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Old February 19th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #16
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

Thanks for the info, Charles. Very interesting.

I look forward to viewing the actual film when I get a chance.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 09:37 PM   #17
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

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Saw "Act of Valor" last night...
Charles, you're an amazing asset to this forum, and I thank you for your contributions. I can't wait to see the movie, as I sense it will change a few things in Hollywood (whatever "Hollywood" is nowadays).

Rock on, amigo.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 10:18 PM   #18
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

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(whatever "Hollywood" is nowadays).
groan--Steve, it's literally changing under my feet every day. Some of the things I've experienced in the past year would have been absolutely unfathomable five years ago. We just keep breaking through the basement to find new basements underneath. Budgets shrink, schedules swell...I'm shooting A-list actors on the same gear as most in this forum, with a fraction of the resources that one assumes of a "Hollywood" production, at breakneck speed.

But it's fun! (we keep telling ourselves).
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Old February 21st, 2012, 10:45 PM   #19
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

In the world of no budget contest films, one of the things I have learned doing 4 48 hour film contests and one 10 x 10, is that in order to get it done quick and clean you have to keep your crew to a minimum. Seems like every time you add a person to the crew, you have to add another one to support. Food and other costs skyrocket, and shooting gets delayed more and more as each with a vested interest in their particular area of expertise being shown in a good light. Something to be said for one light, one camera, ala "EL Mariachi".

Thanks again Charles for your insights...
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Old February 21st, 2012, 11:00 PM   #20
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Saw "Act of Valor" last night.

It's a well-made film. All the more impressive considering that the Seals are all the real deal and not actors.

Overall the film looks amazing.

During the ops, it's extremely obvious how the 5D made certain shots possible that would never be attained with a film camera, and it's here that it all makes sense, and is truly triumphant.

Having been a small part of the production and knowing what these guys went through (tiny crews and grueling circumstances), the film looks huge and expensive and epic. It simply wasn't, and that should be inspirational to all indie filmmakers.

Interested to see what you guys think.

Thanks for sharing your experiences on this project Charles, you do inspire a lot of us here.

..
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Old February 24th, 2012, 03:47 PM   #21
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

I we to go see "Full Frontal" because it was half shot on a Canon XL1s (half on film), but I liked "Full Frontal" because Steven Soderbergh makes really good movies.

I've been cynical in some of the promotion of this movie as playing off of the DSLR hype, but I'm glad to read the comments from Charles as it sounds like they were excited about using the right tool for the right job.

I hope to see this movie in the next week & hoping that I enjoy it, but I'm keeping my expectations low as the trailer looked like it was just a bunch of cliche action scenes stitched together without much of a plot. Though I try not to judge movies by their trailers & I'm not expecting this to be greater than Citizen Kane, just hopefully better than a campy '90s WGN weekend Van Damme flick.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 03:03 AM   #22
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

I think the maturity of the DSLR gear with 1Dx, D4, D800 and the upcoming 5Diii (I will be surprised if they'll wait more than a couple of months to announce it), will really change the way, even mainstream media are shot.
This project and many more before, have prove that the lines between very expensive equipment and DSLRS are blurry to say the least and will get more invisible sooner than later.

The only limitations of DSLR is the professionalism of the people using them.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 09:29 AM   #23
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

Charles, any idea why the boat interrogation scene was 60% out of focus?

Actualy, there were some key monolog shots that were out of focus (eyes out of focus, ears in focus type of stuff. The focus puller's first day with a 5D2?)

FWIW, thought the movie overall was terrible. Horribly directed, Grade 3 writing, and the acting... well, don't think everyone will ever use soldiers as actors again... but the Steadicam work was great! :)
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Old February 26th, 2012, 09:48 AM   #24
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

Well, in a sense it was EVERYONE's first day on a 5DMKII--remember, this was like three years ago; the guys were making it up as they went. At that time there were no loupes, no outboard monitors, no existing infrastructure for these cameras. One of the things that I always found difficult about the 5D was the lack of HD monitoring while recording, which is why I embraced the 1dMKIV for my own work. So, nobody was able to confirm what was or wasn't in focus while the camera was rolling. And of course that big sensor is that much more difficult to manage, given that one has to use longer lenses to achieve a given FOV compared to a S35 sensor.

Ultimately, it's probably about the same percentage of out-of-focus material that many people who shot with these cameras produced--it just looks a whole lot worse projected on a big screen.

I am happy to report that of the three dialogue scenes that I served on as DP, focus was good! (one was shot on 35mm, the Seal saying goodbye to his wife at the house, and the other two were on the 5D's--the two Seals talking about their home lives in the bar, and one of the briefings onboard the boat).
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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:47 AM   #25
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

I saw this on Friday, I guess I'm not as picky, but I enjoyed it. I do agree the SEALS weren't the best actors. But I loved all the tactical footage. Back in the early 90s I served on a Balistic Missle sub (similar to the one used in the movie, I was a Torpedoman), and the sub scene brought back some memories. I thought some of the tactical stuff might have been lost on people who don't know a lot about that stuff, because real life is much different then most that is presented in movies.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #26
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Well, in a sense it was EVERYONE's first day on a 5DMKII--remember, this was like three years ago; the guys were making it up as they went. At that time there were no loupes, no outboard monitors, no existing infrastructure for these cameras. One of the things that I always found difficult about the 5D was the lack of HD monitoring while recording, which is why I embraced the 1dMKIV for my own work. So, nobody was able to confirm what was or wasn't in focus while the camera was rolling. And of course that big sensor is that much more difficult to manage, given that one has to use longer lenses to achieve a given FOV compared to a S35 sensor.
I've got to call you out on this one... Not having a loupe or a monitor is no excuse for not being able to keep an actor's face in focus while he's sitting in a chair. Running through the jungle? Ok. Jumping out of a plane? Maybe ...But not two guys sitting talking across a table. Film school students around the world can do this on a regular basis.

Besides, what was Hurlbut shooting that at, T1.00001?
The focus in the rest of the movie was almost perfect, save a few mistakes. It's like that scene didn't have a focus puller at all.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 02:28 PM   #27
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

Dylan, I wasn't there for that scene, so I can't comment on it.

What I can say is this: soft takes happen. They are noted, we do another one. There's no such thing as non-printed takes these days, everything goes into the hopper. Director makes a choice to use the soft take because the performance is better. Nothing that can be done about it.

How does it happen? Actor shifts in chair, shifts back again, looks like it's the same spot; it isn't. Or, the Preston skipped a gear, so the lens and the handset didn't match up. If the focus puller is off by two or three inches, ears are in focus and eyes are out. At that point, it's up to the operator to call it. Once upon a time, we had these things called optical viewfinders that made it possible for the operator (and the operator alone) to see that there was an issue. These days, with "legit" cameras we have any number of monitoring tools so everyone BUT the operator can see focus...! But again, back then with the 5D, it was that little 3" rear monitor and that was it.

I'm not making excuses for anyone; I was on the movie for a total of five days. What I can tell you is while the movie looks big budget, and is raking it in this weekend, this was an indie through and through. Some of the lighting setups were big (Shane's hallmark) and others were miniscule. Bandito's style is to work run-and-gun with a minimal crew, and fast. That crew got beat up, but hard. It's entirely possible that whoever operated that soft shot was virtually asleep at the time...nothing harder than operating long static dialogue scenes when you are exhausted. Take it from someone who took his share of mini-power-naps inside the viewfinder over the years!

As far as student films go--I've witnessed plenty of those that have more resources, personnel and move at a far slower pace than this production. Obviously lack of experience levels the playing field, but whatever image anyone might have in their heads of the behind-the-scenes clips from big action movies, with directors sipping cappucinos at their monitors and seemingly hours to get each setup--this one was very much NOT that.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 04:17 PM   #28
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

No need to defend it at all, it's a good example of why most experienced filmmakers shoot at F4.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 05:21 PM   #29
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

I saw this last night and enjoyed it immensely. The seals are far from being professional actors and it showed, but I thought it was terrific over all. I too noticed some soft focus and other discrepancies that come from shooting with a DSLR. However, I see no need to harp on it. I have seen plenty of big budget shows that made rookie mistakes. One of my favorite shows "Fringe', which shoots 35mm and on an Alexa has had tons of out of focus shots. In fact, I think I have noticed it on almost every episode.

However, it doesn't happen all the time and I am not going to slam it for missing the mark a couple of times. From someone who does a lot of run and gun shooting myself, I understand how easy it is to miss focus sometimes. I think you guys did a terrific job, especially working with something as new as what the 5D was at the time.

I really enjoyed how the action scenes were shot. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it to be more engaging than what I have seen in many other blockbuster action films.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 09:05 PM   #30
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Re: Act of Valor movie shot on 5D

I've probably already said it but I'll say it again: today's production schedules are so relentless that the filmmaking process has been all but uprooted. Used to be, there was such a thing as a rehearsal, which allowed everyone to, well, rehearse their jobs. Focus pullers could pull tape in the middle as required, operators could practice their moves, boom guys could watch for shadows etc. The rehearsal has largely been replaced by "let's just roll, maybe we'll get lucky". And then probably there will be a take two, but not always. Even when we report focus issues or mis-frames, the director may opt to move on with the assumption to cut around it.

I could go on and on--it's a popular discussion amongst crews these days, the transformation of the craft into some sort of hyperactive assembly line--but it is what it is. A lot of things get short-cut along the way, and focus is one of those.
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