Blackmagic Design today announced that Cinematographer Xavier Grobet, ASC, AMC used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera for underwater shots on season two of “White Lotus”.
Set in Italy, season two of the social satire takes place at an exclusive resort and follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week. Whereas season one was set exclusively in a Hawaiian hotel, season two would have the luxury of more location shooting. “Looking at the aesthetics of the first season, it’s all about lush color and beauty,” said Grobet. “But there is so much to shoot in Sicily, and this season was written to explore all of these wonderful places. We had the freedom to go on day trips to these incredible locations, which opened up everything tremendously.”
“The ocean and the waves are an equally important focus for the show, along with the energy it brings,” continued Grobet. “Of course, Sicily’s waves are very different from those in Hawaii, but they still had their own energy we wanted to capture.” To shoot underwater scenes, Grobet tested a number of camera packages, but found them to be too heavy of a rig and not very practical. His previous experience with Blackmagic Design cameras came to mind.
“Back in 2015, when I was prepping for the movie ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,’ I was looking for a very compact camera to shoot inside moving vehicles,” said Grobet. “We didn’t want to go into process trailers and towing vehicles so I tested the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. I did tests comparing it to our main cameras and I couldn’t believe the dynamic range of the Blackmagic camera. I didn’t have any problems matching color with both cameras and the results were pretty amazing.”
On “White Lotus,” it was one of Grobet’s assistants that brought up the possibility of using a Blackmagic Design camera again. “We had scenes in swimming pools and the ocean, and needed something to work for both,” Grobet explained. “That’s when one of my assistants from Rome, Fabio Ciotto, suggested we try the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K with the Nauticam underwater housing. We got the rig to Sicily and performed a few tests for handling and quality, and then took the footage to our DIT Leonardo Frosina to process and compare. We found we had a pocket sized super quality camera that matched our main camera package seamlessly.”
Due to the camera’s compact size and lightweight design, Grobet was able to have the camera move easily from underwater to above during a critical fight scene. “It was almost no effort for Armando Avallone, our B camera operator, to operate the camera, which meant that I could be more creative and use the water, moving in and of the ocean, as another tool to help tell the story. I couldn’t have done that with other camera bodies,” he explained.
What impressed Grobet the most was not only the size of the camera package but the color science of the Blackmagic cameras. “I really like the image quality of Blackmagic cameras. The size is a big plus as it allows me to have a very small setup and the freedom of to put the camera in very tight spaces, but mostly I really respond to the dynamic range and image quality. Ultimately, the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K helped me accomplish those scenes the way we envisioned them,” concluded Grobet.
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