Filming a beautiful property with the Canon DSLRs with lots of toys!

Gigs don’t get much better than this!

At the end of last summer I went off to Italy to the Umbria/ Tuscany border to film a property for a high profile client of mine. The brief was to capture the flavour of the property. The ambience. What was not wanted was a real estate video at all, something much more like my Skywalker Ranch film. It is to go on the website for the rental of the property.

So I went to the property and stayed there for a week. I know…what a drag! I took an absolute shit load of gear with me! Why? Because I could. There was no excess baggage costs on the flight so why not?

Kit wise I took two Canon 5DmkIIs, 1 7D, and 1 Canon 1DmkiV. Lenses…erm…lots…check them out below. Mostly L series Canon lenses, 1.4x and 2x extenders, tilt shift lenses, big zooms, amazing wide angle lenses like the 14mm L series and the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8…the essential lens for any crop sensor Canon.

Other gear was my Kessler Crane 2 foot Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly, a 3 foot normal Pocket Dolly from Kessler Crane, the Oracle and Elektra Drive motor system for the timelapses, a miller solo 3 stage carbon fibre tripod with DS20 head (which I took in the pool right up to the head…it is a fresh water pool and it seems fine, the water was also totally calm so no chance of getting the camera/ lens wet but still made me a little nervous!), a manfrotto flat head tripod with 503 head for the pocket dolly, a couple of Gitzo traveller tripods…what else was there? Oh, lots of timelapse controllers, loads of batteries, cards, my Macbook Pro and some hard drives!

I also had some Vari NDs from Singh Ray and some Fader NDs. Oh and one final important bit of kit. Some nice fat cuban cigars for those long nights of timelapses!

Going extreme with my brand new lens, miller tripod and 5Dmk2!

It was a very relaxed shoot. Myself and my assistant Daniele Cuccia who took all the photos stayed in the property for the 5 nights…we were up all night most times doing the night time astro timelapses with the Kessler Crane Oracle Controller and ones which were static. The joy of having four cameras was we could get four different shots a night and pick and choose the best ones. Unfortunately even though they were supposed to be off the water sprinklers kept coming on as you can see in a couple of them, fortunately the cameras were not damaged!

When I shot the house, Daniele and I had to cover over all of the lights lighting up the house as if we didn’t the house would be exposed correctly but the stars would have been too dark. So we used dirt, old tiles, rocks and covered over them all, leaving the barest amount of light on the building and the cameras were able to take 30 seconds exposures and capture the stars really well. The shots with Elektra Drive and Oracle worked especially well. One of them looks hyper real and almost CGI…but I assure you it isn’t!

This was the first time I used the new Canon 70-200mm F2.8L II IS and I found moire on some shots that my version one would not have had issues with, the lens is just too damn sharp…it’s better than the video can handle!! A fader ND/ Vari ND softened it enough to remove them I found later on…

Having 5 full days to shoot something like was a luxury, but we didn’t waste the time, the property is huge and we wanted to capture it properly and some of the shots took a fair bit of setting up and waiting for the right light…

Anyway sit back, relax and be transported to a truly beautiful place!

Il Convento from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

A film showing off the beautiful property that is “Il Convento” in Umbria.

Shot with the Canon 5DmkII, 7D, 1DmkiV

I used the 3 foot Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly with Oracle controller for the timelapse moves and the 2 foot Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly too.

More on my blog!

Music by James Newton Howard from “The Village”

Assistant and Photos by Daniele Cuccia

Video is copyright of Lucasfilm.

All the cameras

Skywalker Ranch from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

ORACLE & elektraDRIVE Tutorial w/ Philip Bloom from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.

Philip Bloom tutorial on using the ORACLE Controller with the elektraDRIVE for our sliders.


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    1. Hey Philip, Really enjoyed the candle shot along with the piano reflection. The time lapse with the Oracle is another good reason to get one! 🙂
      What fish eye lens are you using? Apparently Canon is coming out with a EF 8-15mm f4L Fisheye USM! Have you seen this lens and could you comment! thanks!

  1. Such a tough job eh.
    For timelapsing with stills, what kind of aperture do you use? I find all mine end up soft, even when I stop down as much as I can whilst still getting enough exposure at 30 seconds. It may just be poor quality glass, but I’m interested in any details.

  2. Another amazing piece of work!

    It’s so cool that you share so much background information on how you did your movies. I learned tons of stuff just from reading your blog. Thank you for that!

    To know a lot about gear is important and interesting but I was wondering if you can provide some information on how you plan and shot such a beautiful piece of work. What is your way to find your perfect camera angle. Are you planing your shots in detail or do you just go out and experiment with all your gear? I hope you understand, in which direction my question goes.

    During my last holiday, I stayed in a very nice and cute hotel and – inspired by your skywalker video – I tried to do something similar.
    But I was a little bit lost because I didn’t know where to start and what to shoot so that it matches together in my final film.

    I’m shure the best thing to avoid that is trying, shooting, trying, shooting… but perhaps, you have a few tips for a newbie like me.

    Thank you (and sorry for my bad english)

  3. Really stunning. Even with the grandeur of the storm time lapses I especially like the reflecting pool at ~00.28 with the focus very tight in the foreground and the slider move on the piano with the reflection of the french doors at ~01:05.

  4. Phil,
    I can definitely say it’s your best film ever (and trust me I saw them all). You’re at the top of your art. Perfect knowledge of technics & gears + a unique eye/style.
    I don’t know how much you got paid for this one but for this breathtaking result I hope there were at least 6 zeros 😉

    Fred (LFK)

  5. Absolutely gorgeous. You captured a beautiful setting beautifully. Those night shots of the building and sky are fantastic. I’d love to watch you work some time. Ever get projects in North Carolina? Have been reading your blog for almost a year now. There’s a big difference in reading and actually doing 🙂

    I don’t have my own gear yet, so at this time I’m stuck basically doing what my employer sends me off to shoot, which is usually very unimaginative, and poorly planned. Would love to know how you attract clients, and how you work with them. The tech stuff is great, keep it coming, but there’s a whole other side to the video business that rarely gets touched on.

  6. That hits the sweet spot Phil! Beautiful and calming edit, again.

    Noticed in all the stills posted you’re not using any form of LCD viewfinder while in daylight, correct? Did you use one at times during those 5 days or have you gone off using a viewfinder and honed your skills to not need one? I can’t do any daylight shooting without one now, even if using the zoom buttons to ensure totally nailed focus. Just curious.

  7. Another beautiful piece!

    What wide angles lenses did you use for this? I know you mentioned 2 in your post. Im thinking about purchasing some for my 5d, have you had any experience with the Canon 16-35mm f2.8? Any other suggestions? the canon prime f1.4 wides are out of my budget unfortunately.


  8. great work Mr Bloom! really a truly influence, just a question, if you are shooting at 30 seconds exposition, what about time interval between shots? and as Graeme said previously on post, what kind of aperture do you use?

  9. PB – Love your work! Been a fan for over 9 months! Question – do you like shooting video with TILT-SHIFT lenses? I’m thinking seriously about getting the 24mm TS-E and adding it to my arsenal. Cheers!

  10. Absolutely stunning , wonderfully captured.. Really does take you away. Amazing location as well – not a bad gig for a few days!!

    Photo of you in the pool with the gear is epic, shows your dedication off perfectly!
    using the 2x extender on the 70-200 would’ve helped with moire a touch as well ? (here’s hoping with the mk3 we don’t even need to think about it 🙂 )

    1:22 , 3:10 were both 14mm or ??

    again a very beautiful piece!

    Keep em coming!



  11. Another beautiful piece of work, Philip. There are some places where we shoot that are magical and you just can’t shoot too much. Thank you for adding your superb eye, skills, and passion on to such a place. Inspiring work.

  12. Hey Philip,

    Awesome Video, I am always astonished at how by simply using angles, motion, lighting, and a few more tools you are always able to make your shots interesting.

    Anyways, I shoot with a 7D, and always seem to have the full frame “itch”, wondering how much better it would be in low light, how much better the image quality is…etc. I noticed that when it comes to DSLR videography, you seem to always have a 7D handy, even in the midst of 5Ds and 1Ds, and was just wondering what your thought process was on this. Why, when you have a 5D, or a 1D for that matter, is the 7D worth it’s weight?

    Thanks man, you and your site have taught me more about videography than all of the other resources on the web.

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