Why I Refuse To Upgrade My Canon 60D

Short film shot with Canon 60D

This may be a bit ranty but I feel the need to express the feelings I have towards this incessant need for filmmakers to continuously crave the "best-of-the-best" cameras for their next project. And this will also justify my complete comfort in still using a Canon 60D (a cropped sensor model DSLR that was released a few years ago) as my go-to camera. When RED launched their camera it was all anybody could talk about. There were filmmakers were little experience and also clients with zero knowledge who were insisting that to shoot on anything but a RED camera was not only foolish, it automatically meant your movie was not going to be the best it could be.

My Mom Bought Me A Red
My Mom Bought Me A Red

The same effect was seen when DSLRs hit the scene, especially (and still to this day) with the Canon 5D Mk II or Mk III. When I arrived on set for a shoot recently with my 60D in hand, the other shooters who were armed with their 5D MkII full-frame cameras looked unimpressed and some even commented on my inability to get a full-frame camera.

If I could somehow post the video without singling out the people involved, I would happily challenge anyone to watch it and try to pick which angle was mine, the lone cropped-sensor camera amongst the full-frame big boys.

The school of thought that everything must be shot on the latest and greatest gear in order for it to be high quality goodness for the eyes and ears is ludicrous. Yes, there are amazing images captured on the RED, the Blackmagic and the Alexa. But does that mean that you can't shoot your picture on an inexpensive camera?

Ryan Connolly and the boys over at Film Riot proved this way of thinking wrong with a short film called Operation.

This tense short film was shot on an iPhone 4S. You can see how they achieved this from their BTS making-of video. The point of this example is that they pulled a high quality short film out of a smartphone.

Even on most features shot on RED it's not uncommon to see pick-up shots and second unit camera work being done with a DSLR (even a Rebel T2i, like a previous project I worked on). And it's very difficult to tell the difference between the two.

Long story short, when trying to choose a camera for your film it's not always smart to only settle for a high-end, Peter Jackson-level camera when you could just as easily be shooting with something more accessible. The focus shouldn't always be on the tool, rather than the artist wielding the tool. There are amazing movies shot on small cameras (smartphones, crop sensor DSLRs) and there are also really crappy movies shot on big cameras (RED, BM, Alexa). Whether you choose one over the other will not determine the outcome of your shoot. Only how you use it.

Will I shoot every project on my Canon 60D forever? Of course not. It is still important to keep up with technology as much as it is to stay well-practiced on technique. But only when the time is right and the wallet will allow.

Keep your eyes on your own work

RAW-TALK_PODCAST_LOGO_r3

Going to borrow from someone that inspired me today. I listen to the Fro Knows Photo RAWtalk podcast pretty regularly. In fact, it's one of two podcasts that I anticipate every week. (the other is the Under the Influence with Terry O'Reilly). Photographer Jared Polin hosts it and it does cover mostly subjects related to photography, but he also talks about things that non-photographers can relate to.

Every once in a while he goes off on a tangent (very often actually) about something in the world of business, freelancers or just philosophies of life. He can get pretty passionate and fired up with some of these tangents.

Today I was listening to the latest episode, which was the first of the new year, and he touched on something that perked my ears up. I'm paraphrasing but the gist of it was:

Don't worry about what others are doing; only be concerned with what you could be doing better.

The exact context is fuzzy, but when I heard him say this I asked myself: "How often do I see another person's work and get demotivated because I think it's better than what I can do?"

Do you ever ask yourself that? It probably happens more than you think. To be fair, there are times when I see another filmmaker's work and actually get inspired from it. Looking at it as a goal, I tell myself that I want to dedicate the next three months to learning how to do THAT. But honestly there are many times when it has a negative effect and I get deflated.

How come my work isn't as good as theirs? When will I ever be able to create that effect or shoot that well?

Every once in a while it helps to have someone like Jared remind you that if you want to succeed, stop comparing yourself so much to others. Or even comparing yourself to the person you thought you were going to be. Instead of worrying about what others are doing around you, think about what you are doing right now and what you COULD be doing to drive yourself forward.

Everything is temporary; we are all advancing our skills as much as we motivate ourselves to. Have your goals, see what kind of projects you'd like to be producing and then focus on what steps you need to take to get yourself there.

And high-five others on your way. Being happy for other people's successes can be incredibly rewarding and allows you to see the possibilities for yourself.

I'm proud of my work and the projects I'm a part of. However I am always looking forward. Even as a kid I would think this way, "Okay, I've taken this step. Now where's that next step?"

Nothing new. You've likely heard all of this already at one point or another. But it bears repeating. Now pass it on.

Wiping the dust off this filmmaker's blog

Where did all these cobwebs come from? I thought I closed this place up good when I last left it. So I've been a bit absent from the posts lately, but that is all going to be fixed. Starting right now.

Some of you may be wondering what I've been up to lately. Others may just be wondering what it is that I do...period. How about I answer these with a quick update activity here.

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First of all, if you follow my comings-and-goings you may have known that last November I was in Seattle on the set of The Gamers: Hands of Fate serving as both co-director of photography (there were 3 of us for 3 separate segments of the film) and visual effects supervisor for the "epic" portions of the shoot (Hint: #00FF00 has a large part of it). Now the film is steeped in post-production goodness. Over the course of the next few months, I'll be working on compositing green-screen footage against some lovely backgrounds provided by the post-production's digital matte painter.

As with most projects, I have approached the directors and producers with the idea of putting together behind-the-scenes material of the visual effects work and they were receptive to it, so hopefully you can expect to see that. But, as always, they have the final say if they don't want anything released until the film is completed and screened. Always have to be wary of spoilers. But here's the teaser trailer cut with footage from GenCon last summer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNxJNpb590c

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In the meantime, there is a project that I'm a part of that you can see. As in right now. The web series Versus Valerie has launched and hit the interwebs with the force of a thousand suns! It follows the character Valerie Lapomme (whom you may or may not know as Sexy Nerd Girl from her ongoing vlog). This is a narrative story showing her life outside of the bedroom (mind out of the gutter, folks) and how she deals with her many day-to-day challenges with the odd escape into her imagination to help. Episode 1 launched on March 7th and a new episode is released every other week, each one styled on a different nerd sub-genre (eg. Star Wars, Star Trek, FPS shooters, etc.). I've been working in the visual effects department on Versus Valerie along with another vfx artist, Davin Lengyel. One of the areas you can see my work in are the title sequences for each episode.

Here's a breakdown of the first episode's title sequence. The episode itself was styled off of the BBC series Sherlock, hence the look of the title sequence here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oje0KKZW-k

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One other role that I just recently took on was picking up editing for the comedy series, The Gate. This series was produced with a team of Toronto web series creators including Elize Morgan (Pretty in Geek), Jason Leaver (Out with Dad), Ash Catherwood (Microwave Porn) and Fraser Mills. The series follows St. Peter at the pearly gates of Heaven and the different characters he runs into. All of the episodes released to date were edited by Jason Leaver, but he's become busy with other production work and has made the decision to hand it over to someone else. Any fan of the Toronto web series scene would recognize that these folk are pretty much like The Expendables of web series around here, so just to be working on a project with them involved is a big honour for me.

Watch the first episode here and keep posted for when new ones will be released.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSx30cqfNts

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That's it for now...wow, I'm going to be pretty busy for a while. What are you working on?

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