Brent Ramsey
Brent Ramsey

Brent Ramsey has spent over thirty years in the cinematography field where he has worked on television programs, films and commercials. He is currently a Canon Technical Advisor for our motion picture equipment.

Shooting on-location: How to prep for a multi-camera shoot

November 26, 2013

It’s one thing to work in an office, write blogs and develop training for Canon’s Cinema EOS products and quite another to get out in the world and shoot with them for a couple of days. I recently had a chance to do just that for a shoot we developed with Vincent Laforet that highlights the uses of our Tilt-Shift lens line. So, for two days in New York City, I got out of the office to get some hands-on time. I made some notes on camera setups with a few reminders for shooting a multi-cam shoot with DSLRs and Cinema EOS cameras – especially regarding setting up the time code that I’d like to share.


 


 


 


 

First, this is what our camera packages contained:

  • (2) EOS C300
  • (2) EOS 5D Mark III
  • (2) EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 16-35 f/2.8L II USM
  • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
  • Atomos Ninja 2 Recorder (for recording the live view from the EOS 5D Mark III)

These are the Tilt-Shift lenses, used with the EOS 5D Mark III, Vincent will be featuring in this video tutorial series. The series will be available in 2014 on the CDLC website.

  • TS-E 17mm f/4L
  • TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II
  • TS-E 45mm f/2.8
  • TS-E 90mm f/2.8

There are several things I try and impress on everyone using a digital cinema camera before you begin to shoot, and it starts with matching the settings on the cameras before you get rolling. This is often done in prep, but many times (like this one) we met at the shoot and began the camera prep in a garage below Grand Central Station.


 


 

Here are a few general notes: First, warm up the Cinema EOS C300 cameras for about twenty minutes and perform an automatic black balance. Because Canon Cinema EOS cameras use a Bayer patterned sensor, it is important to establish a proper black level before shooting and for changing conditions – like if you are changing ISO a lot or the ambient temperature changes throughout the day. Also, do the usual stuff: match frame rates, shutter speeds, ISO and gamma settings (we set CP Cinema Locked > “On” to enable Canon Log). Also, setting the internal clocks and time code settings are equally important before you begin rolling. Let’s look at the procedure we used to get synched up with a DSLR.

Here’s how you can keep your editor happy: because we were using an EOS 5D Mark III with an Atomos Ninja 2 external recorder in conjunction with two EOS C300s, we needed to start with the EOS 5D Mark III camera and time code. In this multi-cam situation, it’s best to use the internal “time-of-day” setting from the camera’s internal clock as the base for all cameras. These are the “Time code” Menu settings we used for the EOS 5D Mark III:

Time Code > Count up > Free Run


 

Start time setting > “Set to camera time”


 


 

(Not pictured, equally but important): HDMI > Time Code > On; Rec Command > On (to trigger the Atomos Ninja 2 recorder)

Next, go to the Date/Time/Zone settings and ensure the time of day is correct.


 


 

Once the time and time code settings were properly set on the EOS 5D Mark III, we turned to the EOS C300:

Navigate and set these Menu options in the master EOS C300: Other Functions > Set Clock > “Date Format” > MDY/24H

In the same submenu, match the time and date on the EOS 5D Mark III (this will basically serve as a backup in the metadata).


 


 

With the EOS C300’s “Time Code” submenu setup like this: Mode > Preset; Run > Free Run (DF because we were shooting 23.98fps)

Navigate to Time Code > Setting and set the hours and minutes boxes to match the EOS 5D Mark III and leave the seconds and frames boxes to zeroes.


 


 

When you’re here, get the EOS 5D Mark III in one hand (you can freeze the time by pressing the seconds until you get the other cameras ready to sync), advance to “OK“ and hold. Get the EOS C300 in the other hand with the Time Code Setting window open, the seconds at “00,” the “OK” box highlighted, your finger on the SET button, and now press both SET buttons simultaneously on the EOS 5D Mark III and the C300.

Now, the DSLR is synched with the master EOS C300. Complete this last step on this camera:

TC/UB > TC In/Out > Out


 


 

After setting up the second EOS C300’s internal settings exactly the same way as the master (either manually or with an SD card), set it to TC/UB > TC In/Out > IN.


 


 

Next, run a BNC cable from the TIME CODE terminal of the EOS C300 you just set up to the second EOS C300’s “Time Code“ terminal on the back of the camera, and you’ve just jam synced the time code as close as possible for all cameras and external recorders, making the editor a happy guy. Repeat these steps as often as needed throughout the day and especially after powering down the cameras.

Now, finally, one last note from the shoot. So that the editor can quickly identify which clips are from which EOS C300 operator, navigate to Other Functions > Clips > Title Prefix:


 


 

Put the operator’s initials in the two boxes and press “Set.”


 


 

This way not every clip in the edit will begin with “AA” and the editor will have a fast reference for recognizing EOS C300 clips, thus making the process easier.

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