From Bollywood To Hollywood: Director Snehal Patel and cinematographer Rodney Charters, ASC, take advantage of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II’s small form factor and monster-sized sensor to create the epic short film Indian Gangster
In terms of post, Patel feels that working with video DSLRs isn’t that different from other digital formats. The production had a DIT (digital imaging technician) on set who was handling the workflow of moving video files off of the CompactFlash cards onto hard drives. “I’m from the tape world,” says Patel, “so we always had tape at the end of the day, but now we do a triplicate on set in which we back up three times. We keep one copy on the laptop and then two hard drives, every day. I would watch all of the footage at home at night from one of these copies.”
Working with Final Cut Pro, Patel transcoded his H.264 Canon EOS 5D Mark II files into ProRes 422, which is a full 1920x1080, 10-bit, 4:2:2 chroma sampling video codec that lets you perform layering in post if needed. One of the current issues working with the 5D Mark II is that the camera only shoots in 30 fps, not the standard 23.98 fps usually seen in narrative filmmaking. Still, Patel was impressed with the image. “We did color correction at Hdi RAWworks,” explains Patel. “I took off all the filters that I put on in Final Cut Pro and gave it to them clean and flat. Just like on the RED camera, you have to shoot flat with low contrast, so you can make more decisions with color in post.
“The serendipity on this project was one good thing after another,” concludes Patel. “I think that when you make the effort to do quality work and really take care of your product, people see that and they want to help out and be a part of it.”
DSLRs For The Big & Small Screen
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the new EOS 7D DSLR cameras have taken the movie industry by storm with many professional filmmakers and cinematographers adopting video DSLRs to deliver stunning cinematic images. The EOS 7D features dual DIGIC 4 image processors and a large APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, while the EOS 5D Mark II features a single DIGIC 4 image processor and a larger full-frame CMOS sensor, which allows amazing shallow depth of field.
For the new season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, the crew used both 5D Mark II and 7D cameras to capture the opening title sequence, which captures “living” portraits of each SNL player as he or she parties it up in New York City’s exciting nightlife. Since the producers wanted a spontaneous look in which they also could move quickly to various locations, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the 5D Mark II and 7D were the perfect fit due to their small form factor and ability to shoot in low light.
The entire title sequence was shot and edited in a week and was shot in 30p on the 5D Mark II and in 60p for slow-motion footage with the 7D. The crew also employed a small Litepanels MiniPlus on top of the camera to give a small eye light to the performers in exteriors. They also used two Kino Flo lights to light a dimly lit interior bar location.
Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC (Terminator Salvation), recently shot The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday (working title), which is a Navy SEALs feature film produced by Warner Bros. To capture footage of the SEALs going to battle, Hurlbut carried 13 5D Mark II bodies that were outfitted with a number of accessories typically seen only on motion-picture digital or film cameras. When he wanted to put the audience in the eyes of the SEALs, the crew created a helmet cam on which they rigged a 5D Mark II in order to put the viewer in the heat of the battle. In terms of lenses, Hurlbut employed Panavision Primo prime and zoom lenses, which gave him 1.5 stops more detail in the blacks and another 1.5 stops of detail in the highlights.
“Catching the action is what the camera was made for,” says Hurlbut about shooting with the 5D Mark IIs. “Imagine a camera that weighs 2.5 pounds in the palm of your hand and that delivers 65mm depth of field. This is an action camera. It moves in a visual style of handheld that we’ve never seen before.”