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New showreel for 2016

I've been working away at creating a new showreel for quite a while now. My old one ended up almost a year old, waiting for permission to use certain films, and generally not having the time to work on anything for myself. But finally I decided I'll take the plunge and get something made that I can be proud of. This time round, I started completely fresh, and gathered the best shots from everything I've done. There's close to fifty shots used in the reel now. Here it is, for anyone interested:

Everything was re-graded since the older version. I have a bit more knowledge of Davinci Resolve so am able to do a much better job on it all. I mostly used FilmConvert throughout as a base to convert Log to Rec709, but I worked a lot on the images after that as well. I added a small amount of film grain to every shot, around 20-40% of the amount you'd actually get with 35mm film, again using FilmConvert. I think a little bit of grain really helps to bring an image alive, so although my cameras all shoot pretty clean, I 'degraded' the image in post if you want to call it that! I'm also a huge fan of vignettes, so you'll see a lot of them in the reel, hopefully they're not too extreme, but it's something I really think helps draw the eye to the important parts of the frame. You'll also notice plenty of teal shadows, and golden skin tones, which I like a lot.

James Westlake Cinematographer Colour Grading

I even ended up doing a couple of very minor VFX jobs, cleaning up skin with Mocha Pro 5's remove module, even one sneaky digital eye light (shh, don't tell anyone!).

James Westlake Cinematographer Skin Cleanup

I've used quite a variety of cameras in the reel, from my Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k and my old Blackmagic Ursa 4K, through to 35mm film, and even my little Sony A7Rii. Actually, my favourite shot in the reel is the shot of Santa near the beginning, and that was shot on the A7Rii with a Sigma Art 50mm prime lens, so the cheapest camera I used in the whole reel. I think this just goes to show how much these 'stills' cameras have moved on in terms of video quality. Sure, it's only an 8 bit codec, quite a low bitrate. But that sort of shot; which doesn't need really heavy grading that could make the image fall apart; works just as well on a Mirrorless Sony camera than it would have done on a much more professional Blackmagic or Red. I was reading an article earlier today in fact, about how they used Sony A7Rii and A7Sii cameras on 'A Street Cat Named Bob' - these cameras are genuinely high enough quality for cinema release films, which is absolutely fantastic for indie filmmakers.

James Westlake Cinematographer Meeting Santa
James Westlake Cinematographer with the Gaffer

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the reel and enjoyed reading a bit of the 'behind the scenes' of me creating it. See you when I next get round to writing a blog post!

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