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Digital Filmmaker Relies On Canon Wide-Angle Portable HD Lenses For Versatility In Documentary-Style ProductionFlexible lens controls allowed for quick and easy changes in framing scenes (February 14, 2006)
Director of Photography Scott Billups shoots a scene for the new digital indy comedy Closing Escrow using a Sony HDCAM and Canon High Definition Wide-Angle lens.
“I’ve used Canon lenses for almost 18 years,” said Dark. “I got the Canon HJ9X5.5B IRSD wide-angle HD lens (recently updated to the Canon HJ11ex4.7B IRSE lens) because it is my zoom workhorse lens. It is a fast lens that gives me the flexibility to be on a wide-shot at the start of a take and go to a tight-shot at the end of a take. This lens is versatile, flexible, reliable, and just incredible.”
The widest portable HD zoom lens on the market, the HJ11ex4.7B IRSE features the optical excellence of Canon’s e-HDxs technology, which employs the exclusive X-Element and Power Optical System for high-quality optics in a robust, compact, and lightweight housing that weighs just 4.10 lbs. The HJ11ex4.7B’s Enhanced Digital Technology eDrive features further enhance the lens’ versatility. With eDrive, users can easily pre-program functions such as zoom and focus settings into the lens for precise, automated repeatability via an easy-to-use LCD menu, assignable “soft” function buttons, and the rocker switch built into the lens grip. Users can program multiple setting or none at all depending on their personal needs and preferences.
“Canon lenses are true to what we’re seeing.” explained Dark. “What I love about them is they give us the raw image—whether it’s the set, the costumes, or the make-up. The image comes out of there raw and as perfect as possible and allows us, at the back end of the camera, to color-time it the way the director sees fit. It’s just a great workflow.”
Dark describes Closing Escrow, his first HD feature with Kaprelian, as a “comedic mock-u-mentary” featuring several popular comedians from television and film. The story called for a large part of the script to be left open for comic improvisation. For Randall Dark, the lens’ wide-angle capabilities made it possible for each impromptu scene to be captured easily and effectively, while maintaining vividly clear images.
“The movie has a script, a loose script with story arcs, but when we got into the scenes, the director let the actors loose and the results are hilarious,” said Dark. “It was the kind of shoot where we didn’t want to stop the momentum to change lenses or to move the camera in to get different framing. So I used my zoom lenses like prime lenses. I could be shooting totally wide and then—in the middle of a take—quickly find the next shot, zoom in, frame it, and carry the scene that way. My Canon HD zoom lens is adaptable to focal length so it’s easy for me to get a shot very quickly without interrupting the flow of what the director and the primary camera are doing. It’s just a different way of shooting. I’m not saying that one method is better or worse than the other, it’s just that I find that this style of cinematography works for me personally.”
Scott Billups, Closing Escrow’s director of photography, also had high praise for Canon’s wide-angle HD zoom lenses. “Unlike the relatively constant world of film acquisition, each HD camera comes with a dizzying array of data rates, color space, and format choices. The only constant in the topsy-turvy world of HD production is the unflinching quality of Canon lenses. It’s nice to have a time-proven lens that can resolve every pixel. HD is a far different beast than film; the light becomes your medium and the lens your brush. My ‘brush’ of choice is Canon.”
Canon portable wide-angle HD zoom lenses also provided a solution for the production team’s time and budget constraints. “Especially with independent feature films, it’s all about ‘You’ve got to shoot it, edit it, and get it out there to be seen and sold,’ so there’s a faster turn-around for your investors,” Dark explained. “The director wanted to shoot two cameras and we only had 14 days of principal photography. Time is money and we didn’t have a lot of time to re-set the camera and snap-out lenses. So my two Canon wide-angle HD lenses were perfectly matched with my cameras, allowing the scenes to be executed quickly and efficiently with their rapid zoom speeds of 0.5 seconds and focus speeds of 1.5 seconds. As a result, we were able to shoot 57 hours of HD content in 14 days.”
“As an Executive Producer, if I can control my costs and bring our movies in under-budget because of technology, it’s a win-win,” Dark added, summing up his latest HD feature experience. “Film would have cost us well over a million dollars, but we’re well under a million dollars because we used HD. It’s just an incredible way to make affordable, high quality, great-looking independent features that can be exhibited digitally, or transferred to film for traditional release, and used for all the markets in-between. Finding the right project with the right budget and using the technology the way I’ve come to understand it, I’ve committed myself personally 100 percent. Closing Escrow is my first HD film and, hopefully, there will be many more to come in the future—and Canon will be there.”
About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc. delivers consumer, business-to-business, and industrial imaging solutions. The Company is listed as one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies in America and is rated #35 on the BusinessWeek list of “Top 100 Brands.” Its parent company Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ) is a top patent holder of technology, ranking second overall in the U.S. in 2005, with global revenues of $31.8 billion.
For more information, visit www.usa.canon.com.
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