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Yes Camera

I’ve had a few requests wondering what I’m going to be shooting “Yes” on.  I’ll be covering a lot of the process I’m going thru in various posts, but now is as good a time as any to cover the camera.

I’m shooting it on the Canon 7D.  Well, more accurately, my cinematographer Adam Hawk is shooting it on the 7D.

If you are now saying “Haven’t you spoken out against the HDSLRS in the past?  Aren’t you being a hypocrite?”  Yes. And yes.  But let me explain.

If I could shoot on any camera around today, I’d probably shoot on an ARRI Alexa.  It is an extremely impressive machine.  But getting an extremely impressive machine means a.) getting the machine and lenses, which costs money and b.) getting qualified people to work said machine.  The Alexa is so new that qualified camera operators are few and far between.  People who know all the idiosyncrasies of the post workflow for the Alexa are a mystery to me.  And every digital camera has some peculiarities.  Everyone knows that.  Except Executive Producers.  But I digress.

So I’m shooting on a known quantity, with a DP who owns his own equipment.  This means not only do I get them both for a single fee, but he’s familiar with the equipment.  I’ve seen stuff he’s shot with the actual equipment he’ll be using on my shoot and I like it.

The nature of the shoot also allows for a DSLR.  I’m not doing any VFX on my short.  It’s a comedy talking heads piece.  For me, it’s about showing off my writing skills and getting good performances from the actors, not about having spaceships flying around shooting lasers.  Shots are largely lock-offs or as-good-as, since Adam has a Stedi-Cam we’ll be doing a lot of those where I would have done lock-offs.  Because the shots are not going to have a ton of motion in them, rolling shutter will not be an issue.  Rolling shutter is one of the ugliest things about HDSLR footage, and I want to do all I can to minimize it.  Since we are shooting in Hampstead Heath, essentially in the woods, the line skipping and moire patterning that can occur around brick buildings will not occur.  So all chip issues are alleviated.

I’m also not a bit-depth, resolution freak.  Do I like having 10, 12 or 16 bits of 4K resolution?  Sure, if I’m doing a feature.  Maybe even if I was doing a long-form short.  But I’ve pushed 7D footage around in Colorista, and it holds up nicely.  And my final target is 16x9, 1080P.  While having the ability to reframe and to get the cleaner look of down-scaled footage would be nice, I’ll have to deal.

Last is the low footprint of the equipment.  With only five people making up our actual production - two cast, the DP, myself and Matt the producer/sound guy - I’m able to film without a permit.  But only because I won’t be pulling up with a massive grip truck full of stuff.  While not quite guerilla filmmaking, we are trying to stay light and flexible.

The 7D isn’t the ideal camera, and if I could have any camera, it’s not the one I’d choose.  But it’s the camera I have, and that makes it the best one for the job.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for the great post! Use the gear the you got the best that you can...

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Benitez

If it's well written I bet you could shoot it on a Flip... it's amazing how quickly you forget about what something looks like if the dialog/acting is good.

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWes Vasher

I will never understand the point in arguing over which camera is "best".

Just because a carpenter owns a nail gun doesn't mean they never use a hammer. Your not a hypocrite, your simply using the best tool for the job given the budget.

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Ryan Stone

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