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dSLR Cinematography

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An introduction to shooting films using high-definition DSLR cameras

An introduction to shooting films using high-definition DSLR cameras


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  • ERROR on Slide 5: 'Black Swan' ((WAS NOT)) filmed in Australia!!!!

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0947798/locations
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  • ERROR ALERT on Slide 5: Black Swan (((WAS NOT))) filmed in Australia.

    See this IMDB locations listing:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0947798/locations
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  • 1. Digital SLR Cinematography
    An introduction to
  • 2. 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
    Post-production
  • 3. 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)
  • 4. Demos
    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 – “Sofia’s People”. Shot on 5D Mark II with just one lens, a Zeiss ZF 50mm f1.4 – no lighting or colour grading.
  • 5. Recent big dSLR productions
    "if you’re [not] using the 5D [Mark II], you aren’t making your movie the best it can be.“
    Iron Man 2
    Captain America
    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
  • 6. Getting started…
    The minimum you’ll need (kits from $600!):
    A dSLRbodywith HD 720p or better
    Full frame (35mm) vs crop sensor (“APS-C”)
    5d Mark II 7D
    60D
    550D
    A lensPrime Zoom
  • 7. Sensor sizes
    35mm Full Frame (5D mkII, Nikon D3s)
    APS-C (“crop”)(7D, RED One - $25,000)
    Broadcast Camcorder (Sony EX3 - $10,000)
    Light from lens falling on focal plane
    “Full frame” sensor imaging area
    “Crop” sensor imaging area (1.5-1.6x “zoom”)
  • 8. Why use primes
    “Faster” than zooms (esp. “kit” lenses)
    (Generally) better optics & image quality
    Many primes are comparatively cheap
    E.g. Samyang14mm f/2.8, 35mm & 85mm f/1.4 + Canon 50mm f/1.8 for less than the price of a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom - & is optically superior in every way
    Zooming (while filming) is usually avoided
    (unless you are Stanley Kubrick, BazLuhrmann, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Quentin Tarantino… )
    But… need lens changes/less convenient
    …so less suitable for documentary/event work which needs flexibility
    (for narrative filmmaking)?
  • 9. Adapting old/cheap len$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…
  • 10. Cinematography Basics 101
    Focal length
    Exposure – Light, aperture, ISO, ND filters
    Shutter speed & frame rate
    Technical stuff
  • 11. Focal length
    Refers to the amount of image magnification.
    “Wide Angle” – perspective exaggerated
    “Normal” – natural perspective
    “Telephoto” –perspective compressed
  • 12. 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 camera’s 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).
  • 13. 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)
    Larger apertures:
    Let in more light
    Narrow depth-of-field
    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
  • 14. 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
  • 15. 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
  • 16. 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).
  • 17. 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.
  • 18. 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
  • 19. Advanced dSLR setups
    Allow mounting of additional accessories
    Improve visual & audio quality & monitoring
    Improve creative & technical control
    Look awesome professional!
  • 20. Advanced considerations
    Support/mounting systems
    High quality audio capture & recording
    Manually controlling focus
    Controlling video and audio
    Monitoring video and audio
  • 21. 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!
    Stabilisers/steadicams.
    15mm cinematic rails for mounting accessories.
  • 22. Basic Supports
    Shoulder rig with integral 15mm rails
    Use of rails to mount accessories (overkill for most shoots!)
    Steadicam stabiliser
    Video fluid head
  • 23. 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. Don’t do this too fast (causes rolling shutter &/or strobing) or jerkily!
  • 24. Supports for camera moves
    Tripod dolly
    Slider
    Crane
    Fluid head for pan/tilt
    Skateboard as dolly
    (you can DIY most of these!)
  • 25. 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)
  • 26. Capturing audio (images)
  • 27. 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 Ørods, 60mm apart)
    Speed crank for fast focus pull
  • 28. 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
  • 29. 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!)
  • 30. Monitoring audio & video
    Monitoring video:
    External field monitor or
    loupe for camera LCD
    Use “zebra stripes” and live histogram – not in standard camera… but…
    Monitoring audio:
    Use headphones – closed ear, flat response is best
    Use level meters - not in standard camera… but…
  • 31. 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)
    Focus distance
    Other data
  • 32. Post-production
    One you have shot your footage, it needs to be edited! Some options & tips…
    Free, open source video editor: Lightworks
    Used to edit “The King’s 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
  • 33. Colour grading
    Shoot flat for detail in highlights & shadows
    Colour grading: for hue, saturation & contrast
  • 34. 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!
  • 35. 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!
  • 36. More information
    Online dSLR filmmaker community
    http://cinema5d.com/
    How-to Guide
    http://nofilmschool.com/dslr/
    Latest News (Blog)
    http://www.eoshd.com/
    Me!
    leonard.low@electricimages.org | @leonardlow