I’m not going to lie to you: I’ve been sitting on this review pretty much all year. If I had to distill the “why” down to a simple answer, it’s that the C70 is great. It’s just a great camera. You want one? Get one. It’s worth the money, and you won’t be disappointed. Even in 5 years I don’t see this being a camera left by the way-side. I certainly want one, even as a C500mkII owner. I also know plenty of people who traded their Komodos in for a C70, if that means anything, plus the C70 is actually available *cough* and currently holds LensRentals.com’s top most rented new camera and apparently wins by a mile. Chris Ray and I were chatting about it at the recent Filmtools Cineshred event, and he was saying it’s become his workhorse. He talked about it recently with Filmtools in regards to shooting his new documentary. In any case, we both agree that the C70 is a top-tier camera worthy of any filmmakers toolkit.
But that’s not a review, that’s an opinion. Where I was really waffling was in the “lens” this article was going to use: was it going to be from the perspective of production or indie creators? Everyone loves to read about how a camera can give them a big budget look for the least amount of money, but at this point almost every “cinema focused” camera that comes out these days can do that. So now you’re on to ergonomics and features, right? Clearly the C70 can be used by solo shooters, that seems to be who it’s aimed at, but could it work on the aforementioned “big budget set”? It is Netflix-Approved, for whatever that’s worth. The line has just gotten so fuzzy.
On the one hand, you’ve got image/codec concerns when looking at a camera, and on the other hand you’ve got workflow/hardware concerns. Since the image of any modern camera is pretty much up-to-snuff for nearly any project, I guess what truly makes a “cinema camera” is the workflow stuff nowadays (as long as the codec is good enough). Technically all cinema cameras are video cameras but not all video cameras are cinema cameras. There’s gotta be a line somewhere, so let’s see if we can define it.
Now, I want to be clear: I’m not saying “Cinema camera good, Video camera bad” I’m saying we shouldn’t get caught up in marketing hype in general, and we should strive to be objective and think about our project’s needs when it comes to making purchasing or rental decisions. I also don’t think making an aspirational purchase is a good idea (like buying an Alexa or RED to help “jump start your career” as a cinematographer), but as camera tech is kind of meeting in the middle, I don’t think that’s as much of an issue as it would have been, say, 10 or even 5 years ago. Now you can really focus on doing more projects and less on being “a product” to to speak. Get back to networking, ya know what I mean? In any case, I think the easiest way to define a Cinema Camera right now is to simply look at the cameras being deployed on film sets and just go with the most-used features. I certainly don’t think the ability to replace the lens on a video camera instantly makes it a “Cinema Camera”, and a DSLR is a photo camera first, not a video camera. That’s fair, right?
So, looking at the features sets of the RED Raptor/Ranger, ARRI Alexa Mini/LF/65, and the Sony VENICE, I’ll say that an “ideal” baseline cinema camera, intended for film and television work, has the following:
– Super35 or Full Frame 6K+ Sensor (4K is acceptable)
– 2+ SDI Ports minimum
– Audio of some kind (2x 3pin XLR or 1x 5pin XLR or Similar)
– 2+ Accessory Power Ports (12v and/or 24v)
– Timecode & Genlock via LEMO or BNC
– RAW and 10bit+ LOG modes (ProRes is the clear favorite for compressed)
– XLR or LEMO Power (a built-in V or Gold mount would be nice too)
– PL Mount (native or adapted)
– 14+ stops of Dynamic Range
– Robust Build Quality
– Reliable Recording Media
– Full Image Control (ability to manually adjust all parameters)
– Internal NDs are optional but common these days
– FIZ also seems to be common but I’ll put that in the “optional” category as well
That seems like a reasonable checklist definition by my eye. Granted any camera can be a “cinema camera” if it’s used to make a movie, and certainly not every production will need every single feature (or will have a decent workaround ready), but again I’m just trying to come up with a definition for the sake of making comparisons on hardware and its viability on a traditional set, not drawing conclusions on the viability of a camera to help create an amazing story. For instance, my C500mkII ticks nearly all those boxes except for accessory power (although I have Dtap coming off my Full Frame Camera Co V-Lock plate) and FIZ, so I’d be comfortable saying it’s still a Cinema Camera as both of those things can be easily worked around without much compromise. And I know someone is going to clutch their pearls at the 6K/4K thing, obviously 2K is totally fine ala the Alexa Mini, I’m just drawing conclusions from today’s top of the line, most-used cameras on film and TV sets to make a workable definition.
I’ll share a quote I agree with from Steven Soderbergh: “Cinema is not about format, and it’s not about venue. Cinema is an approach. Cinema is a state of mind on the part of the filmmaker. I’ve seen commercials that have cinema in them, and I’ve seen Oscar-winning movies that don’t. I’m fine with this.” Richard Linklater said something that also fits here: “You can now just point and capture things, and that’s a great thing, obviously, for the world and communication, but it doesn’t necessarily equal art… There’s a skill involved, and one of the first things people find out in filmmaking is that the skill isn’t being able to push a red button on a camera. The real skill is in storytelling.” So while our definition has the word “cinema” in it, we’re not talking about the art we’re talking about the hardware. I just want to really hammer that home before the angry comments start.
Also, it should be noted that I’m really only using the C70 as one example here, because my intent is to also use this article to set a framework up for my camera reviews going forward as there’s a bunch of cameras that don’t fit the bill (something like a R5C, Pocket 6K or an FX3 are far further removed from the realm of “cinema camera” for instance) but still make amazing images and I feel like it’s worth the effort to make these distinctions so you, the consumer, can be better informed more easily. Now, all that being said, Greig Fraser, ACS, ASC just shot a little short for Apple with Kathryn Bigelow with the iPhone 13 and was very impressed by it, and recently on a podcast said he’s about to shoot a project on an FX3, so to reiterate: any camera can be a cinema camera if you shoot a movie on it, but not every camera is a “Cinema Camera.” You get what I mean? I can guarantee Greig isn’t shooting Dune Pt.2 on a any of the aforementioned cameras. ANYWAY!
So where does the C70 sit objectively? Is it a “cinema camera” as we’ve been calling it? Seeing as monitoring is a pretty big issue for film sets, and locking ports even more so, the lack of SDI or “proper” power solutions was pretty glaring. It also saves to SD cards which could scare some productions. BUT AS OF NOW THERE IS RAW! plus you have timecode, plenty of DR, a sturdy build quality, internal NDs, and you can easily adapt PL lenses to it.
After careful consideration, I’m confidently saying the Canon C70 is a “Cinema Quality B-Cam” or by another definition, a perfect video camera for a solo-operator or indie production. The image, codecs, and bitrate are all up to snuff for traditional Television and Film use, but the body just barely isn’t. Does it need to be? No, of course not. Like I said before, any camera is technically a cinema camera if you make a movie with it, but based on our hardware definition it just barely misses the mark. Something like the XF series cameras might have SDI, but the image certainly isn’t as beautiful as the C70 and you’re stuck with that one lens. I think we both know which one we’d go for if given the choice. Going forward I’ll likely come up with more specific or elucidative ways to categorize these cameras, but this article’s already long enough as it is.
With all that out of the way and to start the actual review part of this review, I’ve gotta say I’m a big fan of this camera and it falls right into the same spot that my C100mkII fit when I was doing a lot of work on my own, although it’s packing way more punch than the C100mkII ever did. I think this thing is absolutely killer for any solo operators/indie outfits, certainly music videos, definitely documentaries, events, and obviously as I said, a B-Cam for any existing Canon or even ARRI set as Canons are often used. I’ve spoken at length about my love for the C100mkII, and the C70 is everything that camera was and more. Way more.
First off, the image is fantastic. You can read my review of the C300mkIII as it compares to the C500mkII, and as the C70 has the C300mkIII DGO Sensor in it the image is functionally identical and you’ve still got your 4K 10bit 422 XFAVC codec in MXF wrappers (and now raw). Amazing. The compressed files are incredibly gradable, no macroblocking or anything to speak of, smooth gradations between colors and exposure levels, plenty of latitude and all with a very low noise floor. You’d never know just by pushing the footage around in post that the image came from such an affordable “prosumer” camera. Even cranking the saturation or pushing the curves to absurd limits, you really only see some noise-like artifacts. Obviously it’s going to break at some point, but by my eye it’s hard to get much better “data collection”, especially at this price point.
The body is small with all the re-assignable buttons right at your fingertips, which I adore. It’s got built-in NDs, which for me is a requirement in a modern video camera, as well as built-in Mini XLR jacks which are easy enough to get an adapter or cable with full-sized XLR on the other end. The lens mount is RF which means your lens options are pretty vast, with EF and PL being the obvious standard choices. The RF lenses themselves seem pretty nice, with something like the compact L-Series 24-105mm f4 being a solid all-arounder choice for run and gun event work. I wasn’t given time with it, but I’ve seen the similarly tiny L-Series 24-70mm f2.8 get great reviews and I personally was a fan of the 35mm f1.8 Macro, which focused silently and had OIS like the 24-105mm but with the added benefit of the wide aperture and macro focusing capabilities. It wasn’t an L-Series lens though, and I did notice a touch of green Chromatic Aberration, but nothing horrible. The L-Series 50mm f1.2, by comparison, is an enormous lens and seemed to focus rather loudly, although it did say it needed a firmware update which I didn’t know how to do as I was just borrowing the setup for a couple days. All-in, the RF lenses likely will see some refining but as it stands the optics are fantastic by my eye and the mount itself is clearly the future for Canon (as well as other camera manufacturers), setting the standard as they did with EF.
Auto Focus on this camera can be great given your subject is properly lit. I noticed it would immediately start hunting if I tried to focus on my black cat in some situations, even during the day. My C500mkII doesn’t have this problem, and while different lenses definitely have an affect on AF performance, I was somewhat disappointed in that regard. As with the C500mkII and C300mkIII, the face tracking is blazingly quick and in the C70 seems to also include head tracking, so when your subject turns around it keeps the AF lock. I also noticed you could have 5 or more faces in the frame and it would recognize all of them and give you the option to toggle between them. The C70 also has a sort of “object tracking” mode where you can assign a point to something in the frame and the camera will hold on to that, which is a really cool feature I could see myself using quite often.
The flip-out monitor is small with a high quality display (if a little flimsy feeling), and I enjoy the touchscreen features/UI added to the C70 that are absent from the other offerings from Canon. I’m not the biggest fan of the fixed nature of the monitor, preferring the detachable style of the C500mkII and C300mkIII, but having used the C100mkII extensively I was able to get used to it pretty quickly. I also didn’t have too hard of a time using it outside during the day, although I’d still recommend a shade of some kind to be safe. Direct sunlight would likely overpower it, but I was shooting my brief tests towards golden hour so I was just fine.
As I mentioned, I consider built-in NDs a requirement for any video camera, and one thing I did notice about the C70 was that it swapped between the ND strengths (10 stops in total, in 2-stop increments) lightning quick. My C500 is rather sluggish in that realm, and I really appreciated how quickly I could flip between them on the C70. It doesn’t really matter, but why wait when you don’t have to? You could possibly get away with chopping out those few frames that the edge of the ND is in the shot, whereas on the C500/300 it’d be harder.
In regards to Picture Profiles, I noticed there’s a new feature in the CP menu where you can add (and conform) a LUT to your footage. So let’s say you’ve got a show LUT and you actually want it saved with that look, you can just toggle that on. Oddly enough though, and unlike the C500mkII or C300mkIII, it doesn’t seem to allow you to just monitor with that LUT, you have to bake the look in. In that regard, there’s no custom monitoring LUT option in the regular menu, instead being given three options of BT.709, 1600% HDR Assist, and 400% HDR Assist. Essentially you’re either conforming a Show LUT to the footage, or monitoring with a standard BT709 LUT and applying your look later. Or using an HDMI monitor and putting your LUT on that. Not the end of the world, but another little tick against the “cinema camera-ness” of this camera. That being said, if you added all those “missing” features you’d basically have a C300mkIII, which is double the price.
Based on my brief test I got 41min of 4K XFAVC footage from a 128GB card (which basically lines up with their stated runtime of 156min/512GB Card), with about 200min of runtime on a BP-A30 battery, which isn’t bad. One thing that the C70 shares with my C100mkII is a barrel connector for power, so running a Dtap to DC would be precarious in situations where it could get yanked, such as shooting handheld or in an area with a lot of movement, but will significantly boost your up-time. In any case, if you’re going to be shooting on the C70 (especially now that it can shoot raw) you’ll need to make sure you’re using a V90 card, something like the offerings from Angelbird, ProGrade, Sandisk, Lexar, or similar.
As I mentioned there’s a ton of customizable buttons all over the camera, as is standard with Canon C-Series cameras, and I love that. I’m absolutely one to start heavily manipulating a piece of equipment or software (or anything really) the second I get it to better serve my uses and make the product in question “disappear” leaving way for me to just get the work done, but that being said I only really re-mapped one or two of the buttons on the C70 as most of them are my most-used features already.
I am perplexed by the decision to put a ⅜” thread on the bottom instead of a standard ¼” one. I suppose you could just use an adapter, but still a weird choice considering most consumer/prosumer tripods and gimbals and the like use ¼” plates. There is also a thread on the side so you can easily shoot vertical content, which is a cool consideration. Another thing: I don’t necessarily like the new joystick. The traditional ones from their other C-series cameras are rubbery and seem kind of soft, whereas this one seems to be made of a more solid plastic, but I’ve never had a problem selecting the correct “direction” on the old joysticks, whereas this one will sometimes select as if you pushed it in, or go up/down instead of left/right. Obviously that’s annoying, but they do give you the thumb wheel and the touchscreen which are kind of faster to navigate with anyway. I also, overall, am not a fan of the “DSLR-Style” body although I’ve been told by a few friends that they actually like that so it might just be a “me” thing. I’d much prefer a rotating handle, ala the C100… actually if the C70 was just in the C100 body I’d be thrilled. As it stands the body style makes it kind of hard to rig out without a cage and even then it’s almost too flat, but having seen (for instance) Chris Ray’s setup below, putting a cinema battery on the back kind of elongates it and makes it a more “normal” size, which in that case is a net positive as doing so doesn’t make it annoyingly long. You do have to decide if the monitor is in or out though, if you go that route. Maybe rotated out, pressed up against the side of the battery with an external monitor on top is the move.
Also, apropos of nothing, using a focal length reducer (such as a Speedbooster) doesn’t make the camera “full frame”, I’ve seen too many people say that online. It just makes it so you can use the entire imaging circle of a full frame lens. Your sensor size, obviously, remains the same so you’re not getting the benefit of the extra physical resolution, so to speak, that a FF sensor gives you. You also don’t suddenly get shallower DoF, you’re simply getting the FoV that the lens is intended to show. That’s it. An internet acquaintance of mine, Alex Stone, has a great writeup about Focal Reducer myths here. Alex makes those C500/C300 battery plates I mentioned using on my C500 at the top of the article.
Anyway, there honestly isn’t a lot to dislike about the C70. Certainly some specific things that might trip up higher-budget sets but in general, and especially for solo/doc/indie shooters, this thing is an absolute beast. In that vein, and in-line with my diatribe at the top, I did wonder what a daily content creator might think of this camera, so I given the opportunity and took a minute to hop on the phone with Sawyer Hartman (who just got engaged, congrats bud), a nearly 2 million-subscriber YouTuber/Photographer/Filmmaker who had recently taken the C70 for a test run, to hear his thoughts on it, specifically where he says he found the perfect intersection of video-capable stills cameras and cinema cameras:
A few years ago YouTube gave me a 70D because I had won the YouTube next creator program, the next step program, and I was beside myself excited. And then I won a RED Scarlet in an action film directing contest shortly after that, and then upgraded to an Epic, and that kind of introduced me to the world of cinema cameras, which is, you know, storytelling-wise exactly what I needed. I kept buying every Canon camera that came out just cause I do a lot of reviews, but I was looking for something special; that perfect camera. After that I got my 1DXmkII and that was right when I started traveling the world, shooting a film every day, and for some reason that camera is just right. The video autofocus is flawless. The photo autofocus seems to just always be there. It never has problems. It never overheats… I’ve literally wrecked a motorcycle in Indonesia and slid on my 1DX, 50 feet on the concrete and then stood up and started capturing what had happened on the camera. I never even sent the camera in for any service. That’s when I started getting torn and I would use cinema cameras when I had a shot list and a script and for all other things, which was my career in YouTube, I would use the 1DXmkII.
Then I saw that the C70 was coming out. And that was interesting to me because it was right at the crossroad I needed: it had cinema camera features, with a proper Super35 sensor, but it had built-in NDs. It had all of the features, and LOG, and everything that I knew I loved from all of my time on set, but in a body that was small enough that I could sneak it into Disney if I needed to. So I reached out to Canon and I was like, “Hey” you know, “I’d love to try this camera.” And at first I was trying to use it like an R5 and I almost struggled with it for like two months trying to find its perfect place in my workflow.
And then a project came up for a client that wanted a short film-style commercial. So I decided to start shooting on that camera as if it was my cinema camera and that’s when I really fell in love with it. That’s when I was like “oh wow.” I kind of had that same love that I’d had for the 1DXmkII. It was just kind of a crossroad where, you know, if your needs are more specialized, there might be something more proper for you, but if you’re like me and you need a well-rounded tool that can cover all the bases, it’s almost the obvious choice now.
He further clarified to me what he meant by “shooting as if it were my cinema camera”
I took off my zoom lenses and went straight back to my Cine Primes, I used the adapter which made them “full frame”, I started using Clog, I started making lighting modifications… on a DSLR oftentimes just shoot what’s there, you know? You might pick the right angle, but you just shoot what’s there. And with the C70 I started making little modifications: putting a bounce here, or adding a rim light there, and shooting in Clog and using the preview Sso I could actually see what my grade would look like. Stuff like that made it infinitely… not only easier, but just more efficient. By far, the biggest game-changer for me is the built-in ND filters because I’m shooting on Cine primes with a speed booster in the middle of Hawaii daytime sunlight on Glidecams! The last thing I ever want to do is be messing with a mattebox and filters and different weights. This has literally changed my life where I can walk around, you know, go somewhere with a friend and I can literally just take the one camera with 50mm on it. And I can go from shooting at f12 all the way down to like f1 and I never have to modify the camera. That’s huge for me.
Another thing that was a game changer for me is my ability to run third party professional-level microphones straight into the camera because time is money. Unfortunately on YouTube, especially with what I specialize in, oftentimes time is a commodity you don’t have enough of, so there’s always a risk for me, when I’m shooting, that something will happen with my external recorder. Since I don’t have a dedicated audio guy there to monitor it, when I get home and edit sometimes all my professional audio is just not there. And I’m left with on-board camera, audio across the room with fans on, you know. Now I can take my Sennheiser microphones. I can run them straight into camera!
That’s kind of what I keep pointing at and tiptoeing around is… this is the perfect digital creator’s camera. Like, if you’re a YouTuber like me and you’re not just taking photos everywhere, but you’re actually trying to have a go at making real professional video content, It’s like… this is the one stop shop. This is the one where you don’t need Pelican cases of gear to make it real. You can just pop this thing out, go to work, the battery life’s nuts as well… as you can tell, I’m just a huge fan [laughs]. I think I’ve been let down by so many cameras in the past, I built up my idea of what it could be and then it completely bypassed it like 2, 3 times over.
I then asked him what his Epic isn’t giving him, as a solo creator, that the C70 is.
The Epic is sitting on my wall and everyone’s like, “well, why don’t you use that, it’s beautiful!” And there’s a ton of reasons: First one being audio has to be separate. In-camera audio is just not even a possibility on RED. I fully believe, from my experience of making content online, a lot of [the audience] leaves the room during the video and they’re still listening. We actually gain more information through audio rather than video. So I needed audio first. Another huge component is that the RED camera doesn’t have auto focus! I really enjoy shallow depth of field, so even if I set my focus, oftentimes during the 40 minutes of filming I’ll readjust or lean forward or something, and there’s nothing worse than getting in the editing bay and realizing your entire brand deal is out of focus. That’s what I realized, you know, it’s not just the finished product that’s important to be in focus but as a solo creator I have a ton of jobs: I have to be my own audio guy, I have to be my own camera guy, I have to be my own, you know, tech guy, whatever… but the hardest part is to let all that go and then actually be able to be the personality in it as well. There’s a confidence that you need. It’s a confidence that was given to me by the 1DXmkII. You know, that thing… you could be in the middle of the hail storm, running backwards in the dark and you’ll be in focus. So many other cameras hunt for focus or they have a delay or even for me, the biggest thing is… you know how a lot of cameras “jump” to focus? Or they just rush to focus? The 1DXmkII almost “unfolded” where it looked like, if you blew past your focus point and it came back, it almost looked like an artistic rack. The C70 did that too and that made me so confident as a creator, that I could set up my framing, hit record, step in front of the camera and be very confident that both what I’m saying will be heard and professionally recorded and I’ll be in focus and the camera’s not going to randomly stop recording because of an error. Like those three things, from a technical standpoint, they’re something that most creators don’t know and it’s the reason that creating is hard for them.
Noting that speed seemed to be the name of the game in his work, I asked about his process of grading Clog2 footage as opposed to simply shooting 709.
In all honesty, I’ve done tests, and shooting a Canon Vivid Profile or shooting Log and throwing on the factory 709 LUT, I’ve found that it’s a very comparable image. The Log image is a little less saturated and it has a lot more dynamic range. I actually don’t really like sharp, saturated contrasty video so I just shoot in log with the preview LUT on ‘cause exposing in log can be very difficult for beginners which, you know, I even struggled with my first week with the camera, but then when I realized there’s the preview LUT it changed the game. So for me, it’s not even really part of my workflow, just I edit my project and then the last step is I just copy paste the attributes with the Rec709 factory LUT across the video. Obviously short films are going to be very different, but for the sake of YouTube videos, that’s definitely a great approach. We have a couple of our own little presets that we might add on top, and it might be because of also where we’re filming, just being in Hawaii, but with the C70 we really haven’t seen a need to grade anything beyond the factory LUT.
I then asked what he’d want to see in a theoretical C70mkII. I mentioned SDI at the time, but I’d add a locking power connector too.
Yeah that’d be great… you know, when I’m working on a project, especially if I can only bring one primary camera, I need it to be able to handle everything in the script. So even if it’s only a three second burst record, I would love some sort of 300fps mode, even if it’s just like a one second end trigger. A lot of times in narrative film, especially narrative film that utilizes voice over in the way that I do, that ability to almost freeze time and allow people to see things that usually go by too fast is my favorite tool in my toolbox. Even some of the highest-end RED cameras can’t do that without cropping in like six times.
I was kind of surprised to hear that because the C70 does 120fps in 4K (which my C500mkII doesn’t even do………..) and that seems plenty slow to me. Sawyer clarified:
It’s actually to adjust to what’s going on in the world. What I mean by that is, when everyone’s cameras only did 30 frames, 60 frames was enough. When everyone’s cameras did 60, 120 was enough, but now that everyone’s shooting 120 in order to really like, make an emphasis in the narrative for some kind of visual device, I think you need almost 300 now. If it’s Scorsese and it’s, you know, right before someone gets shot in a Godfather type scene, you need that almost time frozen feel. And 120 is time slowed, not time frozen in my mind.
We spoke a bit more about being in the moment when shooting with non-actors and how the size of the camera or amount of equipment can become intrusive to the point of “scaring off” your subject (something documentary DP’s have echoed multiple times on Frame & Reference) which the C70 doesn’t suffer from, but that brought our conversation to a close.
It was interesting to hear Sawyers perspective on camera technology as it pertains to the “competition” as the biggest moments for me that I can remember, technology wise, were when we got 24p, moved away from tape, and got interchangeable lenses. Everything since then has been a bonus in my mind, and honestly I never really thought about what other folks were doing. 300fps would be awesome to have, sure, but I don’t see myself using it very often. It’s interesting, when we were in film school we were basically taught to ignore the camera itself because it was going to be too expensive to rent (it would have been film, in this case, or a couple years later the RED One) so knowing we just had to work with the camera we had, we mainly focused on lighting, audio, and production design. We absolutely wanted to get hands-on with “real” cameras but couldn’t, instead just using our MiniDV cams as best we could. It kind of makes sense, then, that amazing cameras being so affordable has made the upcoming generation (or perhaps the “YouTube crowd” lets say) so camera-centric as it’s where the excitement is. Lighting techniques have been the same forever, more or less, but the quality of images from just upgrading a camera alone has exponentially increased every year even since I graduated college a decade ago. Back then the best camera you could get at an “affordable” price point was (arguably) the AF100!
To that end I’ve noticed, and Sawyer kind of touched on it telling me his field is becoming saturated, that the aforementioned YouTube community is becoming restless with camera technology, and I wonder if that has to do with the fact that there’s not a lot “new” happening. There was the race for higher resolution, that’s behind us, the race for higher frame rates, that’s largely put to bed, we’ve got raw recording internally in most cases, so there’s that… there’s just not a lot to do now except… shoot your film. Let’s hope that’s the next wave. With cameras like the C70 out and in peoples hands, there’s absolutely no excuse! And on the higher end, now that every image can be “perfect”, we really need to start thinking about where that camera’s being placed; what we’re doing with composition, what that’s saying. Start exploring more but remembering the fundamentals. It feels like digital cinematography can lead to a lot of “sameness” but also a lot of “unnecessary exuberance”, we could call it. The ability to move fast and shoot long with digital acquisition doesn’t seem to have, in many cases, given us time to think and experiment and go dreamy with it and instead just makes people want things faster, or work without a solid vision. “Cover the hell out of the scene and we’ll figure it out later” is certainly something I’ve heard, which isn’t how you make something with intent. These new technologies, camera or otherwise, also seems to have given some people the opportunity to over-complicate their project since you can now easily get super stable sweeping shots, drone shots, crazy lighting… in my conversation with DP Andrew Wheeler for Frame & Reference, he mentioned a quote from Gordon Willis, ASC where he talks about doing things simply (but not simplistically). I think that’s a great thing to keep in mind now that we have all these fancy tools. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. We used to really struggle for added production value (remember the kid from Super 8?), but that was because we were battling against cheap looking cameras and limited tools in post. Today? Wholly different world. That production value is gonna come from Production Design, Costuming, considered lighting and great casting not gimbals, vfx, and hyper-real visuals. At least in my mind. And obviously there are cases where you NEED those things! I’m just speaking generally and musing, not prescribing.
Anyway, just some thoughts to leave you with. I hope this writeup has been informative or at least entertaining to some degree. The C70 is great, you’re great, film is great, technology is great… let’s make some great things this year, shall we?
Canon EOS C70 4K Cinema Camera