dSLR Cinematography


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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!!!!

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  • ERROR ALERT on Slide 5: Black Swan (((WAS NOT))) filmed in Australia.

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dSLR Cinematography

  1. 1. Digital SLR Cinematography<br />An introduction to<br />
  2. 2. This session…<br />Why use dSLRs for filming?<br />With demos and big-screen blockbusters!<br />Getting started with filming using dSLRs<br />Basic cinematography concepts and dSLRs<br />Advanced setups: taking it to the next level<br />Post-production<br />
  3. 3. Why shoot films on a dSLR?<br />Compact and light<br />High-def(1080p), high bitrate(50mbps) capture<br />Advanced creative control (Av/DoF, Tv)<br />High-quality, interchangeable lenses<br />Large, high quality CMOS sensors:<br />Optical capture area is larger than 35mm cine film<br />Unrivalled low-light shooting ability<br />High dynamic range<br />3 years ago, to get all this in a video camera, the *least* it would have cost is $50,000 (body only)<br />
  4. 4. Demos<br />Vincent Laforet- “Reverie” – the clip that started it all. Shot on 5D Mark II – no colour grading.<br />Shane Hurlbut, ASC – “The Last Three Minutes”. Shot on 5D Mark II.<br />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.<br />
  5. 5. Recent big dSLR productions<br />"if you’re [not] using the 5D [Mark II], you aren’t making your movie the best it can be.“<br />Iron Man 2<br />Captain America<br />Black Swan (filmed in Australia!)<br />AFI Movie of the Year<br />1 Academy Award & 4 nominations including Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Motion Picture of <br />House – Season 6 Finale (clip), and ALL of (current) Season 7<br />
  6. 6. Getting started…<br />The minimum you’ll need (kits from $600!):<br />A dSLRbodywith HD 720p or better<br />Full frame (35mm) vs crop sensor (“APS-C”)<br />5d Mark II 7D<br /> 60D<br /> 550D<br />A lensPrime Zoom<br />
  7. 7. Sensor sizes<br />35mm Full Frame (5D mkII, Nikon D3s)<br />APS-C (“crop”)(7D, RED One - $25,000)<br />Broadcast Camcorder (Sony EX3 - $10,000)<br />Light from lens falling on focal plane<br />“Full frame” sensor imaging area<br />“Crop” sensor imaging area (1.5-1.6x “zoom”)<br />
  8. 8. Why use primes<br />“Faster” than zooms (esp. “kit” lenses)<br />(Generally) better optics & image quality<br />Many primes are comparatively cheap<br />E.g. Samyang14mm f/2.8, 35mm & 85mm f/1.4 + Canon 50mm f/1.8 for less than the price of a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom - & is optically superior in every way<br />Zooming (while filming) is usually avoided <br />(unless you are Stanley Kubrick, BazLuhrmann, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Quentin Tarantino… )<br />But… need lens changes/less convenient<br />…so less suitable for documentary/event work which needs flexibility<br />(for narrative filmmaking)?<br />
  9. 9. Adapting old/cheap len$e$<br />Many old lenses can be attached with adaptors – this is a great way to pick up a bargain lens! <br />You will usually lose electronic control - so most adapted lenses need a manual aperture ring!<br />This adaptor has electronic connectors… BUT…<br />
  10. 10. Cinematography Basics 101<br />Focal length<br />Exposure – Light, aperture, ISO, ND filters<br />Shutter speed & frame rate<br />Technical stuff<br />
  11. 11. Focal length<br />Refers to the amount of image magnification.<br />“Wide Angle” – perspective exaggerated<br />“Normal” – natural perspective<br />“Telephoto” –perspective compressed<br />
  12. 12. Video exposure basics<br />Exposure - controlling the recorded video image for correct brightness and contrast.<br />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.<br />Aperture, ISO and ND filtersare used for controlling exposure in-camera. Not shutter speed(though it does affect exposure).<br />
  13. 13. Video exposure basics (cont)<br />Fast lenses have a large maximum aperture e.g. f/2.8, f/1.8, f/1.4 (“f-stop”). <br />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)<br />Larger apertures:<br />Let in more light<br />Narrow depth-of-field<br />so you can<br />Shoot in dimmer light(with good exposure)<br />Blur fore/backgrounds [subject focus/“bokeh”]<br />Create beautiful images!<br /> f/1.4 f/2.8 f/8 f/22<br />More light Less light<br />
  14. 14. Video exposure basics (cont)<br />Doubling ISO doubles the sensitivity of the sensor and makes the image brighter.<br />However, high ISO results in more “noise”, reducing image quality.<br />Multiples of 160 are “real” ISOs for Canons – others aregenerated<br />
  15. 15. Video exposure basics (cont)<br />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.<br /> ND4 (1-stop) Graduated ND Fader ND<br />
  16. 16. What about shutter speed?<br />The shutter speed of each frame is limited by the frame rate. (Shooting) at 24 fps, the LONGEST exposure possible is 1/24s.<br />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.<br />You can increase your shutter speed, for a stroboscopic, choppy appearance (e.g. Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator).<br />
  17. 17. Frame Rate<br />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.<br />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).<br />Video on frame rate and shutter speed.<br />
  18. 18. Technical stuff<br />Compression – How the original video data is reduced for storage. Currently, all dSLR video is compressed (lossy)<br />Codec – how the video data is encoded. H.264 (Canon) is more efficient than MJPEG (Nikon)<br />Bitrate– how much data is used to store video<br />
  19. 19. Advanced dSLR setups<br />Allow mounting of additional accessories<br />Improve visual & audio quality & monitoring<br />Improve creative & technical control<br />Look awesome professional!<br />
  20. 20. Advanced considerations<br />Support/mounting systems<br />High quality audio capture & recording<br />Manually controlling focus<br />Controlling video and audio<br />Monitoring video and audio<br />
  21. 21. Support/mounting systems<br />Shake and blur are distracting! <br />Sturdy tripod & fluid head – almost essential<br />I recommend WeiFang EI-717AH head. <br />Sturdy “Rig” – for shoulder/handheld work<br />Weight and/or contact points minimise shake<br />I use this collapsible shoulder rig.<br />Or you can make one for a few dollars. Works fine!<br />Stabilisers/steadicams.<br />15mm cinematic rails for mounting accessories.<br />
  22. 22. Basic Supports<br />Shoulder rig with integral 15mm rails<br />Use of rails to mount accessories (overkill for most shoots!)<br />Steadicam stabiliser<br />Video fluid head<br />
  23. 23. Supports for camera “moves”<br />Dolly & tracking: Moving the camera in one plane. Fwd-back = dolly; left-right = tracking<br />(Phillip Bloom “Salton Sea” demo with slider)<br />Crane: basically, tracking up and down<br />Pan & tilt: Rotating camera on H or V axis. Don’t do this too fast (causes rolling shutter &/or strobing) or jerkily!<br />
  24. 24. Supports for camera moves<br />Tripod dolly<br />Slider<br />Crane<br />Fluid head for pan/tilt<br />Skateboard as dolly<br />(you can DIY most of these!)<br />
  25. 25. Capturing audio<br />Audio is arguably more important than video for quality filmmaking. Viewers will tolerate poorly-shot images; but rarely poor sound!<br />Turn off Automatic Gain in camera (AGC)!<br />Use external microphone (Lavalier/shotgun)<br />Mic setup e.g. boom, shockmount, windshield<br />Boost S:NR - use amp/recorder (Juicedlink/Zoom)<br />Use shielded cabling for longer cables (XLR)<br />Sync with slate/clapper board (acrylic/iPad/DIY)<br />
  26. 26. Capturing audio (images)<br />
  27. 27. Controlling focus<br />Most dSLRs cannot autofocus in video mode<br />But in narrative filmmaking, we use manual focus anyway for more control<br />For “focus pulls”, we use a “follow focus”:<br />Follow focus for shake-free, precise focus adjustments and “pulls” - with white marker disc<br />Industry-standard rail mount (15mm Ørods, 60mm apart)<br />Speed crank for fast focus pull<br />
  28. 28. Controlling video<br />To control flare from light sources, use a lens hood or matte box:<br />Matte boxes also enable use of 4x4” filters<br />“French Flag” – helps cut glare<br />Filter holders: static/rotating<br />Matte box – should attach sturdily!<br />Foam “donut”, snug around lens<br />Attaches to 15mm rail mount<br />
  29. 29. Controlling video (cont)<br />Always shoot in M (Manual) setting<br />Need to White Balance - because we are shooting compressed video (not RAW).<br />To improve final dynamic range, use “Picture Styles” (Canon) to flatten contrast. I recommend Technicolor Cinestyle(free!) <br />Colour-correct in “Post-” (Colour Grading) with Cinestyle Look-Up-Table (LUT) (also free!)<br />
  30. 30. Monitoring audio & video<br />Monitoring video: <br />External field monitor or <br />loupe for camera LCD<br />Use “zebra stripes” and live histogram – not in standard camera… but…<br />Monitoring audio:<br />Use headphones – closed ear, flat response is best<br />Use level meters - not in standard camera… but…<br />
  31. 31. Magic Lantern for Canon dSLR<br />Some talented programmers have written free software for Canon cameras that improves control and monitoring of video & audio: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/<br />Audio level monitor (int/ext mics)<br />Live exposure histogram<br />“Zebra stripes” (shows over/underexposed areas in image)<br />Focus distance<br />Other data<br />
  32. 32. Post-production<br />One you have shot your footage, it needs to be edited! Some options & tips…<br />Free, open source video editor: Lightworks<br />Used to edit “The King’s Speech” (Winner of 4 2011 Academy Awards incl. Best Motion Picture)<br />Other options: Adobe Premiere Pro<br />CS5 can edit dSLR video natively – saves hours<br />Apple Final Cut Pro<br />Free plugin imports Canon files for best quality<br />Converts to 4.2.2 Apple Prorescolour space<br />
  33. 33. Colour grading<br />Shoot flat for detail in highlights & shadows<br />Colour grading: for hue, saturation & contrast<br />
  34. 34. Summary - and tips!<br />To get started you just need a dSLR and lens:<br />Install free Technicolor Cinestylepicture style<br />Use free Magic Lantern firmware<br />Use free editor (http://lightworksbeta.com/)<br />Use free music (e.g. http://mobygratis.com/or http://creativecommons.org/) for audio<br />Shoot and practice!<br />
  35. 35. Summary and tips (cont)<br />If you have a few extra dollars: <br />Buy a tripod and external shotgun microphone<br />Make a rig, shock mount and boom pole(even cranes, sliders and dollies if you want to!)<br />Use a digital audio recorder (e.g. your phone)<br />Shoot and practice some more!<br />
  36. 36. More information<br />Online dSLR filmmaker community<br />http://cinema5d.com/<br />How-to Guide<br />http://nofilmschool.com/dslr/<br />Latest News (Blog)<br />http://www.eoshd.com/<br />Me!<br />leonard.low@electricimages.org | @leonardlow<br />