The Equipment of Space Rangers: Cameras

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I’ve been asked several times what cameras were used to shoot Space Rangers, so I thought I would write a short blog about that very thing.

In my previous blog, I talked about the classic 50’s CinemaScope look we were trying to achieve. Part of the look of major Hollywood films then and now is the ability to use shallow depth of field to isolate the subject, and make them pop out of the background. The advent of large sensor DSLR cameras have made that possible on a micro budget these days, but there also seems to be an obsession with shallow DOF even when the shot doesn’t call for it. In fact back in the golden age of Hollywood, the “holy grail” of cinematography was actually deep focus photography. They were trying to keep as much in focus as possible, which at the time, with low speed film, was often not easy get. I was trying to get deep focus for some shots, and shallow for others.

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Given the budget of the show, meaning practically zero, my choice of equipment was limited to what I already owned. I used 2 cameras for shooting Space Rangers. The primary camera was the Canon t2i. Even though this is an older model, without all the bells and whistles of the new ones, this large sensor camera can produce beautiful images. Paired with fast lenses it can produce good results in very low light. The crop sensor is almost exactly the same size as Super 35mm motion picture cameras, so the lenses have the same crop factor of most films you see in the cinema.

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My “B” camera was a Canon HF-S200 camcorder. This consumer grade high definition camera has a very small sensor, providing very deep focus. This was my goto camera for those shots where I had all 3 Space Rangers in the frame, and various distances to the camera, and I needed them all in focus. This camera is also very fast to set up and start shooting with. It allowed us to get in and out of locations where we were under a time limit, and still get the shots we needed. Sadly this camera took a nose dive in a VERY windy location, and no longer functions properly.

 
What I learned shooting Space Rangers, is that in the future, if I was shooting a film with this much use of green screen, I would opt for a camera that shoots at least a 4.2.2. color space. The cameras I used were 8 bit (4.2.0) and it makes life difficult for the visual effects team. Having said that however, when you are making a movie, you do it with the equipment you have available to you. If you wait for the perfect camera, you’ll be waiting forever.
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