By Priest Fontaine Batten
New York City, New York— When my longtime friends Mike Stroud and Agustin White from the band Kunzite asked me to create the music video for their single “Frosty,” I was in Oaxaca, Mexico. Listening to “Frosty” over and over at the beach made me realize that the song was flowing nicely with the surfers and skaters I was surrounded by. Agustin’s partner and producer on the project, Mea Woodruff, had the same thought. Mea is from southern California and is friends with many talented female surfers and skaters, including GRLSWIRL, a women-founded inclusive skate collective empowering people around the world through skate.
Overall, we wanted the video to showcase the authentic personalities and skills of the female athletes. I was most interested in the unique movements each was capable of and matching that kinetic energy with different parts of the song. We simply wanted to have fun and try our best to keep up with these athletes. As part of that, we needed the right crew and gear.
We were joined by the legendary rollerblading camera operator Joey ‘Blades’ Graziano, AC Jimmy Vargo and filmmaker Tristan Seniuk for post production. We used two Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K cameras, one on Joey’s Mōvi Pro, and I shot handheld or using an Easyrig with the other. A Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro also came in handy when shooting inside Venice Beach Skatepark as we wanted to keep the camera as light and stripped down as possible. The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro’s compact form factor allowed us to be flexible, and its built-in ND filters were clutch, as it was easy to make quick adjustments to exposure without affecting aperture.
I wanted a little bit of a retro, film-like look, so I mostly used my vintage lenses with heavy diffusion on the two URSA Mini Pro 12Ks. Tristan further dialed in this look with DaVinci Resolve Studio during grading. I’ve been a big fan of Blackmagic Design’s color science for many years, and this new generation of sensor is even better. The URSA Mini Pro 12K gives a nice film-like look, plus the camera comes with a PL mount, so I didn’t have to use any adapters for my vintage lenses. Being able to use old Super 16mm glass while still shooting 4K or 6K was a big bonus.
The URSA Mini Pro 12K’s resolutions and frame rates were equally as impressive. I wanted to utilize different frame rates and shoot at higher resolutions, so we’d have freedom in the edit to reframe, crop and even add zooms. The song has many unique moments and change ups, so I wanted plenty of movement, angles and frame rates to add variety.
The URSA Mini Pro 12K shoots 240 fps in 4K, which is pretty insane. I did capture some shots in 240 fps which look beautiful, but for the most part, Joey and I shot in 24, 48 and 60 fps, as we reserved super slow motion for key moments. At times Joey would shoot in 24 or 48 fps, and I would experiment with 120 to 240 fps. This is another benefit of using affordable cameras on an indie project – you can afford to have a second or third camera. We didn’t have much time with each athlete, so it was great being able to double up. Working with the Blackmagic Design cameras allowed us to keep the budget down, while still achieving a very high-end cinematic look.