james matthews standing on a mountainside with his sony fx6

Sky on Fire | A Sony FX6 Short Film

James Matthews

My name is James Matthews. I am a Filmmaker, Youtuber and Sony ambassador based in Essex in the UK. Filmmaking has been a passion of mine since the age of 14 and over the years I’ve found that my work takes inspiration from emotional elements such as nature, people and music. If a combination of these things gives me a certain feeling, then filmmaking is my tool to express this to the world.

Sky on Fire

In my short film “Sky on Fire”, I take the audience on a journey of awe and adventure as we relive a moment experienced by our character, Luke. Being able to witness extraordinary moments in nature, means taking on some extraordinary environments on the journey. We follow Luke as he takes on the harsh and beautiful conditions on the Island of Madeira where he ventures to the top of the island and experiences the sky on fire.

james matthews crouching down in the mist with his sony fx6

First impressions shooting with the Sony FX6

My favourite feature on the FX6 is definitely the variable ND filter and the option to use it in auto mode. This feature was fundamental in me being able to keep the look of my film consistent throughout, and not compromising on the image quality to achieve the correct exposure. With a variable ND filter, you can keep your shutter speed and depth of field constant which gives that consistency I was looking for.

Another improvement I appreciated while shooting was the colour science. It has to be the best I’ve seen apart from the higher end Sony cinema cameras, Venice and FX9. The colours are extremely accurate and even more with the S-Cinetone picture profile whilst also including the 10-bit internal colour depth which gives the image better highlight roll-off (no clipping in the clouds in a bright sky for example) along with the added benefit of more flexibility in post-production.

A final welcome improvement is for me the rolling shutter performance. I’m a huge fan of handheld operation with quite a lot of camera movements and panning. The rolling shutter is almost non-existent in this camera and allows me to confidently operate those movement without worrying about too many straight lines bending in the background of my shots.

james matthews holds his sony fx6 with 24 105mm lens attached

Image look and lenses used during the shoot

To achieve certain looks, you have to pick specific lenses with different focal lengths to express different emotions and tell your story. For this short, I used the Sony G Master FE 16-35mm f/2.8 at 35mm for a lot of my shots. I wanted to get that mid-range of seeing our character close up, whilst also being able to see him in his environment as this was a big element of our story. For close-ups on the main character, I used the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 to isolate the character from the background and focus certain scenes on his expressions and emotions. With the fast aperture of f/1.8, coupled with the full frame sensor of the Fx6 and the internal ND filter, the look I was able to achieve gave me the option to have a super shallow depth of field when I wanted to isolate the character, while not changing my look. It was important to jump back and forth with these two lenses to show the evolution of emotions of my character and the changing environment he was in.

james matthews adjusts the menu settings on his sony fx6

Shooting tips with the Sony FX6 and last thoughts

A quick tip for anyone shooting with the Sony FX6 would be to rely on the new variable ND. If you have a vision, or a look in mind, don't feel that you have to make a compromise on that look to keep your exposure correctly. The variable ND filter will help you be more creative and give you more freedom in your style of shooting. This camera is an amazing tool for us filmmakers: Full frame, great low light performance, variable ND and great 10-bit colour science. It has been designed to help us create great cinematography and achieve your personal look. Just set-up your lights and start rolling!

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James Matthews

James Matthews | UK

"My work is inspired by emotion. I want to evoke my audience to feel a certain way when they watch my films by taking them on a journey."

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