Shooting B-Roll with Canon 7D

So I had a camera demo with the Canon 7D yesterday.  If Skeet Ulrich is a poor man’s Johnny Depp, then I have the Skeet Ulrich of 7D’s (EOS 50D).  I really like the way these cameras handle, and the look they give off.  I don’t care if it’s a manufactured look to let everyone know it’s a Canon.  In terms of shooting stills, you couldn’t ask for a better camera, but if you want to shoot on-the-fly documentary style stuff, then this is not the camera for you.

These cameras have such a shallow depth of field that your focus will go out if your subject moves more than two inches away from position, it is very difficult to hold the camera steadily since you have to look at the LED screen on the back, and it is nearly impossible to manipulate the zoom and focus rings simultaneously.

That being said, I am going to use the 7D for b-roll for my busing documentary…most of it anyway.  I won’t go hand-held with any of the shots I have planned, but I will use it for static shots of South Boston High School, school busses, and various other landmarks around South Boston.

I plan on shooting at 1080i, 24fps.  I want the look of this piece to have a very polished and cinematic quality to it.  The people and places I will be capturing will hearken back to the 70’s, where film was used to record amateur films, and grain was in all things photographic.

I think that creating a juxtaposition between the contemporary HD footage and the old archival footage that (hopefully) I will get the rights to use, I will be able to visually capture the passage of time between the two eras.

My last word on the 7D is that it is interesting how it is inspiring a throwback to the old ways of filmmaking.  If you want to shoot a doc with it, you will need a sound guy attached to you, working on the sound.  Things like slates and tape measures are making their ways back into the classrooms and field assignments.  The facilitator that gave us the demo yesterday compared the 7D to a Bolex, which is actually a very good example.

Once we get to the 15D, I’m sure all of these redundancies will be worked out, but it’s nice to have a little blast from the past right now.

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