Cinematographer Kabelo Thathe chose Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini Pro 12K cameras to shoot new Disney film, Rise.
The film is based on the true story of three young Nigerian-Greek brothers, Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas Antetokounmpo, who emigrated to the United States and rise to fame and success within the NBA.
Thathe had previously worked with director Akin Omotoso on his film Vaya. “Akin and I already had a great working relationship, so he put my name forward,” said Thathe.
The cinematographer adds he never wants to distract from the story, stating: “I feel my goal is to have beautifully lit and framed shots that let the actors do their thing.
“I was introduced to the 12K by our producer Doug Jones, who had recently completed another movie using the cameras and had a great experience with them. My initial impression of the image was how surprisingly beautiful the colour science was. We were quite impressed.”
The film’s production team opted for five URSA Mini Pro 12K bodies on set, shooting at 8K in Blackmagic RAW, recording to Blackmagic URSA Mini Recorders.
For Thathe, a key element to the colour science was the sensor’s ability to react well to a wide latitude. “The dynamic range of the 12K was so balanced between shadows, mid tones and highlights,” he said. “They merged together beautifully. That worked well for us because we were often outside in direct sun, so to get that nice balance between the shadows and the highlights was pretty amazing.”
Equally important was how the sensor reacted to varying skin tones. “Akin and I always spoke about the importance of shooting dark skin. We wanted to show it the respect it deserves and not overdo it, allowing black skin to come out as black rather than a magazine airbrushed look. We did a bunch of tests with the camera early on and the way it handled skin tone was beautiful,” Thathe continued.
On set, Thathe utilised a Digital Asset Management (DAM) cart, which acted like a mobile post production facility. It was designed to remove the need for a lab, creating dailies on set and delivering them directly to editorial. The system allowed Thathe to see graded imagery through DaVinci Resolve Studio directly from camera while shooting. “It was great to be able to run to the cart and see where we could go with the image right there. It was like we were grading on set as we’re shooting, which was amazing. It helped us know where we’re going and be consistent in the look that we’re going for,” he explained.
Thathe describes the film’s rain sequence as one scene that particularly stood out. “The rain machine was an amazingly big rig, and the 12K captured an impressive image under the highly contrasted lighting conditions. I also love the sequence of driving down the Grecian coast after they just bought a new car. It was just beautiful.”
For post, grading was completed in DaVinci Resolve Studio, with Thathe in South Africa working remotely with a Los Angeles based colourist. “The grading process was amazing. I just love the amount of latitude we had from the camera and Blackmagic RAW, and how we could push the image to where we wanted it to be. We didn’t really have to do too much to the skin tones again, because the camera just read them so well. We were thoroughly impressed by the URSA Mini Pro 12K. This will not be the last time I’ll be using the camera,” said Thathe.
Rise is currently streaming on Disney Plus.