A 5D and a Fast 50 Small Footprint Field Production

It never ceases to amaze me what can be visually achieved with a minimal camera kit and crew. I love it. I have shot with many different cameras over the years, but there is nothing quite like looking at the world through an SLR camera and a fast 50mm lens.  I was recently hired to shoot video for a fashion client, with the goal to produce a 60 second spot that would stand alone from the print campaign.  The theme was the epic USA road trip from East to West, with the idea for the motion picture to capture the trip with three young twenty-somethings in a vintage pick-up truck.

While shooting along side of a stills photographer, and stealing moments with the models, I got them to run through some actions to grab enough footage to put the piece together.  This style of working is something I have never done before, and it was always clear that the field production unit centered around the print campaign. I did not have anywhere near the usual amount of time to direct the models in order to get all the shots I needed.  This is where shooting with a DSLR was an absolute blessing in so many ways.

Considering that the requirements for the photographic shots are vastly different from the video shots with the view to editing a story, it was imperative to be able to switch positions and lenses super fast as the action unfolded.  I had to travel pretty light for this, so none of the usual rods, rails or cages would be practical.  I used a Canon 5D MkII body with the main lens being a Zeiss ZF 50mm f1.4.  My camera support was the most basic of Zacuto shooters, the old “rapid fire”, now called the Target Shooter.  I also used an anti-fog Z-finder Pro for my eye piece.

The brief was to be a loose and handheld with the view to creating a music montage piece~definitely achievable given the circumstances.  What I found was that, although the photographer was getting the models to move and run through some actions, it was when his shutter was not firing that I got the shots that I required.  It was then that the models would relax into themselves and appear more natural. The footage that I rolled while the stills were being shot simply looked like moving magazine covers.  Working solo with such a small camera gave me a lot of freedom to be creative and also get the shots in a very short amount of time.  I have grown very fond of being able to fit an entire large sensor camera kit in a back pack and be able to work so fast. With the next generation of large sensor video cameras now hitting the market it will be interesting to see what sizes and shapes are available in the post “DSLR revolution” production landscape.

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About the Author

Mick is an experienced Editor, Producer & Director. He has provided post-production services for many television series, and was nominated for the (I.F. Awards) Independent Spirit Award for his work on the Indy Feature Film, Bondi Tsunami. Read more on Mick Jones and Visit Mick’s Website and Follow Mick on Twitter


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