House season finale shot entirely with Canon 5DmkII

I know this is old news to some but I wanted to bring it up to start a discussion…

I got this info from Petapixel.com. I have been in contact with House director Greg Yaitanes to try to get a nice in depth interview but no joy as yet! Like you I have many questions as to how that got past the issues ox X,Y,Z. Many of which we encountered whilst shooting on DSLRs for Lucasfilm last month. But first this is the house news…

The season finale of the popular TV show House, which will air on May 17th, was filmed entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. cinema5D overheard the plan last month and Greg Yaitanes, the director of the show, has confirmed it through a tweet in which we made himself open to questions.

Again thanks to Petapixel.com for this.

Here are some of the Q+A from twitter.

Personally I cannot wait until May 17th. This will be a big day for Canon DSLR users like myself.

Interesting that they used Canon lenses. That is what we used mostly ourselves, although there are some very cool looking new Leica and Zeiss lenses coming out for the Canons soon. I myself had  a chance to use the Zeiss CP2s on set and very nice they are too.

I am itching to know how they got past some of the major 5DmkII issues I had whilst shooting a large project for Lucasfilm, we ended up using the 1DmkIV mostly due to the HD monitor out of that camera. I will be blogging about that as soon as I can.

On the plane to Vegas yesterday I had a very long discussion with the owner of a high end rental company in London and understandably when i told him I specialise in DSLRs he was not best pleased!

Don’t forget…this is a show that has been shot on 35mm film until now…this is a bloody big deal!

If I manage to get an interview with Greg I will post it here of course!

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97 comments

  1. This amazing news, I just picked the zeiss 50mm its amazing. This dslr has really opened up a new world for me. I happened to shoot yesterday to get some b roll footage for music and some other guys were there doing something for the same artist . I noticed they were using a 5d didn’t feel any kind of way because I remembered what you said its not the camera its you eyes and who’s shooting. Anyway, I love House that show is good I can’t wait to see it.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on this. My wife and I are big House fans and will have May 17th finale recorded on DVR. Mostly use my 5D2 and 7D for wildlife stock footage and also developing a good workflow for nature timelapses with Premiere Pro CS4 (basically the same as your QT Pro workflow; very straightforward). However, very keen on ALL dslr video applications, especially appreciate the Zacuto Shoot Out series.

  3. Reckon the episode with have a nice intimate feel about it, the less camera between the director and actors the better? Very interested to find out how they got over the monitoring issues… and seems they had the 24p firmware before everybody else?

  4. I would have thought a 7D would be a better choice. Slightly worse low light performance wouldn’t be an issue as they probably have very well lit sets anyway. I think house is one of the best things on TV and it will be really interesting to see how the finale looks.

  5. This is cool. I can’t help but feel skeptical about them using ‘standard’, unmodified dslr’s – for some reason, I think there must be some people out there who have been given a camera where the data just runs straight off the sensor and onto some kind of storage (i.e – no compression). Just can’t believe the studio would allow the broadcast of h.264. Seems nuts to me. Anyone else in that boat, or is it just me and my friends…?

    1. “Just can’t believe the studio would allow the broadcast of h.264.”

      So the camera shoots h.264 and nothing happens to it in the edit? What are you trying to say?

  6. This is going to be insanely mindblowing! I can’t wait to see the episode. We should have a live blog session and post comments as we watch the show 🙂

  7. That’s the biggest news I have heard till now about the 5d2, My favorite show with my favorite camera, I like very much the photography in this show, now we will be able to compare with the old season’s technical film set, I’d like very much see any photos about the making of !!

  8. No fear here I think its well proven that the footage that comes out of these cameras is perfect for broadcast, if you have a good post workflow and work with the cameras strengths. Anyway, its not like they broadcast the native H264 file directly from the camera, they could go uncompressed 16bit for all they care…

  9. I’m interested to hear how they compensated for focus pulling challenges as well. It sounds like you had to move to another camera altogether for the better monitoring ability. Was this for easier focus pulling, or for clients to see better?

    I’m sure they will be using other glass from Greg’s comment about cine-style lenses.

    1. Focus pulling is not a deal breaker. As long as you have someone who knows what you are doing it’s fine. My guy last month was awesome with Canon lenses.

      I switched to 1Dmkiv due to output issues, going through blackmagic box means as soon as we hit record we lost image for 5 seconds!

  10. Hi Philip,

    Do you know what is coming in terms of the cine-style lens Greg refered to? Are these in the form of a new range of lens from Canon or are we looking at a thir party?

  11. This is unbelievable news. I am directing a feature film in the autumn and since it’s a low budget I am considering filming it with a 5DMk2 instead on 35mm. But there are some issues that make me still scared to do it. But now that I learned that the House finale is being done with a camera that I own…
    Philip, if you get in touch with the show’s director — I would like to know how they coped with known 5D2 problems, like moiree or hot pixels?

  12. Wow, great news. No matter whether the film community wants to admit it these DSLRs are literally changing the way motion pictures get made… and they are all basically first generation! Exciting to be on the ground floor and especially kewl to see what’s around the corner. My company now shoots 90% of all our incoming work on 7Ds + GH1s, very kewl indeed.

    Thanks again Bloom! Cheers-

  13. I respect the producers giving the 5D a shot. After all, we all can see the 5Ds output
    is fantastic at a fraction of 35mm. TV and Film are there for our enjoyment, but theyare businesses. The beginning of a brave new World…

  14. Why would they do this? For trying out cool “new” things?
    Why go from beautiful 35mm film to a compressed video format? To save a few bucks?
    Their budget is huge & they’re a top TV how.

    I understand this is a good camera for indies but this doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Mr Bloom,when will you come down to New Zealand? You are most welcome,Dslr’s are going off aound here,we love your site,its pretty much the”bible for us.

      2. There seems to be a ton of skepticism about the use of the older 5dII versus the 1dIV or 7d. The reasoning behind the decision is the shallower depth of field obtained by the full frame sensor.

        Canon lenses are likely being used over zeiss lenses because a shallower DOF can be obtained. The max apertures on all of the canon primes are much larger than those of the more “exotic” zeiss glass.

        For instance the canon 85 f1.2 or 50 f1.2 are likely being utilized, as are the wider 1.4 primes.

        Moreover, zeiss doesn’t offer zoom glass, so the ease of use goes out the window especially when a specific perspective is needed.

        All in all, the use of the “older” 5dmkII is justified due to it’s superior sensor size. Sense there is no 1ds mkIV available, the 5d is the only sensible option.

        I’m sure the red cameras will be utilized if the need arrises. However if optimal results arrise from a cheaper, smaller, more available camera, I feel it’s use should be plainly justified.

        Sound is likely handled off camera.

    1. Film is walking dead ,long live affordable equipment that allow us plebs to tell our stories without waiting for our footage to come back from the chemist.

      1. Yeah what does he mean? 😛

        @ steve chase
        If anyone’s name is in the middle of this…
        It should be Mr Philip Bloom’s,
        it is his blog if you didn’t notice look up
        at the BIG BANNER at the top 🙂

  15. When you can afford a post production team to digitally remove all the moiré on deep DOF shots then yeah, more power to you 😀

    Seriously though I am very surprised and excited by this. Will watch for sure.

  16. Awesome stuff – cannot wait to check it out!

    Be really interesting to see how they treat the footage / movements.

    An Interview or some more Q&A would be great…

    Also quite interested in how they worked with focus + external monitoring output etc…

  17. Using a video SLR for a production the size/scope of House is a myopic decision. We are still on the first generation of these video capable SLR beasts, and they all seem to be a few fries short of a happy meal (so as to not hurt the prosumer/pro camera range – why spend $10,000 on a camera when a AU$3200 SLR will do the same? (the rough price of a 5dMK2 body only down under)). A Red One would have had been a far better investment on their part.

    Hopefully once the Scarlet is released and it shakes up the prosumer sphere, Canon (et al.) will be forced to address the limitations this current 1st generation has – such as the aliasing (my BIGGEST gripe), and give us true 1080P, or 2K/4K re-sampled from the entire sensor (realistically I would expect the 3rd generation vSLR’s to address this).

    For all we know Canon (after seeing how the 5dMk2/7d has been adopted by video producers and the breathtaking work by Mr Bloom) may have been inspired to create their own version of the Red camera (vEOS – Video EOS?) but capable of using EOS lenses, mirror-less with dual CF/SDXC slots, custom frame rates, lower pixel count optimised for video performance (especially low light) at a price that won’t break the bank.

    Will be interesting to see what Panasonic with the GH2 will offer.

    These are indeed exciting times for digital image/video acquisition.

  18. cmon guys get with the picture (no pun intended) the industry is evolving, why shoot this with the 5dMkii you ask.. as Greg says, because its the future in terms of budget, ease of use in regards to weight setup and rigs as well as its ability to work in tight confined spaces..but mostly i would say its ability in comparison to original 35mm is amazing. I am currently shooting a feature in Scotland using the 5dMKii and have achieved what i consider some incredible footage and look, having been using this equipment for a while now i cant understand why there has not been more of an upsurge in different media formats utilising this equipment, glad to see that directors like Greg have their fingers on the pulse and are not afraid to take on the future…hey philip would be good to have a chat with you sometime regarding certain elements of our production if you have the time

  19. Thanks for distilling out those tweets for us. Agreed that the 5DmkII is an odd choice for such a high-end production when the 1Ds is available. Did they really need to go for the cheaper/smaller camera in this case?

  20. Thank you Philip for the highly entertaining post! I really enjoyed it.

    This is indeed great news for HD-Dslr users and fanatics. The fact that the switch is being made between 35mm film and a 5dmk11 is a BIG deal!

    I think this will be the future and maybe even replace 35mm film as the HD-Dslr’s keep improving.

    This is great news!

    Cheers,

    Lorenzo van Galen.

  21. Let me start by saying I do not own a 5D. I want one. Badly.
    But I just started shooting. I have the lower end Rebel series and it looks great but after borrowing friends 7D’s and being a part of some shorts with the 5D, I see the power of this camera.
    Now the other day, I was talking about the Canon HDSLR series and this kid butted in and said how “Don’t waste your time…and this camera is junk…” etc. I was mad but I went with it I asked him what camera would you recommend instead, and he had nothing to say at all. That is so lame, I have had this argument before and people will say don’t shoot with it but have nothing better to offer. I feel that there is nothing better out there to offer, especially in the price range.
    That is the problem people have been ripping on these camera’s for what they are lacking but what they bring to the table more then out weighs the negatives, and I am happy that people like PBloom and all the people at Zacuto for doing the test web-series.
    Thanks for posting this article here I linked it on my facebook.
    I am so happy (and excited for that episode) that now next time someone asks I can say that House a critically acclaimed show for it’s “look” shot an episode with one of these camera’s. I hope more will shows will follow, maybe a Law and Order episode.
    Someone here said the future is upon us.
    Yes, yes it is.

  22. I´m not missing that episode for sure! i’m really interested in purchasing a 5DmkII and this is a huge test for it’s capabilities! As i studied through college and even now, i’ve always worked with professional video cameras, semi-professional and domestic camcorders. It hasn’t been long since i discovered what this DSLRs can do and i am really astonished! i’ve always loved the low DOF of photographic lenses, and since i saw the first video shot by one of this new cameras i fell in love with it! CONGRATULATIONS for all your work philip and thanks a million for keeping us up to date with the latest news! I really look up to you man.

    Cheers

  23. Great post Philip! I also caught the last half of tonight’s episode and it was definitely 5D Mark II or some HD.

    I did notice a lot of problems in the backgrounds on the clean walls where the image was breaking up (serious banding) making me think it was Mark II and they did not correct.

    Some shots looked fantastic, others not so good.

  24. Hi Philip. thanks for the info. personally, I wouldn’t trouble the Director with questions that are truly meant for the Director of Photography. I’m sure it would be easier to arrange an interview with him and his technical knowledge of cinema would be far richer than Greg Yaitanes. thanks.

      1. People always want to be the first. Think about it
        before this HDSLR episode no-one knew who this
        director was…now we all know his name..”The guy who
        did the first network HDSLR show”

        Just hope it’s a straight episode and they shoot it
        that way..so we can compare. Be very bad if it was some
        kind of gimmicky handheld one-off concept episode.

        1. Greg Yaitanes is an Emmy winning director. People knew his name in TV long before this episode. It wasn’t a gimmick, it was decision driven by what was right for the story. Unfortunately people who worked on the show can’t talk about it until after May 17.

      2. Gale Tattersall, the cinematographer for House since season 3, is one of my favorite living cinematographers and a personal hero of mine for bringing a rich, cinematic experience to network television. I envy your meeting him. I’d love to know how he personally felt working with the little Canon and its lenses. Keep up the good work!

    1. Well, the 5D’s full frame, right? It’s sensor is closer in size to Vistavision and the depth of field is therefore supposedly as creamy as a regular 35mm stills photo (depending, of course, on focal length, shutter, iris, etcetera, but the point is made). I saw a short film recently that was actually shot using the Vistavision process and the results were silky to say the least. House has always been an extremely well-made show and I’m looking forward to seeing what Tattersall has done (and of course, totally forgetting about the technique and just enjoying a damn good show).

  25. The director mentions problems with focusing but, How about the discrete diafragm jumps of DSLR lenses? I don’t know much about motion pictures (if anything I’m a photographer) but, unless all scenes are shot at a fixed diagram I figure that would be a problem.

  26. The problem that I see is matching for future release formats. 35mm can be scanned at much higher resolutions than 1080p, and there the Mark II only has a resolving power (video) at just over 1.2k (why you see the aliasing issues). While it may work for current HD release, future formats may be an issue.

  27. Also, the first 30 seconds of the most recent episode of House, “Lockdown”, was shot on the Canon 1D with Canon lenses. Mostly the 100macro if I remember.

  28. There’s no way this was a budget thing. If a network is paying $2mil an episode to the production company to produce the product, the production company may be able to get a few episodes shooting on significantly cheaper equipment. Before long, the network is going to significantly REDUCE the amount paid per episode if the production company is saving money all over the place by not renting tons of camera equipment.

    This is a gimmick; an experiment. There are currently too many limitations on DSLRs to use on professional prime time programming. I know many of you here will disagree, but it’s just NOT THERE yet. I hope it improves with the next generation of DSLRs, but I’m not thinking that House is going to start shooting every episode on a 5D2.

    Still looking forward to watching it!

  29. Ofcourse you can use the footage from the 5d mk ii and 7d for television.

    I know a production agency that did some stuff for mtv, live action footage with composited 3d stuff, and they used a 5d mk ii and I remember seeing the commercial millions of times in a day, and every time i was awed by the quality.

  30. This is very exciting. The fact that high quality DSLR’s have a place in professional production is truly a sign of things to come. I have several Canon DSLR’s (not a 5D yet but that is on my want list) and love them all. I shoot videos for websites and corporate training and promos. There is always a quest for better quality and lower cost. This will probably be my next purchase.

  31. I think I’m more excited to see this house episode more than I was excited about the 24p firmware update. I have a 73in. DLP and a Direct TV recorder. I’m going to watch it over and over…

  32. I’m watching House tonite and I was immediately surprised by the look of the show as opposed to the regular look. So I paused the show, started googling and found your post, Phil. No big surprise that you’d be my source of info for this as well! =)

    It looks great, very dramatic and I’m sure that low light capabilities were a big factor in the decision to use the DSLR.

    Thanks for the info! Now on to enjoy the rest of this House episode.

  33. I knew this episode was coming, but forgot about it. I then found this thread and discovered I had actually watched the episode and didn’t notice a difference from past episodes.

    This is amazing. We bought a Sony EX3 last year bare bones. That $9k would have bought a Canon 5d and a ton of accessories.

    Oh well.

  34. Seems to me the result speaks for itself. It looked great, with plenty of creamy bokeh in the wide open shots. I imagine the cramped quarters of the cave-in were much easier to handle than would have been the case with a normal, full rig.
    How cool is this?!

  35. Something isn’t right here.

    If you look at the Question and Answer someone asked “How Many Frames Per Second” and GY said 24. The Canon 5D Mark II DOES NOT shoot in 24fps.
    Only the 7D now shoots in multiple frame rates including 24P.

    I have a feeling someone is fudging this story or the facts for monetary gain. An “Ultimate” Viral Video ad for Canon if you will.

    1. Hi markII,

      #1 contrary to your name, you do not have a 5D because if you did, you’d realize how ignorant you are. I am holding MY 5D in my hand and I intact see a 24p and 30p option. So I suggest you do a little research before you start chirping on a blog

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