My name is Olivier Schmitt and I’m a freelance professional photographer and filmmaker based in France. After I completed my Masters degree in Arts and Technologies of Image, I worked as a technical director on feature films such as Despicable me 2 and Minions. I get a great deal of pleasure being able to meet and work with other enthusiasts, and I share a lot of my experiences and learnings on my self-named YouTube channel.
I was fortunate enough to test the new Alpha 7S III and I had the idea to share the daily life of an independent filmmaker, using my own story as a basis for the script. I didn’t want to just illustrate the capabilities of the camera, but to also bring an emotional dimension and find a way for viewers to identify through the main character in the final edit. Location-wise, I chose the city of Annecy in the French Alps, which allowed me to capture different atmospheres with amazing landscapes.
I was naturally excited to put the Alpha 7S III through its paces, especially the 4K 120p full frame recording capabilities. I’ve been using an Alpha 7 III for the last couple of years, and it has never let me down, but I found the Alpha 7S III easier to use and more efficient in the field thanks to the new functionalities that have been incorporated. The redesigned menu in particular is easier to navigate, and the Real-time AF proved to be incredibly effective, meaning I didn’t have to use a follow-focus system. The flip out touch-capable screen also made shooting in tight situations a lot easier. And despite shooting all day in sunlight, I did not experience overheating issues and I only used one battery per day which is even more impressive.
I was also fortunate to test the new 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master and I have to say it’s a beast! I was tempted to shoot the whole film on this lens, but in the end I also used my 24mm f/1.4 GM, 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, 24-70mm f/2.8 GM & 70-200mm f/2.8 GM. It also gave me the opportunity to try the 70-200mm on a Ronin S rig. It was heavy, but the results were outstanding!
I would like to share a few tips as part of my workflow with the camera: I spent some time setting up my video presets on the mode dial, as is my normal practice. I find it saves time and gives me consistency between different shooting situations. For example: I configure my 3 video presets on the top wheel. Mode 1 for 4K 25p All-Intra, mode 2 for 4K 100p (since I film in PAL) with the new XAVC HS codec and finally the mode 3 for my special profile for the night. I also configured my shortcut buttons, which makes it simpler and quicker to operate.
When it came to the actual shooting, many shots were filmed against the light because I wanted to test the dynamic range of the sensor (rated at 15+ stops) in 4:2:2 10-bit modes. I found that I didn’t have to worry about blowing highlights, or the differences in exposure between interior and exterior as this camera handles these extreme light changes very well.
This project was great fun to produce and a wonderful opportunity to try this incredible new camera. Whatever your level and experience, surrounding yourself with other creators will allow you to go further in your projects and will open up new opportunities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the crew and actors for which this project would have never materialised. Another important point is the planning of your shoot. This short film required more than a month of preparation and organisation. Spending more time planning than shooting in the field is always how you tackle this type of project. Trust yourself and your abilities to create beautiful content!