“Like Crazy” Sundance winner DP Shares Lessons Learned Shooting on HDSLR


It’s easy to forget just how liberating shooting with HDSLRs can be — you can follow your characters down a crowded street, get B-roll while your crew is setting up lights, and generally have the flexibility that a small camera allows you.  Last year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Like Crazy , got a lot of press for the fact that it was shot on a Canon 7D and was acquired by Paramount for $4 million – but less discussed was why it was shot on a 7D and what the challenges and advantages of doing so were.  In an interview with HD Magazine, DP John Guleserian delves into these questions and more — revealing how shooting with a HDSLR has impacted his way of shooting in general:

First, in case you haven’t heard of the film, here’s the trailer:

Shooting with HDSLRs can be challenging: from dealing with moiré issues and rolling shutters, to limited exposure latitudes and mounting film lenses on a still camera.  Guleserian points out that although you can manage many of these issues by doing your homework ahead of time, at the end of the day they’re still going to impact your shooting — and that’s ok.  Because the camera opens up other opportunities that he and director Drake Doremus took advantage of — like improvised shooting:

Like when we were in London, shooting.  Right when we got off the plane, we were just going to get dinner.  Drake decide[s] …  to put the actors in the wardrobe and we’ll just follow them as we go to dinner, and they’ll walk through these crowds of people and maybe we’ll get something that we can use in the movie.  And that was literally me with a 7D body and a 32mm lens and aZacuto viewfinder finding my own focus, leaning on things to be stable, and hoping for the best.

In the end, not only did they have a film that captured spontaneous performances, but they were pleased at how well the images stood up on the big screen.  Guleserian reasons:

A lot of people can figure it out right away, [but] … most people have no idea what it was shot on or care. Storytelling isn’t about resolution or compression.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the next biggest, greatest camera, but there is plenty we can do with the cameras available to us today.  In the end, these are tools with their own pros and cons, and part of the craft of filmmaking is figuring out how we can make these tools’ features work for our stories.  One of the HDSRL’s greatest assets is the shooting flexibility they offer, and it’s an asset we sometimes forget in trying to make them more like their bigger more film-purposed camera brethren.

For the full article go here, the full interview (not quoted in its entirety in the article) is included as an audio file, so make sure to check that out as he goes into more detail about how they managed the DSLR’s limitations by way of their shooting style.

[via HD Magazine]

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