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Canon C300 versus Arri Alexa on Game of Thrones


Andrew Reid

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[img]http://www.eoshd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/alexa-vs-c300.jpeg[/img]

Above: Shane Hurlbut ASC shoots a talking heads promo trailer for [url="http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2012/04/dueling-canon-c300-and-arri-alexa/"]HBO’s Game of Thrones[/url] with the Canon C300 (right) and Arri Alexa (left)

How is this for a camera test to end them all? [url="http://twitter.com/#!/hurlbutvisuals"]Shane Hurlbut[/url] was asked to shoot a trailer for Game of Thrones and he took along a couple of C300s to use as C & D cameras to the Alexa A & B. How do they compare?

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/7767/canon-c300-versus-arri-alexa-on-game-of-thrones/"]Read full article[/url]

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Season 1  and  2 was shoot entirely with alexa.


[url=http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39]http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39[/url]

I am not sure why GH2  is mention regards cinema movie with the top dogs

Any idea?
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[quote author=Max link=topic=541.msg3531#msg3531 date=1333814951]
Season 1  and  2 was shoot entirely with alexa.


[url=http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39]http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39[/url]

I am not sure why GH2  is mention regards cinema movie with the top dogs

Any idea?
[/quote]

It is mentioned purely because of the end result being closer than you'd expect for the price gap.

Should be obvious really.

Don't need to go overboard on explaining the obvious. If you were shooting Sky Fall on a $100m budget you'd have to be absolutely out of your mind not to choose the very best cinema camera that technology allows. The GH2 is not that camera, the Alexa is. Simple. But the other story is what EOSHD is about.
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[quote author=Andrew Reid - EOSHD link=topic=541.msg3533#msg3533 date=1333818180]
[quote author=Max link=topic=541.msg3531#msg3531 date=1333814951]
Season 1  and  2 was shoot entirely with alexa.


[url=http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39]http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39[/url]

I am not sure why GH2  is mention regards cinema movie with the top dogs

Any idea?
[/quote]

It is mentioned purely because of the end result being closer than you'd expect for the price gap.

Should be obvious really.

Don't need to go overboard on explaining the obvious. If you were shooting Sky Fall on a $100m budget you'd have to be absolutely out of your mind not to choose the very best cinema camera that technology allows. The GH2 is not that camera, the Alexa is. Simple. But the other story is what EOSHD is about.
[/quote]

On restricted space were a small camera are needed I can see the use of dSLR. I can also see the use of dSLR  mounted on mini remote control helicopter for moving overhead shot instead of mounting an Alexa and risk losing an expensive piece of kit in case it crashes. 
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I'm hoping Panasonic releases a 4K camera with improved dynamic range. I'd also like to see raw support and higher bit depths (10- or 12-bit). And for Pete's sake, please have 4K up front at below $10K, instead of the Sony promise of an upgrade that will, between the firmware update and the recorder, probably double the cost.
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[quote author=Simco123 link=topic=541.msg3534#msg3534 date=1333819773]
[quote author=Andrew Reid - EOSHD link=topic=541.msg3533#msg3533 date=1333818180]
[quote author=Max link=topic=541.msg3531#msg3531 date=1333814951]
Season 1  and  2 was shoot entirely with alexa.


[url=http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39]http://www.arri.de/news.html?article=655&cHash=cc3587c6fb7faace2e86d73d0386df39[/url]

I am not sure why GH2  is mention regards cinema movie with the top dogs

Any idea?
[/quote]

It is mentioned purely because of the end result being closer than you'd expect for the price gap.

Should be obvious really.

Don't need to go overboard on explaining the obvious. If you were shooting Sky Fall on a $100m budget you'd have to be absolutely out of your mind not to choose the very best cinema camera that technology allows. The GH2 is not that camera, the Alexa is. Simple. But the other story is what EOSHD is about.
[/quote]

On restricted space were a small camera are needed I can see the use of dSLR. I can also see the use of dSLR  mounted on mini remote control helicopter for moving overhead shot instead of mounting an Alexa and risk losing an expensive piece of kit in case it crashes.
[/quote]

Also as car cam, that needs light rig, where heavy gear would be a very nasty projectile if there was a problem.

Also DSLRs and small cameras have a stealth factor which can be useful for certain on-location stuff in public spaces.
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I was kind of surprised by some of the comments by Shane on his blog that the c300 still looked like video and that he didn't really like it.  Now he's the pro and I guess has developed a love of the Alexa look and that is fine.  I really like the colors better in the c300 myself and it seemed to have a lot higher resolution.  Now, I can see where high resolution is perhaps giving the "video" look maybe.  I think I would rather start with high resolution and tone it down in post if you want to.  Lower resolution is probably more flattering on actors though and the smoothing gives a more cinematic look perhaps.

I know there was a bit of a problem with the white shirt from the c300 scenes and that the Alexa deals with highlight and shadow roll-off better which I'm sure play a big part in the "video" look of c300.

He actually said something on his site that maybe the 5D was a fluke and had a cinematic look, like he preferred its look over the c300.  That make me think high resolution is actually being downgraded by some and being called the "video" look..  Kind of like you say to watch on a big screen TV and not your monitor.
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[quote author=TimeZone link=topic=541.msg3540#msg3540 date=1333824997]
I was kind of surprised by some of the comments by Shane on his blog that the c300 still looked like video and that he didn't really like it.  Now he's the pro and I guess has developed a love of the Alexa look and that is fine.  I really like the colors better in the c300 myself and it seemed to have a lot higher resolution.  Now, I can see where high resolution is perhaps giving the "video" look maybe.  I think I would rather start with high resolution and tone it down in post if you want to.  Lower resolution is probably more flattering on actors though and the smoothing gives a more cinematic look perhaps.

I know there was a bit of a problem with the white shirt from the c300 scenes and that the Alexa deals with highlight and shadow roll-off better which I'm sure play a big part in the "video" look of c300.

He actually said something on his site that maybe the 5D was a fluke and had a cinematic look, like he preferred its look over the c300.  That make me think high resolution is actually being downgraded by some and being called the "video" look..  Kind of like you say to watch on a big screen TV and not your monitor.
[/quote]

I Think the difference is between resolution and sharpness.  Both cameras are capable of true 1080 resolution, but the c300 in this shoot is perhaps set with added sharpness on.  I think it is this added sharpness that creates the video look he was referring to.

Baked in contrast is another thing that looks 'video' to me, but this is one thing the c300 does not suffer with.  Only the highlights with suffered in this test, which may have been solved by shooting with a flatter profile.  This may have helped with the purple fringing as well but I'm only guessing.

As for the 5d being a fluke.  Not really.  Still DSLR's were designed to compete with film SLRs from the very beginning, so it doesn't surprise me that the canons look film like.  However I do suspect that canon may have added a slight blur filter to the 5dmk3 video.  Not to make it film like, but to protect the c300.
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As much as I love GH2's resolution and codec, I think you might be forcing the GH2 into this conversation.

Resolution is one of the least important parts of why you'd choose to use a C300 or Alexa. You'd want the dynamic range, you'd want the insane low-light, the great skin tones, the flexibility of C-LOG or RAW.

You can certainly get a shot on the GH2 that outdoes or matches the big dogs, but its a totally different look and you'd much more easily run into one of the GH2's limitations.
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I'm not saying the GH2 outdoes anything.

It is well known what the strengths of an Alexa are.

The GH2 is not going to be an A-cam on Bond.

You just quoted back at me what I wrote in my own article! "You'd want the dynamic range, the great skin tones".

What I am saying is that you can intercut between the 3 cameras perfectly well.
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[quote author=TimeZone link=topic=541.msg3540#msg3540 date=1333824997]
I was kind of surprised by some of the comments by Shane on his blog that the c300 still looked like video and that he didn't really like it.(...)
 
Lower resolution is probably more flattering on actors though and the smoothing gives a more cinematic look perhaps.[/quote]

[quote author=MattH link=topic=541.msg3542#msg3542 date=1333826673]I Think the difference is between resolution and sharpness.  Both cameras are capable of true 1080 resolution, but the c300 in this shoot is perhaps set with added sharpness on.  I think it is this added sharpness that creates the video look he was referring to[/quote]

It may be not just a matter of taste: A beautiful image is never described as crisp and punchy, but could be described as softer, richer and finer in definition.

???

How can it be softer and better defined at the same time?

Because in direct comparison to analogue film or digital cinema packages with their 12-bit JPEG 2000 the colours in our videos look like manually coloured b&w. They are poorly defined and not rich in any sense. They have no depth, no vibrancy. They look like cheap video. You should test it. Actually, you don't need direct comparison. Just watch your video on a very big screen as dcp with the standard widescreen-presets.

Of course, if you feel an image is just too sharp, you can put Tiffen LCF on the lens.
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I find these kinds of comparisons to be VERY helpful and informative for aspiring film makers like me who are at the beginning of the process of learning what makes the great films we like look so good.  It's often hard to quantify what is missing and seeing these comparison has given us more insight into the flaws of lesser cameras and how we can look to try and work around those weaknesses for our own lower budget films. 

Clearly when in a pro situation where only the best is expected and time is limited you can't be fooling around with a camera that can't handle highlights or can't deal with low light either.  You can get great results no matter what the lighting conditions and that is what you'd expect.  however, for low budget film makers who have to figure out before hand what the limits of their gear are, this stuff is very helpful.  There are low priced cams that can excel in a limited range of use so long as you know what it can and can't do.  I would have no problem using a GH, 5Dmk3 or D800 for a low budget film knowing what these cams can do in relation to the best can only help.  Now we can explore workarounds to some of the problems with the Look of the footage from the DSLR's. 
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[quote author=PAVP link=topic=541.msg3558#msg3558 date=1333862945]Now we can explore workarounds to some of the problems with the Look of the footage from the DSLR's.[/quote]

If you took Shane Hurlbuts[i] Last Three Minutes[/i] (he was the DOP) and showed it in a cinema, nobody would think of video. Although his camera was only capable of a resolution around 720p (the Canon 5D Mii). He didn't count on detail, he counted on the power of an enigmatic composition (EDIT: I meant emblematic. But I'm afraid my English is terrible today, I hope you *get the picture*). Or, as one of my favourite filmmakers put it, the film image is a recording of an image or else it is only a recording.
In the cinema where I work as projectionist there was a little festival with student films once. One could deliver on DCP, on BD or DVD. The most cinematic look came from a Sony EX-1 with a 35mm-adapter. The latter provided the soft roll-off. Probably this cumbersome DoF-machine cost resolution too (the resolution of the recording, not the resolution of the image), but hard to say, since it came on DVD and was projected onto a 50 feet wide screen. One would think that this must have looked terrible. It didn't. The scaler (an interface to adapt different image sizes from external sources to the fixed 2k chip) did a good job with the interpolation, but had the DOP relied on detail, this wouldn't have helped. And he [i]had[/i] a lot of long shots (the set was a big restaurant).

Videolook is produced by the wrong concept. There are films that want to overwhelm you with their aesthetic richness (very often particularly the films that lack the surplus of high dynamic range, more than sufficient colour depth and colour resolution). Even the technically perfect examples never become successful films (find an IMAX theatre to watch them). We should not try to follow this path. Our images should be recordings of images, not just recordings.
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