The One-Offs: A Short Film Made with the Canon EOS C300
Saturday, February 18: Storyboards. I drew the shots based on the script. As always, I’m greatly relieved to have a ‘plan A’ done well in advance of shooting.
Monday, February 20: Eva, Alex and art director Kakii Keenan met to read through the script, rehearse and deal with wardrobe issues.
Thursday, February 23: Shoot, Day 1: The camera arrived at my house via Federal Express at 8:10am, the day we began shooting. Logistical problems procuring an EOS C300 from a very small pool available in North America meant that we (Camera Assistant Greg Stout and Camera Grip Ben Adams and I) literally ‘unboxed’ the camera, built it and figured it out in an hour and a half. Luckily we’d had manuals for the camera in advance and we’d watched an overview of the camera online from Abel Cine Tech. That said, the EOS C300 was quite intuitive and easy to build and understand… but more about this later.
Our first brief scenes took place in an apartment and a bar, and we built a set for each in Studio 4C in the Communications building at the University of Texas at Austin. Working with Kakii, our art director, and volunteers from my class (RTF366K, Introduction to Narrative Production) we built and lit minimal sets in the afternoon in preparation for shooting that evening. The actors arrived at 6:00pm and we were shooting by 7:00. We wrapped by 10:00pm and had struck the sets by 11:00.
Saturday, February 25: Shoot, Day 2 The primary location for THE ONE-OFFS was to be an outdoor cafe, and in order to have complete control of the noise, traffic and light we built one outside the Main Building on the UT campus. I’d scouted the location two weeks previously and found it to be a great backdrop for the scene and, while noisy, it was far from traffic. Best of all, the site offered beautiful dappled low sunlight from the south all day.
From 7:00 to 9:00 am we built the set and rehearsed. We were shooting by 9:20 am. We began with a series of close-up inserts and cut-ins called for in the storyboards. This allowed time for Alex and Eva to rehearse before we started two lengthy dialogue scenes.
The dialogue scenes followed, covered in a wide master shot, and conventional angle/rehearse angles in medium shots and close-ups.
We broke for lunch at noon, and completed the cafe scenes by 2:30pm.
Our last location for the day was a public restroom in a nearby library. I let the bulk of the crew go and shot the scene with Alex, sound recordist Joe Bailey, Jr., camera assistant Greg Stout and still photographer John Pozdro. We shot hand-held, bumped the ISO to 6400 and used no lights. We were astonished. We could see more detail in the camera than we could with our own eyes. Also, the single light source was a window that backlit the scene. (More about that later as well.) We had everything we needed in about an hour and wrapped.
Wednesday, February 29: The EOS C300 records to compact flash cards in the MXF (Material eXchange Format) files. We shot a resolution of 1920×1080, 24P (24 frames, progressive scan) at 50 Mbps (megabits per second.) I downloaded Canon’s XF UTILITY software and backed up the files on a hard drive and then converted the files to Apple ProRes HQ.
Thursday, March 1: I completed a rough cut of the film, which I refined to a locked picture by Thursday, March 8.
Sunday, March 18: Color Correction. One of the most exciting aspects of the EOS C300 is the ability to record files in Canon Log mode, Log C. Log C records the maximum latitude in the image as a flat, low contrast file that is ideal for correcting color in post.
Joe Malina, a colorist in Austin whose expertise goes back to high-end 35mm and 16mm film transfers in Austin and Dallas, agreed to do the final color correction is his DaVinci Resolve color grading studio. Joe is the consummate professional colorist, and I was thrilled to have him apply his skills to the footage to see what professionally treated footage from the camera would look like. Within a few hours we had worked through all the shots in the film with stunning results.
Tuesday, March 27: Audio mix. Soularity Sound’s Austin-based mixer Korey Pereira mixed our sound. I’d recently worked with Korey on the mix for INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE. He’s an easygoing professional and a pleasure to work with. After exporting an OMF (Open Media Frameworks) file of my tracks from FCP7, Korey cleaned them up and created a stereo and 5.1 surround mix of the movie.
Below: Color grading example.
Next page: Camera Evaluation, Conclusions, Credits and Finished Film.