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by Brett Gillespie

Band Pro sits down with 'Samsara' Producer Mark Magidson to learn about his latest projects, and get his impressions of shooting 4K with the Canon EOS 1D C.

BP: Recently you were shooting with the Canon 1D C.  Can you tell us about the project?

MM: Actually we were shooting a short doc in Romania.  It is about a brother and sister who are orphans in a college scholarship program that have an incredible story of survival and ultimately success against great odds.  They received scholarships through a foundation, the Blue Heron Foundation, that was founded by my wife over 10 years ago.  My son Michael, who is 16, directed.  We had heard about them through the foundation and scouted/pre-interviewed several months back and laid it out before the trip this summer.  It was a pretty intense 6 day shoot.  There is so much planning and story boarding for any film, image capture is not a lot more work in 4K than HD so it made sense to do this in 4K especially as I already had a 1D C and Canon and Band Pro generously made a second camera available to us.

BP: How did the camera perform?

MM: The 1D C was a pleasure, it has still camera DNA as well so setups are pretty fast which is great for this kind of work.  I used it's predecessor still camera for years before this, the Mark lll 1DS, that has similar architecture and was comfortable with that so the transition was easy.  I've had the 1D C for a few months.

BP: It’s got a pretty small DSLR camera body.  Did you need to build it up with an external recorder and accessories, or were you able to shoot with it stripped down?

MM: Yes, we used a separate external recorder and a boom mike as well and we used Lavalier mikes for a few interview situations.  We worked with a Romanian filmmaker who helped us, George Dorobantu, who supplied the recording equipment and things we didn't want to carry, like fluid heads, tripods and a compact lighting package.  We were able to make the trip work with just one equipment case, basically the cameras and lenses.


BP: What did you think of the 4K workflow?

MM: The 4K data was a bit of work to deal with on location as we wanted three backups that needed to be created daily so sometimes downloading went a little late into the night.  We used 128GB Lexar UDMA 7 cards, they last about 30 minutes in 4K.  In total we shot about 1.6TB, or around 7 hours of material.  On busy shooting days it goes fast and you get a fair amount of data in a hurry.  We are going to downrez the data now to HD for editing and go back and conform later in 4K.

BP: How was it seeing Samsara projected in 4K at the Paramount Theater back in June of this year?

MM: It's one of the best rooms to see any film, very comfortable and fantastic sound.  It was great to see it in there again.

BP: Will you and Ron Fricke be working on a follow up to Samsara?  Complete the trilogy you started with Baraka?

MM: No plans to at the moment, I said that after Baraka too so who knows.  These films take so long and you need to make space to work them into your life.  

BP: What’s the next challenge you’re looking forward to?

MM: At the moment it's fun to watch my son develop his talent from hanging around some of the production shoots and editing on Samsara to where he has visual concepts and an approach with his own ideas.