Light Up Your Life

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Modern filmmakers need high-quality, adaptable and responsive kit, and that’s exactly what they get from the Canon EOS C700 FF. As Canon’s top-of-the-line cinema camera, its full-frame sensor offers unrivalled image quality and a set of features that make it easy to shoot in almost any lighting conditions. That’s what award-winning cinematographer Tania Freimuth discovered on her introduction to the camera – and Canon’s Sumire Prime lenses – when shooting the short film, A Change Of Heart.

Tania’s a filmmaker who likes to work with available light as much as possible, something she was inspired to do by the celebrated cinematographer, Néstor Almendros, who shot Kramer vs. Kramer, Days of Heaven and Sophie’s Choice, among others in a glittering career. “This doesn’t mean I won’t light a location,” she explains, “but the natural order is my guide, so I look for ways of controlling what’s available, either through reflectors or my choice of camera position, and only when necessary do I augment what’s in situ.” For Tania, this means visiting a location by day and night to understand where the light falls, its position in relation to the movement of the sun and where, if needs be, she will supplement the available light.

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From dimly lit interiors to low-light exteriors, A Change of Heart is full of such situations, says Tania, including “an exterior night scene, which took place near a railway bridge, at night, lit by a street light”. She explains: “Although it had a wide spread, it was an insufficient source on its own for my purposes. I was able to augment the light with the use of a boom light to capture the scene as I saw it.” The C700 FF’s large sensor was instrumental in capturing this and, along with Canon’s new range of Sumire wide-aperture cinema lenses, “it allowed me to take advantage of the sensitivity of the sensor – which I set at its native ISO 800 – and shoot creatively in low light,” Tania explains.

“The camera definitely allowed me to do more with less,” she continues. “Coupled with fast lenses, the C700 FF’s low-light performance and 15 stops of dynamic range let me get high-resolution, cinema-quality footage from a portable, lightweight lighting rig. So, in addition to making it a suitable option in a variety of situations, it’s very helpful in managing a tight shooting budget, as you don’t need so many lights.”

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The dynamic range and low-light capabilities weren’t all that Tania enjoyed about the C700 FF’s sensor. “Shooting with a full-frame sensor was exciting, and I enjoyed the field of vision and depth it gave me to work with. Being able to get close-up on a spherical lens without compressing the distance or the image and retain some space around the subject is part of the big-screen look I’m after. And in the longer term I can see that the C700 FF’s option of swapping into Super 35 or Super 16 formats could be really useful in creating the appropriate look and feel for a film, while reducing the need to seek an alternative camera.”

“On my projects,” Tania continues, “I also need to consider recording formats and whether they fit the requirements for distribution by a broadcaster as well as workflow. A diverse range of codecs and access to the optimum colour spacing is what I look for, and for that reason, the C700 FF is a camera I’d definitely consider on the next film I’m shooting.” In this way, the C700 FF’s choice of formats like Canon Cinema Raw, ProRes and XF-AVC makes workflow highly adaptable while keeping the ultimate quality.

Despite its huge spec and rugged build, Tania also found the C700 FF comparatively light, meaning she could vary shooting style between mounted and handheld, depending on the production’s needs. “The style of operating a camera is, for me, driven by the story and the wishes of the director,” she explains, “but during a shoot, it’s common for me to switch between operating from a tripod and going to a rig. Ergonomically, no production camera is an obvious choice for handheld, but in terms of shape and weight when fully loaded with all necessary accessories, the C700 FF is comparable with the other large format cameras I work with, so I would just look at how best to rig the camera to use it effectively.”

After her experience shooting with the new camera, what would Tania say to someone who was thinking of using it? “Personally I feel that, for an owner and operator, the C700 FF is well worth considering. As well as the benefits of being full-frame, the camera offers a diverse range of shooting codecs, sensor crops and picture profiles, which make it highly versatile and therefore an attractive option – because it can be used on almost any production and any light,” she concludes.

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