Backstage from the shooting of a documentary-music video on a Canon XF605

Experience shooting a documentary-music video with a Canon XF605 camera

In the article about making a documentary-music video clip with Canon XF605 we complained a lot about hard shooting conditions and described in detail the peculiarities of selecting equipment dictated by a very special space – the historical organ of the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. But, as the saying goes, seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times. Therefore, in addition to the main material, we prepared this note with backstage footage.

As has already been mentioned many times, the organ of the Grand Hall of the Conservatory is over a hundred years old. There is very little room for a cameraman inside the organ, not to mention the filming equipment. Even the stedicam, which we used in several scenes of Symphony of the Organ, is not everywhere to save the situation, especially on the vertical staircases and narrow walkways. Needless to say, there was no room for a single photographer with a camera. That is why Sergey Uvarov, the director of the video, was the photographer, and the Sony Xperia Pro-I smartphone was the camera.

On the one hand, the decision to shoot backstage on a smartphone was dictated by the simplicity of the process: click – and done. The director can not be distracted for a long time from the main task – the formation of the video sequence, so the main requirement for the equipment – there is no need to spend time on setting up. On the other hand, let’s not hide the fact that we were interested in trying Sony Xperia Pro-I, positioned as a professional solution, in a real “combat” situation.

Actually, with such devices this is the main question: will it be enough for documentary shooting in difficult conditions or not? It is clear that it can make a shot for Instagram. But much simpler devices are also suitable for this purpose. At the same time, it is also clear that it is too early to make serious staged photographs with smartphones. Where is the golden mean, in which Sony Xperia Pro-I will be the optimal solution?

Our experience with documentary non-staged photography inside an organ has shown that even for such tasks the capabilities of a smartphone, even at the level of the Sony Xperia Pro-I, are not enough. But this is if we evaluate the frames “according to the Hamburg account”. If you just look at them as illustrations of the work process and do not demand perfect color reproduction, clarity, absence of noise, then, perhaps, everything is not so bad. Moreover, practically any angle inside the organ is photogenic, there is nothing superfluous there.

Note especially the Xperia Pro-I’s ability to shoot in RAW: this mode often comes in handy, allowing you to pull a little more detail out of the picture and adjust the white balance, which in this case is not easy to select even manually, not to mention the automatic. And the most important thing, of course, is compactness: put it in your pocket and go to the operator, not delaying the main process for a minute.

Before we move on to the photo gallery itself, let’s comment on a few things. You’ve probably already noticed that in many shots the cameraman has to stand on a narrow bridge with a chasm opening right in front of him. So it is, no safety harnesses, handrails for convenience and other devices to facilitate the lives of filming crews, there is no inside. If the cameraman stumbles and falls, it may end very badly for the unique historic object, fragile by virtue of its age and materials (no plastic, only soft metals and wood), and for him.

The second point: there is nothing to lean the camera on. And you don’t want to use a tripod either. That is why the heavier the camera, the harder it is for the operator to make smooth passes. And, of course, the higher is the risk to drop the camera (which, again, is bad not even because of damage of the camera itself, but because of possible damage to the organ). But at the same time, the absence of a tripod and a body kit gives special freedom in angles. This can be seen in the pictures presented, but even more so in the video itself.

Well, enough words, check out our documentation of the filming process, and most importantly, the final video.

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