HDSLR Revolution: House Party

Ready or not, here they come: HD-capable DSLRs are being used for high-end productions, despite their various shortcomings. One of the boldest such experiments is the 17 May episode of the FOX TV drama “House”, shot entirely with Canon 5D Mk IIs using stock Canon stills lenses.

Read up. Prepare. Watch. There will be a test afterwards, so pay attention.

Philip Bloom has an hour-long audio interview with “House” exec producer and episode director Greg Yaitanes about choosing and using the 5D Mk II; there’s also a transcript of the interview, which is much more readable if you run it through Readability first. You can also see a two minute teaser trailer.

Will this episode of “House” be a triumph of the loose, organic, yet filmic style that HDSLRs allow, with eerily isolating shallow depth of field, intimate angles impossible with bulkier cameras, and breathtaking examples of low-light derring-do? Or will it be a dog’s breakfast of sloppy shakycam, blown focus, unwanted aliasing, and distracting color moir©?

Or will it be all of these things inextricably blended together, because that’s the nature of HDSLR shooting?

“House” airs in most US markets at 8:00pm on the FOX network. See tonight’s conventionally-captured episode “Baggage” to set a baseline for expectations, then watch next Monday, 17 May, for the 5D Mk II episode “Help Me”. We may all learn something, eh?

Watch it over-the-air in HD for best results. If you miss out, or aren’t in the US, episodes hit the web 8 days after their air date (Flash required).

Even if you’re not into formulaic doctor shows, “House” has two things going for it: British actor Hugh Laurie playing a cranky bastard with an American accent, and an elegant title sequence with a Massive Attack soundtrack.

And yes: I recycled a picture of a Canon 7D with a cine lens, instead of taking a fresh picture of a 5D with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, a setup actually used in the show. I’m sorry. I am a bad person, I know.

16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure
No material connection exists between me and FOX, Canon, and/or Philip Bloom, and none of those entities has offered me any consideration or compensation for mentioning them.

I don’t particularly like the TV show “House”, aside from the title sequence and the presence of Hugh Laurie.

I own a Canon 5D MkII and several lenses that I paid for on the open market like any other schlub.


Adam Wilt

Adam Wilt has been working off and on in film and video for the past thirty years, while paying the bills writing software for animation, automation, broadcast graphics, and real-time control for companies including Abekas, Pinnacle, Omneon, CBS, and ABC. Since 1997 his website, adamwilt.com, has been a popular reference for information on the DV formats. He reviewed cameras for DV Magazine and started its “Technical Difficulties” column, and taught classes and led panels at NAB, IBC, and DV Expo. He co-authored the book, “Optimizing Your Final Cut Pro System”, part of the Apple Pro Training series. He currently writes for ProVideoCoalition.com and DVInfo.net, and creates iPhone apps like Cine Meter II and FieldMonitor.

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