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Philip Bloom DSLR Workshop @ Rule

Filmmaker / Blogger / Twitter fanatic Philip Bloom came to Rule Boston Camera courtesy of the Boston Final Cut User Group this weekend to hold a two-day workshop on DSLR filmmaking. On Saturday, I was lucky enough to listen in and talk with Philip. If you have followed his Tweets or his Blog you know that Mr. Bloom is very charismatic and witty. He made it clear that he was open for questions and didn’t want anyone to feel cheated by not getting the info they came for. After seeing several examples of his non-commercial work (understandably, he cannot show his commercial work), it was clear that the audience had not yet taken their voyage into DSLR filmmaking as deep as Philip had. His approach to shooting was very personal, and he has an affinity for the products he stands behind. Philip Bloom Workshop shot with iPhone 4 using Hipstamatic Float film and Helga Viking Lens. The focus for the workshop was mainly the Canon DSLR lineup (T2i, 7D, 5DMKII, 1DMKIV), and he made it very clear that Canon was ahead of the game in the Video-via-DSLR department. There were a few GH1 and Nikon users in the crowd, but, for the most part, it was a Canon user base. Philip was very opinionated about the lack of quality on the GH1 (out of the box) and the Sony NEX-5, and the new Sony NEX-VG10 (essentially the same as the NEX-5 but in handycam form factor). There was a lot of talk about codecs and low-light sensitivity which was rounded out with Philip expressing his preference for the Canon 5D Mark II over all the cameras currently on the market. As a 7D and 5D Mark II owner myself, I’ve found that 90% of my kit (lenses, AKS, etc.) was identical to what Philip was using as well. Philip’s preferred lenses are the 16-35mm f/2.8L USM II, the 24-70MM f/2.8L USM, the 70-200MM f/2.8L IS USM II, the 100MM Macro IS USM, 50mm f/1.2L, etc, etc. He suggested buying only L series lenses regardless of owning a T2i, 7D, or 5D MKII which I agree with 100%. This was based on build quality, chromatic and other aberration minimization and their full-frame coverage. For those of us who use Canon EF L series lenses, it was nice to hear Philip declare that the quality of these lenses are to resolve resolution much higher than any video camera lens can achieve, and he has had no issues with them. Some of the best lenses in the world are Canon still lenses. Full disclosure — Philip has several Nikon lenses, a Nikon D3s, Sony EX1, Panasonic GH1, as well as a variety of other cameras. A strong believer in the double sound system, Philip also keeps the Juiced Link 454 and a Beachtek DXA-5D in his kit for reference or shoots — which will fit the bill. His main concern with the single system method is not being able to monitor what the camera is recording and for his piece of mind he prefers an external recorder. Audio bit rate has a lot to do with this as well. His main point is to use what works best for you as long as you have AGC Defeat on the Beachtek or the Juiced Link. For Mics he prefers Sennheiser (as do I). Philip was a sound man back in the day, so it is a subject he is well-educated in with real-world practical experience. For external recorders he stated the Zoom H4 is horrible and it’s better to stick with a Tascam, Foxtex, Sound Devices or Marantz recorder with phantom power and ideally a backup power source. Philip took a portion of the workshop to cover post-production and workflow. His thoughts on it are fairly simple and concise and the defacto standard practice for most professionals. Use the Canon EOS Movie Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro and use its Time-of-Day timecode via log and transfer just like P2 or SxS. It’s the easiest way to get footage into your system. You can utilize Magic Bullet Grinder or Squared 5’s MPEG Streamclip if you want batch file copying. Philip prefers the FCP method as it adds Time-of-Day timecode onto your clips which is why most of us use it. A good portion of the workshop was on Time-lapse which featured various vignettes from around the world. Prague, Dubai, Miami, NYC, Bulgaria, etc. Most of these were done with the Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3. With this intervalometer you can adjust start / stop time, length of exposures and the timer can be set for any time from 1 sec. to 99 hrs, 59 min, 59 sec. You can achieve stunning time lapse if you allocate time to watch your camera. Overall, the point of the workshop was to focus on shooting and just getting out there and doing it. Philip’s suggestion to just buy a DSLR camera and stop worrying about what is coming out next was probably the best piece of advice heard at the workshop. Waiting and waiting will not make you any money or get your project off the ground. Technology does not replace talent and you can shoot a good movie regardless of what camera you use. However, having a great inexpensive camera like the 5D mark II or 7D will make your projects more interesting and attract viewers you might not get if shot with a noisy 1/4″ sensor. Philip mentioned he still uses his Sony EX1 and fairly often as it is ergonomically correct for video, and it’s a great camera. DSLR’s are not the one-all be-all solution for all situations. The proper tool for the job might be a 7D or a Varicam 2700. If you are a beginning filmmaker or if you have not yet taken the plunge, I would suggest taking Philip’s workshop when it rolls around again in the Fall. In the meantime, come check out our free Learning Labs held every Wednesday. If you are already in the mix and shooting, the workshop will be fairly redundant but would be worthwhile for networking, meeting new people, and talking with Philip in person. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager