A little over a year ago, we wrapped the first TV-series in the world shooting only on DSLRs (read more about it here and here ). A lot of research went into how to make these cameras work in a feature production pipeline. In the end, we were really happy with the results, and the audience loved it. So much so that we were nominated for 8 Gullruten (Norways Emmy), and both Anders and Tuva won. Now, DoP Pål Bugge Haagenrud and myself are shooting the second season.
For those of you who follow my blog, you can see that there hasnt been too many changes to the setup. We are still shooting with 2x 1dMRKIV and still using RedRockMicro support gear . But there is small adjustments to the setup, that is turning out to have a major impact.
The SmallHD DP6-SDI. One word: Amazing. Last year we got some early feedback from the editors (we are shooting on the second floor, whilst the editors are editing on the first) that we had some focus issues. The A-cam is beeing pulled from a 17″ HD monitor (the 1d MRKIV doesnt switch its output to SD, so you can actually pull focus using the HDMI output), but I`m pulling myself, only relying on my onboard monitor. Last season we used the Marshall LCD70P, which was good, but had only 800×600. I couldt tell if I missed the critical eyefocus in some closeups, so the people over at videovillage had to tell me after the take. Then a new take or perhaps a discussion if we had enough in focus and so on; Time lost
With the actual 720p resolution of the SmallHD, I would say I`m able to pull 97% of any take on the first take, and If I miss, I`ll know instantly. The versatility of having both SDI and HDMI cannot be missed. Mostly, we use the SDI out because we route our signal to monitors, sound mixers and recorders (all using SDI), but time and again we are out in the open, 2. unit etc, when the Blackmagic HDMI-SDI converter can be left at home.
The sunhood is amazing. It clips on and stays on! And if you have good eyes, you can push your face so that your head is blocking out any light, even in the desert, mid-day! (shown left). Its like watching the finished thing, while you shoot.
And having continious software updates using a USB stick is also great, I could only wish that the guides (v2) were out already (its in beta as I write), as we shot for a cinemascope crop some weeks ago. But I guess, gaffa tape still needs a a role to play on a film set..
The actors simply loves this kind of setup. A two shot and a close-up at the same time, INSIDE the car. Sometimes the smaller brothers of the 1dMRKIV are called upon to solve a shot.
The issue of constantly breaking HDMI cables in the port of the 1dMRKIV, has been almost solved with the easy fix of a plastic strap. Theres cages for all the Canons this time around, and some (Letus?) have fixed clamp solutions for the HDMI. But they are pretty expensive. The hinge were the neck strap attaches, is positioned just above the HDMI port (look at first pic). We strap the cable in a loop to this with a strap, and we are down to one cable breaking a month, instead of one every 2 days.
Getting the power adaptors (d-tap to 12v) for the Blackmagic HDMI-SDI converters was also smart. They werent out last year, so we made them ourselves. But we suspect poor power for alot of lost signal and interference problems last year. Almost down to zero this year. We also have alot more screw-on NDs and Polarizers from B&W this year, totally eliminating the need for a mattebox in most situations were the the lens isnt flaring.
Even though we have two complete Redrock packages to make this camera look like any other out there, we try to strip it down to the basics most of the time. We learned last year that what you can do with this camera, that few others can, is putting it anywhere. High, low, under the sink, inside the shelf, inside the glovecompartment of the car, between beer bottles etc. etc. I have a long HDMI cable and a small 15mm rod ready at any time, so I can attach the camera to a griphead on a c-stand, and put it virtually anywhere on the set. And we are getting the cameras so close to the other actor in a dialogue, that people almost start to wonder if the actor is looking into to camera.
Shure, we would love to shoot with 2x Epic or 2x Alexa, or perhaps 2x Canon 5dMRK3 with Raw video ( 🙂 ). But few of these cameras even exists, let alone are avaliable here in Norway (on our budget!). We could have shot on Panasonic AF101 or Sony F3. But, our Canon Primes would have been 2x the focal lenght (with no aperture control) and the codec isnt really that much better. The 1dMRKIV is, again, the best guy for the job.