Working with Canon 7D

In marh 2011, while me and my cinematographer daniel went to Pollachhi for Location Scouting, I thought of making any video for the test shoot with Canon 5d/7d and immediately contacted our producer murali and then he accepted.

Our budget is ready and we have to decide, which one to go for? Actually for our debut, we thought of going for film or RED ONE. My cinematographer even suggested Arri D21. But I wanna check the quality of much discussed cameras Canon 5d/7d. Daniel has already worked on Canon 5d just before we went to Pollachi and it was Ok. I wanna try Canon 7d with Ultra Prime lenses as we haven’t worked with lenses till that time.

We had spoken to Anand Cine Service in Chennai. Canon 7d’s rent is low where as lenses rent is bit high. Overall it cost us 15,000 per day including beta. Of course, its low when compared to the industry rate 18,000… But as our location pollachi is far, which we need to travel for 8hrs from chennai. So, its counted as Outdoor and asked for double beta and also asked rent for traveling 2days too.. Which means we need to pay 3times the orignal amount. But, daniel some how managed to make them accept for 30,000… Eventhough its very high for one day, I was excited that we are going to shoot with Prime lenses.

We haven’t planned much about the shoot. Even we don’t have actors. We went to pollachi just before one day and managed to arrange all the cast and crew there itself with the help of production manager.

The first thing which I have noticed on the day of the shoot is dani doesn’t know much about Canon 7d but he is confident that he work on it. He inquired about the camera on the spot itself as it arrived straightly to the shooting spot. I thought one day is enough to shoot the concept but very soon I came to know that its not gonna happen.

We used to shot it in digital cams like Sony HDV, panasonic p2 and as those cams have auto focus, we quickly make the shots one after the other. But here, the amount of time I calculated for focusing and all differ completely. Dani was taking much time to get the focus. He was cross checking the depth of filed every time with the tape to ensure that everything was alright. Here dani’s intention was to clear things because the focus puller who we got was also a fresher and so he didn’t wanna spoil his work. But it lead me to decrease my speed and finally because of that I left many shots without taking. And we faced problems in editing because of lack of shots.

We used Polarizer to enhance the video and to create more depth. But still we have done some color corrections to add some more depth.

Benefits with Canon 7d is that, we can carry it very easily and we can go for follow shots without steady cam. Observe Shot at 00:49 in the video. That shot was taken on scooter itself where the cinematographer sitting on it. Its very easy to handle those kind of shot with this camera. Also, best thing is we can mount any kind of lenses with the help of PL mount and can get cinema quality.

Problems we faced in editing were, our editor haven’t told us that there was no canon 7d’s plug-in in their software and in order to edit it, he had converted/compressed those video clips. We didn’t know that and after looking at the quality we had asked him and he said he converted those videos which resulted in 50mb clips to10mb. But as we had finished everything, we didn’t wanna go through entire process and adjusted with it.

So, finally we got this VIDEO.

Lessons learnt:
1. Make sure that your cinematographer is much more familiar with the cam you use
2. Get the experienced focus puller
3. Be practical in calculating your time for shot making
4. Go to editing studio which is familiar with the camera you use. So that you shouldn’t have to search for those plug-ins again
5. Pre-plan everything to avoid disappointment

As this is our test shoot for our movie, I didn’t mind failing in it. After all, it gives you the experience 🙂

Note: I don’t know much about Canon 7d and its technical stuff. I just have shared what I thought, from my observations. If you find anything wrong in my understanding or terminology, please throw us some light. Thank You.

-Srinu Pandranki

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