Author Archives: Cine Boot Camp Team

Canon 5D passes Green Screen Shoots with Flying Colors!

Tom Myrdahl, D.P. at The Association, sets up green screen shot.
You might hear opinions that the Canon 5D’s 4.2.0 color space can’t deliver good keys for green screen. Well, here’s the word from the trenches. Something you can count on. The Canon 5D MarkII’s green screen shots keyed beautifully. (for more data on 4.2.0 color space got to bottom of this article*)

The Association did green screen tests prior to the shoot and they looked great. So, the client gave us the “green light”.
Green Screen shot with Canon 5D.


We shot the green screen on location. The sun was our light source. So we could shoot at ISO 100. White cards below and to the sides of the talent gave a nice edge. As we tell our students in our Canon Bootcamps, always triple save your shots. So, while we were backing up the shots onto two other hard drives, we checked to make sure the key was good (see below).


We are shooting with the Canon 5D or 7D every week. Green screen, under water, on jibs, process trailers, motorcycles…and we’ve been nothing but pleased with the results.

THE “LOOK” of 35mm film for half the price…

Our clients love how the Canon maximizes their budget and gives them shots as pretty as 35mm film.


We totally agree with Gale Tattersall (D.P. on “House, M.D.”) and Shane Hurlbutt (D.P. on “Terminator: Salvation” and his famous “The Last Three Minutes”) – the Canon DSLR delivers images that bring the excitement back to fine filmmaking. The Canon delivers rich blacks with no noise in low light conditions.  It doesn’t do “video freak out” when a bright light source enters the frame. It has a delicious, short depth of field. Plus, editing is a snap.  This camera’s a game changer.

YOUR CHOICE: Take our Canon Camera Classes OR  Hire one of our trained Canon DSLR crews:

1) Learn the Canon DSLR at our Canon Boot Camp (
Hands-on training on the Canon HDSLR 5D and 7D
2) Or if you prefer, hire a fully trained crew to shoot your next production with the Canon DSLR. Our crews are creating custom video productions with it every week.

Either way, give us a call 818 841-9660.

It’s the future. It’s cool. And it’s here. Tested. Proven. Fantastic.

*….about 4.2.0 color space. The issue is dealt in depth in the blog <> , but the simple answer is “the workflow that works the best for us (for RedOne and 5D mark II footage) is to transcode the footage to ProRes 4.2.2.    Of course we could do 4.4.4 but we decided that it was a bit overkill, considering the fact that at the end, it will be at best some mpeg4 from the local broadcasters (digital tv).”“The reason why we convert the 5D files to ProRes is the ability the ProRes has to not deteriorate with generations (renders, movies, etc). Also, when everything is native to the sequence setting, rendering is kept to a minimum. Everything that has to be rendered also (subtitles, texts, pictures, etc) all look better when working in a prores sequence compared when we tried in a sequence with the native clips from the 5D (h264).”

FILMMAKERS DREAM COMES TRUE – Tack Sharp Focus with a Tap of the Screen

I’ll admit it.  I didn’t think the Canon 70D would live up to the hype.
So Canon Pro Marketing Specialist, Genaro Arroyo, challenged me to try out the 70D HDSLR.   I rolled my eyes expecting the auto focus to work haltingly…second-guessing itself…sliding back and forth at the wrong times etc..
Now I’m so sold you’ll think I’m on the Canon payroll.
This baby focused through some venetian blinds to the marquee of the famous Car Wash sign next to Warner Brothers Studios outside my office which I couldn’t even see. It’s at 2:02 into the video.
Canon 70D grabs focus through venetian blinds
Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve worked with ace Assistant Cameramen, Dave Gasperik, who can pull focus on a Lambourghini speeding at us at night at f/2.8,
lambo far  lambo close
I’m just saying the Canon engineers are shutting down the focusing problem just like they shut down 35mm film.    I don’t think they’ll stop until they get it done.  But decide for yourself.  Here are the tests I ran.
Anna Walk
Anna’s @ 0:05 
(above) The tests begin with tracking focus on our gorgeous actress, Anna Easteden, the star of 80% of our CineBootCamps films. She walks toward camera in a dimly lit restaurant using the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens the 70D comes with. PASS.
Test #2 – RESOLUTION compared 70D to 60D and Canon 5D MIII
@ 00:32
(above) I ran some resolution tests and grain tests.
First, I compared the 70D to the 5D Mark III just to see how close the 70D was to the 5D Mark III.   I used the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 5D Mark III.  I had to see the two side by side because the 18-135 EF-S STM lens on the 70D has some of the most impressive MTF specs of any Canon lens.  Both histograms were virtually identical even though the 70D looks darker.
MTF chart for EF-S 18-135mm f/.5-5.6 STM lens
(above) – MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
70-200mm IS II lens MTF chart
(above)- MTF charts for EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM
I thought with that good a lens I might see 70D actually get close to the 5DM3.    Decide for yourself.
70D vs 60D with the same lens
Then, I had to see if the 60D would deliver even better results with the 70D’s STM lens.  The lens the 60D shipped with was a EF-S 18-135mm lens but has no step motor so I’m assuming it’s different glass.  The MTF chart on that lens seem to indicate it’s a different lens.
MTF charts on 60D lens
(above) – MTF charts for EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
So, I tested the 70D to the 60D, each using the EF-S 18-135mm STM lens (@ 1:13) .
The 60D’s “special sauce” eliminated more “dancing grain in the blacks” at 300% enlargement. (1:25)
Test #3 – FIND and FOCUS using a 70-200mm
focus tests
I performed a more challenging “find and focus” test using the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens on the 70D shooting hand-held, and not the EF-S 24-135mm STM lens. I didn’t know if 70-200 would focus smoothly when controlled by the 70D body.  Did it ever.  Fast; Crisp. Silent.
it was like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. (or to the younger filmmakers, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke or whoever that guy was in the BeetleJuice suit.)
I panned to objects near and far. Kept it on Auto ISO (which reacted pretty fast as well.)
The 70D passed with flying colors…nailing focus in less than a second and often instantly.  It only got confused once by the reflection in a piece of glass. It even grabbed focus on something I couldn’t even see.  The Car Wash sign behind the half-closed venetian blinds at my office.
You’ve gotta see this video.
When you think of all the money people have spent on rigs and monitors to help them find focus you begin to appreciate the 70D more and more. Fact is, it will nail focus in three ways – by itself, or wait for you to tap the part of the screen you want in focus or find a smiley face or recognizable pattern to track.
It passed all tests to my satisfaction so I took it on a real world test.
In the real world shoot it did just as well.  We were doing the story of Angel Tree, an organization which offers to deliver presents to children of those in prison.  Mary Trujillo was the organizer.  You know how fast kids move and how easy it is to lose focus on a long lens.  Here’s a still from the video that I shot from twelve feet away. Gabriel at the door.
All it took to focus was a tap on the LCD screen. I never touched the focus ring. I could keep my hand on the zoom ring and just tap the part of the screen I wanted in focus. The 70D found focus positively in one motion…no driving past it and backing up or endlessly searching back and forth.
Canon has solved the number one problem that ruins filmmakers shots, i.e. out of focus.
Canon’s offering the upgraded AF sensor for the c100 cinema cameras. I can’t wait for the feature to be added to the 5DM3 or perhaps it’ll be the step up feature for the 5DM4.
Start saving up! This is too good a feature to not have on your camera when you’re shooting video.
(Fletch’s CineBootCamps now include the 70D in all their training materials and drills. Next boot camp is Feb. 22 & 23. We’ll be shooting the first episode of Season Two of ‘KILLER’.  Anna just killed her police detective husband with a tarantula when he wouldn’t stop risking her life with vigilante missions.  You see Anna loves to bring justice to the guilty. But her husband started sending her on missions to kill the innocent. And that was grounds for divorce.  But Anna’s Catholic and she doesn’t believe in divorce. So what’s a girl to do but let her pet tarantula do the job.)

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50 Filmmakers Trained in 30 days

We couldn't be more pleased that our Canon Boot Camp has proven to be so popular among filmmakers. We use a whole different method of training, in which you learn by doing. And it's done on a gradient approach so you don't get lost. There are trained pro's to assist you each step of the way. 


Columbia University calls it "Active Learning." According to Columbia, students only hear half of what is spoken by the teacher. And students only pay attention 40% of the time.  So, they're getting 40% of 50% of what the instructor said. That means only 20% of the knowledge transfer takes place.  That's why we take a whole different approach.


Our Canon Boot Camp is based on learn by doing drills…real life challenges to filmmakers to prove they can apply the data. We teach camera set up and operation on Day One.  Then, on Day Two we shoot a short film.  

We started the Canon Boot Camp to help our fellow filmmakers get work. And we're achieving our goal. It's a real win-win. Many thanks to the great delivery team we have: Nancy, Celine and Tom, and those who help make it all work:  Trevor, Tom, Lisa, Michael, Chris, Lawrence, Brian, Jeff, and the wonderful folks at EVS, the home base of The Association's Canon Boot Camp.

If you're not able to take one of our upcoming boot camps, follow along with our exploits by signing up for our email newsletter, "Filmmaker's Notebook." Text CANONBOOTCAMP to 22828 to access our signup link on your mobile phone.



Are you a “Cinéma vérité” filmmaker?

There's a deluge of conflicting opinions about the Canon 5D Mark III.   This can be baffling until you pull the string.   A number of comments come from motion picture D.P.'s, who we respect a great deal, but their agenda is different from what I'd call a "Cinéma vérité" filmmaker. 

What's a "Cinéma vérité" filmmaker?  

Are you a Cinéma vérité filmmaker?

The definition of Cinéma vérité is (according to Wikipedia) "a style of documentary filmmaking, combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged set-ups, and the use of the camera to provoke subjects. It is also known for taking a provocative stance toward its topics."

Another definition – "A style of filmmaking characterized by realistic, typically documentary motion pictures that avoid artificiality and artistic effect and are generally made with simple equipment."


Another definition is – "a style of filmmaking that gives the impression of being unrehearsed, spontaneous, "real life" moments. It's unpolished and raw scenes give it a more "truthful" feel than a fictionalized event restaged and shot using traditional studio production methods.   Usually shot on location with the lighting that exists there naturally."

The translation from the french is "cinema truth".  

I would add  "to see and capture  scenes of what is rather than  in it's lit or unlit state…for fear of losing it if you fool with it too much.  

I like "unstaged" films.  They have an excitement.  It's the different feel you get from a Bourne identity film versus the polished, well-rehearsed James Bond films of late.  Cinéma vérité has a power to it. 

I am  a "Cinéma vérité" filmmaker.  In the world of still photography this type of work is called candid instead of being shot in a studio where everything is composed and carefully lit.   I like raw, unposed truth.  I love capturing it on film and always have since I saw my first 



Calvary Horses

My grandfather raised horses. He was a cowboy. Gentle but focused. Pragmatic but passionate. My grandmother fell in love with him the first time she saw him ride in on his big white horse to the town dance in Chandler, Oklahoma.

On the other side of my family tree is Elizabeth Eaton, formerly a Murray. Though prim and proper from the well-to-do Murray’s of St. Louis, she married Frank Eaton, the famous Pistol Pete of Oklahoma State fame.

Frank wrote a book about his life in the “Old West” before Oklahoma became a state.   In one episode, Frank and his friends had been captured by indians. One snuck out at night and lit out for Fort Reno to get help.

On the morning of the third day help arrived. Frank describes it this way.

“We saw a cloud of dust rising way up on the trail to the north of us….the calvary was coming.”

Then, Frank describes the the horses.

“The horses were beautiful, mostly bays but some chestnuts and sorrels, and a few blacks, but no paints or other fancy horses. A cavalry horse weighed somewhere around eleven hundred pounds while a cow pony weighed only about nine hundred.”

“When the lead soldiers got within about three to four hundred yards of them the Indians started shooting.  The soldiers stopped then and the main column came on up and formed two columns with about four feet between.”

“A Medicine Man was leading the Indians to attack. He had on a war bonnet and was telling them the white man’s bullets couldn’t kill an Indian with a war bonnet on. He was going through all sorts of contortions while he told them he was making the white man’s gunpowder turn to dirt so it would not kill the Indians.”

“An officer with a straight sword, not a calvary saber, in his hand came riding down the line of soldiers. He stopped in front of one of them and pointed with his sword to the Medicine Man. The soldier raised his carbine and sighted, for just a second, then fired; and the Medicine Man pitched head-first off his pony, war bonnet and all, with a bullet clear through him.”

“The soldiers started their horses. They rode at a slow trot at first, then a faster trot, then a run. When they got within about fifty yards of the Indians they raised their guns and fired.”

“The smoke from the guns covered the line of soldiers but when they came out of that smoke and dust every man had his saber in his hand and was riding like the wind.”

“We could see their sabers glitter in the sun…they were making a saber charge.”

Breaking Through the Line - Charles Schreyvogel

“When a calvary horse makes a charge he goes in with his nose and tail straight out and his ears back. He goes straight ahead and nothing stops him unless he is killed. If another horse gets in his way, he just runs over him.”

(left – Charles Schrevogel’s ‘Breaking Through The Line’)

“An Indian in the back broke and ran, then two or three, then fifteen or twenty. After a few minutes of fighting they all broke and ran.”

So what’s all this got to do with thee and me? 

Well, today people face problems not Cheyenne Indians. But the problems can be just as life-threatening, certainly job-threatening.

Our team is like the calvary.  We keep going until we find the real why that is causing the business problem. It goes like this:

  1. You tell us the problem situation.
  2. We gather all the facts we can.
  3. We dig deeper and deeper until we find the REAL why that is at the root of the problems.
  4. We design a solution.
  5. Test it.
  6. Improve it.
  7. Implement it.
  8. Track results.
  9. Improve it.
  10. Then fully deploy it.
  11. Your problems are on the run.

I encourage you to call the calvary, if the “indians” have you surrounded.

We don’t stop until we’ve got solutions implemented and your problems on the run.  We’ve solved problems in marketing, training, slow sales, lead generation, non-interruptive marketing…whatever is plaguing a company.

Email me at Better yet, call me. My cell is 818 606-3538.

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Transitioning from stills to motion: Part Three “We Think in “IS-nesses”

Still photographers are the fine artists of stopping time. Cinematographers capture the flow of the dramatic dance of life.  Still photographers wait for that most powerful instant as it flows past…like a gold nugget in a roaring stream, while cinematographers jump in the stream

These two worlds couldn’t be further apart, but they collide in the most delightful way at the Palm Springs Photo Festival each Spring.  The part we play is trying to lure these fine artists of the frozen moment into the unpredictable, messy, out of control motion pictures.  The still photographer’s work captures the audience’s eye and holds it like a dancer’s frozen pose that is mesmerizing.  The cinematographer chases the tumbling of time, chasing it with shirt untucked, stumbling forward hoping to find focus.

So, what have I been smokin’?

Actually the above thoughts come from the remarkable bliss I get when teaching still photographers to film motion pictures.  The worlds couldn’t be further apart. Everything in the still world is about holding things still, even the vocabulary.  The still photographer yells, “Hold it!”. The cinematographer yells, “Action!”

The still photographer has a tripod with three knobs to hold the camera absolutely motionless. The motion picture photographer has a fluid head tripod, capable of panning and tilting during the shot.  Egads! You’re letting time do what it wants. You need to freeze that instant, not chase it.

And there’s more bliss.  My still photographer/filmmakers bring the beautiful fine art of lighting to the motion world. In motion pictures, because everything is moving, arranging lighting for subtle nuances is difficult. Still photographers bring a worship of high resolution, and texture, and “wrap” and all the fine elements of great still photography to the sloppy world of motion pictures.  I tell my filmmakers that they are the Rembrandts of imagery and cinematographers are like the drywall crew you hire to get it done in a day.

Yet the art of each world blends in a marvelous hybrid sauce that is surprisingly refreshing to all who attend.  We loosen still photographers up with the jib arm.

jib arm
Blue Dream


Then, with blue gels on the window, we create chilly illusions amidst the warm reality of Jeff Dunas’ Palm Springs Photo Festival – a day for night shot….


Or put up a green screen to fake that in a blizzard in Russia, even though it’s 102 outside.


or take still camera housings into Korakia’s pools for this bubbly blue epiphany.

So for five days, we escort still photographers from the world of “holding it” into the world of sloppy motion and blurry images that smear into each other in a chase that recreates the livingness of life.  We get them moving around like that delightful scene in ‘Forrest Gump’ where he dances for Elvis. We get them into the world of motion…not freezing it, but riding it. We get their hips swaying. We get their shoulders down and relaxed. We loosen their grip on their camera. We let them exhale as they shoot.

It’s the most delightful party because we separate the boundaries of two distinct worlds and let them flow together.  It’s like we’re cooking up hybrid images that are like blending two cuisines to create a third….crepes with bits of kale, shredded lemon peel and cinammon sugar…or chocolate crusted with rock salt.  For the underwater shot we used a housing designed for still photographers, but usable for video on the Canon 5D Mk III because you can reassign the buttons on the camera.

The drills we do (to lift the still photographer into motion) move them out of their comfort zone (the world of isnesses) into the world of fluid motion. One drill asks them to take a still photograph and then storyboard out in the mind what happened just before that moment and what happened after that moment. Then, we have them take that storyboarded sequence and change it so it ends tragically, then have it end humorously.  Slowly they crack loose from the “plaster paris’ world of stillness to the roller coaster of sequence.

It is so charming to witness.  Imagine bringing together great chefs and asking them to blend something they’ve never tried before.  That’s what it’s like.  I hope you join Jeff and I for the fun.   And if you drift off to the “How to Light Nudes” class*, je comprends.


*At the 2012 Palm Springs Photo Festival, Fletch found a number of students who’d signed up for his class sliding next door to brush up on the skill of how to light a 5′ 11″ nude model. The 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival is April 27 – May 2.  Here is the link

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