Brooklyn Bicycle Co. turned to Crooked Letter Films, a New York City-based one-stop shop, to shoot and post a promo for its website. Showing off the best parts of the New York City borough and highlighting Brooklyn Bicycle Co.’s role in the community, the 90-second spot follows three local bikers along their daily routes through the city, highlighting landmarks and close-ups of the bikes.
Prior to production, Crooked Letter (@CL_films) founder Gabriel Gomez and DP Benjamin Garst compiled an extensive shot list. While a majority of the shots required a tripod, several of the action shots called for handheld. They chose to shoot the film in ProRes with an AJA Cion production camera.
“We’re in a day and age where anyone with a DSLR can call themselves a filmmaker, so we’ve recently started upping the ante for projects by working in higher resolutions and less-compressed formats, like ProRes,” explains Gomez. “For this project in particular, we wanted to create a branded piece that felt more like a short film, and Cion helped us give the piece that high-end cinematic feel.”
Gomez and his team often shot out of the back of a van, taking advantage of the camera’s lightweight and accessible top handle to manage “run-and-gun” situations. Using the camera’s PL mount, Gomez and Garst branched used a combination of Cooke 18-100 T3.1 and Cooke 25-250 T3.7 Cine PL lenses. Having set Cion at ISO 320 with extended gamma and flat settings, they captured 700GB of ProRes 444 and ProRes 422 footage. The combination of the Extended 1 Gamma mode with flat color correction in ProRes 444 enabled the team to get a lot of dynamic range, which in turn allowed the team to get a lot out of the color in post.
Using Cion’s AJA Pak doc, Crooked Letter’s team transferred ProRes footage into Adobe Premiere Pro CC for post, which they used to stylize the look of each shot. The team had many layers of color information from Cion to work with, so it could easily adjust the highlights and manipulate the footage without ruining any of the original color information during grading. The available color information proved particularly important for the closing shot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“That last shot is big, wide and closes the piece, so it was crucial we get it right,” Gomez says. “Given the pretty bleak, overcast shooting conditions that day, we thought it might prove a challenge, but Cion provided such an amazing amount of infinite color detail that we were able to turn a gray and blown-out shot in reality into a picturesque sunrise shot with purple and orange washes, and even bring back the clouds.”