It has been a whirlwind since NAB, with all of the new emerging 4K technology and where this fits into the filmmaking process. When Canon approached Hurlbut Visuals to do another short film, I turned to writer/director Po Chan to write a story that would showcase the power of this 4K DSLR as she had done with The Last 3 Minutes. Po’s film The Ticket was accepted in the LA Shorts Fest and will screen Sunday, September 9th at 5:30pm. Po’s wonderful love story is engaging and beautiful. Check out the LA Shorts Fest website and info: LA Shorts Fest
Putting the 1DC Thru the Paces:
Once we finally got the Canon 1DC 4K DSLR camera, there was a very limited time for us to do our tests, view them and then start shooting. So if our tests feel a little incomplete or rushed, they were. After we saw the last test on a 4K projector at Light Iron Digital, we started shooting the next evening. The timeline was tight. However, I think the film is a perfect example of how powerful this 3.25 lb DSLR can be.
I wanted to make sure that the camera did not have native ISO’s like the Canon 5D did. We ran the same type of tests with a lens cap on to see the noise level at each ISO setting as we had done with the 5D. I have stretched the source material to show the noise and color treated it so you can see the volume. I want to thank the Post team at Bandito Brothers for putting this amazing noise comparison together. Lance, Jacob and Mike – you all rock. This really shows the difference.
The noise level that we dealt with on night exterior scenes in Act of Valor around 1600 seemed like the same noise level as 5000 ISO on the 1DC. I knew I could deal with that noise level in post.
There were also a few shots in The Ticket that we shot at 6400 ISO to give our focus puller, Marc Margulies, a chance. The actors were running at him with no marks, so I cranked the ISO up to 6400 ISO to give him a 5.6 on the Canon 500mm prime. It was just enough to capture that moment. All of the street running shots were done using existing light augmented with little out of focus lights in the background, along with hiding Kino Flos in alcoves and storefront windows.
ISO Model Tests:
Now that you have seen the lens cap black noise level tests, we wanted you to see what it looked like with a model, color chart, skin tones, etc. Here are these tests. We shot them on Canon Log, as well as Picture Style (Neutral). We found that we could boost the ISO higher on Neutral and get less noise and banding than with Canon Log. Canon Log limited us to about 1250-1600 ISO, where Neutral gave us a workable noise level around 6400 ISO. We shot 70% of the film in Canon Log to gives us that expanded latitude. Neutral was used in the hospital because I wanted to go for a more baked in look. I wanted it to be different because in the storyline. This is where the parallel worlds crossed. Po and I felt seeing a visual difference would help assist the story.
Green Screen and Blue Screen Tests:
We were possibly going to do compositing while we were in the Ferris Wheel bucket, so I wanted to see how the camera responded to green and blue screen. The 5D was never good on blue screen, but the 1DC was amazing with either. Here is our composite test with a model. Notice that it is very clean whether it is green or blue. No tearing, and her hair separated very well. We eventually decided to just get up in that bucket because Po felt that the performance would be more visceral with the actors up 57 feet with the wind blowing in the cool night air. I had to agree with her because when Emma looked at Vince after he asked her to marry him, the wind whipped up, her hair slightly blew, and she had tears in her eyes from the wind and cold.
After that take, I turned to Po with a big smile because we knew that was the moment. The whole film culminated in that specific moment, and both of our actors delivered. I love this about filmmaking. Those serendipity moments would have been lost if we were in a warm sound stage on the ground in a green screen world. When a camera system can help in this process with its size and hypersensitive sensor, it is a win win.
Night Driving Test with Minimal Lighting:
We wanted to see exactly how far we could push our new 1DC with the new Canon Cinema EOS 24mm prime — to see how it would capture the outside and inside world of a small Prius taxi cab. We hailed a Prius cab on our night test shoot, set up the Kessler Cine Slider in the trunk, and lined up the shot to make sure we had the camera high enough to see as much out of the window as possible. We used a SmallHD DP-4 monitor to operate with and gauge my exposure while we were driving down the roads. The only light I used was a small Rosco LitePad, which the model actually held in her hands to edge light her chin and to side light our male model in the back seat. The outside world light was all there for the taking at 1250, 2000 ISO. The active light just danced beautifully through the car’s interior. Here are those tests:
Night Street Running Filter Tests and
Low Angle Running Shot Test:
Po’s vision when they ran out of the boutique was dreamy, with the actors in their own world, and the surroundings less important. It was their love that fueled this run to the pier. We tried many different filters to give the look that Po wanted, which was for the practical street lights, traffic lights, headlights, etc. to glow with this beautiful halo around them. Tiffen Glimmer glass number 3 achieved the look that Po wanted, so that is what we went with. Here are the filter tests.
We knew we would be going with the AR Revolution Steadicam rig for the filming, but we wanted to do a down and dirty test to see if this angle would work for Po’s vision. I ran behind our models with our Chipper Rig and shot this at 60fps.
We shot a Moire chart on log and neutral to test the moire on the 1DC. We immediately noticed a huge improvement on aliasing and moire over the 5DMKII.
For the latitude test, we shot a latitude chart on Neutral and Canon Log. On Canon Log, we were able to get 12 stops, and 9 stops shooting on Neutral.