On September 17th, 2008, the long-awaited announcement of the EOS 5D Mark II camera took the photo industry by storm – not just because of its amazing specs as a still camera, but also because it is the world’s first digital SLR capable of shooting Full HD video.
Explorer of Light Vincent Laforet was one of the first photographers in the United States to shoot with a prototype EOS 5D Mark II. With no notice, no funding, no crew, and less than 72 hours to complete his shooting, Vincent seized the opportunity to direct his first-ever short video. The result is Reverie (click to watch), a hauntingly beautiful work of art.
In this one-on-one interview with the Canon Digital Learning Center, Vincent shares his experiences with the production and how it felt to work with this new ‘hybrid’ camera. He discusses his lens choices, shooting and lighting techniques, and suggestions for how first-time filmmakers can make the most of the EOS 5D Mark II.
To watch the Making-of Reverie video narrated by Vincent Laforet, get detailed EOS 5D Mark II product information, or to learn more about the director, please click here
Canon Digital Learning Center (CDLC): Walk us through that now-infamous weekend: From entering the Canon office on Friday afternoon, to walking back in 72 hours later with Reverie.
Vincent Laforet (VL): I had an appointment to have lunch with the Senior Manager of Pro-Products Technical Marketing at Canon, David Sparer. It was supposed to be on Tuesday originally but he had to cancel because he was too busy. He gave me a choice of coming in on either Thursday or Friday. I kind of randomly picked Friday, which turned out to be a very serendipitous day because literally as I was arriving in the office they were unpacking the first prototype EOS 5D Mark II cameras. They literally stopped in their tracks and everybody looked like they had their hands caught in the cookie jar. The next thing I knew they were throwing an NDA at me in a little cubicle saying, “Sign this, because everything you are surrounded by is top secret.” As soon as I signed it they said, “Hey, there are the first prototypes of the 5D Mark II. It shoots HD 1080p video, and it has 21.1 megapixels, and we are really eager to see what this thing does.”
When I heard about the video, that little light didn't just turn on above my head -- it kind of burst. I was like wow, this is going to really change things in a major way. I really wanted to try and get my hands on this to play with it.
Every photographer loves gadgets, especially when gadgets are potential game changers. You want to find a way to play with them, and see what they could possibly do. I basically begged my way to getting it over the weekend. The cameras were going to be FedEx-ed that day for Monday delivery, and they were going to sit in a warehouse for the entire weekend. So I made my pitch to Dave saying, “This camera is basically going to sit for two days doing nothing. Just let me borrow it for a few hours and I’ll give it right back, so I can try shooting a sample movie.”
At first, the answer was no, because they were already committed to these other photographers. After a little prodding they gave me the green light, and basically said: “This is not a Canon sponsored event or project. We don't have a budget for it. You are just borrowing the camera entirely independently from Canon, and doing your own little thing. If the movie turns out good, we'll use it -- if not, we won't. You have it for the weekend, but on Monday you have to ship it back.”
So I had a stern deadline. At that point, it was almost four o'clock in the afternoon. I had an Explorer of Light speaking engagement that evening, which had nothing to do with the [5D Mark II] arrangement, and it was the last place I wanted to be. I wanted to be playing with the camera. We picked up the camera, and starting making some calls as I was driving up to Westchester for this speaking engagement. I had my assistant with me, and basically told him to figure the camera out. Go through every single menu, and find out what you can because we have no manual -- literally. We didn't even know what format it shot in, initially. I didn’t realize it had an Exposure Lock function in Movie Mode until after I had done the shoot, because I set the little asterisk button in the back to be my AF button.
So I’m doing my presentation, and at the same time getting text messages on my phone in the middle of my speech with headshots of models that we were going to use. I didn't really have a budget, so I’d decided to use one model -- but my wife convinced me to get a man and a woman, which was a very smart idea. I realized at that point that as we are getting these people, and setting up production, that we didn’t really have a script or an idea of what we are doing. We were just trying to get pieces together, so that when we did figure out an idea, we’d have them available.
I also called my friend Yoni Brook, who is a documentary filmmaker, and said, “Hey, I have this cool project I'm trying to put together. Can you come and help me?” So he showed up at midnight that evening, or I guess it was the next morning. For two hours we just talked and planned. I had a basic script idea, and Yoni gave it his twist. He helped me with writing shot lists, breaking down each location, and deciding what angles we were going to shoot, what types of shots, breaking down the timeline.
Saturday morning, the model shows up from California -- with no clothes, so we have to bring him to a tuxedo shop to get him a suit. My wife runs out to get a dress for the [female] model. We also get those aviator glasses, because I knew I wanted that shot on the helicopter, the reflection on the glasses. Certain things I knew right away I wanted to try and shoot. By four in the afternoon, we were shooting the first shot for Reverie in my living room.
CDLC: If you had more time to plan, what would you have done differently? What would you like to see improved?
VL: I’m actually pretty happy with what we did. I call it my 'bad little cologne commercial'. I'm happy with the locations we got. I'm happy with what we pulled off. I think a lot of the quality of Reverie lies in the fact that we had a lot of fun producing it. This was not an arduous process -- with film permits, and clearing out streets, and pre-location lighting and all that. The beauty of this, for me, was that it was very instinctual, very ‘fly by the seat of your pants’, in the fact that you could pull it off so quickly and spontaneously. Normally with films you can't, because you have so much pre-production planning that has to be done because of the size of the crew, and the realities of logistics. The fact that we even did this the way that we did -- very low pre-production, very instinctual, and reactive -- was kind of fun. I like it for what it is. It's not meant to be a Fellini film. It's just a silly little commercial that was done in two nights, and that's fine with me.
Sometimes the experience of doing something kind of supersedes the result. In this case, everyone on the crew had a blast. It was not stressful; there was no deadline, other than having to return the camera. We just made it up as we went, and that’s a fun way of doing things in general. Not that I want to work like that for the rest of my life! But just for what it was, I enjoyed it. It's kind of like when you hear of some filmmakers first films -- I liked hearing about Steven Spielberg when he was in his teens, cutting little pieces out of black paper to have stars glow on the ceiling, and shooting with a 16mm camera, and doing his own little films, I think even before he was a teenager. That is just the magic of making movies. It's not just thinking about the master plan of your career, and how you are going to distribute it. It's just having fun.
With the future projects I'm already engaged in, it's not going to be like that. Shooting Reverie was one of those rare, pure little moments that you have in your career where you have no pressure (other than a deadline) and no client. Canon wasn't commissioning this; they weren't expecting anything at all. They just wanted a little bit of feedback on the camera. So if we flopped it was okay. In my career now, as a still photographer, flopping is not an option. Everything always has to be produced and guaranteed. It was kind of fun to work without that pressure.
CDLC: On your personal blog you posted about future projects in the works, that seem like they will have bigger budgets. Obviously you're getting a lot more pre-production time, at this point. What you can tell us about those projects, and how the planning process differs from Reverie?
VL: Right now there are three different projects in the works. One is actually happening at the end of this week and it is with a group of Parkour guys. Those are the people who jump from building to building, the French discipline. We are going to do a series of vignettes around the city that should be interesting.
The next project involves working with one of the winners of the Tribeca Film Festival to shoot his next film. And another project down the line involves doing a film on one of the top surfers in the world, in Hawaii.
All those involve pre-production, meetings, pre-lighting, everything, and that's fine. I'm excited, because the reality is that I don't want to be the person who does films in 12 hours within two days, all the time. I’ve shown that I can do it, if need be, and I think for the time we had we produced a pretty good film -- but I don't want to start producing bad films [due to limited production resources]. It doesn't serve anyone. So we are going to put all the attention to detail, and every effort towards making sure these next films are of as good a quality as possible.
CDLC: You shot Reverie without a filmmaking, cinematography, or directing background. Can you describe the learning curve that you experienced throughout the pre-production and production process?
VL: Yeah. The thing that should be made pretty clear is I have only shot two little films before, and they were home videos of my son frolicking around. I have never gone and shot a [real] film, or edited a film, or done a production, per se. That being said, I've been surrounded by film my whole life. One of my first memories we being on a movie set with my dad, who was a set photographer. I have probably been on 15 or 20 different movie productions throughout my life, and for extended periods of time. I’ve seen how they are lit, how people direct, how people produce. I experienced all the behind-the-scenes stuff -- not just in passing, but spending at least a few days on each production. I’ve also been a film buff for years. I look at films differently than a lot of other people do, closely studying the cinematography, directing, acting, set design, the lighting, the music. I've been learning Final Cut Pro for years, in part because I knew this was coming at some point. I know a lot about technology in general, because of my work in photography -- between RAIDs and throughput, and different storage devices, and delivery methods -- I'm kind of keen on that.
Also, I’ve been a photographer for 18 years, dealing with logistics, being very self-reliant -- knowing how to get things done and how to deal with bureaucracy and systems. And I learned how to push things through quickly, because most of the time I was working on deadline projects where you don't have a two-to-three day lead time, let alone two-to-three weeks. If you're lucky, you have two to three minutes to get things done, and done well, or nothing appears in the paper (or for your client).
I've also had about three or four years of commercial photography experience, which is on an entirely different level than photojournalism. Not quite the ‘film’ level, but you can easily have a crew and cast of up to 30 people. All of that is a huge learning curve, over 18 years. When you make the jump to film, if you’ve never done a commercial job as a photographer, it is a big leap. Had I never done any commercial photography, I would have had a much harder time. I probably would have flopped. But the fact that I regularly do still photography productions with up to six-figure budgets helped prepare me for this: I know the pitfalls. I know the problems that are going to arise. For example, you can't just show up in Times Square with a camera because the cops will be on you in thirty seconds flat, and you won't be able to shoot. And if you do have a shoot in Times Square, how do you shoot it so that you don't bring the attention to people? Forget tripods, forget lights! The 5D Mark II is actually perfect for that: One little hand-held camera, with a model or your actor, and you can pull it off.
That is what I should make clear: I have never shot a film before, but I have been doing production for 18 years -- on a smaller scale as an editorial photographer and on a larger scale as a commercial photographer. You learn to delegate, especially in commercial photography with producers and assistants and different types of people who have different skills. I think it's a very good lesson for film productions, where you are working with a lot of talented people and you not only have to manage them, but manage their egos and their passion.
Being a director of photography or a cinematographer definitely interests me, but directing interests me on a different level. More of a psychological level; as a photojournalist, it's all about psychology. The same can be said about being a director. It's all about managing talent and finding a way to pull the most amounts of energy, excitement, and passion out of them, and deflecting all the other distracting stuff away. That part of film production really interests me, and always has.
CDLC: From a creative level, is there any difference from how you visualize or plan for this as a motion picture, rather than a still photography, project?
VL: A lot of that depends on your level as a photographer. If you’ve never done a photo essay, you may have a very hard time because you're not used to thinking of how images relate to each other, with some continuity and flow. Those concepts, once you learn them, do translate very well to film. But some photographers never learn those skills. They can't put a series of images together, they just create stand-alone images – those photographers are going to have a much harder time going into film. On the other hand, having the discipline to set up that one perfect image is a different kind of skill, which could be valuable working as a director of photography (DP) who has to compose that perfect frame.
I think one of the biggest things that photographers will have to learn a lot more about is motion: How the camera moves, and how to use different types of devices from Steadicams, to gyros, to dollies, and so on, to move the camera in the smoothest possible way. That is a huge learning curve right there.
Then, photographers have to learn the idea of a larger scale production where it's not just about ‘the shot’. It's about the acting; the screenplay; the score and the foley guy; all these little elements and how they work together to produce a much greater total than each individual part ever could. The beauty of film is you can look at scene without the music, and maybe it's kind of lame. But with the score it's just fantastic.
That is what has always fascinated me about film: That you take a great director, a great DP, a great composer, a great screenplay writer, a great set of actors and producers and set designers, and on and on and on. Combine them all together, and they can make something collectively that they could never really make individually.
That is lacking, to me, in still photography. It’s pretty limited to being just one photographer, with maybe an art director and some clients. It's a very singular and solitary pursuit. I've been doing that for 18 years, and I’m ready to expand and collaborate. To not have it be all on my shoulders. Or, have it on my shoulders, and have other people have it on their shoulders too -- and collectively we’d produce something much greater than each individual piece. That is exciting to me.
CDLC: You hit on something interesting: Photography is seen as this individualized production -- in which a single artist is clearly sole producer of the art, whereas filmmaking is inescapably a collaborative effort. You happen to have years of experience doing commercial shoots, with a larger cast and crew working together as a team. However, a lot of photographers are going to come to this camera with that ‘single artist’ background. How will they find the collaborative filmmaking experience different?
VL: I think the beauty of the 5D Mark II is that they can do whatever they want with it. If they want to do, say, a documentary – where it's just them and their subject, they can pull it off.
My best memories of being on film sets from my childhood were when the entire cast and crew would go out to dinner together. This was in France, so they would have dinner for three to five hours and drink wine and be merry and everyone would get along. That was the highlight of the day. The shoot itself was almost secondary. Everyone worked hard and looked forward to seeing the finished film at the end, but everyone also really looked forward to that big crew dinner. That feeling of family, and working with people you enjoy working with.
There’s a lot to be said about that, surrounding yourself with a crew that you actually enjoy working with -- where it's not all about egos and complaining. Surrounding yourself with people who are can-do people, people who go out of their way to figure out how to rig this, or light that. For me, the most fun part of filmmaking is that camaraderie.
I'm not naive. I know about all the production difficulties, the budgets, the salary negotiations, the big production houses, and all the ugliness. I know it's there. But that family atmosphere is what I was exposed to as a kid. That's what made an impression, and I like to bring that to my productions, when I can. Keep it professional, but to try and have some sense of friendship and collaboration.
CDLC: What sort of suggestions and advice would you give to other still photographers jumping into EOS 5D Mark II for the first time, wanting to try the video feature?
VL: The first thing I would suggest is to put the camera down and start looking at some films again. Break them down: Look at the lighting, listen to the audio, look at the set design, at the clothing, the acting. Really study what you have been watching, and perhaps taken for granted, this whole time -- and now start to carefully dissect it. The same way photographers dissect other photos; start dissecting films.
Secondly, don't try to compete with Hollywood right away. Realize your budget, and work within your means. Figure out what your key talents and abilities are, and try to build upon those first. I think a big mistake that people make when they try to create something, in any media, is to try and copy what it is out there, thinking, “Hey, I can do this, too!” The reality is no one is looking for anyone who can ‘do this, too’. They are looking for someone who can do something different and new.
Yes, Hollywood has some of the most talented people in the world working there, and with the biggest budgets and the coolest toys. But you have to understand it's not about necessarily the special effects or the camera moves, or the fancy stuff. Hollywood films can often be a good example of this: No matter how much of that [experience/ money/ equipment] you have, if the underlying concept and idea is terrible, you can only dress it up so much. Like in photojournalism, it’s ultimately about the moment and the content.
One last tip: Don’t forget about audio! The single biggest overlooked and underappreciated aspect of film production – especially with first-time filmmakers -- is the audio quality. I mean the score, but more importantly, the quality of the dialogue and the ambient sound. It's just so key, so don't overlook that.
CDLC: Let’s talk about lighting: We understand very minimal artificial film light was used is the making of Reverie. Can you explain why you chose to use primarily ambient light?
VL: We used mostly natural light for a few reasons: One, it's the way I tend to light anyway. Even if I have a huge amount of studio lights, I still want to make it look realistic. I think the beauty of the 5D Mark II, the truly revolutionary thing about this camera is not necessarily the size, or the price, or all the other factors. It’s the fact you can use prime lenses, and it's the incredible sensitivity to low light. That pretty much directed everything we did, in that we actually had about four light packs with us at one point, and we didn't need them.
The beauty of it was: Here we are in Brooklyn, in DUMBO, with sodium vapor light, which is the most horrid light ever invented by mankind. So much so, that with a lot of cameras I don't even bother because you can't produce a usable still; the color shift is just way too high, way too orange-yellowish. You just can't correct it. And the light level is so low. It's just horrid lighting. In this case it was really nice lighting for this camera at f/2.
This relates to something I mentioned earlier, when I talked about realizing your skills and using what you have. As a photojournalist, my skill was in going to any room, looking at the lighting, and immediately located the trouble spots and the beauty spots. That’s kind of what we did with this film. We had to consider, for example, if we shoot this car scene in Queens, it's going to look like crap because there’s not enough light in the streets. But if we shoot in Times Square, we're going to have an abundance of light. We knew we would have a really colorful and bright light in Times Square, so we planned a few shots there. We didn't even need to add light, because it started to look artificial. It wasn't the style, we didn't have the budget, we didn't really have the amount of lights. We certainly didn't have the time to light.
Remember, the number one thing that slows you down is lighting. You have to set the stands, put up the different grip stuff, power everything up, and that all takes time. And you have to do it really carefully. On the other hand, if you are using a single light source, you are exponentially more productive. Not every production can do that, but on Reverie we could. The real beauty of the 5D Mark II is that it allowed us to use mostly-natural light, between nighttime and four o'clock in the morning. That's pretty amazing to me.
CDLC: That’s interesting, because Reverie has such a polished look. Most people think of available-light cinematography as looking something like The Blair Witch Project or one of the Dogme 95 films, when actually this looks and feels like it had a much larger budget and crew.
VL: That's the one thing I might take credit for. I was a photojournalist for years and years, studying natural light and using it as best I could. And, I’ve been a commercial photographer, knowing how to add light to make it look pretty. When you bring those two skills together, you have an interesting skill set in that you know what areas to avoid, what areas to exploit, and how, where, and when to add a particular light source. That is what I have been doing for 18 years.
Some cinematographers will go into a room and immediately start thinking, “How am I going to light this with these banks of light?” My instincts are different. I try to find the spots that work naturally, or that I can add a little kiss of light in the background. Or, maybe I can do a silhouette in this shot, if it's appropriate to the story, and actually use this beautifully lit background. As a photojournalist you learn to see what’s there, and adapt to it. However, a lot of filmmakers or commercial photographers may look at the same location and say: Here is a raw space -- how do I light it my way, with my lights and my crew?
There is something to be said for both approaches, but my instincts tend to be to work with what’s available, as long as that works aesthetically for the assignment or the story.
CDLC: You did an interview on The Tech Guy radio show, with Leo Laporte, comparing the experience of shooting video with the EOS 5D Mark II to using a point-and-shoot camera. Can you explain that analogy?
VL: The analogy is because it’s as simple as turning on Live View, setting your aperture, and hitting record [the Set button]. It's a three-step process: Live View, exposure, record. That's really simple, and that is pretty much the only level of control you have, at this point. That is akin to a point-and-shoot experience, and that’s kind of scary! The scary part is it produces amazing 1080P video on prime lenses at 30 frames a second, and it is two or three stops more sensitive than most things out there. I guess that’s what I was trying to say. Granted, you have to take that with a grain of salt. That is how it felt to me; I’ve been doing this for 18 years. To me it was simple, and it may not be as simple for other people -- but, for an amateur who is not looking to get perfectly composed and lit frames, it's the just three steps.
I don't shoot normally Canon cameras in Program Mode, and just hit the button, because I don't get the results I want. So the technology in the camera, the sensors and the algorithms it's using, are pretty amazing to get the results we got in Reverie with virtually no manual control beyond what you’d find in most point-and-shot cameras. So I just meant it is a breeze to shoot with.
CDLC: As you mentioned, the HD video function of the camera lacks full manual controls. Yet, through your experience shooting Reverie you were able to come up with ways to get around that limitation. Can you explain what you learned, and then how it worked for you?
VL: One of the things we were very lucky with was that we shot Reverie mostly at night. That kind of forced the camera to stay in the aperture we set it to, which was f/2 or f/2.8. When you're in daylight, the camera’s going to want to stop down to f/11 or f/16, because there is so much light. When that was a problem, we used ND [Neutral Density] filters to force the lens to open to an f/2.8 or f/4, to get that shallow depth of field look.
Honestly, we didn't really focus on the control limitations when we were shooting. We just set the exposure compensation and lit it, if we needed to. I think most of the ‘look’ was done in the framing, the lens choice, and location choice. The camera itself was not that much of a challenge to work with.
We didn't even know there was an Exposure Lock button we could use, so it was basically in automatic mode the entire time.
The only correction I was able to make was with Exposure Compensation, which lets you adjust plus or minus two stops. I would dial in plus or minus 1/3 or 2/3, in either direction. That was it. While I have since learned there are tools to lock the exposure, we didn't have that for Reverie.
Exposure Lock allows you to point the camera at something of a certain brightness, to force the camera to set a specific shutter speed, aperture, and hopefully ISO -- and then you can lock it, so it won’t change during the shot. It's the same principle as with a still camera, and you have to be a little bit clever about how you use it. There is not a single person out there who wouldn't love to be able to set the ISO and aperture and shutter speed manually. But it's not a deal-breaker for me.
A lot of naysayers are complaining about that. But they have to consider, maybe you can’t do certain things with this camera -- but you also can't buy another $2,700 camera that competes with this in terms of lens use and low-light sensitivity. Remember, it’s a first generation technology. If people are expecting it to perform at the same level as a professional video camera, that’s kind of a compliment. People are ready to use it for projects it was never really meant to do at this point. That speaks to how advanced this camera is for its time.
CDLC: You used quite a few lenses in the making of Reverie. How did you decide what lenses to use throughout the film?
VL: That was the easiest part for me. Because I've been doing this for 18 years, I knew exactly what lens I wanted. I've trained myself to know what lens is the most flattering and will work best for each situation. Not just the lens focal length, but the effect the lens has in terms of depth of field, in terms of compression, in terms of foreground and background ratio.
That goes directly to what every still photographer does every day when they pick a lens.
The lenses I picked ranged from the 15mm Fisheye, on the hood of the car, to the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L on the helicopter, to the EF 50mm f/1.2L for a lot of shots, like the one of the man running out of the car when he pulls into focus. I used to the EF 85mm f/1.2L for the shot of him on the couch when he is waking up and in the bathroom splashing his face, and also the EF 200mm f/2L, which was used for quite a few shots. A lot of them didn't make it in but they were some of the most beautiful shots. Then we used an EF 500mm f/4L for the moon shot, in the end credits, and a 7.5mm Ultra Fisheye that I don't think in the end ever made it into the movie.
Most of those are the exact same lenses I use every day, the only exception is that I don't use a 200mm f/2L that much or the 15mm Fisheye. I tend not to like fisheye stuff too much -- I think it looks great for film, though. And the 200mm f/2L is such a specialty lens, that you’d pull it out one or two times a year. It makes the most amazing images, but more often than not you’re shooting with a 300mm, 400mm, or 500mm lens.
CDLC: What is your favorite shot or scene from Reverie, and why?
VL: There are two. One is a simple shot of the woman in her red dress on the cobblestone streets, with a tilt up. It's a perfect combination of a beautiful still, with a basic amount of motion added to it. It takes advantage of video in that there was just a little bit of wind naturally, and her dress is flowing in the wind. It's a very graceful, classic shot that takes advantage of both mediums, if that makes sense: Simple motion, with simple composition and lighting.
The second shot has to be the helicopter shot where, the guy has his sunglasses, and he looks out and the horizon is reflected in his glasses and he's kind of leaning out of the helicopter. That is the ‘Wow!’ shot. One of the very first ideas I had when we started planning for Reverie was that sunglass shot. I knew I wanted to do it, and we had to get aviator glasses with silver reflective lenses. Also, I've always been associated with aerial photography; it's kind of my thing. Did we really need to go in a helicopter? No. But I had to do it, because that's what I do for a living -- thirty percent of what I shoot is aerial. I could not not take this camera in the air.
CDLC: There a term in film production called ‘killing your babies’, which refers to ditching shots you are fond of, if they ultimately don’t work for the film to move the story forward. Did you experience that? In particular, did you have to ‘kill’ any shots that you really had your heart set on using, or that took a lot of time, money, or effort to create?
VL: The good news is nothing took a lot of time or money. But yes, Andre, the editor, killed quite a few ‘babies’. He warned me about it, but I understood. That's the difference between still photography, where you look for that one perfect picture, whereas a film is a cohesive unit. That's a different way you need to start thinking of it, if you're a still photographer. It's about all of the shots working together. You may have the single most gorgeous shot you ever made in your life, but if it breaks the flow, or the mood, or the movement, it just has no place in the film.
There is quite a lot of aerial footage we shot for Reverie that no one has seen yet, with the ultra fisheye lens for example, that are just really cool. And there’s a 200mm f/2 shot of the couple kissing that’s only in the behind the scenes footage, and it was one of my favorites.
Again, I've been working on productions and working with other people for 18 years now, and I’ve learned that you need to lose that desire to not kill your babies, and realize there is a bigger thing that you are trying to achieve. The whole is bigger than the individual pieces, even if they are your little babies -- although I hate that term; it's really kind of gross.
CDLC: Immediately after shooting Reverie, you posted in your blog that the EOS 5D Mark II could potentially change the path of your career. Now a month later, in what ways have you seen that happen, and how do you see yourself using the HD movie mode in future assignments?
VL: It's changed everything overnight, literally. Within 35 minutes of Reverie being on the web, I got a call from a major CEO or senior Vice President of a company saying, do you want to shoot our next reel for this big project?
Eight hours later, Smug Mug offered me $25,000-$50,000 to shoot my next film.
A day later the surfer project came up… So within one day I had three bona fide projects to work on.
The next six months of my life right now are going to be spent working on different film projects. So for now, at least, it looks pretty real -- though I don't count anything as ‘done’ until it's actually produced. I'm very much a realist that way. But for now it is sure looking very good.
The point is, I had seen this coming. I wrote an article in June, about three to four months before Reverie came out called The Cloud is Falling, about what is going on in the photography industry, and the changes we are going to face. I think the 5D Mark II is a perfect tool to address a lot of those challenges. Everyone right now is freaking out about the economy, and budgets being slashed, and there is reason for both of those. But hopefully people can focus on the fact that they have access to these tools, which are more affordable than ever, to produce this type of quality footage. Given the post-production tools from laptops and desktops, machines and software that are also relatively affordable, not $250,000-and-up systems, like everything used to be. Editing systems, processing and delivery methods, projection systems, everything was so expensive, just completely out of people's reach.
Now, you have a $2,700 camera, and few thousand dollars worth of lenses, a few thousand dollars worth of computer setup with a thousand dollar piece of software. And then the web, which is mostly free -- the only last piece that is missing is distribution, and who pays for the bandwidth. But you know, if you're not going to have 1.5 million people hit your site in three days, it doesn't really cost you anything to put your little video up these days. So you're not relying on a major studio or film to have people see your work. You can rely on your website or your blog. That is where people should get really excited.
You brought up The Blair Witch Project, earlier. That story wasn't so great and developed, and the video quality was horrid. But the feeling it gave you was fantastic. Everyone got a little freaked out -- and it worked. That's the whole point. There are plenty of examples out there of tremendous amounts of money and talent being thrown at projects that have just been horrendous flops. Also, we’ve all seen these YouTube videos that get millions of hits -- and it’s like, how did that happen? How it happened is because of what I was talking about earlier, because of quality in content and ideas. A lot of these videos are horribly produced, but the content is just either hilarious, or really well done, or just really original. That's what I've always seen and that's what I'm trying to harness on here. Of course, I’d like to do big productions, with lots of money and all the bells and whistles -- but I'm going to try to never let that supersede quality in content and ideas, if that makes sense.
CDLC: Do you have any final thoughts, suggestions, or opinions to share about the EOS 5D Mark II, or your experience shooting Reverie?
VL: The best thing about this camera is that you can really have a lot of fun with it. You don't have to take yourself too seriously. You don't have to have the best tripod, the best sound person, the best everything. Just take the camera with one or two lenses, and have fun. Don't forget that. The beauty of this camera is that, for what you’re paying, you can produce a pretty incredible, high-quality result.
The next generation of this camera will be more of a monster, I'm hoping. But in terms of ability and the technical stuff that is crammed inside of it, this one is sort of the Ultimate Camera. I can't think right now of taking any other camera with me, everywhere. I've never been able to say that before in my career. I have always had one camera for this, another camera for that. This is the one camera right now I can shoot 1080P HD video, and gorgeous stills, in any kind of light, anywhere in the world. That's the camera I need, and nothing else competes with it, for me, right now.
EOS 5D Mark II Shooter's Insight, with David LeesonClick here to watch our newest Shooter's Insight, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist David Leeson. Leeson uses a combination of full-frame stills, HD video, and stereo sound captured with the EOS 5D Mark II to create a documentary on the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilition Center in Texas.
EOS 5D Mark II Shooter's Insight, with Tyler StablefordClick here to watch our newest Shooter's Insight, featuring Explorer of Light Tyler Stableford. Tyler puts the EOS 5D Mark II to the ultimate test in the desert, from mountain climbing to motorcyclists. See what a world-renowned adventure photographer creates with this amazing 21MP, full-frame, HD-capable SLR!
Sample EOS 5D Mark II Video: VoyageExplorer of Light/PrintMaster Bob Davis explores a day in the life of Illinois Marine Towing along the icy Des Plaines River, with the EOS 5D Mark II. Click here to watch the video.
Exclusive REVERIE: Making-Of VideoClick here to go behind the scenes with Vincent Laforet. You'll see how shots were lit, how the camera was rigged, why certain lenses were used, and how the film was edited.
Sample EOS 5D Mark II Video: A Three Act PlayExplorer of Light/PrintMaster Bruce Dorn created a wedding short, combining HD video and stills. See behind-the-scenes footage, as well as the full video here
Learn More About the EOS 5D Mark IIClick here to get informative tips, product information, and an overview of the key features in our revolutionary new EOS digital SLR.
Sample Photographs (shot with the EOS 5D Mark II)The CDLC has posted a gallery of in-camera JPEGS shot by Mr. Laforet during the making of REVERIE. Click here to view the gallery.
Interview with Vincent Laforet
Shooter's Insight, featuring Vincent LaforetClick here to watch our exclusive Shooter's Insight for the EOS-1D Mark III camera, featuring interviews and images by Vincent Laforet.
The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.
All images are copyright Vincent Laforet