I recently directed a project for Andrew Cuomo's run for Governor of New York. The video was written by Jonathan Cranin, former Worldwide Creative Director for McCann and produced by Concentric Entertainment (Craig Anderson), DPs myself, Ben Jacks and Chris Bierlein. I worked with a small crew and shot the spot on both the 5d M2 and the Varicam 3700. I will limit my comments on this blog mostly to production matters.
So the shots with people, I shot on the 5d (myself as DP/Sound and few PAs, producer, staff) and Cuomo on the Varicam (full crew gaffer/sound, staff etc...) Surprisingly, I think the 5d not only holds up against the $60,000 + camera, but in image quality/depth of field, it arguably surpasses it. But when it came down to it, it's the "not ready for prime time" shortcomings in audio and output capabilities that caused us to go with the other camera.
Another main reason we shot with the Varicam for the shots of Cuomo was the monitoring aspect. We wanted to be able to have two monitors: one for the clients and one for myself as well as a viewing option for the DP, and that is just not possible on the 5d. There are solutions with an HDMI splitter but they are not reliable. Another important reason to choose the Varicam was the need for a quick turnaround for audio since we were also recording Cuomo's longer policy address as well. Again a big short coming for the 5d.
But for the outdoor, man on the street shots, the 5d was amazing. And my Tascam Dr-100, combined with Sennheiser wireless mics and my think tank multimedia bag worked like a gem for the MOS shots.
So what's the lesson here? It's important in this HDSLR revolution to know the limits of these cameras. It's not the be all and end all. It's just a tool like anything else and it should be used as such when it is appropriate. I ran into a fellow doc filmmaker in B&H recently and she was asking me whether to buy an HDSLR or an EX3. Listening to her thoughts, I ended up agreeing with her to go for the EX3. It's a much more common camera, and btw, a lot of networks have not approved the 5d for use on TV shows.
On another note, I was truly moved to be a part of this moment. As a documentary filmmaker, I am usually in the business of capturing a moment from a distance or retelling the history of a moment. But in this instance, I was actually helping create it. And that was thrilling. And seeing this particular politician at this juncture in his his career was both fascinating and a privilege.
Another note, thanks so much to an amazing crew particularly Scott Olnhausen, Tiffany Faigus (extraordinary production manage and producer) and literally the god of locations - Ernie Karpeles. Literally the best location scout I have ever had the privilege to work with.