“If not now when” Music Documentary shot on C300 now online


At last we can put online the music documentary about lead singer/ songwriter of Turin Brakes, Olly Knights! We have waited until the album is available for purchase (which is incredible!). It is about his attempt to break his writer’s block, which spanned many years, by going back to complete basics and recording a solo album in his own home using old analogue gear from Ebay.

This was shot on a C300 (with lens whacking done on the Sony FS700 by James Miller) over 3 days…4 and a half, if you count the day we shot for a future longer version of the documentary and for the music video!

Here is a little breakdown of the thought process behind the shoot and some of the gear used.

DAY 1: The main interview…always the best place to start with a documentary, get to know the story, understand what is needed and then figure out what needs to be shot from the interview.
DAY 2: The performances and “recording” of the songs by Olly in his front room and the whole opening sequence.
DAY 3, done 3 weeks after DAY 2: Picks ups including general B roll shots and the “Wes Anderson-esque” shots.

James lens whacking Olly with the FS700

So why the C300?

It’s my favourite camera…easily. Why? First off, I adore the image. Detailed, great dynamic range and quite resistant to banding. It has a strong internal codec. It works handheld without a rig (no hanheld in this version, but in the long version which has a lot more footage actually). The ergonomics are amazing compared to the competition. Excellent audio handling too! James used my FS700 for his lens whacking.

What gear was used?

Eyedirect used so Olly could look at me even though he was looking at the lens. Essential piece of kit for direct-to-camera interviews. This was the version 1. I have not tried the new version 2.

TV logic 5.6″ My favourite on-camera monitor. Just brilliant.

Canon C300. My HD camera of choice. Amazing image, HD broadcast approved 50mb/s 4:2:2  and wonderful camera to operate.

FS700. Not full broadcast approved in-camera but amazing features and lovely image.

Metabones. Essential and amazingly affordable EOS adaptor for the E mount system. Full iris, IS and focus control all powered by the camera. I now have the Metabones 2.

Canon lenses. 85mm and 50mm Zeiss lenses for interview.

100mm Canon Macro. All those details shots of the tea etc were with this.

Tokina 11-16 Damn fine wide angle lens. Everyone should own this!

Canon 85mm F1.2

Canon 50mm F1.2

Nikon 50mm F1.4 for whacking.

Miller Compass 12 and Compass 20. Love my Miller tripods!

Kessler PB pocket Dolly. Essential 😉

Litepanels 1×1 times 2. Fantastic soft cool lights. Bi-colour and bi-focus.

Dedo 150 watt x3. Perfect for picking out detail and as a hair light.

Rode NTG 3. Fantastic Phantom powered shotgun mic.

Who were the crew?

Myself, producing, directing, DP, editor.

Sarah Estela: Assistant on pick ups and music video. Main assembly editor.

James Miller: Second Camera on 2 days

Why was the documentary made?

Olly is a friend of mine, we struck up our friendship initially on twitter, then made a music video together for his band Turin Brakes. We were chatting over a drink after my London Workshop in May and he was telling me about what he was doing. Naturally I told him I had to make a little 2 or 3 minute film about it…a nice micro doc. He loved the idea, then after thinking about it more and especially after hearing the album, I knew it had to be much longer.

My plan was to do 2 versions…a 20 minutes-ish version and a much longer version…maybe an hour or so. The two versions would be quite different. Version 1 which you can see at the top of this post (and is on the CD version of the album) was always going to be totally focused on just Olly and how the album came about and the process of recording it….peppered with lots of tracks! Version 2, which still needs more filming, is much more in-depth about Olly’s journey from child musician to his huge success in the band Turin Brakes. And everything that came with that, good and bad and then a much more in-detail look at the recording of the album with more songs in it!

Why was the style of the doc chosen?

I love interviews to camera…they feel so intimate, and it feels like they are addressing the audience. It doesn’t work for every type of doc but it did for this. The problem with this style is connecting to your subject, when they are looking at the camera. That is why I used the eye direct which you can see pictured below…a simple device that means Olly looks at the camera but can see me via some mirrors. Works a treat!

The documentary was entirely filmed in his house (apart from the few shots in the music video). Around 95% of it in his front room…the rest in his kitchen and one shot in his hallway. This is a tough thing to work with. With a single location you need to really make sure you engage the audience both visually and with the narrative. I did add some quirky shots in there, my “Wes Anderson-esque” shots…the symmetrical push in and pull outs and the eating of the apple. Quirky touches that added to the quite whimsical feel that I wanted the film to have. That and the lovely lens whacking that James Miller did with the FS700 I really feel gave an extra element other than the interview and performance shots.

How did I light it?

The shots in the kitchen, the hallway and the music video narrative shots were all available daylight. The shots in the front room were all lit. I used a different lighting setup for each song, again to avoid the monotony that a single location can give you. The lights I used were my 2 1×1 Litepanels and 3 Dedo 150 watts. How many of these were used at a time depended on the shot.

For the interview, the main key was a quite side-on 1×1. A second 1×1 was used as fill. A Dedo 150 was used as a kicker. Another one was used to light the Tascam 8 track and the other dedo was used to light me…need for the eyedirect so Olly could see me clearly!

I messed around with colour balances and day light leaks from the curtains for the performance parts. One of the setups was lit very dark and moody (for the song girls). The one for Rip Chord was lit like it was early evening. The one for If not Now When was lit very naturalistically but still with 3 lights going…

What was used for sound?

All the sound was recorded in camera. The interview was recorded on the lovely Rode NTG-3 phantom powered shotgun mic on a boom stand. I normally double mic these things with a Sanken Cos lav mic but for some reason, I don’t know why now, I just went with the boom. Very happy with the audio! The bit at the beginning of the film where Olly is playing live guitar was again recorded on the Rode. All the performances were of course mimed so Olly’s mics were used for them.

How much post work did I do?

The film was edited on Premiere CS6. The assembly was done by Sarah (which was a lot of work) whilst I was in LA shooting the GH3 film Genesis. She then sent me the projects over Dropbox as we had identical drives, so I was able to give feedback and check it out. I then came home and spent a fair amount of time moving stuff around, tweaking, fiddling until I was happy. Olly was very happy with the rough cut and as far as I can remember, wanted very little in the way of changes. I graded it in Colorista II with a touch of Magic Bullet looks 2. It was cropped 2.35 to 1 in post, I framed it for this using the c300 markers, by using pre-created 2.35 to 1 masks on a top layer. Export was done via Adobe Media Encoder.

What is next?

Well we need to do some more shooting to get the longer edit done. But for now we are all happy and excited for this to be out and for the album to be released. The music really is UTTERLY beautiful. I have played it hundreds of times, not just in the edit, and still keep on playing it. You can buy it by clicking here or on the below image.




Please check out my two previous collaborations with Olly in his band Turin Brakes below this.

Turin Brakes: Chim Chim Che-ree. RED Epic from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Turin Brakes: Ascension Day from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


  1. Nice work.

    The lighting singing at the microphone looks great! the edit has such good pace.

    looking forward to seeing more of this doco, and thanks for sharing this so long.

    – Derrick

  2. Hi Philip, something I’m curious about, if you don’t mind my asking, is how many set-ups were required to cover the singing.

    I’m seeing at least five different shot sizes/angles, plus some cutaway-type shots — close-ups of guitar-playing, mouth. Assuming you only had the one camera, and that you’re using primes, so that it’s not easy for you to zoom to reframe during a take, does this mean that you had him do at least six complete takes?

    Also, how much planning would go into covering just the singing? Do you think to yourself beforehand, “I’ll just get x number of shots, and work out how it cuts together in post” or do you actually shot list or storyboard the whole thing?

    One thing I suspect would have been at least a slight headache for doing multiple takes is getting it all to sync properly, since the musician won’t perform it exactly the same way every time, and since you might be using audio from a produced version rather than live. At least, this has been my experience for music videos. I don’t imagine you could have just dropped all the footage into Plural Eyes, for instance.

  3. Sorry, another quick question — do you ever think about the size of the display screen your audience will view your work on when you’re shooting? I guess I’m mainly thinking about close-ups. I love all the close-up cutaway-type shots you do, and admire the way you compose these shots. But I sometimes find, with my own work, that close-ups have a very different feel whether you’re looking at them through a viewfinder, a YouTube window, a full-screen monitor, or a large TV set. They’re much more confronting the larger the display screen, can feel overly close or overly intimate.

  4. Philip filming with the Sony FS700 and with the 35 mbps being below broadcast would this documentary be turned down for HDTV?

    Is the AVCHD codec better then what Canon is using in the C300. So is the Sony FS700 codec is below broadcast but if the AVCHD is really good can and encode the footage on the computer to a higher bitrate for the TV station?

  5. Philip,

    I love this video! Can’t wait to see the finished product. Question for you, Im about to rent the FS 700 for a project and I have a mixture of canon len’s and zeiss len’s that are canon mount. What do you use to mount your canon len’s on the FS 700. I would not mind purchasing one for this project so if you have a link to a good one that would be awesome! Thanks for all you do and the great help you are to filmmakers.

    Nathaniel K

  6. I may be alone here, but I don’t think the lighting was that great: either too hot, or way underexposed in the wide shots, as plenty of punch is required to fight the sun (windows). It might be time already for you to invest in some decent lighting rig, Phillip?
    As a “DP” I’m afraid you can no longer cut it with ENG stuff (some Litepanels and dedos), besides, LEDs are unsuitable to light people making them look all green due to their terrible colour rendition and spikes in the spectrum.

    I got myself an ARRi M18, pair of Joker Bugs 800, pair of Kino Tegras and an Honda EU30i, plus some flags and scrims. With this kit I can light pretty much anything, anywhere (except for wide shots in the sun). Yes, it costs some pretty penny, but like good tripods, you only buy them (and cry) once. I’d rather have those HMIs and a 5D, than no or cheap lights and a fancy camera, but as I said, I’m often in the minority.

    1. of course am going to disagree. you can do a hell of a lot of things with what I used and the litepanels gave a great consistent solid light. Love them. Used them on Red Tails.

      Slightly snakily written comment though Henry? Necessary? Each to their own of course.

      1. Sorry if I sounded devilish, it wasn’t my intention. Anyway I understand you come from the ENG field, where lighting is almost an afterthought. But now that you’ve progressed to more elaborate stuff, why not get out of the comfort zone and try out new things, it always helps to improve our skills.
        The quintessential broadcast interview lighting, which is always very apparent and “lit” looking, is IMO out of place for more refined projects as music videos, advertising, drama, etc.

        Incidentally, I promise you I don’t know a single serious DP that uses LEDs, of any kind, except for a car interior at night on a wide shot. For short distance talent, Kinos have become a staple for a reason.

        Best whishes.

        1. Henry

          I don’t like the wording as it implies I don’t know what I am doing or I am just sticking to my comfort zone. Nonsense. I know this is going to come across as very defensive but I take great exception to what you said. I could have just not published it but I wanted to address it to show people that there is more than “one way” and doing what everyone else does doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.

          We clearly mix in different circles as I know many “serious” DPs using LEDs. I have been on many HUGE budget sets in the past couple of years and LEDs are popping up more and more. i love my kinos but no space for them in the room.

          I am not forcing my opinions on how to light something but you appear to be. The comment about lighting in my previous work being an afterthought is very insulting. It has never been. Never make assumptions based on your assumptions. Maybe you did ENG work and never bothered? Maybe you never worked in ENG? If it’s either of these then who are you to say what is correct?

          Is it something you do in person? You know, insult people or is it something you do from behind a keyboard?

          I don’t want or need a lecture on how to light from someone I don’t know. I am always after polite constructive criticism but i don’t feel this was.

          I am very happy with how it looks and so is Olly. Our simple set up worked perfectly for a small room without any heat build up and it very confined spaces. The lighting set up changed for each song to emphasise a different time of the day. Please broaden your mind and understand there is more than one way to light things and to understand that what one person likes another may not. That is life. It’s just odd to me that someone will come to my site where I am sharing my work and bluntly slam me like that. Your comments in the past Henry have been far more considered than these.

          Best wishes


          1. Oh gosh, let me apologize as much as I can. English is my 3rd language (out of four), and I’m afraid this fact has played a role as I put together the words above. Last thing I’d want is to annoy anybody, let alone yourself at your own site. Why would I?

            My previous comments about “ENG lighting” were NOT directed at you, but a general appreciation of what I’ve seen through the years, although it must certainly be said that such style doesn’t have the budget, the means or the time for subtleties and precision, as there are for drama or advertising, etc.

            You’re right that lighting, like many other things, depend on taste and that there roughly are no rights or wrongs. But I was just trying to raise a bit of attention to this discipline, so often left aside in lesser productions (or for newcomers).

            You review and talk a lot about cameras (and lenses and sliders to a lesser degree), but hardly touch the aspects of lighting, or sound for that matter. In such a poorly way, I was trying to drive a bit of attention to that and trying to state to your readers that Lighting, while often overlooked, is MORE important (IMO) than cameras or lenses, and the same should be said about audio. People invest (tens of) Thousands of € in camera and lenses and then use a €150 mic and a €200 recorder? Likewise for lighting.
            Again I was trying to state (to your readers) that 1×1 LEDs and 150w dedos are just the very entry level of it, and that for more elaborated projects (other than run and gun), it pays to invest in the proper tools, and that I’d personally have HMIs, Sounddevices and Schoeps with a 5D+50mm, than an ALEXA with 1x1s and a Zoom recorder.

            I come from the higher end advertising and marketing world (Adidas, Schwarzkopf, Volkswagen…) and I might be biased, but I’ve seen commercials (partly) shot on a 5D with 100kva worth of lighting, but never the other way round, that is an Arriflex/RED/ALEXA with cheap LEDs or similar.

            All young people care about these days is camera+lenses, camera+lenses and I try to stress the fact it is instead lighting+audio, lighting+audio (not forgetting the script), as cheap DLSRs can do the job if you know what you’re doing, but there is no substitute for good lighting and negative lighting (and production sound + audio post).

            Excuse me again if my comments hurt you, It wasn’t my intention.

            1. a thing about lighting, that is often overlooked, ist that lighting a human being for a personel interview is very diffrent from lighting a car.

              we tend to care a little to much about the technical stuff, that a normal audience doestn´t even notice.

              @ philip: doublecheck the audio on the doc. in the beginning every second shoot is underlined by noise, before the guitar comes in.

                1. i guess not. it´s buzzing when he picks up the guitar – not buzzing in the next shot, buzzing when he turns the water on, not buzzing in the next shot – on – off – till he starts pulling the guitarstrings.

                  iam on decent headphones. it migth be unnoticeable on speakers. it was annoying.

          2. I”m a DP thats been shooting since about the age of 8. I was always a tungsten and HMI when you got them kind og shooter. It was years before I got a small kino, but once I did I loved it. I was a purest and thought that flo lights had bad spectrum. fast forwards to a couple of years ago. I bought a couple of cheap small LED’s, and one knock off 1X1. Amazing lights. is the big one slightly green ? only notice it if I gel it to 3200K… and a sheet of 1/8 or 1/4 minus green fixes it… if it matters.

            these new cameras take not just more dynamic range but much wider color temps than old cameras. shots you could never do before with very mixed lighting are now doable.

            also in regards to LED’s – even if they render a bit differently, its not like you can push it around in grading if you need to as its generally pretty subtle. I read some cinematographer’s site where they did (film ! ) tests on LED color rendering vs tungsten and they all had their knickers in knots that there were differences. generally VERY small ones, but in one or two cases not so small. again, nothing that wouldn’t take a few seconds to change in grading it you wanted to.

            if anything using LED’s has been getting out of the tungsten / HMI comfort zone. my 1X1 pulls 60W and puts out nearly as much light as my 575 bounced does… and a lot less power, heat, stands, cables and ballast. One of my very best gear investments as that 575hmi, and I want another, along with a couple more 1X1 LED’s. the tungsten and kinos barely work anymore.

  7. Very nice Philip!
    I mean …I like it! And thanks for sharing.
    I really like LEDs I think they can serve their purpose on any set. Were you able to use some of the light coming through the window?
    May I ask….what Picture Profile do you use on the C300? Do you shoot C8 all the time?



  8. Philip,
    I have discovered what I consider to be a custom white balance trick that tricks the chip and I really believe turns the camera into a 4:4:4 RGB colorspace. How would someone go about telling what I did or the two things I did and letting you evaluate it for yourself. Is this the correct forum?

  9. Thanks for this Phillip.

    I can’t wait to see the final film. I’m also a songwriter that has had writer’s block for a long time. I’ve taken time off from music to learn about film making. Maybe when I get to see this in its entirety, it will help me with both film and music.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  10. really quite a beautifully shot and put together doco Philip, a rare insight into a usually very personal and secret process.

    What I was wondering was, is this sound mix directly from Premiere? And leading on from that question, what is your opinion of post sound for these types of things?



  11. Hey Philip,

    when your working with colours in the frame, do you have any principles you’re constantely following?

    In the “livingroom-shot” f.e. you mixed “unobstrusive colours” together and it seems like you picked up the blue in the shirt for the picture frame on the wall.
    I’m going to shoot a little music video with the GH2 and just two cheap lenses. No slider. No dolly etc. …and i think i will work with that – the colours – to create atmosphere.

    What does colours mean to you when setting up the set, the decoration and the frame. And how did you work with that in this particular doc?

    Thanks for any anwer.

  12. Thanks for sharing, you managed to build a really nice, tight and sort of magic atmosfear. Photo is superb, lots of diversity that sucks you even further into the narrative. Gonna have to see the whole thing once youre done!
    I would try to change the shot at 19.15 to a shot from the same intervju reel but where he is done talking , like a small smile or thougtful looking to keep off screen voice over thing going to the end. Love it!

  13. Hi Philip,
    nice film, great atmosphere. Olly seems like a very nice guy – his voice reminds me of Jose Gonzales. The lens whacking shots were very cool. I found some of the interiors a bit boring, would have enjoyed more outside shots with him as inserts – his living room just seems too tidy for a rock star. Some really good editing, I liked the clock ticking in time with the music. Lens whacking would have been cool for the intro. Congratulations, can’t wait to see the long version.
    George – http://tshit.de/freshdailies

  14. Excellent film Philip! A really engaging story with a message that will resonate with anyone who has struggled creatively or who wants to rediscover passion and “flow” in their life. I felt I got to know Olly through your storytelling and I was inspired by his journey. Lovely cinematography too — your camerawork and lighting serve the story so well and set its tone beautifully. Congratulations to you and Olly on a very effective collaboration that has yielded a lovely, honest film.

  15. As always, awesome work. Philip, I’m amazed you can be so productive and yet so active online. Everywhere I go it seems you’re responding and acknowledging other people’s comments. It’s quite refreshing to know that even though you have become famous in the field of cinematography, you still manage to answer questions, teach and communicate with all your colleagues and students. The documentary looks incredible. Love the transition from reel-to-reel tape to tea.

    I just picked up a C300 today. I have started learning it. It’s an amazing camera and I’m looking forward to putting it to work this month. Right now though, I’m wondering how one mounts an on-camera light to it while having a microphone hooked up. Have you done this? Must I resort to a cage? Or is there a simple work around I am missing? It seems when the monitor unit is hooked up you lose the hot shoe and therefore you lose the ability to mount a light. I shoot run and gun documentary so having a light source with on-camera lighting in a small package is essential. Any ideas?

  16. Hi Philip, great work with the documentary. For me the use of the eye direct really brought the film to a heightened level of personal connection, and this technique fits perfectly with the style. The fact the main interview is set in his own front living room with the accompanying sounds of his almost innocent, untampered home recordings reinforces the whole feel of intimacy. When shooting the main interview, did you adjust the framing for tighter shots in reaction to content or did you crop the image in post to give yourself more options after? Thanks again.

  17. Thanks Philip! I’ve had no time to sit and watch the doc until now and almost immediately was thrown into the story. Loved how it was all put together and especially how it all peaked at the end with Olly’s last minute song. It brings you back to the beginning and the whole reason for making a record the way he did.

    I two loved the lighting. jealous that you’ve got the 1×1 boxes but hey, I’ll pick them up when I can. Until then I bounce 5K “daylight” LED bulbs off a white project board. Soft, nice and somewhat controllable.

    Look forward to seeing the whole doc and again, really nice!!

  18. I like this more every time I watch it. I have even splashed out on the LP, the first one I have bought this millennia.

    I was suggesting to my daughter Emma to watch it as she has just started at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. She was getting confused and it turned out that this was because the name of her co-singer in this collboration is an Olly Knight. http://soundcloud.com/magpae-music

  19. Love the documentary, the shots, the content…all of it!
    You should do sometime a something like a video blog “behind the scenes”, with all the details that you usually put on here, that would be nice.
    Blessing 😉

  20. How do you determine what you are going to ask for each documentary you make?

    How much do you plot out between this type of doc and say your South African docs?

    As an aside, I can totally relate to Olly. I’m a musician taking a break from music to learn about filmmaking. The band thing was getting stale and didn’t seem to challenge our (and my) creativity. I couldn’t seem to write any lyrics due to the lack of interest in the music. While I haven’t had any brushes with success to create writer’s block, I still ended up with it. Taking an entirely new approach to things really does open up the creative mind.

    I’m hoping that looking at the world through a different lens, so to speak, will open my eyes to new song ideas all while learning a new craft.

  21. Hey PB,

    Thanks for all the in depth info on on the shooting process and equipment used. I recently finished my first short and I relied almost exclusively on gear and techniques you’ve suggested on your site at one time or another. You’re insights are always immensely helpful and it’s a gift to us all that you’re so open about your process. I’ve found your blog an invaluable resource and I don’t think I could have got through my first shoot without you. I wish I could make it to your masterclass in Vancouver later this month. I’m sure it’ll be amazing. Hope you enjoy the city.

    Really enjoyed the film BTW.

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