HDSLR Workflow and Etiquette

Here is another episode in the B&H series, with a transcript that follows. Although I’m using the Canon 5D Mk II in the video, this doesn’t apply just to the 5D. The methodology is the same for other new cameras as well. This is the workflow that we developed while shooting Act of Valor and still use today.

HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema
Shane Hurlbut, ASC discusses the labeling process, workflow and etiquette.

Episode 5: Workflow and Etiquette

Hi. I’m Shane Hurlbut, ASC and welcome to the B&H HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema. Episode 5 will deal with workflow and etiquette.

This camera system records on small little CF cards. These CF cards don’t have any time code or anything like that, so the labeling process has to be very specific and very accurate. You start by labeling the camera with a piece of tape that says A camera. Now you’re going to personalize this camera to be A, and you do it internally in the camera.

How do you do it? Take a still shot. I’ve got my still shot. Now I’m going to take this card out of the camera. I’m going to pop it into a card reader. I’ve got a FireWire 800. Pop it in there. Now it’s going to come up on the desktop. When it comes up on desktop, it comes up as an EOS_DIGITAL file. Double click on that. Then you go to DCIM. Then you go to 100EOS5D and an image is going to come up. You’re going to go in there, and you’re going to label that 0999, and then you’re going to go down to the other JPEG and you’re going to do the same.

I’m going to eject this EOS_DIGITAL. I now take this card out. Pop it back into my camera and now everything that I shoot on this camera will be the thousand series because I labeled it 0999. So the next shot I take or the next movie that I record will be the thousand series. When you get it back into your computer and you’re downloading images and you’re like, hey I got a dead pixel in camera 2000. Well, camera 2000 will be the B camera because I basically go right down the line. You have A camera as 1000, B camera is 2000, C camera is 3000, etc. on down the line.

Not only is the camera going to give you the MOV file that starts in a thousand, when you’re done with this card, you pop the card out, you pull it out, and you rip this piece of tape off on the side and you label that A1. We’re done with this card, and now we’re going to take this to the media manager. He’s going to know that it came from the A camera and it was your first roll of negative digital film.

All the assistants carry these babies. It’s great for once this card is shot, you flip it over so now you know that that card is negative film. This is now sent to the media manager. He opens it up. He sees the A1 card. You’re going to put it into your FireWire card reader, and now you’re going to download that information to the hard drive. The EOS_DIGITAL folder comes up. You’re going to go to your DCIM. Then you’re going to go to your 100EOS file, and then you’re going to basically download that footage. There’s no worry that this information is being recorded over by accident. You want to rename this 100EOS7D or 5D or 1D file, and you’re going to rename it as DONE so that a card that’s coming back from a media manager that is now unexposed digital negative film will come up with a NO IMAGE label on it when you see if there is any data on the card.

I’m going to eject this EOS_DIGITAL and pull out this card. Take the A1 label off and put this in my Pelican case. Now it’s ready to go back as unexposed digital negative film. Now it comes in and you’re like okay, let’s replace the card. You take this card out of the camera. We’re finished with this one. We’re going to label this A2 because we’ve taken this out of our A camera, and we label that on there on the CF card. We’re going to do the same thing that we flipped over. Now we know that this is unexposed, and this is exposed.

We take this one out, and we’re going to put this in the camera. Open the door. Pop it in. When we go to format, you see that there’s a little information on this card. The data, the media, is still there, but because we labeled it done and not what the camera is hoping to find, which is 100EOS7D, when you hit play to check to see if there’s anything on this card, it comes up NO IMAGE. That’s what verifies that that card has been downloaded by the media manager, and now it shows up as NO IMAGE. Now I go back into the menu. I hit my format. I go to OK. I hit it. Card is formatted and that stuff is history.

The way we usually roll out is that we have four hard drives that we are recording to. There’s one for the director that he can take home and view all the footage. There’s another one that goes to editorial. There’s another one as a back up, so if that one gets lost, and then there’s the final one that is held in a vault.

This is the workflow and etiquette that is tried and tested that I use on all of my commercials, features and music videos. I’ve found that this workflow and etiquette is the best and will make sure that your footage is absolutely safe, organized, complete, concise, and ready for the editor.


Shane Hurlbut, ASC
HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema

Julien Lasseur – Director
Karlyn Michelson – Producer
Shane Hurlbut, ASC, Lydia Hurlbut, and Brad Bitton – Executive Producers
Clint Milby – Associate Producer
Bodie Orman – Director of Photography
Edited by Karlyn Michelson
Sponsored by B&H

Shane Hurlbut, ASC – Instructor
Eli Jane – Model in Introduction

Production Coordinator – Anne Gaither
Camera Operator – Kevin Anderson
Camera Operator – Eric Wolfinger
Camera Operator – Valentin Vignet
Steadicam Operator – Hayden Houser
Key Grip – Fabio Newman
Hair/Makeup – Teddie Bergman
Sound – Vincent Fatato

Production Assistants – Brian Touhy, Lucas Petri

Special Thanks to Mole-Richardson

Buy the Canon 5D Mk II

Watch episode 1 – Know Your Camera: Canon 5D MK II – Turning Your Still Camera Into a Movie Making Machine
Watch episode 2 – Canon 5D MK II: Challenges and Solutions
Watch episode 3 – HDSLR Challenges: Working With a Still Lens
Watch episode 4 – HDSLR Cinematographer Starter Kit
Watch episode 6 – HDSLR: A New Digital Film Language

  1. Bob D 2 years ago

    Hi Shane: Love the “thousand series” reset trick along with the file name to “none”. Going to adopt this workflow. On the media manager end, I like to assign a unique camera roll number, referenced to the “mag” number (A1, A2…etc). What’s your view on camera reports in this digital day and age, have you customized on for your workflow?

    Thanks again for sharing this great info.


    Bob Demers

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Bob D, I am glad you like these little tricks to keep you all organized. The camera reports have become more of assistant editor reports, where all the files are aligned with scene numbers or with commercials put into files associated with storyboard numbers. Now the editor as a much easier way finding all the shots.

  2. Hamza Ben 2 years ago

    Dear Mr.shane,
    i have a question that really bothers me not to have an answer for it, and it applies for dslrs and digital cameras.
    say you’re shooting with the BMCC log or 5D cinestyle or Alexa log…..how would you judge the lighting? how would bake the look in camera? can you for example create lighting ratios? how do you see them on screen which shows a flat colors? how do you add gels to lights or change the WB settings? when you Mr.shane shoot Log and when you don’t.
    i hope you’ll answer my question

    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      Hamza Ben, When I shoot in log, I have a monitor that is delivering a LUT (Look up table) that adds contrast and color so that you can judge lighting, contrast and the color that you are applying to a shot. I use Rec. 709 LUT on the Alexa and the BMCC, I use the Small HD AC-7 Canon Log LUT for the 1DC, C500, and C300 cameras. I am not a big cinestyle guy. I use Neutral -4 contrast -1 saturation on my 5D MK III. Hope this helps

  3. Lucas 2 years ago

    Hi there,

    Any reason why the videos are not available anymore? I really liked them.


    • Author
      Shane 2 years ago

      I just shot a new introduction. Will be re-released soon.

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