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Technical

Sartorial style: Filming fashion with Bentley and the EOS C300

Sartorial style: Filming fashion with Bentley and the EOS C300

© Daniel Byrne

January 2014

When filming on the streets of New York with The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman and the Bentley Mulsanne, director of photography Rob Goldie found the EOS C300 the perfect tool. CPN writer James Morris shared the vision...

Like many luxury brands, Bentley promotes itself by showing how the ethos of its products matches that of the great and the good in the wider cultural landscape. With this in mind, the company has commissioned a series of videos under the title ‘Visionaries’, focusing on subjects as diverse as actor and philanthropist Jackie Chan, award-winning architect Wang Shu and the World Land Speed Record holder, Wing Commander Andy Green. The films also feature innovators like bespoke tailor Clive Darby, composer Jean Michel Jarre, Lalique CEO Silvio Denz and Federation International l’Automobile President, Jean Todt.

© Rob Goldie/Bentley Motors Ltd

Please click on the arrow above to view Rob Goldie’s film for Bentley Motors, showing Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist website photographing fashion in New York, USA.

Blogger and street photographer Scott Schuman, creator of The Sartorialist website, was another subject in the Visionaries series, showcasing the Bentley Mulsanne. Bentley's global branding agency, Keko London, approached production company, In© (incword.com), who enlisted director Pete Woods and cinematographer Rob Goldie for the shoot. It was a whirlwind production. “One phone call and I was on the plane,” explains Goldie. “I met Scott on the first day of the shoot. I had a day with him in his home, and spent some time with him in the car. It was a day-and-a-half shoot, with a very rapid turnaround. We had a few tracking shots to do in his flat, and a lot to pack in.” This need for speed was the primary reason Goldie turned to the EOS C300 for the production.

© Daniel Byrne

Scott Schuman, founder of the blogging site The Sartorialist, had an anthology of his street fashion images published in 2009 - to date it has sold over 100,000 copies.

“The C300 became the primary camera because it seemed the most appropriate one for the job,” Goldie argues. “We wanted to move quickly and lightly on the streets of New York, so we put the C300 into an ARRI handheld rig. This really does make the camera balance a lot better and is more ergonomically viable.” The ARRI frame had been augmented on the top so that it secured the camera to the cold shoe, with a carry handle.

“I've owned the C300 since it first came out,” continues Goldie. “I first used it for shooting an American TV series in Morocco. It was great. I could take it into places that bigger cameras couldn't go. Most recently, I shot some documentaries and dramas with it.” Goldie then explained what he particularly likes about the C300. “It really does tick a lot of the boxes. It produces fantastic pictures. The workflow is brilliant, with 50Mbits per second data rate, the minimum for broadcasters. The codec is great, too, and it doesn't 'drink' batteries. Two or three batteries will last all day. A 32GB or 64GB memory card doesn't seem to fill up as fast as it does on other cameras, either.”

Life in the fast lane

The Bentley shoot was well-organised and its strong production values were uppermost in the teams' minds. “We didn't have a big crew; four in total,” explains Goldie. “For the most part we were self-sufficient, with no gaffers or grips following behind. So the C300 fitted the bill perfectly. It's small and it's light. From this point of view it's almost as easy as shooting with a stills camera.” However, the C300's lightness did introduce some issues. “It's a victim of it's own success,” argues Goldie. “It's so small that you hold it out in front of you. Once you get tuned into it this is less of an issue, but why is the viewfinder at the back where it is?” To counteract this, Goldie was using his C300 with a Kinotechnik viewfinder, to offset the eyepiece to one side. “It puts you into the space more, lets you get critical focus, and stops you having to struggle in bright sunlight,” he explains.

Goldie was using a selection of Canon EF L-series lenses for the shoot. “The 24-70mm was the most used. It's a good all-rounder. Up close and personal that's the one you go to. The L-series glass is great for that camera.” The 16-35mm and 70-200mm L-series zoom lenses were also used on the shoot, as well as 24 and 35mm primes. Goldie is a little concerned just how good lenses are getting, however. “Sometimes you do want a bit more character. I often carry with me some old Canon lenses to get a more flary and grungy appearance, to make it a lot more interesting.” He also turned image stabilisation off to avoid any unwanted motion correction.

© Daniel Byrne

DoP Rob Goldie (with camera) used the EOS C300’s small size to shoot in a variety of tight filming locations.

C300 and EOS 5D Mark III: an intriguing combination

Alongside Goldie's C300, a second cameraman, Melvin Wright, was shooting supplementary footage with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR. “This was used to get B-roll footage,” explains Goldie. “It was also shooting de-focused stuff. The two cameras cut very well together. The [EOS] 5D was on a car in front of the Bentley, getting low wide-angle shots as it drove around the streets. It was rigged to the Bentley as well, on the side, with a specialist suction-cup mounted assembly. It's so much better than the [EOS 5D] Mark II for this kind of fast motion shot, because the shutter roll has been drastically reduced.”

The EOS 5D Mark III was recording to CF card, rather than an external recorder, and was using standard batteries as well. “We always shot at 1/50sec, to match the C300 footage,” adds Goldie. “We managed exposure with variable neutral density and polarising filters, to get the balance right. The beauty of the system is that we can use the same lenses as the C300. The codec is improved, too. The video seems to be smoother, with more resolution and detail.”

© Daniel Byrne

The badge says it all. Bentley is currently running a series of films on its website under the title ‘Bentley Mulsanne Visionaries’ of which this film, of The Sartorialist website’s Scott Schuman, is one.

The EOS 5D Mark III was not being used to capture audio, except to aid synchronisation using the Red Giant PluralEyes software. Overall, the production's sound set-up was extremely simple. “We used a couple of Sennheiser radio mics, primarily for Scott,” explains Goldie. “We recorded this directly on the C300. We only used sound for interviews in the car, and stuff out on the street. The sound was very basic. I will often monitor sound on the camcorder even when we have a separate sound recordist. But there were no issues when editing because sound was on the video file.”

Workflow with Canon Log

When shooting, Goldie always enabled Canon Log. “There's very little reason to use anything else,” he reasons. “It maximises the camera's ability. Clearly you're getting extra latitude, as it moves the knee up and the curve down. With the advent of these cameras you're letting the camera soak it all up and don't have to worry. When I was shooting ‘Being Poirot’, which included clips from the last 25 years, my C300 shots stood up against footage from an ALEXA camera extremely well, especially for TV. In our testing against the ARRI ALEXA, when we didn't label the footage, executives couldn't spot the difference, and they sometimes even picked the C300 as better. With a PL mount and some high-end lenses on, it can stand up well.”

© Daniel Byrne

The Bentley Mulsanne. Style, power and grace in one four-wheeled luxury package.

However, the latitude afforded by Canon Log does have some implications. “We hand over something that is graded by others,” laments Goldie. “In the future, we will see Look-Up Tables (LUT) in camera, so the cameraman can regain some control. For now, we have the role of the Digital Imaging Technician, providing some grading guidance for the final edit. Now everyone is familiar with the C300 codec, people are grading with laptops. They can watch the footage with a LUT already applied.” To match the Canon Log as closely as possible, the EOS 5D Mark III was set to use Technicolor's CineStyle Profile. “This was developed with Technicolor and Canon to get as much out of the 5D in video mode as possible,” explains Goldie. “It certainly works for most things, although it's not advisable for green screen work.”

Now that the C300 has been on the market for a little while, it poses no problems for post-production either. “The workflow is dead simple,” enthuses Goldie. “Just drag and drop. We talk the look through with the director, so we can explain that to the editor. On the occasions where I've graded myself I've been very happy with the ability to get the look I wanted out of Canon Log. I was doing a shot of Jerusalem recently, and the director couldn't believe the detail he was seeing in the brightness and shadows. I was able to punch the contrast through in the grade. It's a shame when using it for TV that we don't see the full capabilities of the camera.”

© Patrick Phoenix/Bentley Motors Ltd

Please click on the arrow above to view the behind the scenes film for Bentley Motors, showing Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist website photographing fashion in New York, USA.

C300: the real star of the show

The main film wasn't the only production work being performed during the shoot. Patrick Phoenix was also capturing a behind-the-scenes view of how the film was being put together, again using Canon kit. In this case, however, the camera in question was an EOS 7D. The Technicolor CineStyle Profile was again called upon, with the ever-popular EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM as well as the prime 50mm f/1.4 USM as the main lenses. “This is such an easy little lens if you have to run around town,” explains Phoenix. “It's a fantastic piece of kit to pick and use in a run-and-gun shoot.”

The C300 was the star of the show, however. “It has another really boring, practical benefit,” adds Goldie. “I've done five trips to the States. Now we have to carry the batteries as well as the cameras. So we have to carry more and more in hand luggage. I've broken the C300 to the body and put it in a very small briefcase. The size is brilliant for the new world of having to carry them by hand, especially as you don't have to carry so many batteries. Overall, the pros and cons with this camera are the same as always: picture quality, cost, size, battery life, and media life. Nine times out of ten the C300 wins the argument. I have seen the transition through 16mm to Beta SP to Super 35. I feel like this is part of the journey. At the moment, the C300 is the one to beat.”

Rob Goldie’s kitbag

Cameras:
EOS C300 digital cinema camera
EOS 5D Mark III
EOS 7D

Lenses:
EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM
EF24mm f/1.4L USM
EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
EF28-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF35mm f/1.4L USM
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Accessories:
Kinotechnik viewfinder
Hawk-Woods V-Lok battery system
ARRI Lightweight Support for EOS C300

Biography: Rob Goldie

Rob Goldie

Rob Goldie studied at the University of Westminster, and got his first job in TV 25 years ago while shooting film. He became a director of photography five years later and has since worked as a DoP in 70 countries, including episodes of the BBC's 'Horizon' and 'Who Do You Think You Are?' as well as Channel 4's 'Psycho Night'. He won an Emmy award in 2000 for 'Secret Weapons', and was nominated for 'Stonehenge: Decoded' and The History Channel's 'Mankind: The Story of All of Us'. His latest project 'The Bible' has been nominated for an Emmy as Best Mini Series of 2013.



Showcase

The film and production crew gather around the beautiful Bentley Mulsanne.