I brought the camera with me to Los Angeles for a commercial. Most of our content was interviews and B Roll on location. There were four features that really set the camera apart in my opinion and made it worth checking out:
1. Onboard 4K recording with a DSLR form factor (small, light, ready for battle)
2. Unlimited record times
3. Canon Log
4. HDMI Mirroring
The feature on this list that made me most excited was HDMI Mirroring. I love treating DSLRs like DSLRs. I don't like using big rigs and I try to never use much more than my Z Finder when I can. This has never been a problem on my personal projects or extreme doc films but it's not as easy on a commercial shoot with a client that wants to see an image. On other canon DSLRs like the 5D3 when you plug HDMI into the camera, the LCD screen turns off. This means that for my client to see the image at the same time, we would have to put an external monitor or EVF on the camera and then plug into another monitor.
A two camera package small enough for a private jet. An Arri Locaster for a key light and the 5D3 and 1DC as our interview cameras.
I am very opposed to this. If I wanted a big camera, I would use a C300 or an Epic. I use the DSLRs not because they are cheap but because they are small, mobile and allow me to create images that no camera has been able to in the last 100 years of filmmaking. When you start adding EVFs, Monitors, Shoulder pads and all that weight you basically have an Alexa with a million screws as opposed to a new way of making movies.
Your handheld rig might feel balanced to you but be careful you don't look like this to your subjects...
If you are building a hand held rig for your DSLR, I really suggest you take a minute to pick it up and look at yourself holding it in the mirror. We spend all this time worrying about counter balance and comfort but not enough thinking about how we appear to our subjects. If your goal is to get intimate material with real people (and even actors) you can't look like ED209. I remember once a friend came to a job with a Zacuto Scorpion rig and we could not stop laughing once we saw him with it all built, but the impact didn't really click in till he started interviewing people in the crowd and they kept seeming uncomfortable and distracted by the beast of a camera he was holding. With a ENG or film camera these shoulder rigs always looked sleak and a part of the body but when you build out a DSLR it just starts to look like home depot threw up on your shoulder.
Using my iPad as a wireless monitor during an interview
If you want to shoot Canon, HDMI mirroring is currently only available on the 1DC. In April there is a firmware update coming out for the 5D3 that will unlock this feature. This will open up new world for us shooters to give clients wireless feeds from our cameras without needing big rigs.
Over the past year the Teradek Cube was been an essential part of my kit. I love it's size, amazing feature set (wireless transmission to either a monitor, recording system or iPad) and have always dreamed of using it on my 5D the way I use it on a C300. Once I got a hold of the 1DC for the job I called up Teradek and asked if I could borrow an HDMI Cube to see how it played with the camera.
As I expected it was a dream team pair. For the first time I was able to use a DSLR that I shot with on films like Undercity while sending my client a wireless stream to his iPad with a 1/3 of a second delay. We shot the Cube in Master Mode (it's own ad hoc wifi network originating at the cube) and were getting up to 60 feet of range which was perfect for our intimate shoot. I couldn't have been happier with how the two worked together.
I just sold my 5D3 because I never got an image out of it that was as inspiring as the ones I created with the 5D2, now with HDMI mirroring I can easily see the 5D3 returning to my arsenal for client shoots where I need a small profile but also the wireless monitoring ability. For anyone out there shooting with a 5D3 I cannot hesitate to recommend the Cube once the feature is enabled. It's such a versatile tool and will open up some fun and exciting possibilities for monitoring while shooting.
I haven't read too many accounts of the 1DC on an actual set, so here are a few other things we discovered while shooting with the camera on set:
5D3 chilling on a private jet with a Sound Devices Mix Pre D recording master audio into the camera.
--Clients don't really seem to care about the 4K. Actually once they hear about 4GB/minute they actually seem to NOT want 4K. At the end of the day we only ended up shooting 4K for B Roll (which I pitched as giving it "a little more pop") and Full frame for the interviews (along with a 5D3).
My client had a quick turn around on the job and requested not to have to sync footage with audio. To help with this process I actually put my amazing sounding Sound Devices Mix Pre D on my 5D3 and used it as my A Camera during the interviews capturing the main audio. We also put a sennheiser lav on the 1DC as a wireless hop to get reference sound on it throughout the shoot.
AC Tony Maggio carrying a 4K camera, wireless system, tripod and slider up a flight of stairs in a single bound...
--Despite it breaking during the shoot, the 1DC did very well on the Edelkrone Slider Plus. I took the above picture of AC Tony Maggio carrying the camera up the stairs and couldn't believe that a 4K camera with wireless video system and slider could be moved up a flight of stairs in one trip...especially not by one person.
--Canon log continues to suck. Even at 400 ISO, the only situation we have found where it's worth it is wide landscape shots. My colorist is currently breaking down some new test footage to help show the world how inefficient Canon log is compared to something like the Lightform Picture Styles. The more we test the more we see that you're not really getting that much more detail and it adds a lot more work for the colorist to get the same results. I'm excited to share these tests soon, but up until then PLEASE test Canon log before you take it on a job. Don't just blindly trust log as being better (especially at High ISOs).
At the end of the day, I'm still not sure what to make of this beautiful mess of a camera. Have Canon DSLRs truly evolved that much since the 5D2? I understand we have a few more features (no moire, longer run time and a poorly made headphone jack on the 5D3, 4K and Canonlog on the 1DC) but is the image really that much better? Can you really say that projects that were good on your 5D2 would really be that much better on these cameras?
Despite the extra bells and whistles you cannot convince me to buy the 1DC. I truly believe that it's a camera that will soon be forgotten. I am a DSLR shooter for life. It is my weapon of choice but I just can't get behind this camera. I feel like the 4K is cool but is not a realistic deliverable for 4K content and leads to some headaches downscaling for HD. In fact, I just did another commercial last week where I decided to go with two 1DX cameras instead of the 1DC because the more I use the 1DC the less I care about it. At this point I am only renting a 1DC when I need to send a wireless signal to a client for monitoring.
Right now my new camera hopes lie in the Leica M. I hope when video samples start coming out it's comparable to the video from the 5D2. There was never a problem with the image of the 5D2 and if I can get the same out of a smaller body with beyond dreamy leica lenses then hopefully I can finally find my new paintbrush.
A special thanks to:
Tony Maggio - Camera
Daniel Lachman and Justin Sharp - Editing
Ben Clancy - Music