Burn night 2010...set to "Alpha Phase" from Pentamerous Metamorphosis album by the ever awesome Global Communication duo Tom Middleton & Mark Pritchard. You can learn more about them and buy their music(!) here: reloadonline.com/
Drove to Burning Man 2010, my 5th, arrived in wicked dust storm a day later than planned, the night of the Burn, lame, I know, but none of my friends were going and this was a film-mission...armed with a Canon 5D MK II, a pile of lenses, and a good fluid head & tripod.
1 hour later, walked onto the playa, instantly completely covered head to toe in dust...all thoughts of EVER switching lenses (opening the camera) were off...and very grateful for weather sealed main lens (Canon EF 70-200 2.8 L ISM US). Wind so strong could not hold cam steady without locking off Sachtler head in both axis'. Could frequently not see to focus - Zacuto LCD eye piece a LIFE SAVER, and even that was getting fouled.
After 30 mins of deep frustration while getting wind-blasted, finally got the hang of shooting in white-out playa dust...and then it got fun/epic as usual...
Shot till around 2AM...filled up three 16 GB CF cards, didn't even go through 3 cam batteries (amazing), partied, crashed, got up, drove back to SF, rejoiced at quality of the full rez footage on a Mac Cinema Display. Then cleaned cam gear while coughing up Playa dust for 3 days ;-)
This was shot 24p with the camera in full auto mode...and edited direct in H264 master files (no intermediate codec) so as to preserve as much image quality as possible.
There was ZERO color correction and/or grading - but none was necessary b/c the 5D Mk II is a low light wonder - spectacular color rendition from dusk on.
Direct editing in H264 means some of the edits have mysterious little snags that do not show up when stepping through them in the timeline, and there are NO dissolves or transition effects (they would work in the timeline and then fail to export to quicktime >> grey screen with data artifacts - still no answer on why).
The master is nearly 4 GB for ~13 mins. This 5mb/sec H264 re-compress for web is ~460 Mb and a bit fuzzy by comparison to the original, but pretty great looking on the Mac considering the 8:1 compress ratio.
Unfortunately, by the time the Vimeo "re-compressor" gets done with it, it looks far more murky - but its kind of a miracle HD will stream across the web. C'est la vie.
Bottom line, the original looks very close to 35mm movie film, different, but very close - and that IS a miracle.
Ultra minimal workflow was: CF Cards > 2 hard disk copies > Edit H264 on a 2 x 2.66 GHz (8 core) Xeon Mac Pro in FCP from hard disk master files, no transition effects, no grading > export to full rez QT movie ~5GB > use Compressor to render as H264 for iTV (5Mb/sec w/ stereo 44.1k audio) final file ~460MB > upload to web/Vimeo.
LENS notes: The weather seals on the 70-200 held. The images are better at 200 than at 70. The Image Stabilizer made some annoying artifacts out of point sources in darkness (bouncing reflected flares)...so most of the time it was OFF, but even on a solid tripod/fluid head it helped remove wind-induced vibration.
CAM notes: After a thorough very careful external cleaning, the 5D MKII survived the playa dust assault. Not having an optical finder when shooting film and manually pulling focus/zoom is a serious drag. A magnifier for the LCD like the Zacuto is MANDATORY when shooting run/gun in difficult outdoor environments - and even with it, there will be plenty of times when you wonder about or second guess how perfect your focus is. Once you get the hang of shooting video with this cam its pretty amazing. Compared to shooting 35mm film by yourself (which is nearly impossible even with an Arri 235 or Aaton 353 - I've tried), this is a breeze - and the marginal cost from start to finish is ZERO per minute...compared to at least $100 per minute for 35mm film (raw stock, development, transfer to video). The marginal cost is a modest factor compared to the GIANT benefit of not having to schlep 800 tons of cam, batteries, film mags, etc. around - and changing a film mag every 4 minutes of run-time (1000 foot mags would have pulled the camera over in the wind!) on the playa in a dust storm would have required being tailed by a camera van - un-mounting whole cam, moving into van, dusting exterior, carefully swapping mags so as not to let dust get inside the body etc. = lots of crew and expense.
Bottom line: 35mm SLR movie making is a whole new amazing world of creative freedom just starting to be explored.