Often times, when working in the realm of TV commercials, one is faced with trying to pull off the best looking spot possible with a small budget. Such was the case on a recent shoot where I was producing two spots for Tight Line Productions whose client was a medical company. We were shooting entirely on-location and much of it was outdoors. The actors/spokesperson would be delivering their lines on-location as well so audio was a concern.

Now I personally love shallow depth of field. In fact, I think it can sometimes be the number one thing that makes a tv spot look “high end”. When you’re shooting with low budget HD cameras, being able to pull off shallow depth of field immediately raises the bar of your footage. Unfortunately, most low cost HD cameras have fixed lenses and small, 1/3 inch CCD sensors and getting that shallow DOF look is almost impossible. That is where HDSLRs come in as an extremely cost effective alternative.

Disclaimer, I hate recording audio with HDSLRs. They are NOT proper video cameras and consequently they do not have, what I consider, proper features conducive to recording quality audio. No audio meters, no XLR inputs, no where to mount a lav receiver pack, etc. I just never feel comfortable recording audio to a HDSLR.

Consequently, I brought both my Panasonic HVX-200 and my Canon 60D to the shoot with the intention of shooting each take with both with the HVX handling all of the audio duties.

390071 2174936498979 1413816253 32025798 588901347 nDuring the shoot, it also came up that we needed a fairly long dolly shot to open the spot with. Unfortunately, using a skateboard dolly on a golf course isn’t as easy as it sounds due to the uneven ground. (The constant planes landing at a nearby airport didn’t help to much either!) Consequently, every test pass I did with the 60D really pronounced the rolling shutter issues associated with HDSLRs and made the shot useless. The decision was made to use the HVX for the dolly shot and then use the 60D for the close ups and the final swing of the club at the end of the dolly shot.

So this led to us having to match the two shots in post. As you might expect, the Panasonic HVX200 and Canon 60D have very different “looks” to them. The HVX footage has a bit of a green tint to it and didn’t handle the highlights as well, while the 60D is a lot warmer with more dynamic range. (I used the Technicolor Cinestyle on the 60D. You can download it here.) The fact that the sky was completely overcast did not help, as our talent’s white hair tended to blend too much into the sky. Below are two non-color corrected shots to compare.

Using Final Cut Pro’s basic color correction filter along with a Magic Bullet Quicklook, I was able to better match the footage. This was really helpful because it means you can (hopefully) seamlessly use both a low cost, proper HD Camera on a shot and still use a HDSLR for those all important shallow depth of field shots. Take a look at the final product above…


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