Monthly Archives: August 2012

Short Films Shot on Canon 5D

A lot of filmmakers are stretching their wings with the Canon 5D DSLR.

Light and DSLR Canon Cameras

When you look at the work you see that absence of fill light is where the Canon DSLR's shine.  The more boring shots are shot outside at high noon or with that milky overcast sky.

But take the camera inside (or provide blacks that will bring you "negative fill") and the Canon magic starts to happen.  Check out 'Streak and the Raven – Speed of Light,' practically an exercise in how to film in low light:


Streak and the Raven – Speed of Light (OFFICIAL) from OTSO FILM on Vimeo.



Another video that is pushing the envelope of visual comprehension with single frame cuts is 'Aimless Arrow'

CONVERGE "Aimless Arrow" from Max Moore on Vimeo.



My first film in college was all single frames on film.  The technique is called "kinestasis" – It means moving stills.  You expose each frame individually in the camera.   I was emulating Chuck Braverman's 'American Time Capsule', which is comprised of exposing single frames.  It won awards.  So did mine.  Chuck's piece was featured on the Smothers Brothers comedy hour years ago.

More kinestasis examples.

If you want to see MY college kinestasis film you'll have to buy me a coffee.  Short of that, drop me a line and I MIGHT send you a link.  But I'd rather hold out for the coffee. 

Anyway, to shoot a Kinestasis project you have to plan all your stills in advance because you expose them individually in the film camera.  You can use a remote trigger device so you don't shake the camera.  And you need a lot of pictures.  24 per second at the maximum.   And you have to plan how you're going to move them. 

The beauty of the Canon DSLR is that it can shoot stills in sequence and you can lay them on the timeline or you can shoot on the video side and chop the sweet spots out of each scene into single frame events on the timeline.  

If you're doing a thirty second film, that's ahhhh….thirty times twenty four, which 720 pictures. Try it.  I was trying to see if I could really rivet someones attention by showing them glimpses of images.  They say that if a person talks fast people tend to comprehend more of what they say.  So I was trying the visual side of that equation.   How fast can we comprehend and how good is our visual "buffer".  When does it fill up and we have to pause the movie?    So, let's try some kinestasis.  See where your buffer chokes.

DSLR Time Lapse Short Film in Yosemite

Here is a stunning time lapse film shot on the Canon DSLR 5D from Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty.



It really shows what you can do with a motion controlled dolly, like the one by Dynamic Perception.

I learned four things from my personal experience shooting time lapse with the Canon 5D. 

1) Watch your foreground,

2) What setting to use for your still photographs,

3) How to find where and when moonrise happens and the phases of the moon

4) Benefits of having a real compass instead on the one on my iPhone to find where the moon's coming up.

But for this installment let's just talk about foregrounds, flowing water, size of frame and mosquito repellent.

1) FOREGROUNDS IN TIME LAPSE LANDSCAPES – I was trying to set up a dramatic show with a palm tree in the foreground on a clear night in June when the moon was supposed to be at the fullest.  I put the palm tree in the foreground and took a still frame every 50 seconds.   The sky was not pitch black when I got there so I decided to get the moon about an hour later.  I traced the trajectory and set up my shot so that the moon would "probably" cross through the frame (on a diagonal but that's fine.)  I had a palm tree in the foreground.

When I played back the sequence I had a twitching palm tree in the foreground. It's quivering movements distracted from the graceful arc of the moon and the clearing clouds.  

FLOWING WATER – One of the scenes in the Yosemite film shows the water in the bottom of the frame.  Water time lapse doesn't look as pretty when you set a high shutter speed for each of your time lapse stills.  I would suggest you might want to experiment and lower your shutter speed so you get a more "smeary" frame for the fast moving water. The mountains aren't moving so you don't need to be shooting at a fast shutter speed.

SIZE OF FRAME – Also, don't shoot in "L".  Shoot in "S".  All you need is a frame to fill your 1920 by 1080 frame. Shooting higher than "S" fills your card faster and eats a lot of hard drive space when you go to edit.  

MOSQUITO REPELLENT – Mosquitos know when you're shooting time lapse at night.  They alert all mosquitos in a twelve mile radius.  They know you can't move for at least an hour even if you have a digital controller. You'll be checking your shot and making sure people don't walk off with your tripod.  And they like to land on your lens and watch you freak out as you countdown to the exposure.

WELL-MEANING RELATIVES – Relatives also know when you're shooting time lapse.  I'm on the flat deck of my house shooting the moon moving up slowly through the clouds and they all come up on the deck to see.  And the deck, being a deck sags a little with their weight.  Later in editing I see that the moonrise has a hitch in it.  Not to mention when my relatives were leaving I turned to say goodbye and nudged the tripod.  I tried to get it back where it was, but alas, it was not to be. So now I have a great moonrise with a missing middle.  

LESSONS LEARNED: Be careful about the foregrounds.  In the Yosemite films you can see some of the shots they framed the "twitching" grass out of the frame.  Consider slowing your shutter speed. Set the frame size to "S". Use mosquito repellent. Don't tell anyone you're shooting time lapse.

(more next time)


Canon Boot Camp Contest Rules and Regulations

Win the Contest for a Canon Boot CampContest Rules and Regulations FAQs

Welcome to the Canon Boot Camp Contest Page. Since you’ll have a better chance to win if you understand the rules and regulations involved, here they are in plain English:

Who can submit entries?

Anyone may enter. We are assuming only still photographer and DSLR Filmmakers would be interested, but really, anyone may enter. As long as they fulfill the qualifications, it’s all good.

What’s in it for me?

The Canon Boot Camp is a value-packed, 2 day-intensive DSLR workshop that’s great for beginning filmmakers as well as complete Pros and anyone in between. It’s probably worth about $2500, but let’s just say you’d save about $1000 if you win the contest. There’s some other benefits to getting into the class:

  • Connections with Industry Professionals
  • Getting listed on our Graduate list with a link to your website
  • Possibly exposure in our blog for your business and future DSLR projects/films
  • Possibly getting DSLR film projects when The Association isn’t available or appropriate for requested projects we receive

Can I submit more than one entry for the month I want to attend?

Nope. Only one chance per month. But during the entry process, you may check each available month (see the available event dates on the right side of this blog) in order to submit ONE entry for EACH available month. The only other variable on that statement is when it’s after the 15th of each month. That’s because the contest for the current month ENDS at midnight on the 14th of each month. Otherwise we don’t have time to pick a winner for that month so they have a chance to actually arrange arriving at the Boot Camp.

You can try submitting more than one email address, but that would only be annoying for both you and the contest administrators. For one thing, you’d get our newsletter multiple times. We’d eventually figure it out and cancel the 2nd win to pick someone else.

I’ve already done the Canon Boot Camp. Can I submit an entry anyway?

If you attending the Canon Boot Camp before, you don’t need to submit an entry. Graduates are eligible to come back for a refresher on any later date. So in a way, you’ve already won! You may submit an entry and win a boot camp for someone else, such as a friend, relative or colleague. If you win, you’ll have to let us know specifically who the boot camp is being gifted to so we can make sure administration is taken care of on our end.

What are the qualifications and requirements in order to submit an entry?

  • You must have clicked on the “Like” button of our Facebook Page.
  • We have to know which event month you’d like to win a seat for.
  • You must have an active subscription to our Email Newsletter.

If I submit entries for multiple months, am I eligible to win more than one Canon Boot Camp?

You may only win ONE Boot Camp.

My schedule doesn’t allow me to attend until after all the currently listed event dates. Will the contest be continuing after the currently listed events?

The contest applies to all listed dates and future dates until notification otherwise. We reserve the right to end the contest at any time.



Catch a Sneak Peek of the Latest Canon Boot Camp Student Film!


Did you enjoy “The Sonnet”? The team who brought you “The Sonnet” is bringing you another romantic short, this time set in a completely different location, time period, and language!

We are so honored that the March 2012 Canon Boot Camp was hosted by creovision, a production company headed by Martin Bartak in Prague, CZ. Along with Assistant Director Markus Krug, Martin had the aspiration to bring Hollywood filmmaking to Prague, and called us to help them out. Since these are two of the hardest working production guys in the world, we were happy to pack our bags and escape the LA smog.

The Students and Crew of the Famous Prague Canon Boot Camp

When we arrived, we were overwhelmed by the amount of support they provided us with. They had a energetic crew and volunteers ready to bring the first International Canon Boot Camp to life. One in particular that stands out in my mind is Monika Hronova, who managed to speak so fast that it didn’t matter if she was speaking Czech or English; but one thing’s for sure: she got things done. It was great to have such a motivated and dedicated team.

Together, with 38 Czech, British, and Slovakian Canon Boot Camp students, we managed to pull off a period piece on location at the gorgeous Prague Train Station in two days. Yes, TWO days.

Before we officially release “The Rose”, on September 4, we’d like to first offer you a sneak preview featuring the music score composed by Bruce Chianese. Without this score, “The Rose” would only have been half as beautiful. Bruce managed to breath life into the beauty of the old Prague train station and to create drama, sorrow, excitement, and nostalgia. The human touch that is felt in the music could not have been achieved without Bruce and his wonderful musicians.

The Canon Boot Camp Goes Where it’s Never Been Before…

We’ve been to Prague, we’ve been to Palm Springs, but this weekend, the Canon Boot Camp went where we’ve never been before: the cemetery. We brought ten of our Canon Boot Camp students and a can of zombie repellent with us to Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, CA. (Disclaimer: The above photo is NOT the cemetary in Altadena.)

No, we were not shooting a zombie thriller—that would have been too cliché (although we could have cranked up the shutter speed on our Canon cameras to make a really cool one). We were shooting the last scene of a twisted murder thriller written by our very own “office mom”, Nancy Murray. Sure, she passes out cookies around the office and tells us to take our vitamins, but behind that smile lies the lethal Black Widow.

Without ruining the plot, let’s just say that the past two boot camps have taken a dark turn, unlike our previous two fantastical videos, one of which is The Sonnet. Knives, guns, handcuffs, and a cemetery doesn’t sound like a typical Canon Boot Camp to me. To help ease the creepiness some might associate with cemeteries, we were lucky to find one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Los Angeles. We were the only bodies there on a Sunday afternoon. The groundskeeper, John, kept an eye on us although I promised him we’d behave ourselves.

Anna Easteden Stars in the latest Canon Boot Camp Short

The most patient actress in the world, Anna Easteden, and our Canon Boot Camp students.

Canon Boot Camp Students line up the shot

The ladies of the Canon Boot Camp setting up for a beautiful ending shot to our killer short.

Coincidentally, the Mountain View Cemetary is the same location used by Ron Howard as a location for a short film entitled, “When You Find Me” as part of the 2011 photo competition sponsored by Canon.

As you can see from the photos, it’s a hands-on activity and requires teamwork. We have plenty of equipment and students are able to really get involved in the shooting, the footage of which eventually becomes a short film. So far we have submitted one Canon Boot Camp short film (mentioned above – The Sonnet) with another short premiereing soon. Students are of course in the credits and may use the footage on their own reel.

We’re looking forward to the September Canon Boot Camp. Join us! If you can’t attend, then be sure to sign up on our newsletter to keep in touch for other dates.

Canon DSLR News: New Canon EOS C100 & Cinema Prime Lenses:

New Canon EOS C100 Camera, New Primes

Canon EOS Cinema

This morning Canon released a slew of updates across their Cinema EOS system, including the new Canon C100 camera and two new prime lenses, the 14mm T3.1 and 135mm T2.2 EF. These cinema style lenses are compatible with all of Canon’s standard sensor sizes including Super 35mm and will be available in early 2013. Canon also announced a $30,000 price point and an October release date for the 4K shooting Canon C500.

C100 First Impressions

After months of speculation, the Canon C100 is finally announced, and at first glance it’s pretty impressive. Similar to the C300, it carries the same sized sensor and built-in ND filter while also managing to be about 15% smaller in size. Initially, prices were indicated to be at around $8000, just under the Sony FS700 in price comparison, but it appears that is taking pre-orders for £4995 including tax, which is a very bold move by Canon.

While the C100 is technically at the bottom of the totem pole for Canon’s Cinema EOS system, it has a few welcome surprises: including the Canon Log Gamma, which increases latitude and dynamic range, and uncompressed HDMI out for optimal image quality. Combine that with an EVF and the popular EF mount and Canon has created a feature rich and affordable cinema camera.

When it comes to the design of the camera I have mixed feelings about it’s modular style. Based off the C300, it looks like a hybrid between a DSLR and a prosumer HD camera. It has buttons galore (which can be a good or bad thing depending on the placement) and is constructed with a water resistant magnesium alloy body. I can’t obviously test it out myself yet, but I’m a little skeptical as to whether or not it will be comfortable to use.

I like the inclusion of the handgrip and the vari-angle screen but the overall design just seems outdated. A lot of people like the design of the C300. Canon even mentions in their announcement that there was a lot of user feed back incorporated into the building of the C100, but I’m just not that excited about the look. Luckily it’s not a deal breaker by any means, and I’m excited to see what the footage looks like the most.

Unfortunately though, there were some compromises made and the biggest one is the codec. Canon decided to go with a standard 24Mbps AVCHD codec (H.264 wrapper) and with that comes the oh-so-bland 4-2-0 color profile. It’s a let down for sure but I guess it’s not as bad as the old H.264 encoding from Canon’s older DSLR’s. The lack of HD-SDI isn’t as surprising but it means that most professional external video recorders will be rendered useless. This is fine for most independent filmmakers, but an annoyance to professionals who work in that type of system. Finally the most disappointing thing to me is the lack of 60p. With so many bells and whistles on this camera, how did it get stuck with 50/60i? AVCHD 2.0 was introduced last year and supports 50/60p and yet Canon decided to go with an even older version.

I guess it comes down to competition within it’s own line of products, and honestly it’s a bit frustrating, but at the same time completely predictable from a Canon standpoint. They hold out on a few big things to get you to upgrade to a much more expensive camera with a much higher margin of profit.

I had been feeling nervous about the direction Canon was moving in for some time now, but today I can rest a little easier: They haven’t totally forgotten about us. While I like most of their products, and have recommended them to many people in the past, it seemed that they were spending way too much time catering to Hollywood and almost purposely ignoring independent filmmakers. I understand their reasoning for walking that path, but it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. This is however a step in the right direction for Canon and an attractive choice for independent filmmakers.

The Canon C100 will be released in November and will more than likely be on display at Photokina in September.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera
This is turning out to be a very exciting year for independent filmmakers. With the Blackmagic Cinema Camera shipping in less than two weeks, the Kineraw S35 Arri  Alexa clone being priced at $6300, and the hotly anticipated GH3 set to be announced next month, Canon definitely has some competition this year.

Are you interested in the new Canon EOS C100 Cinema Camera? Tell us your thoughts.

What to do if you can’t make it to our Canon Boot Camp

Special Request Canon Camera Classes

Zoe Saldana Completes Pro Level I of the Canon Boot CampCan’t make it to our scheduled events? Call us and schedule a one-on-one Canon Boot Camp! We understand that with your busy schedule, it’s not always easy to plan a month in advance or to be in town when we have a workshop. For the past couple months, we’ve re-introduced private sessions at the request of our students. We’ve taught 5D Mark III one-on-one sessions, as well as C300 one-on-one sessions taught by DP Polly Morgan.

The private workshop takes about three to four hours at our office located in Burbank, CA. The Chief Instructor, Fletcher Murray, goes over the same coursework and data as he would at our Pro Level I Canon Boot Camp (the Saturday session). Thanks to our sponsors such as Zeiss Lenses, Alzo Video, Manfrotto, Marshall Electronics, etc, you will also have hands-on demonstrations of rigs and equipment.

At our private Canon Boot Camp, you will have the undivided attention of Fletch as you go through your camera menu settings, drills, lighting demonstrations, and more. You’ll have an opportunity to customize the training to your specific needs and leverage Fletch’s decades of filmmaking experience.

Interested? Email us or call 818-841-9660 for more information.

Nikon Introduces Camera With Android OS: Is It A Game Changer?

Nikon Introduces Camera With Android OS: Is It A Game Changer?

Nikon Coolpix S800c

About two months ago I wrote a little article called, “What DSLR Cameras Can Learn From Smartphones,” and at the time it seemed like nothing more than wishful thinking. Then last week Nikon took a logical first step by introducing a new camera touting the full Android 2.3 operating system (Gingerbread). The Nikon Coolpix S800c may be the first of its kind, but I guarantee it won’t be the last.

Looking over the camera reveals a modest set of specifications including a 16MP CMOS sensor, a 3.5 inch OLED touchscreen, and 1080p 30fps video capabilities. To me though, the more interesting aspects of this camera are the built in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. While it may not seem like that big of a deal, especially those of us using a smartphone, this was a smart decision by Nikon. Also with the ability to run full applications such as Instagram and Photoshop Touch, it can be argued that Nikon has a possible hit on its hands. 

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We still have a long way to go before I would consider this to be anything other than Nikon filling a growing niche. From a business standpoint it was an inevitability, but from the creative side, it’s quite a letdown. In my opinion, the best camera you can have is the one you have on you. In any normal case, this is my smartphone, and I can truthfully say that 99% of the time, I am more than content with this as my go to camera. I know I definitely don’t need another device so similar in my pocket.

Now I understand Nikon may not be catering this camera to me, but then who are they catering to? What this actually does now is further fragment the already crowed marketplace with just another point and shoot… now with Facebook. This is not going to be a popular camera for enthusiasts, and it certainly isn’t going to convince the average consumer to toss their smartphone, or for that matter, carry around two cameras with them. While the launch price is somewhat inciting ($349), it’s really nothing more than the Nikon Coolpix S6300 with Android tacked on.

I know I might be coming off as a little harsh, but why tease us with something as pointless as this? The compact camera market has seen market share drop over the years and is now stuck playing catch up to more innovative products. Stop beating around the bush and give us something we want, or even better, something we didn’t know we wanted. Unfortunately I can’t see this being any more than a typical Wal-Mart or Amazon impulse buy for uninformed customers. Yes, you can play Angry Birds on it. Awesome.

It’s not all bad though. I have to give Nikon props for a least trying something new, even if it is a baby step. The camera does contain two of the three things I suggested in my original article for a successful transition into the future of cameras, but I wouldn’t have thought they would waste their time going after an already crowded and dying market. 

What we really need is at least a prosumer / mid-level DSLR style camera with those features and support for faster transfer speeds out of the camera. That’s not to say that Nikon doesn’t have a prototype sitting around in an R&D lab somewhere, but it’s getting exceedingly frustrating to see all these companies continue to squander innovation at our expense. It’s the independent filmmakers, the aspiring photographers, and the technologically savvy that they should be catering to. They are the most dedicated, the most informed, and generally the most loyal. However, if camera companies continue to ignore their most avid practitioners and decide that hitting a quota is going to advance their brand they are dead wrong.

With Photokina right around the corner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these Android based compact cameras. It will be interesting to see what other companies can bring to the table. (I’m looking at you, Sony and Panasonic.)

What are a few of your favorite Android Camera Applications? Would you be interested in the Nikon Coolpix S800c?

Thanks to Planet5D for the original announcement. You can view their original post here.


Enter to Win a Canon Boot Camp!

Enter to Win a Canon Boot Camp!

Winning a free Canon Boot Camp is as easy as going to our Facebook Page and clicking on the “Win a Canon Boot Camp” tab.

Although, technically, you also have to sign up for our newsletter. If you win we have to have a way to tell you!

TEnter to win a Canon Boot Camp tickethe rules are simple. The number of chances to win are equal to the number of Boot Camp Events we have listed on the right side of this blog. Look over the dates, figure out which date you’d like to attend the Boot Camp.

Go to the Facebook Tab mentioned above, and follow the instructions. You’ll enter your data and automatically be entered into the contest. On the 15th of each month, we’ll pick the winner for that month, and announce it on our Filmmaker’s Notebook email newsletter. You may sign up once for each month, but not multiple times for ONE month.

The prize is attending one Canon Boot Camp event at no charge. It does not include airfare, hotel or any other expenses associated with attending our Canon Boot Camp. There’s no charge to enter, and as we continue to add event dates to the schedule, you may continue to enter until you win.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at an upcoming Canon Boot Camp!

DSLR Webcam Tips from Planet5D

Anyway, Mitch actually has an on the spot comparison in the video (3:29) above where he switches from DSLR to his Logitech webcam and there's quite a difference in that the webcam portion is very washed out. Not that it couldn't be fixed by covering his window where a lot of light is coming in, but it's an interesting comparison. Whenever I use my webcam I have to fiddle around with the lighting, and a little bit of light can make a big difference.

There's some great tips in the comments/conversation after this article and video on Mitch's blog as well.

Have you tried using your DSLR as a webcam? We'd love to hear your experience, tips or warnings. Comment below and tell us about it.