The American National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most active, innovative and followed brands on social media. For its NBA Global Games London 2017 event, it wanted to maximise engagement with its growing number of European fans. It chose UK-based end-to-end digital agency DMS and its in-house Tiger Films’ production team to provide creative ideas as well as the filming, editing and delivery of HD content from the game’s announcement back in July 2016, all the way through to the post-game party. The idea was to give fans as much quality behind-the-scenes and on-court action as possible as the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers faced off in their regular season tie at London’s The O2 on 12 January, 2017.
DMS’ Tiger Films team has two Canon EOS C300 cameras and a selection of Canon EF lenses that it uses to deliver a range of original content for broadcast, online and social. These EOS C300s have been used on an almost daily basis over the past two-and-a-half years by Tiger Films to cover a wide variety of events. Samantha Whitehouse, head of Tiger Films at DMS said: “The EOS C300 cameras are real workhorses for us – we use them on 99% of our jobs. They perform so well, are very reliable and we know that what we capture with them will look great.”
However, Tiger Films wanted to road test a Canon EOS C300 Mark II ahead of a potential upgrade, and felt that the demands of this project would provide them the perfect opportunity to put the camera through its paces. The original plan was to run two cameras throughout the week, its own EOS C300 and the new EOS C300 Mark II. This would give both its crews hands on experience with the camera, and a side-by-side comparison between both models.
“When we started playing around with the EOS C300 Mark II and saw the difference in quality, we and the NBA decided to bring in a second Mark II so that the picture quality matched up,” said James Dean, camera operator at Tiger Films. “We’re now very keen to get our own EOS C300 Mark II, purely based on the experience of using it for this job. Both us and our client were really impressed by what could be achieved, particularly with the slow-motion feature, while the colour profiles have also been greatly improved.”
Having hired in a second EOS C300 Mark II, a meeting the weekend before the game confirmed the filming schedule which featured a wide variety of different shoots, events and subsequent edits. Despite a rough outline of the week ahead, the nature of the filming meant that flexibility was key. Both Tiger Films camera crews had kit bags filled with Canon glass including the EF 8-15mm, EF 16-35mm, EF 24-70mm and EF 70-200mm so that they could adapt, whatever the situation, location or subject.
Day one involved the filming of a Jr. NBA clinic at The O2 in east London before shooting an afternoon tea segment with NBA European Ambassador John Amaechi at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. To finish off, Tiger Films then captured Denver Nuggets players at Mayfair’s Savile Row where they were being fitted for suits by renowned fashion designer Ozwald Boateng.
“The main factor for me with the EOS C300 Mark II is that the picture quality is so different and so much better than what we’re used to,” said Dean. “You don’t actually have to do a lot to get a great image.”
Tiger Films’ shooting producer John Somerville, who was using the second EOS C300 Mark II felt the same way, saying: “one of the key benefits we found, and why it suited our needs so well, was that it’s so quick. It does things by itself. As operators, we don’t need to do a lot to achieve a nice image and this is really beneficial because a lot of the work we do at Tiger Films is documentary-style filmmaking where we’re running around from location to location, pointing and shooting.”
John was also impressed with the performance in low-light conditions of the EOS C300 Mark II. “We did a lot of point and shoot on the game and on the audience, and the lighting was not ideal. The camera was great however and meant we could capture far more in and around the arena than we normally would’ve been able to, giving the editors more choice with what they could include.”
Both James and John were hugely impressed with the slow-motion feature on the EOS C300 Mark II. “It’s a big plus when shooting sport like we were for this project,” said Dean. “The slow-motion capability is extremely attractive to us we used it a lot. It allowed us to be more creative, and was something that the NBA was really pleased with.”
Transitioning from their usual EOS C300s to the EOS C300 Mark IIs was smooth, with James Dean saying: “The transitioning over was super easy, as only a few of the buttons had changed. The Canon Log was really good to shoot in, and it made our editors very happy as they had a lot of stuff to get through each day. There were no questions from our post team, it was seamless, which is essential with a high volume and quick turnaround project like this.”
To put the content schedule into perspective, videos like John Amaechi’s afternoon tea round table were shot during the day and then dropped into Tiger Films' Adobe Premiere Pro-based edit workflow to be turned around and delivered first thing the next morning. Within twelve hours these were ready for pushing out over the various NBA social channels to keep up the interest and online momentum around the game.
On gameday, the Canon EOS C300 Mark IIs were used to film the action as well as celebrities arriving on the red carpet at The O2 for what was the hottest ticket in town. After a long evening of shooting, the final highlights video was completed, approved and uploaded onto social media at the close of the game, before fans had even left the arena.
Preparing for 4K
Discussing their choice of lenses, James said: “With the work we do, we need to punch in and out on subjects, so the wide range of Canon glass available offers real flexibility for us. At the NBA Global Games London, we had an EF 8-15mm fisheye which we put onto the EOS C300 Mark II in the corner of the arena and managed to capture a really nice time-lapse of the crowd filling up ahead of the game, which the NBA loved.”
Although 4K was not required for this job, the Tiger Films crew still took the time to run some tests while they had the camera. “We were very impressed with the 4K, and that option gives a good crop factor when it comes to post, which can be really helpful,” said John Somerville. “As YouTube now supports 4K, and a lot of the content we capture is destined for that platform, we’re seeing more requests from clients for 4K acquisition, which is why the EOS C300 Mark II is so appealing to us from a business point of view.”
The value of capturing and delivering quality content around events like this is demonstrated in the high levels of engagement with fans. A video of the Nuggets visiting Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium received over 400,000 hits alone. The NBA and Premier League crossover provided a particular win for engagement, with another 12 second video of Arsenal footballer Hector Bellerin doing an impressive on-court trick shot gaining another 400,000 views.
As viewers, consumers and fans get access to more supporting video, it’s important that what’s being produced for social media is of a high enough quality, both creatively and in terms of its production values, in order to stand out. This is where professional tools like the EOS C300 Mark II and supporting Canon glass, as well as established post workflows can support operators and enable them to deliver the most engaging of content.
Tiger Films’ Samantha Whitehouse concluded: “The Canon EOS C300 Mark IIs were the ideal cameras for us, particularly with a challenging event like the NBA Global Games. The client, our operators and our post team were all impressed with the Mark II, how well it performed, particularly the image quality and how easily it fitted into our workflow. The quality of the videos we shot with it speak for themselves and were well received by NBA fans and the media that were covering the event.”
- 2x Canon EOS C300 Mark II cameras
- 1x Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens
- 2x Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lenses
- 2x Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lenses
- 2x Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses