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Old September 26th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #1
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Long-billed Curlew, EX3

I am still trying to improve my technique and would be grateful for constructive critiques. I am shooting with an EX3, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens, -3 gain, shutter @ 180 degrees, 1080p 30fps. I have recently switched from Cine4 to Cine1 settings. I processed this clip with Avid Liquid 7 (increased saturation and applied unsharp mask).

I am particularly interested in comments about framing, panning technique, colors, post-processing and sharpness.

YouTube - Long billed Curlew

Thanks!

Jerry Merrell
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Old September 26th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #2
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2 comments I'd make: get a better tripod, and be good to grade the pictures as they look very washed out (no doubt due to the Cine settings - these are designed to make flat pictures containing as much dynamic range as possible for you to work on afterwards).
Also try some slightly higher frame rates - this often makes small bird movement look more natural and takes the edge of some of the camera movement.
Cheers,
Steve
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Old September 26th, 2009, 07:21 PM   #3
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Steve, Thanks for the comments. I will experiment with grading the pictures.

I was recording at 30 fps. Are you recommending overcranking and playing back at 30 fps or shooting at 60i?

Jerry
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Old September 27th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #4
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If you're playing back at 30P try shooting maybe 40 or 50 fps, it's a funny thing but animal movement often looks a lot nicer (and actually more natural) when slowed a bit. You'd probably be surprised how much TV nature footage is off-speed without people even knowing.
I'm no editor so don't know the ins and outs of grading but in essence you're trying to put contrast back into the flattened shots, so deepen the blacks and brighten the whites.
Steve
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Old September 27th, 2009, 05:30 PM   #5
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Steve,

Here is the reprocessed clip.

Although I am comfortable with digital SLR RAW files, color grading video is new to me. I adjusted the RGB histograms individually to darken blacks, enhance the highlights and add more contrast.

YouTube - Long-billed Curlew - reprocessed

Thanks for the comments. I will experiment with overcranking and start shopping for a better tripod.

Jerry
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Old September 28th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #6
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You are definitely moving in the right direction with regards to grading.

When framing shots, make sure you always consider the rule of thirds. You did well to place the curlew toward the right third of the frame initially, but as the shot progresses the shift toward centered framing leaves something to be desired. It is sometimes difficult, especially when just starting out, to avoid centering subjects during pans, but with practice the rule of thirds will become more second nature and you won't even need to think about it (I also think that you will find it easier to focus on framing once you are no longer struggling with an insufficient tripod). I can see where this would be a unique challenge for someone transitioning from still photography to video since maintaining good framing while both the camera and subject are moving can be quite difficult. Keep up the good work!
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Old September 28th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #7
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Hi
I see no problems in framing the bird - the air in the picture are in front of it, as it is walking - when it stops and turns you center it - now you cannot tell which way it will walk - if it will? Only problem, as I see, is the stative that is not smooth enough - it could be because of a cheap stative or wind on the camera or yourself when moving - sometimes I grab the head of the stative instead of the pin sticking out to make a smooth pan....
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Old September 28th, 2009, 09:15 PM   #8
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Hi Jerry,

The repost looks lovely to me!
As to the slight vibrations you get I do the following which really helps:
To avoid the vibrations caused by the wind I always use a hide which blocks the wind - extremely useful.
In order to avoid vibrations caused by touching the camera/handle/tripod I attach a rubber band to the handle and only touch it. Also very effective.

Keep it up mate,

Regards,

Ofer
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Old September 28th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Skelmose View Post
I see no problems in framing the bird...
I understand the practical reasons for centering the bird once it stops because you don't know which way it might move, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. Sometimes the best shots come from taking a guess as to which direction an animal might move. Nice work though Jerry. Overall I think the shot is a success.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Betz View Post
I understand the practical reasons for centering the bird once it stops because you don't know which way it might move, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.
I also can't see any issue with the framing and personally wouldn't have done it any other way. I would have zoomed in if it was possible but framing is fine IMHO. As I am sure you know, composition has a lot to do with personal taste as opposed to sharpness, exposure etc. The "rule of thirds" is only a suggestion and the actual framing can be fantastic even without following this "rule" - it all depends on the shot and personal taste.
Cheers,
Ofer
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Last edited by Ofer Levy; September 29th, 2009 at 05:27 AM.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 07:28 AM   #11
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The "rule of thirds" is only a suggestion
True. I think the shot is solid and honestly, in what was perhaps a futile attempt to be helpful :), I was just looking for ways it *might* be improved.
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Last edited by Jonathan Betz; September 29th, 2009 at 08:02 AM.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 07:30 AM   #12
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Thank you for all the helpful comments.

Jerry
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Old September 30th, 2009, 05:07 PM   #13
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Nice Jerry.
The old advice about tripods is still true, buy the most expensive you can afford and the heaviest you can carry.
My favourites for the EX3 would be Ronford 2004 or O'Connor 1030, but I know a lot of guys (like Ofer) go for the Millers with a lot of success. If funds are tight I'd always go for an old Sachtler (like Video 18 II or Video 20 II) rather than a brand new Manfrotto or the like.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 07:17 PM   #14
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Gerry,

I think the shot is lovely, particularly the improved one.

The focus seems to soft to me. Was it shot in DV or HD?
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:34 PM   #15
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Steve, thanks for the tripod recommendations.

Dale, the clip was shot in HD (1080p).
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