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Busted – Live from Manchester Arena 2023: Shot on SP3

By: The Cooke Team  |   2 min de lectura

Mark Forrer is a Manchester based cinematographer and camera operator. With a background that begun in touring photography, Forrer is highly experienced with live event shooting and the challenges and opportunities of this arena. From shooting independently to overseeing up to 15 camera positions as a cinematographer, Mark is well acquainted with capturing authentic performances and crowd reaction moments in environments that don’t allow for the luxury of a second take or a last minute lighting tweak.

In these situations the character of your lenses needs to be backed up with solid dependability – which Mark definitely found to be the case with Cooke’s latest lens series, the SP3. Mark spoke to Cooke about his experience with the lenses on a recent Busted show from his office inside of the Sharp Project creative hub space in Northern Manchester.

From first seeing the announcement of the SP3s Mark was interested to learn more as he had a feeling they were going to deliver the elevated look that he’d been searching for. Mark found some time to check out the lenses in the flesh on a trip down to London, prior to shooting a fifteen camera Sugababes concert with director friend Jon Stone later that same week.

Mark had previously operated on ITV’s Grantchester with the Cooke S4/i and also on a commercial for Opel with the S4 /i Minis where he found the lenses aligned with his tastes and found the same to be true of the SP3s. He was quickly won over and became one of the first adopters. He purchased the set in partnership with gaffer, with both feeling that it would be a valuable addition to the Northern market.

“Up north, sometimes we find even with the rental houses’ lenses, there’s a lot of stuff in London, a lot of companies are based there and stock sort of stays down there. But if you’re on a last minute shoot and you’re trying to get a set of lenses quickly, sometimes it’s just not possible. So we felt it would be good to have this set.”

Mark took delivery of his set by the end of the week, in time for the Sugababes concert. Here he was overseeing 15 cameras including a jib, four remote heads as well as operators scattered around the stage and venue. He gave the new lens set to his operator Ben Warburton who was shooting crowd moments and highlights. Mark even managed to find a couple of spots in the set where he was able to jump on this position and grab some crowd shots and was enamoured with the results.

“When I was looking for another set of lenses I wanted something with a bit more flavour to it and the Cookes gave me that.”

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Still from concert video shot on SP3
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Stills from concert video shot on SP3

Forrer has a long standing relationship with Charlie from Busted via his work with music magazine Rock Sound. Not wanting to simply wait around for the next concert SP3 gig he approached them about shooting their Manchester show at the end of September and they were more than happy to give him full access and let him run around the arena!

This was the perfect test ground for Forrer to get to know the character of the set, how they reacted to direct light sources and how user friendly they proved to be. Shooting on his own with the lenses in a small shoulder sling bag, immediately the size and weight was invaluable.

“They’re so small and the focus throw is quite short so for pulling your own focus it is actually pretty straightforward.”

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The layout of the stage meant Mark would find himself on the 75 and 100mm for the band but when he turned around to shoot the audience he could utilize lenses on the wider side.

“I really like the 32 and how it renders a portrait of a person. When I was doing crowd stuff and close-ups on the 32 and the 50, I really liked how the lens picked out that person you were seeing at the front who was singing their heart out. It sort of narrowed your eye to them a little bit.”

Mark also found that the lenses struck the perfect balance of being characterful but in a consistent and manageable way.

“The 32 I found, at T2.4 it’s slightly lower contrast, it flares a little bit more – but just stop to 2.8 and your contrast is back. It’s almost like a character switch and I love that. You do want a quirky lens, but I think a lot of the time with older vintage rehoused stuff, they can be too quirky. So to have that control over the character a little bit, but in a uniformed way across the set was great.”

When shooting live events you have to adapt with the constant lighting changes, dealing with everything from LED video walls, to audience blinders and moving washes. Mark found the lenses handled all that saturation and colour mixing very well and flares were controllable instead of overwhelming.

“There was nothing too exaggerated, there was nothing that I shot and went ‘oh that looks really out of place’. There was nothing where I felt like I needed to colour correct or change anything. Everyone loves halation, I love halation. But in a live environment too much would have been a bit of a killer, the SP3s do halate a lot less than their vintage rehoused counterparts.”

“I like a bit of sharpness and I hate having to control ugly flares and crazy character. So Cooke for me has always been in that perfect sweet spot in the middle – it’s sharp and renders well, but has character and a creamy bokeh.”

In summary Mark was very pleased with the results and feels having a set of these to hand is a real asset going forward in his shooting career.

“The fact that I can carry around a full set of primes that are lightweight, that have great character around a show on my own is pretty ridiculous!”

Mark Forrer | Director of Photography
Mark Forrer

Busted – Live from Manchester Arena 2023: Shot on SP3