“Light” – a nice short film submitted by planet5D friend Dan Rubottom and of course they chose the Canon EOS 5D Mark II!
Contrasting light and shadow, day and night, a glimpse at life in a bustling city where often perspective… is everything.
About The Production
This short was a fun exercise in shooting a film without the normal constraints of a script or the pressure of a deadline.Â We had just purchased the Canon 5D Mark II for a big outreach event Joel Osteen Ministries was holding at the new Yankee Stadium, and we thought; hey, lets make a movie! (in the evenings during our off time).Â What better place than New York? An endless backdrop for telling stories of all types, if nothing else, we can always use more b-roll.
Yes, we did have a loose idea of the structure for the story; but that was it, nothing written down, mainly just a few characters that we would put in contrasting environments â€“ then write the voice-over later.
We shot it over the course of two evenings and one morning, largely with 3 or 4 people at a time.
The cast and crew consisted of myself as Director/DP, Dino Brogna as co-producer and actor, Casey Graham as location sound/post mixing and actor, Stephen Varughese as actor and sometimes grip, Darren Johnson as additional location sound(when Casey wasnâ€™t available), and Trae Stanley and Micah Bickham each as voice talent and co-producers.
We planned our evenings by either walking or taking the subway to our destinations – shooting along the way.Â There was no scouting, so if we saw a scene we liked we just started shooting and tried to get a few different takes/angles/focal lengths if we could.Â The beauty of shooting with the 5D, is that no one knows youâ€™re shooting a movie, they just think youâ€™re shooting stills and keep out of the way or ignore you, so there were no â€œhi mom!â€ moments, thankfully.
Our â€œextensiveâ€ production kit fit into one small Thinktank roller bag plus a Sennheiser 416 on a boom pole and a small Fostex flash recorder for nat sound.Â This made for a very mobile production- getting on and off trains and up was a snap.
We shot with all Nikon manual focus primes: 14mm f2.8 ED (actually AF, but can only use as MF), 28 f2.8, 50 f1.4, 85 f1.8, 135 f2.8, 200 f4.Â This was before the firmware update so I chose the Nikon primes to have absolute DOF control and not have to mess with the â€œhalf twistâ€ or tricking it with flashlights, etc.
We also had a Rhode Videomic on the hotshoe a few times for redundant audio.Â Since we wanted to travel extremely light and nimble, any â€œtripodâ€ shots were actually with a GorillaPod, which I was very happy with.Â It enables you to make a quick camera support out of postal boxes, curbs, fences, or even bending it sideways to stabilize by pressing it against a wall.
We had a Steadicam Merlin on this trip but didnâ€™t take it out for this particular shoot so as not to draw too much attention.Â So depending on the project, I highly recommend the Merlin for the 5D, they work really well together.
The Post workflow was pretty straight forward.Â In the field, we dumped the camera H.264 quicktime to bus-powered LaCie drives from a Lexar Firewire 800 reader onÂ a Macbook Pro.Â I cloned the drive and stored it in a separate suitcase.
Back home, I used Compressor to convert all the H.264 files to Prores422 HQ quicktime.Â Then imported those to FCP for editing – that way any subsequent timeline processing is at the highest quality and makes for a MUCH faster and more responsive editing experience – compared to trying to edit in native H.264.
I considered color grading in Color as I have in the past, but I tried this one with Magic Bullet Looks – and was very pleased with how quickly and intuitively I could get the result I was after.Â I often grade in After Effects as well, but I chose to grade this project all in FCP, except for the title graphics and a couple effects shots, which were in AE.
Audio post was handled by Casey Graham in one of our Euphonix rooms.Â I did the rough music edit and mix and then sent him OMFs which he imported to Nuendo for the final mix and added further sound effects.
Just Do It.
For me it is incredibly exciting to have a tool that finally allows you to get stunning filmic images with the exact depth of field that you require — and in places that usually would be very difficult or impossible to place an HVX with an M2 adapter, let alone a RED ONE or a Panaflex!Â Not only that, but the freedom this size and form factor allows you is unparalleled.
Much ado has been made about the lack of 24 or 25p in this camera, and while I am one of 24pâ€™s biggest fans, I have never felt while watching this that it was missing something by not being in that frame rate.Â If given the chance, yes, I would have dialed it in at 24p- and I realize you can do some frame rate conversions with Twixtor, AE and Compressor, but for this project, 30p looked great to me.Â Of course, if I had to do a filmout, that would be a challenge.
In all, the thing I enjoyed most about doing this short was seeing the response it got when we showed it around the office.Â No one knew we were even doing this short except our core group, so when we showed the completed project to our executive staff members, it was a total surprise to them- in a good way.Â So much so, that it was featured in a special Joel Osteen webcast and will be soon available in the podcast feed; and best of all, they would like us to do more projects like this.
Remember, its not all about the tools you use, its how you use what you do have by maximizing the resources you have available to you.Â If you have a Flip, a Canon 5D Mark II, or a RED ONE- no excuses, go out there and make your movie!
Dan Rubottom is senior producer of Special Projects at Joel Osteen Ministries and also co-owner, with his wife Raven, at Epiphany Creative Group in Houston, TX.
Greenlight Hope Films is a new extension of Joel Osteen Ministries where we present the hope found in Jesus Christ through creative and compelling short films.
Cinematography & Editing
FirstCom Music, Inc
Decibel Collective, Dittybase
(Photo credit: snap from the video)