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They're Made of People!
November 3, 2009 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Philip Bloom's: Venice's People; Dublin's People; San Francisco's People; Sofia's People. Vimeo vids.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

These are great. I've noticed them on Vimeo as mostly just test videos of what the new Canon SLR cameras can do with video, but it's turned into a whole thing for the guy making them, going beyond simple testing of a lens or lighting and into an artistic series of video portraits.
posted by mathowie at 8:34 AM on November 3, 2009

I love this. Thanks. Looks like most of the SF shots were taken in or around Union Square and the Tenderloin.
posted by blucevalo at 8:37 AM on November 3, 2009

Yeah, lovely. I do wish the SF scenes weren't solely in Union Square and the TL, but them's the breaks.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on November 3, 2009

Yours truly is in the Sofia's people one--catch me if you can!

Bloom was a nice guy. The Canon 5d Mark II, which he uses for these videos (and which I use for my photography), is really a game changer. The high definition video is amazing, the still photos are great, and it's fully compatible with a long line of Canon lenses.

I've only shot a few videos on the Mark II, but my understanding that firmware has allowed full manual control while filming, which obviates the use of the modified Nikon-mount Zeiss 50mm lens Bloom shot with (i.e., he used an old manual lens to control the aperture on the lens itself, but you don't need to jump through that hoop anymore).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:44 AM on November 3, 2009

Lot of smokers, lot of guitar players, lot of homeless people. Not the usual subjects of HD video, to say the least. I like these a lot.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:53 AM on November 3, 2009

I've only shot a few videos on the Mark II, but my understanding that firmware has allowed full manual control while filming, which obviates the use of the modified Nikon-mount Zeiss 50mm lens Bloom shot with

There are still a few reasons to shoot with manual lenses like the Zeiss 50mm -- the focus barrel has marvelous fine-pitch screw threads with a good physical connection to the lens elements. Compared to a modern lens designed for AF use with only 1/4 barrel rotation from MFD to infinity, a 3/4 or more turn manual lens is a delight to focus manually. For use with an external follow-focus, the precise, physical link with hard stops makes registration marks actually usable, as opposed to guidelines. With the wide apertures and mm thin depth-of-field that these lenses can produce, good focus is already tricky enough without adding additional lash into the system.

On a related topic, I'm definitely guilty of shooting with super shallow DOF now that the 5D and 7D allow it -- for a recent film I rented the beautiful Canon 85mm f/1.2L II and shot several scenes at f/1.2 (but most were at f/1.6; don't get me started on the abomination that is the focus-by-wire system in that lens).

I wonder, however, how long before DOF abuse enters the "Overused Cinematography Cliche" hall of fame along with lens flare, shaky cam and overuse of CGI. Just because you can make the background a total blur of color doesn't mean that you need to.
posted by autopilot at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2009

I wonder, however, how long before DOF abuse enters the "Overused Cinematography Cliche" hall of fame along with lens flare, shaky cam and overuse of CGI.

The moment Michael Mann becomes too popular.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:18 AM on November 3, 2009

I stand corrected on the use of the retrofitted lenses. And, yes, I agree that the focus by wire on the 85 1.2f is made of sorrow. It's a great portrait lens, and I've gotten some lovely shots with mine--the bokeh really is off the charts--but the weight and the wonky focusing make it of limited use (that limited use being making phenomenal portraits).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:19 AM on November 3, 2009

I'm not a camera geek but I did go to the British Library exhibition today on early photography.

I came away convinced that its always been more about the artist's ability than the camera.

Example: Carjat's photo of Baudelaire using a Box Camera. 1880.
posted by vacapinta at 9:25 AM on November 3, 2009

Did you also stay at a Holiday Inn Express, vacapinta?

Most famous photographers would absolutely agree with your assessment of the importance of the phtographer versus the camera. Ansel Adams considered the "single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it" and Ernst Haas is quoted that the the best wide angle lens is "two steps backwards". When you consider the amount of effort to produce photographs with old wet-plate equipment, it is amazing that any pictures were taken at all!

I like to carry just one prime lens with me most of the time (usually my 85mm f/1.8), so I do lots of stepping backwards. Recently I was without my 35mm lens, but wanted something a little wider than the 85 for a walk around, so I made one with a body-cap, a handdrill and a piece of foil. The results were ok, especially considering the cost of the parts, and it gave the pictures a very ancient feel.
posted by autopilot at 9:47 AM on November 3, 2009

Question: how much would a camera like this cost?
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on November 3, 2009

$2700, or thereabouts, plus the cost of the lens. The sensor technology in the 5D Mark II has filtered down to the 7D and the T1I, I think, too, although in a slightly different format.

Clearly not cheap, but when you think of what these cameras can do today, it's mind-boggling.

I don't think anyone is saying that a fancier camera takes better photos. But it liberates you from technical restrictions that allow you to concentrate on making images.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:08 AM on November 3, 2009

Extremely cool post. Thank you very much.
posted by bearwife at 11:32 AM on November 3, 2009

Has anyone shot a feature film yet with the video mode on their DSLR?
posted by cazoo at 12:41 PM on November 3, 2009

Lots of folks are in the process of shooting features with DSLR's: Searching for Sonny and A beautiful belly are the two that come up for the quick google search.

Shane Hurlburt (DP of Terminator Salvation and subject of previous FPP) just finished a shoot with the 5D Mark II, the Sony F950 and an Arri 35mm camera. He had a contest for viewers to try to figure out "where's the 5D?" after the three cameras were color corrected and mixed together. Olivier Koos shot a short on both 35mm and the 5D; despite not color correcting to match it is hard to tell which is which.

I've been spending lots of time staring at 5D and 7D footage as part of my current project, so I was able to spot most of the 5D shots from Shane's shoot. But the fact that it is so hard to tell a $2700 camera from a $115k F950 or a $???k Arriflex 235 really does show what incredible capability these new cameras bring to even amateur film makers.
posted by autopilot at 1:36 PM on November 3, 2009

autopilot, what gives away the 5D Mark II video? On stills, I tend to find that the camera gives a very characteristic (but correctable, and altogether not unpleasant) warm tone to images.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:17 PM on November 3, 2009

The color and contrast curves give it away for footage straight from the camera. After color grading and matching, that becomes much harder. Fast cuts don't help either; I had to pause on every scene to scrutinize it.

The main 5D Mark II issues that I recognized in Shane's footage (which is no longer online, unfortunately) were the rolling shutter and some mild aliasing. The DOF would be a good clue, except that 35mm cine lenses will have the same DOF and most of the outside scenes were stopped down a bit. I thought one of the shallow DOF scenes on the yacht (with the bell) was a 5D, but it turned out to be film.

For full-res files the h.264 artifacts of the 5D are distinctive compared to 4:4:4 10-bit video from the F950. I haven't worked with the Sony, so I don't know its characteristics as well as the 5D or real film. So anything that I couldn't conclusively say 5D or film I put into the F950 camp.

If your 5D footage is too warm, have you tried any of the Cine-gamma curves? On our recent short, I desaturated (in post) to almost black and white. This was a somewhat painful artistic decision since the original colors were so vibrant.
posted by autopilot at 2:33 PM on November 3, 2009

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