Published on Tuesday, 06 August 2013


Sony PMW-F55 Captures a Chocolate Documentary at 4K

Filmmaker Loic Houeix recently used the PMW-F55 to make a five minute short film about famous Lyon chocolatier Philippe Bernachon in 4K. He wanted to capture very high quality images with the F55 in 4K, while shooting the same way that he does when making a documentary. The resulting film needed to be suitable for broadcast on large screens at international chocolate fairs, as well as on the Bernachon website at lower resolution.

“We wanted to see if we could shoot just as quickly as HD, using a basic set up and a small crew, and also test out the F55’s slow motion capability,” Loic said. The film’s subject is the Bernachon family-owned chocolatier and patisserie in Lyon, France, which was started in the early 1950s by Philippe Bernachon’s grandfather Maurice and has been producing hand-made chocolates ever since. Loic aimed to show how Philippe and his staff make their chocolate and use it to create the company’s well-known confectionary.

The crew included a lighting cameramen and a journalist on the two and a half day shoot with kit kept to a minimum - a range of lights, a small slider for moving camera shots and a HD monitor. The camera team spent a lot of time setting the lights, planning to grade the final film later on to take some of the warmth out of the images.


Using the F55’s PL mount, the camera was fitted with Angenieux and Fujinon Cine zooms. Media was recorded in 4K in XAVC, a format specifically developed by Sony to meet the growing demand for 4K production and higher frame rate shooting. “I decided to use XAVC because of the way it handles 4K data,” explained Loic. “It puts out very fast rendering of the image with very little calibration.” The XAVC material was recorded to 64GB SxS cards at a frame rate of 59.94, and transferred via a card reader to a MacBook Pro running FCPX in about ten minutes.

The F55’s sensor was made to achieve a light sensitivity from ISO 1,250 up to 10,000 so that, ideally, a DP can shoot quite detailed 4K images in varied lighting conditions and still capture good results from very low light. Loic also said he wanted to see fluidity of movement in the video, which is why he chose the 59.94 frame rate.


As well as manipulating the images, Loic found the F55’s size and weight easy to work with on the shoot. “It is well balanced and light, which makes it easy to handle and makes rigging and derigging very quick, which is important in documentary-style shooting, and also has a global shutter, which eliminates the problem of rolling shutter distortion.”

Nevertheless, his main interest was the images. He said, “The difference with shooting 4K is detail. In any area of the image 4K gives you more. When we saw the images projected onto an 85 inch screen we could really appreciate the sharpness of the image. This changed the perception of the whole film, immersing you in the subject and showing off the subject – the Bernachon chocolate.”

The only problems the team encountered came in post production when grading the film. A potential issue with 4K is that some of the software in the post pipeline may not have caught up yet to 4K. “We spent a lot of time trying to colour correct the 4K footage at 59.94, but in the end had to colour correct an HD version and then copy the grade to the 4K version,” Loic said. “We solved the problem by continuously juggling between HD and 4K with lots of trial and error. In retrospect it would have been easier to edit and colour correct at 25p.”