Blackmagic Design today announced Weezer’s new music video for their hit song “Africa” was shot using an URSA Mini Pro with the newly announced Blackmagic RAW codec. Post production, including grading and editing, was done using DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Directed by Crush Music’s Jade Ehlers and Brendan Walter, the video is for the band’s hit remake of Toto’s classic “Africa.” The video was also aimed at redoing a classic by recreating shot for shot Weezer’s iconic “Sweater Song” music video.
The video is a moving one take shot that captures the band playing in front of bright blue walls, with the camera maneuvering in and out of the band. Starting in front of the band, the video moves between well lit and dark parts of the set, as well as low and high up shots looking up and down on the band.
“A week before we were going to shoot, Blackmagic RAW was announced and it was just perfect timing. It answered everything we were looking for. The original ‘Sweater Song’ video was shot on film, so we were looking for a mix of a digital camera that could capture a filmic look, with a shooting and post workflow that could fit into a tight budget and crazy tight schedule. The combination of Blackmagic RAW with the URSA Mini Pro was perfect,” said Ehlers.
Blackmagic RAW is a new and modern codec that gives you stunning image quality and blazing fast performance in an intelligent new file format. Featuring advanced demosaic technology and a revolutionary intelligent design, Blackmagic RAW gives you both the quality and benefits of RAW with the speed, ease of use and file sizes of traditional video formats.
The Blackmagic RAW codec features an intelligent design that moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera where it can be can be hardware accelerated by the camera itself. This gives you incredibly efficient encoding and small file sizes. Blackmagic RAW files are much more than just a simple RAW container because they combine image data along with information about the unique characteristics of the camera’s sensor. This gives you much better image quality, even at high compression settings. Plus, you get total control over RAW settings such as ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation and custom color spaces. Blackmagic RAW also includes extensive metadata support including user customizable sidecar metadata files, plus GPU and CPU acceleration, new Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science, different encoding options for constant quality or constant bitrate and more!
“We have used the URSA Mini Pro on a number of shoots before, but Blackmagic RAW was like we all of a sudden got a new camera with an amazing new sensor in it,” Ehlers said. “Before Blackmagic RAW became available, we were planning on using one of the compressed formats and just making do, but then we could easily shoot it in RAW.”
One of the advantages Blackmagic RAW brought was being able to capture a huge amount of data in each image in order to make up for the production’s difficult lighting situation. The set had a bright blue background wall, with five lighting technicians handling different sections of the stage. Each technician was working to match lighting changes to a constantly moving camera, while trying to make sure each part of the shot mirrored the original older video exactly. The result was spotty lighting in much of the original footage.
“The blue wall captured light differently in different places, and we got a number of dark splashes in several spots. We had to shoot down a couple of stops and at 800 ISO because we were worried and had to hope that we could fix in post,” Ehlers continued. “Blackmagic RAW really saved us here. We were able to bump it up in post to 1600 ISO, adjust saturation to what we needed in DaVinci Resolve Studio, see every detail, and adjust quickly and easily. It gave us great image quality, fine detail and incredibly small files.”
With Blackmagic RAW you can shoot, edit and grade projects all from a single file format. Picture adjustments and settings that you make in the camera will come into DaVinci Resolve via metadata and are completely editable. You can even make changes to the RAW settings in DaVinci Resolve, open the files in other applications that support Blackmagic RAW and automatically see the settings. You get a consistent look and controls between software applications, even on different platforms. Blackmagic RAW is the world’s fastest and highest quality RAW format.
“With Blackmagic RAW, we were able to get extra color in each shot. And what really blew me away was that we could play back the RAW files right away on the laptop we had on set. We could be shooting and then editing and grading the same files,” Ehlers said. “This advantage alone saved us half a day to eight hours of work. Instead of being slowed down by exporting for hours, we were free to work in post with the original camera files. This was just insane.”
For the video, Ehlers and Presley needed a camera that captured high quality, filmic images while still being lightweight due to the one take nature of the video. The URSA Mini Pro’s weight of just more than five pounds, combined with its Super 35mm 4.6K sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range, gave them the camera they needed.
“It took us six shots to get the shot we needed, and that meant Nathan was carrying around the camera and all its rigging, lens and media for every second of each take. The fact that the URSA Mini Pro could be kitted out with a full rig and hit around 28 pounds, with a very small profile, helped him get the shots he needed without being a huge weight burden,” Ehlers continued.