The tale of Lucasfilm, Skywalker Ranch, Star Wars and Canon DSLRs on a 40 foot screen!

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DECEMBER 15th 2015: Reposted for obvious reasons! 🙂

LUCASFILMThe problem with email, especially getting several hundred a day, is you miss some. Some more important than others. One email I completely missed was from Rick McCallum. Producer of the Star Wars prequels and many other films and TV shows at Lucasfilm. He said he loved my work and wanted to talk to me about working together on a movie they were making. I missed this email. Not good.

Fortunately they didn’t give up on me. Head of post production Mike Blanchard phoned me up 3 weeks later to see if I could come over and consult about the potential of using video DSLRs for their productions. He called whilst I was shooting so it went to voicemail. I picked it up the next day and thought holy shit! They must have thought I was playing hardball by not replying to Rick. I wasn’t. I am just a bit useless with all the emails!

“Star Wars” has been a part of my life for over 30 years. I saw it as a child when I was 7 and the second film, “The Empire Strikes Back” affected me enormously. I was in tears when I came out of the cinema. My hero…Han Solo, frozen in carbonite taken by Boba Fett! Anyway, I digress…

NOOOOOOOO.....
NOOOOOOOO…..

Of course I phoned Mike back said yes please! 5 days staying at Skywalker Ranch as their guest and showing them how to get the best out of the Canon 5DmkII and the Canon 7D. They also wanted to be shown how to use the EX3, Letus Ultimate and Nanoflash.

So I flew to San Francisco on Saturday last week and drove to the ranch (via Best Buy of course!). What a stunning place. In the middle of nowhere with enormous beautiful natural grounds and complimentary buildings. I was put in the Federico Fellini apartment. Each apartment is named after a famous person. From architects to actors, composers, writers, photographers, filmmakers. The one I was in is the one where Clint Eastwood always stays. Yes, I slept in Clint’s bed!

The first night, knowing the weather was not supposed to be great over the next few days I did some night timelapses using my 7D and 5DmkII. I left them running until 3am when they froze over!

All photos are taken with the Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm F1.7 Pancake lens.

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The next day I spent the afternoon filming around the ranch, the morning was a washout but it was dry enough to start. Using my 5DmkII, Miller DS20 Solo tripod, 16-35mm F2.8, 24mm f1.4, 35 f1.4, 50mm f1.2, Shift Tilt f3.5 24mm and my 70-200mm IS f2.8. I also brought with me the new Glidetrack Shooter. Rick asked me to bring it and Alastair from Glidetrack kindly shipped one over to me straight away to take with me. The shooter gives you the ability to do really lovely simple dolly shots without the drag of a full dolly and track set up. I also used both the Fader ND 72mm variable ND filter and 77mm thin Singh-Ray vari-nd on every shot to keep my shutter to double the shooting frame rate for optimum film motion. That means when shooting on the 5d I was at 1/60th and on the 7d I was at 1/50th.

But still the weather was crappy. Very grey overcast day. Everything looked very flat and lifeless which makes it that much harder to make things look beautiful.

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The ranch is beautiful and reminds me a little of Scotland mixed with Italy. Rolling hills, horses, cows, a stunning lake and beautiful buildings. It was even cold, very much like Scotland. I left the rushes converting to Pro Res overnight and at 7 in the morning i put together a rough edit to show Rick and Mike at 9am.

I had, at this point, never seen my work projected on a really good projector before so this was going to be a real test of the cameras. Rick and Mike wanted to see how well the footage held up on the big screen. They had shot some stuff and weren’t happy with what they were getting. So they converted my edit into an MXF to play through Avid and I sat down to watch the edit. I was nervous. Never having seen my work on a big screen as good as this, but also George Lucas came in to watch and also the legendary sound designer Ben Burtt. My heart was racing. I watched as the edit played and they loved it. My favourite moment was when the star timelapse came on and Ben Burtt said “Hey, now, hang on!!” This was a very quick ungraded draft edit knocked together from a crappy grey day as a test, not supposed to be shown as an example of my work! Then Quentin Tarantino came in as he was due to talk at a screening of “Inglorious Basterds” and George said to Quentin, come see this. Quentin waxed lyrical, calling it Epic and William Wylersesque and was shocked it was shot on a DSLR. He had no idea you could shoot HD video on them or they were so good. I love George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino, so to have my work screened to them was pretty special to me. Rick, Mike and I also watched some of my other work on the big screen. “Venice’s People”, “San Francisco’s People”, “Cherry Blossom Girl” and “Sofia’s People”. They all looked incredibly good on the big screen. Better than I could ever have imagined. We watched everything in the Stag theatre at the ranch too. Probably one of the best screens in the world. 40 foot screen and it looked incredible.

Ben Burtt with his Zacuto iphone grip junior
Ben Burtt with his Zacuto iphone grip junior

Mike and Rick were over the moon. They didn’t know how well these cameras would hold up on the big screen and it passed with flying colours. Lots of swear words of incredulity were used!

80% of the footage was shot on the 5DmkII at 30p, then conformed to 23.98p in Cinema tools, effectively causing a slight slowdown but as no sync was used this was fine. All the timelapses were done on the 7D apart from the first star one. Some shots of the mist on the lake were done on the 7D too in 23.98p mode. I found them indistinguishable in the edit. Picture profile was Neutral, sharpness all the way down, contrast all the way down and saturation down one notch on both cameras.

Original poster art in the main house
Original poster art in the main house

During the day I also went through the cameras with Mike and Rick on how to get the best out of them. Rick has my 7D training dvd so already knew a lot. I went through all the Zacuto gear with him. He particularly was impressed with the Tactical Shooter with Z-Finder. We also used the Marshall monitor and Miller DS20 Solo (and of course the Glidetrack)

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Rick McCallum
Rick McCallum

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Rick shooting with the Zacuto Tactical and Z-Finder
Rick shooting with the Zacuto Tactical and Z-Finder
Rick McCallum
Rick McCallum with the Zacuto sniper kit
Mike Blanchard
Mike Blanchard

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The next day we shot with the Sony EX3, Letus Ultimate, relay and Nanoflash recording at 280mbs. Testing out this combination for the big screen too and it also looked pretty good! Although we did a lot less filming with this combo as it was the DSLRs that we really wanted to see how well they stood up.

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Ex3 with Nanoflash
Ex3 with Nanoflash

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Letus Ultimate with Relay
Letus Ultimate with Relay

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So why were we shooting with these cameras and why is Lucasfilm’s producer Rick McCallum interested in them?

First off Lucasfilm has been at the forefront of digital technology. They were instrumental in getting a 24p Sony HD camera to use for some shots in Episode 1 of Star Wars and shot episode 2 & 3 entirely digitally. So being ahead of the pack has always been something they do. Pushing the reluctant industry forward kicking and screaming!

George Lucas with the F23 on Episode 2
George Lucas with the Sony F900 on Episode 2

Rick and Mike had seen what these cameras were capable of and wanted to really know just how much you could push them. They had seen mine and others work online but really wanted to see how well they performed projected. The joy of these guys is they have a great attitude. If it looks great on the big screen then that is the most important thing. Not codecs, limitations, bit rates etc…all those are very important but the most important thing by far for them is how it actually looks and it passed with flying colours. That is what they really care about.

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Below is my polished edit of my film of Skywalker Ranch that I did on the plane home, not the rough cut that was shown. It’s a very gentle piece that captures the feel of the grounds. Mostly shot on the 5DmkII, conformed to 24p as it was non sync and the timelapse was all done with stills. I have to say as fan, a geek and a filmmaker. Being at the Skywalker ranch and being made so welcome by all these incredibly talented people has been a highlight of my career. Next week I get to meet up with Rick again in Prague, along with Albert Hughes (of the Hughes Brothers) who has just finished his latest film “Book of Eli” with Denzel Washington to do some test shooting with the new 1DmkIV. I will post footage and my review of that camera as soon as I can.

HUGE thanks to Lucasfilm for giving me permission to post this short!

Am hoping to get a red lightsabre in the post for Christmas! EDIT: I did, Lucasfilm sent me some goodies, check out this silly video of me unwrapping them here

Skywalker Ranch from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

All large photos are ©2009 www.philipbloom.co.uk

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353 comments

  1. Great stuff Mr Bloom – stunning! Loved the GlideTrack footage – sensational….. After all the recent bitching about HDSLR problems – aliasing etc – something like this really puts it all into perspective – if it looks good then it’s good! Going to track downa GlideTrack right now……

  2. What an experience indeed. Amazing video, especially in so little time and unknown location. Impressed. Bravo!
    And thanks for doing great things with and for our Canon cameras and DSLR equipment. I am sure it’s gonna push Canon and others to make them even better!

  3. I read the entire article and watched the film, I was originally envious of you Phil, but now I’m just very happy for you. That must have been surreal for you, I don’t even know if I could handle something like visiting the ranch. let alone having George and Quentin looking at my work. You really rose to the occasion too by putting such a wonderful film together so quickly. I think you show people that having a good disposition and being a passionate person can bring opportunities that you may have never even imagined. I always appreciate the inspiration Phil, and congratulations again.

    1. Terrific footage, Philip. I really liked the interplay between live footage and timelapse for this subject matter. You said most of the live footage was shot using the 5D. Can you tell us which shots were from the 7D?

      Regards,

      Joe Womble

  4. Wow buddy,
    That is just F##king incredible and I’m so happy for you. No one deserves it more. How you show up to ranch and make a video like that is beyond me. It felt like I experienced 4 seasons with the fog, frost, rain, sun, night, day, time lapse. The music, imagery, all incredible. I feel like I’m giving a critique which I’m not but if i were I would say “perfect”. I especially like the interesting dolly moves on you glidetrack at the beginning, tracking a defocused shot into focus. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen that before. We need to name that effect after you. I’m going to watch this video a few more times. Only you can make a 5 minute video of some grounds and make it so entertaining. I should have taken you up on your offer to bring the gear down there. Whops, that was a mistake. Anyways, I want to see you as DP on that Star Wars TV show, nobody knows this gear better than you and you should have that job.

    Looking forward to seeing you in February for our TBD video.
    Congrats Bro this really makes me happy. 🙂

    1. This site is insane. One year ago I went to letusdirect.com to look up some stuff on DOF adaptors. Now I’m a fully fledged Phil subscriber. I tell my professors and classmates about you guys all the time. Someone needs to get Henry Jenkins to write about whats happening here. This is the perfect venue for your work. It’s a rare and intimate glimpse into that ladder of success, especially for film and video nerds. Trust me and the rest of your fans when we say you are moving on to bigger and better things. The Karma is bubbling as I type. Congrats again.

  5. Great footage! I really like the glidetrack shooter, it’s very light weight and combines the best of a shoulder rig with a slider.

    Gotta love the place George and his team have at the ranche, such great nature, I can see how he get’s inspired!

  6. well, it’s official…. I hate your guts!

    kidding…kidding… 🙂

    Mr. Bloom, I feel like I should thank you for giving zero budget film makers the heads up on these amazing tools. The Skywalker Ranch video is…. well, I said holy shit three times… it is my favorite thing you have done. Also the best looking DSLR footage I have ever seen.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. Thanks for all the work you do to provide us 5D and 7D shooters with great real world info. Yep, I got your “Learn to shoot great video on your 7d”. The work you do is helping guys like me make informed choices and for me specifically, make a better living.

    Well done Sir. Well done.

  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Man, this was EPIC! Don’t ever change Philip. And thank you lucasfilm for letting him share his experience. thanks for keeping all your geek brethern informed. Can’t wait to see the Lightsaber, but red? Really? Sith are you?,,,, HMMMMMM? Just as long as you bring balance to the Force of VDSLR’s. Oh and did you get to rock the “Obi Juan Kenobi T”?

  8. Brilliant post Philip! Sounds like a dream come true. Thought you were taking the piss for the first couple of paragraphs. =) Have been following your stuff online for a few months now – it’s really inspirational and am delighted you are getting the recognition you fully deserve. Have to say kudos on how well you have use the various internet media in promoting your work and interesting to know the big boys are obviously watching. bravo!

  9. Very inspiring! But of course, that’s been said …

    Particularly enjoyed the night shots (3:23 & 3:43) timelapses. The music and the images are almost surreal.

    Did John B. Aronson (DP of Red Tails) get an opportunity to see this? Have they seen a Panavision Primo lens on the 5d?

    ‘J-dog

    p.s. Don’t forget to check your emails …

  10. Wow what an amazing experience you had! Would have been funny if Coppola or Scorsese popped in as well after Tarintino. It’s awesome to hear this dream come true for you. It is very inspirational as well. Can’t wait to get my 5d Mark II for Christmas! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  11. Obi-Phil Kenobi,

    All I can say is WOW! As a life long Star Wars and Lucasfilm fan, I’m living vicariously through you at the moment!!

    I hope this Lucasfilm adventure has made all your efforts well worth it to you. The work you did out there is, as usual, incredible. Steve is right, you better get to work on the new Star Wars show!

    Again, thanks for all you have done and continue to do so we can grow in our craft. You are making a difference!

  12. mate – what an amazing experience ! I bet you never look back on making that decision to go freelance now ! I’m really pleased for you.

    If your coming over to Czech – be pleasure to meet up with you…

    cheers
    Luke

  13. I’m absolutely proud to say I know who you are. You are an inspiration! Congrats! You took an opportunity an ran with it, after a minor hickup… You are the truth dude. As a matter of fact, from now on you are no longer known as Philip Bloom. You are “The Truth.”

    Best

  14. Wonderful story ! I just watched the original first 3 episodes with my 5 year old son so reading this while being in Star Wars mode give this story even more impact.
    Keep going Philip and thanks for sharing with us.

  15. Congrats! The film is simply beautiful. Great selection of shots and perfect music selection. This will surely be the start of something BIG for you, and I’ll get to say “I met him once.”

  16. I’d been waiting for your next post and as it had gone quiet for a while I wondered if something was cooking – well WOW!

    Like you Phil I saw Star Wars aged 7 and became a life long fan.

    I’m so pleased LucasFilm are looking at the 7d and 5dMk II…this can only be good for the advancement of their use, but also (I hope) development of the next series of cameras.

    Good luck with the collaboration, I hope it brings great things for you!

  17. Definitely a dream come true. And I’m happy you lived it because your writing style makes me feel I was there too. As someone of a, um, similar vintage to you, SW has a similar effect. Must have been like film heaven.d

    What has impressed me most about your approach is that, aside from the skill you have with the camera, you so clearly enjoy it all and that’s communicated well with you work and attitude. There is a love of the image that comes across as a caress of the scene that stands out among the wealth of imagery churned out by folk these days. I like that, and so do many others, it seems. More art please!

    Thanks also, to Lucasfilm for being generous enough to share their content with us readers.

    One question: was that pan left off the lake to the house with the swing & tilt lens? Haven’t seen it used like that before.

    JB.

  18. Phillip…. AMAZING! Been following you for awhile now and regularly check your blog. But this post was all the best that could ever have happened. First, you got to met the MAN, Lucas himself and show him footage from our camera. That says a lot for the future direction of HDSLR’s!!! Second, you just made what I consider the BEST video (Hmmm hmm, I mean FILM!!!!) I’ve seen from you! What an honor to have had this experience and I speak for the community here that we are proud of you!
    I think great things are to come to HDSLR’s (the game changers, thats right RED) though your efforts and accomplishments.
    Now Phillip, you need 2 e-mail accounts! 1 for us to contact you, and 1 for the BIG boys to contact you, so that you don’t potentially drop the ball next time you’re called up by THE BIG BOYS!!!!!! Hip Hip… HORRAY!
    All the best, Chris.

  19. Awesome man! I am really happy for you and really excited about the future of these cameras. I own the 7D, bought your 7D training.

    It’s always been a dream of mine to visit Skywalker ranch too as I studied recording engineering and always been fascinated by Star Wars and all the magic that surrounds it. You deserve to be with those guys man, thanks for your great inspirations.

    Diego

  20. Wow…. incredible footage. That star time lapse with the house in it… stunning.

    Great story too.. you’ve earned a lot of respect over the course of the DSLR thing that’s happened in the last year and to turn up to the ranch and shoot what you did is amazing…so it’s well deserved mate.

    Fingers crossed it leads to some interesting stuff for you!

    Gonna have to get a DSLR now.. totally convinced.

    Sean

  21. I was 13 when Star Wars came out and saw The Empire Strikes Back in 70mm in Leicester Square.  For a kid from a village North Wales that kind of thing leaves it’s mark.  What George Lucas has contributed to how we see and hear film in the cinema and in our homes through his push for formats and through ILM has been so important.  So I can imagine how you must have felt.  You must have spent the whole flight over thinking “I better not bloody wake up now”.  

    Watching your film yesterday on the big screen at Converge it absolutely looked like it belonged there.  I love the early morning scenes.  One of those rare occasions where a bit of jetlag is a good thing.  I do have to disagree with you on one item though, the countryside round Skywalker Ranch looks Welsh not Scottish…less sheep though obviously 😉      

  22. Hi Philip,

    what a beautifully made film. I think that noone else deserves it more than you to be given such an opportunity to film at Skywalker Ranch. And again – the result speaks for itself. By the way: what I find particularly inspiring in all your films is the choice of music. Thanks for sharing that film with us.

  23. Philip,

    This is just some amazing footage. But what is really special, is the fact that you had the vision, you were able to shoot the footage, you did a FANTASTIC job on the edits, you timed everything to the music, and on and on. There are not many people that can do all of those things by themselves and turn out such a fantastic piece of footage in such a short amount of time. I’m going to write a review of this film on the LensFlare35.com site because I think that it is a perfect example of what can REALLY be done with these cameras. Keep it up man!

  24. Hi Philip,

    i’m really curious to know what shots are from the 7D…

    would you respond please ?

    ok, i know you’re really talentuous, but… what are the differences between the 7D and 5D, particularly in low light ?

    Best regards

  25. Phil, dude, all I can see, hear and embrace in your prose above is your enthusiasm, enthusiasm, enthusiasm, you sir… like Dr Henry Jones, are quite clearly as giddy as a schoolboy, and deservedly so, well done for rocking it to boys at Lucasfilm.

    Love the stars shot, and all that was missing from that was a bike, a boy and his friend flying across the sky.

    The Holst track was inspired especially as there is a repetitive cue in that which could mix quite easily into Luke’s theme…and I kept expecting it to do so. I believe The Planets were a key influence on Williams for Star Wars

    Made my week to read your journey
    best wishes
    Anil

  26. Was amazing enough seeing this on the big screen a Converge.one, can only imagine how awesome it was seeing it on such a high quality screen!
    Thanks for sharing and giving us all something to aspire to!

  27. Thanks for sharing this Philip. Looks absolutely stunning – and I’m sure I can say on behalf of all of us what a privilege it is to be somewhat part of the highlight of your career 😉

  28. Hi Phil,
    Just got the Glidetrack Shooter myself — a STUNNING piece of kit. So simple, yet so effective. I hope Alastair gets lots of extra sales after your piece. I’m struggling to mount it and the camera without a full head, though. What are those plates you’re using for camera-to-track and track-to-tripod?
    Cheers, Paul

  29. fantastic… envy doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling towards you haha, but congrats, and can’t wait to hear what you think about the 1dmarkiv

  30. This is awesome. I got the chance to go to Lucasfilm in San Fran and can only imagine how cool going to the Ranch would be. Love the glidecam shots. It’s amazing how landscape shots can get people excited when they are really well shot.

  31. Absolutely beautiful. The glidecam shots add so much to the atmosphere. Superb. Regarding Skywalker Ranch and Lucasfilm: you are absolutely the envy of all your friends this christmas (and far far beyond) 😉
    Good for you man!
    I wonder which camera will eventually be used; the 5DkmII, the 7D or the 1Dmkiv…
    Regards – Martin B.

  32. Phil,

    Incredible. Brilliant shots – really love the opening shot and 1:55 (what lens?) some amazing footage. Congratulations on not only getting such an awesome opportunity – but also for creating such a wonderful piece of work.

    Also, Just want to tell you how much I (and many other film/video lovers) really appreciate your up front, honest, informative posts about your adventures -really is a privilege to read all the details ( and see photos ) from behind the scenes of your shoots as well as just letting us know where things are at from your point – It’s what really makes your site stand out among many.

    You are living the dream – and are an inspiration.

    Cant wait to check out the Return of the Bloom in Feb 2010.

    p.s. How soon are you getting your hands on a 1Dm4 ? Looking forward to seeing what you can do with it! (xmas time present maybe?)

        1. But not the shot at 1:55 with the fens, right? As far as I can tell, you used it on 1:16 and 2:25 or 2:29 (not sure).

          Curious – with the forward and retracting glidetrack shots (e.g. 0:18), do you pull extra focus, or just rail the cam and just have it happen that way?

          1. i did one single focus pull. the pan right to left on the vines. The two TS shots were the big wide lake shot and the dolly from the tree onto the red bricked building. The dolly shots i set the end point to where the shot came into focus.

  33. CONGRATULATIONS for this one Philip!!

    A very special one indeed 🙂

    Now, we wonder how MUCH MORE we could all get from these DSLRs if Canon implements “Film Making” Features like those achieved by Magic Lantern Project…

    Just in case, CANON: take a look at these Features List:
    http://5dmark2.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/5d-mark-ii-features-request/

    And ESPECIALLY to the Magic Lantern’s great Film-Making features:
    http://magiclantern.wikia.com/

    Control of focus and bracketing, Focus Assistance, Focus rack, Focus stacking, Zebra stripes (video peaking), Manual gain control (audio), On-screen audio meters, and LOT more features has been proven to be possible by M.L.

    Additionally would be the possibility to have a “Focus Assistance System” or “Focus Detection Area” which could tell (in LiveView mode) when a specific area of the frame is in focus or not would be a GREAT and very much appreciated feature by lot of users.

    – We really hope Canon consider VERY seriously all those features to be implemented in further firmware update to the EOS 5D Mark II, because they ARE possible, and they ARE GREAT for Film Making jobs.

    Indeed, doing so “will broaden the usage scope for this popular camera to include cinema applications”…

  34. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience of yours. It is not usual to find somebody who gets where you are and still keeps sharing with us “general public” with the same down-to-hearth attitude.
    From your choice it seems that you trust the 5D way more than the 7D in terms of picture quality, am I wrong? Is there a difference that made you uncomfortable risking your best shots with Lucas on the 7D despite the fps limitations of the 5D?
    Also, did you edit everything on the MacBook Pro?
    Thanks for taking the time to read and to asnwer.

    1. i had my brand new 16-35mm f2.8 that i wanted to use that’s why i shot mostly 5d. Venice’s people on the 7d looked stunning on big screen.

      i actually cut and graded the whole thing on my little 13′ MBP!!

  35. Hello Philip,

    The look on your face(self-portrait at the end) says it all. You must still be pinching yourself!

    Really pleased to see the year end on such a high note for you after all of the work you have put in.

    I am looking forward to following your bogs etc in the new year.

    Keep up the good work have a very Happy Christmas & New Year.

  36. Brilliant Philip, since I first saw Lost Times 18mths ago which still remains my favourite due to it being near where I lived and how totally it changed my outlook on video cameras, I knew you would get somewhere good, you talented Kentish bugger, well done mate.

    Your DVD and continued support to us amateur film makers through your site is simply great and so useful.

    I’m soooo happy for you to have been asked to demo’d the astounding capabilities of the Canon DSLR’s and your equally astounding talent to make great atmospheric films by Lucas and Co. What a dream job. Well done :o)

  37. I’m not going to lie. I’m completely jealous. That sounds like the most ideal week ever for a film geek. Hope you get to keep working with them… and don’t forget about us little people. Keep me in mind if you need gopher work 😛

  38. Congratulations Philip – I am very happy for you! It’s always nice when true talent gets recognized and pretty amazing to find out the people who notice you sometimes! Hopefully this can turn into something even bigger for you.

    Have fun in Prague, and let is know if you ever get that Lightsaber!

  39. It’s really amazing the top league in film business is following your website! This is the return for your work in sharing your knowledge and the stories behind. Thank you!

  40. Hi Phillip,
    Awesome! Stunning and inspiring. I have question that I’m hoping you can help with. I need a new computer to edit footage for the 7D. I need to invest in other things so I need to spend my money carefully. What are the specs on your 13″ MBP, and how does it handle your footage in FCP? Thanks in advance.

  41. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    First of all, CONGRATS! What a dream come true to show your work to artists who left such an impression on you!

    Secondly, thank you for your generosity in sharing with the community. Your knowledge, attitude and genuine enthusiasm are really inspirational.

    I bought your 7D training and I don’t even have a 7D! I figured throwing down a c-note before I decide to drop a few grand is a sound investment.

    Thanks for taking the time to walk us through the process.

  42. Congratulations on this mate! Really, it’s amazing & you deserve to be identified as one of the pioneers of the Video-DSLR world. From the People series to your commercial work, and for whatever the future holds I wish you the best!

  43. Amazing work, the music really ties everything together as well. I visited skywalker ranch, inside skywalker sound is the screen used Tik-tok from Return to Oz! I’d love to see Lucas Archives!

  44. I am so jealous, and so happy for you as well. To actually visit Skywalker Ranch would be a dream, but to meet George Lucas and have him screen your work, can’t imagine how thrilled you were. Luckily I can live vicariously through your blog.

    Oh and I totally relate to your emotions after seeing Empire for the first time. 🙂

    Thanks so much for all that you do.

  45. Stunning work! This may be the definitive “proof of concept” for using DSLR’s in a commercial production environment. I think lot of still photographers will embrace this technology. A lot of the same skills transfer well from stills to video.

  46. Nice work mister!
    On such hallowed turf too. Will be interested in the 1D, isn’t it a sub 35mm sensor though. This DSLR phenomenon is the beginning of the visual revolution and we, dear heart, are at the leading edge. !

  47. Amazing, Philip!

    Congrats on breaking the barriers of Hollywood. This is truly “epic”, not just because Tarantino said so, but because you made him say it.

    As for the short: I loved the slow GlideTrack shots and subtle use of the TS-lens.

    I am writing a story on video DSLRs now for ReelSEO.com. Will hopefully be published next week.

    BTW, I will be in London next weekend: X-Mas shopping (my wife) and me testing out my newly acquired gear, although I am still doubting between bringing the 7D versus the 5D.

  48. I loved the paragraph that described George & Ben coming in, oh, and there’s Quentin, too… I would have thrown an embolism, there and then. Incredible.

    You deserve it, Philip… you’ve been a huge help and inspiration to a great many people; more power to you.

  49. First of all, congratulations. If the people at Canon have any sense they should provide you with a life time supply of cameras and all the L-glass you can eat. I don’t think anyone has done more to promote their DSLRs in the amateur and indie scene and now you’ve invited the big boys to the party.

    The Skywalker Ranch video is really a beautiful piece. Although I do like your “People” series, I’ve always been more partial to some of your other work. The Kew Gardens short is my absolute favorite and this is in the same style of landscape filming that I like. As as a whole Kew is still my favorite, due to the brilliant editing and music but as far as the beauty of the individual scenes goes (both movement and composition) this one is unparalleled. Fantastic work!

    1. Philip,

      It has been a treat to be able to see where your talents have taken you… I knew I was watching something different when I saw one of your “samples” using an experimental DOF adapter from Letus a while back. It’s no surprise that that quality of work gets noticed. Very cool. 🙂

  50. A reader and member of the Cinematographers’ Community posted this very interesting comment…

    “I hope things like this help Canon Japan to understand what we mean when we say there are Professionals and even Studios interested on this camera for Serious FILMMAKING purposes…

    That old argument of “this is a still camera ‘with video’ ” is very ridiculous and contradictory to Canon’s own interests when you see and compare the sales and success it had on the video/filmmaking community

    I clearly see that a New Firmware some months ahead with ADDITIONAL FILMMAKING FEATURES would be another BIG bang to keep this camera selling even more…

    And that IS A GREAT BUSINESS indeed (I don’t remember a camera keeping its original sales price over 1 year old with so big demand)

    I hope Canon Japan’s executives see that too.”

  51. Hey Philip,

    thanks for this great report about one of the places i want to go to since i saw the first Star Wars Movies and heard of the people behind…

    Nice to hear that even Lucasfilm wants to catch a glimpse of what those DSLRs are able to do…

    Just ordered my 7D and really looking forward shooting with it.

    Greetings

  52. Congrats Phillip ! After all your teaching and blogging labor you truly deserve this!

    Also, I find it interesting how many producers know little to nothing about the capabilities of these cameras. Bringing the 5D or 7D to a set as a second camera for beauty shots is almost a MUST piece of gear for any DOP. Your clients will love you forever for it.

    Cheers Phillip and thanks for all your work.

  53. Wow. Thanks for sharing this, Philip. Happy to see your hard work rewarded with such a prestigious honor. Any word on Lucas communicating with Canon the way he did with Sony and Panavision at the start of all this? Well, at least we have you to get the word out and push this movement forward.

  54. WOW!!!! thats all i can say. im glad theres a guy named philip bloom showing us all how its done. you continue to inspire.

    great work and congrats on your experience thats a once in a lifetime deal!!!

    chad ross

  55. amazing what your talents and these little cameras have brought you Phillip, hope you never stop this blog ever even when you’re shooting hollywood flicks 😉

  56. Sorry Phil one more thing

    You edited in Prores and then gave them what? to edit in the Avid so that it could be projected. In other words what was the codec you used to watch the final projection?

    I can’t believe you did all that in two hours. GO PB.

    Dimitrios

  57. Hey guys, I think I may have a first – I shot a series of commercials on the 7D specifically for the big screen, they premiere at Manchester Corner House cinema this coming Mon 12th Dec and go on general release over the Christmas period. I watched the test print last week in Soho and was blown away by just how good the image looks on a 50ft screen..! If you happen to go to the cinema over the next couple of weeks in the North West of England and see any 12 film you may well see ‘TDR – Tobacco Related Death’, an ad highlighting negative tobacco industry practices…I’ll post a link as soon as I am able to…should only be a day or so…

  58. Since John Williams borrowed so liberally from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, it is only fitting that you use “Venus” for this piece. However, it’s certainly too peaceful out there for “Mars”.

    You certainly deserve this type of honored trip, Philip.

    Sometimes hard work does pay off.

    1. I was wondering what the results were projected on a big screen, now we know! Great short film Phillip, I have friends in the industry that have worked at the ranch, it seems like a cool place.

      Glad your made an impression on the master of digital filmmaking!

      Cheers!

  59. I silently watched your work since a long time and i am not very surprise that “Rick McCallum” contact you for a demonstration of the 5D/7D… He could ask to somebody else, but no, it was you!…

    I am sure you COMPLETELY look at your emails now…………

    Sorry for my “Bad” English

    Fred from France…

  60. Breathtaking. Especially the timelapse shots and the foggy atmosphere of the lake, stunning.

    Have you ever thought of selling some of your clips on stock video sites? I know some would be bestsellers and help you make some bucks on the side to help make your avid blogging more “sustainable” money-wise.

    I’ve started selling at iStockphoto some months ago, you can check out my portfolio if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/8vGA2z

  61. Fantastic work Philip. All that hard work is paying back in spades and well deserved. Seeing your work pushes me to become a better shooter especially seeing something that could be mundane and turning it into something poetic. It’s a confidence booster for those with that gear. Cheers.

  62. So much for my collection of Bolex REX 16mm classics.
    Your experimental filmmaking on this site is brilliant…

    We could only dream of such things during the ‘wild and crazy’ ’60s at UCLA and/or USC Cinema classes… I should say, George Lucas was the one [dreaming]. Paul Golding (his first editor) and most other cinema-loving friends where striving to push Kodak’s TRI-X for arty B&W, we could screen at the Cinema Theater (on Western) midnight screenings. Great days for $erious LAX’d underground filmmakers: GL’s “Emperor” being among the most outstanding examples of those times.

    Imagine what Kenneth Anger might do with these magical Canon cameras. On second thought, forget that — who needs more mentally ill images polluting the big silver screens of this ever-changing e-world?

  63. Hi Phil,

    Congrats on all your success! Your work with DSLRs has inspired me to buy a 7D, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

    Here’s something you might be interested in…

    Lately I’ve been thinking about the HDMI issues you’ve talked about, i.e., that you have to choose between having an HDMI monitor and the camera’s LCD, which makes it difficult for a director to watch what you’re shooting from a “video village”, etc.

    The fact that I am a low-budget filmmaker puts the Marshall monitor you’ve been using out of my price range. So I started to look into using my MacBook Pro as a monitor. Now, the MBP doesn’t have an HDMI input… but the good news is that Canon’s remote shooting software (that comes with the 7D) can be used to get the camera’s “live view” in the computer. All you have to do is connect the camera to the computer via the included USB cable, and the director will be able to see everything that you’re seeing on the computer screen.

    I haven’t tried using a USB extension cable — which would be handy — nor do I know how long a cable you would be able to use… but this is certainly something to look into.

    I think this is a great alternative, since you get a nice HD image on the “monitor” without having to give up the camera’s LCD. And most of us have laptops, so it’s low- (or no-) budget friendly.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    1. I’ve done this, not on a Macbook, but on a Windows computer. Tethering the 7D to a laptop/desktop and getting a realtime preview of the video using the EOS Utility Viewer that ships with the 7D. It is phenomenal for achieving accurate focus, and you can even pop up a window on screen for the 5x and 10x magnification to make sure everything is spot on. In effect you go from a 3″ viewer to (at least in my case) a 15″ viewer – makes a huge difference. I imagine a similar situation exists for those using Macbooks, although I don’t know what the software used would be the same as I don’t think EOS Utility Viewer comes in a Mac version.

  64. WOW, I’ve tinkered around with the video setting on my camera and I was impressed with the quality, but I never knew how extensive you could take it. Truly an inspiring story with an awesome product. Great choice of Holst that’s one of my favorite symphonies. Thanks stumble!

  65. You are beyond Incredible! Thank you for information that actually makes sense. You alone are the reason my HD Cam/Dof set up went up for sale.
    Results with these camera’s kills everything in the price range.
    Your work is AMAZING!

  66. Hey Phil, all I can say is WOW! fantastic and you must be so pleased. I am so jealous but in a positive way 🙂 you have been picked out by Lucasfilm! This is def the stuff of dreams but its been made real because of your obvious craft, knowledge and energy, which not many people have!

    well done! I also hope you get the gig to shoot the extra cockpit shots, this story may yet get even more amazing!

    The funny thing is there are hundreds of people who work at ilm and lucasfilm and you just shot in there right at the top level! hahaha! you must have been buzzing.

    only downside is i might not see you hanging out at sky much more then!

    paul

  67. Absolutely amazing of course! Truly inspirational stuff!! Nice to actually see what Skywalker Ranch actually looks like now… I always thought of it as a simple farmhouse that disguises the entrance to a deep underground bunker!

    Quickie: how do you do the slow zooms in some of the timelapse footage? I assume you do that in post?

    All the best,
    Nick

  68. Nice work Phil. I’m still amazed at how you manage to hide the hideous aliasing the 5D produces. I’ve spent a bit of time with this camera and my personal experiences are miles behind yours with regard to image artefacts etc; how do you do it???

  69. Amazing achievement Sir Phil, I’ve only been following your stuff for a couple of months but this is superb! Finding the “DSLR niche” and running with it till you’re the best is a real inspiration. You’ve shown what people can do when they’re passionate about something and put incredible time and effort into it. Thankyou for also finding the time to share so much of it.

  70. Phil,

    Love this. Its dripping in texture and oozing atmosphere. The house TL with either a fire or TV flickering through the window then the moonlight strikes the side face of the building. The sunset TL where the house lights up – (Wallace emailed – the oven can see it from the moon!).
    Excellent use of the prevailing weather. A very tactile and rewarding film yet not a person in sight. More more more.

    John

  71. Darth Bloom. The depth of field is strong in this one…

    This is the first chance I’ve had to see this since I heard on twitter that you’d uploaded it – couldn’t wait to see it and I wasn’t disappointed – absolutely stunning.

    In the process of ordering of a 7D and would like to purchase your training DVD but can’t buy it online – would need to be a purchase order – is that doable?

    Once again – thank you for an inspiring film!

  72. Brilliant stuff Sir Phil. I’ve only been following your work for a couple of months but it’s a real inspiration to see someone carve out a niche and run with it with passion and get this kind of recognition for it. And thank you for taking the time to share it with the ‘rest of us’ 🙂

  73. This must have been so great for you! I’ve had something similar happen to me with an artist I really admired and who has inspired me, so I can relate to how this must be for you.

    Loved the film!

  74. It will be interesting to see how George Lucas will top the 1995 HBO docudrama “The Tuskegee Airmen” which had an amazing cast. I just hope I don’t constantly try to compare the two when “Red Tails” is released.

  75. Amazing work and beautifully shot.
    Great to see that this technology could potentially be adapted for use in feature films.

    Did the guys at Lucasfilm have any doubts or reservations at all about the H.264 compression quality?

  76. Hi great job. What kind of sound gear you used with dslr cannon 5D and 7D.
    Are they mono?

    I’m moving to those cameras but my concern is about sound since I’m documentarist filmaker.

    thanks and great job….

    juarez

  77. Hey Phillip I really enjoy your work, you are a huge inspiration for up and coming film makers with these great canon cameras! I am interested in purchasing your 5D or 7D training video (on the 7D training disc you stated it can be used for the 5D as well) I just picked up a 5DM2 last week and curious on which video you recommend.

    Thanks!

    Sam

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