Moxness’ innovative vision

The Gemini nomination for director of photography David Moxness for Gene Rodenberry's Earth: Final Conflict is not just a personal recognition but also a vindication of the format the show uses. It was the first episodic television production to shoot with Sony's 24p high-definition HDW-F900 camcorders. Moxness joined Final Conflict in its third season. The series, an Alliance Atlantis production in association with Tribune Entertainment Company, is about an alien race who come to Earth and use their technology to help the planet while battling human opposition. To get prepared for the switch from film, Moxness and Thoman Durnan, the series' other DOP, shot the series' sets. Everyone was happy with the results.

The Gemini nomination for director of photography David Moxness for Gene Rodenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict is not just a personal recognition but also a vindication of the format the show uses. It was the first episodic television production to shoot with Sony’s 24p high-definition HDW-F900 camcorders. Moxness joined Final Conflict in its third season. The series, an Alliance Atlantis production in association with Tribune Entertainment Company, is about an alien race who come to Earth and use their technology to help the planet while battling human opposition. To get prepared for the switch from film, Moxness and Thoman Durnan, the series’ other DOP, shot the series’ sets. Everyone was happy with the results.

Since then, shooting has been going smoothly. Day to day there is not that much difference between film and this type of HD, Moxness explains.

‘Everything is the same. You set up the shot the same way, the lighting the same way.’ As well, there are benefits for cinematographers – aside from the savings on film stock. ‘With HD you see the image as it is being recorded.’

At the same time, working with a new medium always involves a learning curve.

‘It is like learning a new film stock, you have to fine tune the color correcting,’ he says.

Since embracing this new format, Moxness has also shot an 11-part series for Warner Bros. called Witchblade. On Witchblade, he did carry a film camera. Long and wide lenses do work with HD, but Moxness says he finds they do not have the same dynamic. ‘There is a different lens selection with a film camera. I can use 200mm or longer.’

Moxness has been playing with the medium since childhood. ‘I was one of those kids who grew up with dad’s camera. I was shooting my own 8mm films as a kid.’ He entered the film industry working various entry-level jobs, such as best boy and gaffer, and eventually started DOPing for music videos.

Using the HDW-F900 camera has been the most interesting part of his career so far, he says. ‘We really had to scramble to get everything together, it was right down to the wire of the day we started. But because we were working in uncharted waters it also made it very exciting.’ *