424-385-8839 cris.b@me.com

I was asked by Method studios to help guide the technical aspect of the filming, and also act as VFX Supervisor for the Canon first ‘Imagin8tion’ project.

Overall it was a very rewarding project. Dante Arolea directed the spot, which turned out to be a huge production, which is interesting as usually shoots with the 5D are small. although I was brought on to consult due to my knowladge of Canon systems, I ended up helping the director re-shoot parts of the commercial. Fun was had !

 Technical Tests

Before the shoot began, we spend a decent amount of time testing the various camera options. There were various technical hurdles that we had to overcome. The client had certain needs:

  1. Shoot on Green Screen
  2. Shoot slow motion (on the 7D)
  3. ONLY shoot on Canon cameras

As we knew there would be hurdles, we needed to shed light on these problems so, I set up a test with 4 cameras.

  • Canon 5d mk2
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 1ds mk3
  • Red One (as a datum)

We had a subject moving in different ways to see how the slow motion worked. We also used this as a test to do some ‘optiflow’ slow motion tests.

As the video on the 5DMk2 is very compressed the idea that shooting on green screen is challenging.

So, on setting the cameras, they camera’s weren’t straight out of the box, I had them set to give the most known latitudes (before the technicolor presets came out)

Each camera fared differently against the green screen subject. We tested different things:

  • Edges of fast moving subjects
  • Edge contrast tests (by side lighting – this gives the codec a sharper edge to a subject and can give a cleaner key)
  • Skin details (Saturation, Contrast, visibility of IR impurities)
  • Testing ‘optiflow’ for slow motion results.
  • Testing the 7D’s 1280*720 slow motion against green screen.

Something that was surprising, is that I assumed that Primatte would give a better result, however I found that the IBK (Image based Keying) did a far better job in these circumstances.



The Shoot

Day 1 – The 1st shoot day was huge, and as cumbersome as a typical film shoot; with a huge technocrane, a large number of trucks with lighting and grip etc, almost all which we didn’t use. The advantage of a small camera was sadly lost as the rest of the weight of production was still there. It was quite slow moving and slower than Dante would have liked.

One thing that people constantly forget, is that the Canon is not a film camera, it is a hybrid. So, many of the things that you’d expect on a traditional camera are simply not there. Luckily I had thought ahead. So, on one of the first setups, the camera was on a large crane, and was high up in the air. When ‘cut’ was called they had to bring the crane down for someone to press the physical button on the camera. This obviously slowed things down. So, I suggested that they use a prototype from Element Technica that operated as both a remote start/stop, and remote follow focus. I had suggest this already to the camera department at the start of the shoot day, but it was only when they were slowed down so much that they realised my intentions were valid. I ended up being the one to run & cut the camera, via a bluetooth conneciton to my phone.

The representatives from Canon were on hand and were suprised that I had this device, as they didn’t have any knowledge of such a device. This really opened the door with me with Canon, and I have since consulted for them on various products over the years.

Day 2 – Green screen. On the second day we were inside the studio doing the green screen plates. Again, this was attacked like it was a full movie. There was a little girl sittin on an enormous round shape to simulate a huge dog she was sitting on, the safety cables were as thick as her arm, and the apparatus she was sitting on was also huge.

Ultimately, the shoot did finish, but Dante did ask me at the end of the day if I was free over the weekend….hmmm.. 

The Weekend ‘Bonus’ shoot: Dante called me the next day and asked me to come out with him the next weekend. Just me, my Canon 5DMk2, a tripod and a slider. Me, him, his producer, and a location manager. 4 people. It was a nimble shoot, and Dante seemed much happier at the end of the day.

 The finished commercial has 20 shots, and many of them were done on the clandestine guerilla shoot.