The 5D for commercials – need less gear ?

Filming with the 5D doesn’t necessarily mean that you need less gear

Whilst filming, one might not think too much about all the extra equipment that the larger camera setups have. I’ve noticed a “diminished responsibility” from some producers.
this goes the same for the Red camera too.

I’ve seen instances that they just get a ‘red package’ from an individual that might assure them they do not need any more equipment. However the individual might not have had that much production experience, and could be putting the producer down a dangerous path. So don’t assume that these people know.

People that have a track recording in VTR or sound, are well known and proven over the years.. However, these tools are much newer and should be scrutinies more when decisions are made.

In many situations I’ve seen producers assume what the camera can and cannot do: needing too many people and gear in one situation, and conversely underestimating the needs in another situation

Thinking too Big

Overall, the way that the support of the camera (in a physical sense) has worked backwards from the weight of the camera. Heavier cameras need more support, larger cranes, multiple people to man the cranes, larger Fisher 10 dolly’s, heavier fluid heads, heavy duty wheels, etc.. Now that we have relieved a lot of the weight a LOT of these things can be reconsidered.

One recent example on a shoot was a request for a dolly. The producer immediatly thought of

  • renting a large dolly
  • sending a PA out to get it
  • needing a pickup or box van to put it in
  • cardboard to be put on the floor
  • track.. different lengths
  • more grips people to attach, move and coordinate all of this

However, the reality was a small briefcase, that one of our guys already had, which opened up and we put our tripod on it. Lightweight sections of track (that fitted in the briefcase) and it was setup within minutes. No hassle.

There is a LOT of re-learning to be done.

I see producers faces drop when they see a tiny little slider, set up on the floor that produces amazing shots.

I’ve also seen some amazing shots done with really lightweight jib arms, with cable operated heads on them (Microdolly make great lightweight units)

Thinking too Small.

There are certainly many situations where people assume that the camera is a normal workhorse. Please do not fall for this..

Remember this quote “It is a Still camera, that happens to shoot amazing video, it is NOT a video camera”

Here’s a few things to remember:

  • Not having the correct power to the camera and having to dissemble the base plate etc, just to change a battery.
  • Not knowing that the camera switches off after a certain amount of time
  • Not knowing the restriction of 12 minutes running time before camera stops recording (again a simple fix just to start it again.. one button press) However, this can be difficult to interview situations where people take time to get warmed up.
  • No timecode (not timecode that producers are used to) a Sound guy might come up and say.. umm. where’s your “timecode in” ?

Also, here’s some differences between the Canon 5D and 7D.├é┬áPlease keep in mind this little list when shooting on either camera:

Canon 5D

  • When recording, the output signal drops to ‘SD’ (Standard Definition) This also requires an external monitor like the newer Marshall that can deal with the changing output resolutions.
  • Whilst the tiny onboard microphone is surprisingly usable, always feed in external audio, and if possible try to use a separate mixer and recorder
  • HDMI cables are quite thick, the 5D has a MINI HDMI connector that is small and fragile, and easy to snap. Use the upcoming cage from ‘Viewfactor’ as I’ve seen instances of broken camera connectors. Usually what breaks is the converter plug (that goes from standard size HDMI to mini HDMI) it’s best to have some of those on hand.
  • Use a separate VTR person, unless clients are not there and the director is ‘hands-on’. Indeed, I have seen the clients been told that there was ‘no output’ from these cameras, which led to a lovely hassle free day !

Canon 7D

  • As yet does not have manual audio controls
  • As yet the Av & Tv (aperture priority and Shutter Priority) are not enabled, which can be very handy for situations with uncontrolled and/or changing environments
  • Does to 60fps, but is noisy if used at full resolution (i.e. 60fps shoots at 720p, and blowing up to 1080 reveals artifacts)

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