EXCLUSIVE: In depth interview with Greg Yaitanes, Executive Producer and Director of “House” Season Finale shot on Canon 5DmkII

Edit: Anyone who wants to know more about the shooting of this episode or the post workflow there will be a follow live question answering sessions via twitter next Friday at 10am LA time. Questions asked with hashtag #5dfinale will be answered. More info and exact URL to follow. Myself, Greg, DP Gale Tatersall and the House post guru will be there to answer as much as they can.

Again, big apologies for the quality of my voice. My laryngitis has floored me and taken away my beautiful dulcet English tones. But hopefully you can ignore the croak and listen to the great insight that Greg Yaitanes gives us about this unique episode. Why they chose the Canon 5DmkII, some of the issues they had and much more.

I was lucky enough to meet and chat in depth with legendary DP of House, Gale Tattersall about the episode and he told me he wanted as shallow as possible, that’s why he went with the 5Dmkii over say the 1DmkiV despite the video monitoring issues, shooting wide open with 50mm F1.0, F1.2 85mm F1.2, the 100mm IS Macro F2.8L and the 24-70, 70-200mm IS F2.8L zooms.

DP Gale Tattersall using Zacuto gear and 5DmkII at NAB 2010

Greg Yaitanes, Executive Producer and Director of the “House” Season Finale.

It’s a long interview, just over an hour. But I hope you find it useful. Greg’s Twitter username is @gregyaitanes

Interview with Greg Yaitanes about Season Finale of House by PhilipBloom

You can download the full interview in .m4a format by right clicking and “save as” here

Transcription of interview can be found by clicking here, thanks to Oli Lewington

There is so much fascinating stuff in this interview, and this really is an amazing time to be in this business! Let me know your thoughts below and don’t forget to watch the HD broadcast on the 17th May on FOX.


  1. Wow! This was an informative, inside look at how and why they used the 5Dmk2. I’m sure that this will influence many more shows. This conversation goes to show how easy and efficient these new cameras are to use, and how it brings a new source of excitement to filming.

    It also helps make these DSLR’s more credible in the real world of film, and it’s exciting knowing that the big guys are using the same cams and us little guys!

  2. I wish you a speedy recovery Dear Flip

    That interview was to interesting and useful to confirm that this camera has actually gone into the Deep production area,such as “House” and I think that Canon must given a badge of honor for that camera which has done so much and still Doning successfully


  3. Philip, so sorry about your voice – hope you get back to full strength soon! The interview was amazing – anyone who is using DSLRs for video should listen to this. To Greg and Philip both, thanks so much for this interview – just an amazing testament to the 5D and this whole DSLR revolution. Can’t wait to see this episode!

  4. Bravo to everyone who helped pull this off! never watched House but will definitely be watching this episode. Now the 5D has got the all clear for broadcasting this particular show it will certainly get used more often in this area. However, I’m also glad to hear Greg describing how this camera was for them the best option (in terms of depth of field and size)given what they had planned as opposed to simply exploiting the best things about the 5D. Some cameras do some things better than others and vice versa. Would be great to hear from one of the more technical staff invovled in making this – dare I say it – historic television episode.

  5. That was an interesting listen Phil, thanks for that. You indeed sound a bit like you’ve worked too hard and drunk too many afterwards but after a while it kinda brings this rough edge to the interview hehe… Good luck recovering. Very curious about the eppie, I indeed noted the first scene of eppie 16 to be shot on something like dslr when I saw it. That shallow dop looks so nice, though I wonder if a full eppie of ‘finding that focus’ isn’t going to be a bit heavy for the eyes…

  6. Thank you very much Phil for such an interesting interview. I liked how both you and Greg stressed the fact

    -ONE, that (a great) SCRIPT goes above any other thing in filmaking, and
    -TWO, that the Canons still have some technical issues

    As Greg points out, the producers from the series gave a green light on the episode to be shot on the 5Ds, just because HOUSE is the world’s most popular TV show, and that content, in this case, goes above anything else.

    With a $3-4Mill budget per episode and a first class crew it is not a problem to use some prototype technology, as the Canons still are.

    Phil, I know you are very enthusiast about the Canons, but please don’t make people believe, now that they’ve been used for HOUSE, that they are suddenly trouble free. If you drive people to believe for instance that you can now shoot a TV commercial with them, you are making them a disservice, because the commercial will be rejected by the networks, specially if the production couldn’t afford a first class and very expensive finisher and grader to deal with the tech issues.

    I like the Canons very much as well, but I for one, wouldnt risk the €25k-€100k cost/day of shooting a commercial for instance, with a prototype or some piece you have to fight against (focus, banding, aliasing, artifacts..). It is too risky and you can end up losing a client, an account, or even your job!

    Thx again!

    1. of course Henry, I would never and have never said they are trouble free. I have shot TV commercials with them, but any DP worth their salt knows the limitations and will decide which camera to use knowing what is needed

      1. Are we saying that post production when using a 5D is a longer process than when shooting on other digital cameras like the Arri D21 which is used on “Bored to Death”?

    2. “If you drive people to believe for instance that you can now shoot a TV commercial with them, you are making them a disservice, because the commercial will be rejected by the networks”


      A colleague of mine just shot a 4 week commercial for the worlds largest mobile phone manufacturer in 5 countries. All of it on a Canon 5D. Agency, Clients, and Network were extremely happy.

      So yes it can be done.

      1. if Fox are accepting House, it’s number one show as 100% HD DSLR acquisition then anything is possible! Congrats to your colleague. I have shot commercials on the 5Dmk2 that have gone to Nework so I know there is no issue.

        1. Hi Philip,

          I was very interested to hear this and have listened very carefully to the interview, as it addresses some key issues.

          It’s clear that the 5D addressed the SPECIFIC requirements of this episode, and, let’s be honest, it’s a great PR coup for House. As a Technology guy in a broadcast facility I am _sure_ that there was some arm-bending of the tech specs to get this on air!

          I think your point is that with the right experience and with a FULL awareness of the limitations of this technology you can get great results that avoid the pitfalls.
          That’s not denying the issues – I’ve seen hideous banding and compression macroblocking on 5D clips, same as everyone else, and I’ve read the technical reports that make it clear this isn’t shooting full HD and never will.

          I am worried, like Henry, that for those less experienced, they will see this as a green light and go off and shoot stuff and then hit the brick wall of HD broadcast delivery standards and fail to get their stories on air.

          It doesn’t help just to say ‘ignore the luddites’ – the tech delivery standards are there for a reason – to stop HD broadcasts looking like mush! You can’t just ride roughshod through that and expect to get on air.

          As always, there’s a balanced approach – We have used 5Ds for beauty shots and cut-aways for HD broadcast, but always with the proviso that if the shots exhibit objectionable artefacts we’ll junk them.

          That’s great, and gives productions another tool to use, but is a LONG way from shooting with the 5D as a primary camera for non-drama, non-commercials longform shooting, whch is where some people are wanting to go.

          The right tool for the right job I guess.



        2. This is such a major step forward, and well done Fox for giving the industry a chance to redefine what comprises HD. We’re in talks right now with UK broadcasters over our film “Love/Loss”, which we shot on the 5D last summer. Yes, 5D footage fails to meet the published HD bit-rate specs of the networks, but the finished quality surpasses a lot of the existing “HD” footage on the HD channels. By their own rules, Sky shouldn’t be able to show the 5D-originated House episode on its Sky1 HD channel (although they do have an “exceptional circumstances” get-out clause in their HD submission guidelines), but of course we all want to see it in HD… Yes, the Canon DSLRs have some serious technical limitations, but these are offset by the benefits; it’s horses for courses. Can’t wait to see what Gale Tattersall did with the 5D. Great interview, very insightful.

    3. 5d footage for commercials rejected by the networks? I have 4 commercials running and not one bit of feedback from anybody about the quality. One of them has T2i footage in it as well…
      Great job Phil! I can’t wait to see this House episode on my 73in DLP in HD. I will record it and watch it over and over. Exciting, isn’t RED BOYS?!?! That the Fox networks #1 show approved the use of this camera. Go FOX!

    4. I agree w/Henry G here… these DSLRs are not for the average vid shooter. All client-supplied 5D/7D footage i “get” to cut looks really, really marginal. It seems that anybody can buy this hammer, not everybody can build the House. Sorry for the pun and cliche’; but hey, it works.

      It does seem that a person needs to have a cinematic eye, know how, patience and glass to get the best out of these rigs. I would LOVE to get some pbloom-type DSLR footage to cut & grade someday… it’ll probably be my own- but before that happens, anyone want a slightly-used HVX500 w/a great Fuji HD lens? LOL

      Get well soon, PB


    5. Henry G, i quite agree, you have hit the nail squarely on the head in terms of managing this new toy. I have shot a lot of material on the 5d over the last year or so, its a great camera, very liberating to use an affordable device that gives that filmic look and great depth of field. But, its not the solution to all projects. There are still a great many problems to be overcome in post, and in the associated hardware required to make this camera function as a front end cinematography camera. I have seen some horrific images of people working with this camera with cheap monitors attached to the weak and flimsy hot shoe attachment on the camera, its very difficult to see how that would be acceptable in professional circles on a commercial or high end drama.

      I have shot drama productions and commercials on the 5D and have created a drama rig that allows everybody who needs a monitor to have a monitor via a video DA system, and it works fine.

      I think the 5D has already found its place in the world, not in broadcast and high end drama or commercials but in the zone where independent film makers can play and experiment and develop their craft in a filmic way with a cheap camera that gives fun and dynamic images.

      toodle pip…

    6. I shot a commercial on my 7D by myself, edited, exported and delivered it. It was accepted without question and played during American Idol. HD deliverables are in MPEG-2 or h.264 (from my experience). On what basis would a network reject a commercial shot on an SLR? Discovery, Nat Geo and every network’s acquisition requirements are arbitrary and they will make exceptions. They don’t even know what it’s shot on unless you tell them (the truth).

  7. I haven’t got around to listening to the interview yet, as I’ve been hitting f5 like a maniac all evening…

    …but huzzah! I got the 8m hit!

    Should I send you the grab via the help@ address?



  8. Wow, such an informative interivew, thanks for doing this Philip. Can’t wait for that episode to come out, really interested to see what this looks like broadcast.

  9. Thank you very much Philip for taking the time to do this interview. We all know you are super busy and not feeling well, so there is much love for doing this. I hope this could the tipping point for the Canon DSLRs, at the very least help push forward the date in which this technology does tip. I hope you feel better!

    1. I think the emergence of the Panasonic AF100 and the Sony E35 are showing that the tipping point has already happened.
      It’s not about everyone vs. Canon. It’s about filmmakers getting a better choice and the cost of the kit no longer being an obstacle.
      The DSLRs, and Red in their own way, have contributed to this change in mindset and challenged the Old School approach. However…now the Empire(s) strikes back!! 🙂

      1. really? The HDMI out during record looks so crystal clear I could swear its HD. Whatever the feed is it would be more than adequate for a solid focus pull IMO.

      2. Really… it sure looks really nice to me… more than enough to pull accurate focus. I do have one of the first 5DII cameras I wonder if it changed at some point.

  10. Nice work Phil – you sounded like Gale there for a second!

    The first image with Gale and the Zacuto rig is misleading. House used Redrock DSLR rigs for their 5D MKII cameras on this shoot. More specifically, they used a slightly modified version of the DSLR Field Cinema Bundle v2, along with the microShoeClamp



    1. sorry if it was misleading Brian, it was only photo I had of Gale and it does say photo taken at NAB 2010. I am hoping to get photos of the cameras on set soon. Getting the interview was hard enough, photos are the next step.

      1. No worries – we’re working on getting those photos too! The set photographer had some absolutely beautiful shots (gear and camera totally aside – they are really fantastic images). We’ll share when we can get a hold of those as well. Cheers Brian

    1. Thankyou for doing this interview Philip,it confirmed everything about this camera and where its all heading with these DSLR’s,what a breakthrough being able to hear from the masters in thier own words,fantastic way to start the week,hope you get to rest the voice now.

    2. that interview is really interesting thanks! i’m a little surprised there has been no mention is this thread of the “5DmkII 2.0.4 firmware bug with Canon F2.8L IS 100mm Macro lens” given that that seems to have been one of the main combos used? am i missing something in that “bug” report?

  11. Brilliant Bloom – love it. Really inspiring to hear someone at his level speak so clearly and enthusiastically about using these cameras in the making of this great show. Well done on putting it together. ps. say hi to thirteen from me next time you are passing the set

  12. The FF35 red mysterium-x sensor will provide the same sensor size as the 5DmarkII for those with the budget when it eventually comes out, I think that’s the holy grail Greg is talking about for those with the means. This is a special time but as soon as the pros get access to the same sensor size with 444 raw and PL mount lenses canon will have to jump into an entirely new arena to keep up… but from the looks of their 3 chip XF300 they seem to be showing otherwise.

    So I’ll just shoot my t2i flat on my film student budget and grade in post. No non geek will ever tell the difference, and as the zacuto shootout proves, it’ll look great even on the big screen… unless my story sucks 🙂

    1. That’s fine Garrett, but don’t expect to get your creations on Broadcast HD television without a big fight…which you will lose, because you’re not ‘House’. That’s the trade-off of this ‘interim’ technology I’m afraid.

  13. Thanks for the great interview. I will soon be getting a 5D for street photography for stills and video on a trip to Paris. Any tips? I’m a sound engineer so I’m not so worried about that part. Thanks.

  14. Well it’s clear example that also without those budget And crew little indipendent filmaker can get a professional look by this dslr ,maybe next year the new cameras showed at nab or the new red will change the way we see at this hdslr but for their price they are definitive wonderfull tools and no other manufacturer gave us something like that before.

  15. Can’t thank you enough for posting this stuff up so soon Philip. Grateful to have access to inside info. from you and all of the others who are driving this technology. Very cool & exciting. Learning so much. Please keep it coming!


  16. That’s awesome, Phil. Thank you so much! Glad your voice allowed you to do this.

    And thanks to Greg (and Gale and all). For them to become part of this community of DSLR users sharing information – helping other filmmakers – is just really incredible.

    It’s such an exciting time. And without people like you – and places like this – we’d never be where we are. WOW. Thank you.

  17. Mister Bloom,
    Put a tea of fresh ginger, you can still do a little honey,
    works well!
    For a sore throat is very useful to gargle with salt water.
    Fill a glass with water and do the 2 spoons of salt. Stir it and take it
    gargle with. That is very good for the throat.
    If you have a sore throat have to chew a small piece of raw onion, you do this a few times a day.
    also it smells nice.
    Oja(by the way) an excellent interview.

  18. Thanks Philip for the interview, its great information to us dslr guys. I only have one question wich 50 mm f1.0 does Gale used on the shootings?

    Cheers and thank you for sharing this with us,

    António Morais

    1. Philip, thanks for the .m4a, dropped straight onto my crappy Nokia and listened via bluetooth as I pedalled to work.

      Should certainly play on an iPhone.

  19. Thanks for making interview available so quickly.

    Great interview. Hope your throat didn’t suffer too much.

    I think I know what the issue with your throat might be. There are no Boots shops in the USA and you just need some Strepsils or maybe a Lemsip 🙂

  20. Very interesting and for one of the biggest shows in the world to use it kind of begs the question why the BBC are reluctant to use the camera.

    Phil, I kept expecting you to say “Hello Dave, you wanna buy some pegs”.

  21. Yowser! Interesting stuff. I was actually watching episode 17 of House (Recorded from SKY HD) last night and as the opening shots of the baby appeared I thought to myself “this looks a bit like 5d footage… holy crap is this the finale!!?” Got all excited then suddenly cut to hospital bed and and it was all back to regular House film-style.

    I had assumed that I was just tricking myself into thinking it was DSLR footage because I’m admittedly slightly over excited at the prospect of the finale… but I’m so proud having listened to Greg here say the opening shots were indeed from a 5D to have spotted it!

    So for those who missed it (thankfully I didn’t delete the show from my skybox!) I can say it is a noticeably different from the regular House ‘look’ – but not in a bad way, in fact it was pretty gorgeous 10 seconds or so.

    So yeah, for UK viewers who can’t wait for the finale you might like to know that Ep17 “Lockdown” with 10 seconds of glorious 5D footage is repeated on Sky 2 (unfortunately only in standard def) tonight at 10pm and again on Friday 23rd at 10pm also on sky 2!

  22. I was worried that we wouldn’t get such a complete discussion on this theme.
    The Q&A was ok but with a lot of unanswered questions for myself.
    Would love to see or hear more material about the production and the work flow.
    It is truly a time of revolution in what media is and where it is going for all of us.

    Thank you Philip for taking the time for this interview.

  23. That interview was truly inspiring.If these people who are doing high end network television take advantage of the freedom to experiment or more likely “risk” and abandon all established workflow procedures,then we have no excuse to not so as well.
    It may be irrelevant, but i’d really like to see if dslrs make it to BBC for example in shows like Top Gear.I think that some aspects of the production could really benefit from that.

  24. Greg Yaitanes was excellent. It was great to hear such a pragmatic perspective on DSLR film-making. Although he is not the first person to make the comment that this technology is an absolute godsend for up and coming film makers, this is surely one of the most salient points about these cameras.

    It was also really cool to hear him talking about the 5D not so much as an attempt to emulate film, but rather a unique aesthetic in its own right. It’s interesting that he chose to really push that aesthetic into the space where other cameras can’t go by shooting such crazy wide-open apertures. This is a genuinely creative and artistic approach to the medium. One of the things that any artist wants to know is “how far can I push my medium?” Yes focus at F 1.2 or 1.0 must be a real nightmare, but then it comes down to creativity and exceptional skill. I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to this type of thing. I really like the idea of having to develop that sort of skill rather than having a device that will do it all for you.

    1. those issues are well documented in numerous places. The artifacts down to compression, the aliasing is hugely documented everywhere (especially on reduser.net!) and the banding again is down to compressio

  25. I really enjoy Greg. He’s not tip-toeing around the fact that simplifying the gear changes (read: takes-away) people’s jobs. For example, he says outright that sticking the 5D on a monopod takes away the necessity for the steady-cam operator (not that they make steady-cam ops obsolete by any means, obvs.). Also, it was interesting to hear in the first part of the interview that he feels that the relationship between the DIT and DP harms the relationship between the director and DP. I worked on a show last year that was shot on the Panavision Genesis and the DP was literally “in a tent” with the DIT as Greg says, and the director was off by himself, sitting in front of a monitor. I have a feeling it crippled the energy of the show.

  26. Very interesting.

    As a sound recordist these cameras are both a blessing and a curse.

    Having a unit that effectively forces our department into seperate recording is good practice for those filmmakers and TV types who insist that we find a way to stick all the audio on camera (often limiting for single man operators and cameramen) and I suspect they are considerably quieter in operation than their larger cousins.

    However, it also raises the question of multi camera shoots, already becoming much more prevelant in the industry, becoming an absolute norm – a nightmare for any sound recordist attempting to get a microphone close to the action if faced with progressively wider shots filmed at the same time as ultra close up work.

    Radio mics are not magic…

  27. As an office-dweller who can’t really wear a pair of cans for an hour to listen to the interview, I would love it if somebody could do a transcription of key sections of the interview!

  28. Hi Phil, great interview, I am shooting a short film on dslr later in the year. From the look of the zacuto film vs dslr episodes I think I prefer the look of the 7D, any idea why the 7D gets less of a look in than the 5D?

    I really like what the guys over at red are doing but they seem to have absolutely no sense of humour. I have been deleted from the forum 3 times now lol. Every now and then I like to start an account and post something to stoke the fires up a bit before I am swiftly removed lol. This House episode should provide a bit of ammo.

    I actually really like their cameras but can’t help winding them up because they bite so easily.

    I love how they clutch at techy straws to try to prove somehow that even though more and more people are working with the 5D, it just ain’t pro enough lol

  29. I knew it! I knew something was different about the beginning of the “Lockdown” episode of House. I noticed the rolling shutter effect on the “baby shot” and was like: “What the hell? House is being shot on film, right?” It was so great to find out I wasn’t imagining it.

    Great interview, by the way! Nice work, Philip. Thank you.

          1. I’ve watched the opening of ‘lockdown’ about 20 times now looking for rolling shutter or any other DSLR issue, I can’t see a single thing wrong with it, it looked great. Where did you guys see rolling shutter?

            Really great interview Philip, loved it!


            1. I have downloaded the 720p version of House so that I could take a closer look. You can observe the effect of rolling shutter in the slowmotion shot of the baby at 00:24 – 00:32. The shot gets shaky a couple of times and that’s when the “jello” appears.

  30. Thank you for this intriguing interview.

    I live in Europe, and am wondering how long it will take for us to get a chance to see this in full HD legally. Do we have to wait for the season Bluray to be released?

  31. Hi Philip,

    First of all, thank you very much for this effort of getting is out to all of us.

    I have been an amateur photographer now and I have been using the 5D Mark II for a while and these are exciting time when the same tool was used while shoot the most popular show in the world.

    My main field being technology (not too far from image and video processing) it is great to think that something that we come out with can result in such wonderful applications.

    I am now more and more intereted in cinematography thanks to tools such as these. Thanks!

  32. Just about half way through this fascinating interview and really enjoying it. It does seem that this might be a watershed moment, one that really propels the use of DSLR,s in the pro arena. Or one that at leasts stirs Canon to really optimise their next gen cameras to address the obvious issues the current crop have.

    Even more entertaining though ( and I don’t mean this in a horrible way) is poor Philips voice. At the beginning you sound just like a late night jazz dj. Even the intonation is perfect. You’re a brave man to even attempt to use your voice, let alone interview someone.

    All the best


  33. did not pause on the whole thing. cant wait to see the final product.
    in fact im going out there right now and shoot.
    i think all those critics out there who sit and ponder over specs should do the same thing just go and shoot. i hope canon listens to the itv and improves the firmware and not come out with a new camera all together.
    im happy with my 5d


  34. This is great stuff. I think it’s good that you talk about telling the story vs technical spec of the equipment. I read forums like dpreview and wonder do these people actually take photos and shoot video or just read and compare specifications with other cameras. Instead of debating whether DSLRs are good enough to shoot video some people are actually just using them. Great interview, very inspiring.

  35. I didn’t mind the hour plus length, it flew by for me.

    I could listen for 10 hours when a guy like Greg Yaitanes is being interviewed. His IMDB is incredibly impressive. To share their insights and experience on this was gold, and very generous on his part.

  36. A really good interview. Greg Yaitanes was generous and genuine with his insights. I was looking into to a Sony XDCAM EX – I think the 5D is for me now.

    Get well soon.

  37. This is so interesting. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new era for TV. Considering how popular streaming TV is online. Great interview Phil, even with the voice thing… Vinnie Jones!!!! j/k

  38. Thanks so much for doing this, Philip. Bringing the indie world together with the professional is a great thing for this industry. Sharing insight, knowledge and experience from the top really help those aspiring to get there.

  39. Thanks so much for doing this, Philip. Bringing the indie world together with the professional is a great thing for this industry. Sharing insight, knowledge and experience from the top really help those aspiring to get there. I’ll be shooting a pilot for network on the 5D in the upcoming months. If anyone is interested in following my journey with it they can go to http://SavilleIZation.com Keep up the great work.

  40. We just got done with our short “We Will Make You Whole Again,” which was shot on the D90. Saw this format in late 2008 and fell in love with it. Really excited to see this format getting more notice.

    Can attest to the problems with banding and motion blur, but we just premiered it two weeks ago and people were blown away. And this is 720p. Not even the 5D.

    Nevertheless, I’m really excited about this new breed of camera and I can’t wait to shoot my next short on one of these. Also, a lot of filmmakers in Kansas City, MO are starting to use these and getting incredible results.

  41. Very interesting stuff, having not shot with Canon DSLR’s I now am very eager to see what is possible and where this technology will go moving forward.

    Thanks Philip, best of luck with your recovery.

  42. I am an Avid Editor and Studio engineer in Northern CA for EMG and we use 5 Canons in the studio for our shows. I believe the reason that House’s post team dumps all of the 5d clips onto HDCAM tape is to do a lossles uprez to 4:4:4. I could be wrong and perhaps it is purely for archival purposes, so any tech saavy types feel free to chime in on this one. I have thought about uprezing this footage for color correction, but if you keep it subtle, the Avid CC does fine with 4:2:0.

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