Shooting with the Canon EOS 60D

You don’t get much better than this! Canon EOS 60D shines in this minature world

by planetMitch7 Comments

When Brad Herbert sent us this Canon EOS 60D video, we were impressed – very impressed – and so we posted it to the planet5D cinema – where it got the highest ratings of any video we've posted so far! So we asked Brad to give us some more background on the production of this incredible story.

26 extremely talented people, 90 Shots, 377 GB of files, two melted building models, all produced in four weeks in our spare time (if you want to call night and week ends spare time).

AICP Southwest 2011 :: Sponsor Reel

[tentblogger-vimeo 30861919]
Shooting in the LMRA Railroad Activity

Shooting in the LMRA Railroad Activity

Brad Herbert writes:

Our creative minds here at Element X Creative (Dallas, TX) were pretty stoked about The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) asking us to create this year's Sponsor Reel for the Southwest show. The creative carte blanche was daunting given such a small window of time to concept and produce a 5 minute piece. Adding to the challenge was our own high expectations, not only in terms of storytelling, but also wanting to create something that had not been done in the history of the show. 

During the conceptualization phase, one of our big breakthroughs was our lack of time in general. Short deadlines are notorious in this industry and we've all yearned to stop time for a second and catch our breath. This idea, fused with the childhood nostalgia of miniatures and train sets, became the base foundation for our story.

Beyond the short notice 4 week production window and already on-going gigs in house, we tackled many other production hurdles. We decided to shoot the background plates on a Canon 60D for several reasons. a) These DSLRs are just pumping out fantastic pictures, and the readily available lens selections make getting the right angle easy. b) We wanted to shoot over-cranked at 60fps to help sell the scale of the miniatures as larger than they were – also some of the cars/trains that we moved practically through the scene, would look more realistic slowed down a bit. c) The flip-out screen made it super easy to get into tighter spaces, and to see what was going on quickly.

Gulf & Denver Railroad Authority HO-Scale Model Railroad

Gulf & Denver Railroad Authority HO-Scale Model Railroad - photos by Robert (Bob) Bray

We also chose to shoot at a minimum of f/11, and when possible f/16 – I wanted to keep the DOF deeper, so it would seem more like it was photographed in the real world, we still wanted selective focus, but just not as much as you usually see when people show you photos of a miniature layout. This required us to dump a lot of light on the set to be able to shoot that stopped-down and still maintain a low ISO. Last, we tried to get the camera as close as we could to ground level to mimic a large set – again with miniatures photographed that you might see, frequently it is shot from high above since that is our natural vantage point in relation to them.

Using our internally developed OTTO rigging system, we put it through it's paces quickly setting up dozens of characters and vehicles. Shooting such small miniatures with extreme focal lengths also made the 3D camera tracks challenging in certain shots. Logos were also pouring in at the last minute so compositing was being handled up until the final hour.

Many late nights and take-out orders later, combined with a custom score and sound effects mix from Tequila Mockingbird, we came away with a unique animation that we are very proud of.

So take a peek at our latest and greatest! We hope you have as much fun watching it as our hero had while running around in the tiny world we created for him.

Shooting with the Canon EOS 60D

Shooting with the Canon EOS 60D

Director – Brad Herbert

Executive Producers – Chad Briggs, Rick Perez
Producer – Amy Cass

Director of Photography – Brad Herbert
Location Crew – Luis Martinez, Jiss Kuruvilla
Location Manager – Robert Bray

CG Director – Eric J. Turman

Animation Director – Luis Martinez
Animators – Aaron Werntz, Steve “Q” Quentin, Andrea Thomas

Lead Modeler – Christopher McCabe
Modelers – Bobby Reynolds, Mathew Nith

Rigging Director – Eric J. Turman
Lead Rigger – Christopher McCabe

Editor – Luis Martinez, Brad Herbert

Lead Lighting Artist  – Christopher McCabe
Lighting Artists – Dennis Kang, Mike Martin, Chad Briggs, Jason Moxon

Surfacing Artist – Christopher McCabe, Bobby Reynolds

Lead Compositor – Brad Herbert
Compositors – Dennis Kang, Mark Lopez, Mike Martin, Laura Wallace, Christopher McCabe, Chad Briggs

Visual Effects – Dennis Kang, Mike Martin, Laura Wallace

Render Wrangler – Candace Morrish

Pipeline/Tools Programming – Steven Keiswetter

IT Director – Greg Glaser

Audio provided by Tequila Mockingbird
Executive Producer: Angie Johnson
Composer:  Justin Tapp
Sound Design:  Shayna Brown
Mix: Marty Lester

Background Plates :: LMRA Railroad Activity
Special Thanks : Robert Bray (LMRA)

3D Package – Soft Image 2012 (.5)
Rigging – otto|rig – Proprietary Rigging Plug-in
Sculpting – Z Brush 4.2
Rendering – Arnold 1.13
Tracking – Syntheyes
Compositing – After Effects CS 5.5
Custom Scripts – Python
Cannon Cameras – 5D and 60D

LMRA Railroad Activity-Home of the Gulf & Denver Railroad Authority HO-Scale Model Railroad

(cover photo credit: photos by Robert (Bob) Bray)


  1. Slightly amazing, If Lucas or Spielberg gave any criticism to that mini master piece, I would smack them in the face.

  2. I have NO idea how this was done, but it is astounding. From every point of view – script, animation, editing, effects. This is one of the best little films I have seen.

  3. I’m a newbie, can someone explain how they animate the characters and cars? CG?

  4. Pingback: Help an HDSLR stop motion film win Youtube "Your Film Festival" | planet5D - HDSLR community

  5. I get how they move people and cars and trains, but how do birds fly through the air and smoke come from the train??? Do they erase the wires holding the birds frame by frame? Or are the birds and the smoke complete CGI? Thanks!

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