UPDATED: Robert Rodriguez shooting music video on 2 Canon 7ds

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UPDATE: I was lucky enough to be invited round to Robert’s house this afternoon during the SxSW festival and saw the almost finished edit of this music video and very nice it is too. I also showed him my one of Celeste from Monarchs singing “Miles away” which he thought was great. You can see that here. His video should be on VH1 in the next week or two…

Robert really enjoyed shooting with the 7ds, he said it took him back to his El Mariachi roots and was really happy with the end results. He loved the ability to just jump out and grab the shots in a short period of time, switching between the big sniper rig and the simple Zacuto Z-Finder rig.

A really nice guy who was a pleasure to meet.

Big thanks to my friend Danny Dale whom I met in Austin last year who was out with his GH1 and family at Zilker Park in Austin at the weekend when he camera upon a film crew. It was an open set with just a warning if you walk past this sign then you give permission to be filmed.

He saw the camera and immediately his eyes lit up. A super pimped up Canon 7D with none other than Robert Rodriguez. They were using 7D. Both pimped up with Zacuto gear. One just the Z-Finder and one with a mo-fo pimped up crazy ass Sniper Rig.

Also great to see them using my favourite camera mic, the Rode Video mic (available on my amazon store) and what looks like the 70-200mm F2.8 and 24-70mm F2.8.

This is uber geek cool! Not TMZ territory. Don’t worry I won’t be doing a blog on Lindsay Lohan seen partying till 5am with Paris Hilton (unless they are filming each other on pimped up 24p 5DmkIIs or pre-production Scarlets!!) 😉

This is from Danny….

I walked into the area where they were filming and immediately was drawn to the HDSLR rig they were using. I pulled up my cam and starting shooting some pictures of it (I was about 15 feet away and realized it was a Canon 7D – wireless follow focus, Panasonic monitor with hood, and Zacuto grips/rails) when a guy politely walked over to me and said “we are trying to keep a closed set” – there was no security, just 2 camera operators, a tethered production cart, makeup, 2 HPX 170s filming BTS, and a few grips. I said I was only interested in the rig, not the music artist being filmed (which I then realized was local favorite Bob Schneider).  The guy was cool and let me take a few more and I walked away. When I told my wife that one of her favorite musicians was filming a video, she ran up to the fence and started to watch and then said “hey, is that Robert Rodriguez?”… it was. At first I felt stupid for not realizing that it was him but the rig was huge and blocking most of his head. They were shooting with 2 7Ds  – the second only had a Zacuto Z-finder, and Robert took turns shooting on both.

Here is some info from DP of this shoot Jimmy Lindsay. Thanks for sending this to me Jimmy!

Jimmy Lindsey here. The man in the brown hat with the Z finder. I was Robert’s DoP on the ‘Bob Schneider’ music video (as well as his last feature ‘Machete’) and those are my 7D rigs at work. After seeing all the questions, I thought I might shed a little light on the subject. The rig Robert is using was set up to allow him to see an HDSDI image on a 7″ Panasonic onboard monitor while his AC (the insanely talented Sebastian Vega) pulls focus with a Preston FIZ from a 17″ Panasonic monitor. Very necessary as you know when shooting on a 200mm at a 2.8. The signal was split from HDMI to 2 HDSDIs using the Aja Black Magic powered by a Nebtek adapter and Sony M batteries. Both the Preston and the onboard were powered with a D tap cable and a Sony onboard battery. We also got some beautiful shots with my 50mm 1.4 and a lensbaby composer with single glass and plastic optics.

Thanks so much or all of your DSLR insight and your amazing footage.
I am a big fan of your work!

This is great to see such a great filmmaker like Robert shooting on these cameras and more proof that more and more professionals are really taking these cameras and using them for all sorts of prouctions.

Check out the photos below, they are awesome!





Robert Rodriguez taking a break! 😉



    1. I like the DOF and bokeh of the 7D, but from tests I shot and stuff I see on the web it makes people’s faces look like they’re made of wax. At first I thought it was just the web compression, but looking at my tests I see they have that same look.

        1. Philip:

          I love your site! I just got the new Canon T2i this week with the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens as my secondary camera (primary camera is a HVX200) for a documentary I’m shooting. You mentioned you like the Rode Video Mic. What’s the difference between the Video mic and the Stereo mic? For a documentary (where my T2i will be relatively close to the subject as I’m using it for tightly framed shots), would the Video mic be sufficient?

          Your content is the best on the web… never knew about it until I got my T2i. Nice recommendation on the Hoodman Loupe too… can’t find a Zacuto anywhere in Toronto at all, so this will do the trick for now.

  1. Yes!!!! This article literally made me jump up and down – Robert Rodriguez is one of my favorite directors, and to see him with the same camera I have (minus a few bits of gear) is, once again, inspiring.

      1. Haha I was more thinking creativity reasons. Maybe the small size and I heard a lensbaby was used. Surely to Rodriguez cost doesn’t factor.

  2. Hey phil this amazing stuff. I want to thank you again for you teachings, this week I’m doing another music video for recording artist Missy Elliot. I want to come to your next meet your the best follow me shaunbless on twitter. I’ve place some video on my page but I’ve learned so much from you I’m scraping my reel and doing strictly Dslr.

  3. thiz is sooo sick! Big Pimpin’! =) n 4 me the rev juz started 2day…i bought a T2i..! So should I get d 7d vid or will there be a T2i one…?! Thx 4 sucha coo blog…n page PB..pz..!

  4. That’s brilliant! I guess it’s a much simpler rig than using one of his F900’s.

    Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to change lenses with a rig like that? I’ve never actually used a follow focus, but can imagine there would be a bit of fiddling involved swapping lenses with one of those attached?

  5. Is it possible that they are recording the uncompressed 60hz 1080p material over the HDMI?If so they seems to be doing 4:2:2 chromaencoding ? There is a cable on the first picture that seems to be going out of the HDMI.

    1. @ cultstudio , I thought that lead was for the remote follow focus? I thought the guy with the monitor on the trolly might have been a focus puller? But I was just guessing after drooling over the rig maybe I guessed wrong!

  6. Hey Philip,

    Can you tell how they have the video coming out of the 7D? It looks like maybe an HDMI output to the monitor, but I think I also see a BNC line coming out of the gear – probably to another monitor? Is the BNC coming out of the monitor? Can’t quite tell.


      1. That looks pretty gargantuan for a 72mm lens hood. It has a huge circumference. And it doesn’t look like it’s screwing into the filter thread.

        Philip. Can you please ask Robert what hood that is? Thanks.

  7. Very Nice, although I’m not as much of a big fan of the VideoMic.
    Mine audible makes creaking noises from the little rubber things that should be preventing other noise, the audio is practically useless if you plan on moving the camera. Plus the AGC with that on the 7D is horrendous, a ton of background ambient static noise . . . but I do love the camera!

      1. Hey Phil,
        I can’t work out whether I should buy a 500D soon or wait till I can afford a 7D?..I am an independent filmmaker and I see that the 500D only records at 20fps..but as far as big screen projection it seems ok with all its other specs..what is your opinion?
        peace and joy

    1. In all honesty, he is shooting a music video… meaning the chances of him actually using audio from that set-up is little to none. Also, if he was recording audio with that it would only be for the slate clap to sync with an external audio recorder later.

        1. Yup! I was showing my crew for this film I’m doing that Robert Rodriguez uses the same reference mic as we do!

          Oh Phil, I took your advice and flipped it around so it wouldn’t hit my head anymore looking through the GH1’s viewfinder. Thank you!

      1. cool but..I shot on Friday 2 !!!! different videos with 1 !!! 7d :))) there is no point to use external mic for the music video and this rig looks …ridiculous. do u really think that Robert put all this huge amount rigs n cables together ? I don’t think so…that means that the crew is the same like for red or 35mm shoot.what’s the point then ?just show off or something.but who am i…cheerz

        hallo and cold beers from Tallinn,Phil !!!

    2. Hey Lucas, if your having problems with the Rode Videomic’s rubber bands squeaking, just pop them off and give ’em a quick dip in some oil (I just used regular vegetable oil). Only had to do it once and they never squeaked again.


  8. “one with a mo-fo pimped up crazy ass Sniper Rig.” hahah that’s awesome, good to see the motion picture guys using a 7d, that rig looked so sweet!

  9. Very cool and I’m not surprised that Rodriguez is interested in HDSLR:s given his indie background. He is however far from the only one. I talked to an acquaintance of mine this weekend who works as a freelance shooter for a couple of Swedish TV networks. He told me that nearly half of the TV commercials produced in Sweden are now shot on HDSLR:s (almost exclusively the 7D but I’m guessing the 5D MkII will increase in popularity after the new firmware is released).

  10. Any chance that someone a bit more knowledgeable than I could give us a breakdown of all the gear that we see here and what it’s doing?

    Seems to me there is a tonne of add-ons that at first glance seem to completely miss the point of HDSLR shooting? It’s as big as a Red Rig!

    Please tell me there is more to it, and that I am missing something Phil, all I keep hearing is horror stories of jello-cam, aliasing and massively compressed footage that is a pig to grade and apply VFX to?

    Why not just use a Red? It’s got to be more than cost if Rodriguez is using it?

    1. Well, they probably saved thousands of dollars renting 7Ds instead of a few Varicams, EX-3s or a RED. Also, a similar sized rig of almost any other camera would be much heavier….

      1. Plus more image area, larger sensor, shallower DOF and probably better image and I have 3 Varicams. The Varicam exceeds the 7D in usability, comfort and outputs, although, mine are all tape based so you need a recorder.

  11. Looks like the 7D is squirting out HDMI to the little silver box on the back, small battery on top of it is powering it. It must be an HDMI to composite converter. Composite out (x2) one to the monitor and one to the follow focus. The sony V-lok batt is powering the screen and the follow focus command unit.
    The HDMI box looks like this….

    ( http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5280 )

    …but not quite.


  12. The big box in the middle of the stack, I reckon he keeps his sarnies in that one!

    Do you think we could arrange with Blue Peter to make us a rig like that out of washing up bottles, toilet roll centres, wire hangers and some sticky back plastic?

  13. Phil what a great stuff you got there, i have equally shot a docu and few feature story with it lately and i can bet you thats what everybody is using in my country now(nigeria) but i will love to have fewer rig than urs but still deliver same output…

  14. Hey Philip,

    Jimmy Lindsey here. The man in the brown hat with the Z finder. I was Robert’s DoP on the ‘Bob Schneider’ music video (as well as his last feature ‘Machete’) and those are my 7D rigs at work. After seeing all the questions, I thought I might shed a little light on the subject. The rig Robert is using was set up to allow him to see an HDSDI image on a 7″ Panasonic onboard monitor while his AC (the insanely talented Sebastian Vega) pulls focus with a Preston FIZ from a 17″ Panasonic monitor. Very necessary as you know when shooting on a 200mm at a 2.8. The signal was split from HDMI to 2 HDSDIs using the Aja Black Magic powered by a Nebtek adapter and Sony M batteries. Both the Preston and the onboard were powered with a D tap cable and a Sony onboard battery. We also got some beautiful shots with my 50mm 1.4 and a lensbaby composer with single glass and plastic optics.

    Thanks so much or all of your DSLR insight and your amazing footage.
    I am a big fan of your work!

      1. It looks like in some of the shots, size, weight and agility may be a factor, plus, odds are that it’s only going to play on the web or TV and you are not going to notice the difference between the RED and 7D. Plus the RED kit would way more money that using the 7D, lenses, camera, grading post, crew size all have to change.

  15. What an awesome post!

    Love reading and checking out behind the scenes on various stuff in the industry.

    Would love to hear more about the shoot / details – especially more from Jimmy – on Phil’s questions – reason for choosing the 7D + not RED, and what sort of workflow + frame rates were used.

    Phil, posts like this along with your stunning work are what sets this blog apart as the #1 film/video blog around.

    also lol @ your TMZ/ celebrities + red/5d comment !!

  16. What he is using in front of the lens is a Tiffen style filter holder with a lens hood. The Tiffen allows you to stack standard filters then use a step down ring to attach to the lens. He probably has a ND6 or 9 and a polarizer and has two different step down sizes in the pictures. Its a commonly used 16mm film thing and all the rental houses have them for relatively cheap (about $60 for the whole deal.

  17. We live between Austin and San Antonio but heard about this shoot from some friends who were playing frisbee golf at Zilker Park- wicked kewl to see El Mariachi himself rocking out on the 7Ds. A big thanks to Jimmy Lindsey for writing in with the proper 411!

  18. For those of you interested in the rubber lens hood, I went with the ‘3 stage’ ones on ebay. Because of the smaller sensor on the 7D you can get away with using a much larger hood. Best value kit I’ve bought for the 7D by far, easy to use with the vari ND’s, great lens shade and good for taping a garbage bag to to protect the camera and lens when its pissing it down with rain or snow. Here’s the link: http://cgi.ebay.com/58mm-3-Stage-Rubber-Lens-Hood-for-Nikon-Canon-Sigma-new_W0QQitemZ180476585432QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_2?hash=item2a053e25d8#ht_3978wt_991

    On a side note, you photographers out there don’t sell off your medium format glass just yet, my old Pentax 67 lenses give beautiful results when mounted on the 7D with an adapter (also on ebay), very sharp and have a different feel than my 35mm Nikon glass.

  19. WoW…Good to see what you can achive when you max out the camera rig!

    Regarding the follow focus, I’m in the process (with help!)of converting my old angenieux motorized zoom control(veri speed), taken from a npr, into a cheap bastardized follow focus rig – cheaper than a 25k system, will let you know specifics when finished.

    Thanks for the great post Jimmy and keep up the good work Phil, love your site!

  20. hey philip..giorgio daveed from the usa!! been a big support and fan of ur work!! just wanted to show that even Lil Wayne is being shot with the 7D..ahaha..i was recently able to produce/DP/edit/color the recent video with lil wayne..take a look we shot the entire thing in 4 hours…weezy was there for about 30 minutes but yea that 7D is insane!
    Thanks for all the insight and great work!! u inspire a lot of people!!
    much love giorgio daveed

  21. Hi Guys,
    Question: Regarding the setup they used to get an HDSDI feed to the monitors – can anyone explain how this worked using the AJA HA5 converter? That AJA unit does not accept a 480p feed which is what the 7D and 5D output in live view when recording. I ask because I’m looking to put together a similar rig for HDMI to HDSDI conversion.

  22. What lens hood is on that rig? It looks like a nice rugged breed I haven’t been able to track down on the web and could definitely make use of something like that.

    1. Its in the earlier post at the bottom of the page, I posted some links at the bottom when others asked the same question, Just search on ebay for 72mm ruber wide lens hood they run for about $8 if you want them in metal for around the same price just leave out the word rubber…

  23. Thanks for the recommendation of the Rode VideoMic. Bought it today and tested it out already. It not only picked up the interviewee’s voice perfectly (from about 6 feet away) but also the swishing sound of my pants as I moved around the room (I was doing it handheld). No biggie though, it was just a test 🙂

  24. Hello Pilip,

    I’ve been following your blog and videos for a few months now. The content is insightful and inspirational.
    I haven’t gotten my HD-DSLR yet, I’m waiting for the 1Ds Mark4. I hate the thought of my 16-35mm becoming at 26mm lens. It wont have my interior and architectural work. My clients have already shown interest in getting videos of their designs.
    I have to build up a rig and have stuff ready for when the 1Ds Mark 4 is announced/released. Which Zacuto rig would you recommend? Something light which would allow one to work efficiently, quickly and with precision.
    Thanks and I’ll think of something more interesting to add next time.

  25. Fantastic as always, Philip, thank you 😉

    What is that thing bungeed to the shoulder mount with the upside down 4? And do we know where he got his jacket?

  26. Hello,

    I have just bought a 550D and I’m wondering what mic to buy. Do I get a Mono or Stereo Rode video mic. For now I’m going to record all sound using the cameras mic input. I know people use the mono mic and record audio on the camera as a means to sync externally recorded audio to the video using PluralEyes.
    I’m just starting out with video and want to know if the Rode stereo mic is as good as the mono mic in terms of quality.



  27. Great shot of two great talents! Just to thank you, Philip for all I gain from your posts. Finally after months of deliberation I took the plunge today and hit the “purchase” button – for a 7d, some Tokina lenses (couldn’t afford L lenses quite yet) and some basic equipment – still more to save up for. I also just ordered your 7D training download (no download link yet), and will have a great time learning and creating all I can with my new 7d!

  28. Hi Philip

    Recently I bought a Canon 7D, but I`m having a lot of trouble with the internal heat of the camera. About an hour after I turn it on, the sign of internal heat appears, so I have to turn it off. I`m shooting commercials and music videos with it. Have you experience this often.. is this normal? or can anyone in this blog tell me your experience with this issue?.

    Thanks a lot,

  29. Wow, awesome ! Rodriguez is one of my all time favorites the story behind what it took him to make “el Mariachi” was crazy.. I love his style of run-n-gun too, telling actors to “STOP” so he can re-frame then step back a few before continuing action for seamless but quickly executed chase and action scenes.. Genius

  30. I dont understand why you would use a 7D rig like that when I thought the point was its compact size. That rig seems enormous and un-realistic unless shooting with a proper crew. Is it more of an aesthetic choice? The digital nature and quality of the 7d chip? thx.

  31. I guess you really don’t need a RED Scarlet to make good stuff as RED shooters and RED say. All the hype for that cam and here is a famous Director using a 7D! wow pimp! Sorry RED future is affordability goes to show that you don’t need 3k or 4K resolution cam to make something decent..

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