Author Archives: Celine Duong

A New Venture

We’ve had a quick break from the Canon Boot Camp and worked on in-store instructional videos for a technology company. This took a very talented team to pull off. We had an heavy-duty system set up between the DIT and camera. Although the camera was stable for the entire shoot, it was very crucial for the Director of Photography to keep the subject framed in the same position every time. There was a lot of note-taking and measuring involved to make sure this could be replicated for pick-ups, etc. This was a green screen shoot, so lighting was key so that we could get the best and most believable composite possible. The post-production team worked their magic with motion tracking and compositing to deliver an outstanding and professional video.

These videos are made to help consumers better understand their products before they purchase them. This is a great concept because purchasing a new high-end technology device can be very daunting for many consumers. This makes the device much more approachable when they have a tech-savvy and friendly person to walk them through the innovative aspects of the gadget. This was a multi-lingual project which took a lot of collaboration to make sure the translations were on-point. Our language coach made sure the dialect was spoken properly for the corresponding market. Hopefully, this will help many people from many different backgrounds break down the barrier between them and technology. We are looking forward to this project being on the market soon so that we can hopefully share more!


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A Quick Overview of the C300 and 1D C with Andrew Bender

Andrew Bender is a freelance Filmmaker based in Los Angeles working on Narrative, Documentary, Commercial and Corporate projects. He rounded out the team that went to the Palm Springs Photo Festival this year to teach the Canon Boot Camp. He is a DSLR expert and an experienced C300 camera operator. Previously, he was on staff at Google for five years as part of their in house video department and had the opportunity to shoot videos all over the world including Australia, Argentina, Finland, Ireland and Mexico.

Andrew thrives on the creative and technical challenges of transferring a story or an idea onto the screen. He was kind enough to impart his knowledge of the Canon HDSLR and his filmmaking techniques to the participants at the Palm Springs Photo Festival.


Andrew Bender: multi-talented camera guru

I asked Andrew to tell me about his first time teaching at the Canon Boot Camp. Below are his answers:


Celine: How was your experience teaching at the Palm Springs Photo Festival?

I had a blast teaching at the PSPF, it was great working with all the students who had varying backgrounds and levels of experience, hearing their questions and seeing the ideas they came up with was exciting and educational.  It was fun to have a lot of great new gear to play with from Canon.  I also learned a lot working with Fletch and watching him teach.


Here is Andrew using a white bounce card to help fill the actresses’ profile. 


Celine: Did you have a favorite scene?

We did an interior scene lit almost entirely by firelight.  I wanted to see how little light we could get away with and Canon was kind enough to loan us a set of Cinema Prime lenses and a 1D C, we ended up shooting close ups on the 1D C with an 85mm Cinema Prime wide open, much to Fletch’s dismay since we had less than 1 inch of depth of field on a shot where the actress was moving.  It was a good way to show the students the difference between still lenses and cine lenses when it comes to pulling focus since we were able to get some graceful focus pulls.


Celine: Yes, Canon was very nice to loan us the 1D C. Last year, they loaned us the C300! I wonder what we will get our hands on next year… Could you please expand a bit on your experience with the 1D C?

My first experience with the 1D C was at the PSPF…Canon was nice enough to loan it to me for the week, and I didn’t want to give it back at the end of the workshop.  I had been interested in it ever since it was announced and after having played with it for a few days I was even more interested in getting the opportunity to use it on a project.  The ability to shoot 4K video with a DSLR (although highly compressed) is pretty nice.  The 1D C can also shoot 60fps at 1920×1080 resolution something that the C300 can’t do.  Having Canon Log in video mode is also a great feature in the 1D C, making it possible to match it with the other Canon Cinema cameras.  Oh, and it’s an amazing still camera!
One issue I noticed was some pretty bad banding and artifacting in some video clips I had shot on the 1D C, after some research online it seems that shooting at ISOs lower than it’s native ISO of 400 can cause that problem.


Celine: What are the pros and cons of using the C300 over the 5D Mark III or other Canon HDSLR?

For me the pros of the C300 over a DSLR are primarily the image quality, shooting the C300 in Canon Log has more exposure latitude than the DSLRs.  The 50 Mbps MXF files that the C300 records to CF cards allows for much more creative color grading than what any DSLR can record to card.   Having XLR audio inputs, built in ND filters and a HD-SDI output are all additional “pro” features that DSLRs don’t have.  The C300s LCD that can be turned and flipped to the operators preference and the included waveform monitor and vectorscope are great features that allow you make accurate exposure and color decisions using only the onboard LCD.

For all of the benefits of the C300 it is significantly more expensive than a DSLR.  The C300 is also bigger and heavier than a 5D, so the form factor alone may make a DSLR more appropriate for some projects.

Celine: Anything specifically you’d like to point out or note about the C300?

The C300 does leave some things to be desired, particularly high frame rate recording with a maximum of only 60fps and a maximum resolution of 1280×720 for anything thing higher than 30fps.



Andrew is directing the actress’ plunge into the pool for the underwater scene.

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3 Tips for a Perfect Custom White Balance

Setting a Custom White Balance

Setting a custom white balance is easier than you might think. It takes just a few short steps, but the key is to make sure the steps are done properly.

First, fill your frame with something white. You can use a white board, a grey card, a white wall or the actual light source. The key to doing this step correctly is to properly expose the image. You can check the proper exposure by tapping the shutter half way down until the light meter comes up. If your meter is dead center, you are perfectly exposed according to the camera. If it is to the left, you are underexposed, and if it is to the right, you are overexposed. This is a very crucial step to getting the proper custom white balance.

Now, take the picture. A lot of people I’ve taught have trouble getting the camera to actually take the picture of the full screen of white. This is because their camera is set on Auto Focus and it cannot focus on white because there is nothing to focus on. Therefore, it is attempting to focus and will not allow the picture to be captured. To fix this, simply put your camera on Manual Focus and you’ll see that with a simple click of the shutter, the image will be captured and you can apply it as your white balance.

Next, go to your menu and find the “Custom White Balance” tab. Once you select it, it will show you the image of the white you’ve just captured. You can also scroll through to select other ones if you’ve shot several white cards. Press “OK” to set it as your white balance and “OK” again.

Now that you’ve told your camera what white should look like, you need to apply it to your shots. You do this by going to your white balance selections and scrolling to the custom white balance icon. If you miss this step, your custom white balance won’t be used by the camera even if you have just set it.

Setting a custom white balance is effortless if you remember 3 very important things:

1.     Make sure your image of a full white screen is properly exposed

2.     Make sure your camera is on Manual Focus

3.     Make sure to select the “Custom White Balance” icon once you’ve set the custom white balance

One final tip: One a few occasions, I’ve seen the white balance skew to green where everything in the screen is green instead of white. To fix this, just do the custom white balance again. The white card you’ll fill the screen with will appear green, but setting the custom white balance will change that problem precisely because you are telling your camera that the green is actually white. Problem solved!

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It’s Your Turn to Win a Canon Boot Camp!

Sarah Waters of Portland, Oregon is the lucky winner of the first “Win a Canon Boot Camp” competition! How many hoops did she have to jump though to win this rigorous competition? How many applications did she have to fill? How many videos did she have to submit? The answer is none. All she did was “like” us on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter and select the Canon Boot Camp event dates that fit her schedule.

Sarah is a still photographer who was looking to incorporate moving images to her photography business. She came to our Canon Boot Camp to learn about the 5D Mark II, and although she was worried about her knowledge of her camera, she was not left behind. She states: “I was able to learn a lot more and really fine tune a lot of things I’ve been wondering about and trying to and figure out on my own, but I was able to come here and get my questions answered.”


Sarah mastering a custom-made rig                  Using the glider for a controlled movement

New month, new winner. There are new hopefuls this month vying for a spot in The Longest Running DSLR Workshop in the World. Could you be our next winner? Enter for a chance to win and learn things about the Canon HDSLRs you didn’t even know you needed to know! We’ll go over the menu setup, practice drills, white balance, reading the histogram, options for audio, lighting, and more.

Plus, you’ll meet some great people!


Setting up the Porta-Jib for a green screen shot

What can a Still Photographer learn from the Canon Boot Camp?

More and more, we have the pleasure of hosting out-of-towners at the Canon Boot Camp in Los Angeles, CA. I truly feel that this enriches the Boot Camp experience for us as well as for the participants. We’ve had participants from Florida, New York, Arizona, Georgia, etc. Now, not only are we all swapping tips from the trenches of Hollywood, but also we get to hear stories from all over.

Charles Kay, Jr. flew in from Omaha, Nebraska, to attend our August workshop. However, Charles is not a complete stranger to California, since he graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography in 1992. Charles and his wife Laurie are still photographers who own a studio rightfully named Laurie and Charles where they photograph beautiful portraits, commercials, and fine art. They also have one of the most beautiful studios I’ve ever seen. Well…only in pictures.

Being in the world of still photography, Charles is used to doing all of the work mostly by himself. This includes setting up, lighting, photographing, directing, etc. So, having a crew at our Canon Boot Camp Day 2 was different, and maybe even a bit of a luxury.

Charles was a true professional at our workshop and we are sure he passed on a bit of knowledge to everyone else who attended! 

Here, he talks about what he learned about digital filmmaking at the Canon Boot Camp:

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.