Jump to content
Frank5

Documentary for TV broadcast with EOS M1

Recommended Posts

Hi there, I am now on my third short documentary. My films usually combine conservatively shot interviews with handheld b-roll of everyday subjects, such as light reflecting in a cup of coffee etc. I am an audio pro by training, so my sound is always superb. I am shooting everything with the EOS M1 and M2 and the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Lens on Cinestyle, loving the portability and unobtrusiveness. I have a professional lighting person for the interviews and grader for all footage. Feedback so far for the overall quality of the work has been nothing but excellent and nobody assumed the films were shot on consumer cameras for $300 each.

A TV channel has offered to broadcast my latest work for which I am in preproduction. Their tech specs require footage to be recorded with at least 100Mbit/s on a "professional video camera" and require a special permission to use DSLR footage. The EOS M1 and M2 that I used up to now will not fulfill this requirement. I dread the thought of giving up the experience and form factor of the M, so my question: Has anyone here shot a documentary with the EOS M that was broadcast or is the attempt to do this plain silly? Many thanks for your feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony Cameras

I can't answer your question directly, but if I were in your shoes I'd most definitely take up the offer to have the work broadcast, and I'd rent the proper camera to shoot your documentary at appropriate spec. It sounds like your career is moving forward, no need to limit yourself to save a few bucks, as this next project will likely lead to more (larger in nature, I presume). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Panasonic also has some very nice, small m43 cameras like the G7 and the GH4. With a speedbooster they can also use FF lenses. The well-built GH4 can output 10-bit 4K V-LOG to an external recorder. This won't give as much grading possibilities as a Blackmagic camera, but the 4K footage is still very nice.

Regarding shooting your doc on the EOS M1: it's possible, but why would you put so much effort in your sound, your lighting, your story, ... to then use a not-very-good camera? To me it would make more sense to get at least something like a Panny G6, Sony a6000, ... Or to rent a camera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C100markII or C300(I or II) seem like a safe bet, very easy to use, the C100 is rather small as well (not M1 territory, but still), but you have to be specific with your codecs, C100 par example has a much lower bitrate than the afforementioned one.

You have to ask specifically what cameras do they accept, it will be a petty to create technical obstacles for no reason, and M1/2 are rather bad video cameras, you can easily surpass them and got better results.

Do you have a site? Your story sounds really optimistic and worthfollowing.

Goodluck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Frank5 said:

Thanks for your feedback. I shot with the Ms mainly out of habit and because I know exactly how to achieve with them what I want. It's time to upgrade after all. But the form factor is/was amazing.

Obviously, you should upgrade given the opportunity. With this post, be prepared to get a recommendation for almost every camera manufacturer. So, here's mine... I think your first inclination is the correct one... Get a C100 mkii and be done with it. But another question worth asking is... What lenses do you currently own?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe a certain export setting will make your footage qualify. I remember someone telling me once they can't tell the difference. Not sure if that was for TV though. I saw something on TV obviously filmed with one of the crappy CCTV lenses the other day or a cheap wide angle convertor, so standards cant be that high. I would probably copy it to a USB, visit local TV store and plug it into the biggest TVs. If it looks good insist it meets their specs and you might be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I say if you're comfortable with your gear and you feel it offers you creative flexibility, stick to it.

Have a conversation with the station manager.  

Send the broadcast station some of your work, have one of their goofball engineers scope it out, and just go ahead and ask for the special permission.  Broadcast specs are guidelines.  If it looks good and the story is good, they'll make exceptions.  If they don't, then there's something wrong with them not what you're providing them.  Good craft and story should trump limited specs.

You should see the stuff that's presented on the local PBS station where I'm at.  The fact that they shoot on "pro" cameras is irrelevant.  Bad shooting is bad shooting.

And if you're doing great audio then that already makes it better than most, so see what they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In most countries, broadcast standards require at least 4:2:2 color sampling in broadcast-quality codecs. This excludes practically sll DSLR and mirrorless cameras proposed here in this thread unless you combine them with an external recorder. The cheapest camera to record broadcast quality video internally is the Canon XC10 (or the BM Pocket, yet with some strings attached regarding IR filtration, sound recording and extra cost for lenses).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

export the master file in pro res and tell them you shot it on whatever their favourite camera is. 

 

If the image is broadcast legal, in focus and has minimal noise you should be fine. i suspect you probably lens your work nicely- which is where so much of the look comes from.

 

As a Gh4 user i can strongly reccomend going with that and speed boosters for your current lenses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are used to shooting on Canon and have a well developed post workflow, then I'd stick with Canon.  I'm assuming you are not shooting extreme low light with the M1 and a 2.8 lens, so the XC10 might be your best bet to keep it small and unobtrusive.  Otherwise a C100 + ninja star, or 1DC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On September 17, 2016 at 4:33 AM, Frank5 said:

...A TV channel has offered to broadcast my latest work for which I am in preproduction. Their tech specs require footage to be recorded with at least 100Mbit/s on a "professional video camera" and require a special permission to use DSLR footage....

It is ironic that networks require this since the technical quality they deliver is often so poor. Note this frame grab of NBC footage from the Olympics. It is smeared, blurry, full of artifacts. Their excuse would probably be "it's not us, it's Comcast". However transmission of network content is a signal chain that's only as strong as the weakest link. If they permit gross degradation of image quality at any point in the chain, then being persnickety about technical matters at other points is simply lost in the noise. It implies they don't really care about image quality.

i-BKWbk3B-X3.jpg

 

The technical quality of NBC Olympic content delivered to end users was so bad that the below footage from 1894 was actually better. Imagine that -- some of the first film footage ever shot, and it's better than what NBC delivered. Despite having supercomputers on a chip, satellites in space, and optical fiber spanning the globe, the delivered quality was worse than an old piece of film.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, joema said:

It is ironic that networks require this since the technical quality they deliver is often so poor. Note this frame grab of NBC footage from the Olympics. It is smeared, blurry, full of artifacts. Their excuse would probably be "it's not us, it's Comcast". However transmission of network content is a signal chain that's only as strong as the weakest link. If they permit gross degradation of image quality at any point in the chain, then being persnickety about technical matters at other points is simply lost in the noise. It implies they don't really care about image quality.

i-BKWbk3B-X3.jpg

 

The technical quality of NBC Olympic content delivered to end users was so bad that the below footage from 1894 was actually better. Imagine that -- some of the first film footage ever shot, and it's better than what NBC delivered. Despite having supercomputers on a chip, satellites in space, and optical fiber spanning the globe, the delivered quality was worse than an old piece of film.

 

Oh, brother.  If you are willing to pay Comcast $80 a month for a highly compressed crap picture who is an idiot in this scenario NBC or you?

My advice is use 1930s technology called an antenna and watch NBC for free with a much sharper picture.  Does NBC have to come to your house and spoon feed you?  I plug my $50 antenna into my Windows 8.1 PC with media center and have a free DVR.  I don't have cable because I don't want to pay for a crappier picture.

Using Comcast as an excuse to do a pro job with an M1 is weak.  I am an amateur but for my day job no one would even think of cutting corners like that.  Honestly for a lot of pro shoots camera rentals are the least of their expenses.  If someone is thinking of doing this as a job I would probably just get a loan and buy a C100 mk II.  Use it for the project and sell it.  Someone sold one for $3,500 on ebay in August.  The camera sells for $3,999 new at B&H.  Do the math.  Even with ridiculous ebay fees you are probably out $1,000 when it is all said and done.  And your 1080p video looks great.

I don't know.  $1,000 investment for your day job?  Peanuts in my industry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only thing you can do is ask what is acceptable to use (they'll normally have a list of cameras) & rent for this one job, if it pays or gets you more work then consider buying something to keep getting broadcast work. Also, ask if what you're using will be good enough.

Having worked for the BBC, I know that broadcast standards are pretty high & it is more to do with how they have to deliver the footage. Therefore DSLR footage just isn't going to cut it in most instances, because they have to compress the footage into a deliverable format & in most cases it will fall apart - hence the 100Mbit/s min requirement. The special permission aspect is almost certainly to do with the fact that they'll have to spend extra time/money getting your DSLR footage up to scratch & they really don't like doing this - they'll see it as a waste of time & money, unless your piece is something that is going to get a lot of interest/viewers (ratings, it's all about ratings).

Don't let something like renting out a camera for a job put you off - this is your break & treat it as such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Frank5 said:

This is excellent feedback, many thanks to you all for the encouragement. It is obviously time to upgrade and I'm looking forward to shooting the new project on a rental C100ii or C300ii.

If you are thinking of going with the c100ii, unless you need the 60p and DPAF, I would consider just buying a used c100 mk1 from eBay. You can usually find them for $2000, I actually saw one go for $1600 a couple weeks ago. I saw a mark ii go for around $2500. The rental cost would be a quarter of that. So unless you are definitely using Canon EF glass for the DPAF and you need the 60p, the mk 1 may be more than enough and some people prefer the image from the mk 1 better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you know what you're doing you won't have any issue with a bump up in camera gear.  I still think you'd be okay with what you're doing as is, but I suppose it depends on the situation you have to navigate with your particular TV station.  Getting your footage up-to-scratch probably isn't an issue for you at all.

Having a great camera is nice, no doubt.  If you're good, you should own or rent a great camera.  Doing so if fun and awesome  --but to think automatically that something is unworthy because of the tech of how it's acquired?  I just don't buy into that.  Everything is relative.  

FWIW, I have a colleague that's been shooting an emmy award winning sports program for 5 years on 8-bit Canon DSLR's.  (some of their cameras are as low-brow as the T2i) They broadcast their show all over the TeeVee airwaves.  Source camera has never been a problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×