Reported by Mat Gallagher:
Reuters once again turned to DSLRs for its latest Reuters Investigates: How education lost its role as the great equalizer. The piece we reported on last summer, Stop and Frisk was its first outing with the Canon EOS 60D, while this time it mixed footage from APS-C and full frame models. With a Canon EOS 5D mkIII used as the main camera, the EOS 60D was used as a B camera. Despite shooting consistently in 24p and using the Stu Maschwitz Prolost settings in both cameras, senior producer Ayana Morali, says the difference in results was still significant.
The Reuters Enterprise desk was tackling income inequality and the reporters wanted the video team to come up with something special for the series launch. At the same time, ReutersTV was seeking to start creating narratives with a more cinematic feel and higher production quality says Morali. Together with colleague Jon O’Beirne she decided to distinguish the package by approaching establishing shots and detailed B-roll shots in a more stylized way.
She writes: “We were very careful to consider how we could build sequences with what was shot. In every B-roll opportunity we worked our way in and out of the subject to give us options and we used tools like a polarizer on the 17-40mm f4L to make our wide shots and landscapes pop. We also shot video portraits of our two main subjects to try and give an intimate feel to the interviews. We also brought our small inexpensive Indislider along to give Jon some camera move options when shooting B-roll – between that and the cowboy studio we got some really great camera moves for very little money. At the last minute, I decided to bring my Gopro Hero 2 for the car shots. I’ve heard the Hero3 Black is far superior but, the 2 still seemed to do the trick. I just stuck it on the dashboard and had no issues with any shaking.
“The entire piece was shot in 24p. For the students, Jon used his 5d mkIII as our primary camera and the 60D as a “B” camera for our first shoot. We shot everything using Stu Maschwitz Prolost settings so were better able to grade the two cameras in post. Additional interviews and B-roll were shot on the 60D. The difference between two cameras in remarkable, the quality of the image that comes from the 5D mkIII is noticeably superior. This was especially true in the latitude in exposure that we were able to get in the student interviews. The 60D lost a bit of information at the top end where a window was visible. We used two Flolight 512 LED panels and two Litepanels Sola ENGs for lighting. We also used a reflector as a fill for Tanner’s shot. As far as lenses – for the interviews, we used a 50mm f1.4 and alternated b/w a 70-200MM f2.8L, and a 17-40MM f4L for the B-roll.”
Taking a slightly unusual step, the sound was recorded in-camera from a Sennheiser lavalier mic, rather than an external Tascam DR-100 unit. “This worked out really nicely and we had no audio issues in post.” Morali adds. “There is nothing like getting that cinematic look and not having to worry about external audio.”
The team did encounter a stuttering effect when they slowed some of the shots in post, she notes: “This may have been because Jon used a high shutter speed to compensate for the bright sun we were shooting in. In theory, it should be the reverse, and we’d love to hear from anyone who has encountered this or has further thoughts.”
She adds: “In post, we played a lot with Magic Bullet Looks and tried to give each section a treatment to differentiate it from the others. We also added slow moves in FCP to the landscape shots. The wide shot of the school was an especially exciting moment in edit. I sped it up to 250% to get the windmills going, but since there was no other movement, it still looked like a beautifully composed still until you notice that subtle movement. I added the filter ‘Miami’ in Magic Bullet to make the clouds pop even more than they already did from the polarizer. There – a purely artistic moment.”
It is interesting that even as many pundits are calling time on the use of DSLRs for professional video, some large news organisations are still using them.
Reuters investigates team were –
Reporters: David Rohde and Kristina Cooke
Senior Producer: Ayana Morali
Senior Post Producer: Jon O’Beirne
Ayana Morali is a Brooklyn-based producer/shooter/editor. She is the Senior Producer for Reuters Investigative and Special Programming Unit.