This Is Family: A Case Study
In April 2018, Next was charged with producing a reality show like none other.
But there was a catch: The series had to look like a typical reality show. But for us, This Is Family was unlike anything we’ve ever produced.
The cast of This Is Family was enthusiastic about the show. However, they did not want their life abruptly changed due to the presence of the show. This forced us to rethink how we were to shoot the series.
Shooting the show—
Next typically shoots documentary content with Canon C700 cameras and Canon CN7x17 lenses. However, This Is Family requires a different set of cameras than past productions due to the fast-paced nature of filming.
For This Is Family, the rigged up low-light beast Sony a7S II is paired with the Sony 28-135 f/4 servo zoom lens is used. We use Tiffen’s 812 Warming Filter for evening out skin tones. An Atomos Ninja Flame monitor/recorder is used to shoot Slog2 4K30 footage in ProRes 422 for efficient, high quality color-grading. We use this shoulder-mounted rig for circumstances in which large, imposing cameras are permitted.
When filming with a large crew is not possible, we are still able to shoot with the Sony a7S II camera and 28-135mm lens, but simply switch to a handheld rig. This enables consistency throughout the series.
Editing the show—
The series edits much closer to air than other reality series. At most, This Is Family edits up to two weeks before release. This requires an efficient, high-performance editing suite. Typically, we edit on desktop editing rigs with Avid Symphony/Avid Media Composer. For this series, Next has chosen Final Cut Pro X to accommodate the fast-paced delivery requirements. The series is then delivered to Amazon in the ProRes 422 codec at 1080p30. Although the show is shot on 4K, the footage is downscaled to 1080p per network delivery guidelines.
Soundtracking the show—
Music is an important part of the family, with David and Aaron both avid musicians. Thus, we decided to put extra emphasis on the music of the show. The soundtrack of This Is Family is an EDM-heavy playlist. Much of This Is Family’s soundtrack is composed in house (full credits here). The rest of the soundtrack is provided by boutique music production company Young Mozart Music and the many talented composers at Lab Hits. Artists Tobu, Canopy Climbers, and Andrew X all have featured placements on the series.
Want to see the show in action? Stream on Amazon Prime Video!
Season three premieres September 27, 2019.