Skater and moviemaker, Jasmine Quinones, talks us through the strengths of FUJIFILM X-H2S for run-and-gun content creation
A good tool is designed for a particular purpose. It’s made for the job at hand – and does it well. That’s true across an almost infinite gamut of gadgets, from screwdrivers to torches, snorkels to drills, skateboards to, of course, cameras. And moviemaker Jasmine Quinones knows all about the latter.
Obsessed with skateboarding growing up, she soon found a love for filmmaking and storytelling, too. It eventually made sense to combine them. In both cases, an effective tool was required: one to drop into a bowl, grind a railing, or cruise the boardwalk; another to photograph that movement and show the emotion of success or failure.
Of course, not all skateboards are the same, and nor are all cameras. Just as Jasmine might pick a shortboard with a kicktail for tricks, or a longboard for cruising, her choice of camera is dictated by the needs of the job. And when filming her beautiful new short, Push, she needed a camera that could keep up. Literally.
“Throughout the project, we were definitely thankful for a small, light camera,” she explains. “We were working either handheld or on a lightweight gimbal – and when stripped down to the bare bones, you need a body with a good grip. That’s one of X-H2S’s standout features for me. I was with my DOP, Ian, and we both filmed while running, riding a skateboard, and from a motorized Onewheel. Across all of those situations, we could operate one-handed with ease – which is great if you don’t want to fall off!”
Jasmine often works in this free-flowing, documentary style. It’s something that harks back to her first video inspirations. “I always liked making films as a way of expressing myself, and I’d upload random stuff to YouTube,” she explains. “But what really drew me to the creative side were run-and-gun style documentaries. It’s something I grew up watching and found refreshing in music videos and promos. I didn’t want the highly produced stuff, but rather shorts that were energetic, cleverly filmed, and stylistically edited.”
This ties in with her early fascination for skating, and specifically videos. “I had this one which I must have watched a thousand times – and that’s something I wanted to replicate in Push,” she says. “The thing is… filmmaking and skating are closely linked. Most skaters film themselves, and we do it in a way unlike any other sport. We’ll try a trick 100 times or skate some quirky spot, and when we finally land it, we want to see it for ourselves – and for others to see it, too. That sense of progression is the goal.”
With all the movement in Push, Jasmine was keen to try X-H2S’s in-body image stabilization. “We used IBIS a lot, never weighing down the camera to create stability – and only on a gimbal when I wanted very smooth tracking footage. When Ian and I were running around, following skaters in the park, this really came into its own. The seven stops of stabilization meant we could film handheld, which is lighter, and the footage has this brilliantly clear look, without being artificially smooth. It makes you feel more in touch with what’s going on.”
The incredible dynamic recording range of X-H2S, plus footage color depth, also impressed Jasmine. “Honestly, for a lot of the skatepark scenes, I was concerned about the light and how harsh it was,” she explains. “But thanks to X-H2S recording Apple ProRes internally, that wasn’t a problem. The 4:2:2 10-bit footage was amazing, and responded so beautifully in grading, we didn’t lose a thing in the highlights or shadows.”
Another feature of X-H2S is its ability to film in a variety of 4K modes, as well as up to 6.2K at 29.97p. “For Push, we used 4K in 60p, 24p, and also 120p for the slow-motion sequences. The footage was incredible. Having that flexibility in the same resolution makes workflow a lot easier. What also impressed me was that X-H2S showed no signs of overheating, even though we were working five hours in direct sun. We didn’t need to use the FAN-001 attachment, although it’s great to know that it’s available.
“I was really keen to try the 6.2K mode, too,” she continues. “It’s a useful feature to have, meaning I can punch into a scene, or zoom out without physically moving the camera or blowing up the footage. The extra resolution means you can place those sequences in a 4K timeline, then either shrink down, or use them as-is, panning the frame or pulling out with no loss of quality.”
For fast-moving and erratic subjects like the film’s skaters, X-H2S’s AI-powered subject recognition AF also came to the fore. “We used the subject tracking almost all of the time, at the skatepark and for scenes on the road,” says Jasmine. “We played around a lot with specific modes, and found that the motorcycle setting worked particularly well for skaters – as it follows that similar upright stance. It did a great job of tracking, especially as everything was going by pretty fast! It’s a million times better than anything I’ve used before.
“For all those reasons, the new FUJIFILM X-H2S might just be the ultimate lightweight camera for filmmakers,” she concludes. “It has all the features required for a project like Push, and then some. I didn’t need to rig it out to get great results, and the handling and workflow flexibility was just awesome. It’s definitely going to be my main camera for YouTube, short films, and small-scale commercial content from now on.
“The way in which you can use this camera so stripped down, as we did at the skatepark, is very freeing. Like the fact that I can use ProRes422 mode without a screen or external recorder. But obviously you can accessorize it for all sorts of other setups, too. A perfect tool for freelancers and commercial content creators who want to up their game.”