Albert’s Chook Tractor

Technical Specs

    • Camera: Panavision Sony HDW-F900 (Mark-1)
    • Lenses:  Panavision Primo Digital Zooms: 8-72mm T1.9 and 25-112mm T1.9
    • Post:  Uncompressed SD Edit & Colour Grade in Final Cut Pro


Cinematographer’s Notes:


The TV Film, Albert’s Chook Tractor was produced in 2002 by Tasmania’s Roar Film for the SBS Australia Network.  I was introduced to Director, Steve Thomas and Line Producer, David Lightfoot by my then agent Sue Wild and we quickly found that we were speaking the same visual language.  With the December 2001 shoot taking place in the extremely remote Fingal Valley of Tasmania it was an ideal project to use the new Panavision-Sony Digital camera on.  Aside from budget issues, shooting on film would have resulted in little or no processed footage reaching us during the 11 day schedule.  With digital we were able to watch each day’s rushes after dinner.  Although this has now become a common practice, in 2001 it was still quite revolutionary.

After extensive testing with the new camera, I chose to shoot with my extended contrast camera settings and set exposure film style, using a light meter.  This gave me several advantages in the wild locations.  Firstly, I wasn’t reliant on a large HD monitor and video tent to check exposure, so we were able to move quickly both in camera setup and lighting.  Additionally, shooting film style also provided a higher level of exposure consistency when dealing with the constantly changing weather in the valley.

Our lighting kit was a fairly minimal package cobbled together from Hobart and Melbourne.  My Focus Puller from Desperate Deeds, Lachlan Milne, volunteered as the gaffer and did a fantastic job.  He has since gone on to become an accomplished cinematographer in his own right.

At the time it was only viable to complete the post production in Standard Definition, another reminder of how fast these things have changed.  At Steve Thomas’s suggestion, this also became the first broadcast project that I colour graded in Final Cut Pro, the beginning of a process that I still use a decade later and which led to the development of The Grading Sweet™.

Ben Allan ACS.

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