Dog Day DSLR Afternoon

Thierry Dauga‘s dog, Poupou, steals the show in this charming DSLR short covering the life in the day of a Canadian dog.

Thierry mentions how his eight year old dog is becoming more calm as he gets older, but he didn’t slow down for his new acting career.  Poupou is a runner, but some shots required him “to stop and stay still,” Thierry says in an interview. He wasn’t used to being asked to stop for his closeup! So Thierry devised a tried and true plan.

“I started to use little treats to reward him when I was doing what I wanted him to do and he understood very quickly and was rapidly playing the game!” Thierry exclaims.

Many of the shots were “were realized on the spot, at the first try,” Thierry beams proudly. Initially, Thierry wanted to discover if he could shoot a short story using a storyboard with fifty shots. It worked. His storyboard process was so controlled in shaping his composition, Thierry took photos with his zoom lens and reviewed them on his computer. He then “took note of the focal length for each photo test,” placing a “mark on the lens to locate the focal length” he wanted. In this way, Thierry says he was “able to respect the focal planned in the story-board.”


One of Thierry Dauga’s storyboards for Belle Journée


His shots take advantage of the DSLR’s ability to work with shallow depth of field, while at the same time creating a sense of intimacy difficult to achieve with standard (small chip) prosumer video cameras.

Thierry explained how he had shot video before with the “regular” video cameras, but he feels that three “main advantages of a dslr are in relation to its iso sensitivity, focal length, and depth of field.” In addition, he says he “was able to decrease the ISO noise, to know at all times which focal lenght I was using while shooting, and also to be able to decrease the depth of field (with the dslr features of small aperture and big cmos sensor).”

The control of the image — especially as it related to his vision designed in his storyboards — allowed him to help execute the film he had envisioned.

Using a Canon 7D, Thierry shot with 25, 50, 85, 110, and 400mm (for the sun and moon shots). Although he has since purchased a viewfinder, follow focus, and a matte box, he shot Belle Journée bare bones style. His settings were at ISO 320, 1/40 shutter at 24p, while he kept his iris wide open for his lenses (ranging from f/3.5 to 5.6). He manually white balanced with a grey card. Thierry also used Canon’s Faithful picture style with an S-curve at: 58,60;200,202.

With underexposed shots, Thierry set the shutter to 1/30 of a second and increased his ISO to 640, 800, and 1250. Shots that were over-exposed, he set the shutter to 1/50 and decreased the ISO to 160, then used a variable ND filter to “finalize the exposure,” he explains.

Thierry’s film may have been an experiment in determining if he could pool off a DSLR short, but more than the multitude of so-called wanna-be filmmakers doing their “test” video, he provides a short film that expressed heart and a story-arc.


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