Canon EOS 7D and 5D Mark II used on TV Show “Numb3rs”

by planetmitch12 Comments

Ryan Hinman (friend of planet5D) sent us a note the other day about a couple of videos posted on youtube by Stephen Gyllenhaal (imdb profile) – a Director for the TV show “Numb3rs”. Stephen has been posting some “behind the scenes” videos on his blog and there's some good info there if you're a fan of “Numb3rs”. So, we contacted Stephen to see if he'd give us a bit more info.

Redrock Micro

“I couldn't be more excited about these cameras, both the 5D Mark II and the 7D. We used them on Numb3rs for insert shots and for principle photography when using the lens baby. I'd really wanted to use it for the main camera (A camera) as well. But no one is quite ready to do that, although it's close (I think) to doing much of what the Genesis camera does — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are still balancing issues (although it's light it can be heavy with lenses). But I'm not an expert in this area. I see it (from a director's point of view) of breaking major new ground. Grip and dolly equipment can be as small as these camera — far less trucks, etc. This could bring the costs way down. And, if you're interested in doing films about characters — cost is everything.

So this is a very exciting time and everyone in Hollywood is talking about these cameras — and using them. (A lot of people not in Hollywood too.)

Stephen Gyllenhaal

planet5D Cinema

So, here's what they're doing… this is some cool stuff!
Behind the Scenes of Numb3rs: Canon 7D

Behind the Scenes of Numb3rs: Insert shot

(Photo credit: snap from the video)



  1. What I find interesting is how they use it. No steadicam, no rig of any kind.

    Oh, and is that a 5d or 7d? I honestly can’t tell. If it’s a 7d, why would they use it over the 5d?

    1. Why? :) …simple, the 5D is a photographers camera because the full-frame and its just not esthetically right four standard cinematography …don’t get me wrong i have 2x 5D-s my self it has its own look but it is no cinematic look, i also use 4x 7D… and it is just right four the Canon lenses.. every professional -commercial- project filmed with a VDSLR was with a 7D…

      1. You have no idea what you are talking about. Or at least at the time you wrote this post.

    2. It’s a 7D, you can tell because the lens on it is an EF-S which only fits crop cameras. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a life because I just found out I can recognise Canon cameras by merely glancing them.

  2. Again with the “it’s small and digital therefore we don’t need any of the rest of the stuff.” Okay, so the camera is tiny so therefore the dolly can be tiny too? Seriously? Are we shrinking the Camera Operator and Focus Puller as well?

    The fact is that no matter what “box” is used to acquire images, the set still needs to be built, the set needs to be lit, Actors still need their trailers, Wardrobe needs a trailer, Props needs a trailer, Sound needs a trailer, Hair and Makeup need a trailer, Camera Department still needs lenses and tripods and an “electronic darkroom,” Grip needs C-stands and flags, Electricians need lights and stands and cables, Props needs Director’s chairs and all of their stuff…

    Need I go on? Perhaps there would be savings in the camera body itself, but we’ll still need high quality (read: expensive) lenses plus the accessories necessary to make the thing usable by human-beings. The Film Loader position will be replaced, not by a cheap PA, but by someone who is VERY QUALIFIED in data management.

    The box with a hole in it may change, but the “filmmaking” process really doesn’t… if we want quality that is. And there’s generally a reason that some cameras are cheaper than others… when it comes to technology, we don’t usually get something for nothing. Yes, the Genesis and camera systems like it cost a lot more, but that’s the price of obtaining an uncompressed, uncompromised image. Just like quality cast and crew, quality technology and equipment costs real money because, in general, you get what you pay for.

    1. You’re really missing the point of this.

      How much time would it take to setup a 35mm film camera to get any of those insert shots shown? Now how long would it take with a tiny little digital camera? There’s a difference, maybe not HUGE for the individual shots, but when you add up ALL of the shots needed for an episode– It adds up. It’s much quicker.

      As for the dolly thing:
      No, the dolly grip, camera operator and focus puller do not shrink– But, if you use a consumer dolly for this which can get just as smooth of shots as a big camera rig on a professional dolly, the consumer dolly isn’t going to take half the time it would take to load a pro dolly onto a truck, unload it, set up the rails, set up the dolly on the rails, push the thing– This would save SO much time, not to mention the money saved on the equipment and the space saved in the truck (for more lights and c-stands and sandbags and flags and whatnot…).

      Have you seen the dollys for these things? There’s a micro dolly that fits on the top of a tripod– Leveling would be almost instantaneous and it’s so much quicker for those shots that do not require a huge dolly move or for ECUs with a dolly move.

      How can you even argue that this is not faster? Everything about it is faster. EVERYTHING. Sure, maybe most of the things that this camera does faster isn’t a huge difference, but when you add it all up we could be talking about saving DAYS per episode on production time. Time equals money. Every second counts.

  3. The choice between the 7d and 5d might be a frame rate issue. If they are shooting 24p then they will want to continue in that frame rate – it simplifies post. As well, the 5d’s depth of field might be too shallow for some shots – you’ll have to work harder to get a greater depth of field.

    As for the rigging and camera crew – this shoot was for inserts, not the bulk of the show. I shoot with the 5d all the time without a rig. It can be uncomfortable in longer sessions but overall it’s fine. I can see how much they would like it for these quick and dirty insert shots – the main camera is doing the next setup while you grab some b roll.

  4. “Mute on sound”? Never heard that one, I’ve heard the “Mit out sound” explanation many times, though.

  5. Pingback: And one more thing…A 365 Day Blog» Blog Archive » HDSLR’s Being Embraced by the Big Boys

  6. I would bet that the zoom is IS (Image Stabilised), so you can reframe easily (as in the second video) and damp down most of the hand wobbles. The big drawback over video lenses would be variable stops (spend more on L glass I guess) and a macro function (again spend to get).

    Really this is a great idea for inserts, no second crew either and you get to use the primary talent rather than stand ins. And I agree that the APS-C 7D would allow a bit more depth for the run and gun-ness of the shoot without a focus puller.

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