University Challenge: how the EOS C70 made the cut

Technology is changing the way we tell stories. From AI to smartphones, filmmakers are using new tools to embrace a real revolution in craft. We profile two sets of film students from the University of Salford and discover how one camera, the EOS C70, helped them achieve their filmmaking goals and prepare for the future.
Canon EOS C70 camera filming a boy sat on the grass in front of a lake

The behind the scenes of the shooting of ‘Kinfolk’.

“Use the craft to tell the story.” It’s a powerful mantra, and one that Janan Yakula, Lecturer in Film Production at the University of Salford, is keen to stress. When it came to replacing the EOS C100 cameras that had served the University well for over six years, she got in touch with Canon UK for advice and to see what the best choice for an upgrade was. After discussions and a visit from Canon UK’s Education Segment Manager, Nathan Dua, the EOS C70 was deemed the ideal choice as it made a seamless transition from old to new. It was lightweight, flexible, and thanks to EF-EOS R adaptors, students could use the University’s existing lenses as well as employ new RF glass to offer students relevant, practical experience with the very latest industry-standard equipment.

Janan explains: “We always look at what cameras to buy with teaching in mind; it’s not about using high end workflows from the get-go that’s going to make a great fit, it’s how you use the kit to tell a story. That’s what’s going to make a great fit.”

Student camera crew filming three actors sitting having a drink in an old-fashioned pub

The behind the scenes of the shooting of ‘Kinfolk’.

Learning the ropes: from storyboard to shoot

The biggest learning experience for First Year students was making their own short films with the C70. “They made their films in the second trimester because they’d had chance to get familiar with the camera,” Janan explains. “The C70 was leaps ahead of the old C100 and brought new challenges but also new opportunities. You can do a lot more colour work with the C70 in terms of post-production thanks to the advanced sensor, so we are starting to slowly embed that into the course. And although ‘Kinfolk’, one group of first-year students’ short film, was graded in black & white, it was still an area in which the C70 excelled because its low light footage was excellent.”

I turn to the director behind ‘Kinfolk’, student Austen Pease, and ask him if the C70 delivered the results he needed. “Oh absolutely. It really helped us create a solid film,” he recalls. “We used the camera both handheld and on a tripod with a boom mic plugged directly into it, so sound was recorded internally rather than with an external recorder. The whole film was shot with mostly prime lenses which I used at wide aperture to give a shallow look and that nice cinematic effect, and the focusing was excellent and easy to get right through the LCD.”

He continues: “And in terms of setting up, I found the menus easy and familiar, with items organised logically in groups. Once the camera was set up it didn’t really need adjusting so we used it very much in a ‘run and gun’ style. We’d just attach another lens when we needed to and then just go for the shot.”

The camera was praised by the rest of the team for its lightness, compact size and excellent shadow and highlight rendering. The standard colour profile was used, and grading took place using Da Vinci Resolve. The result is a very polished film. “It was recently screened at Kino Shorts in September, which is a great achievement for a First Year film,” comments Janan. “And aside from the students’ great creativity and technical skill, I’m sure the camera helped them achieve that extra level of success.”

Close up black and white shot of one of the actors, an older man with a mustache and beard wearing an old fashioned hat

A scene from the student short film ‘Kinfolk’.

Stepping up to the next level

While in their first year, another group of students got to push the limits of the C70 as well as their own, when making their short film called ‘Misdirect’. Using the camera almost as a third eye allowed them to adopt a more fluid approach to their production, thanks to the C70’s lightness and versatility which allowed for new angles to be incorporated into the final edit.

“The camera didn’t get in the way of our vision,” the film’s editor Billy Book remarks. “You weren’t getting bogged down into technicalities; it was quite intuitive.” Fellow student Harry Holmes agrees. “As the cinematographer on the film, most of the shots we planned on the storyboard were replicated perfectly. And we even found some new ways to add extra elements to the film. For instance, we did a moving shot where I was tracking a character, and I had to fall backwards following him. Because the camera was so light, it was just easy to react faster and keep the scene going without breaking for a new set-up. I loved using the C70 because it’s got that magical touch to it.”

Young man stood in an art gallery in front of some paintings on the wall, looking to the side

A scene from the student short film ‘Misdirect’.

Looking to the future

As the students develop their skills and continue to evolve, their confidence continues to build. From storyboard to post-production, the course at the University of Salford aims to give them a thorough ground in film craft. “Most of the students come here from either making films with their phones or a basic DSLR,” Janan explains. “So the progression from those things to a full-on filmmaking camera was obviously a big step up for them. We all loved the C100 and loved how intuitive it was and now we have the C70, it’s been pretty easy to embrace it.”

Nathan Dua explains the relationship the students and University have with the equipment. “We started this journey probably three years ago now with the C100. I was a bit worried to be honest when I sat in my internal meeting and heard that the C70 was going to come in and take over as I know how popular the C100 was as a teaching tool.”

He continues: “Plus, the C70 looked very different, too. And I know Janan missed the EVF which obviously the C70 doesn’t have. But after going into the University of Salford with our ‘Canon on Campus’ event, we were able to show off the C70 to lecturers and let their students get hands-on with it. And like many other universities, it seemed to be well received. It was a huge relief for me because the C100 was a very, very popular camera.”

Close up image of the Canon EOS C70 in the process of filming a boy sat in front of a lake

The EOS C70 being used in the filming of ‘Kinfolk’.

Janan quips: “Technology can be good at quickly replacing things that before were done very manually. But it’s important that the students know when learning the craft to master everything manually first.”

Nathan continues: “Absolutely. So it’s great for me to hear comments like ‘the camera’s not getting in the way.’ You mentioned the menu system earlier and that’s one of the things that we pride ourselves on. With the interface it’s important to try and be as user friendly as possible. From here students may well progress to a C500 Mark II. So having this grounding in the Cinema EOS system is pretty important if they are to continue their filmmaking career using Canon equipment.”

Janan agrees and adds: “Really at first year the course is about setting foundations, giving students the grounding, and helping them to understand craft and the process of telling a story. But now more than ever, technology is part of that process as well. I’m just glad that Canon recognises this and uses their experience to make the craft of storytelling and filmmaking that much more intuitive. The EOS C70 is proof of that. It’s definitely made the cut.”

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