Video DSLR reviews, reports and related explained

Shooting ‘Run and Gun’

Posted on 18 June, 2015  in General

So we’re heading towards celebrating our one-year anniversary together and I haven’t looked back, not once. We’ve had our up’s and down’s, we have even shared a few heated situations together, but with all that said and done – every minute I’ve spent so far with the 5d mark II has been a pure and utter pleasure.

I run a creative media solutions studio called Clearhead Media by day and on the weekends I am a self-employed photographer. In the spring of last year I found myself taking bookings to shoot weddings. I ended up booking a wedding every weekend for the next four months. I couldn’t have been happier. Who wouldn’t? Yet I had a big concern. My concern was how my gear would hold up. Would it be good enough? Good enough for the level of work I wanted to produce?

Luckily I had been putting some money aside for new gear and with all these weddings now booked in, I decided to go for it and purchase the Canon 5d mark II.

I had purchased the camera along with a 24-105 f4 and 50 f1.8. Both decent kit lenses that would cover all areas I needed to start with. I had bought this camera just to shoot the weddings. I knew of the video function on the camera, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to shoot video with it.

A couple of weeks passed and I had the chance to test the camera out on a few photo shoots. I also had a go at shooting some short video clips with it around the office. The image this camera was producing completely astounded me.

We had been shooting all of our corporate and promotional films with a Sony Z1 and spending out to hire 15K HDCAM’s with all the bells and whistles for larger shoots, such as commercials.

I started to shoot some side by side comparisons of footage with the 5d mark II and the Sony Z1 and from there on in I haven’t looked back. We have been shooting all of our productions on the 5d mark II and now the 7d ever since (you can head across to our website if you’re interested in having a look at some of our productions).

What I wanted to talk about today was a shoot I did in January, ‘run and gun’ style.

In January myself and good buddy @paulleaning were asked by a local artist Niki Edwards (Comic Dot Boy) if we could put together a quick music video for him for the release of his latest EP. He didn’t have a budget and needed it to be turned around in two days. He asked us if we were up for the challenge – we agreed.

The weather at that time had been awful, relentless slushy snow and drizzle. With this in mind we did a few test shots inside, but realised quickly that we wanted to produce something outside, somehow taking advantage of the opportunity to use the snow.

We scouted a few locations, finally coming across an abandoned wood cabin in Ashridge.

With a good mile trek to get to the location, we decided to shoot low profile ‘run and gun’ – if you like. We picked up the 5d, tripod and a tracking dolly and headed off. With the shoot being very short notice and needing a quick turnaround, there wasn’t much time for much planning. Once we reached the location, we took ten minutes to take a look around the location, planning a few shots and bouncing around some ideas between us.

Shooting with such a low profile setup was refreshing. We’d usually kit out the 5d with rails, follow focus, external mic, zacuto z-finder and a field monitor. However not wanting to carry any more gear than we had to actually made the whole process feel very organic and comfortable – both in terms of us shooting the video and the reactions we managed to capture from the artist.

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One piece of equipment we used on the shoot was the Hague Tracking Dolly. Being able to create cinematic tracking shots on a ‘run and gun’ shoot can be extremely difficult. However, with tracking systems such as the Hague or glidetrack, creating these shots is so easy and prove invaluable to a production.

For the majority of the shoot we shot with the 24-105 at f4 switching to the 50 f1.4 for close ups. Both extremely versatile kit lenses gave us the ability to shoot in fully manual mode at 1/50th second with an ISO of 400 maximum. We generally shot at at around ISO 200.

Just a couple of tips I’d give from my experience on the day. If you are shooting in cold conditions, fingerless gloves can be great for intricate work on a dslr, however not essential. Also keep a lens cloth handy to make sure you keep a constant check on condensation and water drops on your lens.

After shooting for around an hour we packed up and headed home. I then converted all the raw footage into Pro Res using MPEG Streamclip, dragged all the files into Final Cut Pro and synced all the audio from the Pro Res footage with the master audio track using Plural Eyes. Now that all the audio was synced, I spent the next few hours editing the video together, exporting and uploading the completed music video to Vimeo.