A new Torah

We are staying in lovely little AirBNB apartment in Tel Aviv on our Israel leg of this trip. We got “home” on our second day here and could hear what sounded like a wedding going on somewhere in the neighbourhood. I say it sounded like a wedding because I have shot a few Jewish weddings recently and the music sounded very much like that played at those weddings.

There was also someone talking on a loudspeaker, so I guessed it may have been a rally of some sort. It had been a long day of exploring and we were both pretty tired, but once I heard a song that I really like, I decided to get off my arse and see what was going on.

I followed the sounds and discovered two trucks lit up with neon lights followed by what looked like a mobile chupah and a big crowd. Then I remembered that there was a synagogue near our place and realised that this must be a procession for a new Torah scroll.

A Torah scroll is a handwritten book of the old testament. It’s a very holy thing for Jews and it’s a huge celebration when a synagogue gets a new one. I snapped some pics with my iPhone, but this event deserved video. I had been experimenting with S-log2 on my A7s and thought this “night shoot” would be a great chance to play around.

I ran back to the apartment, grabbed the camera - thankfully my new Ziess 35mm f1.4 (beautiful lens) was ready to go - and off I went.

As much as I wanted to capture the moment, I was aware that this was not a wedding I had been hired to shoot and I didn’t want to get in people’s faces too much. This is where the APSC mode on the camera really comes in handy. I was able to have a prime lens on the camera, but effectively switch from a 35mm to a 50-ishmm when I wanted to get a bit closer without intruding.

Looking at what I got, I think I’m getting a better idea of what S-log2 does and how to best expose for it. I have my zebras at 75% and I didn’t have a ND filter on. As a result, the lowest ISO was I going to get with S-log2 was going to be 3200. It looked, from the zebras, that I was overexposing a lot. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the footage back in FCP X that, except for one or two shots of the lights on the vans, I hadn’t overexposed much of the footage at all.

As for the compositions and actual camera work, considering it was all handheld, I am pretty happy with the steadiness of it. It’s far from perfect, but acceptable. I do wish I had been a bit braver and just asked people if they minded if I filmed them and gotten a few more intimate shots. As it is, I feel that most of the clip has very similar framing.

The colour correction took me quick a while. I think I’ll have to write another entire post on that (if I can remember since I cut this two days ago and have been on the road since!).

The short version would be that I used the built in colour tools in FCP X along with Magic Bullet Mojo. Mostly I was just getting more contrast and a bit more warmth. I know that S-log2 is meant to be very flat, but I found I didn’t have to bump up the saturation nearly as much as I thought I would need to.

I suppose the colour “look” I got with Magic bullet I could have done on my own with the built in tools of FCP X, but that would have been ages of playing around and experimenting. With plug-ins like Magic Bullet, FilmConvert and Colourista, I have these pre-prepared looks and it makes my work much faster.

Still, as a spur-of-the-moment shoot and quick edit, I think what I got was fairly engaging :)

Music purchased from www.cinephonix.com