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Old July 7th, 2010, 08:43 AM   #1
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Would a 5D make sense in this situation?

Hi all. I have not yet had the pleasure of using a DSLR for video, but I'm considering using it for a special work event. I'll explain the situation, and hopefully you experts can chime in.

My company is having a big convention next month. The boss wants to record 2 sets of interviews. The first set will be sort of mass-produced. Nothing too fancy with a consistent set of questions asked to everyone. We plan on using several Canon XH A1's to record these.

The second set of interviews needs to be more special. Glossy, lot of production value. It will probably be 2 cameras (one straight on, and one to the side). There will probably be a simple white studio backdrop and nice lighting. These interviews will be longer, more free-form, and hopefully very engaging (very emotional, very funny, etc.)

My question is, should I use a 5d Mk II for the second, more special interviews? I know the 5D will give it a more glossy look. But considering the subjects should be in front of a backdrop, there won't be much change of cool depth of field effects. Assuming that, will there be other noticeable benefits to using a DSLR?

And does anyone have any work-flow suggestions for shooting many long-form interviews with the limitiations of a DSLR (12 minute clips, over-heating, etc)?
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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Overheating isn't really and issue with the 5DMK2. At least not ours and we shot a Triathlon the other week using both the 7D's (latest firmware) and 5DMk2's.

The 12 minute limit is the main reason we don't use the DSLRs for interviews. Most interviews, unless you're only going for a sound bite, last longer and we don't want to have to worry about stopping and starting. Especially if you're going for emotion you have to let it play out. And saying "hang on a minute while I start and stop" will definitely put a damper on things.

Proper lighting will be your greatest ally in making the subject look good. I'd go for a more dramatic style to help embellish the look and then do some good color work in post.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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I've done quite a few interviews with the 5D and the 12 minute limit hasn't been a problem - rare to have a single answer go on for longer than that without a pause. If you just double-tap the record button you'll lose less than a second between clips. I tend to do this between every answer, and if you're using two cameras you just want to make sure they start and stop out of sync with one another so that one is always rolling while the other is restarting. You do want to make sure you have large cards (at least 16gb) though as having to swap cards will interrupt the flow of the interview.

As for the original question, I don't think using the 5D will give you any more of a 'glossy, lots of production value' look if it's in front of a white background. That's probably going to come down entirely to your lighting. For black background stuff I've found I get better results out of the 5D than the XHA1 simply due to reduced shadow noise, but against white I don't think there's a lot of difference.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 11:02 AM   #4
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For me the 12 minute limit hasn't been a problem for interviews, because as the above post mentioned, answers to questions don't generally run nearly that long. In your case, if you're shooting with two cameras, you can simply start the second one a minute later so you can have overlap if you think it might be an issue.
The bigger chip and higher resolution of the 5DMKII will make it look better than the XH A1, but for this kind of thing I don't see any reason to do it since you already have the XH A1 cameras...unless you're just looking for a reason to buy a 5D:).

There's also the issue of sound. You'd be shooting double system sound, unless you get something like the Juicedlink which gives you meters you can calibrate to the camera's levels so you can meter audio while recording. You'd also have to get an adapter to go from the AV out to a headphone jack to monitor directly from the camera. I think it's better to simply stick with double system sound. Either way, that's an additional consideration.

As far as overheating, I haven't had any at all with the 7D or with the 5D. Two weeks ago I shot all day in hot sun, and even the rubber hood on my LCD viewer got hot to the touch. Camera was fine.

Another issue for interviews with an HDSLR is the lens. In my case, I got a 70-200 zoom for that very purpose. I'd prefer to use primes, but when doing interviews, I like to change focal length in between questions, and to go in really tight when I think the guy is going to say something important. Can't do that with primes, unless you're on a dolly.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 05:31 PM   #5
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Personally there's no way in HELL I'd go out to record anything of critical importance with less than a month of "hands on" with whatever core piece of technology I'm using to record it.

The 5dMkii is a wondrful camera. When I bought mine 18 months ago, my first two shoots were a relative MESS - just like my first two shoots on Hi-8, Film, DV, and DVCAM.

Your first two months, if you have a problem you have to LOOK UP the answer. After a few months and a few shoots you start to get the "feel" for the tool and can finally start to use it to it's potential.

A few weeks back, I watched a documentary on people who play the orchestral harp competing for a prestegious harp players award. EVERY CONTESTANT shipped their monstrously large, unweildy, pain-in-the-butt to travel with big assed harps half way around the world. Why? Because you can NEVER do your best work with tools you don't have daily experience working with.

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Old July 8th, 2010, 03:16 AM   #6
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if you use the 5D AND the XH-A1, then you won't miss anything with the 12 min. limit, and your audio from the XH-A1 will be easier to deal with while filming. might be a little more work matching in post, but i don't find it too hard to visually zoom in and match audio... not sure about matching the image, though... my new 5D is waiting for me in Canada!
using both cameras, you have a safety net while you are learning the 5D ropes.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #7
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I'm not sure why you need a shallow DOF camera when shooting against a white back drop which means you won't have that soft background effect (it's just all white). A worthwhile shallow DOF on the face in this particular case ( since there is no background) will restrict the interviewee's movement in what you are hoping will be free form interviews.

I suspect the XH A1 may have more resolution anyway and you can experiment to find a camera set up/ local length/f stop combo (with perhaps a filter), which will be more glamorous. In the end, the most important element for this effect will be the lighting rather than the camera.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 10:06 AM   #8
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5dmkii will give you a good look for an interview. If the background is white, what's the point of using a DSLR. Narrow depth of field won't really matter. Just my opinion.

Now a question, how are you going to pick up sound if you use the 5dMkII? If there hasn't been any thought given to that you then shoot with the XH-A1. It's a good tool and will serve you well.

I'd get bored with an answer over 2 minutes. Keep the answers short and you won't have a problem with the 12 minute limit. Change cards early if you need to.
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