LUMIX

GH7: Sherif Mokbel captures "Rising From Ash" in ProRes RAW and 32-bit float in-camera

GH7: Sherif Mokbel captures "Rising From Ash" in ProRes RAW and 32-bit float in-camera

“My background is art actually,” revealed filmmaker/cinematographer Sherif Mokbel when asked about his filmmaking roots. “I studied fine art, majoring in oil painting and sculpture but I was always interested in photography. That's how it kind of evolved into filmmaking later on.” Initially, Mokbel started with wedding photography as a transition from his earlier advertising career but expanded into music videos and fashion photography while living in Dubai. After moving to New York, he has primarily worked with fashion brands and celebrities. His current projects range from music videos and fashion shoots to online content and commercial work, including documentary-style projects for various brands.

Mokbel's experience with LUMIX cameras started with the GH3 over ten years ago. Before transitioning to Panasonic, he was a Canon 7D shooter. However, the switch to the Micro Four Thirds GH3 provided features the 7D lacked, such as higher bitrates, ALL-Intra recording, and 60-fps. Since then, Mokbel has used the GH3, GH4, and GH5 cameras, and over the years, he has built a substantial collection of Micro Four Thirds lenses, valuing their compact size.

Director Sherif Mokbel smoothly operating the LUMIX GH7 handheld.

Mokbel recently shot the short film "Rising From Ash" using the new LUMIX GH7. This MFT camera can shoot up to 5.7K at 30p and 4K at 120p in ProRes RAW internally. It supports high frame rates and robust codecs with media options like CFExpress cards and SSD drives.

The short film features Lucy Wang [IG: ash_lucy_wang], a talented fitness instructor, weightlifting champion, nutritionist, and violinist. Mokbel aimed to create an artistic representation of her life, highlighting her inspirational journey, challenges, and talents in both weightlifting and music.

Mokbel employed the LUMIX 25-50mm f/1.7 lens due to its speed and ability to leverage the GH7's Hybrid PDAF system.

For lenses, Mokbel primarily used the G Series 10-25mm F1.7 ASPH LEICA Lens and the G Series 25-50mm F1.7 ASPH LEICA Lens, appreciating their speed and the ability to leverage the GH7’s improved Hybrid Phase Detect AF system. He also utilized a Lensbaby Composer Pro, which allows manual control over the tilt and shift of the lens. This lens enabled him to achieve selective focus and create a "sweet spot" of sharpness surrounded by gradually increasing blur.

The GH7 allows for internal ProRes RAW capture to CFexpress cards, and Mokbel alternated between ProRes RAW and ProRes 422 depending on the scene. “The only cameras I have that capture internal RAW have been RED, as well as Blackmagic,” revealed Mokbel. “Both these cameras lack some of the features that the GH7 has. One of them is stabilization, and the other is autofocus. Additionally, the option of recording internal RAW means I am not stuck with an external Atomos recorder.” 

Lucy Wang is a talented fitness instructor, weightlifting champion, nutritionist, and violinist.

For the violin scenes, Mokbel shot in 5.7K ProRes RAW at 23.98 fps, while for other scenes, he captured in ProRes 422 at 60-fps. For slow-motion scenes, such as when Wang applied powder to her hands or when the weights bounced on the ground, he captured in FHD (1920x1080) at 240-fps. “If you're not shooting above 30 frames, I can’t find a reason not to shoot in RAW,” explained Mokbel. “I know it might be overkill for most people, but when I look at the size of internal RAW versus the ProRes equivalent, they're not that far from each other. So yeah, I always feel like RAW gives me this kind of nice, good flexibility in post that I always need.”

When working with ProRes RAW files, Mokbel uses Final Cut Pro, where the files are optimized for macOS and also allows non-destructive adjustments to settings like ISO, white balance, and exposure. Mokbel typically denoises ProRes RAW footage after ingestion, but according to Mokbel, most of the ProRes RAW clips shot with the GH7 didn't require it, except for a few clips where he slightly increased his ISO.

With the GH7, the new XLR2 audio adapter offers 32-bit float audio and four-channel input.

For color, Mokbel usually starts by checking the Panasonic V-Log to Rec. 709 LUT to see if his image needs any adjustments. This process often inspires him to create and apply his own LUT. Sometimes, he uses corrective LUTs beforehand, especially with RAW footage, because according to Mokbel, it can have different color shifts. From there, he works on making small tonal contrasts, either on a primary level (affecting the whole image) or a secondary level (targeting specific areas like faces or backgrounds to create separation).

“I’ll add a layer of film grain just to make everything looks homogenous again,” added Mokbel. “The level and size of noise differ between FHD and 5.7K footage due to compression effects, so adding film grain helps maintain a consistent look.”

Besides professional post-production workflows, GH7 has other features that Mokbel finds valuable, including extensive button and menu customization tools. “The first thing I did when I got the camera was to customize everything to make it my own, which is something I miss with other cameras,” he revealed. “The USB power feature is incredibly useful and allows me to shoot all day without worrying about changing batteries.”

One accessory that Mokbel made great use of was the new XLR2 audio adapter, which offers 32-bit float audio and four-channel input, enhancing recording flexibility and sound quality. This came in handy while Wang was lifting heavy weights and dropping them to the floor, creating a loud metallic clanging sound that would normally clip. “I got closer with the camera and mic, so I could record some extra clunkiness of the metal,” revealed Mokbel. “This this is something I would have probably done externally with a proper audio equipment but with the XLR2, it kept everything compact, and didn’t require an extra person to grab this kind of sound. When I took it into post, I saw that it didn’t clip.”

With its compact size, professional workflow features, and flexibility, Mokbel feels the GH7 an excellent choice for both film productions and online content creation. “Despite the fact that everybody is going to full frame at the moment, the GH7 is definitely one of those tools that a filmmaker should consider having in their arsenal.

For more information about Sherif Mokbel, visit his website at https://www.sherifmokbel.com/.

For more information on LUMIX cameras, please visit https://shop.panasonic.com/pages/lumix.

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