House season finale filmed entirely with a DSLR

The season finale of House, a popular medical drama TV show, was shot entirely with a Canon 5D Mark II. Director Greg Yaitanes revealed the news through twitter and proclaimed it “the future” of filming due to the crisp focus and shallow depth field that a digital SLR and its photography-specific lenses provide.

PetaPixel has organized the various tweets that Yaitanes shared, providing the details of the entire experience. The season finale will air on Fox at 8PM EST on May 17.

@MVRamunno: What is the difference in how it looks on a TV screen compared to a regular camera?

Greg Yaitanes: richer. shallow focus pulls the actors faces to forground [sic]

@oamad0101: How many frames per second and why a Canon 5D Mark II?

GY: 24p and wanted it for ease of use in tight spaces.

@unikissa: Ok, seriously. Can you tell us something about the lenses you used?

GY: all the canon primes and the 24-70 and the 70-200 zoom

@sarabury: Did you have to change any of your working practices to fit in with differences between the 5D and a typical setup?

GY: some. focus was hard with these lenses but more “cine-style” lenses are being made as we speak.

@marykir: were you using CF cards for storage or some sort of mass storage mod? seems like you would need a lot of cards :)

GY: some 18gb or something like that card. gave us 22 min of footage.

@Drdiagnostic: How was the quality as compared 2 the traditional camera used in shooting?

GY: i loved it and feel it’s the future. cameras that can give you these looks

@klizma: How did you manage to stabilize the camera in tight spaces? Any special kind of brackets?

GY: no. mostly gave it a hand held feel. or on a small tripod

@Stollen123: why didnt you use Canon 7D i know its not a full frame camera but it has a better video..5D II needed an upgrade to be like 7D

GY: smaller sensor. we had it on the truck but never needed it.

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43 Comments

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This is awesome. My father was recently interviewed for a docu by the BBC and it was (naturally) shot in HD. I expected a full crew, lights and camera gear. Instead two guys turned up, one with a small hand-held ("next-gen, unbelievably expensive") HD camera, the other with a clipboard. I saw it on tv, it was incredible. TV crews are becoming more like video ninjas.

but still :

canon 5d m ii < pro video/camera.

I love canon cameras (i own one) but i must admit than, while Canon bring impressible cameras, it is not better than some PRO cameras, specially in comparison with most Panasonic sub $5k cameras.

We're making a short film as a project in my class and we found the 7D to be superior to the P2 camera we originally planned to shoot with. Small narrow spaces and flexibility size-wise was our biggest drawback from using the Panasonic camera.

What's good about this when they only release in DVD? TVRip has better quality than what you can buy at the store. I stopped buying discs since then.

I really can't get where this "awesomeness" is, I have to trust the director. With today's professional camcorders and available lenses this sounds nonsense to me. I like the series BTW.

peterish said,
There's no auto-focus in DSLR film making. So is the entire episode static shots or something?

Or people who are good at manually focusing

peterish said,
There's no auto-focus in DSLR film making. So is the entire episode static shots or something?

It's like an art or skill. It's something you learn and get comfortable with. I only use manual focusing. You can't beat the feeling of having total control.

dogmai said,

It's like an art or skill. It's something you learn and get comfortable with. I only use manual focusing. You can't beat the feeling of having total control.

I agree, though you can't just avoid autofocus at all, i'm fast, but nikons autofocus system will probably focus in less than a second, were I would probably take 1-2s.

peterish said,
There's no auto-focus in DSLR film making. So is the entire episode static shots or something?
There is rarely auto focus in regular film making.

peterish said,
There's no auto-focus in DSLR film making. So is the entire episode static shots or something?

There IS actually. on CS mode i can get my D300s to autofoucs no problem at all.

unkdirkpitt said,
There is rarely auto focus in regular film making.

This. Most professional cameramen would shoot people for using autofocus, it doesn't give enough control over the finished shot...

d4v1d05 said,

This. Most professional cameramen would shoot people for using autofocus, it doesn't give enough control over the finished shot...
Yes I died a little inside, I can't fathom how many shots I'd not be able to cut into the film/show because of auto-focus. Those with little knowledge of the industry do assume that the tasks are easy, when really, they are far from easy.

The role of focus falls into a 1st AC (First Assistant Camera - previously called 'focus-puller').

A good explanation of how focus (focus-pulling) is done and prepared for is below.
(from wikipedia)
To prepare for a take, the focus puller first measures the distances during rehearsals, sets reference marks with the help of the 2nd AC, compares them with the distance markers on the particular lens being used, and marks them on his/her follow focus ring. During a take, he/she modifies the focus based on the dialog, action, the DP's directions, and compensates on the fly for actors missing their marks or any unforeseen movement. In some situations, an actor's head moving even a few millimeters may require instantaneous focus correction.

------
That is a level of control and quality that no 'auto-focus' could ever achieve.

Wow, that's really interesting. I've never seen House but will definately be checking this out to see their techniques.

gigapixels said,

Season finale, not series finale.

Yeah if House ended, it would probably put the nail in the coffin to my TV viewage. lol Which was already dwindling.

Azies said,

Yeah if House ended, it would probably put the nail in the coffin to my TV viewage. lol Which was already dwindling.

Loyal viewer here. I'm not much of a tv watcher but House is one show I never miss. Getting pretty interesting after this weeks. Can't wait to see what happens next lol