The Canon EOS C700 was chosen to capture the fast-flowing action of two stunning 4K HDR films made by Televisual Creative for high-end river yacht company, Woods’ Silver Fleet
Televisual Creative’s latest films capture the luxurious river yacht Silver Sturgeon as it cruises along the Thames. They were commissioned by the boat’s owner, Woods’ Silver Fleet, who wanted the films to be truly cinematic and capture both the yacht and the backdrop of iconic London landmarks.
To achieve this, Televisual Creative shot in 4K on two of Canon’s EOS C700 cameras with the Codex RAW recorder. The films were graded and mastered as both HDR and standard-dynamic range versions.
As well as filming on the Silver Sturgeon itself, the crew filmed the yacht from another of Woods’ Silver Fleet boats. A helicopter shoot also captured aerial footage of the Silver Sturgeon on the Thames. The production team explains how it was done.
TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW: Book your place at Televisual’s free ‘HDR In Production’ event at Dolby Theatre, Soho Square on Thursday, 6th July to see both Silver Sturgeon films for yourself in glorious HDR – CLICK HERE
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Director of Photography
I’d previously shot three films with the Canon C700 but I hadn’t used it for night-time shooting before. The Silver Sturgeon films definitely fulfilled that ambition.
The films were all about pretty pictures – we wanted to create a cinematic piece – but beyond that the brief was pretty fluid so it was a really nice way to test the camera.
We were working fast – the camera was coming on and off tripods, on and off shoulders and there were quick lens changes. We also shot a lot of choreographed boat-to-boat sequences. During each day of the shoot, we went from bright light to overcast skies to night-time and the changes were quite quick. That’s when I think you learn what a camera can really do. We had everything thrown at us in one day: flat light, harsh light, cloudy light – even a little bit of sun. For the night shoot, we shot a party on the yacht with candles, champagne flutes with the glittering lights of London as the backdrop. The low light sequences have got me really excited. When I first saw the rushes from the night shoot, just in standard-dynamic-range on our DIT station on the yacht, the image was stunning. It was beautiful. It’s a perfect way to test a camera and once you get to watch that back in HDR, it’s another level again.
I wanted to see what the C700 with the Codex RAW recorder was capable of and the ambition for the films fitted the bil perfectly. The Woods’ yachts formed stable platforms and allowed us to create extraordinary reveals as we cruised under London bridges and past iconic landmarks. The Thames comes alive at night and shooting with HDR in mind gives night sequences an added depth and sparkle. I’m looking forward to seeing the graded HDR and believe it should prove exceptional.
We recorded using the Codex Digital RAW recorder. I like the fact that it’s bolted on the back of the camera. It feels robust and solid. The menu system on it is intuitive too. On the C700, the menu is on my side of the camera so when I’m working with a cinematographer and I’m pulling focus, if I want to make any adjustments, it’s all there for me. The C700 also has screws and bolts everywhere, which I love because it means you can mount everything on to it.
Applications Specialist, Codex
We employed 1TB and 2TB Codex capture drives because you need a very fast, reliable media solution to make sure you get the 4.5K data from the sensor on to the drive securely every time. We also had a Codex Cart and a Vault XL to back up and review the rushes during the shoot.
The A and B cameras were both capturing 4K Raw and the Vault XL was our offload station. We securely copied from the camera card on to interchangeable 16TB SLEDs in the Vault XL. It’s quick and secure and once we’ve cleared the cards we can get them back to the camera to carry on working.
Once the content was ingested into the Vault, it became far more than just an offload station. We were able to bring the rushes up on the Canon 4K monitor we connected to the Vault to immediately look at the shots from the card. We had a set-up that meant we could immediately pull all the rushes up to see what the image was going to look like with and without an HDR grade on it.
After the shoot, we took the raw files back to our offices in Soho to archive them. The Shed’s colourist Matt Watson then took the files into the 4K viewing cinema in our building so we could see the fruits of our labour on the big screen. The incredible skies we shot in Greenwich when the sun was deciding if it was going to come out or not look extraordinary in HDR.
We were tasked with filming a sequence of dusk into night aerials of London covering all the major sites – Tower Bridge, The Shard, The City. Generally when you’re filming London at dusk it all looks really pretty for the magic period of about 15 minutes and then it all goes a bit mushy as it gets truly dark. That didn’t seem to happen during this shoot – we had great visibility and the camera also stood up to it too. We had good imagery all the way through to dark.
The Canon CN-E 30-300mm lens is a really useful lens for an aerial shoot over London. It’s wide enough at the wide end and goes really tight, which is exactly what you need and allowed us to pick out and crop in to the boat. I didn’t notice any artefacts or defects as we used the whole range of the zoom.
The Canon C700 provided some wonderful images with an extraordinary amount of dynamic range. These went through a Codex pipeline. That enabled us to get the original RAW files from the camera using all the sensor information. We then took that information and put it through Canon’s own media utility to convert the files into ACES colour space.
ACES is a lovely open source way of working with raw media. It enables you to take the raw rushes and make them look very close to how they looked on set so they are ready for grading.
The images for the Silver Sturgeon shoot have an enormous amount of dynamic range, which is particularly apparent when watching the footage back in HDR. The shadows are completely clean all the way through and you also have these super-bright highlights with light reflecting off the water and the boat.
The aerial material is very stable and again the dynamic range stands out and provides depth to the scenes. You’re looking down on the buildings and seeing detail in the shadows. To be able to see all that information and still see the sparkling parts of the buildings and the water in HDR is exceptional.
In the night material you can see all these little specular highlights just popping out. They’re the kind of highlights you just don’t get to see in standard dynamic range but in HDR they really shine through. The core of the image looks very familiar to how we’re used to seeing things but the really saturated colours – the blues and purples that are traditionally very difficult to capture – really shine.