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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:43 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2011
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Lens choice for 2 camera set up - Product Demo

Hi all,
Hope you can help
We are looking to film some inhouse product demonstration videos and planning to purchase a 2 camera set-up using 2 canon 5Ds.
One camera will focus on the Head and Body shot, while the other camera will focus on the hands handling the product.
Looking for your advice and recommendations on which style of lens to use for each camera?
Any suggestions?
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Old May 9th, 2011, 06:02 PM   #2
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Re: Lens choice for 2 camera set up - Product Demo

While this might seem like a deceptively simple question, at it's heart, it's not really very simple.

A two camera live demo is actually a VERY complicated shooting situation.

Yeah, the head-on "lock off" talent shot seems simple enough. However, you'll quickly find that it's actually not as simple as it first appears. It's difficult to find the perfect shot that can sustain viewer interest when the same shot comes back again and again and again. I personally find myself wishing I could push in a little, or even pull back a little just to keep the visuals fresher than a "Camera 1 lock off" shot.

And that's far and away the EASIER of the two.

The CU camera can be a nightmare. This is because a close up of any demo requires the shot to product angle and view to be optimized to an ever changing frame. I can't tell you how many times I've done this and it's taken five full minutes to position a camera AND the talent's hands in order to present a clear view of a demontration angle - and then the VERY NEXT SHOT requires a totally different angle in order for the audience to get a clear view of the product and it's context in use.

After years of this stuff, I've come to realize that there's a darn good reason that cooking shows and other close up demonstration shows nearly always have a live mobile videographer grabbing CU shots. There's just a LOT of variability in how those shots play out.

Plus, when I've done them, I seem to spend a LOT of time agonizing over the fact that when I get a great shot of the OBJECT being featured, as soon as the demonstrators hands enters the frame to do something with that object, the shot is often obscured and I have to re-position the camera again, and again, and again, as the shots unfold. And if you cut back to the IDENTICAL WIDE every time the CU shot doesn't work, you're risking skitzo cutting that annoys the audience.

For these reasons and a lot more, I'd opt for simpler video-specific cameras with tapes or cards that can be left running while you fiddle with the takes, re-takes, re-positions, and re-lights that demonstration set work typically requires- and a post work flow that just grabs everything, then rough cuts the inevitable 80% of the crap out of the demo as the first step.

OH, and this is another type shooting where headset coordination that doesn't effect the live audio being recorded can be a HUGE advantage. Without a director off set being able to have a camera op change the angle as needed as you go, without disturbing the flow of the talent, you're gonna be wasting a LOT of time.

This is just one of those things that seems pretty simple from the outside, but turns out to be REALLY tricky to get good results once you actually have to produce quality work.

YMMV, just another view from someone who's been there and done this a good bit.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 06:39 PM   #3
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Re: Lens choice for 2 camera set up - Product Demo

My gut response is to recommend a 100mm Macro and a 50mm lens. I don't know how close you need to get to the product, so a macro will ensure that this isn't an issue. And I don't know how close you can get and how broad the framing should be, so a 50mm is the perfect tweener lens.

If this is a one person demo and you can back the camera up, I'd replace the 50mm with an 85mm lens. If you are in a small space, and/or you want a wider angle of coverage, go as wide as a 35mm view.

For the macro, a 50mm could be the better choice than a 100 if that view needs to cover a larger area and then move in close for the detail shot. In either case, pack a lot of light. With macro shots, the DOF gets thin and controlling focus is crazy hard. You'll want a clean lens, a clean sensor, and the lens should be stopped down.

By the same token, if you want your master shot to have a shallow DOF, you might want an ND filter on that camera, so you can open it up.

In general, I've always done this sort of thing with one camera and b-roll. It's not seamless, but in a way it lowers the audience expectations. They "get" that it's a one camera news-style piece.
Jon Fairhurst
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Old May 14th, 2011, 09:16 PM   #4
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Re: Lens choice for 2 camera set up - Product Demo

save yourself a LOT of headaches. hire a qualified local DP. I know... you think you're saving money with DIY, but I heard not one mention of things like say, lights and sound. editing on ????

people spend years getting good at shooting, hire an expert and get the job done right. the fact is just spending $2500 X 2 just for the 5D's and you could easily hire a great DP, 1-2 camera operators, 1 or 2 grips and PA's, all the cameras, lighting and sound with real pro's with real gear.

it would also help to have a good producer / writer to handle the project.

in the end you'll get a way better product then you imagined, then what you'll get with the approach you are planing to take.
Steve Oakley
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Old May 15th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #5
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Re: Lens choice for 2 camera set up - Product Demo

I'd say get two zoom lenses. Something like the 24-70 L for the medium shot, and another one for the hands/product shot, assuming you can get the camera in close enough for the CU. You could go with the 70-200 for that one.
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