Challenging weather and light conditions, as well as harsh terrain were just a few of the things the production crew behind the new Jaguar F-PACE marketing campaign had to overcome to produce this advert. But shooting on the robust and flexible 4K compact Cinema EOS camera, the EOS C200, offered them solutions.
The C200’s blend of capturing internal 4K Cinema RAW Light and small form makes it an ideal tool in situations where the production schedule requires high-quality images in a limited shooting time. This Jaguar F-PACE SUV commercial, commissioned by Jaguar’s agency Spark44, and shot by Director Brett Danton and Director of Photography (DoP) Ashleigh Carter, saw its capabilities tested to the extreme.
Filmed almost entirely on a pair of pre-production EOS C200 cameras and a range of Canon Cine primes and zooms, the shoot saw the team travelling 500 miles across New Zealand’s South Island in order to capture footage at a huge variety of locations.
A lot of key shots, however, were captured in the Queenstown region of New Zealand, which Brett picked because he knew the scenery offered the European flavour needed to give the ad broad appeal. But shooting a dark vehicle against sunny, snow-capped mountains demanded a sensor with a wide dynamic range. The 15-stops afforded by the C200’s Cinema RAW Light recording format made it the perfect choice.
Being able to react to the changing weather conditions on the fly, and rapidly switch between a tripod, shoulder mount and a drone, was vital – precisely the type of work for which the EOS C200 was built.
We caught up with Brett to get the story behind the newly-released ad...
Can you give us some background to the shoot?
“I was there for three weeks in total, the initial four days with Matt Johnson, Creative Director of Spark44, driving around looking at locations. We had beautiful sunshine every single one of those days. Matt flew back to Sydney and then we had about a week and a half before we shot, which I used to finalise all the locations and timings. Again, every single day there was glorious sunshine, with just a little bit of rain.
“The first morning of the shoot, we got up and we were greeted by thick fog. It was the one thing we didn't account for, so we had to work our way through the weather conditions and reschedule the shoot as we went.”
How long did you and your team have to familiarise yourselves with the EOS C200?
“The camera turned up the day before the shoot. We had two EOS C200s, one rigged for shoulder use while the other one was set up in a gimbal, primarily for drone work (although it could quickly go onto a handheld gimbal if it needed to).
“We also had two C700s. When I initially looked through the storyboards I thought we’d end up using both the C200 and C700 cameras. But to be honest, that final 60-second commercial features just one C700 shot. What we did do was a lot of comparison edits, because I think the C200 and C700 mix together so well – it’s the perfect combination of cameras.”
How did the C200 compare with your usual rig?
“I used to use a C500 but I’ve moved to the C700 for commercial shoots like this. Obviously there’s a completely different form factor to consider – the C200 is a lot smaller than the C700. It’s more limited in what it can record and its output options, but in terms of image quality, it’s superb. They go together hand in hand; it’s like having an Alexa and an Alexa Mini. If you were shooting a big drama and needed the different outputs, different recording options, then you’d go to the C700. But if you want to shoot RAW footage internally, in an amazing way, the C200 – with its small handheld form factor – is unbeatable.”
The C200 rigged very quickly, so alternating between a tripod and a shoulder mount was incredibly fast.
So it saved you time on your shooting days?
“One hundred percent. The C200 rigged very quickly, so alternating between a tripod and a shoulder mount was incredibly fast.
“Take the drone work, too. You couldn’t fly a EOS C700 on a drone – it’s just too big – but we were up and flying really quickly with the C200 on a Freefly Alta 8 drone. Of course, recording Cinema RAW Light internally onto CFast 2.0 cards means that you fill 128GB in 16 minutes. But as the drone could only fly for seven minutes, you could leave it running and not worry about the media.”
What did you think of the EOS C200’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF?
“We’d already had our minds blown by Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus on the C300 Mark II. With the Jaguar shoot we used Canon Cinema primes extensively and shot a couple of times with the Cinema zooms, so we weren’t really using autofocus. But having the Dual Pixel Focus Assist Guide is a fantastic thing.”
“Although the sequence didn’t make the cut, we stuck the EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM on at one stage to test to see how the C200 would track the vehicle with autofocus, and it was phenomenal – my focus puller almost shot himself.”
How about its 15-stops of dynamic range??
“The first time I’d seen 15-stops was in the C300 Mark II, so what I’m really looking for now is the detail that’s retained through those 15-stops. The C200 was amazing in this regard, with no noise in the shadows throughout the range. We used the View Assist feature to monitor the HDR in the viewfinder and on an Atomos Shogun Inferno. The secret is to never clip the highlights!”
Which was the most challenging shot to get, and why?
“Funnily, it was the sequence with the dancer. The weather threw everything at us, including fog and rain. We tried to get it one morning but the Creative Director, Matt, didn’t feel we had the shot – I was stressed about budget and we had to move the entire crew to another location about a hundred miles away for the afternoon shoot. After an aborted second attempt we started to leave the location – then the sun broke for 10 minutes. We decided to jump out of the car and quickly shoot in a spot that we had never seen before.”
Every job’s a learning experience – what did you take away from this one?
“The C200 allowed me to have a bit more fun and a bit more movement with a much smaller form factor, and not worry about the medium and the recording of data. Suddenly I had a camera I could throw around a lot more – I could cover shots a lot faster.”
The C200 introduced a new 4K RAW format – Cinema RAW Light – to the Cinema EOS line. This compressed file size is approximately 1/3 to 1/5 the size of a full-fat Cinema RAW file produced by the likes of the C700, but maintains plenty of editing headroom.
“With the C700 there’s so much RAW data – if you’re doing a lot of green screen or comp work, this is what you need,” explains Brett. “But in terms of the image quality from the C200 and Camera RAW Light? I think what’s shown in the finished commercial speaks for itself.
“We shot 4K Cinema RAW Light internally to CFast 2.0 on the C200, with 2K MP4 recorded to SD as proxy media. The SD cards lasted for a long time so we didn’t really worry about them. For CFast 2.0, we had 4 x 128GB cards, each of which would give us around 16 minutes of 12-bit 4K at 25fps. For backing up, we used a G-Tech RAID that had a CFast card reader built in. It only took around four minutes to copy a card, so we never had to deal with a backlog of data. The files were duplicated onto other drives, which we held onto until arriving back into the UK, where they were copied onto the post house servers.
“On location, we started to edit the MP4 proxies in Premiere, reconforming the edit to RAW at a later date. DaVinci Resolve 14 was used to output the Cinema RAW Light to 16-bit DPX, followed by colour grading in Baselight and finishing in Flame.”
To find out more about the 4K compact Cinema EOS camera, go to the EOS C200 product page.