Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HDSLR Canon 7D, 5D - From the trenches

Here are a few observations about the HDSLRs Canon 7D and 5D, based on experiences on-location from our indie production. Though this is all very basic and already known information from various forums and DPs and pro-HDSLR users, we thought it might be good to share our views on these. Though we were initially skeptical about them, once we started work, we realized it is one of the best options for independent filmmakers, especially when you are going low-budget and/or experimental.

  •           Excellent Image quality(2K resolution) that looks like film (even Hollywood productions have been using the 7D/5D footage)
  •           Small, easily maneuverable in small spaces and can remain without being noticed
  •           Works very well in low light situations
  •           Big screen compatibility - Footage can be projected on big screens. This was a big question we had. So we tested the 7D and EX1 footage simultaneously at Real Image Media technologies, Chennai. The 7D stood up very well in comparison.
  •           Easy learning curve
  •           Camera accessories are relatively light-weight and can be made ourselves if we follow some Do-It-Yourself methods. We made our own dollies(track and tabletop), steadicams and the wheel cam rig, with help from youtube videos and the collective internet knowledge.

  •           Not very conducive for fast motion or action shots. You can, but you have to be selective about it.
  •      Slow panning also causes choppiness.
  •           Limited Lens setup but this will slowly change with a lot of new lenses(CP2) coming up. But again, they are expensive.
  •           Follow focus is very difficult considering the lenses that are compatible.
  •      Slow motion in full HD1920*1080 resolution is not recommended.
  •      When shooting outdoors, exposure has to be controlled consciously. Of course, this applies for any camera but with digital, take extra care. 
Gear used
Lenses used – 50mm Canon(F/1.8), 85mm Zeiss(F/1.4), 100-400mm L Zoom F/4.5-5.6 Canon, 12-24mm(F/3.5-5.6) Sigma(not recommended for 5D because of vignetting), 16-35mm Canon (F/2.8), Canon 24-105mm Zoom(F/4)

Two 8 GB Sandisk Cards
Kingston Card reader
Pics: One of our Cameramen, shoots a scene with the 5D and the DIY wheel cam rig. In the 2nd pic, the 7D is pictured with the 100-400mm L Zoom Lens and the 5D with the 16-35mm lens. The actors get ready for the take.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not a dog’s day

(Ok, this post is atleast 2 weeks old, just found the time.) Perhaps the highlight of today is sitting at a coffee shop in the second floor of a shopping mall, in ‘mid-town’ Chennai and sipping on a cappuccino and looking out the glass window at the rain-mud-and-filth soaked traffic below. I neither feel pity nor wear a smug smile as I witness the rat-race because it really hasn’t been long since I was in the sludge, wading through murky waters which are obviously a result of our freakin awesome drainage system. Don’t get me wrong when I say that I’m in the shopping mall and contemplating life in such elite quarters. Mind you, I’m not a fucking elite, though I can be and sometimes act like one(and that’s a whole different argument altogether) just to empathize with things on both sides of the spectrum. I just freaking hate mindless consumerism but I will hate it from inside a glitzy shopping mall. I’m a minimalist, a bloody local with thoughts verging on the extreme. On the rare instances I will pay Rs.90 for a coffee with which I can sit comfortably in a lounge-like ambience for more than a couple of hours trying to make sense of Dito Montiel’s interview in Filmmaker mag or Arundhati Roy’s incendiary  ‘Shape of the Beast’(ok I ain't going for pretense there). As I wait for the guys to get back, I thought, ok fine, with all the commotion outside and inside my head, lemme vent out stuff.
Why is today not a dog’s day? Well, then don’t ask me if every other day is a dog day. Not for me, it’s not. Today, as with any other day I travel/commute, I witnessed about a 150 dogs, bitches, bitches with babies inside them and pups scattered all around in the rain doing what they would normally do. Experience a ‘dog’s life’. Having the life of an ‘underdog’. Spending a Dog day afternoon. Groundhog day. See? More references. No wonder we termed it so. (ok so groundhog doesn’t have anything to do with a dog but still they sound the same)And today was more than normal for them, especially with the cold and almost omnipresent uncertainty that the rains bring with them. And earlier in the day, before we came to Chennai, we had to transport 5 wet, shivering pups (who’d been taken away from their mother) from the soggy paddy fields to our humble abode in the village. Back to the 150 canines, their faces were so full of implication, that I could write a page each about what they were thinking. I mean, if they actually do. Or do they just live in the moment? Taking each day as it came? Surprisingly, many of our human kind seemed to have the same expression, or were they worse? Can’t tell. Really. But these days, my guess is we humans are becoming pathetic in more ways than one. So, pretty soon, to say, ‘it’s a dog’s day’ will become NOT a bad thing after all. Because, as people, especially as Indians, we suffer more than we can endure. No I take that back. We suffer uhh…more than what we think we can endure(coz we can endure shit-just-about-anything), but as we get accustomed to that, we reach the next phase of suffering and we endure that too and the chain continues. So henceforth, thou shall pat each other in the backs, in congratulatory delight, because we love to revel in our hopelessly romantic status as sufferers. (pic from google)

Friday, November 11, 2011

An evening after the shoot

The calm after the storm. Was a hot sunny day with too much chaos in the location. We scrambled to get our day's work done. But the sun had had enough waiting for us. So we knelt down in submission.