Carson Daly Show shot with Canon dSLRs

I was watching the Carson Daly show late last night and I noticed how different their new reporting-style format looks to their old “live” audience-based format. There is very shallow depth of field (something that TV cameras only achieve if they zoom-in a lot), and lots of color grading. So the show now either uses RED Ones, or dSLRs. Unlikely to use HDV cameras with 35mm adapters. Since I counted 5 different cameras in the interview sections, it was obvious that dSLRs were used (five Red ONEs would be too expensive for this show). And lo-and-behold, towards the end of the show, one of the cameramen quickly captured in the frame one of the other cameramen. Their cameras are Canon dSLRs, either the 5D or the 7D.

If that was the 7D, I’m thinking that their whole setup (including lights, mics, cams, lenses, tripods, steadycams), probably didn’t cost them more than $15000, which is actually a bargain. Then I thought how much it would cost if you’d try to go super-bargain. I think that what the Carson Daly show does in terms of equipment, could be done for $1500. Sure the individual equipment wouldn’t be as good, but for someone scraping for cash, a Carson Daly-style show would still achieve a pleasurable look on the cheap too:

For the interview parts:
– Two Canon SD780 IS 720/30p digicams: $390 (on the sides, looking at the subjects). Otherwise, the Canon SD1400 IS is not a bad deal either at $150 each.
– One Canon SX210 IS 720/30p digicam: $250 (looking straight ahead at the subjects)
– Four cheap tripods: $100
– 2×250 Watt lights: $100 (like this one)
– One H4n mic: $300 (invisibly sitting on a tripod, in the middle of the two subjects). Some cheaper recorders that have a 3.5mm mic input cost just $30 (e.g. an Olympus or a Sony one). You can pair the recorder with the $50 Audio Technica ATR-6550 mic that has a tele-mode.
– A clapper: $10 (for audio sync)

(for the monologue, non-interview parts of the show)
– Two shoulder-rests: $90
– Two LED portable lights: $50 (like this one)
– Wearable mic, connected to the H4n: $30

Add some SD cards and extra batteries in there, and there you go, about $1500+tax. Put the cameras to record in custom “flat” mode (at their lowest sharpness, saturation, contrast setting, so you can ensure better color grading in post), set white balance, set and lock exposure compensation, and you’re good to go! I bet it will look and sound excellent.

Funnily, the TV screengrab above is the last one I grab off of Comcast. Today I canceled our Comcast cable TV service, going 100% with Netflix, Hulu, and Vimeo on my Roku box.


Henry wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 4:41 PM PST:

Hey Eugenia…I got turned on to you blog from me searching for ways to become more involved in video.(luckily for me.)I like the way you lay it out on how to get your feet wet,per se, without spending a lot of money. I have to say, you’ve become my got for info. I would like to say thank you and please continue with the great work.

Henry wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 9:27 PM PST:

Another question….could you explain your reasoning for choosing the 780is for the angle shots and the sx210 for the main shot? Thank you in advance and keep up the great work.

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Eugenia wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 9:34 PM PST:

Hi Henry,
The SX2x0 is more wide angle, so in a constricted environment is more useful to try to capture both persons. It also has more zoom level, in case this ever needed. The footage looks the same on all Canon digicams, so there won’t be any color matching issue either.

BTW, I suggested the Zoom H4n for mic, but it can be done with a cheaper audio recorder too, and the $50 AudioTechnica ATR-6550 mic in tele-mode. You can save $100 to $150 this way.

Henry wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 9:52 PM PST:

Got it. Would you suggest a lens adapter for DOF for the Canons, or would that be a stretch at this price point?
I was looking into that, but if that’s best reserved for cameras you can add a 35mm lens adapter directly to it, like the HV 20/30, I would keep that in mind separately. Thanks.

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Eugenia wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 10:19 PM PST:

Adapters are too expensive in this scenario. And shallow DoF is overrated. Just take the tripod far back, and zoom-in all the way to create some background blur.

BTW, for an even cheaper Canon digicam that have the SAME HD quality as the SD780, get the SD1400 IS. Amazon currently sells it for $149, which is $50 less than the SD780. I’m not 100% sure if that model has exposure compensation in video mode though, although I think chances are that it has it.

Henry wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 10:43 PM PST:

So….I can just pull the tripod back and zoom all the way in optically,not digitally,and I could get some shallow DoF without an adapter? Cool. So why do people make such a big deal out it? Anyway…I was reading something about the 1400is. I think it does have that exposure comp in video mode as the 780is. Thank you for your input and insight. You are a wealth of information as well as a video godsend.

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Eugenia wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 10:55 PM PST:

This video was shot without a 35mm adapter, but zoomed-in all the way in order to create some shallow DoF. Some of that is doable with the SD1400 IS too.

>So why do people make such a big deal out it?

Because they think that the grass is greener on the other side.

Henry wrote on December 14th, 2010 at 11:04 PM PST:

Ahhhhh………Thank you. Now I know better.

glenn wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 7:32 AM PST:

Hey, Eugenia. Quick question…do you prefer 30fps to 24fps? I know there are benefits to both but you seem to promote some 30p cameras more than their 24p counterparts.

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Eugenia wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 3:15 PM PST:

Yes, I do that because 30p has more usages than 24p. You see, for 24p to be USEFUL, you need shutter speed support. If you shoot something in anything other than 1/48th shutter speed, the result will look like video, and not like a movie. Frame rate alone is NOT enough to get the movie look. See, we use 24p SPECIFICALLY so we can emulate the movie motion look. But for this to work, you need that 1/48th. And since these cameras don’t have shutter speed control support, and in fact can not have it for technical limitations, it makes no sense to go for 24p in such cams.

With 30p instead, you have advantages:
1. You can just record at 30p.
2. You can record at 30p, and then create 60i DVDs, or use it for TV broadcasting, like the Carson Daly show does.
3. Most importantly, you can SLOW-DOWN the 30p to 24p, and make it look VERY movie-like (as long as you don’t have people talk in the video, e.g. for a music video).
4. You can drop frames and insert the video in a 24p timeline.
5. You can resample and drop the video in 24p timeline.

As you can see, 30p is simply more useful than 24p, not because it’s desirable, but because it’s more VERSATILE in the ways you can use it. With 24p, you can only get the #1 equivalent point in the list above: as 24p, without any control. Everything else in that list doesn’t work in 24p as well as 30p does.

So, no. There is no practical value to have 24p in *these* cameras for NTSC countries (there is value for PAL countries, as they can speed-up 24p to 25p). As I have written many times, what needs to be done is for Canon to include 24p, 25p and 30p selection in all these digicams. Then, everyone gets what they want — kind of. But as it stands right now, a 30p camera is more versatile than the Canon digicams S95 or the G12 that only do 24p recording without any shutter speed control. It’s like they give you donuts that have no sugar.

glenn wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 10:31 PM PST:

Interesting points, when I used to shoot in PAL miniDV, I would always shoot with 1/50th shutter speed. Do you have a 24fps point and shoot? I currently have a Panny FX-150, a Kodak Mini HD and I am looking to get a Canon 4500is. I have a crazy desire to shoot a narrative feature on point and shoot cameras.

Even though your points are valid and sensical…I hate doing post. I like as much as possible to be in camera. I love indie horror…all horror really…so I even like old school special effects much better than CGI.

Do you have any suggestions to replicate 1/48th shutter speed…in post while still utilizing the 24p equipment I already have?

glenn wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 10:33 PM PST:

With your hv20, do you shoot in cinema mode…which I assume sets the shutter speed at 1/48th…or I guess 1/60th since it’s in the 30i wrapper?

glenn wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 10:44 PM PST:

Okay I read the link to your previous post about shutter speeds and digicams…so it seems a tube and ND filters are a way to go…any other options? Does Magic Bullet have any effect on the look that the 1/48th shutter speed creates or is it primarily for color grading?

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Eugenia wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 1:09 AM PST:

You can’t create EXACTLY 1/48th with ND filters, it will always be approximate, and approximation is not enough for the movie look. The cheapest camera that can do 24p and has shutter speed control is the HV40, or the HF-21. And if you need full manual control, then the way to go is the Canon T2i+lenses. No other cameras in that price range will do the movie look correctly.

As for the HV20, that records in PF24, you still use 1/48th even if it’s in a 60i wrapper. The reason being, that you always remove pulldown and make the footage true 24p, so it has to be 1/48th.

I don’t personally use any of these digicams when I must shoot in 24p btw (for my music videos that are not slowed down from 30p). I use the Canon 5D MkII which has a true 24p mode and full manual control. For music videos that I shoot them sped up and later I slow down, *any* 30p camera is good enough. The slow motion will make a seemingly ugly-motion 30p footage look like pro. This is why I say that 30p is more versatile.

But in your case, if you want to shoot true short movies, then you need a real camera, that has true 24p and shutter speed control. Put aside anywhere between $600 and $1200. You won’t be able to do this stuff with a $150 digicam.

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 6:55 AM PST:


I hear you and I don’t disagree with you…


I guess my desire to shoot a film with P&S cameras also comes from a lack of funds. I’m a union carpenter and with the bad economy right now I am struggling to make ends meet some months. However, I have always thought it would be fun to manipulate the medium of P&S cameras, in an artful and crafty way, with good story and by working around and within it’s limitations. As I am not getting any younger, or wealthier, but my desire to film a movie grows stronger…I figured what the hell…at least it’s a gimmick, or a good story to tell if I ever get interviewed about my work.

A good friend of mine, a better film maker than I’ll ever be, once said, “If you make a movie on scotch tape and it’s good, people will watch it.” Now obviously you cannot make a movie on scotch tape but I tend to agree with his sentiment…


Like I said, I do agree with you…in an optimal situation I would go get a t2i or a 7D, actually it seems like the HV40 is a perfect camera for a young director, unfortunately I’ve already shot with SD cards and I cannot imagine going back to tapes. So I’m left with what I have, it’s not perfect but I really think I can work with it. Right now I’m saving for a Canon 4500is…I figured the inclusion of 1080p with exposure locking will help me. By the time I save the money for it…I figure it should be selling for around $225 – $250…something I can work with…


Maybe I’ll option or sell one of my screenplays and I can go get a Red.

Anyway, thanks for your help and listening to my tirade. I appreciate this site a lot. I always said that Eugenia is the most helpful and knowledgeable indie film maker, on the web, and this comment section proves it!!!


BTW, any tricks to emulate the 1/48th shutter speed in post production?

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 6:56 AM PST:

Sorry about the long comment.

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Eugenia wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 2:43 PM PST:

>Right now I’m saving for a Canon 4500is…

Ok, not a bad deal. The $369 Canon S95 is a better camera since it has a bigger sensor and a much faster lens, but the SD4500 IS should be ok too.

Just make sure you find a way to put a tube on it, so you can add a 4x or 8x ND filter when you shoot outdoors. Outdoors set+lock exposure to ONE notch below btw, because outdoors the Canon cameras tend to over-expose. Indoors they get it right.

>BTW, any tricks to emulate the 1/48th shutter speed in post production?

Absolutely none. It’s something that the camera must create. It’s a motion thing.

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 3:17 PM PST:

Thanks, can I use one of those Zeiss attachments for the ND filters? I was looking at the S95 but then I saw Steve Weiss’s Halloween video of the 4500is on vimeo and I was kind of sold on it but once again you make a strong point about the S95.

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Eugenia wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 3:41 PM PST:

I don’t know which attachment will work with the SD4500 IS. I use this in the SD780 IS, but I can’t be sure for your camera model.

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Eugenia wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 4:03 PM PST:

I just watched that Halloween video. You know what’s very disturbing? That you liked it BECAUSE it was slowed motion. Remember what I told you above: that 30p will give you BETTER slow motion to 24p, and this will make everything look film-like. And while Weiss wrongly shot his slow-mo shots in 24p too, the point remains, you liked it *because* the slow motion effect created a dreamy, film-like motion. But his non-slow 24p scenes, at 1:00 minute mark, looks and feels just like video. Because even if he shot at 24p, the shutter speed was all around the place.

So if you want to do slow motion stuff, like artistic NON-dialog videos, then the SD1400 IS at $150 is all you need. You just slow-down 30p to 24p (0.400x). But if you want to shoot true short movies with dialog, you need a camera that can do 24p and has manual control. Otherwise, you might just as well shoot in 30p. You gain nothing by spending more money on a cam that does 24p but has no manual control. Don’t throw your money away.

And this, is anything but movie-like. The right motion is not there. Even if Weiss shot it in 24p.

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 9:53 PM PST:

Actually, the slow motion is not what I liked about it…not entirely anyway…or at least not why you think. The only benefit of the slow motion, in his video, other than supporting the subject matter, is how it cleaned up his fast-moving, handheld shots, creating smooth, camera motion that was reminiscent of film.

It showed me that this camera can accept movement and, if orchestrated properly, could have the subtle, slow movements that make movies come to life…not that I’m against static shots but it’s good to know there are options.

Also I liked the slight, depth of field that was obtained with the camera(I know any digicam could have created the depth of field his video had) There was also a few shots, at the end, where he pointed the camera at the sky and twirled around, I really liked the retro, 60’s Super 8 feel of the color grading in those shots. One of the scripts I am working on involves some flashbacks and old movie footage from the good old days of Super 8 and as much as I’d love to get out my old Bauer and gun some film through it, it’s just not that practical, so I love that that image can be replicated with modern video…and it looks pretty, damn good.

BTW, I think that is a favorite shot of his…he has a video shot with a Harinezumi where he does the same exact twirling shot but he just didn’t have to color grade it, due to the nature of the Digital Harinezumi.

If I wanted to do better slow motion(which I’m not all that interested in) I’d get a PAL camera that shot in 50i and slow that down to the 24p for a more effective and dramatic slow-mo effect.

You’re right about the meatloaf contest though…that was a bunch of garbage but I doubt he was attempting anything other than chronicling a meatloaf contest…for whatever damn reason?

To answer your rhetorical question…yes, I want to shoot narrative movies with dialogue. I have my zoom recorder and my shotgun and lavalier mics all ready to be used.

I get your point though about equipment and like I said before…if I had more readily available funds and resources I would shoot my shorts/features with a t2i or a 7D with fast, prime lenses but I don’t, so my choices are…either don’t make a movie, or be creative with what I do have or what I can afford…I’d rather make a movie…is there anything better?

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 10:03 PM PST:

I guarantee you that somebody will shoot a feature on a Flip or Kodak Zi8( I have one of those as well) and it will be the hottest Indie, movie sale since Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch…probably sooner rather than later.

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Eugenia wrote on December 16th, 2010 at 11:12 PM PST:

Yes, it is my opinion that if you can’t buy a camera that has manual control but only does plain 24p, you might just as well shoot your movie in 30p and be done with that. Because 24p without 1/48th shutter speed, will look like a cheap Mexican soap opera regardless. It’s the shutter speed in conjunction to 24p that makes movies look like magic. Lose one of the two, and you lost the game. So you might just as well save money and go for 30p and the SD1400 if all you can afford is that soap opera look.

Sorry, but properly shooting in 24p, still has a cost. As I said above, the cheapest such camera costs $600 or $700. Which is a bargain compared to what it used to cost just a few short years ago: ~$5,000. So make your purchase carefully.

glenn wrote on December 17th, 2010 at 7:26 AM PST:

Eugenia, trust me I understand what you’re saying and I appreciate your input…especially since I asked for it…


I don’t think you’re hearing what I’m saying…or maybe I’m not explaining myself well enough. I already own an fX-150…I was planing on shooting shorts with that camera. When the S95 and 4500is came out with 24p and exposure lock…I felt I could save up the money and add that to my collection. I’m not using just one camera. I do multiple camera shoots. Some cameras will fit my needs better, for one specific shot more than the other will. So I need the 24p to match the other two I already own. I probably don’t really need the exposure lock, if I plan my shots and stay static on the tripod. I’d rather have some movement in my shots and that’s why I am looking at the 4500is or the S95.

Honestly I cannot believe that you, seem, to be saying to not even bother shooting a movie with a 24p camera that doesn’t have shutter speed control. I get your point and like I said in an optimal world I would love to have full manual control but I don’t…but I’m still going to make a movie anyway.

glenn wrote on December 17th, 2010 at 7:37 AM PST:

I hope that didn’t come off as rude. Trust me if I could afford a $600 camera…in one lump sum, I would do that but I can’t. I’d even bite the bullet, go back to tape and use the HV40. I don’t know how old you are but I’m almost 36 years old this isn’t just a hobby for me and I’m not getting any younger. I’d rather make a movie, in the least optimal conditions, than have no movie at all. Movie content will beat technical perfection every single time…hands down!

Thanks to this discussion I now know that I can stack ND filters to help me get closer to the 1/48th shutter speed and trust me…I am really grateful for that information…maybe I’ll even give you some props in my movie credits;)

Henry wrote on December 17th, 2010 at 9:11 AM PST:

Hey Eugenia…been following the dialogue between yourself and Glenn.I have a question.I’m new to this.Could you explain the “movie look” to me?

If I’m understanding what you’re telling Glenn is,this can only be achieved by having a camera shoot @24p with a shutter speed of 1/48th…that’s just the mechanics of it,that cannot be emulated.Am I on the right track or the wrong bus altogether?

Thank you in advance.

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Eugenia wrote on December 17th, 2010 at 3:26 PM PST:

>I can stack ND filters to help me get closer to the 1/48th shutter speed

You can’t get close enough, because you will never know if you’re close to that or not. At best, it will be an approximation of 200 units, which is massive. Maybe what you can do is shoot in auto mode a picture, and see its EXIF info if it was close or not, and then add/remove ND filters accordingly to get close.

>I don’t know how old you are but I’m almost 36 years old

I’m 37.

>Some cameras will fit my needs better, for one specific shot more than the other will.

Mixing a non-Canon digicam in your film will be a grave mistake, because the Panasonic MJPEG look is way different to that of Canon’s h.264 digicam look. You will never be able to match it in post. So decide in one camera, or at least Canon P&S digicams only, and use only that.

>I probably don’t really need the exposure lock, if I plan my shots and stay static on the tripod.

Wrong. You always need to set+lock exposure. Even if the subject moves just a foot while he talks, the exposure will jump. In that respect, the FX150 is useless. I suggest you sell it, and use that money towards a better camera. Indeed, get either the S95 that has better hardware, or the SD4500, that has more software video features.

> can only be achieved by having a camera shoot @24p with a shutter speed of 1/48th…that’s just the mechanics of it,that cannot be emulated. Am I on the right track?

Yes. There are a lot of 24p short movies out there that were not shot in 1/48th, and they don’t look proper. But anyways.

glenn wrote on December 17th, 2010 at 7:25 PM PST:

Thanks again Eugenia…EXIF idea.

Henry wrote on December 18th, 2010 at 10:17 PM PST:

Hey Eugenia…found this video saying that it was shot in 24p @ 1/48 shutter speed with a Canon HV30. Is this the coveted movie look? video

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Eugenia wrote on December 19th, 2010 at 2:59 AM PST:

Yeah, it looked fine. Photography was lacking, but motion was ok.

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