Sony FS5 project: The Puppet Maker

I’d like to share a project I just completed for the University of Washington, which tells the story of a grad school student who makes puppets. It features footage shot entirely on the Sony FS5. I shot SLOG 3 in Sgamut3.cine color mode, generated dailies in DaVinci Resolve, and cut the piece in FCPX.

This project required every one of the 14 stops of the dynamic range this camera offers, and the results speak volumes about what this camera is capable of.

My assistant Sean McGrath picked up a few of the shots, in particular the traveling shots which were shot on a Ronin M. The FS5, stripped to the body only, fits perfectly on the gimbal, which is incredibly light and easy to handle in this configuration.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.13.19 AM

The approach with this story was to use the puppet making visuals over Reed’s story to explain how UW’s Core Programs can help students find a community and find their voice while in grad school. Using this cinematic, storytelling approach as opposed to straight documentary achieves the goal of making it interesting while staying on message.

We spent a lot of time searching for the right story in the preproduction phase of this project. Finding the right story to tell (one that offers interesting action to film) and then developing a storyline to follow makes it all come together like magic. It’s no exaggeration to say that I spent more than 50 percent of my time on this project in preproduction, and less than half actually shooting it (we did the shoot in an easy day – a few hours spent filming the sewing in the morning, and a couple of hours shooting the scene in the square in the afternoon).

6 thoughts on “Sony FS5 project: The Puppet Maker

  1. Brent W

    Great visuals. Some of the best stuff I have seen come out of the fs5. Love the CU sewing shots. Did you use any lights inside and or reflectors outside? Keep up the good work. Thanks for posting.

    1. Dan McComb Post author

      Thanks Brent. We used a chunk of foam core as a reflector in I think one or two of the closeups of the sewing, and that’s it. The room was filled with beautiful natural light, with floor skips and wall bounces happening in addition to the north window light. It was an unusually awesome location to shoot in.

      The scene in the square was very high contrast, especially the shoots where they were backlit, with sunlight glaring off the paving stones into the lens. But even so, I was able to pretty much keep the highlights from blowing out by yanking them back in post, even without using any bounce. I’m really falling in the love with this camera’s ability to hold those highlights without overly sacrificing shadow detail!

    1. Dan McComb Post author

      HI Dan, I shot 50mb HD. I don’t really think of the FS5 as a 4K camera, even though it’s capable of it, because it’s limited to 8bit in 4K. For me, the FS5 is all about the 10-bit HD. I personally have almost no interest in shooting 4K – way too much work to edit, and 99 percent of what I do is headed for the web where 4K is a massive overkill.

  2. Stéphane


    Nice job!
    Quick question regarding the Ronin M. What lens have you used on it? I’m thinking of buying the Ronin M and using it with my FS5 but and I would like to know which lenses can fit on it.


    1. Dan McComb Post author

      Hi Stéphane, I shot with the pancake 40mm STM lens that Canon makes, using it with the Metabones Speedbooster to get full frame coverage out of it. 40mmm full frame is pretty sweet for use on a gimbal, slightly wide but close to normal field of view.


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