The Creator, shot with the FX3.

I’ve been aware of this production, shot entirely with the Sony FX3 for some time. But I wanted to wait and see some footage before passing any comments. Well, the first trailer is out now and it looks great.

But really that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Sony FX3 is a small camera that delivers a very high quality image. It shoots S-Log3 offering 4K files with in excess of 14 stops of dynamic range. I wrote about the rise of small digital cinema cameras last year (The Rise Of The Small Cinema Camera). You don’t have to go that far back and films were being shot with digital cinema cameras with similar DR at 2.8K. And of course lens choice, lighting, composition, set design, post production etc are also key to great images. And when you have a decent budget there is no reason why any of these should be inferior just because you are using a smaller camera.  At this stage however we are only seeing highly compressed trailers online. It will be interesting to see how it looks on an IMAX screen, but I suspect it will look fine.

I do find it an interesting choice to choose to shoot the entire film with the FX3. I doubt it would have been for budget reasons, the cost of the camera is a teeny tiny part of the budget on a feature like this ($80 million?) and lets face it an FX6 doesn’t cost much more and a Venice would have been easily affordable.  The small size of the FX3 does bring some benefits, in the BTS film below you can see it being used on small lightweight gimbals (DJI RS3 I think) as well as small camera cranes. These can get into smaller spaces than bulkier gimbals and jibs, I expect this allowed for a very fluid shooting style. But at the same time you can see that they used wireless monitoring and a wireless follow focus. I also expect there would have been some kind of timecode feed as well as wireless audio. It can be difficult to find places to mount all this stuff with a small camera. In addition, with the FX3 the HDMI output has some limitations if you still want to see an image on the built in LCD and generally SDI is preferable over HDMI.  Perhaps if I had been asked to shoot this I might have used a mix of the FX3 and the FX6. Or perhaps even a Venice and then used the FX3 where portability and flexibility was paramount.  But the fact remains that it appears that a very good looking film has been shot entirely with the FX3 and audiences are unlikely to realise that the film they are watching was shot with such a relatively cheap camera.

It really is a great time to be a film maker. The majority of the cameras on the market today are perfectly capable of being used to shoot a movie. I’ve been working on a another blockbuster feature that used the FX3 alongside a Venice 2 and again the production is confident the audience won’t notice. So, really it’s up to you to develop your own skills, lighting, composition, framing and – story telling – those are the things you need to focus because you can’t blame the camera anymore.

460x150_xdcam_150dpi The Creator, shot with the FX3.

10 thoughts on “The Creator, shot with the FX3.”

    1. I spotted a P+S Technik 75mm Evolution 2x anamorphic lens in the BTS video. The choice to use 2x anamorphic with a 16:9 sensor is quite surprising.

  1. I appreciate that this film was shot exclusively on an FX3, if only as a “because we can” statement. As a small-time filmmaker who works on my films on nights and weekends, it’s a seminal moment to me to know, unambiguously, that I am already holding IMAX-quality imaging in my hands. It silences the doubt and the gatekeeping around what gear makes something “cinematic” and puts the focus back on the art itself.

    1. I’m not so sure it was just “because we can”. If you look at the shooting style its very fluid with the camera almost always in motion. The style is designed to make the audience feel as though they are there, in the scene. And I think the small size of the Fx3 allowed them to more easily get that fluidity. The feature I have been involved in didn’t use the FX3 “because we can” they used it because it allowed them to get shots that would have been difficult any other way. The line between “because we can” and “because its better (for what we are doing)” is now extremely blurred.

  2. Stephen Soderberg, as we know, has shot one or two features with an iPhone. That is remarkable. I, myself, have used my iPhone 12 Pro for shooting “verite” doc material with remarkable results. The camera is so easy to use that way.
    Auto focus, of course, and changing lenses with the touch of a finger. It’s a joy to work that way.

    1. But the Soderberg films didn’t look the same as most other films, the audience would have been well aware that there was something different. Not necessarily bad, but certainly different.

  3. You’re right Alister, what a great time to be making films.

    The next step is affordable anamorphic AF primes. Would simplify the rig even further and can arguably do a better job than most human focus pullers. Saw Oppenheimer the other day (marvellous movie) and some of the close up faces we’re not pin sharp which was particularly noticeable cutting back and forth to another face that was. An FX3 or similar with AF glass would have nailed it every time.

  4. It’s fantastic to see that with these cameras you can shoot blockbusters. Also, I’m curious to know Greg Fraser’s experience with the camera in such a production.

  5. Hi

    I have been testing my fx6 and fx3 in terms of filming slog3 – (no ND, no filers, same lens, cine EL 800) Im using a x-rite checker.

    Before I updated my fx6 to the new 4.00 firmware, (my fx3 is up to date) the fx6 slog3 footage had more contrast compared to the fx3, and the fx3 was more saturated.

    Then I updated my fx6, and tested again..

    The contrast is matched better now with the fx3 but I can see that there is still noticeably less saturation in the fx6 than the fx3 – have you found this?

    Thank you,

    1. I haven’t notice any difference after the update and I wouldn’t expect one unless they changed the gamma curve which I doubt. My own experience is that while not identical the FX3 and FX6 have always been very closely matched, the slight difference mostly be small hue shifts.

      I haven’t seen anyone commenting here or elsewhere that the gamma has changed. and I really, really don’t believe they would make a change without publicising it as it would make V3 and V4 cameras incompatible on a multi camera shoot and also make any LUT’s invalid.

      Both contrast and saturation are visually highly subjective and colour/hue will change your idea of contrast and saturation. So to determine whether this is actually different or changed you would need a full range grey scale chart and a colour checker or a DSC chroma du monde and very carefully match the exposures and white balance with a waveform monitor and vector scope.

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