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Shooting in natural environments, need help please !


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I am new to this forum (first post) and beginner filmaker and I will need advice ...
Last June I started shooting for my documentary project on the local natural heritage, for now with my own money, so my gear is rather light...
I'm shooting with a Canon Eos 70D DSLR, outdoor, and i'm shooting the natural spaces of a valley (along a river).
At the start I wanted to film in RAW with Magic Lantern, but with my 70D i'm stuck in 720p (for a continuous recording), so finally i've shot in a compressed way, Mpeg-4 All-I 8bit 4:2:0 @1080p 29.97fps with a picture style (EOSHD C-LOG (0,-4,-4,2)) + Vari ND Filter, hoping to get myself out of it even in post-prod ...
But here the quality of the images, in a context of shooting outdoors in shaded places very contrasted (...), do not satisfy me !
So I would like to have advice to achieve a higher quality outdoor shots (natural light)?
To illustrate my purpose you can see these few shots that I graded in Resolve + corrections in After Effects: https://vimeo.com/alexandrewebercom/riviereardeche
The third shot is particularly ugly ...

- Have I "pushed" the mpeg-4 too far by color grading it or is it simply the limitations of this compression?

- How do I do with hyper contrast scenes (it was about 14h when shooting)?

- Am I condemned to film in RAW whatever the chosen camera (to be able to uncork the blacks or to recover in the whites in post-prod)?

- Is it better that I under-expose or over-expose this type of scene?

- Can you suggest gear/ configuration more suitable for my use: Camera, Raw / Prores, Log, external recording ... ?

Thanks a lot !

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's hard to tell from the short footage but it looked okay. If I owned a 70D I would definitely be taking advantage of Raw and DPAF, even at 720p, but I think there are builds of ML that shoot in 10 or 12 bit that will get you closer to 1080p... probably 2:35 ratio. 

I wouldn't consider Raw a condemnation but if you don't want to shoot in it, there are plenty of other options. Of course Raw or ProRes will probably give you the most latitude in post. With the cameras that shoot it, at a lower price point, you have the BMPCC or BMMCC for 1080p Raw or ProRes, or the 5D3 for 1080p ML Raw.

Or if you're looking for a more user friendly camera, you could always get the GH5.

If you don't want to spend that kind of money but still want to be able to grade footage in post within a modest h.264 codec, then the Panasonic G85 will give you a little leeway with the CineLikeD profile or if you want good 1080p, the Nikon D5500 or D7200 has a really nice Flat Profile that handles grading fairly well.

Hope that helps. 

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When i did the shots ML raw @10 bit - 12 bit had not been released yet... and yes i think it's closed to 1080p, as you said probably 2.35 ratio. I have not tested it yet...

Yeah BMCC 4K or 5D3 with ML would be a good choice for shooting in raw. BMPCC wouldn't be my choice due to the important crop factor and i've saw some tests on it that mentionned the dynamic range in raw is not as wide as Black Magic claims.

Thanks mercer for your advices.

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