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Case Study: Setting Up a Digital Filmmaking Program with Old Dominion University


Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, Virginia, decided to add a Digital Filmmaking program to their Department of Communication & Theatre Arts. Cinematographer and documentarian David Mallin was the professor selected to oversee the program. Based on his past experience with AbelCine, he turned to the company for assistance in purchasing the program’s first digital cinema camera package.

The camera system had to be flexible since it would be used for feature film projects, as well as ENG/documentary style promotional projects for the university. For feature films, Raw recording capabilities were needed. The university also wanted a set of high-quality prime lenses to give their projects a distinctive look.

Besides obtaining the gear, the University wanted to ensure that their staff and students were trained on the new system.


The AbelCine sales team put together a Sony F55 camera package that met all the University’s requirements. For feature production, the camera offered ultimate color fidelity and greater exposure latitude with its Raw capability. The same camera offered high frame rate HD image capture for ENG/doc shoots. The AbelCine team also built an ENG camera support package that was lightweight and quick to transfer from tripod to shoulder mounted operation.

Having an F55 package also meant that the University could easily extend their kit with AbelCine rental gear if multi-camera setups were called for.

AbelCine rounded out Old Dominion’s package with a complete set of cinema prime lenses from Cooke Optics. These lenses provided the distinctive look and professional quality that the university wanted.

Before being shipped out, the entire camera package received AbelCine’s Platinum Package Prep. The Cooke lenses were meticulously adjusted using AbelCine’s Zeiss K8 MTF system. The Sony F55 received the latest firmware and its back focus was adjusted to precisely match with the Cooke lens set.

In order to ensure the faculty was fully trained on the new camera, AbelCine first provided Department Chairman Stephen Pullen and Professor David Mallin access to their Sony F55 intensive workshop in New York. Afterwards, AbelCine Camera Technology Specialist Jeff Lee traveled to Virginia to conduct a specialized day-long training session for Old Dominion University faculty and ACs. During this trip, he ensured that all operational and workflow questions were addressed prior to the start of filming their first feature.

David Mallin commented, “Jeff was great today. My ACs are now up to speed, and we ran a very interesting exposure test that is going to inform the way I handle the camera on the shoot.”

Despite being located outside a major production center, Old Dominion University was able to take full advantage of the latest technology and AbelCine’s training and support programs.


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