The one fact that holds true with cameras, regardless of which high-tech device you buy, the next generation device will quickly supersede it. So we wanted a camera that would produce good results without costing a fortune considering its short life span. We settled on the Canon 60D and purchased two of them from B & H Photo, along with three zoom lenses: a Canon 24-105L, a Canon 17-40L and a Sigma 18 to 200 with stabilization.
Our first shoot with the cameras took us to Seattle, to gather footage for the pilot of a television show we hoped to sell to the Food Network. The footage was stellar. See our website for our sizzle reel for "Food Source." However, the shoot proved problematic in several areas of camera operation.
Coming from a history of "traditional" video cameras, I'm accustomed to having several convenient features on a camera, not the least of which is being able to hold the camera steady for long shots. As a photographer, I can hold a still camera as steady as the next guy. However, holding a still camera (DSLR) steady for video is an entirely different animal, mostly because you don't have as many contact points with your body and the camera as you do with a shoulder mounted video camera. Here's where Zacuto comes into the picture.
Zacuto makes many, many accessories for cameras of all varieties and offers neat packages for making a DSLR steadier, essentially turning it into a shoulder mounted camera, so we purchased the parts necessary to accomplish this. Then there's the problem of pointing the camera in right direction. The 60D has a nifty articulated LCD on the back of its body. Great for when the camera's on tripod but difficult to see with your eye only inches from the screen. Here again, Zacuto provided the solution. We purchased their Z-Finder Pro with mounting plate. This device mounts to the bottom of the camera and provides a frame for a diopter to sit behind the LCD and magnify the image for your eye, also providing another contact point for the camera with your body.
Another convenience I'm used to is adequate audio connections. DSLRs may make wonderful pictures, but attaching microphones to record high quality audio is definitely not their strong suit. Fortunately, manufacturers of digital audio recorders have picked up the slack by offering machines that record great audio and provide a much better set of connectors and controls for field audio recording. We use either a Zoom H4n or a Tascam DR-60D. Both provide a much better recording environment for high-end productions.
This type of recording methodology is called the "double system" technique where one machine records the audio and another the picture. By utilizing separate devices, we have the best of both worlds in a relatively small package that's easy to transport and yields great results. Just like in the old days when the motion picture director would call "Roll Camera!" the camera operator would respond "Rolling!" and sound recordist would shout "SPEED!" indicating his tape recorder had achieved the correct tape speed, the director would declare, "ACTION," we use this kind of equipment mix, to shoot all sorts of projects that benefit from the "Cinematic" look of DSLR cameras.
Fortunately, it's a little simpler these days. You just have to push a couple buttons, but you get the idea. Point is, with a couple of fine cameras and a few accessories, Joyco has be able to enter the world of digital cinema, shooting stellar footage for clients and producing top-notch videos that get noticed. By the way, the Food Network really liked our pilot show, but thought the focus on gluten-free cooking was too narrow in scope. They did invite us back though, with any new ideas we might come up with. Maybe the joys of crock pot cooking while shooting double system video productions? ...mmmmmm