Driven to Succeed

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“I’m getting a reputation for gruelling shoots,” laughs Brett Danton, “but this one was particularly tough.” Continuing his successful relationship with Jaguar Land Rover, Brett was asked to shoot a new social film for the F-Pace in the mountains of southern Spain. “This time was actually a little bit more of a collaboration than before, as Jaguar wanted to run the entire behind-the-scenes film on its website, which it’s never done before. So we had a Jaguar chasing a Jaguar, basically, with the camera on it. The entire shoot was a story about new technologies coming together and pushing boundaries – both for Jaguar and Canon, with the release of the EOS C500 Mark II.”

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For the two-day shoot, Brett had access to two pre-production C500 Mark IIs. These bodies were the only ones available in the world at that point, and destined to be unveiled at IBC the day after filming. “We were certainly under a bit of pressure,” he says. “It wasn’t like we were just getting to know the cameras, either. This was a live shoot and a real Jaguar brief. We had to use them just as we normally would, flying them on drones and shooting from Russian arms, all that kind of stuff. Any mistakes and it would have been a bit of a flat release for Canon!”

Fortunately, the C500 Mark IIs were more than up to the job, says Brett. “I mean we went to Spain, because the weather was supposed to be fantastic there. But we managed to hit right in the middle of the storms around Hurricane Lorenzo. And we were up and down 2000ft on a mountain road, so the temperature was shifting from 20ºC at the bottom to -6ºC or -7ºC at the top with the wind chill. In fact, the road got washed away the day after we left! So there were big, big challenges in dealing with those conditions. But the cameras handled without any issues.”

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Brett found no handling issues with the C500 Mark II either, in fact, he says, along with other features and its hybrid design, “the Cinema EOS range has really come of age with this camera”. He explains: “Even though we had never used the cameras before, the last thing I thought about on the entire shoot was the cameras. They just did what they needed to do. And that takes off a lot of the pressure. The C500 Mark II follows the ecosystem of the other cameras, so you feel like you know the camera inside out already. The buttons are all in the same spot, the controls are the same, but they’ve also added a couple of things everybody wanted…”

Those updates to the handling included a new Slow & Fast motion shortcut, which Brett says makes switching between modes a lot quicker. “You used to have to go in and do it all through the menu system, but the S&F button allows much faster operation, and really comes into its own when you’re using the camera handheld and want to switch into something like 120fps.”

The EOS C500 Mark II is also the first Cinema EOS camera to use Canon’s Electronic Image Stabilization (IS) in the camera body, making use of the C500 Mark II’s full-frame 5.9K sensor, as it crops slightly into the frame to remove shake. The system supports five-axis correction, and can be used with any lens, which meant Brett could move seamlessly into the car’s interior and shoot smooth footage. “It’s a fantastic way of doing a shot somewhere where we’d normally have to rerig everything, or where a gimbal would be too big. Or we can shoot handheld in low light, and not have to worry about stabilising it in post. On the Jaguar F-Pace shoot, I was often shooting from inside the car as we were flying up and down the mountain road at speed.”

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Something else that makes the C500 Mark II special, according to Brett, is its highly modular design, which allows filmmakers to build the kit they need either for a whole production or from shot to shot. “The main body on it is incredibly light,” he explains, “so you can use it across multiple platforms. And then you have different expansion modules that go on the back of it. What I like about that – the ability to use the same camera in multiple ways – is that it’s like a return the film days, where you’d pick a camera that was the right size or had the right outputs, but the consistent thing was you always had the same film stock running through it. So now, with the C500 Mark II, you can spec it how you want, whether that’s as a main camera, or stripped down and on a drone, and you’ll still have a totally consistent image across it from the 5.9K full-frame sensor. So you know when you get to the edit, everything is going to match up perfectly.”

That full-frame sensor at the heart of the C500 Mark II is perhaps its biggest sell, and one that Brett recognised immediately. “The sensor isn’t just big physically – its impact is huge, too. Having all those pixels means we can oversample to 4K and reframe much more easily in post. And the internal 5.9K Cinema Light Raw is fantastic to have in such a small body, because the lack of need for an external recorder means you can be even more agile. In the same way, the file sizes aren’t too big for a Raw file either, so workflow is easier, and we were able to play them back on a 2017 MacBook Pro in the back of the F-Pace! Basically, we couldn’t find any negatives on it – it’s a next-level cinema camera.”

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