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Old February 28th, 2010, 01:59 AM   #1
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Canon 5DMII for a Feature Film?

Hello :)
We are planning to shoot a Feature film with 5DMII, and I have a few questions to ask.

1) How does Canon 5DMII look on a theater screen? The unedited footage looks like a ripped 1.36gb avi file from a 4.7gb DVD. I know that the story/context matters more than everything, but still, if the story is good and video is extremely bad, then its obviously not worth watching it, Its like you want to see Invictus or some other movie, would you watch a screener version on your comp? I guess you'll wait till there's a DVD rip or got to the movies..

2) Will Sigma 24-70, 70-300mm lenses affect the video quality? Shooting pictures with the sigma 24-70mm is so bad, if you zoom in 100% everything looks like a painting, nothing is sharp, the same canon 24-70mm is 3 times better than sigma, I did know about sigma not being as good as canon, but didn't know it was useless until I bought it and started shooting with it.

3) Flickering in Low Light: 5D flickers badly in low light. Is there a solution to it other than having sufficient light?

4) Can the video quality get worse if we blow the final film to 35MM film? How bad can it get?

5) Steadicams, rigs, stabilizers, shoulder mounts, etc.. What is the difference between all these? I know Steadicams are for steadiness. What about the others? There are so many different types, its quite confusing to choose when you are on a low budget.

6) I made a follow focus, by looking at this : Hardware store follow focus - Hack a Day .It works perfectly fine. Will it be usable if I add a Matte Box to my camera?

7) What is the best ISO to shoot at on a fine sunny day?

8) Can a field mixer be attached to the camera?

9) What about post production? Is editing the footage easy? I read something like it has to be converted to apple pro res 422..


There are rumors that the new 24/25p firmware for the 5D Mark II will arrive the week of March 17. It'll be very good if its out by then.

I know i've asked a lot of questions.. Thats all I can remember now, i'll be back later if I have more :P

Also, if you have any advice, please let me know.. I appreciate it alot.

We don't have much equipment as of now, We will be buying a steadicam, 1 or 2 prime lenses, extra batteries etc .. If you can recommend the cheapest equipment possible, that will be great.

Thank you very much :)
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Old February 28th, 2010, 06:08 AM   #2
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Matt,

Keep reading through the posts on this site, everything you ask has been covered at sometime.

Regarding how your footage would look on in a theatre. Well not many have got the 5D2 to a really big screen but one who has is Philip Bloom.
The tale of Lucasfilm, Skywalker Ranch, Red Tails, Star Wars and Canon DSLRs on a 40 foot screen! | Philip Bloom

I wouldn't shoot with a lens that you know is poor, but don't forget 1920x1080 is much smaller image than your 21Mp 5D2 produces on stills.
I have a set of original Olympus OM2 lenses and they are all great..except the 35mm f2 which has some fungus inside it. I can tell on video that there's a softer image with that lens so I don't use it now.

Flickering in low light...not on mine unless I am shooting in tungsten light (50 Hz mains in the UK) so I have to go to 50th on the shutter speed.

You'll need 24fps to consider going to 35mm print. In this 'digital age' can't you stay with 'digits'?

Keep reading regarding steadicams and camera frames, support systems. There's lots of info here. Nothing succeeds like a really good video tripod. It's common nowadays to pay more for your tripod than the camera cost!

Cheap follow focus...well I have an extender handle like that as well....but really a pro follow focus is needed if your serious about a 'feature film'. You'll need someone to operate the follow focus using an extending flexible handle (a 'whip'), allowing the camera operator to control the camera framing at the sametime.

The best ISO is the lowest you can get away with.

Sound is still crap on the 5D2 and you need an external audio recorder. However with 'Magic Lantern' firmware you can feed external sound back into the camera which aids re-syncing in post.

Post-production...such a big subject. Most use Final Cut Pro I guess, others Premiere Pro or Vagas with Avid a good choice as well. Best to transcode youdr camera files (ProRes on FCP or NeoScene on PC's) Get reading!

The 5D2 produces wonderful images, with a couple of caveats, but to get the camera into a state to seriously shoot 'a feature' you need to spend a loy on it and get alot of experience. So start reading, get shooting and find a source of money for all the add-ons you'll need.

You can then shoot a feature on this camera..looking better than any other video camera for what you've spent.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 07:34 AM   #3
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Another guy who's doing a lot of cinema film out testing is Shane Hurlbut.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 11:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by David W. Taylor View Post
Sound is still crap on the 5D2 and you need an external audio recorder. However with 'Magic Lantern' firmware you can feed external sound back into the camera which aids re-syncing in post...
Actually, with ML and a good hot signal, the sound is surprisingly good in the 5D2. The noise is low (with camera gain turned down), and it has no buzz or other ill-behaved noises. It's useful for many pro productions. That said, the audio anti-aliasing filter in the camera (if any) is poor, so the results can sound crisp, but harsh. And it's 44.1/16 rather than 48/24, which isn't ideal. It is uncompressed though.

My conclusion is that with the right tools, the in-camera sound is usable in most of the projects people do here. I would definitely aim higher for a Hollywood-level feature film though.

Come to think of it, using a juicedLink (or other good preamp) near the camera (to keep the unbalanced run short) and Magic Lantern and feeding the field mixer to a top recorder as well as the camera is not only good for syncing. It's also a good safety blanket. If the field recorder fails or some tracks are somehow lost, the 5D2 tracks could fill the gap in a pinch. I'd rather use 5D2 audio than have to do ADR.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 03:22 PM   #5
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I've seen some of Shane's footage projected on about a 15 foot screen. It looked good.

These cameras are challenged in many ways but I do believe that properly shot footage will be perfectly watchable on the big screen. It sounds like you are fairly new to production as you are starting from scratch with the support package--my frank assessment is that if there are issues with the visuals, they will stem more from that than the output of the camera.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 03:58 PM   #6
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With good focus, stability, and grading, the 5D2 can look great on a large screen. (I've seen a Blu-ray of our short festival film on a ~15' screen.) The only other issue is aliasing. (We had no problem with it.) As long as you avoid obvious aliasing or fix it well in post (time consuming!), there won't be anything that distracts from your story.

Keep in mind that nobody will play your footage to an audience side by side with footage from another camera. Maybe another camera is sharper. But without something to compare your footage to, people will simply accept your film's look unless there are problems that catch the eye.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 10:12 AM   #7
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You may be missing the point

If you are not sure if "editing the footage is easy", perhaps a feature film should not be your immediate preoccupation.

With the vast amount of information on film-making currently available on the internet, in books and on DVD, one can make a feature without necessarily going to film school, but the bottom line is that you really can't get away with not knowing "how" to make a film. This means somehow acquiring a good knowledge of scriptwriting, cinematography, sound, directing actors, and editing.

Forums are a great source of specific information, but not all that useful in terms of obtaining general knowledge. I suggest you ask for suggestions on good basic filmmaking books. My suggestion is begin with the following (to name a few):
- "Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics" by Michael Rabiger
- "Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film and Television" by Judith Weston
- "Digital Film Making" by Mike Figgis
- "In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing" by Walter Murch
- "Feature Film Making at Used-Car Prices: How to Write, Produce, Direct, Film, Edit, and Promote a Feature-Length Film for Less Than $10,000" by Rick Schmidt
- "Rebel without a Crew" by Robert Rodriguez

"Low budget" filmmaking is not "low knowledge" filmmaking. Arguably one may actually need to be all the more savvy to pull off a low budget production, because you can't hide behind million-dollar effects and you are definitely going to have to wear more than one hat.

Starting with short films is really the only way to go if you seriously want to make narrative films. Not only are you more likely to pull them off, as they will give you the credibility, when indeed you have the know-how to make a feature film, to get you the support you need (technical and financial)

By the way, a good short film can later become a feature. Check out "Half Nelson" and "Raising Vargas", they both started as short films, and were subsequently developed into feature films.

Yes indeed Philip Bloom does wonders with the 5D MkII, but look at his reel and you will see that it isn't just the 5D, it's the 5D + a life-time of cinematographic experience.

I think the 5D MkII is a fantastic still and video camera (bought one myself), but it's fantastic image quality has its perils. I think it requires a much better mastery of cinematography to use, than a dedicated video camera. It has forced me to go back and think again in terms of DoF, ISO, f stops etc, things that I've forgotten about over the years. It's definitely not point-and-shoot. In my opinion, if you are looking to do a "Clerks" style no-budget film, and don't have an experienced cinematographer, you will be much better served (image and sound-wise) with a simpler-to-use dedicated video camera. This will allow you to concentrate on working with the actors, which is the core of narrative film. You may have seen pieces like "Reverie" shot with the 5D MkII which is great if you want to market the camera, but this is not narrative filmmaking, which requires... well a narrative structure (a story), characters and dialogue etc.

Because of the incredible image quality we can now obtain from relatively cheap cameras, we forget that this will also raise the audience's expectations in terms of other visual aspects of the film which don't come cheaply, like set design, costume and make-up, possibly making it much more difficult to achieve a "willful suspension of disbelief" on a low budget with a 5D MkII than with a PD150. Perhaps we never realized it, but part of what makes low budget films work, is the very nature of the 8mm film or mini DV image, which combines esthetically with the remainder of the production. If Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez had shot "Blair Witch Project" in a 35mm, the film may not have worked at all (who remembers the sequel?).

best of luck
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Last edited by Kalunga Lima; March 1st, 2010 at 01:34 PM. Reason: Wasn't my intention to be condensending:)
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Old March 1st, 2010, 12:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Long View Post
Hello :)
We are planning to shoot a Feature film with 5DMII, and I have a few questions to ask.

1) How does Canon 5DMII look on a theater screen? The unedited footage looks like a ripped 1.36gb avi file from a 4.7gb DVD. I know that the story/context matters more than everything, but still, if the story is good and video is extremely bad, then its obviously not worth watching it, Its like you want to see Invictus or some other movie, would you watch a screener version on your comp? I guess you'll wait till there's a DVD rip or got to the movies..

No audience cares what camera you shoot on.
PERIOD.
28 Days Later was shoot on a good old SD Canon XL1, blown up to 35, and shown in theaters. Huge hit, made a big bag of money.
How about Blair Witch Project? Open Water? Paranormal Activity?

If the story is good, people will watch anything, no matter what the video looks like...
On the other hand, no one will watch a terrible film, no matter how good it looks.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 01:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kalunga Lima View Post
P.S. I believe that under a million dollars it's considered "low budget" and anything under $100,000.00 is classified "no-budget".
I would say that anything more than 1,000 miles away is "really far", and anything around 100 miles is "pretty close", but if all you've got is your Nikes, both of them qualify as absurd.

Your point that the story matters more than the camera is a good one, it's just hard to see it through your condescending tone.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 01:57 PM   #10
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Mike,

In the world of film financing for feature films, Kalunga is spot on.

For me, personally, $100,000 is far from "no budget", but I don't personally finance feature films.

This is a good reference on the subject:
http://www.amazon.com/Independent-Feature-Film-Production-Distribution/dp/0312181175/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267473046&sr=1-5
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Old March 1st, 2010, 03:26 PM   #11
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I don't dispute that Hollywood makes films that cost in the millions of dollars. I dispute that the OP, with the questions he was asking, was after a $1m film.

A lot changed when DV came on the market and suddenly people could shoot "pro" video with a $5k camera instead of a betacam costing 10x that. People who were eating off the betacam train weren't too happy with that. There is another paradigm shift happening, where great looking cinema can be had for $5k. I'm sure the Panavision crowd isn't thrilled about it, but telling them that they can't make a feature film without a few mill isn't realistic. The 5D and it's family are re-defining that.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 04:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Long View Post
Hello :)
We are planning to shoot a Feature film with 5DMII, and I have a few questions to ask.

1) How does Canon 5DMII look on a theater screen? The unedited footage looks like a ripped 1.36gb avi file from a 4.7gb DVD.
No it doesn't. Not by a long shot. I've worked with a 5D and 7D quite a bit in the past 12 months. Never has it ever looked like a DVD compressed to that file size.

What are you watching this unedited footage with?
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Old March 1st, 2010, 05:06 PM   #13
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Certainly, one can make films on the cheap. That's what I do! (And probably what the OP intends.) But shooting a feature that way is very unlikely to earn a wide theatrical release or even go straight to DVD and end up on retail shelves.

Note that the book I referenced above wasn't for Hollywood studio films. It's for independently produced films. But there is the assumption that the film is being produced professionally - and that the goal is to pay everybody and to make money at the end of the day. To do the "paying people" part, you need financing. And to get the financing, you need all the legal contracts, accounting, and insurance to be above board. You also need to convince investors that they will get a return.

Two of the most important ways to ensure success is to have at least one recognizable actor, and to have a good marketing plan and a budget to back it up. In that context, anything under $1M isn't a lot of money. And if you're at less than $100K, you've cut a lot of corners and managed to get some people and things for free.

Almost anybody can make a feature length film on a shoestring. The real question is if you can pay the cast and crew and still make money on the venture.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 06:41 PM   #14
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I don't dispute that Hollywood makes films that cost in the millions of dollars. I dispute that the OP, with the questions he was asking, was after a $1m film.

A lot changed when DV came on the market and suddenly people could shoot "pro" video with a $5k camera instead of a betacam costing 10x that. People who were eating off the betacam train weren't too happy with that. There is another paradigm shift happening, where great looking cinema can be had for $5k. I'm sure the Panavision crowd isn't thrilled about it, but telling them that they can't make a feature film without a few mill isn't realistic. The 5D and it's family are re-defining that.
Well true, but the cost of the camera is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of crew, talent, locations, insurance, etc... Having a $5k camera doesn't really make filmmaking that much cheaper, though it has put much better cameras in the hands of absolute zero budget filmmakers.
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Old March 2nd, 2010, 07:39 PM   #15
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I think the main thing that the DSLR's have changed in terms of the bottom line for feature filmmaking is the improved possibilities for low-light shooting. It may be possible to shoot interiors or night exteriors without needing as much G/E crew and equipment which translates directly into dollars saved.

For those migrating from 1/3" type cameras, there is a mitigating factor in terms of working speed. It takes longer to work with primes than zooms due to lens changes, reframes etc, and since most insist on shooting with the shallowest focus imaginable, it will likely take longer to get a useable take of the shot (one where at some point, at least one eye is briefly in focus).
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