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Europe's Helicopter Film Services Launches The Typhon 6 Array

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The Typhon 6 Camera Array combines six ARRI ALEXA Minis to push the boundaries of what's possible for Visual Effects Departments.

Amid a burgeoning visual special effects industry that continues to contribute markedly to the UK's key creative sector in a post Brexit economy, Europe's leading aerial filming business, Helicopter Filming Services, (HFS) launches a new camera array.

The Typhon 6 Array incorporates six ARRI ALEXA Mini cameras mounted in a Shotover K1 system to shoot plates that can then be stitched together in post production. The Typhon 6 Array is designed to enable both aerial and ground-based filming of sequences where a particularly wide field of vision is required, enabling subsequent production of the kind of cutting edge VFX sequences for which the UK is known.

Oliver Ward, Chief Technical Officer at HFS, explains: "We've created the Typhon* to meet ever greater need from VFX for a stabilised Array, primarily based around the ARRI Alexa camera, using industry standard prime lenses such as the 24mm LDS Zeiss Ultra Prime."

Tim Wellspring, Unit Production Manager on Paddington 2, explains his excitement: "We've had a first use with the Typhon 6 Mini Array on the Shotover K1, and it works beautifully. The shoots we have done on Paddington 2 were loved by the VFX team and everyone else involved. Eric Wilson, the DoP, was thrilled to learn there's now an ARRI ALEXA solution to shooting with a stabilised Array."

Glen Pratt at Framestore is the Visual Effects Supervisor on Paddington 2. He notes: "Obviously, the more pixels we have, the better. The Typhon Array gives us a huge field of view – its vertical field of view is particularly big. Having a larger field of view gives us a better sense of the environment you're moving through, and also means that within the frame, there are a lot of areas of interest that can act as a background for areas you've shot before. The Typhon array can also be used for a photogrammetry aspect, so you can run at a slower frame rate with a hard shutter (i.e. no motion), to build this large field of view in order to create a successful piece of tracking geometry. Only a super-stable system can allow the use of this frame rate/shutter."

Glen continues: "Having this array also brings plenty of benefits when creating any CG fields on top of what we've already shot. When creating a wholly graphic environment, it gives you a very thorough starting point, which means you can reduce the number of CG builds, so there's less work required in post production. This, in turn, means less pressure on budgets and schedules, and more time to finesse the work. Given the schedules and tight turnarounds of big VFX productions, an array such as the Typhon 6 system is hugely advantageous."

A new solution for VFX teams, at the right time
Up until now, VFX teams have had arrays, but they haven't offered the level of sophistication in terms of stabilisation and flexibility that the Typhon 6 Array brings.

Dan DeLeeuw, Visual Effects Supervisor on Avengers: Infinity War, notes: "Arrays such as this are great for capturing as much image data as possible during a single pass of the camera, which helps relieve pressure on the filming schedule."

Angela Barson, Co-Founder of London-based VFX facility, Blue Bolt, adds: "Once stitched together, the high resolution plates give us great flexibility, in that decisions can be made in post about which parts of the images are used. These benefits were proved to me clearly when we shot Entebbe, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone filming VFX plates."

Michael Jonas, Product Manager at ARRI, notes: "We have been working with HFS on their new Typhon 6 Array using our ALEXA Minis installed in a stabilised system for aerial photography and we've also been testing it with our new EDB-2 Sync box. This, combined with the new EXT Sync feature coming with ALEXA Mini SUP 5.0, is going to make it much quicker and simpler to synchronise and operate multiple cameras in the future."

The Typhon 6 Array can also be configured to incorporate other cameras, such as the latest RED HELIUM.

Jeremy Braben, Founder of HFS, explains: "We were tasked by visual effects departments to create this array, as we're seeing an increased need for capturing a larger frame in one go. There's a distinct artistic advantage to getting some shots with these arrays, but until now, they have just been part of the VFX wish list. We're excited to be bringing the Typhon array to major forthcoming feature productions."

*Typhon was the last son of Gaia and considered a monstrous giant and the most deadly creature in Greek Mythology; the father of Hydra.

This article is also available to read in the June edition of Broadcast Film & Video as part of our Aerial Filming feature.

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