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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 5 of 39

Camera Basics Part 2

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

5. Camera Basics Part 2

Lesson Info

Camera Basics Part 2

Let's look at it. So you set the ISO. Now there's some rules for ISO and the cameras, these rules change daily because cameras are changing daily. So when I say like, oh shoot the lowest ISO possible and try to stay below 2500 that's just good because if you guys ever seen noise in video? It's bad, okay I got two clips to show you. To kind of emphasize my problems with kind of ISO and noise in general. So the first clip here is just a ISO comparison. So here's 160, I want you to pay attention to the shadow areas. Here's 320, pay attention to this shadow area and you look at the noise, it starts to dance around, just right here. 640 and as it gets up and up in ISO, you're going to start to see more of this start to posterize and more would start to break apart. 2500 is my cap. You start to see it dance around. As you get to 5000, it starts to get more and this is at a deep aperture and we're still getting a throw in the background, right, what I said earlier. 10000, see that start to br...

eak apart even more and then now we're at 12800. Okay, so the purpose of showing you this, isn't to kind of say, oh well Canon versus Nikon. No, it's not that. I'm just showing you that as you increase that ISO there's like there's a tolerance point where it just starts to break apart. There's things you can do in post to mitigate some of that noise but in reality if you just kind of stick below 2500, capture your image in exposure using a meter. I'll talk about light meters later but using a meter and actually getting the proper exposure, you're going to do your best to mitigate that noise because there's always going to be noise in an image because we're amplifying the signal. We're amplifying, we're taking the sensor, we're juicing it up with steroids to be more sensitive to light. There's gonna be a measure of noise that shows up in the image at any ISO above like 160. But here's the problem, is if we don't get a proper exposure and we don't do what we're supposed to with the meter and we don't focus on best practices. I bumped this exposure up about a third in post. It's the same footage, the exact same footage but even at 160, I bumped it and the tolerance, the image starts to break apart a little bit. So all this is meant to show you, we're going to run the clips through, all this meant to show you is that the file that's coming out of this camera, even though it's a gorgeous file, has very little wiggle room. There is next to no wiggle room when you start to bump the image with a curve. We've all done in Photoshop, you load up an image, command M or Apple M, you pull the middle the curve, and you pull it out, right? And it bumps up your mid-tones and it makes it look alright, you do that to video and it starts to do this. It makes it worse. So you've got to be really precise with your exposures. Now, I picked the absolute worst shooting condition to show you this because there's a lot of shadows, there's a lot of blacks and there's a lot of stuff where this noise can show up in. If I was at a higher ISO and it was well lit and it was outside, the noise would be less. It would still be there but it wouldn't nearly be as noticeable. Okay, so there's like there's there certain frameworks that you have to operate in. Okay, any questions? How are you in the chatroom? We have some questions about shutter speed, do you want to get through this and then-- No, let's go back. Okay, so let's ask those while we're-- Yeah. All right, so question came in from MBE who said, when shooting video and thinking about the shutter speed, does camera shake come into play like it does with a still image? So that's funny that you asked that. So typically, some of the beginning tips and best practices for beginning shooters is to shoot a wide-angle lens, shoot a faster shutter speed because it helps hide some of the the camera shake when you're actually hand-holding or kind of shooting video. It's not that it hides it or that it's better, it's just if you're shooting a faster shutter speed and your hand holding, because the footage is jumping around a little bit more, it just makes it look like it's all part of the footage. So if I'm shooting like at a 50th of a second and I think I'm going back to answer the question, does camera shake, I think the root of the question is, does camera shake affect my footage? And camera shake affects your footage insofar as much as you want your footage to look handheld. That's how camera shake affects your footage because here's the thing, if I'm at a really, really long lens and I'm at a 50th of a second or at 125th of a second, if I flick the front of that lens, it's still going to shake. And it's still going to affect my image and it's going to look like it wasn't on a tripod. So camera shake is only going to affect you insofar as much as you want your footage look a certain way. If I'm on a tripod and I flick that lens and it starts to shake, it's going to be, it's going to take me out of the experience, right? If I'm handheld and I'm camera shaking then they kind of played into each other a little bit. So pick the support, pick the look, and then determine if camera shake is going to affect that look. I love it, we've got one from Wayne Paris, so in video mode looking specifically the 70 and 5D Mark II but i think it's more of a generic question. Does the aperture still affect the amount of light to the sensor or is that just adjusting depth of field, in other words can i still shoot at f/8 in low-light or does it have to be wide open for proper exposure at that point? So aperture will always affect exposure. We'll always let more light in and sacrifice depth of field, if you depth of field, you need more light. So aperture in terms of our cameras for video still works the exact same way as it does for still. So let's make-believe I'm in an event and I need f/8. If I don't have enough light to work f/8, I've got to use, either bump my ISO or use the widest aperture I can get away with. Or add more light, you know, that's why you see guys who are doing events always have like an on-camera LED or an on-camera light so that they can actually do and show whatever they're capturing and a proper exposure, in a proper ISO. Okay, but yeah that's a good question. I didn't reiterate that but aperture in motion, works the exactly the same as it does in photography in the sense that it creates depth of the field but also limits the amount of light that hits your sensor based upon what F-stop you pick. Another one, any else? Absolutely okay this is a specific question from Savin G who said, I love 150th shutter and frame rate but I work at a motor sports venue, how can I get a cinema look and capture a hundred-mile-an-hour cars? I saw somebody else also asking one about like horses riding by so, shooting action. So you can keep your action at 24 frames a second. So first let's roll back the conversation. For beginners, I want you to capture your action at 24 frames a second and I want you to jump your shutter speed, if you're capturing action, to 125th or 250th. Once you get used to that, what you're going to notice is that the action that's happening is going to look crisper, it's going to look more actiony. There's still gonna be a level of motion blur to it, which is still pleasing. Eventually what you're going to do is once you get used to the process of capturing that motion, you're going to jump your frame rate up. You're gonna shoot a faster frame rate and a faster shutter speed and then you're going to be able to work with that footage a certain way, you're going to do some cross conversion of frame rates and get the footage that you want. But to start, shooting 24, fast shutter speed, 125th, 250th. Which will probably, if you're outdoors, be really good for you because you won't be using, I'll talk about in a second. You probably won't have like a variable ND or to kind of dump your exposure down a little bit so that's going to help you a lot outside. So you're probably to be it like, if you've got 250th you'll probably be at ISO 160 or 200, be around f/16. So that's good because as things are moving quickly and you don't have time to focus, you want that forgiveness of depth of field and given that action is all about the action, they don't really care if it's like, oh pretty depth of field type stuff. So you're really kind of set doing f/ and then jumping to like a 200 ISO or 160 ISO and you'll get some pretty good stuff that way. So I just want to reiterate for people, we are getting a lot of like camera specific questions and we're talking more about the generics of shutter speed, of aperture, of ISO, which are all applicable to all cameras. Now how you change those, what dial you change or what button you press, might be different on your individual camera and that you'll need to refer to your manual for. We're not gonna be able to cover everything in this class but we are talking about the generics, which are awesome. One question here from Robin, so specifically said the 7D has a crop factor, which you said will be better in a low-light situation so I can shoot wide open but my 5D Mark III sensor is better. So how do you kind of make that judgment between what's better for any particular situation. My friends who speak Espanol say, (speaking in foreign language) so you kind of gotta weigh your options a little bit. If you need a wide-angle, go with the wide camera and shoot higher ISO. If you want the exposure latitude, go with the newer camera. If you want the depth of field and you're going to be unpredictable, go with a crop camera. These are things that you kind of learn out as you're working but these are things that I'm glad to share with you. If I'm outside at an event at night and I don't know what's going on, think concert. I will go with a crop camera because I don't know what my depth of field is going to be. However, if I'm just doing pop-up interviews at a reception where I've got my camera on a monopod, it's going to be me to you, I got a light, record. That's a 5D shot, it's going to be a better picture. You kind of just ebb and flow with your surroundings. However, if I'm at a reception, I'm on a dance floor and I need depth of field, I'll go 70D, crop sensor. But if I'm on the dance floor, low light, and I need wide, full-frame. So there's a couple things that you can do there based on your camera choice and here's the thing guys. I haven't even talked about buying anything. I want you to focus on your camera first. There are too many people out there that buy a camera and buy all this other equipment, we'll talk about tools and equipment, that's great, that's later. Right now we're talking about the camera, learn your camera. Everyone in this room, everyone at home, should know how to set a custom white balance. If you don't you should learn, like by tomorrow. (laughs) It's really important, especially you're shooting multiple camera. The little things that you do in your camera really matter because when we shoot a video inside of our DSLRs, it's worse than shooting a JPEG. I shot digital photography when it was just JPEG, where the concept of photographing in RAW was a wrinkle in some engineer's eye at Adobe. And when we shot JPEG, we had to get it right because there was no room for change. What JPEG does is, it takes a picture and inside the camera, the camera decides well you're not going to see this, you're not going to see this, I'm going to wrap this up in a dot JPEG file and give it to you. It takes all that information, synthesizes it, add some sharpening, compression, and gives it out to you. All right, now what H.264 inside of these video cameras do is it takes like ten pounds of stuff, shoves it into a five-pound bag, and then gives it to you so that when you actually open it up, that ten pounds of stuff flies out but you can't do anything with it. There's no room for change at all. All right, so when we say getting it right, learning our camera is really, really important and I'm happy to talk to you about like scenarios like this because I think it's so important for us to identify a scenario and identify the correct tool so you get the right result. Custom white balance. This is something that we always used to do in photography and then RAW came along and then that just left. Like it exited like yesterday's trash, like it just disappeared. Okay, just like light meters. But here's the thing, I believe in not only having things always be accurate but I have it in being correct. So use a target guys, don't use a white shirt, don't use a white wall, who knows what that tone of white is on that wall. Who knows what tone of white my shirt would be if it was white. Don't white balance off the bride's white dress because what, if it's off-white, she's gonna get really pissed because then that turns that off-white into white in your video and she's like that's not my dress. There's a reason you use a target and there's a reason these things exist. It's because it matters, all right. So here's an example, custom white balance. Kelvin white balance, auto white balance. So I profiled this model this morning so we can kind of, sort of trust it. Okay, so custom white balance is a process to do inside your camera. For Canons it's a really quick process. For Nikons it's an easy process and they actually have a broader range of features too. Kelvin white balance, so you all know Kelvin, you switch to Kelvin in your camera and you can dial in, I'll show you that later. And then auto white balance is the last possible thing you will ever want to do because it will change during the shot. What auto white balance does is a pre-programmed value for white inside of the camera and as you're kind of filming, it will identify what it thinks needs to be white. And as you go from one thing to the next, if it feels like it needs to change it's white balance to kind of make that one value white again, it's going to change. Or it will change between clips, which is the worst because then you're sitting there in editing, you don't know how to grade, you just started using premiere, and you're like, okay what do I do? I can't just color pick it, it doesn't work the same in Premiere. Okay so here's the thing, do it right, do it right to start. So when you set a custom white balance all you do is you're going to get a reading off of that target, you're going to take a still frame of that target, just make sure it's full frame. And you actually don't even need, you don't even need it to be like in focus. So then you're going to go ahead and access your menus, you're going to pick your custom white balance image, set it, and then set the camera itself to custom white balance. Okay, now what you're going to get a chance to do is at this point, just be able to to set the white balance for that lighting condition inside of your camera and then here's the thing is. you're going to need to change it. You're going to need to change it, every time the lighting situation changes. And at this point here I want to make sure that I stop because this is crazy. This is custom, this is Kelvin, this is auto. This is the background, it wasn't lit so it should go somewhere into this value. This is too red, this is too blue, this is just right. You guys feel me? Okay, make sense? Cool. All right, so let's see here. So remember to change it when the lighting changes. You want to use a target too. So pop quiz, I'm inside under fluorescent lighting. I go out and do a custom white balance inside. If I go outside, I gotta set another custom white balance. Now go inside into a reception hall where the lights yellow, another custom white balance. Outside in the shade, another custom white balance. So Canon, it's one file per. In Nikon, I can actually assign different white value targets so that I can actually pick the value that I want for that lighting condition. So that's one major difference between Canon and Nikon. It's just so easy to set in Canon that it doesn't matter, just carry a target. So why specifically like a target like this? This is from X-Rite, it's a ColorChecker Passport Now I'm a photographer, guys. I don't deny that I'm a photographer. I went and shot some video yesterday and what I do at the end of the day? I shot some stills, it's always going to be a part of me. So I want to pick tools in terms of like, most of my tools, I wanna make tools that I can use both in photography and in still. So this is just a great tool for still as well because there's a plugin for Lightroom, it lets me kind of normalize my color across different cameras. It's a great tool and then in terms of this, it allows me for video to get the right white balance and it's a neutral white. If you look at it, it's not white white, which is crazy. It's a neutral white that allows me to actually have a more accurate color balance. So before I move on to focus and that sort of thing, how we doing? Good? It's a lot of thick material so I want to make sure we have a second to digest it before you kind of move on. Any questions in the room? Just about that white balance target, I mean it looks like what did you have, like a ColorChecker Passport there? Yeah, X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. I'm sorry, could you say it one more time? It's an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. Beautiful and if people don't have one of those, I mean can they just use a white piece of paper? So, I'm such a, no. (laughs) I want to say, I want to say no but I know people are gonna do it and here's the thing right. You don't know what that value of white that that paper is. Okay and I used it as an example before so if I set my custom white balance to a white paper and then I try to go capture some footage of a bride who has an off-white dress, that white balance off that white paper could either make that dress look bluer or redder depending upon what the value of that white is. Because essentially when you're setting a custom white balance, you're telling the camera I want you to use this value for neutral white. And then it shifts all of the colors based upon your definition of neutral white so that's bad, if you're not using the right white. So yeah okay sure, use a white piece of paper. Some people might not notice but there will always be that one person that will notice and they will make your life a living hell because they're like, my dress doesn't look like that! That's the way it captured, it doesn't look like that. I cannot tell you when I was a photographer, how many times I had to reprint stuff because we weren't color managed properly. It's gonna be the same way, you know. Do it right, get it right in camera, do the work properly, you won't waste time. Because here's the thing is in post, when you get to post that's an entirely different animal and I'm not trying to scare anybody, I'm just saying you got to take things off in chunks you can manage and the more work you do correctly in the production side, it makes your life so much better in post. One final question, basically the question was, and I don't know if you just answered this. Couple people are asking if you have to fill the entire frame? So with the target, you fill the entire frame. I'd say 80%, 75 to 80% of the frame needs to be filled and it doesn't have to be in focus. You just want to put the target, so if I'm going to white balance for the light that's casting on me right now. I would probably put the target here, I wouldn't put it here right because that's not facing towards the light. I'd face it towards the light, right here, capture the target, and it doesn't need to be in focus and then I can reference this image in my camera for that. Want to take one final one about white balance? Okay Peter would like to know, what are you doing a multi-camera shoot with GoPros or other cameras without in-camera adjustments? Okay so without any camera adjustments, you're still going to want to capture the target because you can reference the target as a white point inside of post. And if you have an ability to capture a target that's got color chips on it, this is going to be off topic, but when you guys take your three day course later on editing, you're going to learn about something called vectorscope and RGB Parade. And vectorscopes and RGB parade, when you have color chips and a proper white balance card, will allow you to gauge the the levels of your forms and where your vectorscopes are sitting only in post. So it's a really, really great tool in post, you just got to capture the targets to start. All right, so this last thing on cameras, I think is one of the one things that people struggle with most. So the videos that I've shown you all today so far, how was the focus on them? Okay, right? So that should tell you something because when I first started, a lot of the things when I first started we made and we didn't really know how to focus well. I wasn't really well practiced yet. There's a certain forgiveness and tolerance when it comes to motion about things being in focus. If I'm static and I'm talking, I better be in focus but if I'm moving there's an element of blur to the image, right? There's an element of blur. So if I'm moving from left to right and you're panning me and you're close enough, chances are no one's gonna notice. But when I stop, I better be in focus. So here's the thing. I used to say I never want autofocus in cameras, I now say I want the choice whether or not I use autofocus because when I have the choice to use autofocus, I get to do this. I get to direct your eye without telling you or showing you where you're going to be. (upbeat music) Just by using critical focus and using a shallow depth the field, I can direct your eye. Really dial it in and use that as a storytelling element. Autofocus is cool because if I want to track somebody, I can track somebody and all kind of good stuff but there's still a place for manual focus. Here's the thing, most of the stuff that we've seen in cinema and Hollywood is manual focus. Some dudes sitting there with a little tool focusing and they're probably one of the highest-paid guys on site I would bet 'cause they always gotta be right. Victor, are we going to get into critical focus, can we just touch on how-- We can talk about that right now. The importance of that in video at some point. Yeah we talk about it right now. When it comes to focusing right, so there's a couple best practices that I like to use. Beginners shoot wide, 17-24. Okay, shoot wide. It doesn't really matter. I'm going to get skewered for this so my disclaimer is it's, don't skewer me. But if you're shooting wide, you can kind of shoot wide open and not necessarily worry so much about depth of field because of the way the physics of the lens work. So if you guys try this at home, put a 17mm on, put it at a four, five, six. There's something called hyper focal and there's something called infinity, and hyper focal is the point at which your subject is in focus and things behind your subject remain in acceptable focus to infinity. And infinity is like when everything at a distance is in focus regardless of where you're at. So if you learn to manage hyper focal and understand what infinity is on each of your lenses at each aperture, you'll be much better able and prepared to do what's called distance focusing. Where if I'm right here to my computer I can be like, okay well I can be at like five, six, and roughly set my lens to here and I'm good. Photographers before autofocus, photographers before the advent of motorized autofocus came in, they used to do distance focusing all the time. They go, it's like six feet, done. Okay and they pick their aperture and they just do it. So when I first started learning, that's what I do is I start with my wide-angle lenses and I learned how to do that distance focusing and kind of just managing my distance and understanding that. Shooting wide, getting used to actually handling the camera. As I got further and further into like longer lenses, typically when I'm on a longer lens, I'm on some kind of support. I'm on a monopod or I'm on a tripod. I'm never holding at hand holding a long lens because it just, it bounces around too much for my taste. So with stuff like this, you notice when I started to do that focus pull, so this movement here that we started is called a focus pull. (upbeat music) That's on a tripod and that's actually just turning the barrel of the focus to get that point. Now all this stuff, all the rest of the clips, I call that focusing to a point meaning I set my focus to that point and I had the action either get into frame or have the action happen in front of it. So what you'll see me do a lot, if you ever watch me shoot, is I'll have my talent and I'll be like, okay Stephanie you're going to step on that and when you step on that I need you to stop there. So I'll pre-focus, here. Have her go off frame and then when she walks in, she's already in focus. So you think about your brides, you think about your grooms, carry some gaff tape, colored gaff tape or whatever it is, mark it out, get far back, tell them to hit that point, you know you're in focus. That's kind of like some tips and tricks that I've used and I continually use throughout what I've done in video. And you know, it's easy if you practice, right? So we talk about focus, you know you got like, think about manual focus, it's an asset and it takes practice. And I'm not going to lie to you but for example there are some things you can do, like this shot, remember the shot? The camera was here. Stuck it in there, put a fisheye in, support it with a granola bar or whatever it was, but we measured from there. So there's a little indicator here and we call that the focal plane indicator. That's where your image is being actually created. All right, so what you do is you can take a tape measure, measure from that to your subject. So you put your tape measure there, measure out to your subject, and then you set the distance on your lens. When you set the distance on your lens, that just guarantees that you're in focus. That's a technique they still do in Hollywood. You see guys running out with 50 foot tapes, doing that. It's still practical, it's still a thing people do. So it's not out of the room of discussion, especially like if you're running a low budget and you've got a camera up and you don't have a monitor, you just boom, set it, and you know you're in focus. It works, we did it for that shot. Now there's an in-camera functionality that involves using buttons, it's a standby option. So you can zoom in on the camera, push couple buttons and that kind of stuff, and it really helps you get to a point where, all right, I can see my subject and I'm in focus and then I record and it goes away. All right now I'm going to do a kind of a side comment. If you enjoy hacking your cameras, there are firmwares out there that make that feature available. Magic lantern is one of them, I don't use that firmware hack because it scares me but some people some people do.

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!