Web Pilot shot entirely with Canon EOS 5D Mark II

by planetmitch10 Comments

Thanks to a tip, we've been able to get more exclusive information about a new TV Web Pilot that is in post-production. On twitter, Josh Negrin (see his IMDB Biography and previous work) sent us some info about a TV Web Pilot he's been making and gave us this additional info about the project:

UPDATE: D'oh – Josh informed me that I can't read LOL – it is a ‘web' pilot, not a ‘TV' pilot. My apologies!

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“323” is a new web mini series comedy, about a young guy who has just moved to LA. Amongst his adventures he finds new friends and new love.

Our lead actress is Deanna Russo (“Knight Rider” and one of “Maxim” magazine's top 100 for 2009) (Deanna's IMDB bio).

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The show pilot has been shot and is in post now. We're not sure yet what kind of color correction we really need to do, and that's a good thing. The video from the 5D Mark II looks awesome right out of the camera, as opposed to my experience shooting RED. The image from the RED comes into the edit looking flat and a contrast bump is a must with that camera, in post. We brought in a great d.p., Royce Dudley, who really knew nothing, at first, about shooting the 5D. His experience has been mostly with 35mm film. By the second hour of shooting, though, Royce had mastered the 5D's video capabilities. There were times when we had to try different things in order to get the camera to open the aperture of the lens, as opposed to shooting at 3200 ISO. As a general rule, we kept the ISO under 1600. I would go into detail, but I just read that we're getting manual control on June 2nd, and that is exciting!!

We shot with three lenses, canon 50mm f1.8 canon 85mm f1.8 and canon 28-135 IS f3.5-5.0. Any time we used either of the primes, we made sure we were locked down. Tripod, jib, or dolly only for those lenses. They produce amazing images, but not when you're handheld. We mostly used the IS lens, because of how wide some of our shots were, and also because we enjoyed the freedom of being able to take the camera off the sticks and go handheld. We were shooting so fast, we opted to not have a matte box or french flag. Anything that would slow down a lens change.

Overall, the 5D Mark II definitely had what it took to give us an amazing image to better tell our story. As for post, we batch exported all of the clips using a free program called MPEG Streamclip into the apple pro res format and will be editing in FCP.

The first three images are pulled straight from the video, with no color correction. The other images are behind the scenes shots.

Click on the images to see larger sizes!


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Behind the scenes:

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Our many thanks go to Josh Negrin!

(Header Photo credit: snap from the TV Show)

Comments

  1. Wow, it is incredible to see how the 5DMRkII is allowing people to be creative with such limited budget. We are truly at the dawn of the democratization of high quality film making!

    I hope you will be able to do a few follow up on this in the coming weeks/months so we can see the final products.

  2. “The video from the 5D Mark II looks awesome right out of the camera, as opposed to my experience shooting RED. The image from the RED comes into the edit looking flat and a contrast bump is a must with that camera, in post.”

    This is a disturbing statement from the article. It shows that the producer using this camera really doesn’t understand the RED and what that format allows. Of course it looks flat out of the camera as it’s a RAW format that requires color grading. That’s the whole point of the format. The 5D is baking that look into the footage and the same footage side by side on a grading suite would have tons more latitude in the RED footage than the 5D. This is a good thing!

  3. True, his understanding of the RED format may be off (I don’t know, I don’t have a RED), but based on what he mentioned regarding speed of filming, they may also be looking for speed in post. If he can get a product straight out of camera that is already what he’s looking for, why take extra steps and added expense just for more exposure and color latitude? With lighting and upcoming firmware update, exposure is going to be pretty much controlled (except for the fact that they appear to only be using the 5D screen as a guide). I see advantages of both, but if you’re in a hurry and on a tight budget (he’s using non-L lenses for example), this is a no brainer. Thing is, you don’t have to be in either of those circumstances to appreciate what it has to offer, which could explain the mass appeal. I bought one and I didn’t even know what i was going to use it for.. My realjob is a property tax consultant!!

  4. Dustin,
    He should absolutely use the 5D if that’s what he is looking for, pre-baked files out of camera with a built in look that doesn’t have much latitude in color grading. And you can get some amazing footage from the 5D, I know as I’ve used it several time. I wanted to clarify that his comment about RED sounds like he doesn’t have an understand of the camera or the tech. If someone read that post and didn’t understand RED either they might think the 5D produces better images … which both cams in the hands of a good DP you will get better footage with way more flexibility out of a RED. You will pay more sure but we’re talking hi-end digital cinema camera vs a DSLR with a video mode. There is a difference.

  5. I have to jump in here, being the guy who shot “323”. A few points based on what’s been written above :

    First, I have shot lots of 16mm and 35mm film, but came up shooting still and 8mm Kodachrome and anaolg video a very long time ago…yet I first shot HD in 1999, and have lit and shot a mountain of digital video… right up to a RED shoot the day before “323” started..and I had wanted to see what all this 5D murmuring was about. Thanks to Josh…

    This was a super fast shoot, where I lit and shot the whole thing with no AC, 1 unskilled grip, and no location scouting ahead of time. I first held the camera when talent was in the makeup chair.

    One poster wrote:” I see advantages of both, but if you’re in a hurry and on a tight budget (he’s using non-L lenses for example), this ( pre-baked images / choice of 5D ) is a no brainer. ”

    That is exactly a part of the choice Josh made, and perhaps inherent between the lines if you read his post over again knowing that.

    As for me, Pre-Baked is a VERY good thing if you know what you like, and RAW files won’t help you if your shooting is a mess.. It’s only been a few years since only the DP knew what the footage would look like, he had to be trusted, and if he delivered, the dailies looked as he intended. Now with RED and other cameras available, there’s often a new approach involving what I term “collaborative indecisiveness”, with the intention of seasoning the meal after it’s ready to be served.. which I personally find lazy or gutless or just a power play in many instances. That said, the 5D like any video camera lets you shoot an image that can be manipulated later, but not to as great an extent…. where the RED shoots more post- maleable files, but you still have to fairly nail your exposures ( and know where they should be for the format in order to do so ) and control color temperature of light sources, intentionally mixed CT’s and how they play the scene, and balance the ratio of lighting contrast… RAW files aren’t a tool overcome lack of ability or control.

    Josh stepped in when he wanted a tweak in the look..he has a very developed eye for subtleties … he let me go with a lot of what I was doing. It was a vastly more “organic” shoot than I usually favor, but it worked, because Josh knew what he wanted yet was also realistic about the constraints coming at us from many directions.

    The 5D is a still camera that happens to shoot video. In my personal, humble opinion, it’s a really poor device for scripted, intentional and controlled cinematography, due to it’s still camera ergonomics… from the screen position, size, weight, control positioning and particularly the short rotation and tiny diameter of the focus barrels on available lenses… add to that the inescapable optical math involving working stop and DOF and you have a camera capable of unique images but completely unsuited to mainstream pro filmmaking. If you don’t have the option of full manual control of every function, it is simply not a profesional tool and is going to be a big pain in the ass for someone like me ( a dinosaur of habit and expectation ).

    Would I use it again ? ABSOLUTLEY..for “323” I think it works quite nicely if we keep the organic thing going…for some limited applications.. a creative music video with a ( substantive ) budget could be really interesting… especially if the camera could be hard-fronted with a PL mount ;)

    Another poster wrote : “We are truly at the dawn of the democratization of high quality film making!”

    Written like a true manufacturer. This has nothing to do with the article, project or thread, but you got me: If you take every single picture-related hard cost of a very low budget $ 815,000 35mm feature ( I just shot it, I know the numbers ), you still have to foot the bill for about $650,000 that has nothing to do with camera or picture from mattebox to answer print.

    Cameras don’t democratize anything, they just make cash for vendors, magazines and websites.

  6. “As for me, Pre-Baked is a VERY good thing if you know what you like, and RAW files won’t help you if your shooting is a mess”

    I’d say that puts you in a minority. Ask any professional still photographer and the majority of them will tell you they want a RAW image that they can really work with after the shoot as opposed to the limited abilities they have with JPEGs. Same with RED .R3D files vs. H264 QuickTimes. Shooting RED doesn’t mean you don’t have any idea what you want and you build it all in post. Quite the contrary. You work hard to nail your exposure and develop that look before hand and then you can further refine in post, make it better or move to something new entirely. I’m not begrudging you shooting this web pilot on 5D. I think it’s great for the right job. I use it myself. But compared to RED (which is what the quote in the article seemed to do) it is a very very limited format. That’s not really debatable.

  7. Shooter Steve, still photographers and videographers or cinematographers work in different worlds that don’t relate to each other at all.

    You just made my point for me… “you work hard to nail your exposure and develop that look before hand and then you can further refine it in post, make it better or MOVE TO SOMETHING NEW ENTIRELY”… which completely negates respect for the cinematographer’s choices.

    I understand the advantages of RAW files. I also understand most still photographers do their own image manipulation. Most cinematographers or videographers I know never see the footage again after they’ve shot it, with few exceptions. This may not be your reality but it’s mine, and it’s the norm where I live and work.

    I think you confused my comments about behavioral observations and the use of specific products.

    First, I had no input as to the camera used on this shoot.
    I would have recommended neither RED nor 5D for a stack of reasons. Not that either is bad… I think I shouldn;t even go there.

    I think I’ve walked into a forum here where 5D users are not from the same working reality that I am ( as most RED owners are not either ).. so no matter how I defend my point of in-camera decision making, I’m gonna get hammered because what you see as options I see as a slippery slope in post.

  8. I was reading this post and just wanted to chime in on the RAW file concept. I am a Photographer so I don’t know much about Cinematography but I assume it is much the same… In regaurds to knowing what you like and choosing the format…That is all we had before digital. You chose your format and you film type and that is what you got. You knew what it was going to look like. Now days people want RAW files so they can alter them more afterwards. Well that’s great, but sometimes having too much options is not a good thing. I belive this is the point Royce is trying to get across. Before RAW and digital, you chose your lighting for what sort if film stock you were using to get what style you wanted..and that was it pretty much. You knew what you were getting ahead of time. Any bad lighting choices or shots would be photographer error. I also think people rely on fixing their errors in post way too much nowdays. I shoot digital and when I do it’s in raw, but I also still shoot film. If I ever want to capture something that I think is timeless or special, I will always use film. I think maybe it’s a little too easy for people nowdays and I belive it’s taking away the skill level and artistry of photography. Taking millions of test shots and erasing them to get the lighting right, exposure correct, framing, etc. is so lame and more of a waste of time rather than knowing what you are doing and knowing you shot is right in your head before you even take a shot or roll film. Once again I am assuming that Cinema would be the same way. Maybe Royce and rebuttle on that.

  9. Dustin, we know RED is better, but as you can see people would complain about it because of its cost, If you are a person who has a LOT of money and can afford it, then good, looks like I want RED more than 5D, but money is the problem these days, so 5D is actually the better option for budget, but for the RED it isn’t, basically I’m saying both are good things, though 5D Is a still camera, this is actually a good thing, A dslr that has both options, I don’t like carrying two things around, that means I don’t want a camera and a camcorder in HD, I’d rather have both together so I don’t have to switch it out a lot of times, it’ll be in the way, and there are also ways to get in the way with dslr, that I know too, but makes it a bit quicker that way, instead of getting a big video camera, yet you want a pic, then you have to switch to a still camera.

  10. As a professional director for over 15 years, what really matters is the story. You can shoot on VHS tape and if the story engages the viewer then it doesn’t matter if its RAW, JPEG, color balanced. Camera’s are just tools to tell stories and in the end it’s the story that matters. I have shot with pretty much all of the available cameras and for that film look, believe it or not, film is still king, but not for long.
    The 5d MArk 11 us a wonderful camera for what it is. I find it works great for stealing shots in locations, especially for documentary work, and for PSAs on a low budget. My hats go off to these film makers who dont care about the specs, they just see what the camera can do and go for it. BTW thanks all for the great information on this site!!!!!

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