Behind-the-Scenes with the Canon C200 on Crime Watch Daily
Six years ago, you could find me in my garage practicing interview lighting setups with my kids and a Canon T2i. I was trying to get it to look just like my favorite TV shows, 20/20, Dateline, and 48 Hours. I spent hours there trying to get the most out of what I had on hand.
In my garage, I learned about depth of field, shot composition, lighting, and audio. In 2017 an episode I directed and DP’ed for Crime Watch Daily, along with camera operator, Richard Jemal and sound engineer, Nick Chauret, won an Emmy.
What is Crime Watch Daily?
Crime Watch Daily is a daily, hour-long show centered around the key pillars of mystery, crime, and drama. It explores unsolved murders, undercover investigations, and shocking crimes that have been caught on video. Crime Watch Daily is the very first crime show to air in daytime syndication and receive Daytime Emmy® nominations in both its inaugural and second seasons.
Anchored from the streets of New York City and led by renowned veteran journalist Chris Hansen. Crime Watch Daily is nationally syndicated on Tribune-owned stations in 198 markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Watch the Episode
This is the 15th episode we have working on for Crime Watch Daily. For these types of shoots, the pace is always fast and unpredictable.
Behind the Scenes
This project was four days in total, two travel days driving from San Antonio to Amarillo, Texas and the other two filming. We never know what to expect and need to be ready for any condition. Interviews, for the most part, take place in hotel conference rooms, which is really nice. It gives us a home base, usually a nice big room, with plenty of power outlets, which we can access anytime. Other times we are going into people’s homes which present its own set of challenges, available space usually being the biggest.
Day 1 consisted of 6 interviews, and a little b-roll of the interviewees. We set up in the middle of the conference room, knowing that we would need to rotate and flip camera angles after each interview. This would give us a different background and we would adjust our lighting accordingly. Filming at hotels is always a bonus, they are a treasure trove of background props. Most of the time Richard and I will grab items such as plants and decorative pieces from our rooms or lobby to fill in the background.
Day 2 was all b-roll with a couple standups. It required us to drive 2 hours north to the town of Canadian, Texas. We woke up early and hit the road before sunrise. It was an incredible, sunny and clear Texas morning and we found ourselves pulling over more than once to grab some landscape b-roll. Production will sometimes send us a shot list beforehand, but once we get on location we tend to grab much more.
The Gear - Canon C200
Our cameras of choice have always been Canon Cinema EOS systems. We’ve used the C100, C300 and now the new Canon C200. We choose to use two C200’s specifically for this project. We really wanted to put it to the test and see if it could hold up like the other cameras. Warner Brothers does not require 4K at this time, so we filmed everything in FHD at 60fps.
The autofocus and object tracking has been a game-changer or rather, camera-changer for us and is perfect for this type of filming. For our interviews, we enable face tracking and let the camera pull focus for us. Not once, did we lose focus, even if the person moved forward or back in their chair. Another thing we appreciate with the Canon C200 is the audio controls and XLR inputs are now on the body, unlike the C100 and C300, we can now remove the top handle and still have the ability to record clean, crisp audio directly in camera.
For the very first time, we choose the Next Generation Zacuto Recoil Pro shoulder rig with Gratical HD. Our go-to support for years has been monopods, but as our camera systems get bigger, we need to be able to support the extra weight. The Recoil Pro was designed specifically for the Canon C200 and proved to be a perfect choice.
We were able to balance it extremely quickly; with its modular design, it can be broken down very quickly. Richard and I found ourselves switching back and forth quite often and with the Zgrip trigger, it made the process of changing to our different body types, fast and easy.
Rod's Tips for “Breaking Into the Biz”
Be nice! This should go without saying, but a smile and a great attitude can go a long way. Negativity has no place on set.
Work for free. When starting out, one of the best things you can do is find filmmakers in your area, and send them a message asking if you can join them on set to help. This is exactly what I did, I sent emails to filmmakers and production companies in my area, letting them know I’d love to come help on their next project, no matter what it was. Pouring coffee, moving equipment, unloading the grip truck. I really just wanted to have the opportunity to be on set and learn as much as I could. Ohhh…and I didn’t ask for a paycheck!
Every Job is a learning experience. No matter what role it was, if I was offered a position on a crew, I jumped on it. Of course, I wanted to be behind the camera, but having the opportunity to learn from the grip or art department, is an excellent opportunity.
Every project has the potential to lead to another. I have never worked on a project that did not lead to another. Sure, I may have had to cut my rate to work with a client, but I know if I do a good job, there is a high probability of being asked back.
Be ready to take on other roles. A lot of folks coming out of film school, say “I want to be a director” or “I’m just a cinematographer”. I’m not sure where they are from, but around here, you must be able and willing to wear multiple hats. Someone that can shoot, edit or light is much more valuable to me on set.