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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 4 of 39

Camera Basics Part 1

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

4. Camera Basics Part 1

Lesson Info

Camera Basics Part 1

Now we're gonna talk about camera stuff. And typically when we get to cameras, there's a lot of questions. So I promise if you have one, I'll stop and go slow. Now I'm Canon-focused so I shoot a lot of Canon stuff. But I have some knowledge of Nikon. If you have a question on a Nikon that I can't answer, they'll put my Twitter and my Instagram in the chat room. And if you give me an at reply, I'll find the answer for you. I just don't wanna give an answer that's wrong right now. Okay so, when we talk about using a DSLR, okay, I mean, we can go back to why we use it and why all of a sudden it became just this thing that we wanted to do. To create films with the DSLR. But in reality, it's this right here. We get great image quality, its depth of field, interchangeable lenses, lightweight and compact, and because photographers don't like buying new things. It's a camera we already own, that's why. That's the single reason why. Because if you talk to any photographer who's currently doing ...

motion, the reason they're doing motion is they walked into a job and the customer, the client, knew that that camera shot video and said oh, can you capture some stills and shoot some video for me? That's the fundamental reason. It's a camera we already own, it shoots video, and it's something that for better or for worse we now have to learn, okay? So there are certain different types of camera, DSLR types. I'll pick like four and we'll kind of break 'em out. So we got a full frame, an APS-C, an APS-H, and then a micro 4/3. So your micro 4/3 like your Panasonic GH4s, GH3s. Your APS-H are like your 1D Mark IVs, okay, your 1D Mark IIIs. Your APS-C are like your 7Ds and your 70Ds. And your full frames are like your 5D Mark IIIs and your 1D Cs and 1D Xs, okay? Now what does this all mean? There's a lot of letters, numbers, and stuff that I don't get. The one thing you wanna pay attention to out of all of this isn't the sensor size, it's the crop factor. Because crop factor works to our advantage when we're doing motion, okay? Do you guys know what crop factor is? It's the magnification in focal length or effective depth of field between sensor sizes in relation to full frame. That's a lot of words and a lot of stuff that basically means going from a 5D Mark III to a 70D, that crop factor is 1.6, which means if I have a 17 millimeter lens at f/ on a 5D Mark III, it's gonna be 1.6 times an f/4 times 1.6 in the effective depth of field aspect of it. The number stays f/4 but the amount that's in focus changes. Do you get that? That's a really, really important, important topic. Here's why. Let's make believe you're rolling into an event and it's low light. Okay, it's low light and you gotta shoot wide open. And we've all shot wide open in video, right? Like 1.8? It's like, it gets kinda dicey. The one thing I do is I take my 1.8 lens, I put it on a crop camera, 1.6. That 1.8 gets multiplied by 1. for effective depth of field. I can roll at 1.8 and now have more depth of field. Okay, let me say that one more time. If I'm walking into an event and I've got a full frame camera and a crop sensor camera and it's low light and I need to shoot wide open, I'm gonna put my lens on the crop camera 'cause I effectively get more depth of field out of that crop camera. I will lose my wide angle, but I don't care, why? I need depth of field and I need that aperture, okay? So let that marinate and stew for a little bit. Because that will be something that you won't remember until you need to remember it and then you'll go oh my god, that's amazing, alright? So especially if you're doing weddings and events, rolling with two different camera bodies in two different sensor formats isn't all too bad. You know, I know a guy who rolls with a 5D and a micro 4/3. And that micro 4/3 has like a crop factor of two. So it'll multiply his aperture by two and give an effective depth of field of two times. So in a pinch, in low light, he can shoot wide open and get what he needs, okay? So the DSLR cameras I use. So I use the 5D Mark III, a 70D, and I borrow a 7D from my friend sometimes. Now a 70D is a brand new camera and the reason I like it is because it's got this new feature called dual pixel auto-focus. So I'm a firm believer that our world, in terms of photography and video, will change when photographers get practical auto-focus in video and it's arrived. The Canon 70D is a phenomenal camera when it comes to being able to auto-focus. I can tap the screen, I can tap it, and it'll focus. I'll tap it, it'll focus and it tracks. It can actually track a subject. So if I'm following a bride, if I've got it on a handheld rig, if I'm doing something that requires me to pay attention to the framing but not the focus, that becomes something that becomes very, very nice for me. And here's the thing, Canon believes in this technology so much that in their cinema cameras, you can pay for the upgrade in one of them. So that's where this is going, that's how much they believe in it. So if they believe in it that much, it works, right? Before I move on, how are we doing? Okay, I generally lose people at the crop factor. It's like the first slide in and I lose them. So I just wanted to make sure we all get that, okay? If there's any comments about that in the chat room, just please let me know, okay? Alright so, we shoot at this resolution. That's what we shoot at. Now there will be people out there that say 1080 at 30 frames a second or you can shoot at 720. I want you to have the easiest experience possible shooting video. And I want you to have videos that look like they were, kind of have that Hollywood feel. If you want to have it look like Hollywood, have that film cinema look and not have any problems in editing, just do this. Do this. There will be times you'll shoot at 60 frames, there will be times you'll shoot at 30 frames, there will be other times that you'll change your frame rate. But I'm just gonna say, if you're starting day one today, capture at that resolution, okay? Now for those of you who kinda don't know what 1080 means, this was TV back in the 80s, okay? This is like newer TV, kind of like in the late 90s. And then full HD is here. So your image surface that you're showing on, the dimensions of the image, just got larger. And it could actually reproduce more detail. So we shoot at 1080 because it's the top resolution that we can capture at. And because if you ever try to scale an SD image up, it just doesn't look good, it actually looks like this. Okay, so here's SD, 720, and and when you put 'em all side by side together, can you see the difference? So you wanna shoot at the top resolution, it's just like photography, guys. You shoot at the top resolution. You can down-res but you can barely ever, if ever, up-res effectively, okay? So that's the one thing that I really like to stress is you shoot at 1080 at 24 frames a second and there will be times you'll shoot at faster frame rates, but that's, again, you've got to walk before you can run. Don't worry about other frame rates, start at 24, shoot in 24, edit in 24. Are you guys familiar with color management at all? Okay there's something in color management called a color pathway. Okay a color pathway is what you capture your image in, the color space has to be what you edit in, has to be what you output in. So therefore, if I capture in Adobe 1998, I have to edit in Adobe 1998 and I have to output in Adobe 1998. If at any point I change from Adobe 1998 to SRGB, I've just changed my color space, which means my product won't look right in the very end. Frame rate works the exact same way. You shoot in 24, you edit in 24, you output in 24. And if you change those numbers in any part of that chain, you're in for a world of hurt if you don't know what you're doing. There are plenty of people out there that can shoot in and output in 24 and know exactly what they want. But in the beginning, before anyone has ever done anything, if you shoot in 24, edit in 24, and output in 24, it's just gonna make your life a lot easier. So do as I say, save yourself some trouble. Alright, so if we're gonna capture at this frame rate and this resolution, we're gonna capture at this shutter speed which is 1/50 of a shutter. Now there's a reason for it and it dates back to cinema cameras. Cinema cameras had a film reel, right? They had something called a gate that spun perpendicular to it. And that gate, if it was at 180 degrees, would expose a piece of film for half the amount of time. So for us to replicate that look and the look that we'd get in cinema, we have to shoot at 1/50 of a second. Now there's a rule of thumb here, alright? What's our frame rate? 24. Okay double 24, what do you get? 48. So technically, if I really wanted to replicate a 180 degree shutter, I would shoot at 1/48. Do our cameras have that? Gotta go 1/50, okay? So let's kick the can down the street, six months from now you're gonna shoot at 60 frames a second. What's your shutter speed? 1/25 because we don't have 1/20. And all that does is it gets us back to base level. It gets us back to 180 degree shutter, it gets us back to, if what we saw in Hollywood is shot at 60 frames a second, what that would look like. Now you can change your shutter speed up or change it down based upon a stylistic choice. But we are all used to seeing footage when it's at 24 frames a second captured on 1/50 of a second shutter speed. You following me on that? Yep. Any questions so far before I move on? Yeah, if you're shooting at 24 frames a second and your shutter speed is all kind of variations, what does that do? I couldn't have paid her to say that. (audience laughter) Alright, so here we go, here are some examples. Okay, so we're at 24 frames a second, 1/50, watch the water fall off the rock. See what happens when you change your shutter speed? Side by side. Look at the water. Blurry, prickly. Okay, let's watch it one more time. Watch that water on the rock. See how it gets to be really staccato-y? You can almost feel it, right? So here's a question, here's a follow-up question. When do you shoot a faster shutter speed? I think Slumdog Millionaire, I think did something with the shutter speed that gave it a really kind of a dynamic kind of a cool effect, I've heard that. So in cinema, they call it shutter angle. And you use a wide shutter angle or a skinny shutter angle. And there's one movie that exemplifies a skinny shutter angle, and that's Saving Private Ryan. The first sequence. Think of an explosion, if you could see every little grain of dirt and dust inside of that explosion, that's a fast shutter speed. If it blurs together, it's a slow shutter speed. If I'm blowing stuff up and I wanna see everything, I'm gonna kick my shutter speed up. It's gonna give me stylistic kind of like, a stylistic oomph, you know? Button, you know. So let's think about it this way. Outside of explosions, 'cause we don't really blow things up at weddings. Metaphorically, yes, but not practically. What things do we capture that would be benefited by a faster shutter speed? Think of a wedding, okay? Think of a bride and what she wears. Think of things that move. Dress, ring, earring. Yes, dress, earrings. Maybe throwing rice or something like that. Throwing rice, that sort of stuff. If you use a faster shutter speed on that stuff, it will lend itself to the footage. It's gonna look better, okay? However, during the vows would you use a faster shutter speed? No, because they're gonna be moving like this. And it's gonna be like, they're gonna look like they're given a dose of Ritalin or something, okay? Or they had too much caffeine. They're gonna be moving around too much. Alright, so you pick your shutter speed in cinema, in motion, exactly the same way you picked your shutter speed in photography. It's just, you gotta think about it differently. Because why? Footage feels a certain way. That's what we talked about earlier. Footage has to feel a certain way. And if the technique doesn't pair with the feeling, there's a disconnection. Alright? Now there's always exceptions to the rule. There is always an exception to the rule. But for me, and for what we're teaching here and what we're doing basics-wise, if you kinda follow those concepts and live by those concepts, it's gonna really, really just help you along a little bit, okay? Let's just watch it one more time, I really want you guys to get a feel for this, okay? Okay and pay attention to the motion of the water as it's coming off the rock. So we get to set the aperture. And when I say we set the aperture, that's exactly like photography. I wanna get a shallow depth of field, I'll pick 2.8. I want more depth of field, I'll pick f/11. I'm kind of really OCD about certain things. So I know in my lenses what apertures are the best. I've spent the time and I've photographed Coke cans. And made sure at what aperture is the lens the sharpest. There's typically a sweet spot to every lens. What a lot of people don't realize, so we're gonna roll back the conversation to see if you guys understood what I said earlier about crop factor. In cinema, they're shooting on a film surface called super 35, okay? Super 35 is roughly the same size as the APS-C. So we can just safely assume it's about 1.6 crop factor. So f/8 in cinema, or f/5.6 in cinema is actually pretty deep in depth of field, isn't it? You're getting close to like eight and 11. So for me, when I'm shooting a 5D Mark III, a full frame camera, I'm gonna hang at like f/4, f/5.6. I could even go eight or 11, okay? Let's stop the conversation here. Because this flies in the face of everything that I have ever learned in photography. Photographers shoot shallow and they shoot shallow 24/7. They will shoot shallow in their grave if they could. (audience laughing) Not only do they do that, Victor, I thought you said at the beginning of the class people are using DSLRs because of shallow depth of field. Well yeah, kinda, yeah, but let's go back to that other slide, let's go back to the slide earlier that looked like this. When you have an image surface that's this small versus an image surface that's this big, the smaller the image surface, the deeper the depth of field. The larger the image surface, the shallower the depth of field at the same aperture. So let's think about it. We in the photography world got large format sensors and shallow depth of field very quickly, whereas in the cinema world, they didn't. They were still shooting on very small sensors, they were getting infinite depth of field. They would actually take a contraption, put it in front of their lens, and they were called depth of field adapters. And you'd spend thousands of dollars for it just so you get shallow depth of field. Okay, so when these cameras came out, when the 5D Mark III or II came out, it was such an amazing thing for them that it changed the way they thought. It changed the way they thought, not the way we think. And that's something that's very different in our world. We think differently because we've always had that film surface, that image-making plane, and that depth of field. So to kind of bring it back full circle, I use four, five, six, eight, 11, 16 sometimes. Because f/16 and f/11 still look shallow to someone who's used to cinema. And that's something we have to break a habit of. Because I see, when I'm shooting stills, if I see f/8 or f/5.6 I think oh that's what my mentor does. I don't wanna do what my mentor does, that looks dumb. Right? But we need to change the way we think because we're not just photographers anymore, we capture motion. Okay, picking up what I'm putting down? So when you're watching a show, say, pick one, just I see a lot of depth of field in let's say Castle. You know the show Castle? Yeah, yeah. So they always have, you know, the shots of the police. And it's tremendous depth of field, I mean you always have the face shot, the guy's talking. And you're telling me that that's shot at a high, like our equivalent of f/8 or is that? We're gonna take a look at some footage in just a little bit when I do my ISO test for you. And in order to kind of do the ISO test, I had to increase my aperture. And you'll see at like, later on in the clip, you'll see when the depth of field starts to increase even at like f/11 and f/16. It's not that different. Because here's the thing, typically when narrative or episodic television is doing like a dialog, a shot of a person, they're on like a pretty decent sized lens. Like I would say 100 millimeter or a portrait lens, okay? And if they're on a portrait lens, there's an element of compression between the subject and the background. So even if you're at five, six, or eight, or 11. That compression still throws the background enough. It's only when you get to wider lenses that that compression effect doesn't take place anymore. So that's why like, the kind of starting rule for people using DSLRs is to shoot wide. Because when you shoot wide, you don't have to be so focus critical because it's very easy to manage that focus because of hyperfocal of infinity. But when you have a portrait lens that's like 85 or up, there's a compression element there that kind of mitigates the depth of field of the aperture a little bit in terms of aesthetics. It doesn't get rid of it, but there's an aesthetic tolerance there. So if I'm like at f/8 on a 200 millimeter lens, the background's still gone but I still get that separation. Really encourage you guys. Like I said, learn your craft. Take your lenses out, shoot boring stuff. Pick through the images. I purposely shot boring stuff for you guys just so that we could look at the footage and dissect it and not be distracted by pretty things. I can't, never, probably and never will get into a helicopter and shoot aerial footage and show it to you. Because it doesn't get us anywhere. It just, it emphasizes the fact that I got into a helicopter.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

If you own a DSLR camera, you already own a powerful filmmaking tool. Ready to learn how to use it? Join CreativeLive and Victor Ha for a course that will cover the core principles of capturing video with your DSLR.

Through hands-on demos - including how to create compelling video interviews - Victor will guide you through the core techniques of DSLR filmmaking. You’ll learn how to apply the compositional skills of still photography to taking video. You’ll also learn about how to navigate the video-capturing features of your DSLR, choose the right gear for your filmmaking needs, and incorporate audio into your shoots. From framing shots to producing simple projects to spatial relationships, the skills you gain in this course will leave you ready and inspired to create high-quality, engaging film projects.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution

Pre-Production Planner


Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!