Review: Learn 2 Shoot Great Video on Your Canon 7D

Review: Learn 2 Shoot Great Video on Your Canon 7D with Philip Bloom

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Philip Bloom is a busy fellow. His 5D Mark II DVD was released barely a month ago and he’s already out with a 7D DVD. Philip gave us access to the video content of the 7D DVD so we could review it without delay. As such this review is based on that footage, not a final shipping DVD.

A little background for anyone who isn’t familiar with his work: Philip Bloom has been shooting video all over the globe for the last 20 years. He’s done work for Sky News, Discovery HD and many others. In the past year he’s become very excited about the emerging HD DSLR segment and has emerged as a prominent evangelist of the production technique. Canon loaned him a pre-production 7D prior to the 7Ds launch, and he shot ‘Dublin’s People’, a follow-up to his 5D short ‘Sofia’s People’. Inspired by the quality Philip was able to get out of the 7D, shows such as Saturday Night Live and Dollhouse have added it to their shooting kit.

Over the past year Philip has been running F-Stop Academy with Dennis Lennie, holding tutorials and training sessions for aspiring digital filmmakers all over the world. This DVD, like the 5D Mark II DVD before it is an outgrowth of those events.

Chapter List

Introduction
Sound Limitations of the 7D
Setting up the Camera Menu
Expanded ISO
Creating a more Filmic Picture Profile
How to Focus
Using a Follow Focus
Using a Monitor
Using a Viewfinder
Setting correct Shutter Speed for video
Re-mapping the Operational Controls
Controlling Exposure
Using a Matte Box
Selecting Lenses
Sensor Crop Factor
Tips for Shooting Handheld
Using Video Support
Video Frame Rates
Shooting in Slow Motion
Recording Sound
Shooting a Sequence
Rolling Shutter
Avoiding Flicker from Artificial Lights
Shooting at Night
Timelapse Techniques
Summary

Post Production Extras (For Final Cut)

Importing Files for Edit
Creating Slow Motion
Converting Timelapse Frames into Video

The Presentation

While the 5D Mark II DVD was primarily shot with a Sony F350, this disc was shot primarily (or possibly entirely) with digital SLRs, both the Canon 5D Mark II and the 7D. The video feels much more cinematic as a result. Shot on location in Lido Key, Florida, the backgrounds and setting are great. Philip is still comfortable in front of the camera and this time he actually has some wardrobe changes.

Intended Audience

This disc will be valuable for anyone using a 7D who doesn’t have much experience with DSLR HD. A fair amount of what’s covered in the disc is similar to the content of the 5D, but here it’s more compressed and direct. While in the 5D DVD Philip did show a lot of expensive kit, on this disc he makes a point of stating that all you really need is a stable support, some fast primes, plenty of batteries, some good CF cards, and a viewfinder attachment. That lowers the barrier to entry, so don’t worry that you won’t get anything out of the DVD if you aren’t in a position to drop $2,000 on accessories.

The Good

The disc is more entertaining than the 5D Mark II tutorial, while that was a two-man-band affair this one gets some added interest from some assistants and talent, as well as a more interesting location. (No offense intended, Cambridge and Philips edit bay.) Philip runs through the basics (camera setup, crop factor, exposure, shutter speeds, VariND filters, 4×4 filters, matte boxes, eyepieces, gunstock supports, tripods, rolling shutter, etc) in short order, leaving plenty of time for an exploration of lens looks (from a 10mm fisheye all the way out to a voyeuristic 1260mm extended telephoto) and most useful, a breakdown of a short subject piece.

Philip walks you through the filming of a short narrative piece with an actress reading to Debussy’s The Girl With the Flaxen Hair. You see all the shot setups, the wireless audio setup, he talks about options for getting certain looks in certain circumstances, and then he shows the piece edited together. It’s really helpful for getting a handle on how the process works. There are also some nice touches when he shoots a slow-motion sunset piece. Sometimes it isn’t easy, and it does take 6 takes to barely get the shot.

There’s also a segment at the end on shooting time-lapse movies with a Canon TC80N3 remote timer. The Extras are screencasts covering MacOS X workflows for transcoding to Apple ProRes (for editing), converting 720/60p footage to 29.97 for a slow-motion effect and creating a time-lapse out of a series of still photos.

The Not-So-Good

An hour goes by fast, and you might wish there was some more meat, but it’s hard to think of something explicit that isn’t included. Also, Philip covers the gear he has, so you won’t find reviews or demonstrations for a variety of manufacturers, but that’s what the internet is for.

Conclusions

There’s not much to not like about this DVD. It’s entertaining, beautiful and overall a very pleasant way to learn about shooting HD with the Canon EOS 7D. It isn’t a full-blown cinematography course, but it is a good introduction to the 7D and how it works.

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