Monster Island: Behind the Scenes with Sigma Cine lenses

I am a big fan of Sigma lenses after having shot a feature last year using the 18 – 35mm and 50 – 100 mm T2 High Speed Cine Zooms in some arduous and challenging conditions on the ocean off of the Cape of Good Hope.  

When I had an opportunity to use Sigma High Speed FF Cine Primes for our movie MONSTER ISLAND I jumped at the chance. MONSTER ISLAND is Syfy channel’s giant kaiju movie and features a bevy of creatures encountered by a deep ocean mining crew who must figure out how to stop them before they wreak havoc on the mainland. We filmed the movie in South Africa utilizing the spectacular landscapes of Cederberg and the environs around Cape Town to bring our story to life.  

Since this movie is a giant monster movie, I was excited to use Sigma’s FF High Speed Primes for numerous reasons. On the technical side, we took advantage of the fact these lenses offer 35mm full frame and vista vision coverage as we needed high resolution wide angle plates for our visual effects shots. Being able to capture the full frame in high resolution on the wider lenses like the 14mm and 20mm and maintain sharpness was a big plus as we needed a wide canvas to tell our story and even to fit the giant (CGI) monsters into our frame.  For our film, we utilized the 14mm, 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm.  I appreciated the fact that we could open up to a T2 or T1.5 depending on the lens and still maintain sharpness.  We constructed a mini-sub set on stage where we used lighting effects to simulate a low-light environment deep beneath the sea, with a ton of action and four actors on set we needed fast lenses to capture our story. Our movie also had a portion which was shot 2nd unit in Los Angeles. To keep the visuals consistent, our LA team used the T2 Sigma Cine Zooms. 

In terms of the image, I am a big fan of Sigma going back to the Sigma Art still lenses and had used them with 2nd unit and B-camera angles to compliment the main camera.  In terms of bokeh and the look that can be achieved using these lenses, we received a compliment from our Executive Producer in the final review screening of MONSTER ISLAND when he mentioned how good the actors looked in our shots and asked what lenses we shot the movie on. Like me, I think we have a new convert. 

Personally I am looking forward to shooting with the Sigma 28mm and 105mm FF Cine Prime and the 24 – 35mm T 2.2 FF Cine Zoom on future projects.  I think Sigma lenses are a great addition to a cinematographers arsenal whether it be shooting indie films, television or feature films.  

MONSTER ISLAND, shot on Sigma Cine lenses premiered on SYFY on June 1st and comes out on VOD and home video on June 13, 2019. It also airs July 3rd at 3:15PM and again on July 4th at 12:00AM.

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