San Francisco-based cinematographer/colorist Stephen Berke was director of photography for the award-winning short film Snaggletooth, which had its New York premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Berke was also the DP for two additional short films, The Interview (currently showing on the festival circuit and Best in Show winner at the 2019 Albany Film Fest) and The Shepherds of Cat Island, a 10-minute single-take, premiering soon. His camera of choice is the Panasonic VariCam LT.
“I love the VariCam’s color science, its organic look and more saturated palette,” Berke said. “And I firmly believe that dual native ISOs should be a standard feature on any cinema camera.”
The DP relied on the camera’s dual native 800/5000 ISO-throughout the Snaggletooth shoot last year. “We spent four days on location in an historic San Francisco Victorian mansion,” Berke said. “The home was immaculately restored, which significantly impacted how much gear we could bring in. The LT was ideal for a project that strictly required a smaller, unobtrusive package and lower light levels.”
On the short shoot and other assignments, Berke typically shoots at ISO5000 dialed back to 3000/2500 in low light. “That’s a sweet spot for me, allowing me to use fast lenses and achieve plenty of sensitivity. The noise at those levels is perfectly acceptable,” he said.
“Even if an assignment is finished in 1080p, I mostly shoot in 4K (recording internally at 4K DCI 4:2:2), affording the client the option to reframe/recompose in post,” Berke added. His lens choices frequently include Fujinon and Tokina zooms, and Cooke Primes.
DP Stephen Berke www.berkecreative.com
To view the Snaggletooth trailer https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/snaggletooth-2019