Photographers are doing some amazing things shooting video with the Canon 5D Mark II. Here are a couple that I saw that made me go “wow” when I heard they were shot on a stills camera. I have no idea how they will hold up on a 50″plasma TV, but who’s got time to watch TV anymore. It’s worth noting that both involve some serious hardships to shoot.
First This Documentary on Afghanistan shot by Danfung Dennis. He says “The footage was shot on a custom built rig, using a Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70 f/2.8 L lens, Sennheiser ME-66 and G2 wireless system, Singh-Ray variable ND filter, and Beachtek 2XAs mounted on a Glidecam 2000 HD with custom made aluminum ‘wings.'”
The next one comes from Surf photographer Yassine (Yazzy) Ouhilal:
Since I know Yazzy I asked him a couple questions:
Did you edit, shoot and record all the sound yourself?
I shot most of the raw footage and time lapses over 44 days in the Arctic. A couple of other members of the expedition shot additional footage as well. Since this was also an editorial photo trip, a lot of the surfing footage had to be shot by someone else as I was usually too busy shooting stills. The rest of the time, it was pretty easy to go from shooting stills to video with the 5DMKII.
The audio was pulled from video interviews and audio recordings I got from some of the expedition members. I loaned an H2 digital audio recorder to the surfers on the expedition and asked them to record their thoughts when they were alone or by themselves in order to get authentic impressions from their experience in the Arctic- which wasn’t without challenges.
A lot of the sound effects were pulled from video clips. The 5DMKII has an audio input jack which allows for hi quality mics to be used.
I edited the film myself in imovie and mixed all the audio/sound/music tracks in Garage Band, two simple yet very effective pieces of software that if properly used can yield pretty incredible results.
The time lapses were animated using Quicktime Pro (by importing image sequences of stills and exporting uncompressed movie files)
What kind of experience do you have doing this kind of stuff?
I actually have a film production background- I spent 6 years at Concordia University in Montreal doing the Film Production program there. That was just before the digital/video era so the majority of the film work I did was in 16 and 35mm using editing tables and optical printers that are a much slower process than today’s digital workflow.
After film school, I found it hard to integrate the industry as a film maker. My two options were to try and get funding for my own films or to start working as a technician on film sets and work my way up the food chain. I opted to pursue my dreams and passions as a surf photographer instead and for the last 10 years, I’ve been roaming the globe shooting off the beaten path locations for magazines and companies. This type of work has given me the freedom to work in a field that I really enjoy and has been a good balance of personal and creative freedom as I have been self funding a lot of my trips on a freelance basis and then (hopefully) recouping my investments by providing the content out to various editorial clients.
Returning to filmmaking has been a natural progression and one that I have been looking forward to for a long time now.The way technology is going now, the line between photography and filmmaking is getting thinner and thinner everyday. It has been really exciting to get to shoot with a camera like the 5DMKII. As a photographer, I really know how to compose my shots and how my glass works. To be able to translate that into a cinematic medium has been really incredible.
The experience I had in film school using a much more traditional and slower workflow, it has definitely helped me to restrain myself and not get carried away with all the possibilities of the digital workflow.
How much time did it take you to make this shot doc?
While I probably could have put something together for this project in just a few days, I really wanted to make an authentic film about the experience of surfing in the Arctic- with all the drama and the hostility of the environment. The editing process was done over 3 months. Much like with my photography, I like to distance myself from the content so that I can approach it again with a fresher perspective. It allows me to look at the photos/footage objectively rather than to remain attached to certain shots or clips because of the experience involved with obtaining the imagery. I find that in both photography and filmmaking, being able to “let go” is an important part of the process. Maybe an image means a lot to me because I endured many hardships to obtain it, but I have to keep in mind that the audience doesn’t necessarily know that- therefore will often see less value than I do in a particular shot. Distancing myself from the content for a certain period is definitely part of my approach and it really helps to “forget” about it in order to rediscover it.
Over the first month or two, I basically narrowed down the raw footage from around 40hours to about 4hours. Then I separated all the clips into different categories, much like I do with my approach to editing my photos: scenics, action, lifestyles and interviews. I then narrowed down the footage in each category to end up with about 1 hour of footage that in my opinion consisted of the most beautiful imagery that was also the most pertinent to the story I was trying to push through.
The backbone of the story was constructed using audio voice overs and interviews. This was a very long process as well as I had to listen to hours of audio and basically pull the most important and pertinent points that told the story.
I did this by transcribing every single phrase of audio I had (which turned into around 100 pages or so). From there I edited the audio in the text file by cutting and pasting sentences and later applied that to the actual audio tracks.
Once I had the audio backbone and the best clips, it was about 4 days and nights of intense editing. I actually happened to be back in the Arctic for the editing process which I found very conducive to an inspired approach to the post production. I was really impressed with the workflow in iMovie. It was efficient and simple and compared to editing on a steenbeck (16mm editing table) and splicing film with tape, it was a much simpler process. I definitely made sure to stay away from using too many effects and transitions in order to keep this close to what could have been achieved using more traditional methods. I find in the digital workflow, it’s really easy to say “I’ll fix this in Post” or to get carried away with all the options- which can end up ruining the result. I think with today’s incredible advances in technology, a mix of using the technology along with some self constraint can produce some really interesting and authentic results.