Neighborhood July 4th Parade on a Canon 7D

Published On July 5, 2010 | By Mike Carroll | DSLR

I’ve had a Canon 7D from the first batch that came out. I’ve been shooting various footage and tests for the past several months, but this morning I tried it for documentary/news shooting by filming my neighborhood’s 4th of July parade.

This was shot entirely hand-held to see just how the camera could handle uncontrolled motion. It’s a big challenge.

I filmed using a borrowed 18-55mm f/4.5-5.6 lens with a Rode Videomic for sound, which can only be recorded fully automatic. I’ve ordered a Zacuto 2.5 Z-Finder for focusing, but it hasn’t arrived yet so I had to iris and focus entirely from the rear LCD screen. Add to that, the overhead sunlight was brutal. The parade walkers went from f/15 in the sun and a few steps later would be under the shade of trees and f/5.6.

Ava has a thing about sprinklers - she can't pass up a sprinkler without grabbing a drink and a quick shower. Photo by Deanne Rotta.

After the parade I converted the footage using MPEG Streamclip to Apple Pro Res 422, imported into Final Cut Pro, cut down footage to the best shots (including plenty of Greyhounds), then exported it as DVCPRO Quicktime, saved it to a thumb drive and drove it to KCRA-TV to be used in the evening’s 4th of July news coverage.

As a comparison of the image quality I’ve uploaded a 1080 MP4 clip of the footage to Youtube for a comparison.

My reaction to the camera as news. This camera works best in a controlled situation. A tripod would be ideal. If using hand-held the footage is best if it is shot in a situation where there the action can be controlled, as when working with actors, or in a documentary situation where the activity is not rushing by.

I almost always prefer working in hand-held telephoto, so I need to devise some sort of shoulder mounted rig to stabilize the camera.

Here is how the footage was edited and broadcast on the evening news on KCRA-TV.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

5 Responses to Neighborhood July 4th Parade on a Canon 7D

  1. Drew says:

    Hi Mike,

    I am thinking about buying a 7D (or also, I hear the Rebel shoots in HD now too for a little less $). I worked on a shoot for a commercial awhile back where they were using a 7D handheld without any stabilization and the footage looked a little shaky to me. I have seen some rigs for stabilization but I guess that adds more to the price tag. Were you happy with the sound? I’m guessing your Rode videomic isn’t an XLR mic. Could you tell the difference?

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks for visiting the site and checking out the footage.
    Yes, the Canon DSLRs — 5D, 7D, Rebel T2i — do create an amazing picture, and the opportunities to create more cinematic imagery through the choice of lenses is spectacular. But it is a radically different way of creating those images as well. I’ve found that these cameras react to movement differently. Perhaps it’s just me, but panning movement looks different — unless you are panning while following a subject.
    Stabilization is definitely an issue. If you can shoot your footage on a tripod you will have no problems. Shooting hand-held and using just your hands, there will definitely be some jittery shots. I’m still in a quandary over how to solve this. There are a number of commercial rigs available, but at very high prices. And not exactly what suits my needs. I’m trying to design something of my own.
    The sound here was shot with the Rode video mic. There’s just a 1/4″ stereo mic input on the camera and all sound is automatic. Perhaps Canon will provide a manual sound adjustment downloadable fix at some point. Certainly Magic Lantern offers a Brand X upgrade. I plan to record all my serious sound externally with a Zoom H4 and either wireless or Sennheiser 816 shotgun.
    All that said, I’m still experimenting. Trying to learn the thing. By the time I’m actually seriously filming there will probably be a new model with XLR inputs. At that point I’ll probably sell the 7D and move up.
    The DSLRs are definitely a road map for the next evolution in Digital Cinema. And a fraction of the cost of going RED. By the time the Scarlett comes out I doubt anyone who’s serious will be able to do anything with it for under $12K. A Rebel T2i with a lens for under $900 that produces a 1080 HD image in 24p — that’s something that’s going to be extremely hard to beat.
    Keep me informed on what road you take.

  3. Drew says:

    Hi Mike,

    I haven’t got my T2i yet (I went to buy it today, but it is backordered at Costco until next week), but I did have the opportunity to edit 5D footage for a 48 Hour Film Competition this weekend. To begin, the footage was beautiful. I converted in MPEG Streamclip to Apple ProRes (LT) and edited in FCP 7 (I’m pretty sure that I just used Phillip Bloom’s workflow). I saw what I would describe as “artifacts” at times in FCP whenever there was camera movement (lines across image at times) that I didn’t see in the original footage. Also, at times I got some stuttering between clips, that wasn’t there in the final export (the artifacts weren’t there in the final export either) and I noticed on some clips a fade in fade out didn’t actually fade no matter what I did (it dissolved). I noticed in a later blog that you said you converted to DV in MPEG streamclip. Have you had any similar issues and I am curious what your workflow for FCP looks like? Thanks. Drew

  4. Mike says:

    Drew- Thanks for the note.
    Firstly, I converted the 7D footage of the Land Park Volunteer clean-up to DV because it was going to be edited at KCRA, where I work as a TV news cameraman, for the evening news. We edit using AVID Newscutter and, while our news is broadcast in HD, we are still shooting in the field in SD and editing and playing back in SD. Therefore, I converted the 7D’s footage shot in 1080 24p to DV. It would have looked vastly better in HD, of course.
    For my won workflow: I know FCP have come up with an EOS plug-in, but I’m not that familiar with plug-ins, so I run everything through MPEG Streamclip, converting to either the Apple Pro Res 244 (or is it 422? Get those confused) or to NTSC DVCHD. I tried this recently, after hearing a podcast with an editor who does lots of work with the 5D and does not like the Apple Pro Res codec. Turned out very nice.
    Think you’re going to love the Rebel. Then the next hurdle is LENSES! Let me know what you’re looking at. So far, I have the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6, Sigma 28mm f/1.8 and Canon 70-200mm f/4. All great lenses. Been wrestling with what to do for wide and ultimately thinking going to go to the Tokina 10-20mm f/2.8 for the big wide and the consistent low f-stop.
    Thanks for reading-MIKE

  5. Christy says:

    Call me wind because I am absolutley blown away.

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