Videolog pick: Last Dinosaurs – Time & Place

Director Michael Sloane and his team did an amazing job on this music video shot entirely on a 5Dmk2 and 7D. This Australian video currently stands out in the videolog among the top 10 rated clips and is an eye catcher due it’s very professional look throughout the whole video.

Michael and DP Lucas talked about the shoot with us and shed some light on how the video was done:

(interview and setphotos after the jump)

There are good videos shot on a dslr, no doubt about it, but let’s be honest, most of all there’s tons of amateur and videoy looking stuff.
Many of us are always asking the same questions which can be broken down into this one: How can we make it look like film?
We don’t want people to realize they’re seeing dslr footage, those who work in the industry know that it’s already becoming a hated look. At least that’s how it is here in Austria.

Now and then a work like this one by DP Lucas Tomana comes along and he proves that it’s possible to shoot dslr that looks like film or at least like the other professional works we also see coming from professional digital cinema format cameras. You might be surprised to hear that for this project only minimal equipment and almost no lighting was used.
But Lucas Tomana wasn’t just lucky. He has had experience as DP with different formats including 16mm, 35mm and many video cameras, so I think it’s safe to say: he just knew what he was doing.

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L. Tomana: Most of the lighting is naturalistic as that was the look we were after. I usually popped in a polystyrene board every now and then or diffused direct sunlight with a homemade frame of 216 (Full diffusion).
M. Sloane: (…) except for two slider scenes where we used a LED battery powered panel (…) We often waited for cloud cover so we could flatten the image more, I don’t like shooting DSLR (or anything) in full sun, although sometimes we had to, and in these scenes we exposed for the brightest part of the shot and brought it up in the grade.

Lucas told me they had a Kessler Cineslider on set to do the dolly shots, these are his words on the tool:

L. Tomana: I loved it, first time I used it and could be set up in 5min or so. And the speed of it really suited our run and gun type shoot. I highly recommend it as we had little time, small crew and it was the perfect solution for our shoot. If we didnt have it, we wouldve needed track, a platform dolly, equipment and more crew to level all of it. (…) the 5 feet really made it worthwhile as opposed to a 3 foot track as it gives the audience a better sense of movement simply because of the duration of the movement…and of course a wide angle lens and a little foreground always helps to emphasize it.

Sloane and Tomana decided to shoot everything in slow motion: 50fps with the 7D and 30fps on the 5D slowed down to 25fps (for PAL. A good idea when you’re shooting a music video).
M. Sloane: This meant speeding up the music by 1/6th to allow lipsync. We never once shot 25p.

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M. Sloane: DP Lucas Tomoana and I tried our best to work toward the strengths of DSLR, I really wanted a flat look, so we used Bloom’s picture settings (dropped neutral) and tried to shoot mostly in overcast conditions, which proved quite hard in an Australian summer! Something else that we stuck to was exposing for highlights, this gave us control in the grade, and the flat look that I was after.

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M. Sloane: The beauty of working with a small amount of gear is the tight teams you can work in.
Michael Sloane and his team recently graduated from Film school. It’s interesting to see once again how knowledge is one of the most important tools no matter what gear you have available. They were very few people in the production team (no more than 4 on set at a time), but had 2 make up designers and a production designer working with them. You can clearly see how the video benefits from the right choices made by the director and the team, the design of the environment and characters is very unique and interesting and gives a lot of value to the music video.

M. Sloane: We didn’t use any loupes/splits/follow focus/rigs. (Although a loupe would have been handy in the bright sunlight.) I think Lucas proved the point that you still need to treat the scene and light it correctly, DSLR doesn’t magically make everything automatically look great, but it definitely can.
L. Tomana: The biggest thing I learnt from this was how far we could push some footage in the grade. Mike didnt want anything blown out. So we exposed for the highlights and let everything else go underexposed. Which is quite funny as I’m so used to over exposing for film. But we underexposed and managed to bring everything up and was quite impressed with how the footage handled in daylight to achieve the look Mike was after.

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Lucas also had something very interesting to say about depth of field. Big lesson here, very important:
L. Tomana: In terms of exposure, I was shooting at 5.6, 8, and sometimes 11 or 16. I know that sounds against the norm but I generally like to use a shallow depth of field for a very specific purpose. I thought it would be such a shame to have this great location and for the audience not too see it, so a large depth of field worked in my favor. I went shallow for some shots on the 85 1.2 L but they were for portrait type shots of the band. I think you can still create a feeling of depth if the background/foreground is only slightly out of focus.
Sometimes I get a headache when I watch films on HDSLR when 60-70% of the images on screen are completely soft. Neither is right or wrong and everyone is different but I think its great that when people shoot, they make a conscious decision about the aperture, and the amount of depth of field they are looking to achieve with that particular lens for that type of project. Not just shooting wide open because they can with the 5D! haha.

Producer – Rachael Janssen
DP – Lucas Tomoana
Editor – Kelvin Bugler
Prod Design – Ethan Waghorn

Equipment used:
– 5Dmk2
– 7D
– EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II USM
– EF 24-70mm f2.8 L USM
– EF 85mm f1.2 L USM.
– Filters: ND’s, POLA (for darkening sky), Vari ND
Kessler Cineslider 5ft
1×1 bicolor LED Litepanel (bicolor)
– reflectors and diffusion frames
– 2 C stands

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By: Sebastian Wöber (Austria)

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