Reality shows have become a programming staple in the entertainment industry on both cable and network television. Because of the show style and serialized format, lensing and shooting the productions requires a slightly different approach than traditional studio television productions such as sitcoms, talk shows, etc., including more hand-held shots, multicam shooting and a faster pace.
Greg Matthews, a Director of Photography (DP) for Freemantle Media N.A. and Blue Orbit Productions, is an early pioneer of reality show cinematography and has helped establish accepted shooting styles for the genre. He is currently the DP for the popular reality TV shows The X Factor on Fox and Food For Thought on ABC, and lenses both shows with Angenieux 16-42mm and 30-80mm Optimo digital zoom lenses.
The optics on these lenses cant be beat and theyre designed perfectly for what we do, he said. We love their compact size and the fact that both the 16-42mm and the 30-80mm have the same diameter, which makes swapping them quick and easy. In the world of reality television production, being fast is as important as being good. These lenses are both.
Maintaining high production values in live programming is also important and the precision optics, form and function of the Optimo digital zooms give Matthews the necessary quality and the broad (16-80mm) focal range to cover most scenes. The fast 2.8 lenses allow him to shoot in a wider range of lighting conditions and in situations with limited lighting control. For added convenience, the lightweight (4.2 pounds) PL mount lenses feature a unique mechanical design for precise zoom and focus, calibrated focus marks and no ramping or breathing.
The affordable Optimo DP lenses provide full coverage of the S35 (31.1mm diagonal) image and, according to Matthews, they pair perfectly with his large format digital camera. He also notes that the Optimo DP lenses offer more value in performance and price when compared to similar lenses from other manufacturers.
He says, The S-35mm cameras are at a price point that our clients can agree with, but prior to the Optimos there were simply no reasonably priced good lens options to go along with the camera. The Optimo DP lenses have changed that and made it realistic to use the digital cameras in hand-held work for reality shows. I intend to use them on all my shows in the future because they are incredibly versatile zoom lenses and, as Ive discovered, an absolute must to any set of lenses on any show.