Loren Simons
Loren Simons

Loren Simons started his adventures into the depths of the technical world while as a middle school student in Southern California. Today, he is a Canon Hollywood Professional Technology and Support Center Senior Product and Sales Trainer.

A Canon RAW Production: From Pre to Post

November 10, 2015

Preproduction

4K is here to stay. While for some, 4K is just a number they are starting to see on their TVs. But for those in the production business, it means a whole lot more than just two extra K’s.

Shooting 4K is not as simple as flicking the 4K switch.It requires a new slew of on-set tools and post-production support. Then, let’s just add a whole other layer of complexity when shooting that 4K in RAW, because, why not?

In this series of posts, I’m going to take you through my pre-production, camera prep, shoot, and post-production in a Canon 4K RAW environment using the Cinema EOS C500.

But first, why did I choose to shoot this latest micro-budget pilot in Canon 4K RAW? The simple answer is because today’s marketplace demands it. Netflix and Amazon, the two newest behemoths in original content, both require their productions to be shot and delivered in 4K.

The next technical decision I had to make was what color space to shoot in. Canon Cinema Gamut is the widest Color Space available on the Cinema EOS C500, but as with any extra-wide color space, it requires a few extra steps in post and on set to view properly. Despite that, I chose Canon Cinema Gamut. Why add this extra hurdle, you may ask? Simple, because the fate of this pilot is unknown and I wanted to be ready for all possible options. By shooting in Canon Cinema Gamut, I now have the ability to transform down into Rec709, Rec2020, DCI P3, or even bring it into an ACES post workflow.

Three major factors were decided: resolution, color space, and frame rate. Now we’re ready to start spec’ing out gear.

First and foremost was choosing an external recorder. To capture 4K from the Cinema EOS C500, we need to take the RAW feed from the camera and record it onto a separate device. There are quite a few options for capturing this RAW feed: Atomos Shogun, Codex S, and the Odyssey 7Q. I decided on the Odyssey 7Q for a few reasons. First and foremost, it has a beautiful 7” OLED screen that the assistant camera operator (AC) can easy pull focus from, so that single device is doing double time and can keep the rig lighter and easier to maintain. Also, the built-in false color and video scopes were a great reference point for me when I walk over to camera during a new setup. For this production, the choice was easy.

Next, I knew I had to get a wireless feed going. With three producers, three writers, a script, the director and an assistant director (AD) all wanting eyes on picture, I knew we would need to be relatively removed from the scene to fit everyone. I also knew I wanted two video villages: one for those eight people and one for the director and myself, as the Director of Photography (DP). I’ve been stung by wireless video before in the past, so I knew I needed something powerful. I landed on the Teradek Bolt 2000 for a couple reasons: range and new features. I knew I would never be more than 300 feet from camera, but rarely would I ever be line-of-site, which is how all wireless video system’s are rated. In addition to the range, Teradek just introduced a genius feature in their Bolt Series of receivers, 3D LUT support.

I was shooting not only in Canon Log but in Canon Cinema Gamut, so I knew the image would look almost completely flat on-set. That was fine for me and my video scopes, but I wasn’t in the mood to explain logarithmic curves to nine not-so-technical people. So I knew I’d want to apply a LUT to one of the feeds or else hear “it looks kinda flat” for the entire production. More on this during prep, though.

For camera support, I knew I’d want to go with the Redrock Micro ultraCage Black. Full disclosure: I started out in the industry with a job at Redrock Micro, but I still objectively felt this was the best choice for this production. Our storyboard was mostly atop sticks, but it did call for a jib, dolly, and gimbal stabilizer for a few shots. I knew that I was going to be tempted to under sling on the jib (mount the jib head upside down and attach to the top of the cage) for one shot, so I needed a good solid cage. The Redrock Micro ultraCage had a perfect balance of mounting points while still keeping the size of the camera down, a trademark of Cinema EOS.

Now onto lensing. Being completely unbiased, the Canon Cinema EOS lenses were perfect for the feel of this pilot. Lenses have many unique characteristics – some makes are cooler, some makes have a sharper fall off. But the Canon le

nses, with their warm color and soft focus fall off, were perfect for the feel of this new age gen-x sitcom pilot. I also knew I would need the speed that zooms would give me with the ambitious timetable for this shoot: 12 pages in two 10-hour days and multiple locations and rigging. I grabbed the CN-E 14.5-47mm T2.8 L S, the CN-E 30-105mm T2.8 L S, and the CN-E 14mm T3.1 L F and CN-E 24mm T1.5 L F prime lenses for my gimbal shots. Now we’re lensed.

With the orders placed, the gear was delivered, and prep could begin.

Tune in next month for a detailed undertaking of camera prep and why, in the long run, it can actually save you time and money.

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