Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shoot Video! My first experiences...

Last night I went and really tested out the video capabilities of my D3s for the first time.  Shooting video is so much fun, but is actually a lot more different than what I had initially expected.  First off, it's got a few similarities to photography, which helps quite a bit.  Then, there are the differences, which can be very tough to understand/figure out at first.  The main difference being the entire approach to the shoot.  For photographers who spend days setting up a single photo, this should be no big deal.  But if you generally fly by the seat of your pants, you are in for a surprise with video!


Luckily for me, I had Daniel Milchev, or there to help (and be the talent!) Thanks Daniel!  One of the very first things he pointed out to me was that I needed to shoot more of a story, and really get shots of many angles of the same thing, so I can blend them together and make it interesting.  My best advice:  shoot all the small details, It's not just the action that counts.

Here's my crazy idea I had starting out:  I brought a few flashes along, and figured that I could mix a photo into the video mid-action scene.  To do this, I had to shoot the scene through once for the video footy, then again with flashes in place for the photo.  From there, I spliced the photos into the clip using Adobe Premiere.  And it all actually worked!  The important thing here, is keeping your camera at the same exact position on the tripod.

Camera settings in video can be quite confusing.  You may think that shutter speed would not apply, but it does.  Set your camera up so that it's exposed well just like a photo.  Start with shutter, because typically for video, the best results come at 1/30th.  I chose to use shutter mode so that all I had to do was set my ISO and my shutter speed.  This makes it very easy to shoot with changing light from different angles.

Focus must be manual for action.  The live view auto-focus mode is no where near fast enough to track a quick moving subject.  I pre-set if before the shot, and if I will have to change it during the clip, generally will perform a few run-throughs just so I know how far and fast to turn the focus dial.

The camera needs to be on a tripod or have some type of stabilizer.  Without this, the shots might be too shaky to use.  I use a manfrotto tripod with the $157 Manfrotto 701-HDV tripod head.  This is a fluid head that will enable you to pan and tilt with very smooth motion, and is lightweight for carrying.

With video, there are tons of options for shots.  There are far out zoomed in shots, low depth of field footage, zoom shots, focus push or pull, panning shots, close shots, close panning, still shots, and anything else you can think of.  Don't be afraid to experiment, after all, it's basically free to shoot since you aren't running any real film.


Try to compile and tell a whole story through the film.  This means showing every little detail that tells what's happening.  Without this, and if you shoot with no real order, then it will be tough to create an enticing video.  Every good video needs a good story as well.  It's like when you got all excited to see "2012" and then discovered that the story sucked, and the whole movie was just about special effects.  It ruins it when the story is missing, no matter how good the footage,

The best way to learn video is to practice.  Get out there and experiment and don't be afraid to try crazy new ideas.  It just may turn out that video was your calling as well!  Happy shooting!

(The photos in the article became part of the video.  I will upload the full video when it's completed in the next 2 weeks.)

That's the BUZZ for Today!  Please check back soon for more.


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