Canon's 5D Mark II Invades Hollywood
Since its release three years ago, Canon's EOS 5D Mark II has been the most sought out digital SLR for photographers everywhere. But it's also becoming a favorite amongst cinematographers, thanks to its compact size and high-def video recording mode, seeing action in everything from independent features to Hollywood blockbusters and even big network TV shows.
Here's a list of just a few projects that employed (or are employing) the power of the 5D. More are sure to follow.
The latest blockbuster film from Hollywood that utilized the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is Captain America: The First Avenger by Marvel Studios. In a press release from Canon, they stated that the 5D Mark II was used to shoot motion sequences that were seamlessly integrated into the 35mm film footage. These sequences included a car chase and crash, as well as a high-speed motorcycle pursuit.
Jonathan Taylor, second unit director of photography, said it was an "excellent choice" for capturing dramatic point-of-view (POV) action shots thanks to its compact and lightweight frame.
"I'm always looking to get the camera into impossible to reach places because those kinds of shots make action sequences much more exciting. Most 35mm motion-picture cameras and even the leading digital cinematography cameras are just too big to get into interesting positions."
Before Captain America, another super hero movie took advantage of the small-sized 5D Mark II: Iron Man 2. Matthew Libatique, one of the hottest cinematographers in Hollywood today, used the mighty DSLR to film shots from the Monaco Grand Prix sequence where Tony Stark is attacked by Ivan (Whiplash) Vanko.
5D Mark IIs were mounted to all four sides of the moving vehicle to capture some background plate footage in Monaco, which was later combined with the live-action race car footage filmed in Hollywood. They also used the cameras around the track (in heavy-duty protective cases) to capture footage of the vehicles driving past, crashing, and yes—even running over them.
"Without a doubt, we couldn't have gotten the shots any other way," Libatique said about using the 5D Mark IIs in the racing scene. "There is no other camera that can really get into some of the tight spots that the Canon 5D Mark II can, and with the ease that it can," he added. "We got extra angles in spots that we wouldn't have been able to get in 35mm without a lot more effort."
Libatique also stated that the 5D Mark IIs were invaluable for shooting the Monaco sequence, which was vital to the storytelling of the entire film. And this is probably why he stuck with the 5D on his next flick...
He also used the Canon 7D to film the subway scene.
Season 6's closing episode of House marked the first time a major network television show used Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLRs to film an entire episode, instead of the usual 35mm film cameras. Director Greg Yaitanes said the 5D was a perfect fit for the tight spaces of the finale "Help Me" which dealt with a crane collapse and a helpless victim stuck underneath the rubble.
The 5Ds allowed the production team to work in very tight spots in a collapsed parking garage with minimal lighting. They used Canon prime lenses along with the 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms and they didn't even use an image stabilization rig for any of the non-tripod shots. They even used 300mm lenses, only using the built-in image stabilizer feature, something Gale Tattersall (director of photography) referred to as "...a Steadicam in the palm of your hand."
But this wasn't the first time Tattersall used the 5D Mark IIs for House. Nor the last.
Tattersall used the 5D Mark II to film the newborn baby scenes for "Lockdown" in Season 6. He eventually convinced the producers of the show to film the whole finale episode with them, and even brought back the Canon 5D Mark II for the entire Season 7 of House, making it the first network television season filmed entirely on an DSLR.
Searching for Sonny, the directorial debut of Andrew Disney, was the first feature film shot entirely on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Or is it? It was shot in the spring of 2010 (it was hoping to start in the summer of 2009), but it has yet to be released and is still listed as being in post-production.
Instead of using Canon lenses, they opted for an old Nikon 50mm lens with a Nikon F mount and Canon EOS adapter, that way they had more control over the aperture at a fixed exposure.
You can check out the trailer here.