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Cinematic results in ENG situations?


#1
Recently on another forum, I read an interesting critique on a wedding video shot with a DSLR. The critic's beef was that the wedding video was inconsistent in style; in his words, "part ENG - part cinematic." The critic did not elaborate on what he considered ENG or cinematic but his rejoinders seemed to pinpoint the shaky handhelds, not enough bokeh, lack of smooth slider/jib/steadicam shots.
Having worked in broadcast news in the late 90s, it got me thinking about whether such a dichotomy actually exists in people's mind and the kinds of production decisions that will lead to such labels. More importantly, whether if there a growing backlash against the so-called 'ENG-look'.

So what is the ENG-look anyway?

Before the advent of DSLRs and large sensors camcorders, television programmes were primarily shot on 3CCD studio camcorders. The largest chips available were usually just 2/3" so DOF is relatively forgiving.
For ENG (Electronic News Gathering), deep focus is an advantage as it's difficult to manually focus on a moving subject out in the field. Cameramen preferred shoulder-mount cameras for stability in case there is a need to walk and shoot or do a stand-upper sans tripod. Unless there is a special feature, news crews would be quite reluctant to lay dolly tracks or hire a steadicam operator. Motion shots will be mostly just pan-tilt-zoom.
If these industry best practices were applied along with good lighting, pleasant composition in situations such as weddings, seminars, event launches etc some five years ago, I doubt anybody would complain.

But fast forward 10 seasons of Survivor later, (which is no way run-and-gun) audiences are expecting reality TV, if not a hollywood blockbuster, instead of the "ENG-look" for their events.

The expectation has changed but the challenges remain. Crew size, set-up time, unpredictability and spontaneity of the situation, equipment portability and reliability.

These problems used to be best-tackled with camcorders but they will never deliver the cinematic look of DSLRs/mirrorless now so in vogue.

As an editor trying to deliver a high impact piece, I'm also looking for more and more tracking shots, timelapse sequence, slo-mo and emotional content, and to borrow from Bresson, "the decisive moments." and to stretch those out.

But as a cameraman, I find myself having to move away from the tried and tested tools that I've become so familiar with.
The camcorder I sling on one shoulder doesn't come up to my eye as often as the mirrorless on the other shoulder. The handheld shots are left on the cutting floor leaving mostly slider shots and gimbal shots on the timeline.
Today, I carry a folded jib under my belt and a mini slider on a travel tripod slung around my neck all day.
I long to be free of this load once the Osmo X5 ships. Afterall, what is a slider, when a gimbal can offer me almost the same stability?
Then maybe it can be just three camera bodies with different fast lenses.

Cinematic results in ENG locations without a crew at last?
 

JacePhoto

Senior Member
Oct 1, 2007
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#3
Agree with what you say. I think clients judge your work by looking out for cinematic works but wants the result in ENG (everything sharp).

I think this happens for both commercial and wedding clients.
 

#4
I recall neither the forum nor the video but what stuck with me was the theme of ENG vs cinematic style.
Hence my short primer. Personally, I base my selection of tools and shooting strategy on a hierarchy of objectives:
At the most basic:
Access: Will I get stopped?
Coverage: Can I get all the angles I need to tell the story?
Continuity: Can I edit a sequence from one or more cameras?
Variety: Do I have enough different shots for the BPM most suited to the piece?
Stability: How to stay shake free?
Mobility: How easy is it to work the entire venue?
Deployability: How fast can I set up?
Safety: Can I check audio/focus/battery?

Being cinematic or not really factors much lower for me.
But I'm just wondering if these priorities are too low a bar nowadays.
Should event videographers move exclusively to large sensor camcorders like FS7/5 or GH4 even for stage coverage, press conference?
Should B-roll be shot exclusively on DSLRs?
I'm beginning to think so.
 

hamanoshun

Senior Member
Aug 17, 2008
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#5
Truth is in weddings, clients can't tell the difference.
 

pettypoh

Deregistered
Oct 10, 2010
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singapore
#6
I recall neither the forum nor the video but what stuck with me was the theme of ENG vs cinematic style.
Hence my short primer. Personally, I base my selection of tools and shooting strategy on a hierarchy of objectives:
At the most basic:
Access: Will I get stopped?
Coverage: Can I get all the angles I need to tell the story?
Continuity: Can I edit a sequence from one or more cameras?
Variety: Do I have enough different shots for the BPM most suited to the piece?
Stability: How to stay shake free?
Mobility: How easy is it to work the entire venue?
Deployability: How fast can I set up?
Safety: Can I check audio/focus/battery?

Being cinematic or not really factors much lower for me.
But I'm just wondering if these priorities are too low a bar nowadays.
Should event videographers move exclusively to large sensor camcorders like FS7/5 or GH4 even for stage coverage, press conference?
Should B-roll be shot exclusively on DSLRs?
I'm beginning to think so.
very technical already, i can only think nice or not, like or not

many good videos out there have their own style - i find that it's more important for the story to gel together and offer a good experience for the viewer

perhaps, the producer/editor/camera-man is in the midst of transitioning in style, that's why there's a mix (albeit weird to some)
 

DXNMedia

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 7, 2006
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#7
ENG is neither a style or look.... it is the nature of video acquisition scenario (ie News Gathering) which requires fast response time in acquiring your shots. Till date, I have yet to find newer cine-style cameras thats able to be operated like a true 'ENG' shoulder camera in being able to acquire your desired shots FAST.

No matter how much practice or how much of rigging to fit the handheld requirements, the speed in getting your desired shots cannot be compared.
Not with C100, C300, FS7, FS100, BMD cams, etc...
ENG cameras need to be able to sustain long battery life, ergonomic form factor, rugged, and more importantly, no rigging, no funky additional parts like monitor arms, focusing rigs, matte boxes, etc.... almost zero or minimal setup time (pick up, switch on and shoot).

Everything is onboard in one piece of gear, running 1 battery system. Lights, shotgun mic, wireless mic modules, etc...
The keyword is FAST...and sad to say, being old-school, none of the newer cams can fulfill these requirements....yet.... :)

2 cents...
 

Likes: hamanoshun
#8
ENG is neither a style or look.... it is the nature of video acquisition scenario (ie News Gathering) which requires fast response time in acquiring your shots. Till date, I have yet to find newer cine-style cameras thats able to be operated like a true 'ENG' shoulder camera in being able to acquire your desired shots FAST.

No matter how much practice or how much of rigging to fit the handheld requirements, the speed in getting your desired shots cannot be compared.
Not with C100, C300, FS7, FS100, BMD cams, etc...
ENG cameras need to be able to sustain long battery life, ergonomic form factor, rugged, and more importantly, no rigging, no funky additional parts like monitor arms, focusing rigs, matte boxes, etc.... almost zero or minimal setup time (pick up, switch on and shoot).

Everything is onboard in one piece of gear, running 1 battery system. Lights, shotgun mic, wireless mic modules, etc...
The keyword is FAST...and sad to say, being old-school, none of the newer cams can fulfill these requirements....yet.... :)

2 cents...
Agreed with you, being an old-school myself
 

#9
Totally agree that ENG is a situation. But there are a few more nuances to most situations.
For example, ENG is for an application - the evening news perhaps. The requirement of the evening news dictates the type of shots needed, and the amount of shots needed. (For a 2 minute news package, maybe not that much.)

Also it is matter of reportage vs editorialising. Too fancy/polished may not be a good thing for objective news.
So the application and the situation (eg. breaking news) will coax (coerce) the cameraman into a 'mode'.
Given that he does not really own his gear and may even have limited say in the type of gear he deploys, the constraints
may show in camera positions, number of angles, type of movements. And hence a 'look.'

Of course, it will be foolhardy to shoot certain news stories with a DSLR (for now) but in the interim, there are a lot going on in the consumer/prosumer sphere that could be a boon to ENG.
For example, low light cameras, GoPros, 4K camcorders, one-hand stabilisers, wearable gimbals, timelapse cameras etc, etc.

Outside of the constraint of reportage, I think there is a strong case for videographers to learn from photographers -
being nimble, mobile, ready, ...and experimental.

Granted there are a lot more requirements and constraints for video acquisition vs still, technology is quickly bridging that gap. Maybe with 8K, a few locked down cameras will provide essential coverage plus close ups as a bonus.
Then the videographer is free to take more risk and try for... cinematic!
 

Dec 3, 2013
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Singapore
#10
have a look at cartel land on netflix some great run and gun documentary filmmaking there, i would class it as cinematic. shot on c300 i believe
 

#11
Totally agree C300 is a game changer in cinema verite. (No camera comes close to the autofocusing capabilities of the C300) But in a war zone,maybe a few GH4s would be handier. To hell with bokeh. 2 bodies with 12-35,35-100 gets you covered for most b-roll without lens change. Audio should be recorded separately if one needs to be nimble. If one takes audio out of the equation, the choice of cameras suddenly becomes much wider. The new LOG firmware for GH4 certainly makes the camera more attractive for cinema verite but I do wish it had the insane IBIS of the EM5 mkII and XLR option via a hotshoe interface ala sony's MIS. Let's keep our fingers crossed for GH5 this September. IBIS, mini XLR, and better lower light too hopefully.
 

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