By Randi Altman
Stock imagery house MammothHD has embraced 8K production, shooting studio, macros, aerials, landscapes, wildlife and more. Clark Dunbar, owner of MammothHD, is shooting using the Red 8K VistaVision model. He’s also getting 8K submissions from his network of shooters and producers from around the world. They have been calling on the Red Helium s35 and Epic-W models.
“8K is coming fast —from feature films to broadcast to specialty uses, such as signage and exhibits — the Rio Olympics were shot partially in 8K, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be broadcast in 8K,” says Dunbar. “TV and projector manufacturers of flat screens, monitors and projectors are moving to 8K and prices are dropping, so there is a current clientele for 8K, and we see a growing move to 8K in the near future.”
So why is it important to have 8K imagery while the path is still being paved? “Having an 8K master gives all the benefits of shooting in 8K, but also allows for a beautiful and better over-sampled down-rezing for 4K or lower. There is less noise (if any, and smaller noise/grain patterns) so it’s smoother and sharper and the new color space has incredible dynamic range. Also, shooting in RAW gives the advantages of working to any color grading post conforms you’d like, and with 8K original capture, if needed, there is a large canvas in which to re-frame.”
He says another benefit for 8K is in post — with all those pixels — if you need to stabilize a shot “you have much more control and room for re-framing.”
In terms of lenses, which Dunbar says “are a critical part of the selection for each shot,” current VistaVision sessions have used Zeiss Otus, Zeiss Makro, Canon, Sigma and Nikon glass from 11mm to 600mm, including extension tubes for the macro work and 2X doublers for a few of the telephotos.
“Along with how the lighting conditions affect the intent of the shot, in the field we use from natural light (all times of day), along with on-camera filtration (ND, grad ND, polarizers) with LED panels as supplements to studio set-ups with a choice of light fixtures,” explains Dunbar. “These range from flashlights, candles, LED panels from 2-x-3 inches to 1-x-2 foot panels, old tungsten units and light through the window. Having been shooting for almost 50 years, I like to use whatever tool is around that fits the need of the shot. If not, I figure out what will do from what’s in the kit.”
Dunbar not only shoots, he edits and colors as well. “My edit suite is kind of old. I have a MacPro (cylinder) with over a petabyte of online storage. I look forward to moving to the next-generation of Macs with Thunderbolt 3. On my current system, I rarely get to see the full 8K resolution. I can check files at 4K via the AJA io4K or the KiPro box to a 4K TV.
“As a stock footage house, other than our occasional demo reels, and a few custom-produced client show reels, we only work with single clips in review, selection and prepping for the MammothHD library and galleries,” he explains. “So as an edit suite, we don’t need a full bore throughput for 4K, much less 8K. Although at some point I’d love to have an 8K state-of-the-art system to see just what we’re actually capturing in realtime.”
Apps used in MammothHD’s Apple-based edit suite are Red’s RedCineX (the current beta build) using the new IPP2 pipeline, Apple’s Final Cut 7 and FCP X, Adobe’s Premiere, After Effects and Photoshop, and Blackmagic’s Resolve, along with QuickTime 7 Pro.
Working with these large 8K files has been a challenge, says Dunbar. “When selecting a single frame for export as a 16-bit tiff (via the RedCine-X application), the resulting tiff file in 8K is 200MB!”
The majority of storage used at MammothHD is Promise Pegasus and G-Tech Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 RAIDs, but the company has single disks, LTO tape and even some old SDLT media ranging from FireWire to eSata.
“Like moving to 4K a decade ago, once you see it it’s hard to go back to lower resolutions. I’m looking forward to expanding the MammothHD 8K galleries with more subjects and styles to fill the 8K markets.” Until then Dunbar also remains focused on 4K+ footage, which he says is his site’s specialty.