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Another BBC Series Shot On The Canon 5D Mk2

Shelf Stackers is a new BBC comedy series shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mk2Shelf Stackers is a new six episode BBC comedy (Part one is transmitted tomorrow Saturday 4th September at 12.50 pm on BBC2) shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mk2 without a rig or even monitoring, the Director Dom Bridges also shot the series and the only stabilisation used was the camera strap tensioned against the back of his head!

The series is shot in a working supermarket in Liverpool with the real staff working and real customers shopping. The cast worked amongst everyone else with Dom shooting and directing with one other person who was the sound man.

“The broadcasters initially thought it was a bad idea using the Canon as it had previously been turned down by the BBC for lack of quality in terms of broadcast. They thought I was a lunatic!”

The show is a production through Lime Pictures who shoot and produce the soap Hollyoaks, they weren’t sure about what Dom wanted to do and initially quoted him 45 days to handle all the data and get it in to the editing suites. “I had to take them all through Final Cut and how it’s imported and ProRes and how PluralEyes re-synchs the sound. I felt a bit like a ‘Leper’ having to deal with quite an archaic structure that seemed to exist on the ethic ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it’.

“The show is a very low budget production and to make sure we had extras I decided to shoot in a open supermarket, some of our cast are recognisable from programmes such as SKINS. I wanted to keep the crew small myself operating and a sound guy. However I still wanted to give the show an aesthetic.

“I think eventually we got to shoot the show because it was low budget and things do slip through. It was shot with no lights just the strip lights from the supermarket.

“The Canon 5D looks like a stills camera so most of the time customers just thought I was some kinda of odd ball just taking pictures of the new staff! Another more serious reason for the camera choice was the depth of field I’m getting. Originally I'm from a commercials/music video background and I’m constantly baffled by the difference between cinema and TV. Not all broadcast content has to be flat and two dimensional, we can shoot quickly and efficiently and still have beautiful imagery with depth that allows us to connect emotionally with the characters so I chose the 5D for this reason.”

Budget for the series was £160,000 part of an experiment to produce £1000 a minute TV content

Another great reason the 5D worked so well for Dom was that they shot each half hour episode in 2 and half days, so two episodes a week! “That’s fast and there was no way on earth we could have shot such low budget content and still make it look cool without the use of the Canon 5D.”

Dom ran into the BBC approval process that said at the time that they would never broadcast anything that had been shot with the camera, then he ran in to the focus issues. “There were all sorts of parameters I was unaware of. Things like they won’t broadcast anything that drops focus, so shooting on lenses that were f1.2 in a supermarket with no lights with a cast that I was trying to give as much freedom as possible was really hard. I felt that was more of an issue than the camera itself.

“If you watch programmes like Eastenders or The Bill, everything’s in focus all the time and for me as a viewer you feel detached from it even more because it in no way reflects how you view the world."

See clips from the series

Dom Bridges web site

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Reader Comments (5)

you can really see the flaws in the camera when watching the clips on iplayer. so much aliasing.

September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris Wilmshurst

So, it was made on the cheap and it! - exposure on faces is very inconsistent, especially on outdoor scenes. Can't help feeling it would have looked a lot better with a different camera. Sorry guys, but this isn't a good advert for DSLRs.

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave C

Clips are "not available in my area"... That's because I am in the US... What, do I have to pay to see 30-second of this progam ? What's the next step ?
To the BBC : wonderful understanding of the internet mentality, guys. Put something on the internet if you want everybody to see it. If not, just don't put it on the internet.

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWiliam

It is worrying that the director thinks poor focus is more natural, think he should've gone to specsavers?

September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Twist

Dom is talking total and utter nonsense. He clearly has very little broadcast experience or knowledge and tempting to put himself on a pedestal by saying Lime Pictures is archaic is extremly arrogant. The comment reagrding focus, what can one say other than what an idiot? The BBC thought he was a lunatic, I think they were right. The 5D looks like a stills because that's what it is. It was never designed to shoot broadcast quality material which is why there were so many technical issues.

I'm hoping the use of this camera is just fad and the BBC see it as an experiment which has failed along with attempting to make a prohgram for £1000/min and employing someone who hasn't the faintest idea what he's doing.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEd Mac

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