Increasing The Value and Latitude Of Daytime Television

Posted on Feb 10, 2014 by Alex Fice

Daytime television favourite ‘Escape to the Country’ has moved to a more ‘cinematic’ look with Sony’s f5 camera.

Long running TV series Escape To The Country is moving to Sony F5 camera shooting that has brought a huge enhancement in the look of the programme and brought extra latitude which helps when shooting indoor in these much sought after homes.

Long-running BBC property show Escape to the Country has opted for the Sony PMW-F5 CineAlta camera mainly for its image quality.

Escape to the Country has been shot on an assortment of Sony XDCAM models for the past few years, but the production team has recently moved over to the Sony PMW-F5 CineAlta camera to further enhance the image quality of the well-loved TV staple, now on its fourteenth series.

As Boundless Productions’ Mark Bos, who is the production executive on the show, explains: “Mid-way through this series we took the decision to move to the F5; although it’s a high-end camera and all our Producer/Directors are self-shooters, the results coming back from location are superb.”

“When the time came to change the cameras, we followed the advice of Mike Thomas, Sales Director, Top-Teks, who originally suggested we test the F5. We were extremely happy with the results of the tests, but the camera offered a host of new features we weren’t familiar with.”

So Top-Teks sent John Shepherd, Technical Director, to our premises to offer bespoke training for our team,” says Bos. “We managed a smooth transition to the F5 mid-way through the series, largely thanks to the advice and support of Top-Teks.”


“The benefit of using the F5 is down to its picture quality,” adds Bos. “The quality of the F5’s images are great; we are always trying to push quality, technical standards and upping the scale and ambition of the series, and the F5 is part of that strategy.”

Bos admits a camera such as the Sony PMW-500, which was previously used for ‘Escape to the Country’, can be easier to use for some of the filming conditions they are shooting in, but says, “The end product from the F5 is fantastic and that’s why we’re using it. There’s so much detail and colour for our graders and online editors to play with in the grade; the end result is a high-quality volume series that consistently delivers.”

 A Natural Progression

Bos has put in the groundwork over the last few years taking ‘Escape to the Country’ from tape-based acquisition to file-based XDCAMs, which eased the transition to the higher-end F5 CineAlta model.

“We’ve shot file-based on since 2007 so have learnt a great deal about file-based cameras and digital workflow and have been HD since 2008, so moving to the F5 was a natural progression and advancement,” says Bos.

Single Shooting

A single F5 is used for each programme, with a Canon HJ14 wide-angle lens capturing the action, which is largely based around families viewing a series of properties in the British countryside to decide whether to move from a city environment to the country.

“Escape to the Country throws up demanding shooting situations with a combination of internal and external shots. Many interiors required lighting but the tight schedule excluded this as an option,” says Top-Teks’ Mike Thomas. “So the production needed a camera that was easy to handle, kept the MPEG2 50mb/s codec and workflow, but more importantly had the latitude to cope with the conditions.”

“We recommended using the F5 with an IBE B4 adapter so the production team’s existing wide angle ENG lenses could be used. The F5 is one to two stops more sensitive than the PMW-500s that were being used, which compensated for the lens adapter. 14 stops of latitude allowed the operators to expose the interiors even with a window in shot and still retain detail inside and out. The 4K sensor of the F5 produces stunning pictures even when sampled down to HD at 50mb/s.”

 Well-established workflow

Titus Ogilvy, one of the show’s Producer/Directors explains that, despite the F5 having the capability to shoot in 4K, the decision was made to continue to shoot the show in 1080i HD, as “shooting in 4K for a show like ‘Escape’ would soon eat up the post production hard drives.”

The F5 seamlessly slots into the well-established workflow that’s been used on Escape to the Country’ since it went file-based: “Each day the rushes are handed to the data wrangler to copy to two location hard drives,” says Ogilvy. “It’s a system we’ve been using for over three years.”

Ogilvy shares the same enthusiasm for the picture quality produced by the F5 as his colleague Bos: “The F5’s picture quality is superb,” he says. “Even to the untrained eye there’s a marked difference between the F5 and previous cameras running at the same bit rate. The depth and richness to the F5 images are extremely impressive.”


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