So what does an HDSLR Hybrid Shoot Look Like?

I just completed an HDDSLR project that involved shooting stills and video at several locations across the U.S.    The shoot was commissioned by Greg Sylvester of VSA Partners a well known agency that has a wide range of corporate and commercial clients.  Our goal was to produce an annual report that would live both in print and digitally on the web as both stills and video segments.  While this was by no means a “small shoot” it still lives in the mid-level sized corporate shoot in my book – this is no means what I would bring to an editorial shoot for example.


VSA HDDSLR Still & Video Shoot – HOVER OVER IMAGES FOR CAPTION/GEAR INFO – Images by Vincent Laforet

Given the level of interest in this new technology – I though that readers might appreciate a slide show of images that show what such a production might entail in terms of gear.   Please note that over the next few weeks I will be going over the gear that I used in this production on this blog in detail – so please hold all of your gear questions for now.

I can image some of the reactions to seeing (or trying to find) a Canon HDDSLR buried under all of this gear.  ”Why in the world would one go through this?” – someone might ask.   Why not get “x” camera.  Well the long and short of it:  the LOOK of these cameras is incredibly unique – the video coming out of these camera looks incredibly close to 35mm motion picture film (see image 13 in the slideshow for a good example of what separates this breed of cameras from the others.)   Pulling off a similar production with a 35mm film of system would be significantly more time consuming and expensive – there is absolutely zero doubt about it.   And don’t forget: the way these cameras perform in low light – also separates them from the competition.  So there absolutely is reason behind all of this madness. I had to mention this because I sometimes catch myself asking the very same question…  and then I see the results on screen and all doubt is removed.

I should also note a few things – I have gotten special permission from both the agency and the client to post these images – but I cannot show any images that identify the client – I can simply say that the client is a large insurance company.   Therefore you will see some shots of the crew as opposed to the final images / video we shot of the actual subjects – and I’ve blurred the subject to protect the client’s privacy.

The shoot involved two parts: one was to produce 7 short 2-5 minute video pieces that included “B-Roll” and interviews for the client’s website as well as a similar amount of still shots for their annual report.   The crew was comprised of  7 crew members with the following roles – note that many of them were working in both still photography and video roles:

Myself – as photographer/Director  (co-directing w/ Greg Sylvester)

Charles Papert – DP / Camera / Steadicam Operator

Jason Wawro – 1st AC / Focus Puller

Mike Isler – 1st Assistant / Technical Coordinator

Taylor Jones – DIT/ Digital Tech (Video + Video)

Marcus Del Negro – Audio

Andew Loehman – Grip / Assistant

The majority of the the footage was shot with the Canon 1D MKIV for both still and video.   This allowed us to travel “light” and as you’ll see – that means between 12-18 cases of equipment totally close to 700 lbs.   Given that so much of this gear is relatively new and/or custom made – we were unable to rent a lot of it locally and therefore had to ship/check most of it – which is definitely a bit exceptional – normally we always rent as much as we can locally.

The client also wanted us to have as small of a footprint as reasonably possible – while keeping the production value high.   Therefore the HDDSLR was truly an ideal solution for this job – as were such tools at the Lite Panels LED lights that are relatively compact, lightweight and can be easily operated with either AC or battery power.

This was a pretty fantastic assignment that really allowed us to demonstrate what a hybrid shoot like this can bring to the table for the client – they saved considerable time by being able to produce both shoots simultaneously.   And the best comment that I heard so far: the clients loved both the still photographs as well as the resulting videos – and that’s great to hear as one of the number one fears when doing a hybrid shoot is to have to compromise on quality of one – or worse: both of the two similar, yet ultimately different crafts involved.  You’ll of course notice one very important missing element:  photos of me shooting stills…I’ll let you figure out why I don’t have any of those pictures to share (hint: I was busy shooting the assignment…)

At some point next month I should be able to direct you to the client’s site and show you the end results.

You’ll find pictures of a wide variety of gear from:  Canon, Apple, Black Magic, Bogen, Denecke, Formatt, Gitzo, Glidetrack, IDX, LitePanels, Manfrotto, Marhsall Electronics, MicroDolly, Preston, O’Connor, RedByte, RedRock Micro, Sound Devices, Think Tank, Tiffen, Zacuto, Zeiss.  This is all gear that we now use on a regular basis on most productions – the only notable difference you might notice is that we weren’t able to implement the normal RedRock Micro kit around the cameras because this was my first shoot with production 1D MKIV cameras (we received our 1D MKIV on the second day of the shoot) – and they are of course a bit taller then the 5D MKII and would not fit in my kit built around the 5D MKII.  RedRock has since come out with new accessories to fit this new series of cameras and their taller size. Therefore we did not use the standard kit nor matte boxes on this shoot and instead opted to what amounts to a hodgepodge  custom built system that quickly allowed us to transfer from tripod/slider use onto a Steadicam with very little lost time.  More details to come on all of this gear in the upcoming weeks.  So go ahead and geek out.