Filming interviews on a DSLR

Last week I shot my first interviews soley on the 5D Mk III running Magic Lantern. Despite using it as a second camera in January and then pretty much as a first camera for interviews and GVs last month, I’d never purely relied on a DSLR to shoot video for broadcast.

Generally it was great, the shallow depth of field is a great thing for seated interviews and the sound came through brilliantly using one of the iRig Pre XLR to 3.5mm powered adaptors modded by PEC on Charlotte St. But using the DSLR as a primary camera, and relying on it to record sync sound threw up a couple of issues.

First was the 4GB file size limit, I like to film interviews with the recording running throughout but I didn’t want to rely on the camera for seamless clip spanning as I have had that cause headaches in XDCAM, when a clip spans two cards. To be on the safe side I stopped and re-started recording during the interviewer’s questions.

A later check seems to show that the clip spanning is indeed seamless, but it always makes me nervous.

The second issue was temperature. I have had a 7D shut down a few times without warning while filming due to overheating. I haven’t had that happen on the 5D yet but it remains a concern, especially in hot climates or under lights. The Magic lantern firmware hack usefully shows the sensor temperature in Celcius in the viewfinder and after a couple of minutes this was highlighted in orange as 51 degrees. I was alarmed by this and suddenly realised that I had no idea at what temperature the camera shuts down. It made for a slightly nerve-wracking recording but the temperature seemed to stablize at around 54 degrees and with no ill-effects.

The trusty Sony PD-150 camcorder that I bought over 15 years ago hasn’t been used for almost 10 years. And during that decade I have filmed on many different formats and shapes and sizes of camera for my documentary work. From Beta SP, DigiBeta, Betacam SX, DVCAM, DVC Pro, HDV to the different flavours of XDCAM, the recording media and codecs have changed a lot, never settling long enough for me to invest in another camera.

I got the 5D mainly for stills and that remains it primary function but I want to use it more for video and so I’ve gradually been building up a shoulder rig with external monitor and better audio. I look forward to trying it for filming actuality.

By | 2017-04-27T16:43:34+00:00 May 21st, 2014|Filming|0 Comments

About the Author:

A documentary-maker specializing in actuality shooting to tell real stories.

Leave A Comment