How Bo Burnham Shot His Netflix Special “Inside” with a Lumix S1H
A look into how Bo Burnham was able to shoot, light, and edit his latest Netflix special with only his wits and a Lumix S1H.
Like many of us who have been stuck inside for far too long, the idea of watching a comedy special filmed entirely inside a small studio apartment seemed a bit arduous. But, this isn’t just any Netflix comedy special. It’s the latest one by Bo Burnham, a true pioneer of internet humor and a creative-savant when it comes to finding new and interesting ways to present digital content.
After spending years honing his comedic song and act craft, Burnham ventured a bit deeper into digital filmmaking. In 2018, Burnham made his film writing and directing debut with the critically acclaimed A24 film Eighth Grade, and has since gone on to work on other film projects, most notably as one of the main characters in Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman.
Still, like many, Burnham found himself stuck inside for the past year. However, unlike many of us, the internet comedy genius was able to put his time to good use as he wrote, shot, directed, and edited his latest comedy feature all by himself.
The end result is his newest Netflix special Inside, which is intensely personal, at times gut-checking, and overall a quite funny introspective bit of comedy, performance art, and music. So, for all those interested in Burnham’s latest act, as well as peeking a bit more behind-the-scenes into how he conceived, shot, and edited it, let’s explore just how Burnham created this new Netflix special.
What Camera Did Bo Burnham Shoot His Netflix Special With?
We can’t 100% confirm based on any interviews yet, nor based on what we see on screen, as it didn’t appear that any shot of the camera fully showed the S1H logo. But, at the very least, it could have been a Lumix S1. But, that might not hold up as the S1H is the first mirrorless camera that’s been approved for Netflix.
As pointed out in the article above on Netflix’s inclusion of the S1H on its list of approved cameras, the addition really comes down to the streaming company’s strict rules for resolution and capture requirements, as they state that all cameras need to have a “true 4K UHD sensor (equal to or greater than 3840 photosites wide).”
Other Gear and Lighting
From a filmmaking perspective, it was almost hard to watch Burnham’s special without getting caught up in focusing on all the simple video decisions he clearly had to make for the production. Filmed entirely by himself, Burnham was able to transform what looks to be a small studio apartment into an entire production studio, complete with camera(s), lights, and audio recording for his various skits and musical numbers.
Using at least one Lumix S1H as his main camera, as well as what appears to maybe be a GoPro for at least one shot, Burnham was able to capture some truly amazing footage, as he mixed a wide array of setups and shot lengths.
For lighting, he also utilized an array of different GVM RGB LED panels and a mix of standalone kit lights. He also made heavy use of a projector, finding creative ways to work with different backdrops, while lighting himself with different images ranging from scenic sunsets to emoji patterns to help with his act.
Camera Movement and Zooms
Truth be told, shooting an entire standup special by yourself in a small room isn’t really that hard. You set up a camera, set up some lights and audio, and hit record. The real trick is finding a way to make that static camera and boring setup look good.
From this perspective, Burnham really shines. He consistently found fun, creative ways to break up what could have been a monotonous production by adding plenty of other filmmaking elements you wouldn’t think possible for such a limited production.
There were some nice framing and compositional choices, as well as a solid mix of extreme close-ups and wider shots. However, I was quite impressed with how much camera movement he was able to create, especially for some of the longer shots and sequences. While there didn’t appear to be signs of a digital dolly or sliders in his setup, the Lumix S1H shoots up to 6K, so he’d have had a good deal of crop and zoom options available to him.
Overall, despite all the logistical issues one might expect to find when self-shooting a feature alone in a small room, Burnham was able to come up with a solid mix of production and editing tricks that worked for him to create something that looks and feels much more cinematic than it probably has any business being.
If you’d like to explore more camera insights and filmmaking tips and tricks, check out these articles:
Cover image via Netflix.
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