Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bruce Dorn

Bruce Dorn has been a director and cameraman since 1980. He thought he'd retired from motion picture work a few years ago, but then, in his own words "along came the Canon 5D Mark II with this incredible HD functionality." He's a Canon Explorer of Light and travels throughout the country lecturing and teaching workshops, as well as shooting various projects that interest him. His company, iDC Photo Video, is now selling some rigs and follow-focus units he developed. The following comments are from his talk at the recent Canon Expo:

It really is quite a challenge to do this z-axis focus pulling, but you know what? Skill is the new black, we’re back to learning how to do manual stuff again.
Manual focus is how we control the viewers attention. The trick on manual focus is; don’t over correct. You go until it feels sharp and then leave it. The last thing you want to do is rock and roll. Indecisiveness is not rewarding.
It’s a challenge to work with extreme shallow depth of field, so some filmmakers have actually discovered when they’re working with the 5D vs the 7D that they need to stop down just that little bit more so they have a little fudge factor on their plain of focus.
I’m going to be repeating one theme throughout the afternoon; practice, practice, practice. You know it’s funny, you wouldn’t buy a violin and immediately call yourself a violinist, but you might buy a camera and call yourself a photographer.
If you want to learn something about camera operating, find something that moves in a rapid and random manner; if you don’t have some wild horses in your neighborhood, find a local kid who’s hyperactive, feed him some sugar…
Make sure you run at least a fifteen second clip so you’ve got a little head and a little tail to work with.
If you’re shooting something on the fly and you don’t have any time to think, maybe use Auto White Balance, otherwise I’m going to strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Kelvin temperature scale and work with Kelvin. The last thing you want when you’re doing a sequence of shots in a room, is for it to change color balance on every single clip. You’re going to increase you’re post production difficulties if you do that.
The high ISO capabilities means that for interior scenes we can now work with small LED light sources. Frankly, I think the smart way to do a scene is to go into a room, see what light you have there, pop off a test exposure, and then fine tune the light with the minimum number of instruments.
All of the normal automation styles, Av, Tv, Program are available in video. Don’t do it! Everybody raise you’re hand, say “I promise not to use the automated modes.”
The Picture Style that most serious filmmakers have landed on is Neutral. This is the least amount of in-camera processing, and this will give you the closest thing to a RAW workflow for your video capture. Now its going to look flat, desaturated, and not terribly sharp, it kind of looks ugly out of the camera. You gotta get used to it. What you want is put your sharpening and your saturation and your contrast in after the fact, when you can more finally tune it.
I just want to make a case for the f/4 lenses […] especially now that the ISO has gone to where it is. The f/4 lenses are a bargain and they’re incredibly sharp. So whenever you’re thinking that your wallet might be smoking, look at the f/4’s and maybe it will start to simmer down a little bit.
The camera’s have the capability to understand what lens is mounted to them [...] if you activate Peripheral Illumination Correction it will correct some lens aberrations that were too expensive to correct in the manufacturing process.
Macro lenses: How do you decide which one to pick? I have a simple formula, note this well; if it bites or stings, use the 180.
There are a few producers - actually I’ve worked with a couple of them - who think that since the camera is inexpensive, the production doesn’t need to have any money spent on it, and somehow it’s still going to be brilliant.

I spent two weeks eating Slim Jims from the craft service table because that was the only food the producer made available. And they don’t make you slim, amazingly enough.
[Using the 5D on a music shoot] They had ten Sony F900’s under the control of a live director and I was a wild camera. The word I heard back from the producer was, angrily, it was hard to cut from the Sony stuff to mine because the 5D footage looked so much better than the hundred thousand Sony’s.

iDC Photo Video

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