At first glance this project is everything we try to imagine a project to be. Showcases musicianship, introduces the band for familiarity, and matches the genre’s needs with a splash of creative elements. When going into this project, we met the idea of the film with a different production approach and fresh to the market tools. The general idea was that Dreamwalker really wanted to make the band a reality for some years, and their track, "Essence", deals with feelings of chasing your goals, taking chances and how time can feel as if it stands still when you want to be moving forward. These ideas helped shape the production and tools we used significantly. It ultimately brought us to the Canon c200 for camera of choice.
We love slow motion when it has real purpose and can fit the ideas and sonic energy of a song. Creatively we saw this bending of time. We introduced the grandfather clock, again for symbolism to time, stages a "frozen in time" feeling with members and mixed this between dark and light contrasting performances. This made up the backbone of the project.
Simply shooting in slow motion wasn’t the right call, so we added tube lighting and flickered them. This gave reference to the shots being in 120fps and added a nice, more epic touch. To amplify the motion a bit further, we mixed our camera motion around to amplify a feeling of out of control, mirroring how we can often feel this way in life with several situations.
In achieving these ideas, we had a lot to consider. Lighting is always our first decision, but after that, we knew we would have to consider camera and motion possibilities, or lack thereof. If budget was endless, I think we would have been able to make this idea come to life a lot easier, but that wasn’t the case, and something we take pride in, is making things work, no matter what, within the set of numbers given. We strive to be respectful of every project. Making sure enough hands are on deck to keep things moving safely is top priority and then the tools we need are next. We had been using the Canon 1dxmkii for quite a few projects and it was the original contender, but a week before this production came about our rental house, Ohio HD, who got an early shipment of the Canon c200.
This opened some doors for us.
A Short look into the Essence Production with JECP
Filmed by Ethan Bielik
Edited by Josh Emerick
In comparison, both cameras pack a serious punch, but the c200 gave us true 120fps baked at 24fps, which is much more pleasing to the eye than the 1d’s 120fps at 29fps. We also had the canon raw light for post-production. This was both a blessing and a burden, but we'll get into that later. The best point was form factor. We didn’t have the budget to rent a Movi Pro, so we needed to use our Ronin M.
The 1d is amazing in terms of specs, but is horribly heavy and not a well balance form-factor, making it one of the most difficult-to-balance cameras once you start adding extra components, like follow focus and various lensing. With that being said, the c200 was still a difficult feat on it's own...
If we are talking Gimble systems, Freefly has always been superior for us. They know their industry, create amazing products, function significantly better, and are reliable. You really do get what you pay for. DJI is a good company but fall short. In this case we went with what was available and put in the extra work with a prep day building camera out and planning our shot, list for most effective use of time. It took a lot of trial and error, but we settled on the c200 with a Rokinon 35mm and only swapped for the Roki 50mm for a handful of shots. We kept the rig as light as possible, but also needed to add our DJI follow focus, Teradek TX, Small HD 502 and a v-mount to power the rig. The new detached monitor feature on the c200 worked out really handy for the gimble set up too. We could access our menus really easy unlike on a DSLR or previous Canon cinema cameras. All of these things added up to a workable, but extremely heavy rig. Whatever gets the job done!
After we had this rig built, it worked, but with care and ease. It took some tuning in the DJI app and operating physically with a little extra motion as possible. We had the rig pretty much to its limit in weight so when operating we had to watch our steps, communicate our motion and be patient.
In addition to keeping focus pulled off camera, we had a second operator controlling the remote for added tilts to our shots. With the weight of this rig it actually took most takes with two people on camera just to make it through the full 4-minute track. With all of these elements in place, we created the motion you see in the "Essence" project.
One big thing we had to work around was the c200’s RAW format. It allowed us to capture a more dynamic range and bring in some really beautiful footage, but the only way to process the RAW footage, was through Canons Raw software. It’s not great and we’ll leave it at that. We shot around 230gbs of footage for the whole project and converting that footage to 4k raw turned it into just under 5tb of footage. Now that the camera has been around a bit, we used Davinci Resolve to work the footage and it’s not nearly as large of files, while still preserving the beautiful image. Other than the large files and slow transcoding, the c200 made this one of our favorite projects from image quality.
We had a great set of hands to work this project, a client that respected our craft and enough tools to get the job done. We hope this inspired you to get out there, test yourself with something new and make something.
Ross Theisen | Director + Art Direction
Josh Emerick | Director of Photography + Editor
Michael Pelaez | Camera Operator
Taylor Tigner | AC + DIT
Matty McClelland | Gaff + PA
Ethan Beilik | Grip, PA + BTS Phot/Video
Mikaya Collins | PA
DREAMWALKER | ESSENCE