It’s that time of year again…this past weekend, me and 9 teammates participated in the Toronto Film Challenge yet again. A few of us are now veterans of this challenge, but the majority of our team were new people, and I must say I’m pretty impressed with how well our team worked together. After running into so many problems that derailed us with Harvest, our 48-hour horror film last fall, we really learned from our mistakes, and planned much, much more effectively to minimize problems and make sure everything ran smoothly. We worked like clockwork and looking back, I feel like we pulled off a superhuman feat on Saturday by shooting at 5 locations (and lots of sub-locations within those), doing something like 100 setups, on an 18 hour long shoot, on a next-to-nothing budget. I’ve been on a variety of productions from large to small and I can definitely say I’ve never seen this many shot setups and locations within the space of one day.
Something else was new this time around, which was that it was my first ever shoot with the new Canon C300. Some of you who have been following this blog will know that I’ve had my eye on this camera for a while now, and have been dying to do a test shoot with it. Well, through the generosity of Canon Canada and Cinequip White, I was able to borrow the camera for the entire weekend to shoot this, and get a sense of what it’s actually like to shoot with. It’s one thing to read about a camera, or look at specs online, or pick it up and play with it for a few minutes at a show, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do a shoot with a camera and put it through it’s paces.
I had originally thought about doing a more planned shoot or test with the camera, but there is something very real life about a 48-hour Film Challenge – the fact that no matter how prepared you are, you always have to be ready for the unexpected; the fact that you have such limited resources; the fact that you have to just embrace your idea and go for it; the fact that you have to be able to work quickly and efficiently and make changes with no notice. Again, I’ve worked on a variety of shoots from extremely planned to totally haphazard, but in all of these experiences it’s important to be able to adapt quickly, and have a camera that can do the same. For these reasons, I felt pairing the C300 test shoot with the 48-hour film challenge would be a great “real world” test.
And the verdict is… I was incredibly happy with the camera and fell in love with how it operates. At first, it felt a bit foreign and I really need to familiarize myself with its controls and settings – but did this last Wednesday during a camera test. Once I figured out my essentials, I decided to customize some of the buttons (there are 15 customizable buttons – a great feature) to make some of the key shooting functions more accessible. One thing I love about this camera is the fact that you can pare it down to its simplest, or build it up to a full blown studio rig to suit your needs. I love that kind of versatility in a camera. I was pleased to see that I could set it up with my existing Redrock Micro parts and could see having a lot of configuration bliss with this thing. I did plan to use my Redrock Micro shoulder rig and follow focus, but found that with the number of setups we were doing, and need to work quickly and efficiently, it was actually easier to just operate it with only the handgrip and monitor/XLR and top handle attached. I left the focus gears on my lenses and did all my own focus pulling. Doing handheld with the camera isn’t a “traditional” way of doing things ergonomically (by putting the camera over your shoulder) but I was still able to have a nice comfortable grip and keep it steady, operating it more like a medium-format Hasselblad. Coming from a photography background, this felt very natural and comfortable to me. I do strongly believe that this is the direction cameras are going (smaller, lighter, and more versatile, but packed with the essential quality and features) so I see this new handheld operating as a sign of things to come. We also only had two batteries for the full shoot – but this was plenty as the battery life was quite long.