Here is another episode in the B&H series we did in 2011, this time on the HDSLR cinematographer’s starter kit. A transcript follows. Although I’m using the Canon 5D Mk II in the video, this doesn’t apply just to the 5D. The methodology is the same for other DSLR cameras.
HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema
Shane Hurlbut, ASC discusses what you need to work on the HDSLR platform.
Episode 4: Cinematographer Starter Kit
Hi. I’m Shane Hurlbut, ASC and welcome to the B&H HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema. Episode 4: Cinematographer Starter Kit.
You’ve decided to shoot on the HDSLR platform but you’re not sure what you need. Well, I’ve got it all splayed out here on the table for you. I started with this simple device that I call the Man Cam. It’s kind of half handheld, half steady cam. I would move this baby around. You can be low. You can be high. You can swing around. This was my capture device.
What do you need to accessorize the Man Cam? The Z-Finder is one of your most powerful tools in this platform. You have to be able to focus and this gives you that ability. It’s incredible. It has a diopter. You can select different views 2x, 3x, 2.5x magnification. That’s the one I like the best.
The other thing you need is a handheld rig. This is a very light camera and by being very light, it means it gets a lot of vibration if you’re just holding it in your hand. I can pop this baby off the Man Cam. If I go in my hand, this is what we call stripper mode. It’s all stripped down. It’s just you walking and running around with this thing. It tends to vibrate in your hand and not be very stable and there are a lot of rolling shutter anomalies.
What we’ve done is put together this handheld rig, the Redrock shoulder rig. With this high speed base plate, you’re able to snap it right off the Man Cam rig and then put it right back on to this baby and now you’re up and running. Now you’ve got your handheld. It’s very stable. The cool thing about this is it weighs like 7 lbs. You can come back. You can bend down. I’m not taking a knee. I’m using my knees and I’m 46 years old.
It is still a still camera so there’s a little funkiness and a little quirkiness to it. If I’m watching it, no one else can see it. You’re going to need a Marshall On-Board Monitor. This is very important. This clips right on to this baby and gives you the ability to frame off of the Marshall. You send a feed out of the camera through the Marshall Monitor back to Video Village.
Now, follow focus. You’re going to need to be able to follow focus. This is an Arri follow focus that I use in my kit. Zacuto makes one. Redrock makes one. There are a lot of people making these follow focuses. I gravitated towards the Arriflex, which basically goes right down in here, locks in and you’ve got your follow focus.
What else do you need? Well, you need memory cards. The Extreme 8GB is my choice. I have 8 GB and I also have 16GB. These are 60 mb per second and they rock. You need back up batteries because these batteries, they last 30-45 minutes but when it’s hot or it’s cold, they’re going to run down a lot quicker so you need at least 4 or 5 of these to back yourself up.
If you want to upgrade to remote follow focus, I use the BarTech. This device is incredible. It has a motor that goes on to your camera, on to your lens, and focuses remotely.
One thing that gives you the amazing power with this platform that takes something that’s ordinary and makes it extraordinary is neutral density filters. If you’re shooting day exteriors and you’re at 160, you’re going to be in probably 11-16 split maybe even a 22 without filtration, so everything’s going to be in focus. You don’t want that.
This is a filter that I designed along with Tiffen. It’s Water White Glass and it’s engineered specifically for the Canon 5D. It understands its color space and gives you the cleanest filtration out there. Tiffen Water White in 4 x 5 or you can get them also in 77mm. They screw right on to the lens. It’s very simple. You set it up like that.
You’ve got to power this whole rig up. If you want to power your on-board Marshall monitor and your BarTech remote follow focus, you’re going to need some batteries. I use the Anton Bauer 90 Dionics. These babies will last for four days powering up that monitor and this BarTech motor. You also need a charger with it. You can get your tandem charger from Anton Bauer.
How do you monitor this thing if you’re lighting? Well, I tend to not light off of the Marshall. I light off of my DreamColor. This is an HP 2480zx DreamColor Monitor. The reason I really responded to this monitor is because of its contrast range. It felt like it was delivering exactly what my picture style and what I saw through my eye on the monitor.
Now that you’ve seen what it takes to put together a cinematographer starter kit, tune in to episode 5 where we’re going to take the best for motion picture and the best from still photography and collide them into hybrid of etiquette and workflow for your camera.
Shane Hurlbut, ASC
HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema
Julien Lasseur – Director
Karlyn Michelson – Producer
Shane Hurlbut, ASC, Lydia Hurlbut, and Brad Bitton – Executive Producers
Clint Milby – Associate Producer
Bodie Orman – Director of Photography
Edited by Karlyn Michelson
Sponsored by B&H
Shane Hurlbut, ASC – Instructor
Eli Jane – Model in Introduction
Production Coordinator – Anne Gaither
Camera Operator – Kevin Anderson
Camera Operator – Eric Wolfinger
Camera Operator – Valentin Vignet
Steadicam Operator – Hayden Houser
Key Grip – Fabio Newman
Hair/Makeup – Teddie Bergman
Sound – Vincent Fatato
Production Assistants – Brian Touhy, Lucas Petri
Special Thanks to Mole-Richardson
Watch episode 1 – Know Your Camera: Canon 5D MK II – Turning Your Still Camera Into a Movie Making Machine
Watch episode 2 – Canon 5D MK II: Challenges and Solutions
Watch episode 3 – HDSLR Challenges: Working With a Still Lens
Watch episode 5 – HDSLR Workflow and Etiquette
Watch episode 6 – HDSLR: A New Digital Film Language