How filmmaker Mike Steidley creates a ProRes RAW workflow with the EVA1 and Atomos recorders

By Neil Matsumoto | 6 min

ProRes RAW is a new format – created by Apple and Atomos – that combines the flexibility of RAW video with the efficiency of ProRes. With the EVA1, you can output 5.7K ProRes RAW recording via 6G SDI (up to 30-fps) to an Atomos Shogun Inferno, or Sumo19 monitor/recorder.

Filmmaker Mike Steidley is an EVA1 shooter, who has recently produced several projects captured in ProRes RAW to Atomos recorders. Growing up in Guilford Connecticut, Steidley grew up racing mountain bikes and stunt riding, winning over 12 National Championship Titles. Traveling the globe with his cycling career and filming commercials with his sponsors eventually led him into creating his own content during the rise of social media. Early in his career, Steidley was involved with GoPro, but eventually stepped up to a Panasonic Lumix GH4 creating action sports content with drones, sliders, and gimbals. “I’m a self-taught filmmaker – learning from YouTube and trial-and-error,” reveals Steidley. Aside from his action sports work Steidley also produces commercial work for a variety of large scale clients.

Mike Steidley shooting a commercial for Ocean City Jeep Week with the EVA1 and Atomos Shogun Inferno. (All photos courtesy of Mike Steidley)

With the EVA1 and the Atomos Shogun Inferno, Steidley has completed several productions, shooting in similar environments that he had shot with his Lumix cameras. One of his first EVA1/Shogun Inferno projects was shooting a performer who specializes in fire juggling. For this project, Steidley wanted to see how much detail he could capture with ProRes RAW and the EVA1’s Native 2500 ISO.

Steidley recently completed a commercial for Ocean City Jeep Week in which they had 200 jeeps driving across the beach in Ocean City. “That was a good test for ProRes RAW because there’s a lot of cloud detail that I wanted to be able to retain,” explains Steidley. “I was shooting in early morning and I wanted to showcase the colors of the cars and all the details in the shadows just because a lot of these cars have lift kits and lots of things done to them. I also knew I wanted to be able to shoot at any angle.”

Steidley's handheld run-and-gun rig for his EVA1.

In setting up his EVA1, Steidley uses the Zacuto VCT Pro baseplate so he can quickly move from a shoulder rig to his Manfrotto tripod. “I like to shoot a lot of angles, so I really love a camera that I can throw at anything,” explains Steidley. “My AC probably hates me because I’ll be on the shoulder rig one minute and then I’ll get the motion slider out and get a motion slider shot. Then I’ll hop on sticks and get a long lens shot. Then I’ll strip the camera down and stuff it into the gimbal. I need to be able to set my camera up quickly to tackle any situation.”

For lenses, Steidley employs a combination of zooms and primes, including the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom, Canon L-series primes, and a Canon 70-200mm 2/2.8 zoom. He also uses Sigma cinema lenses for commercial and studio set ups where he can perform critical focus pulls. “Mainly I like to stick with photo lenses, especially when I have the ND filters built in because I can take advantage of using polarizing filters,” says Steidley. “A lot of the stuff I do is outside and being able to have the built-in ND combined with photo style polarizers keeps it lightweight, which is key for me. I also don’t have to lug around a matte box and a bunch of filters.”

For viewing, Steidley typically uses both the Shogun Inferno and the EVA1's LCD screen.

For viewing, Steidley uses both the Shogun Inferno and the EVA1’s LCD screen. He mainly uses the LCD to make quick touchscreen changes to his camera settings. He places the LCD on the right side of the camera by the handgrip and uses a Zacuto Z-arm to mount the Shogun Inferno on the left side to frame and pull focus on. For bigger productions, or in a studio, he will use a wireless follow focus to focus and view off a Sumo19.

Steidley makes the most use of EVA1’s Dual Native ISOs when he uses the camera on a gimbal. “I can use a longer focal length lens and then I can increase my aperture to make focusing easier, especially when using the gimbal as a solo operator,” he says. “Also, a lot of my mountain bike content, even though it’s in the middle of the day, is deep in the woods so sometimes we need to have that higher ISO to be able to get the exposure where we need to be.”

For lenses, Steidley uses mainly photo lenses, including a Canon 70-200mm 2/2.8 zoom.

Because he doesn’t see a huge difference in file size, Steidley typically captures his 5.7K ProRes RAW HQ files to a G-Tech 2TB SSD and according to the DP, the drive will hold roughly 2+ hours of footage. “One thing about using the Atomos that I love is that you can tag your favorite clips on set,” says Steidley. “Or I can be sitting on an airplane and I will be watching my clips on the Atomos monitor and I will mark my favorite clips.” Steidley typically does this on smaller shoots with a quick edit turnaround time to have selects already marked before sitting down in the edit bay.

Steidley’s entire post workflow is done in Final Cut Pro X, including color grading with the new color wheels in the Color Inspector. For more advanced work, he uses Color Finale, a Final Cut Pro X plug-in by colorist Denver Riddle, which gives him many of the same features he would get from DaVinci Resolve.

The Atomos Shogun Inferno

According to Steidley, a big advantage for ProRes RAW is the ability to capture 5.7K files. “For a 4K delivery, I can re-frame my image if I didn’t get my horizon line perfect,” he explains. “I have that extra resolution so I’m not compromising my image. I also think you get less compression artifacts when using the Atomos.”

Steidley also sees a great improvement in image quality with the 4K/120-fps and 2K/240-fps options. “I love shooting slow motion and most of my project storyboards call for several over-cranked shots,” he says. “I’m finding a much higher quality file when capturing in ProRes RAW for slow motion.”

Steidley’s entire post workflow is done in Final Cut Pro X, including color grading with the new color wheels in the Color Inspector.

Another ProRes RAW advantage is that with a couple of clicks, Steidley can change his workflow to suit his needs. “For a quick turnaround, you can import ProRes RAW and convert to V-Log,” explains Steidley. “You can then use the VariCam LUT Library and make all of your clips look great. On projects where I’m handing off video files, I’ll go through that workflow and I’ll quickly get everything into a LUT that I like and make a couple of tweaks and then do an XLM export, which I give to the client. On a bigger project, I will grade them from scratch and bring them in and do everything starting with adjusting the contrast and white balance. I’ll normally use some type of LUT for a creative look and then balance that off with some secondary adjustments with color wheels.”

According to Steidley, the EVA1’s ability to fit a wide variety of shooting situations with a robust codec make it a winner for his production company. “My projects all have unique needs and I need a camera that can be like a chameleon and go from a small solo operator job one day, to a full on commercial shoot the next, and the EVA1 gives me just that,” reveals Steidley. “All of this would be off the table without great image quality. Combined with the Atomos recorder and ProRes RAW, I can get everything I need in a single camera package.”

Here is an EVA1 spot Steidley recently completed for Lovesac.

For more information on Mike Steidley, visit http://www.visionaerialmedia.com/.