Canon world-first: TV ad shot using DSLR

Peter Blasina goes backstage at the world’s first TV commercial shot on digital SLR.

When you walk onto the production set of a TVC (Television Commercial) you are confronted by a barrage of high-tech, high definition professional video camera gear.

Then there is the production crew with its complement of camera operators, key grip, best boy and dolly grip; the sound engineers; lighting technicians; electricians; set builders; wardrobe, make-up artists and, of course, catering staff. Let’s not forget the most important people on the day – the director, the client and the agency, all of them there to offer an opinion.

Depending on the ad being shot, there will also be the stars of the commercial and the extras. These round out what can be a few hundred people. Add several animals and a bird and this was exactly the scene of organised mayhem that confronted me as I stepped into the set of Canon’s ‘World of EOS’ shoot.

One of the rigs used on the cameras.
One of the rigs used on the cameras.

There was one exceptional difference between this shoot and the way other TVCs are originated, however. The whole shebang was not being shot on high-end video gear; instead, all those massive cameras had been replaced by the relatively diminutive EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D SLRs.

Just so there is no confusion here, the ad was completely shot using the full HD video capability of these Canon digital SLR cameras. The 7D costs $2699 (body only) and the 5D, $4000 (5D body only). Even with the additional cost of lenses, this is significantly less than the $60,000-80,000 of a conventional high definition broadcast camera.