November 26, 2012

Canon C500 4K Short Film 'ALEX' Puts the Camera Through Its Paces

Aside from the short film Man & Beast shot by Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, there hasn't been much footage showing off what the already shipping Canon C500 is capable of. Since it has the same sensor and identical internal recording, footage shot right on the cards within the camera should be similar, if not identical to that of the Canon C300. What most people (including me) really want to see, however, is more footage that has been recorded externally using the superior RAW output of the C500. That's exactly what DP Nino Leitner has done with a new short film, ALEX. Click through to check it out.

Thanks to cinema5D for the link to Nino's post and film:

Here are a few tidbits he gave from his blog post about the camera. It was shot mostly at 850 ISO (with the exception of a couple shots) and then converted from RAW to DPX using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve and color graded using Nucoda:

The Automatic mode of the C500 fan does not seem to care whether the camera is currently recording or not. It simply spins up when the camera gets too hot, and that seems to happen easily and quickly even at room temperature. We had several takes in which the fan started spinning half way through the take, making it hard for our sound recordist, so we had to reshoot takes because of that...

The C500 features a “Lens Exchange” button, which, when pressed, puts the camera in a kind of standby mode which makes it safe to swap lenses. After you put on the new lens, you press the button again and it’s back up immediately. You still have to think about pressing that damn button before you take off the lens, but at least it makes the whole process a little faster (although the C300 & C500 are extremely fast to boot up anyway)...

For the grade we went to Matthias Tomasi, a professional colorist working at a big post production house in Vienna, and he graded the film using the Nucoda suite. For the first time, we saw the 4K material in its full glory on proper monitors and we were astonished. Even without any grading, and still looked at in 1080p, the image was clearly superior over the internal MXF files from the camera.

Nino and the team shot on the Gemini 4K recorder to uncompressed RAW. At the time of shooting this was the least expensive and most readily available recorder capable of handling the massive RAW files coming from the Canon C500. This is going to change relatively soon with the release of the AJA Ki Pro Quad, but for now, there aren't too many options to shoot 4K on a budget with this camera (though at 1TB per hour of RAW footage, it's going to be difficult to shoot on a budget in 4K with this camera anyway). They also were able to use the new Canon Cinema primes, and they did a little bit of a comparison to Zeiss lenses which they also had on the shoot (a simple Zeiss/Canon comparison of one focal length will be online soon.)

In a welcome change to most camera tests, I was actually watching for the story -- instead of for the look of the camera -- after a couple minutes. This is the way ideally all camera tests would be done (at least in part), but normally money and circumstance don't allow for anything extensive like this. I think the look of these cameras is becoming less and less important the more information we have to work with. So many films are shot with post in mind now that much of the look is made up in color grading, so the actual camera itself is less important -- especially if you're getting a RAW file. Of course, there are certainly differences between each camera system, but those differences are far less drastic than the comparisons of 8-bit 4:2:0 footage from DSLRs.

I may not think the price is very competitive in terms of the competition, but there is no question this camera can deliver a great image. Regardless of where Canon prices anything though, they tend to fly off shelves and are consistently out of stock at rental houses, so I don't really expect the C500 to be much different. What is interesting to me is that there are a lot of quirks and issues that RED was also dealing with when they first introduced the EPIC. It's clear that if you're shooting in 4K, you need serious cooling, and no small camera is going to escape this. The workflow is also foreign to most people, as opposed to the very mature RED codec which is now native to the major editing platforms. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to compressed and uncompressed RAW, but I think 1 Terabyte per hour is going to keep a lot of people from using the 4K mode on every project -- just specific ones.

While they weren't able to get the 120fps mode working, this is either firmware related or it has to do with the way the files themselves are recorded. I don't think this will be a big deal, but it's just another issue that most new cameras deal with as the firmware matures and the third party support gets better around the camera.

Nino has written an extensive post about using the C500, and it's really a must-read for anyone who is interested in learning more about shooting with the camera or working with the footage. In addition to some RAW still frames that he has posted, he will also be uploading a 4K file and posting the film to YouTube in 4K.

What do you guys think about the footage? What about the workflow involved to actually get working with these files? How about the file sizes, would 1TB an hour be a deal-breaker on most projects, or are you already dealing with this kind of data on a daily basis?

Link: Canon EOS C500 – Review & short film “ALEX” -- Nino Film Blog

[via cinema5D]

Your Comment

86 Comments

Ahh The Irony of Naming a film shot raw on a Canon... ALEX (A).

November 26, 2012

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Tulio

Totally not impressed by this short, it hasn't got a cinematic feel. Feels video-ish...
May be the DOP's fault or the camera, but not impressed by this short...

November 26, 2012

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Ardon

Same here. Felt like the music made it very cheap sounding, lacked suspense etc...
reminds me of the millions of comments talking about how HOW you shoot is more important than WHAT you shoot with. Then again, here we are...

November 26, 2012

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Paris

Really video ish looking. The bar scene looks like TV soft porn, with all due respect to soft porn..
Maybe is a DP fault, the original demo video for the C500 looks 10000 times better than this.

November 26, 2012

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Martin

Agreed. Not impressed at all. Music and DPing certainly play a roll too though.

November 27, 2012

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michael

We made a mistake in the grade - we were trying to go for to different looks, interwoven in each other, because of the two different storylines. Only problem: it doesn't work and nobody gets it.

We will do a re-grade. And also give you guys some of the raw footage to play with.

Please read my detailed comment on this:
http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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Except for the color grading I like it. But for the time you did it in I thought it was a good effort. I want to see the regrade for sure. And I did think it had a good feel to it. I wouldn't listen to the haters most of them haven't done any better I'm sure.

November 29, 2012

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Gary Simmons

The motion in some of those wides just scream 'video', particularly when they first enter the apartment.

Some nice stuff though.

November 26, 2012

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Ant

Plus the director breaks the line at litterally the first possible moment. :)

As a short film this is pretty much nothing, but it's okay for a camera test.

The French aren't doing too much to help canon's C line. Remember that C100 launch video with girls in bikinis and people waving 'C' flags? :)

November 26, 2012

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Ant

lol

November 26, 2012

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VINCEGORTHO

Not a single French person involved in the making of this film.

Other than that, please read my detailed comments on some of the criticisms: http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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ahhh the atypical film school students....if u r referring to the beginning, the line was crossed but no rule was broken , people cross lines all the time in movies to symbolize change...BTW those so called rules r not stickers!!

November 27, 2012

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thadon calico

Yep so true. The line is really broken all the time. You just have to make sure you don't disorient the viewer. An actor who leaves the frame on the right can't come back from the other direction when cutting. Really obvious stuff if you watch it obviously. But you have to plan for it when shooting so it works in the edit.

November 27, 2012

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I used to be a fan of canon's color science... but the pastel-pallet has worn on me quickly. I much prefer the more vivid/clear color of Red/BMC/GH2 and such. Everything is pink/blue with canon, I don't get it.

November 26, 2012

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bwhitz

Looks like this camera has the same problem with motion as the C300. Not impressed but then again if someone who didn't know what they were doing shot 35mm you would end up with crappy looking footage. I don't like the skin tones or the sterile, clean look of this short. The short Cronenweth shot looked very nice and showed off the capability of the camera but considering how expensive the raw output is going to be from a storage and acquisition standpoint, not sure who this is aimed at (too much for TV, too expensive for indie, not as good as Alexa or F65 for major players).

November 26, 2012

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the colour looks really weird, skintone doesn't feel pleasing at all..

Also clipped ugly highlights are everywhere.

what's going on?! (I like the narrative by the way)

November 26, 2012

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Marvin

The two different looks in the grade that we went for were intentional because of the two different storylines taking place at the same time (but in the same places). But it doesn’t work and it’s our fault.

A re-grade will be done as soon as possible.

We will replace the video next week.

Read my detailed comment here:
http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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I think its the coloring that makes this feel kind of "video-ee". Seemed too globally warm on some scenes. color didn't really match the mood.

November 26, 2012

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It looks like a soap opera lol

November 26, 2012

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john jeffreys

Stopped at the bar scene, can't finish it. Bad direction and lights, no pacing, terrible music, random stuff in the bar just to showing off the 4K and badly. Looks like an attempt to replicate the Soderbergh' Ocean films. Why shooting this test/short film with no ideas? IMO are just a waste of time and bad advertising. A good movie should get me for the story, the atmosphere... everything should go in the right direction.

November 26, 2012

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Okay, time to be a critic.

Lighting is pretty bad in terms of basic lighting technique, and the color temperature is all over the place.

Seems like they didn't bother to do any basic cinematography techniques, like gel lights/match color temperatures of the light sources, etc. The first shot with the steadicam in the hallway, the color temp is a yellow/neon green! :(

They shot too telephoto, more TV/soap opera style, not cinema style. I didn't see any decent compositions, in terms of the framing and the way it was shot.

The story didn't mean anything, no point.

Okay, done being a critic. :)

November 26, 2012

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Robert

Yep.

November 27, 2012

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Ron

The two different looks in the grade that we went for were intentional because of the two different storylines taking place at the same time (but in the same places). But it doesn't work and it's our fault. A re-grade will be done as soon as possible. We will post the video again next week.

Read my detailed comment here:
http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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Yes that wasn't exactly memorable in any capacity but I don't think you can blame the camera for any of it. A good audio post tech (sadly rare still) will be able to whack the varying fan noise OK though yes it's a bit more work.

My C100 is being shipped out right now and it looks to be the absolute least painful camera to use both in capture and post I can think of. It uses this same sensor and with a Ninja 2 I get direct to ProRes 422 HQ. 12stops over 8bits isn't terrible, and the new Wide DR gamma looks just about ideal for accelerating post workflow without harming highlight rolloff.

All I needed to add was two 64GB cards (5 hours of internal recording with redundant safety) and two knockoff batteries, total under $150 and I'm ready to shoot with my existing DSLR rigging. (I also have the Zacuto EVF and Ninja 2 already.) I'm getting the Gefen locking HDMI cables too for security, which may even be overall more reliable than SDI for short runs. All I'm really missing is slomo and 4K/RAW...plus a lot of you may not like the Canon C look. Fine, but the C100 anyway is not overpriced TCO and its awesome low light performance saves budget on lighting. And again, it looks to be a camera far easier to swear by than swear at, and should carry me through the remainder of the 1080p era. I will update.

November 26, 2012

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Peter

Depends on what you want to achieve with the C100.
It wont look like film. The C300 doesn't even do that. Best choice at low cost is the BMC.

November 26, 2012

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VINCEGORTHO

?... People are still interested in the Black Magic camera? Wasn't that a summer fad? Did they ever manage to ship anything? ;-)

It would be cruel to the Aussie company to compare pain-in-the-arse factor between the BMCC and the C100.

Film didn't have moire, false color, a green cast, etc. either. I predict the C100 at double the body price but about equal the ready-to-shoot price crushes the BMCC completely. I think Canon will make a lot more money off the C100 than BMD will off its first attempt at a camera, for good reason. I am hopeful for BMD, they may have a truly competitive product by early 2014 or so. And they have already put a bit of scare in the Japan companies (C100 should be $8K but is $6.5K). I don't hate them, I'm rooting for them, but they don't have a real product yet. We'll see if they are still relevant in the camera biz a year from now.

November 27, 2012

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Peter

Not sure why you would even compare these two cameras - they're for completely different purposes.

November 27, 2012

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Clayton Arnall

So 4K can't make up for bad filmmaking - bummer I was hoping it would...

November 26, 2012

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Lance Bachelder

In this case 4K may have over-resolved it into looking videoish rather than filmic...the poor makeup etc was too visible. Just like clean 60p looks more video and grainy 24p more filmic, it's what you leave out that matters more.

Then again, there is always blur/grain in post to taste, yet you can't recapture resolution and detail. What people are complaining about here is a lack of taste and skill...the camera arguably overperformed and shouldn't be punished for doing so.

November 26, 2012

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Peter

Yeah I agree. I saw too much.

November 26, 2012

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I was more interested in the story and the acting of the talents rather than the 4K camera. Is it not true that the content is more important than the container?

November 26, 2012

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Tas Khan

The content could be narratively brilliant, but if it's poorly executed you've lost your audience. Personally I would take an average story told brilliantly over an amazing story told poorly.

November 26, 2012

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Nick

I can't believe that French have made such a crap to promote the C500. Unbelievable.

Awful grading, Terrible acting (and I know what I'm talking about, I'm French), and the Music !!! GOD, have they figured out the first scene was actually changing to a dinner?? It feels completely wrong that soundtrack with the Spy kind of music...

Anyway I haven't even finished the short, I'm not sure if I will it is so So so disappointing.

November 26, 2012

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Isn't that C100 made by French guys as well? That was also horrible.

November 26, 2012

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why do canon insist on giving these cameras to French people to test :)

November 27, 2012

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Peter Kelly

Please do your homework before commenting, or read the blog post ... not a single French person was involved in the making of this film.

November 27, 2012

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Well, and what do you think of the acting, exactly ?

November 26, 2012

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My question is for Tas Khan...

November 26, 2012

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We're gonna be due for a nice, 4K raw shootout come March next year, once we've got a full fleet of the BMCC, Ikonoskop, Scarlet/Epic, C500, F5/55/65, Alexa to all compare. I'd love to see an even playing field to compare DR, highlight roll off, colour matrix, and then, most of all, the limits to which those images can be pushed in post.

In the meantime, I'm happy for more and more demos like this keep popping up.

November 26, 2012

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Ben Howling

Very inconsistent look overall

November 26, 2012

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carlos

The two different timelines have a different look. But nobody gets it, and that's our fault. We are doing a re-grade. Please read my detailed comment: http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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Joe i think you said it better here

So many films are shot with post in mind now that much of the look is made up in color grading, so the actual camera itself is less important — especially if you’re getting a RAW file.

People is going crazy with new cameras and what they need to focus is on creativity, because bits or 4ks wont give you that "extra" talent.

November 26, 2012

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Pablo

Hey Pablo, you are right, we are doing a re-grade of the film. This can look way better.

Please read my detailed comment on this: http://nofilmschool.com/2012/11/canon-c500-4k-short-film-alex/comment-pa...

November 27, 2012

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Looks like video to me. I think it looks like really nice DSLR footage. At the price that the C500 is at there is no way it can compete. Maybe it will find its market in television.

November 26, 2012

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I have no idea where this camera can exist. For about the same money one can get a Red Epic. I still wonder if anyone already told Canon.

November 27, 2012

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michael

I'm not particularly fond of the video. But you guys do know that the original blog post has a zip file with some of the DPX stills, right? http://nino.macbay.de/ALEX_C500/DPX_stills_ALEX.zip

Maybe people can grade those files instead of getting so negative on a person who put his own free time into sharing his experience with a new camera. Just a thought.

November 26, 2012

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Ken

Thanks Ken. One reasonable person in a forum of trolls, much appreciated!

November 27, 2012

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I don't think that is a nice thing to say just because people didn't like something that you did. You don't come off very well caling names.

You can obviously defend what you did or why you did it -which is futile since it is such a subjective thing that we are talking about - but insulting everyone who reads a blog is a lame attempt to make yourself feel better.

In my opinion you can do whatever you want, you can light it any way you want and you can obviously put it on the internet for people to see.But you can't expect or force people to like your work.

Despite how bad some comments make you feel you can learn from them or just ignore them.

I once had the cruel experience of showing a work in progress in a full theater and it didn't go very well.It was something i was not used to (still not-never will) but made me think so much clearer than any encouraging words ever will.

Sorry for this.

November 27, 2012

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konstantinos

Sorry konstantinos, you are right, and I have to apologize. I overreacted and most of the criticisms here about the film here are far from I understand as "trolling".

To be honest I was pissed off at some particular comments which I received, most of them not even here on this site, which were totally personally insulting and had nothing to do with the film at hand. If people don't like something, they can say it, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But getting personal and essentially libelous is way out of line.

I am truly not fishing for compliments, everyone who knows me knows that, all I ask for is constructive criticism. And that's missing here in many comments, and just look how many of the readers here hide behind anonymous short names. I want people to tell things to my face without hiding in the dark.

It would just be nice if people actually realized that we did this for the community alone, nobody involved gains anything from this financially. It was fun to do, we wanted to get this opportunity to shoot with the camera, and off we went with it, half-prepared as you often are for no-budget shoots.

Having reviewed a lot of the constructive criticisms, we have decided to take the following steps:

1.
We will re-grade the entire short as soon as possible (early next week).

What people didn't understand (and that was my worry from the beginning) is that the story deals with two interwoven storylines, which are not taking place at the same time. The viewer is led to the assumption that Eric entering the hotel happens at the same time as Maxime sitting on the bed. That is not the case and it's resolved when we see Alex kill Eric; it happened before she met Maxime and went back to the hotel with him.
The difference in grading needs either to be stronger (for instance, have the past events in black and white) or not there at all. I think we will go with the latter version, because that's what we lit for.

Not to sound apologetic to what we did, but the grade had to take place within 3 hours or so in the middle of the night, and it definitely needs a lot more work. We fell short on that and we make it right.

2.
We will try to put up an ungraded "raw" version of the short for people to have a play with. It won't be 4K DPX sequences as this is way too big for the Internet. But we are trying to find a way to put at least a ProRes version of the ungraded short online for people to fiddle around - at least a series of scenes.

3.
The sound mix will be re-done. This was planned anyway, our sound guys and the composer just didn't have the time to do the fine-tuning yet. We went out with the short to be the first ones to put something out that was shot with the C500, and some parts of it were definitely not ready yet.

4.
Tiny bits will be re-edited.
The "bar details" shots (quick focus pulls through glasses etc.) will be taken out. They were too short to be appreciated anyway, everything is out of focus, and we were never really happy with the shots at that position in the film. They were supposed to indicate the passing of time, but it doesn't work.
The fight scene lacks coverage from some perspectives because we literally had 40 minutes to shoot all of this before one actor had to leave. This will be covered by cropping into some of the 4K takes. We don't know if it will work, but the editor will give it a try. We'll see.

Looking forward to hearing what you guys think of our ideas.

November 27, 2012

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". It won’t be 4K DPX sequences as this is way too big for the Internet. But we are trying to find a way to put at least a ProRes version of the ungraded short"

i'll love that! i'm migrating to Piranha 7 @my linux box, and that will be a hell of fun to try some grading with this! =D

November 27, 2012

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