Shooting bionic hands on the Canon 7D for BBC news

By Johnnie Behiri

Bionic reconstruction from Johnnie Behiri on Vimeo.

After two years, the VDSLR has become my main working tool. True, I do have access to many other video cameras, but what convinces me is the fact I have to THINK every time before pressing the REC button. I feel it has made me a better shooter and storyteller. Sure, I was thinking before when using a conventional ENG camera, but I’m talking about the extra care when shooting with VDSLRs.

So what is there to think about?  Light, lenses, aperture, depth of field, movement, audio recording, audio levels, are all equally important to achieve the best possible result when working with a “far then optimal” big sensor photo camera that shoots high definition video.

When Neil Bowdler, the BBC science correspondent, came up with the idea of doing a “bionic reconstruction” story, the obvious working tool for me was a VDSLR. Neil was excited and open-minded about exploring that possibility.

Shooting with the 7D, Neil Bowdler (L) and Prof. Aszmann

The story is about an Austrian resident who has chosen to have his dysfunctional hand cut off so that it can be replaced with a bionic limb. His Vienna-based surgeon believes elective amputation and what he calls “bionic reconstruction” can give some patients with traumatic injuries the best hope of regaining bodily function.

My goal this time was not to achieve the super shallow depth of field “film look” that some regard as optimal. I felt in this case there was no point of having a completely blurred background when Neil is talking about a situation happening behind him….

The Bionic hand can do many things that a real hand can

We did some nicely lit interviews but unfortunately did not use them in the short version of the story for BBC World news. Those were used later in the longer version done in London for BBC Newsnight which you can see here.

Equipment used:
Camera: Canon 7D
Lenses: Canon 17-55 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f4.0, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8
Audio: Tascam DR-100 recorder, Sennheiser G2 EW100 wireless mic system, Sanken Lav mic, Cos11D
Rig: Vocas
Electronic VF: Cineroid
Tripod: Sachtler DV8 SB
Light: Litepanel 1×1, Viso PH 5502 (Kino style flo light)
Editing: Adobe Premiere CS2 with Cineform Neo4k
Color correction: Cineform “FirstLight”

Johnnie is working in Vienna, Austria.
Johnnie also films documentaries, commercials, music videos, and marketing videos when not working for the BBC.

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