Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs used to produce the first HDR video

by planetmitch14 Comments

UPDATE: There's a great interview with the guys behind this over on 16x9cinema. Give it a listen!

This very interesting concept High Dynamic Range (HDR) video that was shot with two Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs (reviews) has quickly gone viral. I don't know if that was because of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs or because of the fact that the only “HDR video” we've seen so far has been stills stitched together to make a video. Soviet Montage Productions (and no, they're not from Russia) issued a press release which answers some questions (read it below the video). But we also contacted Michael Safai of Soviet Montage and asked them a few questions.

Redrock Micro

Why'd you pick the Canon EOS 5D Mark II to create this video?

We picked 5D mark II's because they're just fantastic cameras that are affordable and within reach of even the most modestly funded filmmaker.

Would you please tell us a bit more about the process you used to create this?

We're still working out how much we want to reveal about our process, so keep an eye on our website for more info in the near future.

Will you be producing a product or is this just a process that you've perfected? I'm assuming it could be used with other cameras as well right?

Admittedly we're a bit surprised by the popularity of the footage we've released (over 82k hits now in just 6 hours). So next steps weren't the first things on our minds, as our team has day jobs. We'll likely spend the weekend figuring out which way to go, but ideally we'd love to get some investors who can help us refine and improve our methods. We think we've just scratched the surface here.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of HDR photography because much of what I see is overdone, but, under the right circumstances, I think it can be absolutely brilliant and I can see uses in video as well. Now, 3D on the other hand…

So, after you watch this video, sound off in the comments below – good or bad? Useful?

HDR Video Demonstration Using Two Canon 5D mark II's from Soviet Montage on Vimeo.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Opus 40, Number 9
Performed by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed Under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0”


Here's the Soviet Montage Press Release

Soviet Montage Productions releases information on the first true High Dynamic Range (HDR) video using DSLRs

San Francisco, CA, September 9, 2010: Soviet Montage Productions demonstrated today the first true HDR video sourced from multiple exposures. Unlike HDR timelapse videos that only capture a few frames per minute, true HDR video can capture 24 or more frames per second of multiple exposure footage. Using common DSLRs, the team was able to composite multiple HD video streams into a single video with an exposure gamut much greater than any on the market today. They are currently using this technology to produce an upcoming film.

Benefits of Motion HDR
HDR imaging is an effect achieved by taking multiple disparate exposures of a subject and combining them to create images of a higher exposure range. It is an increasingly popular technique for still photography, so much so that it has recently been deployed as a native application on Apple’s iPhone. Until now, however, the technique was too intensive and complex for motion. Soviet Montage Productions believes they have solved the issue with a method that produces stunning–and affordable–true HDR for film and video.

The merits of true HDR video are various. The most obvious benefit is having an exposure variation in a scene that more closely matches the human eye–think of filming your friend with a sunset at his or her back, your friend’s face being as perfectly captured as the landscape behind them. HDR video also has the advantage of reduced lighting needs. Finally, the creative control of multiple exposures, including multiple focus points and color control, is unparalleled with true HDR video.

“I believe HDR will give filmmakers greater flexibility not only in the effects they can create but also in the environments they can shoot in” said Alaric Cole, one of the members of the production team, “undoubtedly, it will become a commonplace technique in the near future. ”

Michael Safai
Soviet Montage
201 Spear Street #1100
San Francisco, CA 94105
1 415 489 0437
[email protected]

[Credit: PetaPixel via Engadget]

(Photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. It seems to me that there is a mistake in the movie at 0:19 : “overexposed” should be the brghtest side, not the darkest.

    The video itself is… Well, ugly. This not tonemapping, but overtonemapping. The “more realistic effect” still isn’t realistic… Way too much weird halos.

  2. About the “How “: one way to achieve this would be to use a beam splitter, and therefore a rig similar to stereoscopic rigs, but adjusted to avoid any parallax effect.

  3. hdr principle is very simple.But how does they get same image from two diffent 5dmark ii? really want to know.

  4. hdr principle is very simple.But how does they get same image from two different 5dmark ii? really want to know.

  5. This by no means the first or only experiment in HDR video. There is another company that has been doing this for a while with REDs and a stereo rig.

    And they have no problem revealing their methods.

    I agree with Sebastian. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

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  7. Can’t say I’m a fan of HDR stills let alone video… it just looks like another computer effect gag to me…

  8. Pingback: Group brings HDR photo technique to video | Tech Gadget Reviews

  9. There should be a push to get Canon and other DSLR makers to allow RAW video capture. With RAW it would be much simpler to shoot a single camera and adjust/control the HDR of the film. I know RAW isn’t a perfect HDR solution, but it goes a very long ways, especially on a budget, which is what this whole DSLR movement has been about.

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  12. Using this strictly as a funky look, it could work in certain music videos, experimental films or commercials where creating a different look is desired. As a more realistic view of reality? NO.

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