Canon EOS C300 Cinema Cameras Deliver for Iron Man 3 VFX

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios.

GREAT NECK, N.Y.—Marvel’s Iron Man 3 visual effects team created some scenes by superimposing computer graphic imagery on to live-action stunt footage.

The team relied on the image quality and mobility of EOS C300 Cinema cameras from Canon U.S.A., Inc. Six cameras served as “witness cameras” for accurate close-up tracking of stunt actors’ movements. The footage was then used by visual effects facilities as a reference to overlay photorealistic CGI of Iron Man armor and other imagery on to main-camera footage.

“The Canon EOS C300 cameras gave us the main things we needed, which were detail, sharpness and resolution,” said Iron Man 3 visual effects supervisor Christopher Townsend.

Engineered to deliver 1920 x 1080 HD images, the EOS C300 Cinema camera integrates Canon’s Super 35mm CMOS sensor, which is modeled on the Super 35mm motion picture film standard. This, combined with Canon’s Digic DV III Image Processor, and a 50 Mbps 4:2:2 MPEG-2 codec, provides image capture even in low-light environments. In addition, the EOS C300 camera body weighs 3 lbs.

“The Canon EOS C300 witness cameras were placed on either side of our main picture camera and they recorded exactly what the picture camera was seeing, but from slightly different angles. Then, using various software programs and hard work, we were able to triangulate exactly where a person was in space at any particular moment, and then overlay a CGI ‘character’ on top of the,” Townsend said of the techniques for visual data tracking.

Some EOS C300 camera shots were also used in the finished film.

“The Canon EOS C300 camera footage worked very well with the footage from our primary capture cameras,” Townsend said. “The Canon C300 camera’s Canon Log is a similar format to what’s used by the primary capture cameras, so it worked out great.”

Canon Log captures the full exposure latitude that the camera’s Super 35mm CMOS sensor is capable of. The settign provides film-style dynamic range between shadows and highlights for post-production color grading.

Another advantage cited by the effects team is its compatibility with Canon’s line of interchangeable EF Series photographic lenses as well as CN-E Series Cinema Prime and Zoom lenses.

Features contributing to the easy operation of the Canon EOS C300 include a removable combination control panel and 4-inch 1.23 megapixel LCD monitor for user convenience. There is also a built-in 1.55 megapixel adjustable-angle color electronic viewfinder. The removable LCD monitor can display a waveform monitor, vectorscope and other screens. Visual focusing aids on the external LCD monitor include two peaking modes, a magnified focus-assist function and edge-monitor focus assist technology. Additionally included with the EOS C300 camera is a detachable grip with control dial and function buttons for hand-held shooting.