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7D specs pros and cons


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#1 Ashley Barron

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 07:16 PM

Hi all,

I used to always think that the DSLRs should be used for what they're made for - stills. After recently shooting on a 7D and seeing results on the SCCE test, I have started to wonder otherwise. The 5DMKII and the 1D are still, in my opinion, not for purposes other than stills.

Does anyone there have any thoughts on the 7D for a feature film intended for digital projection?

I understand there is the rolling shutter issues, as well as the h.264 shooting codec. With the ProRes transcoding, can the codec be useable? Projection issues?

Any thoughts would be highly appreciated as I'm trying to figure out a format for my feature and right now the options are 7D, RED One MX, or F3..

Help!
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 08:25 PM

Well, if you have the option of an F3, why even consider the DSLR?

The answer to that question may of course be that you would be stretching to afford the F3, in which case the DSLR might make sense. If you're going to have to screw the rest of the budget, and work with inadequate crew and ancilliary equipment, the DSLR might make sense. I'd certainly rather have a decent focus puller, a gaffer, and a truck full of gear with a DSLR, as opposed to some tricked-out F3 package and an intern with a flashlight.

My overall attitude to DSLRs for really serious work is "yes, with care and with reservations". It will never look as sharp as an F3, but it can look perfectly pretty. Beyond that there's a dozen things I could tell you to do,but you should describe what you're trying to achieve and what sort of circumstances you will be working under.

Post is really important. Almost nobody handles DSLR material as well as it can be handled; pretty much every common post path in use with them costs both dynamic range and artifacting.

P
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#3 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 08:58 PM

At the risk of stating the obvious, I would say if you are going to shoot a feature with the 7D, make sure you have a sound mixer with a good sound platform. Sound can make all the difference with these types of shoots. It is really interesting how great sound can add a level of professionalism regardless of shooting format.
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#4 Phil Jackson

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 09:30 PM

Hi all,

I used to always think that the DSLRs should be used for what they're made for - stills. After recently shooting on a 7D and seeing results on the SCCE test, I have started to wonder otherwise. The 5DMKII and the 1D are still, in my opinion, not for purposes other than stills.

Does anyone there have any thoughts on the 7D for a feature film intended for digital projection?

I understand there is the rolling shutter issues, as well as the h.264 shooting codec. With the ProRes transcoding, can the codec be useable? Projection issues?

Any thoughts would be highly appreciated as I'm trying to figure out a format for my feature and right now the options are 7D, RED One MX, or F3..

Help!



Depends on the needs of your feature. Each of those cameras has merits and issues but it's well documented that a good story can be told effectively on any of those cameras. So it comes down to the process that works best for the needs of the production. If its intended for theatrical release or D-Cinema or whether its primarily home video or web. It would also depend on whether or not you want to shoot anamorphic or do a 2.35 extraction or keep it 1.85 or 1.77. Resolution becomes an issue here. Also will there be a DI or filmout? How advanced is your data wrangling and data management pipeline? Is it being handled through a capable post house or done by the production itself? Will anyone be grading dailies (or applying a LUT - and can it be done correctly) are you planning on having a DIT (advisable with the REDs and F3)? Obviously if you want to shoot at 2K or higher that crosses the DSLRs off the list. It also depends on if its there's VFX work that is dependent upon having higher resolutions or not or stock footage being inserted. On a big budget feature editorial might cut with QT 1920x1080 proxies or image sequence, and then the EDL is conformed in DI for filmout. How is your editorial going to handle the footage once you've handed it off. Is editorial the last stop?

I notice a tendency to focus or obsess on image acquisition (which is important) but I would argue what happens to the image once its acquired can be more important than how its acquired. Dealing with digital is a struggle enough on major features (because everyone has their own methodology and mythology) on a low budget picture this just gets amplified because you may not have the resources to ensure things don't fall between the cracks. On a higher budget feature the pipelines are pretty much worked out from the get-go meaning the cinematographer can basically sit out the post-process except for the DI stage because everything is immediately scanned or encoded to 10 bit DPX for the rest of the process (maybe there are QT proxies generated as needed). I think the tendency with DP's is to focus on the merits of the camera during the shooting stage because on major films and television the rest of the process is handled fairly efficiently once the ball gets rolling. But on a low-budget feature you have to be buttoned up all the way through because there are a lot of places where image quality can be degraded down the chain, and in low-budget work these potholes can be egregious. Someone uses the wrong bitrate on a H264 to Pro-Res encode or worse yet uses a low bit H264 for final without realizing it. Many a director or producer has made a faulty decision in post because they were viewing something that was inaccurate (too saturated, too low resolution, too compressed, etc). A take could get rejected because someone did a poor job handling the dailies even if there were no actual issues with the photography. Any of those workflow trip-ups can basically negate any strength one camera might have over the other in terms of image quality. You can start with an MX and end up with crap. Conversely a well cared-for 7D image can be stunning. But it does no good to shoot on an F3, for example, if no one in the chain understands S-LOG. Or no one besides the DP understands the limitations of H264 (especially a freelance 'colorist' who might know how to create nice looks but not understand the potential for adding noise or losing detail).

Whatever you decide, on a lower budget feature, the process has to be ironed out by you and your producers and it must be strictly adhered to by all departments that touch the image. That includes editorial, DI, and VFX and opticals to ensure that the hard work and creativity you put into the image during principal photography that comes out of the camera is accurately represented on screen at the end. If you have a post-supervisor he should be become your best friend to ensure you're getting what you expect. It may not technically be your responsibility as cinematographer to care about what format the editors are cutting with, but if you call yourself DP you are essentially the person credited with responsibility of the image. No one in a theater cares who F-ed up the picture (or what camera it was shot on besides cinematography buffs) the blame will go back to you and the director so for whatever camera you choose if you can make sure it serves the needs of the production (both storywise and technical) then everyone wins.

That being said, my pick of those (I guess you guys can't afford Alexa) is the RED MX. It gives you the most flexibility, the most resolution to work with, latitude, and there are a lot of resources out there these days for people who shoot RED. The few times I've shot with it have gone smoothly and there's lots of workflow solutions, experienced people and lots of documented bugs and fixes. If it's good enough for Rob Marshall and David Fincher on The Social Network and Pirates of the Caribbean, it will probably do just fine. Along with the F3 its the most 'professional.'

Edited by Phil Jackson, 29 June 2011 - 09:31 PM.

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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:36 PM

"Fixing it in post" is not an option with a DSLR.

How much film experience do you have? The best mindset for shooting with a 7D is to pretend you've got it loaded up with a color reversal motion picture film like 5285 or its identical still film, Ektachrome E100VS. There's not much room for creating a look or for correcting acquistion screwups in post shooting with either a 7D or Ektachrome. The closer you are to the look you want when shooting, the better your final product is going to look.

Shane Hurlbut, ASC's blog is a great read for learning what's involved in professional level shooting and post production with a 5D or 7D.

Hurlblog
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