The C100 is doing well, but it could be better

I haven’t posted many updates lately so sorry for that. I’ve been working on a project involving a lot of two camera interviews using my Canon C100 and C300. This has been a good test for the profiles I created to match the camera and so far it’s going really well, the images from each camera are really close and I’m finding that with careful setup of exposure the results cut together well with the same grade applied.

The one thing that seems to let the the C100 down slightly is of course it’s internal 4:2:0 codec writing at 24MB/s, this doesn’t hold up as well as the C300‘s 4:2:2 codec at 50 MB/s. Below are some frame grabs showing one of the interviews I’ve shot and you will notice that although the C100 close up looks very similar to the wider C300 shot, closer inspection reveals compression artefacts that become more apparent when the footage is graded.

Both cameras were shooting in log with a minimal grade applied as an adjustment layer in Premiere CS6. I used Premieres RGB curves effect to add a shallow S curve and added some saturation using the fast color corrector tool. I’ll need to spend more time on the grade later in production but for now this gives a rough idea of how it effects the compression artefacts. Both the ungraded and graded screen grabs are shown below.

The wider shot was recorded with the C300 fitted with a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens with the closeup recorded on the C100 with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L. Both lenses were at f/2.8.

c300log c100logc300g c100g

I’m going to be reviewing the Atomos Ninja-2 external recorder over the next few weeks to see how that improves the images from the C100. Because the camera outputs 4:2:2 over the HDMI port that should in theory produce results much closer to the C300. Watch this space for more on that very soon.

 

 

Canon C300 & C100 matching custom picture files

Ive spent some time working on custom picture profiles for the Canon C100 and Canon C300 cameras that allow both cameras to be cut together and match well. I don’t own test charts but I’ve tested these under various conditions and they match well. The following examples were shot using the built in tungsten setting on both cameras, manual white balancing or dialling in Kelvin settings on both cameras can produce non balanced results so I prefer to use the presets for two camera shoots when possible.

PJnormHD

This is a neutral custom picture that has similar results to having no custom picture at all with the exception that the sharpness is dialled down to -5 on both cameras and the WB levels are tweaked on the C300 so that both cameras produce a similar colour balance.

PJcineHD

I developed this custom picture profile mainly for my Harley-Davidson projects but it’s proved useful for a lot more than just event work. Canon Log definitely gives you more dynamic range and options in post but with fast turn around projects I prefer to shoot with a profile that produces more of a baked in cine look. There’s a CINE1 Gamma applied to give a bit more contrast and I’ve used a normal1 colour matrix so that the colours pop a little rather than a CINE matrix which would result in more muted colours.

The images below are obviously not designed to highlight the look of the custom picture, they are more to show how the C100 and C300 profiles match colours. To see what the custom picture looks like have a look at some of my recent videos.

  
  

PJclogHD

These are based on the standard CINEMA profiles. The Canon Log gamma is used but with the balance corrected to allow both the C100 and C300 to match in terms of colour and levels.

  
  

The custom picture files can be downloaded below. Please note that the firmware update 1.0.7.1.0 that has to be installed by Canon changes the way colour is handled on the C300 so there are different versions of the files.

For C300’s with 1.0.6 and earlier – downloaded here – last updated 6-12-2012

For C300’s with 1.0.7 firmware – download here – last updated 12-2-2013

Please come back and let me know how they work out, good or bad any feedback will help to develop the files further.

Installation

This is based on mac, windows should be similar but I don’t have a windows machine so I can’t be sure. Please note that these custom profiles use the first positions on the card, if you have others in those positions that you wish to retain you will need to back them up prior to installing these.

C100

1. With an SD card inserted in the C100 copy one of the standard custom picture profiles from the camera to the SD card using the transfer option with the custom picture menu. This just creates the required folder structure, if you already have custom picture settings on the card then this isn’t required.

2. Eject the card from the camera and mount it on a computer. You will see a main enclosing package called ‘PRIVATE’, right click on that and choose ‘show package contents’.

3. Now you should see a folder named C_PICT, place the C100 picture profiles in that folder and then eject the card.

4. Re-insert the card into the C100, go to the custom picture menu and either select the profiles direct from the SD card or copy them to the camera.

C300

1. With an SD card inserted in the C300 copy one of the standard custom picture profiles from the camera to the SD card using the transfer option with the custom picture menu. This just creates the required folder structure, if you already have custom picture settings on the card then this isn’t required.

2. Eject the card from the camera and mount it on a computer. You will see a main enclosing folder called ‘PRIVATE’, open that folder.

3. Now you should see a sub folder named C_PICT, place the C300 picture profiles in that folder and then eject the card.

4. Re-insert the card into the C300, go to the custom picture menu and either select the profiles direct from the SD card or copy them to the camera.

Canon C100 Review – First impressions

Having just received a Canon C100 I thought I’d post my first impressions. At this stage I haven’t started shooting with the camera so this is going to focus on the build and operation of the camera for now but I will be posting more about the results and workflow as time goes on. As a Canon C300 shooter a lot of this post will be comparisons to that camera but should prove useful none the less. I have to apologise for the low quality images below, I was far too excited to go and grab a proper camera so snapped away with the iPhone!

Build Quality

Taking the C100 out of the box it felt just like C300 only in a more compact form, in fact in some ways it actually feels a little more rugged! That’s probably due to the fact that it has less bits and pieces on it but none the less this feels like a well built camera. The handle with the microphones and XLR inputs built in feels really nice, I’m never a big fan of the clear plastic covers over the audio controls as I invariably break them but other than that the handle feels tough and is very sturdy. Having just the single connector lead that attaches on the side rather than the back like the C300’s leads also lends to making the camera feel a bit less vulnerable.

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Ecosystem Justice Matters

This was a fun little talking head film I made for the International Development team at the University of East Anglia. The guys at the UEA had opted for a style they wanted to use so it was really just a case of lighting and framing accordingly to achieve the desired results.

One interesting challenge was that I didn’t want the backdrop framing to be changing between shots so we had to set the camera fairly high and then use a stack of magazines to raise the subjects to the desired height, which was fun! In the end I opted to crop into some of the shots anyway and the background changes were not overly noticeable but it’s better to air on the side of caution sometimes.

The subjects were lit with a single Rifa softbox on the left and a reflector to throw some of that same light back onto the right side of their faces just to bring up some detail. I also used my Litepanels 1×1 to throw some light against the white backdrop. I wanted to achieve a very shallow depth of field so I used the Canon 50mm f1.2 throughout at an aperture of f1.4.

One of the nice things about the modular design of the C300 is that you can remove the audio controls and LCD unit from the body of the camera. I set these up on a light stand so that I could adjust the audio levels etc without any risk of causing unwanted camera movement.

  

I actually shot with two cameras, the Canon C300 with the 50mm f/1.2 locked off and my 5D on the Kesller Stealth slider. I’d planned to show some shots with the camera tracking towards the subjects face as they talked but in comparison to the images from the C300 the 5D material looked mushy. The 5D produces great results but it does stand out as being soft when compared to the C300, I’ve decided to pre-order an EOS C100 to use as a B cam in the future.

You can just see in the image above that I monitored both cameras with SmallHD monitors, the DP6 on the C300 and the DP4 attached underneath the Stealth with a Noga arm.

The audio was all recorded from an overhead Rode NTG-3 and I haven’t messed around with the EQ at all on that. I’m really impressed with the results from that mic.

Comments welcomed.

Editing Canon MXF footage in Final Cut Pro X ( FCPX ) without transcoding

I’ve dabbled with Final Cut Pro X a few times since it was released and although I still struggle to understand apple’s weird naming conventions the application does have quite a few things going for it. Multicam editing is fantastic in FCPX, it automatically syncs clips using audio in the same way the PluralEyes did/does in FCP7. FCPX is also great value and with each new version Apple add’s back in features that were sorely missed by FCP7 users when it first appeared.

The one thing that’s stopped me using FCPX more has been that it couldn’t handle the Canon MXF files from my C300 natively. There were plugins available that would import and transcode / re-wrap the Canon footage into more Apple friendly Pro Res files but after using Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years I’ve been spoiled by it’s ability to edit directly from the source footage and no longer dealing with duplicate media..

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