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jcs

Bigfoot [4k], Canon 1DX II and C300 II

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We finished our first full episode of Cosmic Flow on Bigfoot (and aliens): 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mIVRphxFHU

 

The was my first time using the 1DX II for an interview (with Canon 24-105 F4L). I used an on-camera light (Aputure AL-H198) which is daylight balanced while the interior lights appeared to be tungsten balanced. Lesson learned: bring the tungsten (orange) filter for these kinds of shoots. It was a bit of a challenge to get skintones looking good in post with mixed lighting. I also used the normally reliable Canon AWB as this was a fast shoot with changing light color. In retrospect I should have shot fixed WB and corrected in post. I used my custom CLog/CineStyle-like picture profile which boosts shadows and pulls highlights down slightly. The forest background shots and plates for greenscreen were also shot on the 1DX II.

The studio and Bigfoot recreation shots were shot on the C300 II, set up in "ARRI mode" and I used an ARRI LUT in Premiere Pro CC.

PDAF was used on both cameras and worked great.

Audio: Sennheiser wireless + Rode NTG2 for interview, Audix SCX-1 (interior), Schoeps CMC641 (interior), and Schoeps CMIT5U (exterior). I used EQ and a simple compressor and expander ('Dynamics') for the interview (no noise reduction- there was fan/white noise on location). No audio tweaking except for minor volume tweaks for the studio and recreation shots.

Editing was done in Premiere Pro CC. On a 3GHz 12-Core 2010 MacPro with 24GB RAM, SSDs, and GTX 980ti (6GB), Premiere Pro CC struggled to play back the 4K footage from both cameras, especially green screen which requires processing two streams at once. I used 1/2 resolution for playback and later 1/4 and 1/8 when working on audio to try to get continuous playback without PP CC stopping. One shot was edited in FCPX- the Bigfoot-in-the-tree shot. I wanted to see how well FCPX handled keying, compositing, and masking, and it worked extremely well. It was much easier to get a good key (effortless really), masking was super fast and easy (UI interaction), and playback with smooth at full resolution. So I rendered out that shot in ProRes and brought it into PP CC.

The spark gag was done in After Effects. I hadn't done particles outside of 3D Studio Max, so I looked at the various options in Motion, After Effects and 3rd party plugins. After a few minutes in Motion I gave After Effects a try (which I know how to use a bit better, though AE is much slower to use and render than Motion). Googling turned up the Particle World effect and in a few minutes I tweaked it to create the basic effect I was looking for. I saved the composition to disk and was able to load it directly into Premiere and drop on the timeline above the shots (actors and greenscreen). Tweaking the effect to fit the scene back in AE and updating on disk, which updated in PP CC, seemed faster than when I did something similar in the past using Dynamic Link.

The UFO was a 'quick & dirty' I created a while ago in 3DS Max (rendered out with an alpha channel). It's a gag prop so no effort to make it look 'real' ;)

The C300 II worked great and was easy to use. The Canon 24-105 F4L was used for hand-held shots, and the 24-70 F2.8 II for studio shots. I always shoot in 'ARRI' mode as the colors and post grading are fast, easy, and consistent (Canon Log 2, Cinema Gamut, and 'Production' (ARRI) Matrix). The C300 II is a superior video camera vs. the 1DX II other than size, weight, and stealth. I thought using the joystick for selecting the focus region would be a step down vs. the 1DX II touch screen, however I started using the joystick on the 1DX II since it allows me to maintain a steadier grip while shooting.

Let us know what you think of the show (good or bad) and please like & share if you enjoyed it! Cosmic Flow is science (I'm the open-minded science guy) meets metaphysics/paranormal (Jacqui) for drama. We cover a bit of biology, psychology, and health/nutrition as well (those episodes are perhaps more informational than entertaining, though we're working on making those topics more entertaining (e.g. incorporating a story)).

 

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2 hours ago, independent said:

Other than the XLR inpputs and built-in ND's, in what ways was the C300 II better than the 1DX II? 

Viewfinder is helpful outside in bright light, handheld shots are more stable (3 point contact when using viewfinder + handle + mass), Canon Log 2 highlight roll off (much better than even CLog on the 1DC), and most importantly, when using the 'ARRI' config, post grading is super fast and skintones look great with little effort. While this episode was shot in 4K, when 1080p is desired (for faster edits and smaller files), the C300 II's 1080p is much better than the 1DX II's (soft, aliased). For stills, stealth video, and 4K60, the 1DX II is superior.

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2 hours ago, tomekk said:

The lighting looks a bit flat, imho. Content is not my type of thing so I don't comment on it.

Flat light for the interview shots? If so, was intentional to deal with poor lighting and skintone issues. Less contrast in this case is more flattering. Masking just the face/skintones takes a lot more time.

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On 6/11/2016 at 2:50 PM, independent said:

Other than the XLR inpputs and built-in ND's, in what ways was the C300 II better than the 1DX II? 

Rolling shutter appears lower on the C300 II, based on using Warp Stabilizer and getting less 'wiggles' than the 1DX II (4K24p).

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DPAF is pretty similar, though I've seen more hunting with the C300 II. Could be related to CLog2 or simply the shooting conditions. When shot in the studio results were similar.

Another point is the 1DX II is weather sealed, the C300 II is not (fan vents too). However I've read that heat effects image noise on 1DX II, and it does get pretty warm being sealed, so I turn it off frequently. The C300 II has a powerful fan, so can leave on all day (wall power); fan stops while recording.

When no issues with permits or weather, especially for handheld, the C300 II will create better footage: 10- or more bits, better HL roll off and DR, NDs, pro- audio, much less RS means little or no squiggles after post stabilization. That said in many conditions both cameras can capture quality that is indistinguishable between cameras.

The more expensive camera is indeed better, as is the Alexa/Amira/Mini better than the C300 II for DR, HL roll off, noise grain, color. However, again in many situations, most people would not be able to tell ARRI from C300 II or 1DX II.

 

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On 6/12/2016 at 0:05 AM, jcs said:

Flat light for the interview shots? If so, was intentional to deal with poor lighting and skintone issues. Less contrast in this case is more flattering. Masking just the face/skintones takes a lot more time.

Not only interview. Pretty much everywhere it looked flat to me. Shadows are pretty much the only thing that give depth/dimension to people's faces in a 2d image. The part when both of you talk together in a studio could've used a bit more lighting variation, IMHO. It's a controlled situation after all. Random video I've found just to show you what I mean. Content aside, pay attention to how the light falls on his face.

 

 

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On 6/16/2016 at 4:41 AM, tomekk said:

Not only interview. Pretty much everywhere it looked flat to me. Shadows are pretty much the only thing that give depth/dimension to people's faces in a 2d image. The part when both of you talk together in a studio could've used a bit more lighting variation, IMHO. It's a controlled situation after all. Random video I've found just to show you what I mean. Content aside, pay attention to how the light falls on his face.

 

Yeah, that's a good point. The studio shots were 3 main lights (2 at ~45 degrees and one straight on) and a hair light (plus lights on the green screen). For something dramatic, vs. simple interview on a green screen, shaped light would certainly help. Part of the challenge is we have mostly LED panels which aren't as easily shaped as spots with modifiers (have a few Einstein 640 strobes and a bunch of modifiers for stills). Only recently have LED spots been getting decent color and sufficient light output (still a little ways to go). I can do tricks in post to simulate certain lighting effects; that takes more time. Additionally, we'd need to plan the shots in advance so that if we used dramatic lighting, the foreground would need to match the background plate's lighting, etc.

I agree with Laforet's comments in that video- while a beautiful image is very important, story and content are far more important. At this stage we need to improve our content, and from everything I've read, that means shooting as much as possible, and not spending a lot of time on the technical aspects: better to spend more time writing and shooting more until storytelling skills are up to par.

Just shot 3 more pieces and edited in Final Cut Pro X vs. Premiere to speed up editing. Was way faster and super easy to learn (only used FCPX for short/simple projects/tests). FCPX is much simpler and constraining vs. PP CC, however the results were good enough and the massive reduction in time wasted dealing with crashes and bugs in PP CC as well as an order of magnitude faster 4K editing performance (C300 II) were very refreshing creative improvements! The more I focus on the creative side, the less time I want to spend/deal with technical elements (especially working around bugs, etc.).

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2 hours ago, FilmMan said:

JCS, 

Keep up the good work.  Much appreciated that you share your videos and expertise too.  Cheers.

Thanks FilmMan!

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