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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 27 of 39

DSLR Filmmaking Tools Part 2

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

27. DSLR Filmmaking Tools Part 2

Lesson Info

DSLR Filmmaking Tools Part 2

So an external monitor is exactly what it is. It's a monitor that allows me to see whatever the camera's seeing. Okay? Now, in some orientations, if I've got a camera operator and I've got another person doing focus for me, it's good to have both people taking a look. Okay? In terms of an EVF and EVF stands for Electronic Viewfinder. So it allows me to see the picture on this monitor this little optic magnifies the picture that's on that monitor so I can see. Now, in this configuration that I have, this configuration that I have is my interview setup, where I'm not moving my camera a lot. This is my interview setup. Okay? And I'll go through some of the other pieces and nibbles and bits that I've got attached to it, we're just focusing on this right now. Okay? So this is a SmallHD DP4. SmallHD DP with the EVF attachment. And when you look at a monitor like this, give me a second, there's a couple things that an external monitor will allow you to do as a video person. The first thing he...

re is, let me just get a picture for us to look at. Okay. Alright. Cool, okay. So if we're looking at this picture, and I wanna see if this picture is in focus, a monitor allows me to get a focus assist. And then if I tap one of these buttons, I can get what's called focus peaking. Okay? Focus peaking allows me to kind of adjust my focus and it will accentuate lines around things that are in focus. Okay? So if I'm actually in EVF mode and I'm looking in it's very nice to tell what's actually in focus, okay? The next thing is I have something called false color. False color allows me to see if my exposures are in line with what I think they're in line with. Okay so I'll meter and I'll check false color to see if I'm clipping anything. And typically when I meter, I'm not. But if I have a camera operator who's not used to metering or I've got a second camera way off in the distance and they just wanna check their exposure to make sure they're right, they can pop on false color and read that signal and see if something needs to change. Okay? So now there's also underneath this guy. Okay if you take a look underneath here, there's two HDMI ports, isn't there? And the two HDMI ports, what they allow you to do is it allows a pass through, okay? So I'm plugging from my camera into this monitor and then it has the ability to kick out another signal, maybe I can kick out a signal to a second monitor, I can kick out a signal to a recorder, I can kick out a second signal to somewhere else if I need it, alright? That's a huge thing with these monitors, being able to kick out a second signal. Okay? Now this monitor is great. And the question that I'll get a lot is well Victor, why the heck do you own a monitor that's an EVF and a viewfinder that's an EVF? That just doesn't make sense to me. Well I use both. Remember I talked about earlier picking the right tool for the right job? If I'm gonna go out in the boondocks and I'm not gonna have batteries, and I'm not gonna have a chance to charge until God knows when. See the thing about this guy, is I love this guy. This guy's really really awesome. But if I'm gonna be out in the sticks somewhere, I've got Canon 5D batteries in the back of this thing. Okay? I have five or six Canon 5D batteries that if I don't know where I'm gonna be and I don't know if I'm gonna get a chance to charge, well I'm gonna make sure I have my batteries to operate my camera. Right? That's one thing. Second thing is this is a little bit lighter weight. I will still use this on a rig and that kind of stuff, and when I'm on my monopod. Especially if I just wanna go ahead and use it for a quick job. But this guy doesn't require any batteries. So I carry both because I will use both for a specific application. If I wanna keep it lightweight, I'll go with the Hoodman. If I don't mind keeping it lightweight and I need more production element and I need the extra benefit of focus peaking and false color, then I'll do that, okay? Now as we go on here, there are different monitor sizes available, there's new monitors out there that do a lot of fancy schmancy stuff. I mean I really just like my DP4. I've had it for a couple years, it's a great great monitor. Okay? Lens gears. Okay. If you take a look at all of my lenses that I use a lot. My 70 to 200, my 24 to 70, my 35 and my 85, they all have a gear that's been attached to them. Okay? And I've kind of settled on this gear. Now in the filmmaking world, the gear pitch that people use in lenses is .8. So you can find a lens gear from any manufacturer, put it to a lens, and it will be guaranteed to work with the follow focus that you wanna use it with. Now these lens gears, I don't always use a follow focus, but it allows me to have a tactile relationship with my lens so that I know kind of, where I'm at when I start to focus. I've actually gotten so used to using a lens gear when I'm manually focusing, that when I pick up a lens, one of my lenses that doesn't have a lens gear, I freak out 'cause I don't know where I'm at. Okay, it's such a nice little thing. Now there are certain lens gears that enlarge the barrel of you lens. Okay? And you know from geometry, as the radius that comes from the center of the circle extends outward, the circumference of the circle gets larger. And the distance from A to B on that circumference also gets longer. So the one knock against using still lenses for video is the fact that the travel length and focus is very small. So focusing incrementally can be very difficult. So if you find a lens here that enlarges the barrel of your lens, you've just, in a sense, given your lens more travel distance. To get that incremental focus, okay? The problem with it is when you enlarge the barrel of the lens, you can't put it into your bag very well. They don't travel very well, okay? So that's why I've settled on these guys, okay? Alright. Focusing tools. So a follow focus is a tool that allows you to do a choreographed focus movement or repeat the same movement over a number of different times, alright? So a lot of the people that I talk to when they first get involved with follow focuses or first get involved with video go I'm gonna buy a follow focus. Well why the heck are you gonna buy a follow focus? Well 'cause I think I need one. Do you know what they do? Nope. Why do you wanna buy one? 'Cause I think I need one. They're $1,500 for the bottom model, the one that'll actually work, that's not gonna break on the first job. Oh. So here's what a follow focus does, okay? You wanna get a movement here and you wanna go there and you wanna come back to it, okay? And when you do that, to do it like accurately and repeatedly, you got, there's a little bit of work alright? So you attach a focus ring. You put your follow focus on your rig. You attach your camera to that rig. Engage the follow focus. Find your first focus point. And you mark the ring. Okay and then you go and find the second focus point. Find it, put it in focus. Mark the ring. And then what you're gonna do is now you have two points to rack focus or pull focus between. So now I got from here, I go there, and I can come back and I keep my eye on the action so that when he gets back there I'm landed. Okay, so that's how you do repeated focus movements. That's what you use a follow focus for. That's what they're really really used for. So for photographers just getting into video the idea of getting out a whole rig and putting it together and using the follow focus, it almost doesn't fit in the beginning because you're so worried about other things, right? You will at some point get a follow focus. I just don't think in the beginning it's something you need to focus on. Hah, sorry. Pun. (laughs) So yeah, but here's the thing. You're gonna get one eventually. And when you do, please just invest a little money 'cause you're gonna get what you pay for. Alright? Card readers and cards. So I use the Hoodman card readers and Hoodman cards. I just find them to be really reliable, they're great, they're fast, they're fast. So the thing is, video takes up a lot of space, guys. So get big cards. I used to roll, as a photographer, with only eight gig cards, okay? I used to roll with only eight gig cards. I think the last, if I remember correctly, four gigs gets you 12 minutes of video. That's not a lot of footage. Especially on an eight gig card, that's 24 minutes of video. So that's not, it's not much. And you're constantly swapping in and out cards. I've found that 16 gig is a good comfortable number 'cause that's roughly about 48 minutes worth of video, and if that card goes down, I don't lose my whole project. Okay? 'Cause you know, in the event that a card does fail or something like that. And then if you've ever tried to download a 32 gig card without a USB3 reader, I don't envy you. 'Cause it takes forever. So if your computer is USB3 capable, do yourself a favor and just pick up a USB3 reader because it's gonna get you to the process of actually working with the footage so much more quickly, okay? Camera rigging, alright. Here we go. So this is my studio rig. When I do an interview this is the rig I use. It's a Wooden Camera, DSLR, Quick Cage with the SmallHD EVF mount. It's completely anodized aluminum. It's a really great little quick release system. It allows me to keep my rails on my tripod and pop it off in a quick release situation and pop it on to another system if I need to. The reason I like it so much is it's robust and it has mounting everywhere. I can mount everything on it. Okay so if you take a look here, I'm gonna put it back on my rig. Ah. Kay. If you take a look here, I've got a little hot shoe adapter that I've put my lav system into. Okay it holds my receiver there, comes all the way in to my two channel, or four, yeah my four channel mixer recorder that has a quarter 20 on top that I've just boom, screwed to the side of it because this little guy has a little bar here that the quarter 20 mount, for me to mount something to. It's just really nice mounting stuff to this rig. Next thing I have, oh look! It's an HDMI lock okay? It's a lock so that my HDMI cable doesn't rip out of the camera right here and ruin my HDMI port. So they thought about everything, everything with this rig. And it's got a nice sturdy top handle, I can carry it to places. The rods themselves are your industry standard 15 millimeter rods okay? Follow focuses and other accessories all operate off 15 millimeter. So your 15 mil rods are there. It's really nice, it really works. And another thing that I really like about it is that it lifts the camera up a little bit so that I can actually get the camera onto the tripod more easily. There isn't anything hitting the bottom of it, so it's nice. Okay? I don't use this rig all the time. 'Cause I'm not always shooting studio interview stuff. But can you see how, if I'm actually truly just shooting an interview, how everything here is self-contained? I've got my EVF up here. I've got my audio and my sound equipment right here. I've got it all self-contained. I can get access to my battery. You can get to your card. It's a really nice, compact rig, that allows me to really get everything I need for an interview in one place, and have it look professional. It's a great looking professional rig. How much did that cost? Now it's probably better to look on the website, I don't wanna give you the wrong prices. You know a few hundred dollars here and there, so. What's the name of it again? Wooden Camera DSLR Quick Cage. Yeah it's a really really good, good rig. Now I've tried a bunch of other rigs and I really like their cage system because it doesn't add too much more weight to the camera and it gives me an extensive place, a lot of extensive places to actually mount accessories. Okay? Cool, so. I think if we take a step back guys, and you take a look at all this equipment, okay? All this equipment. Let me give you two scenarios in which I would use certain equipment and when. Okay? So I've already talked to you about my run and gun setup, right? Where I've got the camera, the viewfinder and the monopod. And all of that, think about what jobs you could do with it. Okay you can do a hybrid portrait. You can do a moving portrait. You can do a hybrid wedding. And you can do part of a moving wedding with it. You can still do a heck of a whole lot. And even in a pinch, you can do part of a corporate profile with just this rig. Right? The minute you add a tripod, and you add your poor man's lav. So you're adding a tripod, you're adding a poor man's lav on top of your monopod and your viewfinder with the camera and now you're in business as a photographer. You can do a corporate profile. Okay, you can do a corporate profile. Keeping it simple. Why am I showing you all this stuff? Because at some point you're gonna come across this equipment, and you're gonna wanna know, you're gonna wanna get something. And you're gonna wanna be like hey you know what? Do I need to invest in this stuff? Here's what I use. I could still do exactly what I do with this, with a poor man's lav, a poor man's lav, and my monopod and my tripod. Okay? And I think, ballpark, 120 bucks for the poor man's lav, 199 bucks for the software to sync it, 199 bucks for the monopod. $229 for the viewfinder and $440 for the tripod. So we're not talking, as a whole general thing, a lot of money per product. How much is the head and what type of head is that? So this tripod right here is a Benro S8 Video Tripod. It comes as a kit, head and tripod for 445 bucks. Thanks. So you're looking at things that you're gonna need to pick up that as a photographer doesn't really break your budget. Total, you're looking at somewhere between 1,200 bucks and 1.300 bucks, right? And I'm saying these are all full retail prices. I'm pretty sure you guys could find some good prices somewhere, you know? And so the thing is that I believe and I've done it. Before I started using this stuff, I did it with that stuff. And here's a funny thing, I still use that stuff. That's the funny thing. Remember that video that we saw with the helicopter people? I had one wireless lav set and I needed to mic two people. So what did I do? I put my wireless lav set on one dude and I poor-man lav-ed the other guy. And I synced them both in post. You still use the same tools. You invest in the equipment because you know you're gonna use it over and over and over and over again. That's what I'm getting at. I don't ever get rid of my sound equipment because I know I'm gonna keep using it okay? So we're rounding home, rounding third base, taking it back and I'm pretty much done at this point. I just wanna make sure I take some time to answer some questions and to really kind of hone in on some of the things that you guys may be asking. Yeah so talking about the future of mobile video gear like this, Brooklyn had asked about the goggles that were used with the Octocopter. What do you think about those replacing a viewfinder or do you see that happening or what do you think about that? So I got a chance to look through the goggles that Phil was using on that shoot, and I don't think that technology's there yet. And it's really weird, because when you put them on, you're seeing only the field of view of the camera. So you're kind of doing this as you're walking around and you're it's like taking a stick and doing this. It's really hard to kind of get your bearings, right? Because the camera could have an 85 millimeter lens on and you look at everything in 85 and you're like. You know? So I'm not sure that that would be something that would really take on, because the way that we experience the world is through our eyes and our depth perception gets messed up when you cover them all. It only works in the sense of the 'copter because Phil wasn't piloting the 'copter, he was only looking at the camera to get the footage. Had he been piloting the 'copter through those goggles, it would have been a cluster. What is so cool is that you are actually flying. You have the visual of flying, it's amazing. Oh yeah, yeah it's trippy. It's really really trippy, it's really neat though. Cool, sunny day in the SF, when you were talking about memory cards, what do you think about using SD cards as opposed to used compact flash? So compact flash cards are always faster than SD, okay? So if you're gonna put a lot of information onto a memory card, and you have the option of doing SD or compact flash, I'd go for compact flash because they're just innately faster. In terms of getting them into the camera, some cameras only have SD. So if that's the only option, go with the fastest card you can. I think the class is 10? Like class 10 is the class you wanna be looking for in terms of an SD card. What you don't want, what you don't want is to use a slower card, and when you stop recording, have the camera have to buffer that, clear it's buffer on the record before you hit record again. 'Cause I've used slower cards before, and I'll stop recording and then another thing will happen and I'll try to start recording up again, and it doesn't write to the card fast enough before I can actually record again. And that sucks. So you're looking for a very high write speed is what you're looking for? Read and write speed is what you're looking for. Great. Okay. And then just a question from Iry about shooting video with your DSLR, if that affects the camera. Does it affect the shutter life? Anything like that? So it's actually, the sensor's always on in your camera. So the way that these sensors operate, is CMOS chips progressively scan from top to bottom. Okay? And when the shutter opens, the camera, the sensor's always on. So whether or not the shutter opens and closes, it doesn't matter. And when you're actually in video mode, the only time you ever attenuate the shutter is when you hit get into live view. You hear it go up and it stays up, right? So you're not really adding much life and in my opinion you're actually, you're actually doing more to preserve the longevity of that shutter. Because it only goes up when you're in live view and it only goes down when you're done. You know in photography, how many images do you take during a day, right? It's thousands. In the course of a day capturing video, you'll probably use that shutter a few dozen times. Okay, so the thing is, it doesn't add any life, or take life away from the shutter, but what it does do, is when you're capturing video on a DSLR, you're actually heating the camera up a little bit. Now newer cameras are really good now and they don't overheat nearly as much. But if you're in a hot situation and you're outdoors and sun's blaring down on the camera and you're using the camera and it starts to heat up, it may take some time to cool down before you can start using it again. But the newer cameras are really good now because people know they're being used for video so you don't really run into those problems. You know? Okay another question from photo renegade, so you need to buy all of this gear for two cameras, right? You need to buy two setups? No. Talk about how you-- So do I need to buy all this gear for two setups? Okay, so my response to that would be no. So let's fictitiously set something up, okay? This is my A cam. Stay, that's my B cam. Okay if I have two cameras in a shoot, and I'm gonna be recording sound, I can rig up one camera with all the bells and whistles, my B camera doesn't need anything. It just needs a tripod, it needs reference sound, and I'm good to go. I wouldn't need to record full boat rigging on this because it's all gonna be used for the same shoot, right? B camera can be lighter. So on a second camera, you don't necessarily need all of that stuff. Now let's pretend you're gonna do two cameras at an event. So my mobile setup. If I'm gonna do two cameras at an event, my mobile setup would be this times two. Two viewfinders, two monopods. Why? Because you're not gonna be able to hey I need the monopod! Well I'm using the monopod! No I need the monopod! Okay? You don't need all of this. But you might need two of these. Let's be practical right? Let's be very very practical about how we look at our gear. That's a good idea for your next video. (laughs) I need the monopod! No! Yes! No! Okay so. What would I take to a corporate profile? Corporate profile would be this setup, my still tripod, my still tripod for the second camera, a second camera, my monopod, and my slider. That's what I would take. A set of lavs, my poor man lav and my microphones. Okay I'm still pretty limited in my gear and then we'll get into it, some lighting. Okay, just some lighting stuff. But in terms of camera equipment, that's what I'll bring. What about a sporting event? Sporting event? Yeah. For capturing sporting events, a high hat. Okay? A video head, a video monopod. High hat, a video head, a video monopod and if you're able to mic the coach, a poor man's lav to mic the coach. Okay? Fantastic. Do we have any final questions from anyone in the audience? If not I've got a last one that I kind of want to, it circles around to what we were talking about earlier about what gear do you need? What gear do you want? All that kind of stuff. You gave us a great, kind of, starter set of gear that you think are kind of the essentials, could you maybe give us an order to buy those in as far as bang for your buck, which gear in what order? Monopod, viewfinder, take a break. Do your work. Color management. Okay? Poor man's lav. Pluraleyes. Okay, monopod, viewfinder, take a break, do your work. Color management. Poor man's lav, Pluraleyes, alright? Because some, if you currently use inside Premiere Pro and Final Cut X, they have syncing tools that you can you use, they're just not as robust as Pluraleyes. Eventually you're gonna wanna step into Pluraleyes because it's so much more of a robust program. That's all it's designed to do, is sync audio. So it does it very well. But if you're gonna really start doing it, you can start doing video for the low, low price of a monopod.

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!