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Mixing Cameras and Grading

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Hey everyone. In October I'm going to be directing my first feature. It will be shot kind of like Zero Dark Thirty, but we will be shooting a lot of it weekend warrior style. For example, we're going to go ahead and shoot some of the scenes on the weekend with a small crew and then shoot most of our location with a pro crew. The idea being that we can just reshoot the cheap stuff if we need to.


My camera options are a Red One, Sony EX-1 with letus 35mm adapter, a Canon 60D and a Canon 5D Mark II.


Now, first of all...is it worth it to shoot with a sony EX-1 with letus adapter now that you can shoot with a dslr? I heard an interview with Gareth Edwards who mentioned it was just so hard to focus with dslr. Also the footage would be handheld...kind of like Zero Dark Thirty...not jittery found footage, but moving around a little.


I own a 60D and so I can just go out whenever I want and shoot stuff with that. Or carry it around during the shoot and take some shots.


We are going to have a kind of rehearsal with the actors for a scene in a bar at daytime. But I also wanted to film that with either the 5D or 60D with a basic lavalier mic set up. The main reason is that I want to set up 2 cameras and let the actors improvise.


I know this is kind of incoherent, but would this be a mistake considering the majority of the film will be shot with a Red One? Will film grading kind of take care of that later? Or is there some way to make sure it all matches in terms of color tones.

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First off, this is a real names forum, so please update your screen name. If you notice, all of these nice people who are answering your questions are using their real names, and we will appreciate if you will do the same.


As much as I find that DSLR's are a hassle to shoot with, DOF adapters were even worse. When the 5D mkII came out, I never looked back. Those adapters always had back-focus issues, there cumbersome, you have to keep replacing the batteries in them, you loose a good deal of light with them, the image shifts from time to time, and the list goes on. Granted, the EX1 hase a much better codec and audio options, but it's not enough for me to switch back. Hell, you can record to a Hyperdeck in ProRes from a D800 now anyway. On Dexter, they don't even use the external recorder.


If you're wondering if you can shoot on two or more different formats in one movie and not jar the audience, the quick answer to your question is: yes, they can be made to match in a way that is good enough. It's done in movies all of the time. However, you have to ask yourself a few questions: How good is your colorist? Does your DP know how to set the cameras up to get as close a match as possible? How much money and time do you have for post? Having said that, I would never use two different formats to shoot one scene. They will never cut seamlessly if you are going from face to face. It's not just resolution and colorspace, but you have to deal with contrast, tint, and a plethora of other issues.


If you you're working on a low budget, try rehearsing with your actors, and get the good improv stuff flushed out ahead of time. Also, if you get a good improv, you can always have them say that line again.

Edited by Alan Rencher
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Thanks Alan. My name is Jason Buff. I'll update as soon as I figure out how. Thanks for the info about the letus, so I won't even worry about that. We will be shooting the 2 OTS shots with a very skeleton crew months before we start with priciple photography. Worst case is we can't use it. But we will be shooting both angles with the same cameras. Either a 60D with a 50mm 1.8 or a 5D with the same lens on both cameras. We'll basically have the settings on both cameras identical.


I'm told I can get a pretty good grading service for about 8k.

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