility of the Blackmagic cameras.

“The major draw of the URSA Mini Pro for me and specific to this project was how light weight it is while still packing a punch as far as the image goes,” said Kielar. “This project was very ‘run and gun’ and all of it was hand held so having a camera that can deliver 4K images, 15 stops of dynamic range and not kill my arm was very helpful.”

The team decided to shoot in Blackmagic RAW, and were happy with the results. “The dynamic range was incredible,” said Kielar. “Shooting at a concert space where at times it was very dark or very bright…. the camera was able to hold it all together.” Using the file format allowed the crew to shoot longer without changes, a key element of shooting fast during a live event.

In post production, colourist Ryan McNeal used DaVinci Resolve Studio to finish the project, and found the Blackmagic RAW format a great improvement over Cinema DNG. “Two things stood out to me right away,” said McNeal. “Colour space was great and it helped to have some access to camera raw settings for the session, both to make adjustments and to facilitate discussion between me and (Kielar). Also, the efficiency of the codec seems to be the biggest deal to me. Playback was smooth and compared to other similar codecs, I found it much more efficient.”

Dermer and Kielar enjoyed the process of colour on the music video, both because of the quality of the images from the Blackmagic cameras as well as working with McNeal. “The things Ryan is able to do in post is incredible,” said Kielar. “With digital film, the colour process is now a direct extension of cinematography, and having a true artist like Ryan, who is also tech savvy, is so important because he makes things happen that I didn’t even know are possible. I try to give him the best images to work off of, so hearing his positive feedback on the Blackmagic RAW images that are produced with the URSA Mini Pro made me happy.”

The video, which dropped on March 18th, began trending quickly. Dermer attributes the success to a great song, a compelling character in Beebo, and of course, good looking imagery. For him, the most fun was in directing a great music video with a great band, but also being able to do something unique with a puppet in a pure documentary format. “It was just incredible watching the fans interact with Beebo,” said Dermer. “Being a fly on the wall and living in his world, in his element, at a Panic! show was just really cool.”

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