Playing scales on a camera... at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Open DV Discussion
For topics which don't fit into any of the other categories.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 21st, 2007, 06:51 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Glasgow, UK
Posts: 45
Playing scales on a camera...

Hi Folks,

This is really a question about improving camera operating skill and technique... but... how do you play scales on a camera?

Coming from the music world I know that if I want to keep my technique tight - and there are no gigs or sessions coming up, no band to rehearse with, I would sit down and play some scales... go over and over different modes... play to a click... play along with some of my favorite records - I sometimes used to do this for 5 hours a day!

I'm just getting into film making and have got some work on the way, but what can I do to improve my camera handling skills when there is nothing particularly compelling to point my lens at? No actors to be shot? Are there techniques that you guys practice and repeat to increase your focusing skill, composition, exposure, camera and gear familiarity? Too make sure I am in better shape come gig (shoot) time?

any advice or tips would be greatly recieved!

Jim
James Collinson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21st, 2007, 07:21 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Lanark,Scotland
Posts: 736
Strangely worded question James, i know wot you mean though i've been playin' guitar for 16 years and working with cameras for 9.

I see your just down the road, nice to see another scot.

To answer your question there is no standard skill tuning exercises like running up and down your mixolydian mode a few times. You just have to film whats available to you and try and make it interesting.

What makes a good camera man isn't just knowing how to operate the camera it's also about being able to read body language and predict what the subject will do next so your one step ahead

Andy.
__________________
Actor: "where would that light be coming from?"
DP: "same place as the music" -Andrew Lesnie-
Andy Graham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21st, 2007, 10:19 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: ontario
Posts: 445
Give yourself a small project.It could be anything from community interest items to sports.Decide ahead of time(planning stage) what you may want as an end result.Then figure out what you need to do.Typically, you need to determine lighting, audio, camera angles and movement.
Making a project out of it forces you to think about what you need to do.
Then when done, analyze the results.
I use to do this with my son.It was fun and good exercise.
Jack Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 21st, 2007, 10:27 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 221
Yup,

I find the "make your backyard interesting" stuff completely pointless. Go out and shoot something with a purpose, using all the areas of your craft, and put it together.

If we are strictly talking about camera handling, bring it everywhere you can and film everything. Have it in your hands so when the clock is really ticking, it is more an extension of your body then a piece of metal in your hands.
Bennis Hahn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 05:08 AM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Birmingham England
Posts: 69
Images: 1
filming sports would give you good practice boxing is a good subject alot of movement also for outdoor, football or rugby

Russ
Russell Pearce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 05:16 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Lanark,Scotland
Posts: 736
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennis Hahn
Yup,

I find the "make your backyard interesting" stuff completely pointless. Go out and shoot something with a purpose, using all the areas of your craft, and put it together.
Did i mention the back yard? you're just repeating what i said, "go out and shoot something with a purpose" that "something" has to be available to you does it not? as is community and sports, all of these things are available to you like i said, now you just have to make them interesting.

Andy.
__________________
Actor: "where would that light be coming from?"
DP: "same place as the music" -Andrew Lesnie-
Andy Graham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:51 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
I appreciate the effort to bring the physical discipline of playing scales to the world of camera work. Although both are 'art forms' - in a world which allows 'point and shoot' videography I think the metaphor doesn't quite hold up these days. Operating the camera is much simpler than it used to be . The problem is that most of us these days have to wear more than one hat at once so it CAN be overwhelming, and simple things are easily overlooked. When you're the writer/producer/gaffer/interviewer AND director it's easy to forget the simple things and screw up a shot.

So it helps to use a 'checklist'.

Some people use the acronym F.A.S.T. Which I recall as FOCUS, APERTURE SHUTTER and TIME(left in the magazine)... a mental checklist in film before rolling. Some people like to adapt that to F.A.C.T.S - for shooting video. In other words, before rolling tape check for

Frame/Focus - Is everything in the frame supposed to be there, and is it in focus?

Aperture - Is it the right exposure? Over, under?

Color Balance - Daylight, tungsten, custom?

Tape/Timecode (is it loaded, is it correct, is the 'write safe' off? And does it RUN when you start?)

Shutter/Sound (Right speed, right frame rate? Sound levels?)

(Some people still use F.A.S.T. which places the timecode check last, when the camera is running... makes sense if you're using a color viewfinder since likely as not you'll see the color balance. But if you're shooting with a FU-1000 monochrome like I do in run and gun, then it's best to add the "C" for color.)

Back "in the day", if you were using a geared camera head, you'd practice making figure eights and reversing them around a subject. Understand that operating two control wheels on a camera head is a bit like patting your stomach and rubbing your head, then reversing hands and patterns...

But I suspect no one on this board short of Charles Papert and a few others will have a need for that set of skills. (I got a chance to practice a bit when we shot After Twilight on a Mitchel BNCR... I sucked.)

Beyond that... "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? - Practice" - Shooting whatever/whenever you can. But shoot DIFFERENT things. Not just sports and nature, take the time to shoot an interview. Could be anyone, for just a few moments. By shooting often, you become familiar with the little things, like where the buttons are on your camera without looking, which way to roll the focus, which way to turn the apperture/shutter switch. Perhaps the single most difficult thing we try to do when operating ALONE is pull focus during a shot with movement. You can practice that on your own as well.

And WATCH other people's work. This means when youre watching a movie, look around the frame, see why it's framed that way. Study the CONCEPT of Mise en scene, and understand what's implied by the way a shot is framed, whats left in, what's left out. Look at professional sports... how do they frame the beggining of play, what are the most frequently used angles? Look at professional interviews... look at the amount of headroom in a subject' frame, look at where they place the eyeline. Look at the shadows in a frame, can you figure out where the key and fill lights are?


Go out and have fun.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 11:00 AM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Here's another approach.

Back when I was doing a lot of personal shooting, I'd take each new camera I purchased and spend a few sessions of "tactile training" with it.

In other words, I'd close my eyes and go through a drill where without ANY visual cues, I could "feel" my way to all the important controls on the camera.

Particularly gain, shutter, lens auto focus button, etc. - along with the other controls I might need when shooting something at night or in a darkened hotel ballroom.

If you want to be really obsessive, you can even mentally "map" the layered menus pages by touch, but that might be a wee bit obsessive.

For what it's worth.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 11:21 AM   #9
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: DFW area, TX
Posts: 6,108
Images: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis
Back when I was doing a lot of personal shooting, I'd take each new camera I purchased and spend a few sessions of "tactile training" with it.

In other words, I'd close my eyes and go through a drill where without ANY visual cues, I could "feel" my way to all the important controls on the camera.
Wise words, Bill. I had a flight instructor that insisted on the same thing. He made me learn the panel by feel for each aircraft because even though I carried a small maglite for backup to panel light failure, even that light could possibly fail. But I too apply that mentality to the camera controls. You need to be able to operate without looking just as you instinctively know where to reach for the turn signal lever on your car without looking for it.

A good technique I read about somewhere else for practice at pulling focus. Use a basketball goal or similar supporting structure and tie a ball to it suspended by a rope. Pull back and let the ball move directly towards and away from you as you work the focus ring to keep the ball in focus. This is a great exercise for learning the feel of a new lens you might be working with.

If space permits, have an assistant pull back and release the ball so that it travels back and forth in front of you as you pan with it to keep it in frame.

On a windy day (works best in the fall), practice tilt by following a leaf as it flutters to the ground. If you have aircraft flying by routinely as I do here at my home, you can practice on tracking with them.

Lots of ways to 'run scales' as you called it. I'm a musician too so I get the reference.

-gb-
Greg Boston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 01:40 PM   #10
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Perhaps go to a busy park or plaza and practice shooting telephoto shots. Tight close ups of someone walking that hand off to another person; nice compositions of groups of people, kids playing etc. Keep the camera running so that when you evaluated the tape, you can see how long it took to find each frame, and if you might have missed something that may have been more interesting. Judge everything carefully; headroom, look room, background elements, focal length choices. The goal is to get the compositional eye working as quickly and intuitively as possible, making split second decisions so that each frame could be viewed individually as a good composition.

Try doing this both on a tripod and handheld, as that represents two different skills. Once you have a shot that you like that represents some intricate operating technique (could be a slow tilt up a lamppost then a rack focus to a building in the background, for instance), do it a few times until you can repeat it without hitches (that's the closest thing to running scales I can think of, as a former musician myself!)
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Open DV Discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:27 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network