sunrise || test shoot

This morning I woke up before sunrise to go do a little test shooting. We recently acquired a new Canon 135 f2 and so I wanted to go and see what this puppy could do. My alarm went of at 6:15 and I thought, as I do every early morning, that somehow someone played a prank on me and set the alarm too early. After giving myself a minute, I packed up my gear and headed out to crescent beach. I was relieved to see that it was a gorgeous clear day because yesterday I went through this same routine only to discover that it was raining out. Once I arrived at the beach I was surprised to see not a soul was around. I thought for sure there would be some early risers who like to get a jog in before work but nope, not-a-one. This got me pretty excited so I started to shoot. I was armed with a 5D, some primes (35 f1.4, 50 f1.2, 135 f2), a monopod and a slider. I just started walking and taking in the beauty. It was one of the most gorgeous BC mornings I had ever seen. I've lived here for most of my life and I was still astounded by the breathtaking sights. As the sun came out it got quite windy which made it a little tricky to stay perfectly still on the monopod but I got by. The 135 performed beautifully. The bokeh is amazing and I'm really excited to use it during a wedding shoot this weekend. Check out the montage below.

Techy Stuff: Audio

Probably one of the most overlooked and underrated areas in filmmaking is audio. Audio is 50% of the experience and is often underestimated. Have you ever watched a movie on mute? Not even close to the same experience. Have you ever tried just listening to a movie? Eyes shut and just listening... you can still follow the story without much confusion. Audio is so powerful. Until I went to film school, I had no idea how much work went into creating the soundscape for a film. I thought I knew but it wasn't until I wrote and directed my own short film that I truly understood. Now obviously in the wedding filmmaking industry, we don't have the option of having an entire audio team come along on a wedding shoot. When we shoot, it's usually a team of 2 and we need extremely hi quality audio in a small package. Here are the tools we use and love.

||Shotgun Mics|| When shooting on HDSLR's, do NOT use the on board microphones. They are complete garbage. Yeah I said it, garbage. Trust me even if you think it doesn't sound all that bad, it does. It may sound ok on your computer speakers but remember all the different types of speakers and systems your film will be played on, the onboard mics just won't do. We use two different types of mics, the Senheiser MKE400 and the Rode VideoMic. Both of these offer superb localized audio. We tend to like the audio that comes out of the VideoMic a little better but they are both fantastic.

||Wireless Mics|| People often ask us how we capture the vows and speeches so clearly. The answer is wireless microphones. We use the Senheiser ew100 G2 system and an omni-directional mic. This allows us to strap a mic on the lapel of the groom and it captures crystal clear audio in about a 3 foot radius. Just don't forget to find the groom and set him up before the ceremony begins... that would suck.

||Recorder|| Now with HDSLR's you've probably realized there are no XLR inputs. There are systems out there that you can add to your camera that will give you XLR inputs but we find those systems don't work well for us. It ends up being added bulk and not great quality. Instead we opt for dual system sound. This is when the sound is recorded separately and then synced up in post. To do this we use the Zoom H4N. This little gem is just what we need. It allows us to record for hours on end without dying and easily adjust quality settings and audio levels. We highly recommend the Zoom.

||Post Production Audio|| Now since there is definitely no time to slate each shot you take during a wedding, syncing audio in post can seem a bit daunting. But have no fear, Plural Eyes by Singular Software will save you hours of time and headaches and is well worth the $150 price tag. This program syncs up all of your audio in your timeline for you. If your syncing audio manually, do yourself a favour and check Plural Eyes out.

So that's it. Extremely high quality audio in a very small package. If you have any questions on how we use these tools or anything else please feel free to leave a comment, shoot us an email or talk to us on twitter.

techy stuff: stabilizing

YO YO YO! Welcome to another edition of 'Techy Stuff'. We've received a bunch of questions lately about how we stabilize our cameras and what gear we use to do so. This post is to briefly go over each piece we use. When we started to use HDSLR's we saw some incredible potential. Initially we thought using the cameras handheld would work fine but we quickly learned otherwise. We use the Canon 5D and 7D and these cameras both have some pretty bad rolling shutter/jelly cam issues. When handheld, the footage comes out extremely jittery, almost as if the person holding it was vibrating. This is because the cameras are so small and light, they pick up every tiny movement you make. This can be avoided by using lenses with IS (image stabilization) but the lenses we choose to use don't have IS, so we've found the best way to avoid these problems is to use some sort of stabilizer at all times.

||Tripod|| We use Manfrotto Tripods. Perfect for ceremonies and speeches. Never underestimate the power of a good tripod and fluid head.

||Monopod|| We have a lot of people ask us about this one. We use the Manfrotto 561BHDV. This is a monopod with a fluid video head on top. This thing is SO versatile. Available for around $300, this is by far the best bang for the buck. Brilliant design with the 3 feet at the bottom and extremely lightweight. It allows us to be extremely portable while being able to get beautiful shots. We use it for the majority of the day... definitely worth every penny.

||Glidecam|| Now there are plenty of different steadi/glidecams out there. We find the one that works best for us is the Glidecam 2000HD. Small and compact, allowing us to travel light. Perfect size to support our Canon cameras and lenses. Works perfectly and allows us to fly around to get some really exciting shots. It definitely takes practice to balance/use but we find it's perfect for weddings and events.

||Track|| We get a ton of questions asking about our tracking shots. People see our films and think we use some sort of huge dolly setup but nope, it's a simple little 3 foot long track. We use the Glidetrack SD. A brilliant little tool that allows us to attach our cameras and slide it around, providing an incredibly high production value shot. If you use one be careful not to over do it. Glidetrack shots looks amazing and it can be very tempting to use it too much.

All of our stabilizers are setup with a manfrotto quick release plate. This allows us to quickly switch from each tool with ease. We really hope this blog post helps you out. We love these tools and what they allow us to do in story telling.

It's a known fact that when you get new camera gear... you go and film vegetation... you just do. Below is a test film I shot a while back when we started using the 5D. Shot on the 5D w/ 35mm 1.4, monopod and glidetrack.

Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions.

PS The Oscars are this Sunday... who do you think is gonna win? Let us know!

Techy Stuff: Cameras and Lenses

We've recently received a few emails, DM's on twitter and vimeo comments asking about what gear we use. I've been holding back on doing a techy post on this for a while but now I think it's time that I answer some of your questions on the bliggity blog… two specifically. 1. "What cameras do you use?" - We shoot exclusively on Canon HDSLR's. More specifically the Canon 5D MKII and Canon 7D. You might be saying to yourself, "but Mac you crazy guy, those cameras were designed for taking photos!". And to that I'd say Yes you are correct, however the built in video options give us the ability to achieve an extremely beautiful filmic look. These cameras allow us to approach shooting weddings in a whole new way. Instead of shooting a wedding with a traditional camcorder and fixed lens, we are able to film with multiple lenses to achieve the look we want in any given scene. I won't go into too much techy jargon but these cameras are amazing tools and we love using them.

2. "What lenses do you shoot with?" - Our 'go to' lenses that we shoot with most often are the Canon 35mm 1.4L and the Canon 50mm 1.2L. We LOVE these lenses. These lenses have very low apertures which gives us the option of a very shallow depth of field. We can really compress the subject we are filming and direct the audiences eye, a huge tool in storytelling. Now you again might be saying to yourself "but Mac, you nut job, why not use zooms?" We prefer shooting with prime lenses so we can get the most out of the lens. Most zooms have a higher aperture and don't allow us to take as much advantage of the compression. Also, the sharpness, colour and contrast of L series primes is unmatched in our opinion. Shooting with primes allows us to think more about what we're shooting. Instead of zooming in to whatever focal length we need, we think about what lens we need for every situation or setup. Ultimately this has made us better cinematographers and storytellers.

Those are some brief answers about the gear we use. If you want to know more about our gear and our philosophy behind using it, please feel free to leave comments on the blog, Facebook, @replies/DM's on twitter, or email us with any techy questions you have. Once in a while I'll post more "Techy Stuff" blogs to answer your questions.

And now I leave you with the song of the day... take a listen here, it very well may blow your mind.