I recently started work on a promo for Nike, featuring the football players they sponsor from teams such as Barcelona and Manchester United. The director and I had several conversations about how to give the film an interesting look. We both like the look and feel of the Canon eos range, and the 7d has the added advantage of shooting slow motion which would be really useful for a football promo. The big misgivings I had about using the 7d was about how it would handle the fast pace of football, I had doubts we would capture anything usable: the pace of football is so fast that I was worried about rolling shutter, and whether I would be able to keep the players in shot and in focus. Trying to follow a ball around a pitch is pretty tough on a full size ENG camera, and I thought it would be near impossible with a 7d with a small fixed view finder and a tiny depth of field.
The director and I were so keen to use the 7d we thought we would try to use it and alter our shooting style accordingly to allow for the limitations of the camera, as it turned out this was a great way to work. Rather that follow the ball from player to player we decided to set up shots and let the action come to us. There are several set shots that worked really well. Keeping the camera behind the net fairly wide and pulling focus from the net on to the players as the approach the goal to score worked well. It is certainly a lot easier to follow that way as you know roughly where they are going. We tried variation of this using a slider and panning down to the ball as it hit the back of the net or ending on the goal keeper if they saved the ball. Any set up situations such as kick off, corners, penalties etc are obviously much easier to shoot as you know where to set the focus and have time to compose the shot somewhat. We also tried lots of shots that gave a vague sense of the game, without clearly showing the action. An example of this would be shooting really low down on a slider with the iris wide open keeping the white line of the pitch in focus and the players at a complete blur.
Another interesting point is that the rolling shutter I expected to see just didn't occur. I did try shooting some ball follow action, and it was fast paced one and two touch football, yet there wasn't any rolling shutter.
Overall the shots we came back with were pretty impressive and should help cut a good promo. I feel the whole point of a promo is to look interesting a different from the kinds of shots you might traditionally see - in this case those of a football game. In the end the fact that the Canon 7d just isn't right for shooting a football game in a traditional way, turned out to be a good thing.
We have now finished shooting the players of Barcelona FC and are off to Brazil. I will upload some video of the results once the editing is done.