Folks following me on Twitter know that while I didn’t preorder a Canon 5D Mark II (actually in stock now on Amazon, both kit and body only), I got to borrow one for a couple of weeks. My generous benefactor was none other than Vincent Laforet, whom I met when he gave a presentation at Industrial Light & Magic a few weeks back. The camera is back in his hands now as he prepares for his surf film.
Rather than rush off to the nearest subway station (well, maybe in addition to running off to the nearest subway station), I decided to contact a local group of filmmakers and performers called The Stunt People. We collaborated on a one-day shoot that involved stunts, fight choreography, and a lot of fun despite the nasty weather.
The images in this post are stills from the shoot, featuring a hasty, “one-light” color correction using Magic Bullet Colorista.
The camera itself offered few surprises. The control is maddening, and the form-factor is annoying for handheld work. I tricked it out with a stripped-down configuration of the Redrock Micro DSLR kit, and the follow-focus was a lifesaver—don’t leave home without it. I did not encumber myself with an LCD monitor, instead relying on the camera’s built-in LCD. The live view zoom function is fine for checking focus before a roll, but not during, and the fixed position orientation of the screen is punishing for creative camera angles.
But the images are pretty—as long as not much moves. There is noticeable rolling shutter artifacting. The low-light capability is stunning (all the images you see here were shot with available light), although working in low light means that the damned 30 fps frame rate is compounded by a creamy 1/30 shutter. The result, as I’ve described before, is that the stutter and incompleteness of film’s cadence is missing, resulting in an motion characteristic that is all verisimilitude and no cinema.
With 24p and manual exposure control this camera would be of use. Without those adjustments, it’s a tantalizing but ultimately frustrating curiosity to the DV Rebel. The best thing about it is what it portends for the very near future.
When the short is cut, colored and mixed I’ll post it here, probably sometime in January. In the meantime check out some of the clips on the Stunt People site—they have some mad skills!