"The city of London, shrouded in a Dickensian blanket of smog, as light winds, Sahara dust, and dirty air from the continent conspire to produce air pollution levels right at the top of the chart." - Sky News

Shot on the Blackmagic Production Camera in 4k. Download in 4k. Shot at 400 ASA with a Canon 28mm f2.8 lens at f5.6, at 7:30am on 31 March 2014. Graded with an Ilford Delta 400 film LUT from FilmConvert. (More on that below.)

After a slew of rather ugly low-light, ISO, and noise comparisons between the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the newer 4k Production camera, I was anxious to publish some footage from the Production camera that played to it's strengths. I took the opportunity of a misty morning in London to get some decent 4k shots.

This was shot at the onset of Britain's week of smog - although to be clear, the images do not show smog - or in fact, mist - but fog. Fog is basically clouds at ground level. Fog is defined by visibility that is less than one kilometre; mist is lighter, with greater visibility. Not being able to see across the park means it's fog - but mist is a nicer, more positively photographic word - and it also refers to a previous video with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in the mist: vimeo.com/60644180 although I guess that was fog too :-)

The smog that has been plaguing the UK is much less visible, but I wanted to give some context to the time and the place because it situates it more concretely in a wider experience and makes it more memorable and resonant. I took the idea of using a news sample from an earlier family doc, when we were on holiday on the Isle of Wight during the riots of 2011: vimeo.com/58180335 And over the past few weeks we have been reconsidering everything in the context of insane London house prices, business-as-usual politics, business-as-usual education for our little ones, and the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which suggests that business-as-usual is suicide. Nothing like a toddler to sharpen up the empathy and long range thinking.

Music by johnny_ripper
freemusicarchive.org/music/johnny_ripper/lesprit_descalier/15_im_still_here_1

I was also influenced by FKY's, The Sea Also Rises - vimeo.com/88891560 - which is one of the most beautiful and moving videos I've seen in some time.

Also, please note the new addition to our neighbourhood: a shiny new CCTV Xmas tree outside the park gates, ostensibly to protect us from the totalitarian levels of surveillance we enjoy from the NSA/GCHQ, who record every aspect of our formerly private lives, finally penetrating inside our homes via digital communications. For me at least, our whole lives are packed into this little film :-)

The black and white grade is very strange for me as I'd normally be the person arguing on aesthetic grounds for colour. I've literally never created a black and white image before. However, the fog had already taken most of the colour out of the images, and with the increased resolution, it felt like it needed a more reductive approach. The Production Camera is also a more contrasty camera than I'm used to, although the Ilford D400 was the least contrasty of black and white LUTs, as I recall. There is zero grain because it would detract from the fog and get slammed in compression. I normally shoot with a 2.4:1 crop, which is etched in marker on my cameras, as it's more compositionally elegant and mathematically pure :-)

View in 1080p. Registered Vimeo users can download the original file in 4k, as Vimeo doesn't display 4k yet. I think I got away with a pretty low data rate for the H.264 file at a mere 40Mbps.

More on the smog here:
theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/03/cameron-uk-smog-pollution-europe

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