Home Camera Canon 5D MK II & The Video Village Challenge

Canon 5D MK II & The Video Village Challenge

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Elite Team members light the diner in Livingston Montana, while I discuss the shot with the agency

Elite Team members light the diner in Livingston Montana, while I discuss the shot with the agency

At first glance with the Canon 5D you notice one thing, the minute you plug a mini HDMI cable or a 1/8” mini plug into the outputs on the camera, your LCD screen disappears.  It is like a sick magic trick that for some reason, not one person can figure out. Manufacturers around the world have jumped on this phenomenon and offer many products to solve the visual issue.  One of the leaders has been Marshall Electronics.  In the necessity to try and keep things small they have upped production on smaller lightweight monitors to try and keep ahead of the curve. Stay tuned because smaller ones are coming soon.  The 6.5” Marshall monitor that I use in the Moviemaker kits has given me my eyes back. There are many ways to give video village a signal and I want to take you through all the ones that have worked for me and then you can make the decision on what makes the most sense for your production requirements. I would love to hear your ideas and what works for you.

Standard Def output to a 6.5" on-board Marshall monitor in a massive mall in Dubai shooting a Rani energy drink commercial, simple, and small

Standard Def output to a 6.5″ on-board Marshall monitor in a massive mall in Dubai shooting a Rani energy drink commercial; simple and small

1.SDS (Standard Def made simple)

Marshall on-board monitor, you feed that monitor from the AV out of the camera with the 1/8” mini plug to RCA, then RCA to BNC barrel.  You are now GTR (good to roll), you can jump out of the Marshall monitor with a BNC cable to a wireless video transmitter or go wired straight to the video village monitor.  I power my wireless video transmitter as well as my 6.5” Marshall on-board with a Anton Bauer 90 Dionic battery with p-Tap power ports.

My arsenal in Dubai was Stand Def all the way, with Marshall's monitor. I would dial in exposure out of the mini HDMI output that lead to my 24" HP Dream Color monitor and then disconnect and plug in the 1/8" mini and go

My arsenal in Dubai was Stand Def all the way, with Marshall’s monitor. I dialed in exposure from the mini HDMI output that lead to my 24″ HP Dream Color monitor and then disconnected and plugged in the 1/8″ mini and go

This was are SD rig of choice on the Dubai Rani drink commercial

SD rig of choice on the Dubai Rani drink commercial

PROS: KISS (keep it simple stupid) not many things can go wrong with this.  It requires minimal extra gear to the camera other than the Marshall monitor and an Anton Bauer power supply.  The more gizmos you put on the camera, the more the equipment tends to fail.  Keep a Z-Finder on your camera so that you can unplug and get color and exposure so it becomes your viewfinder.  This works perfectly for a business as usual Video Village.  The playback person can record, playback, edit, etc.

CONS:Standard Def image, very soft and hard to see focus. You can not judge color, contrast or exposure. You will need to use the mini HDMI port and a lighting monitor to see or a Z-finder and the back LCD screen.

2. HDSDI (High Def made difficult)

Mini HDMI cable out of Canon Camera to BlackMagic HDMI to HDSDI converter.  Out of the BlackMagic BNC cable to the input on an Marshall on-board monitor.  From there you can go to a wireless transmitter or be wired.  Now you can go HD wireless or SD.

PROS:You are able to get a sharper picture to the on-board Marshall monitor and can view full HD when playing back with the camera only. It is a little better on judging exposure, color and contrast if Marshall is calibrated correctly.  Still advise having the Z-Finder on camera so that you can pull out the mini HDMI connector and get exposure dialed in.

CONS:Lots of added gear that has the potential to go down very often.  The BlackMagic box is built to live in a rack with an air-conditioned environment; not dust, heat and slamming it around on a daily basis. The first thing to go is the box. Remember you will never see HD until you playback and if you have a video playback person recording all of this you will never show HD to the client or agency.  The only way you will with this set up is if you assume the job of video playback at the camera itself.  Then putting all this extra stuff is worth it.  More power requirements with the converter box.  Makes camera heavier, larger footprint.

3.HDMI (Good for a Cinematographer, Cable complicated)

I have been trying to perfect this approach for the last 5 months with all the commercials that I have been doing recently.  HP 24” Dream color monitor is mounted to the dolly or near the sticks or at the remote head console.  I needed to be able to adjust exposure when the camera was 50’ in the air.  I could not rely on an SD monitor or light meter because it does not compute.  So, I set out on a mission to solve it. When I started I fell in love with having this beautiful image to look at, manicure, maintain and polish to a perfect exposure.  It also brought about a transformation with the client and agency relationships.  Now this obviously only works if you are not doing hand-held camera, but I will get to how this works brilliantly in a minute.

Wide shot of my Elite Team and I in Washington D.C. subway tunnel system, with on-board HP 24" Dream color in action

Wide shot of my Elite Team and I in Washington D.C. subway tunnel system, with on-board HP 24″ Dream color in action

Pedro the agency Art Director and I discuss the shot one on one

Pedro the agency Art Director and I discuss the shot one on one

Dave Kundsen and I line up the next set-up with the 24" HP Dream Color mounted to the PeeWee Dolly

Dave Kundsen and I line up the next set-up with the 24″ HP Dream Color mounted to the PeeWee Dolly

**** DOLLY SET-UP:You come out of the mini HDMI port of the camera to 6’ mini HDMI to Reg. HDMI cable then into a HDMI splitter box that you send one HDMI lead to your on-board 24” Dream color that you mount onto the dolly, then the other HDMI lead that has to be a professional grade HDMI cable to keep the signal strength then this goes to video village where another 24” HP Dream color monitor awaits.  If you want to send that a distance than I would use a 25’ cable to get it down the dolly and then to a HDMI signal repeater that requires AC power; then you can go another 50’ to 100’ with the professional grade HDMI cable.  The video playback person is eliminated.  You are the video playback person.  As a cinematographer you now have to operate off the HP dream color that is mounted to the dolly with a black hood over your head.

****HOT GEARS ON THE DOLLY SET-UP / ON TRIPOD:You come out of the mini HDMI port of the camera to 6’ mini HDMI to Reg. HDMI cable to a HDMI barrel connector.  From there you go 50’ Professional grade HDMI cable.  It needs to be professional grade to carry the signal with out a repeater for that distance.  This then goes to a HDMI signal repeater which require AC power.  Out of the repeater I go 6’ HDMI Cable to a HDMI splitter box which requires AC power, where one lead goes to the HP Dream color lighting monitor that I have positioned at the HOT GEARS wheels console, then the other lead goes to another 24” HP Dream color monitor for the agency and client to view.  You operate off of the Dream color at the HOT GEARS console with a black hood over your head.

****CRANE SET-UP: You come out of the mini HDMI port of the camera to 6’ mini HDMI to Reg. HDMI cable to a HDMI barrel connector.  From there you go 50’ of High end HDMI cable.  It needs to be professional grade to carry the signal with out a repeater.  This goes to a HDMI signal repeater for that distance.  Out of the repeater I go 6’ HDMI Cable to a HDMI splitter box which requires AC power, where one lead goes to the HP Dream color lighting monitor that I have positioned at the remote head wheels console, then the other lead goes to another 24” HP Dream color monitor for the agency and client to view.  You operate off of the Dream color at the remote head console with a black hood over your head.

2- 24" HP Dream Color monitors, HDMI cables with repeaters and splitters at 5600 feet on the Triangle Jib

2- 24″ HP Dream Color monitors, HDMI cables with repeaters and splitters at 5600 feet on the Triangle Jib

My poor man's Hoodman for Dream Color monitor at the remote head console

My poor man’s Hoodman for Dream Color monitor at the remote head console

On crane operating with the Dream color and the black hood

On crane operating with the Dream color and the black hood

**** TRIPOD SET-UP: You come out of the mini HDMI port of the camera to 6’ mini HDMI to Reg. HDMI cable then into a HDMI splitter box which requires AC power that you send one HDMI lead to your on-board 24” Dream color that you mount onto a Jr. Low Combo Stand near your  tripod, then the other HDMI lead goes to video village where another 24” HP Dream color monitor awaits.  If you want to send that a distance than I would use a 25’ cable to get it down the sticks and then to a HDMI signal repeater which requires AC power, then you can go another 50’ to 100’ with a professional grade HDMI cable to the video village.   The video playback person is eliminated.  You are the video playback person.  As a cinematographer you now have to operate the 24” Dream color that is near your tripod with a black hood over your head.

My double Dream Color set-up where the agency can view full HD and I become the DIT and the video playback person

My double Dream Color set-up where the agency can view full HD and I become the DIT and the video playback person

Marc Margulies dials in the A camera shot at the Iwo Jima Memorial

Marc Margulies dials in the A camera shot at the Iwo Jima Memorial

Having the intimacy with the agency and client next to the monitor was paramount on this job

Having the intimacy with the agency and client next to the monitor was paramount on this job

PROS: I either prefer to go (SDS Standard Def SImple) or (HDMI Cable Complicated) as a Director/Cameraman. Now why would I go choose this route when all the others seem so much easier? They are but the weakest point of this camera is the HDMI aspect.  The cables are a nightmare because they break easily and the little hair thin pin connectors get twisted easily. I prefer to go with this system because it increases my speed and what you see is what you get. You can judge all color, contrast and exposure. You do not have to check it with a lighting monitor and then disconnect, then re-connect.  If the sun goes into the clouds it is not a problem to adjust the exposure because the HP monitor becomes your film camera viewfinder.  Everyone sees the best possible image while we are lining it up and rehearsing because you can roll a rehearsal and watch it back in Full HD. No added weight and a smaller camera footprint. You can judge focus off the monitor.

Darin Necessary and I tackle the Royal Marines onboard the "Ocean," with a Z-finder and reviewing with the director after we felt we got the shot

Darin Necessary and I tackle the Royal Marines on-board the “Ocean,” with a Z-finder and reviewing with the director after we felt we got the shot

****Going Handheld- not business as usual

When I shoot hand-held, I view it through a Zacuto Z-finder while shooting and do not link myself to anything.  Then after I have done several takes that seem to be amazing, I go back to the agency and client and we plug into their HP Dream color and review. I am there with them, looking at their faces as they view the takes. The feedback is immediate and personal; we talk together and discuss changes as a team.  This is absolutely essential as a Director or Cinematographer.  Now you have a direct connection with the agency and client.

CONS: Nightmare to deal with all the cables running everywhere, broken connections, signal noise. Operating off a large monitor on dolly can restrict your moves, then you have to punt to HOT GEARS if it does. That requires more gear and so much for the smaller footprint.  No wireless option.  Requires AC power for splitters and repeaters.  More connections to go down and power issues.

What are your ways of solving these issues? I would love to hear you comments and ways that you have cracked the video village egg!

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Teddy Smith August 11, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Have you considered an Eye-Fi Pro X2 wireless transfer card with an SD-CF adapter? Theoretically, you could shoot untethered and have the card continuously beaming .mov files to a raid server (or laptop) for instant logging and playback.

I use an older one in the studio for stills, before they supported video, and it works great. If a setup like this works for video it could offer a completely different workflow on location.

Shane August 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Teddy Smith, that sounds awesome, can you give me some more info. on that. I thought that it had like a 6 second delay, is that not the case. Thanks so much for your input.

Billy Velten August 11, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Shane, I gaffed for you 3 or 4 times in Texas years ago and know you like to push the edge of technology. I love your push into the DSLR front and thank you for the blog.
I like to come out of the Canon with the mini HDMI to a HDMI Splitter with DA. Out of the HDMI Splitter into the Marshall onboard with HDMI, and the other HDMI to a Black-magic box that converts to SDI out. The SDI feeds Panasonic 17″ monitors for AC and Director, and also for video village. I judge exposer using my light meter, the false color on the Marshall and even sometimes punch up the waveform on the Panasonic 17″. I would like to see the HP monitor you have been using sometime. Tell me, how you are calibrating the Marshall?

Shane August 11, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Billy Velten, Hi Billy, I remember you, great to hear from you. The HP monitor I feel rocks. Calibrating the Marshall is done side by side to eye off of the Dream color, since the dram color does not require calibration for 4000 hours. Wow, using a light meter. I have not found away to do that. I feel that the curve is so different then film that it really takes the Z-finder or the lighting monitor to see the details in exposure, like for example wether you are going to hold that cloud detail and there faces. Thank you so much for your insight. I will try this set-up. It sounds rocking.

Kevin Schmitt June 21, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Hi Billy, Hi Shane, we built kind of a similar workflow. Right now we go from the Canon to a HDMI Splitter mounted to the cam rig. From the HDMI Splitter to a 7-inch on-cam monitor and the other HDMI to a Blackmagic HDMI to SDI box. The HD-SDI signal goes to video village where it runs thru a Blackmagic HDLink Pro 3D DisplayPort and out to a 24-inch monitor via DisplayPort and/or via SDI loop-through to another monitor. As we switched to using Technicolors CineStyle the HDLink Pro also works as a LUT box applying a S-curved 3D LUT to the image output to the 24-inch monitor. So we have a flat image on the 7-inch at cam. A graded image at the 24-inch in video village for the client and a option to have another ungraded image via SDI loop-through in video village either for another monitor or (as I hope in the near future) for direct recording of the 8bit 4:2:2 signal.
Shane, have you ever considered external recording of the HD signal?

Shahzayb July 25, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Hello, All.

I just wanted to ask you all, if 5D and 7D both gives out 1080p footage through HDMI when recording if it does that, than we could get AJA up and running with our DSLR’s through HDMI input, and get uncompressed footage around 200 and above Mbits, with AppleProRes 422 (HQ) Codec. Can we do that, if not, any better solutions to get higher quality footage. Besides the compressed h264 which canon gives us ?

Shane July 25, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Shahzayb, The 5D only delivers 480 out of the HDMI when recording, the 7D delivers 1080, so yes you can extract onto a external device but you will see the red dot. For this you can go to Magic Lantern http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Lantern_Firmware_Wiki or DSLR Shooter did a blog about it as well http://www.dslrnewsshooter.com/2012/07/19/the-new-magic-lantern-2-hack-for-canon-dslrs-marcus-waterloo-tests-if-it-ready-for-pro-use/. I shot all of Act of Valor on a Canon 5D without an external recording device http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oLSBOIMX3o

Shahzayb July 26, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Thanks, Shane for replying.

I have just one more question. I have seen you guys using HP Dreamcolors and were you guys plugging hdmi output to the screen because many times what Canon DSLR’s such as 5D and 7D does, they bring this 1:1 aspect ratio on screen. Do you have something to say about that? And working with 5D footage, what was the post-work, did you guys by any chance change the codec or something ?

Thanks Again. You’re Amazing. Love your work.

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Julio August 12, 2010 at 1:43 AM

Shane, thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us. Anyway, have you use the Canon 5D with the Steadicam? After reading your post, it seems that it will be difficult to judge the exposure and focus just with a small monitor. It will be great if those of you who have used the Steadicam with the Canon 5D can expand on the topic.

Shane August 12, 2010 at 2:36 AM

Julio, you are very welcome. No problem with Steadicam. There are two ways that I do it. #1- I hook it up to my dream color when lighting interior or night exteriors and move it around the way the steadicam would move but he or she is cabled to the dream color. We stop and check exposures. #2- Walk around with a Z-Finder on a separate camera with the same lens and picture style and gauge your exposure through the eye piece, once you are happy with the exposure as you move like the steadicam will you set your f-stop and then you are GTR (Good to Roll)

Toby Angwin August 12, 2010 at 5:42 AM

Hi Shane, a friend of mine picked up one of these to try out at my recommendation http://bit.ly/agF4is You only need to power one end so you can leave that at video village and have the other, non power end attached to a HDMI Splitter plugged in to the camera. The splitters are dc powered and can easily run off a d-tap off an anton bauer. The other end goes into a 7″ monitor.

The nice thing about these is that cat5e/6 cable is WAY cheaper than pro HDMI cables so if the dolly runs over it it’s less of an issue. I’ll let you know how it works if you don’t test it first.

Also, I’m off to London for a greenscreen shoot with 7 7D/5Ds. Any great tips for multicam playback?



kristoffer akselbo August 12, 2010 at 6:15 AM

hi shane
the batteries on the handheld rig, is that for powering camera or only for powering monitors and follow-focus?
im looking into this system by hawk-woods called hot-bloc that is for vlok bats. but i guess you use som kind of A.bauer stuff.

Shane August 14, 2010 at 1:48 AM

kristoffer akselbo, the Anton Bauers are only for the on-board monitor and the Bartech Remote follow focus. There are several vendors doing batteries. I went with Anton because I have been using their products for 15 years on all of my films.

Tim Kang August 12, 2010 at 10:04 AM

I’m wondering – are there issues with using a long usb cable hooked up to a laptop with the supplied canon EOS utility? if not, why do i never see that pathway as a viable option? You get a live, hi-def preview, full control of the camera, and i’m assuming no blackout when you hit record.

Shane August 16, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Tim Kang, I will look into that again. I know we first went down this road in the beginning. I just found that everybody’s computer screens are different, not calibrated. I will try this again with my new laptop. Thanks

Alex Ricciardi August 12, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Hi Shane, thanks for the excellent article. My company’s been putting our 5D package together and the video village stuff has been giving us all headaches!

My question relates to using the Dreamcolor on set. We’ve got one in our color correction suite, and it’s a beautiful monitor, but one of the limitations is that the color space presets can’t be activated unless the monitor’s being fed a Progressive RGB signal. Does the Canon 5D Mark II feed a progressive RGB signal, and if so, do you find the Dreamcolor to be a good, color-accurate field monitor?

Shane August 14, 2010 at 1:42 AM

Alex Ricciardi, You are very welcome and thank you for the kind words. Yes, the 5D cannot feed the monitor progressive RGB signal and that bums me out, but without it you are still looking at the best contrast ratio and color that you can get with a field monitor, I feel that it gets you very close. The CASE IH spot was viewed and I gauged my color and contrast off of the Dream Color, you can see how close it was. All the other monitors are a severe pain in the ass and have to be calibrated all the time. The dream colors hold their calibration for 4000 hours, that is a long time in the field.

Ross August 12, 2010 at 7:20 PM

On the subject of beaming files, would the Canon WFT-E4 II work? The Eye-Fi Pro X2 is apparently not at all supported in SD->CF adapters.

You can also control many camera functions with it. Would be kinda cool if you could remotely control focus of Canon AF lenses with it… I would however imagine the lag would be pretty bad 😉


keidrych wasley August 12, 2010 at 8:36 PM

Excellent and detailed post Shane, thankyou.

I would like to ask, when using the z-finder, how do you have the LCD brightness set? Eg manual at 4 or auto at medium and so on?

If you ever had to judge exposure outside/inside without the Z-finder or monitor, how did you set you LCD brighness?

Finally, have you found the cameras histogram to be useful?

Thanks again for your time

Shane August 14, 2010 at 1:34 AM

keidrych wasley, my LCD screen is always set to Auto, whether the Z-finder is on it or not. Not big on the histograms. My whole life I have gone on my eye, I hate waveform monitors and graphs, they are not organic. I am trying to keep this platform in the same workflow as I shoot film.

keith lanpher August 13, 2010 at 12:04 AM

Thanks, Shane, solid insights and options to improve a flawed system that Canon does not seem to be interested in making a substantive professional solution to change. Thank god they’ve got that big sensor, but way past time for them to address the many real world needs that surround a production set.

Thanks again for taking the time to offer the good solutions, and no need to post this, I’m just ranting.
Hope Prague was fun, it’s an amazing, magical city.


Teddy Smith August 13, 2010 at 10:21 AM

The Eye-Fi is not officially supported in SD to CF card adapters but they do work. Many people are using them in their 5D to beam RAW CR2 files. Yes, there would be a delay for the time it takes to beam the file over. That is something that would need to be tested to see how long it would take.

For the 1-series cameras, you could just drop the Eye-Fi card directly in since the 1-series has both SD and CF slots.

Paul Schneider August 13, 2010 at 11:48 PM

I direct a lot of commercials, and some pretty big ones. Mostly I still shoot film…sometimes RED or D21. I’ve found when the budget gets low enough that we start considering DSLRS that a conversation is in order with the clients that outlines what the whole process and workflow. Generally, I do what you talk about when shooting hand-held. I work with 8gb cards. When I shoot out an entire card and have to “reload” we simply download the shots and review with the client. If things are good we move on, if not we go back and keep shooting. This also gives the camera a bit of time to cool down (added bonus).

Overall, I have to say that every single client/spot I have shot this way has been a positive experience. The clients know they are doing things for less and are happy to make a couple compramises. They get to see everything and I can discuss with them the merits of certain performances etc.

One noticable change is the amount of freedom I’ve regained. I get to shoot FAST…sometimes getting three or four times the amount of footage I normally would. I also get to be a director again…quickly resetting shots and keeping the actors and performances “in the zone” without constantly asking for approval or some kind of “permission” between each take.

Of course this all will change with technology. The monitoring issue will improve and clients will once again have the ability to see and comment on every shot as it happens…but man…I’m gonna fight it.

Shane August 14, 2010 at 1:22 AM

Paul Schneider, I have to say Paul, that the one reason that I have been beating this drum so hard is that it is the first platform to come around that gives the power back to the filmmaker, work with less, shoot more days, hire a team that is far superior to what the budget has allowed. If I had a million dollar project, I would shoot DSLR and film. This hybrid that I have been doing for the last 6 spots has worked incredibly well. I would never look at this camera as a low budget tool. I look at as putting the money on the screen instead of on the engine that gets it there. I just recently shot for 5 weeks on this national Marines spot. I flew my essential 4 man crew, including the producer around the world with me, picked up additional crew where we needed it and did it for 1 million dollars less than the competition. Everything is about ready to change. It is very exciting times.

Jeremy Bernatchez August 14, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Hey there!

Just wanted to pipe in that on a job a few months ago I was ACing/video assisting, I also used a setup like Billy Velten mentioned. camera to HDMI splitter, one HDMI to 7″ Marshall with HDMI, and other to a blackmagic HDMI-SDI converter, which then ran BNC out to our 17″ panny’s.

The problem we ran into was having to constantly run lines of AC to the cameras to run the splitter & Blackmagic (which was probably just more of a time consumption issue), and constantly breaking HMDI cables. For the power issue, had I more prep time, I would have ideally tried making a rig to run the splitter and Blackmagic from a d-tap splitter plugged into a battery power source of sorts.

And had I even more time, I would have loved to gut the splitter & Blackmagic and put them into one solid case so there’s less flimsy cable to break 😉

But for what it was, the setup worked great, and the DP would typically be viewing the waveform on the 17″ Panasonics.

Love reading your blog Shane, and all the new and cool things you’re doing with these cams. I especially appreciate the detail you go into when describing your setups. You’re helping fledgling (compared to you & your team!) guys like me, learn more ideas on how to make great imagery!



Shane August 16, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Jeremy Bernatchez, Thank you so much for those wonderful kind words and your support on the blog. That sounds like a cool set-up. I will look into this also. Thanks again for the input.

Tony Reale August 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM


SmallHD is one of my site sponsors at NextWaveDV.com and I’m hoping to get one of their early DP6 5.6″ HD monitors soon. The features that they’ve been promising I think will blow Marshall out of the water. And I do love Marshall monitors.

Another idea I’ve been toying with is trying out a Gefen Wireless HDMI Extender. Split the HDMI signal off of the camera, run one to an on board monitor and one to the Gefen which then can be attached to a larger HD monitor for the director. I haven’t had the money to spend on trying it yet, but it’s a lot more affordable option than a wireless HDSDI setup.

Thanks for the article!

Shane August 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Tony Reale, That sounds interesting. I will get my Elite Team member Tim Holtermann on that. Thanks for the insight. You are welcome.

John David Wynne August 17, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Before I knew about the Red Rock shoulder brace, I went out and bought the cheaper equivalent from Cavision. It’s not bad, but I’ve had to do some pretty strange modifications to counter balance the rig (diving weights on the back), but it works fine. I hardly every use the eyepiece that is provided with the rig because of how it distorts the LCD screen so dramatically. Is there any fundamental difference between the Cavision viewfinder and the Z-Finder? I’d like to buy the Z-Finder, but I don’t want to find out I just purchased almost the exact same product. I have a feeling the Cavision viewfinder is garbage, but I’d just like to hear your take.


Shane August 17, 2010 at 2:53 PM

John David Wynne, The Z-finder is spectacular. I love mine and it changes the way you shoot, expose and focus. I know that it seems like a lot of money, but boy is it worth it.

Sam Phibbs August 17, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Hey Shane,

Which Z-finder do you recommend, the 2.5x or 3x magnification?


Shane August 17, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Sam Phibbs, I like the 2.5x. The 3x was too magnified and I could not find focus on the screen

Marcelo Trotta August 18, 2010 at 10:01 AM


The 7D doesn’t downsizes the HDMI signal when you record, wich is great, you keep watching the 1080i signal while you’re shooting. Also it doesn’t black out for a few seconds when you roll like the 5D do. Does anybody know how does it work with the 1D Mark IV? As for monitoring, I always use the HDMI port attached to a splitter, Marshall 6.5″ for me and a bigger Monitor to Director/client, usually a Panasonic 17″ with Aja HDMI to HSDI converter or a computer monitor using the HDMI port ( Dell Ultrasharp 24″ etc ). The fact that the good splitters got to be connected to a power line is the con.

Shane August 18, 2010 at 9:19 PM

Marcelo Trotta, Thank you so much, the good splitters can be p-tapped, so that they can work with an Anton Bauer battery on board power supply.

Francois August 18, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Hi Shane,

First, thank’s again for sharing all your findings with the community. It is a very honourable task, we all owe you big time.

I just shot a short fiction film with 7D and the 5D. I tested before shooting as it was my first attempt with DSLRs… I shot all sorts of images and went to Speed Grade DI with cineform converted DPX files with an experienced colourist. The transcoded Cineform files were fantastic, either the CF-422 or the Prores HQ. I used the Z-finder to evaluate exposure, and I have to admit that I felt it was the only reliable way to establish some kind of consistency in the “training” of the eye. LCD brightness on auto works best, of course. But when I actually shot that short, I mounted my Nebtek 7″ Solar HD monitor, along with a HDMI to SDI converter, and noticed that going from the viewfinder of the canon to the Nebtek, I would have ended up choosing the same exposure. Just wondering if you’ve tried working with smaller high quality monitor like the Transvideo line of calibrated Superbright HD monitors, or the 7″ Nebtek? I’m not saying that Marshalls are not good, but Transvideos are definitely superior monitors (but so much more expensive too…ouch!…) And the HP 24″ dream color is a fantastic monitor, but it’s quite… big…. In short, just wondering if you’ve tested the Transvideos HDs as a lighting monitor?

Thanks again, and keep sharing!

Francois Archambault, S.O.C.

Shane August 18, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Francois, thank you for those kind words and your expertise with this. I love those monitors and I am checking them out as we speak. I am getting two shipped to the bootcamp to play with. This technology is amazing. I am so excited that you are feeling the way I am. It is revolutionary.

DSLR Video Village Dilemma at FreshDV August 19, 2010 at 2:00 AM

[…] Hurlbut has posted a good article on the many ways you can monitor with Canon DSLRs, and of course the challenges of trying to work […]

Jehu August 19, 2010 at 5:05 AM

Im currently working on this issue, This ( http://twitpic.com/29vrjh ) will have a 5400 milliamp battery built in that powers the dslr and the built in HDMI splitter as well as a 12v monitor. Of course 5400 milliamps wont power all 3 devices very long so an external battery will provide the extra power to run this hours and hours, here is the battery im working on http://gallery.me.com/jehug/100516/IMG_4330/web.jpg?ver=12821770970001

Plus another very exiting way to deal with this is the upcoming Teradek Cube http://www.cinema5d.com/news/?p=4074 Its an HD HDMI Wifi wireless transmitter, Just imagine any wifi capable device like an iPad or an iPhone can potentially be used for monitoring.

Joe B. August 21, 2010 at 12:50 PM


Thanks so much for this post, a methodical, set-informed breakdown of monitoring options. Which are “limited” of course, but in light of what was previously available to an independent filmmaker–at a cost where owning your gear is entirely realistic, so as to have the tools available for exploring anytime, not just when it’s in the rental budget–is truly an emancipation. Best, thanks for taking the time to write this post, Joe

Shane August 22, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Joe B., thank you so much for your kind words and continued support. As I come across new experiences I try to pass it directly onto you all. I am constantly brain storming with my Elite Team to push this camera to deliver images that know one thought she could deliver. You are very welcome.

Andy August 22, 2010 at 7:25 AM

Hi Shane, great post. Got to say your gratious acceptance of advice & tips is very refreshing. Just wondering how you set the dream color & what you’re doing for calibration. Thanks Andy

Shane August 22, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Andy, Thanks again for your support, the Dream Color comes calibrated from the factory and holds that calibration for 4000 hours.

marko August 23, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Hey Shane, loved this post when I first read it, now I’m needing it to figure out what I need to do. I’m DP on a commercial shoot and the director is requesting a monitor setup. However, most of the footage shot will be with handheld rigs in an outdoor, woods, open field setting. I know you said you don’t tether anything when shooting handheld but if you had to, what would you recommend? I’m shooting 5D MkII with custom configured RedRock handheld/shoulder support. Any help you could give would be appreciated!


Shane August 24, 2010 at 3:12 AM

marko, thank you so much for your kind words. This is what I would do. I would go operate the shot with a Z-finder so that you can gauge exposure and be fast and then when you are happy with it take the card back to a Dream Color monitor which I set up with another camera just standing by for play back. I put the card in and then push play, the director and the agency see it in HD.
If you want to give them something to look at while you are operating then I would go Standard Def. 1/8″ mini out to your Marshall on-board monitor, then BNC to wireless transmitter to the Director’s viewing station, if no money for wireless then SD but with the BNC tether going back to the Director’s monitor. This way he sees everything you do. You will have to rely on your Z-finder to get exposure and then if everyone wants to see it in HD then do what I described above. I hope this helps.

Marko August 25, 2010 at 1:09 AM

Shane, thanks so much for your response! Because we’re shooting this Sunday it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get a wireless system rented and in place but I was able to rent the Z-Finder and we’ll just have to build in time to review on set with the clients. It was a last minute call form the director so I’m sure it will be understood.

Thanks again for your response, it’s generous that you take the time out of your schedule to give back to others in the industry. A step above my friend!


keidrych wasley August 25, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Hi Shane,

There’s an interesting program in Beta which you can test for the 5D. It’s a decoding software that brings the best possible output from an H.264. It’s called 5d to RGB by rarevision. In the examples shown the sharpness is quite a bit better (less jagged edges), additionally from my tests there is a much nicer contrast (compared to quicktime prores). You can choose Prores/dpx output. You can view some tests and info + download here:


I know you use cineform/adobe but i thought you might be interested, particularly from the sharpness perspective…

Shane September 4, 2010 at 12:35 AM

keidrych wasley, Nice, I have to side with Premiere Pro and CS5, they have it all figured out. They went to Canon specifically and met with engineers to understand their color space. Nothing comes close to this. It feels filmic, the blacks have great information in them, it is not a false black like ProRes. I am not a fan of sharpness, I love the fact that it is a little soft, it makes it look more like digital film. It is your preference. It this delivers your look, dive in and go for it. That is what I do.

Eric Haywood September 2, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Hi, Shane –

I attended the HDSLR Bootcamp and loved it. I’m shooting with a Canon 5D2, and I’m shopping around for the right monitor to go with it. I’m torn between the HP Dreamcolor LP2480ZX (which you seem to be very fond of) and a Marshall V-LCD651STX-HDMI. I realize these are two very different products with different pros and cons, but I’m leaning towards the Dreamcolor because I’d be able to use it both in the field and in post as a viewing/playback monitor (editing in Final Cut Pro Studio) and as a color-correction monitor (Apple Color).

I have a question about the Dreamcolor, though. Someone insisted that I’d need a monitor for color correction that has a 120Hz refresh rate. Looking at the Dreamcolor specs, it has a 60Hz refresh rate. Is this cause for concern at all?

Thanks again for being such a valuable resource!


Shane September 4, 2010 at 12:16 AM

Eric Haywood, I am so glad you enjoyed the Bootcamp, that was a labor of love for Lydia and I. Whew I need a break, but not in the cards just spoke to about 4000 people at Canon tech Expo. Great show and good people. Great interest. I don’t get to techy with this monitor shit. All I know is that you have seen my work, it was done to eye off of that Dream Color monitor. You make the decision.

Matt September 3, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Hi Shane,
Have you tried/considered using a pair of HDMI baluns for the longer runs to video village? You can send 1080p about 150′ via CAT6 with a decent set.


Shane September 4, 2010 at 12:37 AM

Matt, no I haven’t, what are they? I just saw this Stream device at the Canon Tech Expo, holy sh*& that thing was cool. That could blow the doors off of all these problems all of us are dealing with.

Matt September 6, 2010 at 1:23 AM

Shane, here are the type of things I was talking about http://www.ambery.com/hddviexbycac.html
Benefits over running a long HDMI cable with an extender is that CAT6 is cheaper, and can also be re-terminated quickly on set if broken. Also, power is only required at the receiving end.
I haven’t tried them with the 5D yet, but they have worked a treat with the Sony HXR-MC1P a few times… although that is 1080i.

Sho1 September 11, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Hi Shane,

I’ve been following this blog since Thanksgiving last year- and have to say I owe you! Several things you do, along iwth other people on this blog’s ideas, I adjusted to my own liking-nature of projects, etc, but for the most part, extremely informative and helpful.

Saw you at Canon EXpo last week… you always kept it fun. Good stuff. Felt bad that you had to answer many questions that they should just know if you know anything about photography or filmmaking…

My 5D rig looking like and feeling like a good ol’ Arri SR3 slightly lighter, by that I mean from the front of the mattebox to the back of the shoulder rig feel the similar length and also the weight distribution(Aaton was always better but still) feels very similar to those of SR3 with MB18 4×5 swing away, a Superspeed, a 400 mag and a smaller on-board battery. Take a mattebox off and even smaller. Even with 2x monitor(one for myself and one for a focus puller), and typical cable hell(lessened but still considerable, but what HD job isn’t a cable hell?).

I build this rig upon gearing up for a feature to be shot in SE Asia in few weeks. I’m taking 2x 5D, and 2x 7D (all we can afford…), 2x full sets of Leica Rs(19/2.8, 21/4, 24/2.8, 2×28/2.8, 2x 35/2, 2x 50/2, 60 Macro, 2x 90/2, 2x 135/2.8, 2x 180/2.8, 250/4), all Duclos’d etc…
What I, as well as probably all did, had to change our mindset was that DSLR configuration builds opposite of what we are used to in the film world… rather than adding rigs and gadgets on the camera, you add a camera and lens to the rig, for them being often smaller than the rest. Similar for lighting, rather than lighting, you shape/take away lights as opposed to blast them. Still can shoot like shooting on film more or less. That’s what’s exciting about this platform, even with all the bugs and limitations.

After many geeking out and mistakes, I feel pretty close to perfection. Camera built when as cased(in Pelican 1610 case, in my case), at all time both for studio and for handheld mode(the movie has quite lot of handheld)… just add lens, and monitor(s) and good to roll!!!… until HDMI killed me.
For monitoring I chose SmallHD DP6SLR(HDMI/COMPONENT/COMPOSITE… DP6SDI was backordered for awhile)over other alternatives. Though more prosumer, they felt closest for Transvideo Rainbow monitor that we are used to having on our good ol’ film cameras, in terms of weight and size, and for resolution and functions. My plan was to use DP6 on cameras, Camera’s Mini-HDMI feed to SmallHD HDMI splitter(2″x2″x.5″, self-powered), on-board monitors via HDMI, another HDMI feed to HDMI-Cat6 sender(self-powered)/receiver feeding video village via ethernet cables that allows up to 200′ without a booster, and finally SD video transmitter velcro’d on the rig and swap to that from hardwire when go hand held, etc, and still keep on-board monitor HDMI for better viewing. I was planning on go SDI eventually when I have extra $3-5K for monitoring.

WAIT… HDMI- an HDM Mini to HDMI cable I used was not so good, and bended few of the pins of camera side, the first time I plugged in HDMI cable. None of above monitoring options work.
I always used SD for 5D because of signal when recording and squeeze occurring.

Getting another 5D while I get mine repaired is possible but this incident is kind of scaring me away from HDMI. Almost everyone I know use 5D as their new Eyemo (features and tv shows shot on bigger $100k HD cameras) and no monitoring, and if they do, they all use SD. I agree with you on Blackmagic. Not so reliable.

Maybe how I connected HDMI was improper, but on the field in the slums or country side of SE Asia condition, we will be run and gun, and couldn’t be giving so much attention to rather flimsy cable connection.

So sorry for a lengthy message, but have you ever experienced camera side hdmi connection failing? At this point I’m likely to go all SD, and use 3″ LCD(and my eyes) for lighting and exposure.

By the way my rig is great. I will send you photos sometime.

Shane September 13, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Sho1, I had fun in NYC, very intense 3 days for me. I just had come off of that Marines project just 3 days before, flying back from Prague, a little dazed. I feel the same way. I shoot it like I am shooting film and loving it, loving all the quirks, loving all the bad HDMI port, loving all the bullshit, because the end product looks the closest to digital film. I have broken maybe 12 cameras with the HDMI port failing, but in the past 6 months not a one. I think it is my crew understanding the fragility of this connection and then micro managing it. Thank you so much for all of your support I am glad you think my Elite Team and I are doing things right. I am down in Cancun enjoying this technology and the beautiful weather. Peace

Bill September 19, 2010 at 5:40 PM


Have you tried using Cat 5 cables for extened cable runs?


Says it is good for up to 50 meters.


Francois Archambault, S.O.C. September 28, 2010 at 5:50 PM


In august, you mentionned that you were hoping to have a look at the Transvideo HD monitors. I wonder if you did have a chance to look at them and what your thoughts are on those puppies.

Shane October 1, 2010 at 1:17 AM

Francois Archambault, S.O.C., I have not had a chance yet, been slammed. I do want to check it out pronto. Thanks again for checking back with me.

pradip kurbah October 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM

im pradip kurbah and im from india i have been hearing a lot about canon 5d
i have a small production house in the north east india and i have been making small digital films after seeing the result of canon 5d im really impress but there are some queries in my mind about the camera i heard that we cannot shoot more than 12 minutes at a stretch and also we can shoot at 24fps and there’s a problem for shooting any high speed sequence if you can help me out with these queries i’ll be very thankful to you

Shane October 11, 2010 at 11:51 AM

pradip kurbah, Yes the 5D cannot shoot for more than 12 minutes and you can only shoot 24p, 25p, 30p. The 7D will shoot 60p but at only 720 lines of resolution instead of 1080. You are very welcome and thank you for the support.

Bobby October 23, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I know this is a late response to an old thread… But I just wanted to reiterate an earlier comment about running USB from the camera to a laptop with EOS utilities. It has definite downsides (especially slow refresh rate, sometime also some lag) but since there’s almost always a laptop on set, I keep a long USB cable in my kit just in case it’s needed. If you can get used to the screen lag, it’s very useful for jib shots – with an EOS lens mounted, you can operate autofocus, iris and shutter speed remotely while monitoring a crisp HD image.

Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:21 PM

Bobby, yes we tried it out and felt the lag was to much for commercial and feature work. Once the Stream comes out it is game over, we can pack all this HDMI shit and CAT5 cables and recycle them.

Bill October 24, 2010 at 11:59 AM


If you use an HD moniter that does not have an HDMI port but has another type of digital port do you degrade the signal by using an adpter.

Thank you,

Shane October 25, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Bill, What is the digital port. Composite? HDSDI? Need to know that. Thanks

Bill October 26, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Shane, DVI-D is the port. Thanks bill

Bill October 29, 2010 at 1:26 PM


How are you getting Bars and Tone to your moniters? I tried putting a Quicktime file on the CF card however the camera did not read it. My old workflow was to send B&T from the camera.


Shane October 29, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Bill, I go with the factory calibration on the monitors. They are good for 4000 hours of use. My first one if ever bought that I put into the rental division has 228 hours on it.

Bill October 30, 2010 at 6:34 PM


Hooked up the HD moniter, it worked howerver it says the signal is only 720×480 from the HDMI port is that correct or am I missing a setting?


Shane November 2, 2010 at 1:18 AM

Bill, no that is correct. The camera doesn’t ever output HD while lighting or recording, only when it plays back.

Dana November 2, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Hi Shane,

Some DreamColor questions.

1) The DreamColor requires a progressive RGB signal in order for the DreamColor engine in the monitor to do it’s stuff. When you guys are back at Bandito, does it still give you pretty accurate broadcast color when color grading since you are using an RGB signal instead of YUV?

2) When using the DreamColor to monitor the 5D on set, do you set the color space to 709 or Full color range? I would think Full color range so you can see everything and know what you will have to play with when grading but I just wanted to get your opinion.



Shane November 6, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Dana, yes it gives you a pretty good rendition ignite color even though the Dreamcolor engine is not engaged. I am working with HP to be able to enable the engine on the 2480. I am working with there tech specialist. I should have an answer fairly soon. You can not use the rec 709 space or any of those other functions on the monitor because the engine won’t turn on. I am working to get around that so that you can light with rec 709 and know that with my picture style you are seeing more information.

Greg Greenhaw August 4, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Hey Shane,
I just got a dreamcolor and am dealing with the same issues regarding rgb 4:4:4. Have you heard any thing from hp regarding this? I have a feature request in with magiclantern to enable this on the 5d. For my blackmagic camera I am ordering the Aja Hi5-3G because it converts yuv 4:2:2 to rgb 4:4:4 for this very purpose.

Unfortunately OS X doesn’t support 10bit output and has switched to the yuv color space which makes the monitor look like shit. However there is a script here that will enable proper rgb output on osx. and makes the dream color look a million times better.


I hope mavericks, the new osx operating system will support 10bit. I had to purchase a AJA t-tap to output and proper 10bit rgb form my retina macbook, but it only works with adobe apps and not resolve. Black magic refuses to provide any yuv to rgb conversion which kinda makes this monitor a real hastle.

Greg Greenhaw August 5, 2013 at 10:41 PM

UPDATE: A while back I purchased this Altona AT-DP300 to convert hdmi into mini display for my mac 24″ cinema display. I noticed in the specs recently that it mentioned rgb conversion. So I tried running directly out from my 5d to though the altona box to the dreamcolor via the display port, and it worked!!! It successfully converted 5d’s yuv outout to rgb and enabled the color space menu.

Shane August 24, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Greg Greenhaw, that is great news, I will try that out. Thanks

Timothy Jones November 10, 2010 at 1:54 PM

When the new RedRock Micro EVF comes out that will solve alot!!

Shane November 15, 2010 at 1:33 AM

Timothy Jones, it will help. Stream will help the most. That is what I am talking about.

TBERN November 25, 2010 at 5:40 AM


I’m old school 35mm director/dp and have been shooting 5D II since they came out. What is this “stream” you guys are talking about? Also, i always get an HD image when lighting, it’s not till you roll that the output drops down to SD. Check out smallhd.com DP6 monitor. Built just for the 5D bullshit and only true 5.6 inch monitor in the world. Sharpest image ever. Plus it’s tough. Badass little monitor, Marshall can’t touch it!!!

Shane November 27, 2010 at 2:12 AM

TBERN, the Stream is also called “The Cube.” It is a WI-Fi device that weights 6oz, sits on your 5D and streams 460p wirelessly to any computer, laptop, or ipad or iphone with a simple handshake. It is truly amazing. I like the small HD monitors but I have developed a new VNF that will hit the market soon and these archaic devices will not be needed anymore.

Jeff January 10, 2011 at 10:19 PM


Josua Fischer February 3, 2011 at 12:00 AM

thanks so much for all the information on this blog. my production studio is about to make the switch to DSLRs and your site has been a huge source of information. I was wondering though what you use for wireless video transmission, I am looking at the IPX CW-5HD. and how important do you think it will be for handheld work, I want it mainly for wireless focus pulling.

Marshall Goes Rugged with HDMI Conversion – by Tim Holtermann | Hurlbut Visuals July 29, 2011 at 10:11 PM

[…] a previous blog entry, Shane talked about the 5D MKII and how it integrates with the Video Village. Here we […]

El Masry October 4, 2011 at 2:07 PM

I am very happy with these pictures and I felt like I traveled in the workshop.
I have a problem that i have 6 lenses of carl zeiss T 1.4
But have been modified to BNCR mount
i have photos for these lenses
i want to know which kind of adapters i will buy
thank you

Shane October 6, 2011 at 2:35 AM

El Masry, Thank you so much for your kind words. I would go to fotodiox’s website and look for these adapters. They have the best selection. Don’t buy the cheap ones, you will need to spend at least 60-80.00.

Sebastian January 12, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Shane — your help is still incomparable in the field. Thanks again, I’m a frequent ‘questioner’ of your tactics.

What’s your thoughts on the best small, handheld-rig-mounted monitor that gives the most true color / besides the LCD onboard which I know you believe to be the truest. But for those of us that need a bigger screen on the rig, what’s your investigation shown to show the truest representation?

Thanks again


Shane January 13, 2012 at 3:15 AM

Sebastian, I love the color of the SmallHD monitor. I feel you can expose correctly off of that monitor as well as judge color and contrast. I love that you can flip the screen, the menu’s make sense you do not need an engineer degree to find all the controls. Love the Neoprene Monitor shade as well.

Video production February 21, 2012 at 6:57 AM

Video production…

[…]Canon 5D MK II & The Video Village Challenge | Hurlbut Visuals[…]…

Just April 10, 2012 at 6:30 PM

There’s absolutely nothing I appreciate more than visiting this blogging site every single evening after work. Thanks a bunch for most of the wonderful articles!!

KahL August 31, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Shane I just picked up two projects from a good friend/Director of mine. As soon as he asked about remote monitors for the Canons, I immediately referred him to your blog.

Thank you for your vast knowledge and sharing of it for all us junior Cinematographers. Hope to see you again soon 🙂

Shane August 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM

KahL, you rock my friend and thank you so much for your kind words ands support.

Andrew samy December 24, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Hello every body
I’m from egypt and i wanna to ask about videography but i’m confused because my team are gonna to shot and motage a live party.
My question is how to set up to get the videos from multiple cameras via wireless SDI transmitters ( please give me more than one name ) . and which programs would i use to record on my laptop from each of multiple cameras and to recorder the final video also while iam editing . Other connection would i need .
Thanks alot


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