For their latest project, the filmmakers of The Muir Project headed deep into the Alaskan wilderness to tell the story of Jim and Tip, two longtime friends who are now in their 70s, as they reunited to paddle the Noatak River, repeating a trip they had made some 30 years prior. It’s a touching tale of friendship and a powerful statement on the importance of experiencing the natural world.
Visually, the filmmaking style serves the story well, favoring intimacy over complexity. As the crew had to be flown in on a small seaplane, strict weight limits forced them to only bring the essentials, including a Canon EOS-1D C DSLR, which would serve as the primary camera on the shoot.
When it came out in March of 2013, the full-frame 1D C – part of Canon’s Cinema EOS-series of filmmaking cameras – was the first and only DSLR to offer 4K video recording. It also carried an astronomical price of $15,000, more than double the cost of the EOS-1D X upon which it was based. In the years since, 4K-capable cameras have proliferated across the market, and the 1D C has seen significant price drops. Although not the smallest or lightest 4K camera out there, it proved the right choice for Noatak: Return to the Arctic.
“We knew we wanted to shoot 4K internally, so the 1D C was the best option,” director Ric Serena told Fstoppers. “There have been a few cameras since that have similar specs, but it was really ahead of its time shooting 4K internally.” The 1D C makes use of professional features like 4:2:2 color sampling and a Log-C gamma profile, enabling the camera to capture greater color accuracy and wider dynamic range. While other cameras also have these features, few can do both internally, relying instead on external recorders to capture the feed from the HDMI port. Given the constraints of this project, an external recorder wasn’t an option.
The 1D C also benefits from a rugged built quality with dust- and splash-proofing, which would obviously be advantageous on this type of shoot.