Stop motion with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a guy walking across the USA

by planetmitch21 Comments

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II (reviews) can make some pretty awesome movies and when used properly, even the stills side of the camera can make some cool stop-motion movies. This one stands out. I met Peter Cote for the first time at the NAB conference and he was part of the team that put this together. On first glance it doesn't seem that hard to do… but after watching the behind the scenes video that Peter sent along to us, you'll be amazed at how good this looks and how much work went into putting it together!

We (Conscious Minds Productions) and the Director, Sam Griffith, pitched the idea to Levis and they thought the idea was really cool and they provided us with free product (jeans, shirts, etc) as well as some money as a sponsorship. Everything happened very quickly. We pretty much got the green light to do the project in the first week of June and we flew out to New York on June 17. We had to do six test shoots in advance, because honestly we hadn't fully tested the idea before bringing it to Levis. We finished in San Francisco on July 1, so it was long hours the whole way. I brought my whole editing bay into the RV so that whenever we weren't shooting we were able to edit and assess our progress. Gaff tape was a big help there because it prevented all my hard drives and monitor from falling off the table while the RV was moving. (note this original is gone but some scammer copied it to here)

From a technical perspective it was an extremely difficult shoot. The entire project was shot using the 5D, a tripod, 24-70mm F/2.8L lens, a tape measure, and a photoshoped protractor. Measurement was very key to our success. If our measurement or my framing was not consistent then none of this would have worked. There was intense heat most of the shoot but kudos to Canon, because the camera did not overheat once. Neither did our behind the scenes camera which was a 7D.

Walk Across America - Photo by Peter Cote

The entire video was shot at 24mm, F stop stayed mostly at F/6.3 and ISO 200 (except night shots like Vegas which were F/4 at ISO 1250). I shot everything in RAW rather than JPEG because we moved so quickly that were not able to light very much or use reflectors. I wanted to make sure we had as much color space and flexibility later. Even though I could not tweak each frame individually, I could do them in batches of similar shots. Color correction was also difficult. It was hard to push anything too far in color correction because the environment changes so much, each of them has a different level of contrast. I ended up just lightly crushing the whole video, then I took small sections and gave each area its own treatment.

Walk Across America - the Rocky Mountains - by Peter Cote

It was a really incredible experience. It was such a big concept that I had my doubts when we pitched it to Levis. We learned so much along the way, but the success of the video has been really rewarding.

Behind the scenes video

And, the BTS shows some really cool insite as to how they made this one.

(well, at least the BTS survives LOL)

Peter, thank you so much for sending this in!

(Photo credit: snap from Peter Cote)


  1. Pingback: Remarkable Stop-Motion Walk Across America

  2. Really amazing! I am still waiting for the new Canon’s to come out before making my jump to a full frame. Amazing the versatility of the 5D II

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  13. Great job crew and especially Holland High School alumnus Peter Cote. You made your former teacher very proud!

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