Meanwhile, I have made a number of test videos and also – more or less successful – set in the picture agencies.
I noticed that when filming some things are of elementary importance, which are totally irrelevant when taking pictures. So here are some basic tips for getting started with DSLR filming.
1. The tripod is your friend!
Yes, I know: it’s heavy, bulky and unwieldy! Nevertheless. Without a tripod you will succeed only in the rarest of cases quiet pictures. There are different variants. As standard, I use the Manfrotto tripod MA 190XPROB Pro *. This is relatively light (1.8 kilos), with 5 kilos loadable (just enough for the 5D Mark II and a heavy lens), quite high extendable and the center column can be tilted to take pictures directly from above ( bird’s eye view). At first I made the mistake of using a normal ball head, but with camera panning (panning) and camera tips (tilting) there is always a jerk when starting and braking. That’s why I bought the mini fluid video 700RC2 from Manfrotto * as a tripod head. The recordings are much quieter, but I find the operation of the quick release plate is not optimal. Very shaky, before it gets screwed down awkward.
The second option, if I have no space for tripod plus head, is my monopod 685B *. This is not the easiest or the shortest, but it is one of the few that can be adjusted in height with one hand, without taking the other hand from the camera. So at least I avoid wobbly up and down and can swing well.
Other ways to stabilize the image are steadicams, dollys or shoulder mounts.
2. Keep your sensor clean!
A small spot on the camera sensor? No problem with a photo. One click with Photoshop and he is gone. For stains on video that is not so easy and I had to carry some videos in the trash because they showed obvious spots. Therefore, before prolonged filming before, clean both the sensor and the lenses.
3. Bring movement into the picture!
To portray movements in a photo is an art in itself. For videos they are a necessity. Otherwise, only 24 identical photos per second remained. There are different possibilities:
Either the motive moves, for example a person walks, turns, jumps, runs, falls. Or the motive is moved, like flowers that weigh in the wind, balls that are pushed or liquids that are filled into vessels.
Alternatively, the camera can move around a static subject. This requires a lot of practice and accuracy especially with DSLR cameras by manual focus. Here you can either use movie sliders, the above mentioned dollys or other things with wheels or rollers. The supreme discipline is moving the camera to film moving lenses.
4. Turn on the sound!
For many footage clips for video agencies rich recordings without original sound. The customer often puts music or ambience sounds underneath anyway. Therefore, it would be useful to turn off the sound right at the camera. Nevertheless, I advise you to leave it that way. After taking many videos directly in the camera without sound, I photographed my grandma’s 60th birthday. Her old girl choir – now also sprightly ladies – had planned a surprise serenade and my grandmother sang with tears in her eyes. It was a very moving video recording – but unfortunately without sound.
In addition, there are always motives in which the videos sell better with clay, be it gurgling mountain streams or birdsong on a summer meadow. In general, the video must be converted anyway, then the sound can always be removed without much effort.
Sometimes the sound is also suitable for comments from the off, the like when cutting the film o.ä. help. For example, I used the soundtrack in my continuous light test for video recordings to comment on which light structure I use just outside the visible image.
5. Think like a cameraman!
I am fortunate that a good friend of mine is a professional videojournalist, with whom I have already made videos together. That’s how I got to know a mindset that photographers have not yet internalized.
In order to be more flexible when cutting, for example, there should always be a few seconds of rest at the beginning and end of a scene in which the subject is not yet or no longer moving. If this is not possible, for example, a quiet spot such as the floor or the wall is filmed so that it can be swiveled from there to the movement. Five seconds lead and caster should be enough.
There are also some rules that do not appear in photo books, but are common knowledge among cinematographers. For example, it is important to avoid an axis jump.
6. Do it manually, baby!
This applies to both exposure and focus. In the case of an automatic exposure, brightness fluctuations occur when the image section is changed during pans that are very amateurish. The autofocus in digital SLR cameras with video function is still very slow and virtually useless during a recording. This may change, but so far the manual setting is the measure of all things. For a closer focus, a display magnifier can help, for example by Hoodman *.
7. Know the right settings!
Just as for photography, there are synonymous with the settings of the camera settings on the camera, which are more advantageous. This includes, for example, a reduction of the contrast.
Since I myself work with the Canon 5D Mark II, the camera settings are limited to the model. In principle, however, it applies to all video DSLRs. The easiest way to do this is, for example, to choose Canon as the image style “Neutral”, where the sharpness, contrast and saturation remain unchanged. In difficult, high-contrast lighting conditions such as night photography or backlight, the “dream aviator Picture Style for Video” also helps. As a display mode for the live image, I recommend the mesh grid 1, which divides the image into three equal horizontal and vertical areas. that helps a lot with the picture design.
For Canon 5D Mark II users, of course, the firmware update should be 2.0.7, which compared to the firmware 1.1.0 offers more choice in frame rate and sound and now also displays a histogram for videos, etc. More choice is now but also to make more decisions. A frame rate of 24 frames / second (fps) is used in feature films, 25 fps has the PAL system (inter alia on European television) and 30 fps has the US NTSC system. Also for slow motion shots are recommended 30 fps, as the editing program then more starting material is available to calculate intermediate images. However, if you have to pay attention to the file size or minimum runtime of the video, you should rather choose fewer frames per second.
The brave can even – at their own risk – use the firmware hack “Magic Lantern”, which some filmmakers have developed. For example, it allows for fascinating things like a live histogram and crop marks during shooting or focus pulling.
8. Make friends with filters again!
When it comes to photography, today I only recommend circular polarization filters *. The rest was replaced by RAW and Photoshop. But when filming filters are still needed because the possibilities for post-processing, especially lossless, are much lower. In addition to the polarizer to reduce reflections, gray filters * help to reduce the depth of field in bright light. Gray gradient filters are useful for balancing the contrast between bright sky and dark landscape when shooting outdoors. Since video recording often bypasses the cameras’ internal anti-aliasing filters, external filters also help in such cases.
9. Games with the blur!
The smaller the sensor, the sooner a picture or video is sharp from front to back. However, this also makes it flat. The expensive cameras with large sensors can produce very small depth of field, which enhances the depth effect in the image. Both factors, effect and price, lead to the look with little depth of field for noble and professional to hold. Use this in your favor! Sometimes it is enough to have a blurred object in front of the subject or just to place it there to simulate depth.
Instead of moving with the camera to focus on other objects, the focus on the lens can be adjusted. This makes the transition very soft. However, this method is very complicated on the video DSLRs, which is why manufacturers have quickly developed expensive accessories (keyword “Follow Focus”).
10. Think in series!
It should be a matter of course for a stock photographer to photograph several variants of a motif in order to offer the image buyer a choice. The same applies to stock footage, although I admit to have neglected so far. Even moving images can be filmed from different directions, as a close-up or wide-angle view. Only vertical shots should be omitted. At least until televisions turn 90 ° by default …