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DESCRIPTIONAn introduction to shooting films using high-definition DSLR cameras
- Digital SLR Cinematography
An introduction to
- This session
Why use dSLRs for filming?
With demos and big-screen blockbusters!
Getting started with filming using dSLRs
Basic cinematography concepts and dSLRs
Advanced setups: taking it to the next level
- Why shoot films on a dSLR?
Compact and light
High-def(1080p), high bitrate(50mbps) capture
Advanced creative control (Av/DoF, Tv)
High-quality, interchangeable lenses
Large, high quality CMOS sensors:
Optical capture area is larger than 35mm cine film
Unrivalled low-light shooting ability
High dynamic range
3 years ago, to get all this in a video camera, the *least* it would have cost is $50,000 (body only)
Vincent Laforet- Reverie the clip that started it all. Shot on 5D Mark II no colour grading.
Shane Hurlbut, ASC The Last Three Minutes. Shot on 5D Mark II.
Phillip Bloom Sofias People. Shot on 5D Mark II with just one lens, a Zeiss ZF 50mm f1.4 no lighting or colour grading.
- Recent big dSLR productions
"if youre [not] using the 5D [Mark II], you arent making your movie the best it can be.
Iron Man 2
Black Swan (filmed in Australia!)
AFI Movie of the Year
1 Academy Award & 4 nominations including Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Motion Picture of
House Season 6 Finale (clip), and ALL of (current) Season 7
- Getting started
The minimum youll need (kits from $600!):
A dSLRbodywith HD 720p or better
Full frame (35mm) vs crop sensor (APS-C)
5d Mark II 7D
A lensPrime Zoom
- Sensor sizes
35mm Full Frame (5D mkII, Nikon D3s)
APS-C (crop)(7D, RED One - $25,000)
Broadcast Camcorder (Sony EX3 - $10,000)
Light from lens falling on focal plane
Full frame sensor imaging area
Crop sensor imaging area (1.5-1.6x zoom)
- Why use primes
Faster than zooms (esp. kit lenses)
(Generally) better optics & image quality
Many primes are comparatively cheap
E.g. Samyang14mm f/2.8, 35mm & 85mm f/1.4 + Canon 50mm f/1.8 for less than the price of a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom - & is optically superior in every way
Zooming (while filming) is usually avoided
(unless you are Stanley Kubrick, BazLuhrmann, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Quentin Tarantino )
But need lens changes/less convenient
so less suitable for documentary/event work which needs flexibility
(for narrative filmmaking)?
- Adapting old/cheap len$e$
Many old lenses can be attached with adaptors this is a great way to pick up a bargain lens!
You will usually lose electronic control - so most adapted lenses need a manual aperture ring!
This adaptor has electronic connectors BUT
- Cinematography Basics 101
Exposure Light, aperture, ISO, ND filters
Shutter speed & frame rate
- Focal length
Refers to the amount of image magnification.
Wide Angle perspective exaggerated
Normal natural perspective
Telephoto perspective compressed
- Video exposure basics
Exposure - controlling the recorded video image for correct brightness and contrast.
Lighting is the foundation of exposure. If you can control the light, you can use the cameras exposure controls for creativity and finesse - rather than just to get a shot.
Aperture, ISO and ND filtersare used for controlling exposure in-camera. Not shutter speed(though it does affect exposure).
- Video exposure basics (cont)
Fast lenses have a large maximum aperture e.g. f/2.8, f/1.8, f/1.4 (f-stop).
Note: f/x is a fraction! So the smaller the value of x, the larger the number f/x - and the larger the aperture! (e.g. f/1.4 > f/2.8)
Let in more light
so you can
Shoot in dimmer light(with good exposure)
Blur fore/backgrounds [subject focus/bokeh]
Create beautiful images!
f/1.4 f/2.8 f/8 f/22
More light Less light
- Video exposure basics (cont)
Doubling ISO doubles the sensitivity of the sensor and makes the image brighter.
However, high ISO results in more noise, reducing image quality.
Multiples of 160 are real ISOs for Canons others aregenerated
- Video exposure basics (cont)
We can also reduce the amount of light entering the lens with a Neutral Density (ND) filter. This is useful if we want to shoot with a wide aperture on a bright day.
ND4 (1-stop) Graduated ND Fader ND
- What about shutter speed?
The shutter speed of each frame is limited by the frame rate. (Shooting) at 24 fps, the LONGEST exposure possible is 1/24s.
To mimic the appearance of film, shoot as close as possible to half your frame rate. E.g. at 24 fps, set your shutter to 1/50s.
You can increase your shutter speed, for a stroboscopic, choppy appearance (e.g. Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator).
- Frame Rate
Most standard film is shot at 24 fps. PAL is 25 fps. To mimic the look of cinematic film, use a setting as close as possible to 24 fps.
The 7D can shoot at 60 fps. This can be slowed down to 24/25 fps for flawless slow-mo or even further with software (demo).
Video on frame rate and shutter speed.
- Technical stuff
Compression How the original video data is reduced for storage. Currently, all dSLR video is compressed (lossy)
Codec how the video data is encoded. H.264 (Canon) is more efficient than MJPEG (Nikon)
Bitrate how much data is used to store video
- Advanced dSLR setups
Allow mounting of additional accessories
Improve visual & audio quality & monitoring
Improve creative & technical control
Look awesome professional!
- Advanced considerations
High quality audio capture & recording
Manually controlling focus
Controlling video and audio
Monitoring video and audio
- Support/mounting systems
Shake and blur are distracting!
Sturdy tripod & fluid head almost essential
I recommend WeiFang EI-717AH head.
Sturdy Rig for shoulder/handheld work
Weight and/or contact points minimise shake
I use this collapsible shoulder rig.
Or you can make one for a few dollars. Works fine!
15mm cinematic rails for mounting accessories.
- Basic Supports
Shoulder rig with integral 15mm rails
Use of rails to mount accessories (overkill for most shoots!)
Video fluid head
- Supports for camera moves
Dolly & tracking: Moving the camera in one plane. Fwd-back = dolly; left-right = tracking
(Phillip Bloom Salton Sea demo with slider)
Crane: basically, tracking up and down
Pan & tilt: Rotating camera on H or V axis. Dont do this too fast (causes rolling shutter &/or strobing) or jerkily!
- Supports for camera moves
Fluid head for pan/tilt
Skateboard as dolly
(you can DIY most of these!)
- Capturing audio
Audio is arguably more important than video for quality filmmaking. Viewers will tolerate poorly-shot images; but rarely poor sound!
Turn off Automatic Gain in camera (AGC)!
Use external microphone (Lavalier/shotgun)
Mic setup e.g. boom, shockmount, windshield
Boost S:NR - use amp/recorder (Juicedlink/Zoom)
Use shielded cabling for longer cables (XLR)
Sync with slate/clapper board (acrylic/iPad/DIY)
- Capturing audio (images)
- Controlling focus
Most dSLRs cannot autofocus in video mode
But in narrative filmmaking, we use manual focus anyway for more control
For focus pulls, we use a follow focus:
Follow focus for shake-free, precise focus adjustments and pulls - with white marker disc
Industry-standard rail mount (15mm rods, 60mm apart)
Speed crank for fast focus pull
- Controlling video
To control flare from light sources, use a lens hood or matte box:
Matte boxes also enable use of 4x4 filters
French Flag helps cut glare
Filter holders: static/rotating
Matte box should attach sturdily!
Foam donut, snug around lens
Attaches to 15mm rail mount
- Controlling video (cont)
Always shoot in M (Manual) setting
Need to White Balance - because we are shooting compressed video (not RAW).
To improve final dynamic range, use Picture Styles (Canon) to flatten contrast. I recommend Technicolor Cinestyle(free!)
Colour-correct in Post- (Colour Grading) with Cinestyle Look-Up-Table (LUT) (also free!)
- Monitoring audio & video
External field monitor or
loupe for camera LCD
Use zebra stripes and live histogram not in standard camera but
Use headphones closed ear, flat response is best
Use level meters - not in standard camera but
- Magic Lantern for Canon dSLR
Some talented programmers have written free software for Canon cameras that improves control and monitoring of video & audio: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/
Audio level monitor (int/ext mics)
Live exposure histogram
Zebra stripes (shows over/underexposed areas in image)
One you have shot your footage, it needs to be edited! Some options & tips
Free, open source video editor: Lightworks
Used to edit The Kings Speech (Winner of 4 2011 Academy Awards incl. Best Motion Picture)
Other options: Adobe Premiere Pro
CS5 can edit dSLR video natively saves hours
Apple Final Cut Pro
Free plugin imports Canon files for best quality
Converts to 4.2.2 Apple Prorescolour space
- Colour grading
Shoot flat for detail in highlights & shadows
Colour grading: for hue, saturation & contrast
- Summary - and tips!
To get started you just need a dSLR and lens:
Install free Technicolor Cinestylepicture style
Use free Magic Lantern firmware
Use free editor (http://lightworksbeta.com/)
Use free music (e.g. http://mobygratis.com/or http://creativecommons.org/) for audio
Shoot and practice!
- Summary and tips (cont)
If you have a few extra dollars:
Buy a tripod and external shotgun microphone
Make a rig, shock mount and boom pole(even cranes, sliders and dollies if you want to!)
Use a digital audio recorder (e.g. your phone)
Shoot and practice some more!
- More information
Online dSLR filmmaker community
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