The Show Must Go On

     So in reference to the last entry, I have returned from Kiev, Ukraine with a passion and fire.  Why not get this show on the road?  One c300 and a couple of lenses,  let's make a show.     When I landed, the violence had receeded.  We immediately started filming the street life in Mai Don, aka Independence Square, where the police force had pushed the resistance to defend themselves.  The militia is still camped there now.  The barricades were made from tires, sandbags and cobblestones ripped right from the streets.  They still stand there now,  after all, Russia may invade before this ends.  Leaving the political aspect out of this entry,  I can say that this experience abroad is enough to remind me that it goes south fast.  Pay attention around you, stay on your game and may cool heads prevail.

c300 goes to Kiev, Ukraine

     This entry is about my experience with the c300 on the road.  Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut X and about getting your show in the can with a couple of laptops and a camera when you have to travel light, be discreet and deliver results when we are outmanned, outgunned and loving every minute of it.

 

Workflow

We had 3 broadcasts that we transferred from Kiev to the server that were to be completed by the finishing editor and then uploaded for streaming broadcast.  It was mostly easy enough to find the parts and pieces needed to plug c300 files into Final Cut 7 and Final Cut X. If you are looking currently, try Abel Cine, as they have a complete rundown of the processes here. but beware,  all footage must be transcoded before inputting to either Final Cut format. Before you start editing any of your footage, do a test export first of a couple of clips cut together and make sure the system can export.  Final Cut X was tricky in our case because it ingested the footage but would not "Share", or Export .MOV files as it normally would.  This was a time killer but all of this can be avoided by always transcoding before ingesting.  The c300 can mix easily with 5D and 7D files but again the DSLR files should be run through Compressor and Transcoded as AppleProRes 4:2:2 HQ.

Also,  I ran into a problem when the files we joined on the timeline.  The camera generates multiple MXF files for longer recordings and when I joined these files together, we got a subtle interruption of the sound track in FCX. Truth be told,  it could have been on account of the MXF converter but Im not sure yet.

Exposure and Look

All and all I say it was pretty easy to pick up the c300 and go.  We decided to not shoot the RAW mode on account of our run and gun shooting and post production nature as well as our need to mix the c300 files with the DSLR cameras on the same timelines.  instead, we chose a wide gamma setting to try and reduce highlights and keep details in the blacks.  I found that with the c300's ability to boost ASA easily to manage no lighting situations, the camera could easily tackle different looks if you give it good glass and a fighting chance.  In this case, our wide angle glass was not great and in order to be discreet, I shot much of it without mattebox to reduce attention by the militia and civilians in Kiev at the time we shot. This meant that during daylight hours I really need too shoot a little longer on the lens and use the stock sunshade when you can. Sometimes I would get caught without the Sunshade or the sun would be right behind the talent and I would reframe accordingly.  In most situations I avoided direct sunlight as a key light, mostly it was used as backlight.  The c300 was able to provide great latitude so except in extreme conditions I rarely needed fill.  Which was great because we did not have anyone to hold a bounce card.  Here are some examples below from test and night time footage shot there.

Canon L Series 70-200mm 2000 ASA 1/48

Canon L Series 70-200mm ASA 2000 1/48th sec

Canon EF 24-70mm Polarizer/ND 1.2 320 ASA 1/48 sec shutter Sun Flaring lens - milking out blacks.  Test shot/No front lighting.

Canon L Series 70-200mm Polarizer/ND 1.2 f3.2  ASA 320  1/48th sec

Built in Neutral Density Filters

The c300 carries 3 ND filters built in a wheel array behind the lens.  These ND filters are set for .6 (2-stops), 1.2 (4-stops) and 1.8 (6-stops).  These were essential to shooting on the go.  Something that seperates this camera form most other Prosumer/Professional grade cameras when it comes to ENG shooting.  Always remember,  which is the right tool for the job.  If you like shooting T2.8-T.4 and you have to do it in a hurry, grab a camera with them built in unless you want to slap a variable ND in front of your lenses.

Interface

The buttons and interface for the c300 were second hand after the first day of shooting.  There was a great deal of ease navigating the basic line of fire operations.  T-stop was controllable through the EF and L series lenses I used. ASA, color temperature, and shutter were again easily managed through and few other buttons. I will however say that the one time I needed to work out strobe in a PAL powered scenario quickly.  The basic shutter settings were not able to achieve the removal of strobe from the florescent lighting.  Instead, for the low action sequence I used a 1/24th shutter setting to blend the strobe.  I would not recommend this for shooting anything faster than talking heads. 

Eyepiece

The eyepiece has a diopter setting and does have a crisp display without the burn in effect of the Red Bomb eyepiece. It also has the ability to zoom in during recording to check focus.  All though the maneuverability of the c300 eyepiece can be a challenge as it hard mounted with only a swivel and extension for moving it.  Instead, I recommend the Alphatron eyepiece for more rugged, traditional operating and control.

Audio

The camera can easily support the audio functions required from cameras that most sound mixers require for ENG/reality productions.  The eyepiece comes with an attached shotgun mount which make it easy for your sound mixer to mix audio tracks either by tethered cable  or RF "hops" to capture great audio.

In Closing

I look forward to using this camera again on future productions.  It's accessibility made it a manageable format to work with on the go.  I could see this camera being great for documentary or single camera format shooting.  This is a great format when compared to 5d or 7d DSLR footage.  In the future, I look forward to exploring ways to manipulate the hardware to achieve different looks.  Meanwhile,  it didn't let down when I needed it to work.  Big thanks to Tony Molina with Roseblood Films for hooking up a great crash course in camera functions and performance.  You made a big difference in getting me up and running on short notice! You can check out his work here. 

 

Join us next time as I break down my trip to Kiev a lot more and talk about the Cinematic Immunity Podcast, Sarah Jones and whats coming next. Big thanks to my Podcast Producer Bryan Hart, artist at large Nick Kremenick for the Cinematic Immunity artwork, and to Aaron Marquette and Steve Hopkins for photographing and giving up your space to shoot and record, respectively. 

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