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

11.26.12 @ 2:37PM Tags : , , , , ,

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]

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  3. Canon C500 is Shipping, but Canon's RAW Implementation is Unlike Any You've Seen Before


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  • Guyy great stuff man, appreciate someone actually commenting with facts behind their statement as opposed to just outlash criticism. Appreciate info, still learning composition and other important non dialogue to filming before i even attempt to touch a camera to make a short. I mean i do music videos alot but want my first short/film to be nice, might have to get more info a pay you for filming info, we need more useful insight to help us all, GOOD stuff and info

  • JEEZ! A lot of harsh negative comments. Now we are all entitled to opinions and my close friend Nino did get a wee bit defensive with the unnecessary T comment which he was big enough to apologise for, repeatedly like Bart in the opening of the Simpsons…you know what though? This was fun and pretty well made! He had the camera to check out for a few days. He could have done what something less contentious…maybe films some ducks perhaps? But no, he made a sexy fun homage to loads of different films with a HOT as hell leading lady who I now need to work with, obviously just because of her acting talent. NOW, if you had wanted to see ducks I can see if Canon UK will loan me one. I know the footage with be quacking…ARF! …OK I will get my coat :)

    P.S. Always nice to thank someone for making an effort to make something and do mega write up for the community for no pay before you trounce them. It’s more polite that way! You know like… “Nino, thanks so much for taking the time to do this and that great write up though, but your film utterly SUCKS!!!”…well maybe not quite like that! :)

  • I read the comments before I watched the film and I expected a disaster!

    You guys are way, way, way off.

    You may not like the look of the camera [I'm not a big fan of the C-range], but your criticism of Nino & co are so off-base they are laughable.

    They did a really good job of the film.

    Tech note: I wonder if shooting at 4k if counter-productive in that, it accentuates every tiny detail – especially in the actors skin. I think it’s that added detail that prompted some to speak of that video-y feel.
    I think that’s more a factor of the camera and resolution, rather than the DP’s skillz.

  • Jeremiah Jimeno on 11.28.12 @ 5:11PM

    Hello All,

    I am new to the site and love all of the great content here. The Canon C500 is a camera I am excited about. Niño and his team did a great job with this film and camera. I appreciate the use of spatial and temporal continuity to convey their non-linear film. Using colors to distinguished time, characters, and the mood was a nice touch as well.

    I can understand all the levels that went into this production from pre-production to post-production; so having this camera (and I’m sure many constraints) was a huge and fun learning experience. From my screen, colors and the smoke looked great. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more from the community!

    - Peace

  • I think people need to remember that this is a camera test. It’s meant to show what someone can expect just grabbing this camera and shooting something with it. Sure the lighting may not have been perfect, shooting wide open may not have been the best decision, or the color not what everyone subjectively would have preferred. But it’s a CAMERA TEST! Not a Micheal Bay Explosions and Robot blockbusterfest.

    Even if this is an example of the worst case scenario of what a filmmaker can expect, then it is a valuable test. So what, Nino and crew aren’t Christopher Doyle… But he did offer a lot of his time and effort to offer you a peak at a new camera. Those of you getting hung up over the story and the editing on a camera test need to remember the point of a CAMERA TEST. I highly doubt that more than a small percentage of NFS readers would be able to produce anything better. If so then you would have been contacted by one of the major players in the camera world to do a test.

    I for one don’t think Nino was out of line with the “T” comment. A lot of the comments are just being overly and repetitively cynical and critical of elements that really don’t matter in this instance. The image is what is in question here. not the story. Not the abilities of the camera man or the editor. Sometimes we don’t have optimum lighting conditions.

    I also love the flip-flop comments on different cameras:
    “This DSLR footage isn’t sharp enough”
    “That 4k image is toooo sharp I can see too many details in the skin”
    “That cameras resolving power is soo low, I could never shoot with that”
    “I can see her skin, it’s so unflattering at 4k”
    “wah wah wah! We have cameras that outperform anything we have ever had, at a super low price point. The bourgeoisie now have the potential to shoot great images too… I’m going to complain about everything”

    Sometimes we suck as a community. Instead of helping each other grow, we seem to enjoy ripping each other apart publicly, and watching each other squirm instead. Does it really make you feel better about your own craft to be that so uppity?

  • I must be the only person in the world who doesn’t like Cronenweth’s style. He’s been attached to some of my favorite films and when I go back and watch the trailers to refresh my memory about the look of them, I am surprised at how bad they were lit.
    I guess different strokes for different folks. He’s much too naturalistic for me.
    My dislike of his work came after seeing Hitchcock recently. It was one of the ugliest films I’ve ever seen!

  • I was stunned to read this was a professional grade done at ‘a big post prod house’. I can only imagine the CGer wasn’t paid and didn’t feel the need to put effort in as I think we can all agree looks less than flattering.

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