In my last post, I wrote about some of the challenges that presented themselves in the development and production of “With You.” One of the coolest parts of working on this project (besides using a OneRepublic song) was being able to rent two cool pieces of equipment:
1. The Canon C100
2. The Defy G5 (3 axis gimbal)
THE CANON C100
I was first introduced to the C100 at Alex Buono’s (DP of SNL’s Film Crew) “The Art of Visual Storytelling Tour” last summer and immediately fell in love with it. However, it was certainly out of my price range.
Since I started Journey Box Media, I committed to keep the company debt free, not get caught up in ‘Gear Envy’, and rely on the quality of the stories over the camera and equipment I used. So from the beginning I have shot every project on the Canon T3i that my church let me use. Yes, it’s true, Journey Box Media doesn’t own a camera.
But for this project, I decided to rent the C100 for a practical reason: lighting. DSLRs are famous for low-light shooting, but I wanted to use natural light coming in from the windows of our location. With the room being so large, and after a few test shots, I knew my trusted T3i wouldn’t cut it. Once I get above 1600 ISO, the picture becomes grainy. The C100, however, allows up to 20,000 ISO with a clean picture (and Canon just introduced a firmware update allowing up to 80,000 ISO).
The C100 is the newest and most inexpensive camera in Canon’s cinema line with some amazing features, including built in ND Filters, dual XLR inputs, and C-LOG (an ultra flat image setting that allows for much more control in color grading).
Built in ND Filters
When shooting outside or anywhere with bright light, you need an ND filter to lower the intensity of light so you don’t overexpose. This allows more flexibility for shallow depth of field while keeping the shutter speed the same.
Built in XLR Inputs
No more secondary audio recording! While, at times, off-camera audio may be the best way to go, nothing beats the convenience of being able to record your audio (with great quality) right on your video media – especially on a ‘run-and-gun’ style project. This cuts down post time incredibly, and provides a much more streamlined workflow.
The camera allows for individual level control, with meters and a headphone jack for monitoring. That’s something I can’t get with the T3i.
In the T3i, I record the visuals with a very flat setting. This allows for the most versatility in color grading. The C-LOG takes it to a new level, almost matching the RAW capture you can get in RED cameras. Though there is not nearly as much information captured as in those cameras, I found more flexibility than I needed in color correction. Even if you just throw on a preset color style from Magic Bullet or Looks, you can get a great looking grade to your image.
I loved the camera and it will definitely be my next purchase. The C100 is currently $4,999 on B&H.
The Defy G5 is a lower-priced version of the same concept. It allows for great movement by the camera operator while keeping the camera level and smooth.
While the possibilities are amazing with this tool, the important thing to remember is that it’s a tool. One of many we use in visual storytelling. It can be very easy to get caught up on the moving camera trend, but that will actually diminish it’s effect. Camera movement is a lot like bolding text. If everything is bold, nothing is.
So the key is to be selective and intentional with the camera movements.
In “With You” I wanted to have camera movement for the opening shot, to establish our teen as a loner. He has purposefully shut everyone else out.
Once he walks through the doors to his “prison”, the camera movements become static, as if there is no where to go.
Then, towards the end, once his mom sees his interaction, dancing and laughing with new friends, the camera starts moving again. There is now life within, as well as movement and joy.
I also had the shot in mind about our friend Eddie (older gentleman) taking the framed picture to his wife. I wanted to follow the frame to allow us time to see the image and see the dancing continuing behind him, as he is taking the joy with him to his wife suffering from Alzheimers.
This shot did not come off perfectly, as my arms got tired. It was the last shot we got with the movements. I learned quickly that many workouts were needed to strengthen my arms.
While the movement did take some getting used to, I was able to get comfortable with it within a day. The most challenging part of the G5 was balancing. It look me about 45 minutes to balance my first time, but after several tries I was able to balance it within 10 minutes.
I took the G5 with me on a trip and got some test footage with it.
The Defy G5 can be purchased for $3,800 on Defy’s website.
In the end, I decided the G5 was not the tool for me to invest money in right now. I would not be used in every project, and at $4,000 I’d much rather get a camera I’ll use on every project.
With new technology being released practically every week, it can be so easy to get caught up in the gear game. Let’s stay committed to telling better stories, regardless of what tools we have. Use what you have to the best of your ability, and spend the time in story development to create the best story you can. That’s our responsibility as storytellers.