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Friday, 07 February 2014


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Another reason to use the tripod: IS can be noisy and picked up by the internal mic - another reason to go for external.

If you think someone might want to edit the footage and you are recording the sound with your camera, just keep recording even if nothing is happening and you are changing the framing, or moving the camera. Don't wait for something to happen then start recording. Get a few minutes of the audience , birds flying overhead, bugs flying around the lights, cars driving by, so that the editor can use it for a cutaway shot. Make sure to record about a minute of "quiet" in the location where you are recording. Your editor will ask if you have "room tone" and you will be able to say yes. This "room tone" is used to replace the sound of idiots asking if you are recording, or any other audio than needs to be edited out. Do this and your editor can fix most of your mistakes. Otherwise the the most beautiful video in the world may be unusable.

If you are shooting "hand held" attach a monopod to the camera. It will change amphetamine-shaky-cam to something more like white-wine-but-not-quite-tipsy-cam.
A simple explanation here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moment_of_inertia.

A monopod is also handy to get those ten feet up in the air shots ( drummers in rock bands will be your new best friend if you do this ) and you can even let it rest on the ground if you want.

Good advice. Zooming was already mentioned, ie. don't do it. Better not pan either unless you can do it very slowly and very smoothly. Good tripod head helps. Pros use fluid heads that cost thousands of dollars, for a reason.
Use a slow shutter speed, even outdoors in good light. 1/50 is about right for normal 24fps speed. If you have too much light, use a ND filter.
It is usually good to set the camera to a soft, natural or muted color. Amateur videos look over sharpened and over saturated.
Manual focus was mentioned but manual exposure can also be a good idea.
Sound was mentioned, but it is so important. It is in some ways even more important than the video. Separate audio recorder is good but adds complexity to the world flow. Separate micropohone is good if one can be fitted but adds bulk and expense. But it is very hard to get good audio without these.

And here's the BBC's advice on how to shoot video with your iPhone: <http://youtu.be/YsediItYmls>

The greatest difference between video capture and still capture is that the former requires you to tell a story while the latter may be OK to catch some significant moments only.

- Frank

I've been shooting video with DSLR's for a couple of years now. It's been an expensive learning experience.

If all you've got is a DSLR that will shoot video, you are going nowhere. You need a lot of other stuff to shoot professional quality video. And then you need to learn how to use serious video editing software. I started with Final Cut Pro X and have moved to Premiere Pro and other related Adobe video software.

DSLR's are not appropriate for everything. A good camcorder is much easier to work with in any kind of run and gun situation.

I love shooting DSLR video. It's beautiful, filmic, all those superlatives. But if I had known then what I know now...

In addition to manual focus, the following also helps:

Manual White Balance: if shooting under artificial light, focus on a patch of white or grey in the same light, and manually set white balance, and lock it there. Otherwise, colors (especially skin tones) can wander off in ugly ways, and it's a pain to fix in post.

Manual Exposure: while the "shutter" may not be controllable in video mode, the aperture usually is. If the camera has a manual exposure mode for video, figure out how to use it. Alternatively, figure out how to lock the auto exposure.

Otherwise, the auto exposure may "pump" (go wildly bright or dim for a few seconds) while the video is being shot, because (for example) a bright light source briefly shines directly into the lens, or someone with a dark shirt passes in front of the camera.

Also, in tight situations, a monopod can be a good substitute for a tripod. I've shot concerts in crowded clubs where drunks would be constantly tripping over tripod legs. A monopod, especially combined with the built-in image stabilization of many cameras and zoom lenses, will give you steady shots, albeit with more physical effort on your part -- you do have to keep at least one hand on the camera ;)

If you're going to be shooting in dim light, bring the widest aperture lens you have. I have a Panasonic GF2, and bought an m4/3 converter for Nikon so that I can shoot video with my old Nikkor 50mm 1.4. Got some very clean video at ISO 1600 of a concert in an Irish pub whose stage was illuminated with a pair of 50 watt floods. Just needed to practice manual focusing a bit beforehand, and it worked a treat.

All in all, the quality of video you can get with very modest equipment is amazing.

Oh, and one more: SPARE BATTERIES! Video mode in a DSLR is very energy-hungry and can flatten a battery in an hour or two. Turning on image stabilization will drain the battery even faster.

This is a useful site with good info if you're shooting hybrid (stills and video): http://hybridphoto.pro

I learned to do it this way... Decide on your f-stop first so you can get the DOF you require....then set your shutter speed which is based on your frame rate. Then once those are done, adjust your exposure via ISO, you can shoot a still to check your histogram. If you always start with f-stop you will always make logical decisions for the rest of the exposure triangle.
Every time I've deviated from this sequence I've been sorry. And definitely custom white balance is essential. And lavalieres are way easier to use than shotguns.

To My Generous Commenters,

Thank you for your tips and insights. What many of them make clear, however, is that DSLR video can be a slippery slope for the neophyte. Video tripods, external mikes, and continuous lights are all essential investments for people who are serious about producing high-quality video. They are luxuries for those who simply want to make an occasional short video clip. The core theme of my post still holds: It's best to keep to the shallow end of the pool and make sure you've got your basic skills together before you agree to jump into the deep end.

Best wishes,
Gordon Lewis

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