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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old January 30th, 2013, 10:40 PM   #1
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Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Hello!

First timer here. I'm a budding travel videographer and was thinking that all of what I do is a "Non-repeatable event" so I thought I'd post here. These questions should be very relevant to you all anyway, and I'm looking forward to hearing some opinions!

I shoot on a full frame DSLR, and have just returned from a press trip to Basilicata, Italy. During the trip I found myself wrestling with getting the shot in focus and exposed if something unexpected occurred. I was also requested to shoot stills during the trip, and while switching between modes/shutter speeds I would sometimes miss an opportunity as well.

So! 2 questions for you DSLR shooters out there:

1) If you know you'll have to run and gun, with little time to fiddle with exposure. What mode do you shoot on? Is there an aperture you like to stay on if you have to record something moving in the Z axis?

2) When shooting stills and video. Is there any techniques you use to keep a good shutter speed between the 2 modes? For example, I've been thinking about the Custom settings on the dial. Anyone have any experience with setting those up to easily switch between video and stills?

And heck, here's a bonus question. What could I have done better in the Italy video? Always open to constructive criticism. Cut it up, and tell me the truth! :)


Thanks all!
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Old January 30th, 2013, 11:50 PM   #2
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

About wrestling to get in focus and exposed -- there's not really an easy way. I don't think there is anyway. That's part of what makes someone a good camera operator.

Maybe sometimes you can pre-empt, and set up beforehand, with a sort of sixth sense that something is going to happen.

Re exposure... The really cheap trick, if you don't have time to adjust, is to turn the dial to shutter priority.

Preferable aperture if something is moving towards or away from you... Well, just depends on the look you want, how good a focus puller you are, how quickly the object is moving, etc. I find if I'm around f/5.6, that's comfortable at 100mm full frame for people walking... Sometimes the answer is: as small an aperture as you can get! Meaning you pump up ISO, then close down the iris.

Shooting stills... I'm a crap photographer. I generally go to aperture priority and let the camera think about shutter speed.

Re video... I don't have much feedback. There's some great editing ideas (loved the split screen door thing)
some nice compositions (eg the dutch tilt that is also the preview shot), some nice moving steadicam-like moves at the start. Maybe some of the shots could have been steadier (but I don't know under what constraints you were shooting), and maybe the general image quality was a bit low contrast/milky (but this is a matter of taste).
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Old January 31st, 2013, 07:52 AM   #3
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
About wrestling to get in focus and exposed -- there's not really an easy way. I don't think there is anyway. That's part of what makes someone a good camera operator.

Maybe sometimes you can pre-empt, and set up beforehand, with a sort of sixth sense that something is going to happen.

Re exposure... The really cheap trick, if you don't have time to adjust, is to turn the dial to shutter priority.

Preferable aperture if something is moving towards or away from you... Well, just depends on the look you want, how good a focus puller you are, how quickly the object is moving, etc. I find if I'm around f/5.6, that's comfortable at 100mm full frame for people walking... Sometimes the answer is: as small an aperture as you can get! Meaning you pump up ISO, then close down the iris.

Shooting stills... I'm a crap photographer. I generally go to aperture priority and let the camera think about shutter speed.

Re video... I don't have much feedback. There's some great editing ideas (loved the split screen door thing)
some nice compositions (eg the dutch tilt that is also the preview shot), some nice moving steadicam-like moves at the start. Maybe some of the shots could have been steadier (but I don't know under what constraints you were shooting), and maybe the general image quality was a bit low contrast/milky (but this is a matter of taste).
Awesome. Great point about shooting in shutter priority. I'll be trying that this week-end, and thanks for the f stop suggestion. Haha I'll have to work on my 6th sense I guess, just switched from Handicam last year, and there are somethings you don't have to worry about when armed with one of those... but they're quite limiting. 2013 will be the year of harnessing the power of the Digital SLR!
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Old January 31st, 2013, 04:48 PM   #4
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Hi Mike,

Firstly, I enjoyed the video. It's not often I sit and watch videos all the way through (even this short) either because I get board or get interrupted, but I made it all the way through. Some great shots & great concepts. Well done.

The obligatory question (as ever) is what is the music?

On to your questions:

Keeping things in focus is tough on full frame DSLR is either you are moving, or the subject is moving, and if both of you are moving in opposite directions then forget it! ;) You either need to keep your distance constant or you need to stop down more. If you don't already have one, check out a depth of field calculator.

We tend to shoot in manual mode almost all the time and ride the aperture or shutter speed when needed. However another tool I love (in good light) is the 8 stop vary-nd filter. That way we can maintain shutter & aperture and just dial the ND filter as needed.

Shooting stills and video on the same camera does my head in and I rarely do it any more. I carry two cameras if I know I'm going to be going back and forth between stills and video, but essentially, this is what the C1, C2, C3 modes are for on your dial (assuming your camera has them). Learn to use them and you will be good to go in most situations.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 10:06 PM   #5
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Corey View Post
Hello!

First timer here. I'm a budding travel videographer and was thinking that all of what I do is a "Non-repeatable event" so I thought I'd post here. These questions should be very relevant to you all anyway, and I'm looking forward to hearing some opinions!

The video lies somewhere between great and great. To shoot/edit on that level, as a 'first timer' is somewhere between inspiring and inspiring. The video compels me to think either your video genius is on par with Mozart's musical genius or you've got some slightly deeper video background you're not revealing. ...but either way, the only critique I offer comes down to personal preference. Would love to have seen some dramatically smooth pans of the landscape done with a pro tripod ...and a few less dissolves. I would have sharpened a few of the shots. That's all I got, and it's all subjective. The narration was flawless. The video is awesome. That's the truth.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 12:56 AM   #6
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Sono impessionato, molto buono.

John.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:31 AM   #7
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Mike, travel certainly broadens the mind and inspires creative video. Nice job.

On run 'n gun jobs like that, take a still camera too, so it speeds things along. Your partner can also shoot.

My audio company used to produce many ethnic language versions of English corporate video programs, usually 15-45 minutes duration.
It got to be big business for us, especially when we did 10 or 12 different languages.

So whenever a client said, 'Sorry, we're not having other language versions, we're doing them all with ethnic subtitles'

My answer was, 'Well the problem with subtitles is, while people are reading them they're not watching the pictures you spent thousands of dollars on.'
It worked every time :)

Slightly different in your 3 minute video, but could you have looked around for someone to record a southern Italian narration?

When travelling, I always look around for good local CD music and give the performers a credit. They love it.

Just grab 3 or 4 styles, with ancient and foreign locations it can really spark up and add to your productions.

Cheers.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 02:08 AM   #8
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Corey View Post
1) If you know you'll have to run and gun, with little time to fiddle with exposure. What mode do you shoot on? Is there an aperture you like to stay on if you have to record something moving in the Z axis?
During weddings, when I"m shooting with a dslr I always have a Sony cx730 in a small bag attached to my belt. It has been a life saver in numerous occasions where unexpected events occurred. Like if I had a 85mm attached to my dslr (with a cropfactor) and if something happened that required a wide angle changing lenses was not an option but that small handicam is ready to shoot in seconds, is very good at auto everything, you can quickly change focal lengths (zoom or very wide) to adapt to any situation and it has a very good image quality. Since it's so light you don't even notice you have it on you, I wouldn't do a wedding without it.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 02:17 AM   #9
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Re: Some tough questions, and tell me the truth?

Hi Mike

Awesome comes to mind here too!! So many people forget that we are using a motion picture medium yet they prefer to shoot stills from a tripod and then dissolve them into one another..You get very few people who use camera movement either on stedicam or handheld but you do!! The flow of the whole chip was really good, with moves like this the viewer simply cannot stop watching.

I loved it and yes, it was over before I knew it which speaks volumes for me!! Not only was the video well paced but the narration was perfectly paced too.

Chris
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