Shooting Run and Gun with the C300

Shooting run and gun can be difficult enough but doing it all by yourself can be a daunting task. When the opportunity came up to shoot a mini-doc for a client, I decided it was time to give the Canon C300 a spin.

The piece was shot over the span of 3 days with a minimal crew. By minimal I mean … me. When the project first came up on my radar I instinctively started looking at possible ways to kit out my go-to camera, the RED SCARLET to be more nimble. Pretty quickly I decided that it was going to make more sense to go to an overall smaller package.

This shoot seemed like a perfect match so I figured it was time to take the C300 for a spin.

The C300 is one of those cameras that I had read a lot about, watched plenty of films/spots that had been shot with it and even had a chance to get a hands on preview with the camera at a local event when it first came out. And yet, I had never actually shot with it myself. This shoot seemed like a perfect match so I figured it was time to take the C300 for a spin.

C300 with Zacuto Universal rig and Zacuto EVF.
C300 with Zacuto Universal rig and Zacuto EVF.

The first thing I did was visit my local rental shop and test out a couple of handheld rig options. I was going to be shooting for 8-10 hours a day for 3 days in a row and needed to make sure that the camera sat comfortably on my soon to be sore shoulder. I learned the hard way that this is crucial. I ended up going with the Zacuto Universal Rig and the Zacuto EVF. Even though the C300 has a fold out screen that would have worked pretty well, I wanted the extra contact point as well as the benefit of having one eye isolated to just the picture. There were extra benefits to the EVF too, like zebra and focus assist which proved to be indispensable.

It was the creative freedom of a DSLR without as much of the shakiness thanks to the design of the side handle and overall weight.

Once the proverbial rubber hit the road, I was delighted at how well the camera worked in this environment. It brought back memories of the early days of the DSLR revolution and how much I loved shooting so light and nimble. Obviously the camera was no where near as light with all of the shoulder stabilization but it also didn’t suffer from the dreadful shakiness of a DSLR. And if I ever felt burdened by the setup, I just took the C300 off of the shoulder rig and wandered around with just the camera and the side handle. This I have to say was one of my favorite parts of shooting with the camera. It was the creative freedom of a DSLR without as much of the shakiness thanks to the design of the side handle and overall weight. Not to mention the fact that the entire camera was laid out with the sole intent of shooting moving images, opposed to stills.

To pick up natural sound and “drive-by” interviews, the attached Canon shotgun mic worked pretty well. (Yay XLR inputs!) The level dials are a little hard to reach in this setup but for the most part I just set it and forget it.

Canon C300 tripod setup.
Canon C300 tripod setup.

For more formal interviews I had a room setup with lighting and sound. This allowed me to keep the room ready while out capturing content and then pull people into the room if I wanted to get a high quality interview with them. The lighting setup was simple, just KinoFlo 4’x4 and 4″x2 banks for the key and fill and a ARRI 300W tungsten fresnel for a hairlight. For the interview audio I used the Sennheiser 416 on a boom over the talent.

Overall the shots held up well during color timing and some light VFX work.

Once the shoot had come and gone, it was time to edit. I had shot all of the footage in Canon Log to get as much out of the 50 Mbps MXF files as possible. Overall the shots held up well during color timing and some light VFX work. It wasn’t as limitless as if I had been working with raw R3D’s but I was still able to dial the shots in. Editing the piece in Adobe Premiere CC 2014 was great since I could work with the raw files and still get 24FPS at 1080p with no transcoding.

All said and done, a great camera – great for situations where you need to be nimble but not compromise on quality.

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