An introduction to shooting films using high-definition DSLR cameras
Text of dSLR Cinematography
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 Post-production
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)
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 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 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
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 60D 550D 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
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) 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
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 considerations Support/mounting systems 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! Stabilisers/steadicams. 15mm cinematic rails for mounting accessories.
Basic Supports Shoulder rig with integral 15mm rails Use of rails to mount accessories (overkill for most shoots!) Steadicam stabiliser 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 Tripod dolly Slider Crane 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