Karl to answer your questions re alternating. Not all shows have alternating DPs but it is becoming more common. Our show started alternating back in the first season when the complexity and workload of the episodes prompted the switch from one DP to two. Yes this means that you are sharing your creative "vision" with someone else but there are many great advantages to alternating.It is really all about prep. When you are shooting a series with a single DP meetings with the director are jammed into lunch breaks or between shots. Often you would not even go on a location survey and send your gaffer and key grip and work from maps and photos. We have very elaborate stunt and effects sequences that need to be organized, CG elements need to be discussed and we usually story board all major CG or action sequences. Having 2 DPs definitely costs the show more but pays off in efficiency on the set. Luckily our producers recognize that.
We also have a full 2nd unit for every episode that shoots 2 of the 10 days, it over laps with main unit allowing us to cram 22 episodes in 9 months. We would not be able to shoot our own 2nd units if there was only one of us.
As far as TV being "restrictive" I would say that you certainly need to be respectful of the palate of the show your are on, providing the look has been agreed upon by all. However this should not be considered confining. I have been given the complete freedom on this show by the producers to mix it up and go for it when the situation calls for it. In fact they really encourage as much of the style to be created in camera as opposed to manipulating the look in post.
Micheal to answer your question the switch was financially driven. In fact coming up to this season, our budget had been reduced and the producers were nervous about my reaction when they proposed going HD. They thought I would want to leave after shooting on 35mm for several seasons. Quite the opposite, I saw it as a fantastic opportunity, and went to work with Panavision as to how to make the Genesis happen. I think Warner Brothers had assumed that we would end up using 900s or F23s but I went for the top. I knew we needed smoothest transition possible and there was really never any other choice in my book. With the Genesis we could continue to use our beloved Primo zooms that we shoot 90% of the show on, while retaining 35mm depth of field. I was also excited by the prospect of shooting in Panalog and applying LUTS on set, a work flow that actually gives me MORE control than we had shooting film.
It has not been without its compromises. To afford the much more expensive Genesis bodies we have had to go from 7 full time camera bodies (between main and 2nd unit) down to 3 in total. When we need an extra body for a stunt its cheaper to rent an arri3 or 435, and roll some film. It cuts well. Thats even with Panavision giving us a really fair deal on the gear. They have been amazing with all of this. They really willed it to happen.
I have to say I am having a blast. It looks fantastic and I just came back from timing the season opener in LA and it grades like butter. My colorist was thrilled. We apply our luts for viewing on set and record un baked in. They then apply the LUTS to the down converted digibeta edit master for dailies. I find that I am having to overcompensate a little in crushing the blacks and adding saturation to keep some snap in the standard def dailies. I have a modified 5218 LUT that I have created for this. The camera eats diffusion alive and I have been really enjoying mixing and matching various layers of pro mist and classic softs. Each episode our DIT will send full res HD stills down for each scene so they can be referenced for the final grade as the uprezzed digibeta footage has proved to be not particularly useful for reference. Our DIT also records all footage simultaneously on his hard drive at full rez so we have a back up if needed and we can reference anything at any time which has proven to be really useful on 2nd units and inserts. Its all right there.
So far so good, I love this camera!! (and this workflow)