Shooting a broadcast spot on the Canon 5D Mark III.

I was flattered (as always) to be asked to photograph a series of short commercials and online videos for Starkey hearing aids. The shoot consisted of one studio day and a separate day for lifestyle “B-roll” visuals. A common challenge was getting it done on a tight budget. I didn’t have enough ammo to argue against using a 5D mark III for our main camera because I was simply going to be doing interviews in studio so there was very little critical focus pulling. (albeit we did 14 interviews in one day!)  Moreover, we shot lifestyle footage on a separate day with a reduced crew of just myself, the director and talent so we needed a camera that was going to be light, fast and would provide decent enough image quality. I really couldn’t argue against using the 5D this time.

I decided against using any type of unproven raw recording that seems to be all the rage with these cameras. On paying jobs I never take chances with other people’s money so I never even considered for one second using any “magic lantern” hacks. I also decided not to use any external recorder because in my opinion they make little to no noticeable improvement in picture quality. For me, recorders are not worth the extra expense, time to set up, and increased risk of something else going wrong. Instead of diddling with technology I’d much rather spend my time lighting, framing and working things out with the crew. I did however choose to use technicolor’s cine gamma profile and shoot everything with the “flat” curve for colour grading to be done later in post. Other than that, everything was straight forward, recorded internally to compact flash cards.

For exteriors the director and I really wanted to go in guerrilla, and just shoot. It needed to have a home movie-ish look but with just a little style. We couldn’t have afforded all the encumbrance that comes with a large crew and equipment and it would have been the wrong feel. I remember noting how much I was enjoying just shooting without all the extra crap. I wasn’t tasked with worrying about anything else other than focusing on photographing what was right in front of me and it was a very liberating experience.

I chose to use a 10-stop Variable ND filter to control the depth of field. I use these on DSLR shoots all the time. They are an excellent way to not only control depth of field but also exposure. If you need just a little more or less light you can simply grab the filter and “dial” it in rather than stop what you are doing and fiddling to make camera adjustments.  What also proved to be extremely useful was using IS lenses with stabilization to take out just the right amount of camera shake. Canon, in my opinion makes the best image stabilization technology on the market. I have some canon binoculars with the same IS technology built in and they are incredible.

Lighting on this day was 100% ambient. I didn’t use a single reflector, fill, or bounce of any kind. There was no one to set up anything anyway. Careful positioning of talent in the environment can prove to be faster and more natural looking.

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