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  • David Cavallo 10:35 pm on May 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 5D Mark 3, 5D Mark III, Anchors, , CP2, DSLR, Marshall, MKIII, monitor, panasonic, Wexler, Zacuto, ,   

    Shooting Anchors: The First Feature Film on the 5D Mark III 

    In mid April, I had the honor of being the first cinematographer to put the Canon 5D Mark III to the test on a feature film, David Wexler’s “Anchors,” which stars Blue Bloods’ Will Estes and The Chernobyl Diaries’ Devin Kelley.

    In this post I’ll give you the lowdown on how the eagerly awaited update to the camera that started the DSLR revolution performed under pressure…serious pressure. And since plenty has already been said about the differences between the Mark II and Mark III by experts like Philip Bloom, Vincent LaForet and Shane Hurlbut, I won’t spend time listing them, but will instead focus on how the camera performed in specific situations and address the differences as they come up. Cool? Cool.

    The eagerly awaited 5D Mark III. Can it stand the 'feature in eight days' test?

    DP David Cavallo on the set of Anchors with the 5DMKIII rig.

    As some of you probably know, at the time of the shoot the Mark III had been out for less than a few weeks, and although I hadn’t really had the opportunity to do much more than casual testing around the Endless Picnic office and at home, my extensive on set experience and thorough testing of the MKII (see EP’s tests here) led me to believe that I would be comfortable with the camera on a tight shooting schedule–if it behaved similarly to its predecessor. (More …)

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  • Alex Ricciardi 1:52 pm on December 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DSLR,   

    ‘East of Broadway’ 5D to 35mm Film-out Test: Part Two – Post 

    As Dave’s earlier blog post will tell you, shooting camera tests for a feature film is no easy job. While I was kicking back in the editing suite with a latte and a stack of comic books, Dave & his crew were out beating the streets, putting the 5D through its paces to see if it could survive the demands of shooting a gritty feature film on location in NYC.

    I was very excited to see the results, and I’m sure you are too–so without further ado, take a look at the test shoots. I’ll be going into all of the tests in more detail right below.

    Now, I know there’s a lot to unpack there, so let’s start at the beginning:


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    • eco_bach 4:49 pm on December 12, 2011 Permalink

      interesting and thanks for posting. Have you considered also considering Jorgen Escher’s latest Marvel’s CInestyle in your tests? http://colorbyjorg.wordpress.com/

    • Samuel Hurtado 7:10 am on December 13, 2011 Permalink

      “I found that the CineStyle, while protecting the shadows and highlights admirably, desaturated the image to such a point that trying to return the saturation to skin tones resulted in a kind of unpleasant look–as if the footage had been pushed too far”

      Same findings here. And still, I found a way to use CineStyle without suffering all these issues: these are the 3 custom picture styles I carry in my camera:

      • CineStyle, with contrast = 0 and saturation = +3 (sometimes only +1)
      • CineStyle, with contrast = -2 and saturation = +3 (sometimes only +1)
      • CineStyle, with contrast = -4 and saturation = +4 (sometimes only +2)

      Extended dynamic range, but just as much as I need for each shot, and pretty nice colors right out of the camera. Have you tried something similar to this? Did you like it, or you still find issues? (I’m not a pro, my eyes are still not well trained to find every IQ issue)

      much more here:

    • Alex Ricciardi 1:23 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink

      @eco_bach – Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t heard of Jorgen’s Marvels Cinestyle, but I’m a big fan of his DSLR Moire removal plugin. I’ll certainly check it out!

    • Alex Ricciardi 1:25 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink

      @Samuel – To be honest, I hadn’t done really extensive testing with modifying the CineStyle preset. Your post about it is extremely informative, thorough, and clear. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting. We’ll be sure to play around with some of those settings you suggested.

    • Samuel H 6:21 pm on February 15, 2012 Permalink

      wandering around the web, I found this again today, so I thought I could post an update to my thoughts on picture styles: unsatisfied by the noise with CineStyle, and with the difficulty grading Marvels Cine, I ended up creating my own suite of picture styles: Flaat 1 through 4:

    • N Dadabhoy 8:20 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks so much for sharing your test. I am about to shoot a feature film myself and we know we will be doing a film out, so we are currently debating whether or not to shoot on the 5D. Unfortunately we do not have the budget to do a similar test, so I would love to know how you felt once you saw the film print projected, and anything else you learned from the process.

  • David Cavallo 12:49 pm on November 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , DSLR, JFA Sound, sound design   

    A Profile of Jesse Flower-Ambroch, Sound Designer 

    Here’s a neat video we’re happy to share with everyone: a profile of our in-house sound mixer and designer extraordinaire, Jesse Flower-Ambroch, produced by Endless Picnic. As you’ll see, Jesse’s travelled the world–quite literally–in search of sound. It was directed by Tyler Cartner, shot by David Cavallo (that’s me!), edited and color corrected by Alex Ricciardi, and, you guessed it, mixed by JFA himself.

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  • Tyler Cartner 6:35 pm on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 744T, 7D, audio, , Canon 7D, DSLR, FCP AuxTC Reader, horita, lockit, Pro-Sound, Sound Devices, sync sound, time code, Videotoolshed   

    Time Code & The 5D MKII 

    In this blog post you’ll learn how to use time code with the 5D or 7D using a Lockit box, FCP AuxTC Reader software and a custom made cable by Pro-Sound of New York City. This will save you precious time on set, as well as allow you to quickly and efficiently sync your footage. But first, any questions?

    Why not record audio straight into the 5D?
    The 5D has a 1/8″ stereo, consumer, mic level input–not ideal for a professional shoot. A consumer, mic-level cable is unshielded and therefore more susceptible to RF noise and it cannot lock into place like an XLR. Also, internally, the 5D has a mediocre analog to digital chip. If you listen to audio recorded straight to the 5D you will hear hiss added to your lovely source audio and find that voices sound a bit thin. I strongly recommend you use a separate recorder when shooting video with this camera.

    Alright, but why not just use a slate?
    The slate is a tried and true method of marrying sync sound and film. However, the slate requires an editor to manually, visually, sync each video clip with its corresponding audio clip. If you’ve done it, you know it’s pretty straight forward, but also time consuming, especially if there are multiple cameras? (More …)

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    • John Schroter 2:25 pm on January 18, 2012 Permalink

      thanks for this excellent post. We just successfully completed a batch of 60 clips using this method. Perfect. I am interested in how to import using the Canon FCP plugin for transcoding. It would help our field media managers if this part of the workflow could remain unchanged. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • Mark 8:57 am on January 28, 2012 Permalink

      Hi Tyler, cool video and blog. Just wondering what your on location workflow is? Does the 744T need the Horita timecode synced to it and then the Horita unit plugged into the camera? Do you really need the slate or is that just for backup? Can you run the whole system in “free run” mode so you can stop and start throughout a day? And if so for how long? Thanks, Mark

    • Tyler Cartner 7:34 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the accolades. When I use this method, the DP typically hands me a hard drive with a copy of the .mov files and I then work my magic using FCP AuxTC. You must have a recorder with time code to act as the master clock. Yes, you must sync the Horita directly to the recorder (744T or other) before connecting to the camera. You caught me! You don’t need a slate at all. I just used it because that’s how I typically work in the field and it looks pretty cool. Yes, the timecode in the demo was set to free run. You could shoot all day with this method, starting and stopping at will. With the Horita lockit boxes I would re-jam them to the recorder at least once an hour because they can drift a frame in an hour. I hope this answers all of your questions.

    • Zach 8:44 pm on February 1, 2012 Permalink

      Im confused when you get to the cabling part. I have the Horita PTG and a Canon 7D. I need a cable that will go from the RCA to my canon’s mini mic jack.

      I’m trying to get the exact setup you have here in your video, but frowned when I read you had Pro Sound make a custom cable 🙁

      Any tips?

    • JP Everaerts 8:49 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink

      Hi Tyler,
      you answer the question everybody was asking thx . But If I use a 744t i can just send the TC from the recorder to the 5D/7D via a cable or via the ambient TC-TRX (money-money) and don’t need another tc generator (no jam sync anymore) ? am I wrong ? Thx

    • Tyler Cartner 9:34 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink

      Yes, you can connect any timecode recorder directly to your 5D/7D as long as you pad down the signal from line to mic level. Correct, you would not need to jam sync if connecting directly to the camera.

    • Tyler Cartner 9:49 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink

      Yes, tips-a-plenty. You need to pad down the signal coming out of your timecode source from line to mic level. You can use an XLR barrel type pad like the PSC ALMP http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/275822-REG/PSC_FPSC0010D_ALMP_Line_to_Mic.html, but you’ll need to adapt on either end to mate with your devices. In the beginning I used one of these massive XLR barrel adapters and it worked fine, it’s just clunky. On the camera end of the barrel I adapted from XLR to RCA female. Then you can connect to the camera using a pretty standard cable, 1/8″ male stereo to two male RCA. On the timecode end you’ll need to adapt from BNC to XLR, this is most easily accomplished by adapting to RCA, then to XLR. It will look like quite the monster when you’re done. This is why I highly recommend you hit up Pro-Sound to make you a cable; you’ll spend just as much on the barrel pad and all the adapters. Good luck.

    • Alex Ricciardi 3:25 pm on February 7, 2012 Permalink

      I have not used this, but I also came across a product online that’s designed to take the signal from a timecode source down to mic level:


    • Tyler Cartner 10:54 am on February 10, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks Alex. I just want our readers to know that the Lockit Buddy goes for $158 plus shipping from the UK. If you order a cable from Pro-Sound in NY it would probably cost less than $80 and you could customize it to have whatever connectors you want. Plus, the Lockit Buddy is a clunky box, while a cable only solution is much more elegant.

    • Stephen 1:48 pm on February 15, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks for a clear explanation of an admirable solution. In my case, I have a 5D Mk II and a Zoom H4n. Would it be possible to split the output of a PTG such as the (Horita or Ambient), feeding one output to the camera, as you have shown, and the other to one of the H4n’s audio tracks? This would give you two files with embedded audio TC, which, I believe, Avid is able to synchronise. I’m not sure about such an idea, as I’m a beginner. Any thoughts will be appreciated.

    • Diego Martinez 6:10 pm on February 15, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks Tyler, good post, fresh data, clear words.
      My contribution: apparently 5D (and 60D and 7D) firmware can be updated to a new version that allows line level input, so no pad or special cable would be needed. Heard of that? Know the firmware version?
      By the way I heard AGC (automatic gain correction) could now also be disabled manually in the menu with the new OS.
      And if you have a SMPTE TC equipped recorder you can always use it as TC master and send the TC signal to the 5D wirelessly using a cheap radio mic kit or even a wireless comm system.
      I guess that only a small chunk of well recorded SMPTE TC per clip will suffice for the FCP AuxTC reader to synchronize the entire file, it should need just a glimpse to the clock.
      So radio drops should not be an issue in this case.

    • Tyler Cartner 2:21 pm on February 26, 2012 Permalink

      I haven’t heard of that, but I’m skeptical. Please do post a follow up if you find out anything tangible on this subject. I find it unlikely that a software pad could be implemented to drop input signal level from line to mic from an engineering stand point.

    • Tyler Cartner 2:23 pm on February 26, 2012 Permalink

      Sure, the output of any time code device is hot! You could split it with room to spare. However, I’m not sure what the workflow would be in Avid. If you find out, report back!

    • Peter-John 5:44 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink

      Tyler, this is very cool and if I can get this to work for me will save me hours of stress. You mentioned that you ordered a custom cable from Pro-sound. Who did you talk to about that there? I would love to get one of those.

    • Tyler Cartner 10:26 pm on April 12, 2012 Permalink

      Hi Peter, or is it John? Anyway, you can talk to anyone there. They sell a little box by Lockit Buddy, which Alex brings up below. The Lockit Buddy does the same thing my cable does. I prefer the cable. You can talk to anyone at Pro-Sound and they’ll be able to help you out. Good luck.

    • Michael B 7:15 am on May 29, 2012 Permalink

      Hello Tyler,
      Thanks for sharing your method. It’s beautiful, and you are the only one showing the whole workflow!

      My goal is to record timecode using your method into a 5d3, using a lockit box from Ambient. I’d like to order cable from Pro-Sound – Here is the question, I’d still like to record some kind of reference audio on the 2nd channel in the 5d3. Is this practical? What’s the best approach (a 2nd mono input on the Pro-sound cable? Configuring the 5d3 (somehow) to record from it’s own mic onto one of the channels? Any recommended spec for the custom cable?

    • Tyler Cartner 9:35 am on May 29, 2012 Permalink

      Hello Michael,
      Once you plug in an 1/8″ plug into the mic input on the 5D it will disable the internal mic so, you’ll have to use an external mic. Yes, your second input on the custom cable should be a mono 1/8″ female jack, which your external mic will plug into. Good luck and tell Pro-Sound I sent you. The most important thing when ordering the custom cable is to tell them to pad down the lockit box channel by at least 50dB. Smart choice to use the Ambient lockit box.

    • Andres Schmidt 11:04 pm on February 16, 2013 Permalink

      Hi Tyler. This sounds good but what about having reference sound in the camera ? What I’m imaging is that in that case you would have the reference audio on one channel and the TC (sound) on the the other, making it really useless to check takes with sound in playback from the camera. Am I wrong ?
      In my case I record to my Fostex FR2 and I send a wireless copy of it to the camera. When the director wants to check a take in playback he also wants to hear the recorded sound on the camera, all together.
      I think he wouldn’t be happy hearing the audio/TC mix…
      Best regards from Santiago de Chile.

    • Tyler Cartner 4:47 pm on February 17, 2013 Permalink

      Hi Andres,
      Yes, this method is not the end all and will certainly not work for everyone. That said, if you are using the 5DmkIII, you could always use the headphone output and figure out a way to playback only the track with audio, muting the TC track. If you are using the mkII, you are out of luck, yes, the TC will shrill and make your poor director’s ears bleed.
      I wish you luck, and I hope to visit Chile one day!

    • Dan McCullough 3:43 pm on October 28, 2014 Permalink

      Tyler, We have just developed a very economical and accurate solution for this. I would love to send you a couple of units to review. Check out the video at the bottom of our web site, then give me a call if you have any interest.

      Best Regards,


    • Tyler Cartner 12:13 pm on August 17, 2015 Permalink

      Thanks Dan, please see the 3rd follow up in the original blog post above. Excellent units at an amazing price!

  • David Cavallo 12:09 pm on September 28, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , DSLR, , test shoots   

    ‘East of Broadway’ 5D to 35mm Film-out Test – Part One: The Shoot 

    As Endless Picnic reaches its first year anniversary, more and more feature films shot with HDSLRs are making their way to theatrical release. But aside from the occasional big budget Hollywood project that incorporates 5D or 7D footage (Black Swan, 127 Hours, Captain America, etc.) most are shown digitally, and rarely get transferred to film and projected.

    Given that, I’m extremely happy to report that we’re in the middle of a truly exciting project: transferring test footage I shot on the Canon 5DMKII with a small crew in NYC, to a 35mm print stock, to be followed by a comprehensive evaluation of the results as projected on the BIG screen at Goldcrest Post in NYC.

    Why the test? It’s for the exciting indie feature film East of Broadway Endless Picnic is producing with Hostage International, starring Haaz Sleiman, scheduled to begin production in February 2012.

    Now on to the details…


    Given the limited production time and budget alloted for the tests–as well as a significant cap on the amount of footage that would be transferred to film, only 6 minutes–I knew I had to choose what to evaluate very carefully, and be as rigorous in my methods as possible.

    At first, this seemed remarkably daunting. Where would I start? With something tried and true, like sharpness/resolution tests of DSLR lenses? If so, Canon zooms versus primes? Zeiss primes versus Canon primes? Or how about full frame sensor depth of field tests? (More …)

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