Daniel Haggett

London based Lighting Cameraman / DoP

Most of what I shoot with my Canon 7d tends to be fairly controlled and set up, as this is where the camera really comes into its own.  Director / Producer Lucy Cutler from the BBC contacted me as she wanted to shoot a film with a different look and was keen to use some kind of DSLR for the shoot.  Initially it sounded like the wrong camera for the job, but I was really interested to see if you could shoot a standard fly on the wall or observational style piece with a 7d. For this project, it was impossible to control the scenes in this way at it was more of a "run and gun."

When shooting any actuality scene I find myself continually re-framing in order to help the edit.  If I shot an entire scene on a mid shot there would be nothing to cut to, so a variety of shots are needed in a very short space of time, and this can be a challenge on an HDSLR as the lenses just don't have the same range as a traditional broadcast camera.  Alternating between a wide and a tight on a 17-55 mill lens gave me just enough variety, along with moving position more frequently than you might need to with a full size camera.

The big difficulties are obviously lack of ND and iris control.  Following a presenter as she walks from dark rooms to bright rooms to outdoors with no ND filters or a smooth iris control was obviously pretty tricky.  I tried to control these scenes as much as possible, by stopping the action before going into a new room.  I used an ND fader on the front of the lens which I find essential for DSLR work, you can twist the ND ring to give you more or less light.

On the whole I would say shooting actuality on a 7d is difficult, but not impossible.  Check out the results below.{vimeo width="640" height="360"}33036067{/vimeo}