(April 25, 2015) Maintaining a competitive edge in video production not only demands delivery of high-quality, creative content but also innovative and affordable new ways to serve client needs. Creative director Michael Ori and his team at Salt Lake City-based Ori Media and Studio Elevn [sic] provided a vivid example in TV spots they recently produced for the Utah Dept. of Health. A series of three 30-second cinéma vérité-style videos designed to encourage people to quit smoking, Ori obtained the 4K image quality and unique looks he sought by using the Canon EOS-1D C Digital SLR Cinema camera from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions. Ori won the assignment by also being able to produce still images from his Canon EOS-1D C camera’s 4K video for giant 48 ft. billboards.
“Usually when both video and stills are needed for a campaign the agency sends a second photography unit to shoot the print ads,” Ori explained. “Part of the reason we got the assignment, however, was that I told the client, ‘You’re going to save money because you don’t have to hire a photographer. You can take stills right from our video.’ This capability of the Canon EOS-1D C camera also helped us develop the look of the campaign. The TV spots showed different people on specific days during their quit-smoking experience. Each spot ends with an animated graphic box that drops down in the top left corner showing the number of days that person has quit smoking. That last still of the person with the graphic box is what appears on the billboards.”
Ori added that those images could also be scaled down or up for everything from magazine ads to giant decals wrapped around a city bus or trolley car. Starting off with the 18.1-megapixel full-frame (24mm x 36mm) CMOS sensor of the Canon EOS-1D C camera, the 4K (4096 x 2160-pixel) crop has ample resolution to help ensure sufficient detail for giant blow-ups. “The dynamic range you can get with this camera – especially when you’re shooting in Canon Log – is amazing,” Ori noted. “The billboards look great. They are crisp, clean, virtually without distortion, – and they are 48-ft. wide images.”
“The details, depth-of-field, and dynamic range you can achieve with the EOS-1D C Cinema SLR camera in Canon Log mode are amazing,” Ori declared. “We shot everything in Canon Log. Of course making great images has to do with the way you light and many other tricks of the trade, but the dynamic range of Canon Log – and the camera’s low-light capabilities – were two vital, extremely important things enabling us to do our work.”
The Canon EOS-1D C camera records 8-bit 4:2:2 4K and 8-bit 4:2:0 full HD video to internal CF cards. In Canon Log Gamma mode, this camera records high-quality 4K, 2K, or HD with rich gradations, maximizing both highlight and shadow detail retention while also providing the high level of color-grading freedom needed for motion picture and television delivery.
As examples Ori cites specific challenges his team faced in capturing the footage for the anti-smoking spots, all of which were filmed in actual locations, and not on movie sets. One depicts an overworked waitress resisting the temptation to smoke a cigarette in the alley behind her diner. Another shows a wary ex-smoker on a street corner observing a fellow pedestrian about to light up. The third features a woodworker finding a pack of cigarettes in his toolbox and discarding it without hesitation.
“We did the exterior alley shot in the middle of the day, and Canon Log mode let us crank the colors in post to get the look of nighttime,” Ori recalled. “The sidewalk spot was shot in winter but the client wanted it to look like spring. We shoveled snow, the sun came out, and with an ND filter on my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM standard zoom lens we got great cloud detail and maintained the depth-of-field that we wanted. With Canon Log in post we took out all of the grays of winter and boosted the greens up enough to look like spring. The woodworker’s shop was a very dark garage attic. We set up just a few lights and in post were able to bring up the colors and detail without blowing anything out. It was phenomenal.”
Also essential to shooting the quit-smoking spots in actual locations was the compact size and 4lb. body weight of the Canon EOS-1D C Digital SLR Cinema camera, Ori noted.
“No other 4K camera we tested could fit into the tight spaces we needed to shoot from, or was light enough, so it was perfect,” he said. “For the workbench video we had the Canon EOS-1D C camera on a dolly-slider in the corner behind the toolbox. The ‘reveal’ is actually coming through the lid of the toolbox but since there wasn’t enough room for me to get in behind the camera, I turned the external monitor we had hooked up toward the front of the camera, set my shot, then set the timer on the dolly to make the move so that I wasn’t in the shot, hit RECORD, and directed the actor from off to the side.”
The Canon EOS-1D C camera also features a Live View capability, enabling users to frame and compose images using either the camera’s viewfinder or a rear-panel 3.2-inch ultra-sharp 1.04 million-dot Clear View LCD II panel. “There is just something so great about being able to see your images in live time and then being able to take a still from what you’re shooting and using it somewhere else,” Ori confided. He also appreciates how the compact size of the camera package puts his “actors” at ease.
“This camera is really unobtrusive,” Ori observed. “Its low-light capabilities are amazing. You could shoot with a candle. We don’t always work with professional actors. Many of the videos we do are vignettes using people that aren’t used to being in front of a camera. If you put a giant camera and big lights on them they’ll clam-up. I want people to be comfortable, and the Canon EOS-1D C really helps with that. The camera is small; it’s not ‘in their face.’ It’s really organic and I love it. It’s like the ‘fourth wall’ has been removed and the talent is just able to do its own thing.”
In addition to its DSLR form factor, low-light imaging advantages, and 4K/2K/HD resolution recording, the Canon EOS-1D C Digital SLR Cinema camera also provides users with a wide range of lens choices for maximum creative flexibility. The camera can be outfitted with any of the more than 103 interchangeable Canon EF and EF-S series lenses (including primes, zooms, telephoto, and specialty lenses such as macro, tilt/shift, and fisheye). Canon’s line of CN-E series Cinema lenses includes six primes and four zooms.
“That was another giant factor in purchasing the Canon EOS-1D C camera,” Ori noted. “All of the lenses I already owned for my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 7D cameras are EF mounts, which means I could also put them on the EOS-1D C without an adapter to become part of that camera’s lens arsenal as well.”
Ori used the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM standard zoom and the Canon CN-E85mm T1.3 LF Cinema prime lenses for the anti-smoking spots. “The Canon Cinema primes are also amazing for still images when you can take your time to set up a really nice head shot,” he added.
“The anti-smoking spots turned out really well and everybody seems to be very happy with them,” Ori informed. “I have shot on every camera you could imagine, and for the price point of the Canon EOS-1D C Digital SLR Cinema camera – and what you actually get out of it in terms of versatility form factor, and size – I have never seen anything like it. The camera is easy to learn and it lets me make things the way I have always wanted to make them, which is really organic. I think that’s the best way to describe it.”