Friday, November 15, 2013

DSLR Use in the Industry

Above are the Pioneers of the DSLR prosumer industry. I will bring them up on countless occasions throughout this blog so I thought it'd be good for you all to have a little bit of background on these two technology trailblazers.

First, here are some reasons why DSLR use makes sense in the industry:

DSLRs Level the Playing Field:
With the introduction of nice DSLRs, people are starting to acknowledge the fact that you don't have to go to film school to make it in the industry anymore. You don't have to have the money to afford paying for school, or film, or a really, really, really, great film camera. 

Vincent Laforet exemplifies this when he reminisces about his introduction into the field:

 "I couldn’t afford the traditional video formats. At the time, a good, quality digital film camera cost $250,000, or it cost you several thousands of dollars to shoot and process film. You have to go to film school and pretty much pay $250,000 for education to get a chance to shoot a few films during your tenure there. So this was the first readily available camera that I and pretty much everyone else got in their hands that gave them that filmic look. I had bought that first Panasonic camera a few years prior that shot 24 frames per second, and the sensor was just too small and the lens choices were incredibly limited, so I brought it back. This was the first camera that was just completely liberating. That’s why it’s had the explosion that it’s had, because people could use the lenses they have, it’s affordable, it’s small and light, and it’s incredibly sensitive to low light. It’s everything you need if you don’t have a budget." -Laforet

DSLRs don't create good filmmakers, they just help good filmmakers get discovered. Furthermore, as easy as they sound to use; DSLRs still have a learning curve. You won't produce professional quality footage without putting in lots of quality time with your camera and it's manual. 

Industry Going Digital 
Movie/Film projection is becoming increasingly digital because, honestly, its just the more economically practical way to go. Film cans are incredibly expensive to ship due their enormous size, and printing the prints can add up to a small fortune on top of that. Furthermore, most film is now being scanned digitally before being printed back to film. It is a digital age, incorporating Digital Single-lens Reflex Cameras into film is the logical next step. Technology determines the types of products being made, not the other way around. Filmmakers don't ask camera companies to make a camera a certain way, they use the technology that is available and make what they can with it. 

Beautiful Quality Images:
According to Laforet, the Canon 5D Mark II has one of the best sensors in the world. If you film a brick wall without a shallow DOF so that you can see every brick, what you'll see will look much like an acid trip. This phenomenon occurs due to the camera's binning process. Canon 5D Mark II is essentially binning with a  21 m pix chip so it has to skip lines. This process is what creates the beautiful artifacts you see on screen. 

If you haven't seen anything shot with the Canon 5D Mark II on the big screen, then you really can't fully understand the camera's main draw. For instance, Canon 5D Mark II footage on a large screen is considered by many to be "more beautiful than anything."  Footage that looks horrible on your laptop screen transforms into this magnificent spectacle when enlarged and digitally projected. Here's why: One of the main reasons the video on the laptop screen can look horrible is because you can literally see the compression. However, this compression absolutely disappears the minute the video gets projected on a large scale-- ultimately producing video magnificent beyond compare.

So Are DSLRs Actually Used in the Industry? 
Yes. And don't let those film lovers tell you otherwise.
Film people, whether they'll admit it or not, (they usually do) tend to be stubborn when it comes to shooting on film as opposed to shooting digitally. Take Roger Deakins, winner of four American Society of Cinematographers Award nominations and filmmaker extrodinaire. When asked if he'd ever consider shooting digitally he responded pertly: "Well I rather like the way I shoot film thank you very much" a few years later, however, Deakins shot a feature with the Alexa and was quoted saying that he will never go back to film

"The idea may seem preposterous at first (seriously, how can anything beat the wonderful grain and color quality of 2K or 4K film stock used by Fuji and Kodak film cameras) but when the pros saw the comparisons, their mindsets changed. While today, it is possible for independent film-makers to go solo (or in a guerilla team of 2-3) and shoot a HD film solely on a DSLR (check out the trailer to Pacific Pictures/Kevin Shahinian's City of Lakes, shot entirely on a Canon 5D Mark II and 7D), the pros predict that at least for now, it is possible to marry the use of a DSLR/hybrid with professional camcorders (eg. using the DSLR as a pick-up-and-go device for unplanned or alternative angled shots alongside the professional camcorders)." -Terence Ang, author for Tech Trends and Commentaries

Still, DSLRs don't have to be used as the primary "A-mark" camera. In fact, many videographers use DSLRs on the side as B, or C cameras. Sometimes, they even use them for "back up back up" shooting. Phillip Bloom explains:

"Now I need to make this clear, the idea was not having the Canon as the A or B camera but to be used for extra angles (as we could sneak in almost anywhere) but also mainly side with Camera A (Sony’s F35) to see how well they compare... There is something so unique aesthetically about this camera but what we also needed to do was make sure what we shot didn’t look so wildly different from the F35s that we could not cut the shots into the movie… " -Bloom

Bloom shoots about 75% of his work with the Canon 5D Mark II  This statistic may be attributive to his unconditional love for shallow depth of field, a characteristic that the 5D Mark II in particular is known for due to it's large sensor. 

Example of 5D's shallow DOF:

Although most people love that bokeh-heavy look, the large sensor does come with some disadvantages. For example, the 5D Mark II is not the ideal camera to shoot documentaries on. Documentaries are one of those genres that call for everything to be in focus all the time. Because shots aren't planned, shooting with the typical shallow depth of field could cause the filmmaker to miss a spur of the moment event. If the DP that makes this mistake happens to be working underneath someone else, he is likely to be fired. Saying this, shooting with a deep depth of field CAN be done if you f-stop down far enough. The main issue with that, however, is finding enough external light to successfully stop down to f-8 (or so). Bloom doesn't let this issue deter him from shooting with the Canon 5D Mark II:

"We make them work of course because the end result is so bloody gorgeous we WANT to make them work. Also the small form factor is so revolutionary, even though we do need to pimp up like I do with my Zacuto gear, to make them easier to use they are still small! I can carry around my 5D Mark II  my 50mm F1.2 and my Z-Finder in my man bag (not murse please) everywhere I go. It’s incredible." -Bloom

"We make them (Canon 5D Mark II's) work of course because the end result is so bloody gorgeous we WANT to make them work. Also the small form factor is so revolutionary, even though we do need to pimp up like I do with my Zacuto gear, to make them easier to use they are still small! I can carry around my 5DmkII, my 50mm F1.2 and my Z-Finder in my man bag (not murse please) everywhere I go. It’s incredible." -Phillip Bloom

Here are Some Prime Examples of Videos that you should probably watch right now that were shot exclusively with DSLRs:

Tiny Furniture is a 2010 American independent comedy-drama written by, directed by, and starring Lena Dunham. It is shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II.
It premiered at South by Southwest, where it won best narrative feature,[2] screened at such festivals as Maryland Film Festival, and was released theatrically in the United States on November 12, 2010.

Tiny Furniture directed by Lena Dunham:

Phillip Bloom's DP work on Red Tails, the on-going pet project of Lucasfilm was also shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II

The Official Red Tails Trailer:

Laforet's Reverie:
The creation of award winning short, Reverie, is actually a funny story. Apparently, while attending a Canon Convention, Laforet asked about the (then just a prototype) Canon 5D Mark II. Canon was planning on giving a couple of the prototypes to several well-established photographers to test that weekend. However, after incestantly hounding the Canon employees to let him try out the camera over the weekend they agreed. And that was how Reverie came to be. Because he only had one weekend to shoot, Reverie was shot exclusively on the Canon 5D Mark II with no post movie processing. All of the footage that was used in the Reverie movie - was raw - untouched in terms of color correction, exposure correction, and even noise correction. When Laforet showed the final product to Canon, the company began to realize the pro-sumer potential of the 5D Mark II

Reverie by Vincent Laforet:

The Social Network was shot completely on DSLR REDS:

A finale episode of HouseHelp Mewas shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II and the quality was just as good as the episodes that were shot on 35mm film. It looks just the same because they used the same crew, and they lit it like they were shooting on film. They used a 5D because they were shooting in a very enclosed space. After shooting with the Canon 5D Mark II in the season finale, they decided to continue shooting the rest of the episodes with the 5D instead of 35mm. 

Act of Valor was shot with Canon 5D Mark II cameras equipped with Zeiss ZE and Panavision Primo lenses. This is one of the best feature length films shot entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. 5Ds are small and light, making them great camera's for action movies that are shot in a guerrilla style. Let's be honest, Fancy film cameras are just too big to run around with on your shoulder all the time.

Some More Notable works shot with the Canon 5D Mark II in particular (in order of release): (Wikipedia)

  • The opening title sequence for the 35th season of NBC's Saturday Night Live, first broadcast on 26 September 2009. The camera, alongside the Canon 7D, was used due to its size, which allowed covert shooting on the streets of New York City, and depth of field capabilities, making it a suitable substitute for the series' usual 35mm film.[18]
  • The House episode "Help Me", (season finale) broadcast by Fox on 17 May 2010, was shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II, replacing the drama's usual 35mm film format.[19][20][21] Portions of the seventh season were also recorded with a 5D Mark II.[22]
  • The BBC Two comedy series Shelfstackers, first broadcast on 4 September 2010, is the first BBC programme to use the camera. The corporation had initially refused its use due to "lack of quality" but were persuaded otherwise by the series' director, Dom Bridges. All six episodes of the series were shot on the camera for a total budget of £160,000.[23]
  • The Road to Coronation Street, broadcast by BBC Four on 16 September 2010, is the first UK television drama to be shot on the Canon 5D Mark II. The drama's director of photography was impressed and plans to use the camera on the seventh series of theBBC One drama Hustle.[24]
  • The resurrected Hawaii Five-0 TV series is currently shot using Canon 5DmkII.[25]
  • Behzat Ç. Bir Ankara Polisiyesi, a Turkish TV series is being shot on Canon 5DmkII.[26]
  • The 2012 film Act of Valor was shot with the use of the Canon 5D Mark II.[27]
  • Marvel's The Avengers is reported to have some Canon 5D MkII shots.[28]
  • Department, a 2012 Bollywood movie, is reported to have been shot using Canon 5D Mark II[29]
  • ParaNorman, a 2012 3D stop-motion animated adventure horror film produced by LAIKA, Inc., was shot on sixty Canon 5D Mark II cameras.[30]
  • Nirel, First International Tulu movie, directed by Ranjith Bajpe, is reported to have been shot using Canon 5D Mark II.[31]
  • Escape from Tomorrow, a 2013 feature film, was shot guerilla-style with two Canon 5D Mark II cameras at the Disney theme parks.[32]

And Still More: (forgive any repeats)

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official site: A Beautiful Belly

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D
Official Facebook: A Love That Hurts | Facebook

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII, Canon 7D, Canon 1D

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
IMDb: http//

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
IMDb: http: //

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official website: La Casa Muda
Official twitter: @Lacasamuda

Shot with Canon 7D, Canon 5DmkII
Official website:
YouTube page (with trailer):

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Facebook Page: *NEW* | Facebook

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII
Official Website: Rubber Film

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII

Shot with: Canon 5DmkII and Canon 7D

Laforet leaves us with a final, poignant quote:

"There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you can’t get a [piece of equipment] down to this location, that you can’t get the shot you’re dreaming of. So you look for technology that breaks those barriers, to execute the vision that you have in your mind. That’s the key goal, to focus on that vision and that craft. That gets lost a lot today in technology as we’re so focused on gear and what pieces of gear we’re supposed to use, as opposed to asking ourselves, 'Why? How can that best serve the story?'"

The DSLR seems to currently be the technology that breaks down these barriers. Think about it, 40% of the time, the top 5 production houses shoot with the Canon 5D Mark II  despite the fact that they have access to basically any technology ever created. 

Here's a quick recap explaining WHY this is:
DSLRs give you the best product for the least amount of cash. 
DSLRs will continue to be great consistently at least for B and C cameras if not the primary camera.  
DSLRS are super convenient, especially for guerrilla shooting. 
DSLRs will outshine any other kind of camera in lowlight situations. 

All of that being said, one must never get too overly consumed with HOW the film is shot. The story is still ultimately the most important aspect of a film. You shoot with the technology that will work best to tell your story. Because truth is; even if the footage looks great, and the lighting looks great, and the focus is crystal clear: if the story isn't compelling, you have nothing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this post.This is nice Best dslr camera
    having good picture quality.According to me it is a good product having efficient output.