I have been in Cordoba, Spain, for the last 3 days on a shoot. What can I say – Cordoba is such an interesting and picturesque city. Every where you look you think “I need to shoot that!” I could have spent at least another day there shooting. A small part of the city is still the original buildings dating back to the 14th Century and there are a few historical buildings open to tourists such as the “Mezquita” which is a cathedral inside what used to be a mosque.
We were filming part of a series of documentaries that will be exploring the history of the Jewish people. Being in Spain this part will focus more on the Spanish Inquisition. We shot it mainly on the canon 5D with some L series lenses. We also used a Sony EX3 as a 2nd camera in the interviews. We got loads of G.v.’s in city to paste of the top of the interview. Some of the shots in the cathedral we used a glide track. I will be updating the blog on the progress and process of making the documentary sharing any advice along the way so stay tuned, for now though I have cut together some of the dailies to just to give a feel of the city of Cordoba. One of my favourite shots is of the moon over the castle and its at the end of the video so please do watch till the end!
I just want to go over a couple of pro’s and cons of shooting this Documentary with a canon 5D DSLR. When I was first asked to do this I thought this is a perfect project for the 5D. I love making documentaries and I love shooting with the 5D but the 2 things often don’t mix too well. A lot of documentaries often involve a lot of “run and gun” type shooting where you just don’t have time to be; fiddling with changing lenses, worrying about recording separate audio, and trying to find your focus in a depth field so shallow you’ll be thinking should have gone to spec savers.
Well this shoot didn’t require any run and gun filming so it was perfect for the 5D, although I did take a Sony EX3 as a back up camera just incase. Straight away the pro’s were all coming into play. The 5D really shone against the EX3 in the first interview. The pictures looked great and I love the way the 5D throws the background out of focus effortlessly. I had the EX3 on the Glide track shooting a wide angle of the interview subject and I had the 5D on a close up to make the most of the shallow depth of field.
Above is the a couple of screen grabs from the EX3 footage and below is the 5D footage. As you see in one of the EX3 shots we have a pillar in the foreground which works very nicely for the tracking shots. Foreground emphasises even the smallest of moves.
The majority of the 3 days were spent filming around the city at various historical sites. This made the 5D ideal to shoot with for a few reasons. First of all my whole camera kit fit nicely into a ruck sack! So the only other thing to carry was a small sachler tripod and occasionally the glide track, which im going to trade in for the kessler pocket slider due it its size and smoothness. A lot of these sites won’t easily allow a film crew in, so turning up with the small DSLR was no problem and we didn’t draw much attention at all. In the cathedral we were asked to put the tripod away but were allowed to carry on filming handheld, after all I just looked like an enthusiastic tourist with a stills camera. We did however negotiate a fee to go back the next day with the glidetrack which was well worth it. Most of the buildings we visited relied a lot on natural light which gave a real organic feel but as you can imagine it was very often too dark, well too dark for most cameras! Not the 5D though. The fastest lens I was shooting on was a 2.8/f which is not that fast compared to a 1.2/f but it still held its own.
I got a lot of shots of the tourists looking around the sites so i was able to be a more inconspicuous with the 5D. A good trick that I have developed is to set up my shot of someone, hit record and turn around to talk to my assistant. This way if they see the camera pointing at them with out you operating they assume your not actually capturing them as it looks like a stills camera and they continue to go about there business in a natural way.
On the last day of filming it was raining and me and my camera assistant ,Dan, set out about the town to grab all of the remaining G.V’s (General Views). Had I of had to do this with the EX3 kit i think i would have given up after an hour. The camera was getting wet but i know that the 5D is pretty water resistant so that didn’t slow me down and if worse came to worse and the camera was ruined we would be looking at a £1600 bill instead of £3000. The whole kit was lighter including the tripod so it was easier to lug around. Filming in the rain is pretty uncomfortable and having the 5D kit just made the whole thing more bearable so that we actually ended up filming all day.
Bad points; well hmmmm i will have to think? ok aliasing and moire was defiantly an issue in some shots. (caused by too fine details in the shot) we were shooting buildings, bricks and architecture so we had expected this for sure but to be honest it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be so we could live with that. At one point I noticed I had what appeared to be a dead pixel, which you will see in some of the shots at the end of the video below. I cleaned the lens and it was still there. I did a manual sensor clean and it disappeared. It only managed to corrupt a handful of shots. Thats why is good to have a back camera just incase. Also it got a bit tiresome having to swap out the lenses when we were shooting on the go in the rain so I was thankful I had 2 zoom lenses rather than a set of primes. So as you can see not a lot of bad points and a hell of a lot of advantages.
Shot on Canon 5D
Canon 24-70mm and 70 – 200mm Lens
Glide track HD