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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 6 of 39

Preferred Camera Settings with Q&A

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

6. Preferred Camera Settings with Q&A

Lesson Info

Preferred Camera Settings with Q&A

At this point, I want to run you through how I set my camera up, okay? So we're gonna go ahead and turn my camera on and I'm gonna run through the menus real quick. So, let's see here. Now, I want to stop and take a pulse check. That's a lot of the course material, in terms of camera basics, is there anything that I need to go over or talk about again? I would love if you could explain the difference between the infinity and the hyperfocus. I didn't understand difference between those two. So if this is my subject and this is my camera, hyperfocal is the focus point in what remains in focus behind that subject. So it will change, depending upon the focal length and the aperture. So wider lenses at deeper apertures tend to have a shorter hyperfocal. Okay, just the depth of field, basically. Yeah, yeah. All right, moving here. Okay so, the funny thing is if you actually have one of these cameras, make sure you switch it to video. Because the first thing is if it's on still mode a...

nd you go into menu, you won't get any of the video options, so that's the first thing. So make sure you flip it to video and you get some of the video options. That one's free, the next one's gonna cost you. All right, first thing I want to do is to start from this menu down. Custom White Balance. So Custom White Balance, if I had a white target, it would show up in this image and then actually select that. So what I would probably do here is... I'm gonna ask for a quick little volunteer, give me a second here. So I'm gonna do a live Custom White Balance really quickly. Can I have you hold this for me? Give me a second. So what you're gonna do is just set your camera to the proper ISO, I'll be at ISO 800 for here. I'm gonna use a meter to get the proper exposure. So I'm at ISO 800, I'm gonna be in still mode, so I'm at ISO 800. I'm gonna get a reading, so I've got a light here to get my white balance off of. I'm at a 50th of a second ISO 800 at F4. And so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna have, what's your name again? Zack. Zack, step forward, come on step forward for me here. And I'm just gonna take a still photograph of this. Keep coming, keep coming, keep coming, and stop right there. All right, so I'll go F4 manual focus and... (camera shutters) So I'll get a frame. Now, if I go back into my options... You can sit down, thanks, appreciate that. So I'm gonna go over here, I'll come back into my options, Custom White Balance. That picture's gonna show up, that's enough of a frame. So I'm gonna go ahead and I'll select that. I'll say okay, I want to use that as a custom White Balance, set to Custom White Balance. All right, I'll come up over here and pick the custom White Balance. And now, if I were to go into video mode, I have a proper White Balance. All right, sorry, Zack. (chuckles) My apologies. Going back to the menu. So that's just Custom White Balance. Now, if you come over here, I'm only showing this to you because there will be a time when you're outside and your gonna look at your image and go, I know I can't trust the back of this thing, but that's a lot of green. There's one instance that happens. You're outside, bright sunlight, bride's walking on grass and it's reflecting up a ton of green into her dress. White Balance Shift allows you to pull certain colors out. Now, here's the thing, the minute you do it, it's baked in for good, so be very conservative with how much you pull out. But I have to show because there will be an instance where you're gonna need to do a White Balance Shift and that's where you do it. Moving back, Picture Style. So I'm of the mindset that I like to just keep a general Picture Style, but if you need... It's like I will determine the Picture Style based upon the shooting conditions. Most of my stuff I'll shoot, like interviews, it's always gonna be the same thing, but if I'm out doors, I'll actually change my Picture Style. Now, I like to shoot neutral. Because it's gonna give you a very flat image, like a flatter image, and inside of that neutral option, here are my settings. I use no sharpness, I'll drop my contrast down to negative two, I'll drop my saturation down to negative two. Now, this reflects back to when we shot JPEG. When we shot JPEG, we had to take out a lot of the processing inside of the camera so that we could add it in post, and you're doing the exact same thing here. You're taking out the sharpness, you're taking out the contrast, you're taking out the saturation. And here's the thing, contrast goes hand and hand with almost... It's not latitude, but it saves your highlights. So if I'm outside and I got screaming highlights and I got screaming shadows, if I drop my contrast, then I'll have a more flatter image to work with in post. Very good, that's very helpful. It's really, really important. So you could effectively drop all of the contrast out of the image, just so know you're gonna get a really, really ugly image in post that you're gonna need to add contrast to. We call that crushing your blacks. You're gonna crush your blacks, get the contrast back in the image, but then you'll be allowed to really dictate. So here, for everything you take out in the camera, that's one thing you have to add in in post. So we have things called same day edits, and we have things that are called turnaround edits. If you're doing a same day edit, you're gonna have to bake some stuff in camera. If you're doing a turnaround edit, you can take stuff out so you can do it in post. Moving on. Inside of my recording movie size. So the newer Canon cameras have a low compression and a higher compression, just notice here that I've got a bunch of different frame rates and resolutions to pick from. So I'm at 1920 x 24 ALL-I, and all that means is it's a lower compression. Now, if I went to 30 frames a second, Victor, when would you pick 30 frames a second? If what I'm gonna shoot is going to go into a commercial for broadcast. Broadcast is done at 30 frames a second. But if I'm gonna show it on YouTube, on Vimeo, via mobile sharing, like send a file to my friends for their iPhone, I can shoot all that at 24. Well, Victor, what's this 60? Okay so, for the camera to be able to shoot 60 frames a second, it's dropped the resolution down to 720, you see that? And if we remember back in the beginning, if we scale that 720 up, it doesn't look right, does it? So you can capture 60 frames a second, but it's gonna be at a lower resolution. Depending upon who you talk to, that doesn't matter to some people. They'll just output their project at 720 and deal with it. Because this TV can show 720 and and it doesn't make much of a difference sometimes. So some people just go, you know what, I'll just shoot 60 and work with it in post. Well, when do you shoot 60, Victor? Well, I will shoot 60 frames a second when I want to do something called slow motion. So it's called overcranking when you shoot a fast frame rate at 60 in camera, and then in your editor, you toss it to a 24 frame per second timeline. And that stretches those 60 frames out over 24 frames per second, which makes it slow motion. Remember that clip of me doing the dirty dancing? That was captured at 120 frames a second, played back at 24. So that's overcranking, undercranking is taking frames and dropping them, so taking 12 frames a second and playing it back over 24, so you get that (zipping noise) look. So this is your first introduction into sound only because it's part of the camera basics. So inside of sound recording, I'm gonna set my sound recording levels to manual. So I'm gonna go from... It's defaulted to Auto. You're gonna change it to manual, and this little leveler, this little meter, will tell you where you're at. So photographers, when they first start doing this, make the mistake of going to zero. You've got to keep it somewhere between 12 and zero, and if you do that, you're gonna be golden. Recording levels are the same thing as White Balance. You're gonna want to change it based upon your changing scenes. So if you're in this room to outside, you got to change it. And the distance from the subject to the camera matters. So if you go from... If I'm right in front of my camera and then I jump further away, I've got to re-level. And that's your golden number, right here. Every meter has a little hash point where you actually need to hit. If you look at it, it's always -12. And as you get better and stuff like that, you'll roll it a little bit, but that's pretty much it. That's pretty much where I set my camera. And I think that if you guys did those settings and you guys run with it, you'll have a good chance of being very happy with the final result. It's a good starting off point. Some people have different aesthetics than I do. So you'll change it based upon your own aesthetic. I miss that thing with the sound. Meaning, when you do a set, you're doing a sound check or you're setting it before you hear the sound? I'm not sure how that works at all because sound is totally new to me. So if I'm gonna go ahead and do a sound check... I never record to my camera. I always record it as reference sound, but I want the reference sound to be good reference sound. So this meter, can you see, as I'm talking, it's bouncing between 12 and zero? I want that meter to be somewhere, just right about there. See how it's gonna drop at 12, right there? That's where I want that meter to hit, just kind of right here. Check, check, check, check, hey, my name is Victor and today hear I'm talking at CreativeLive. So you kind of just-- What would be at your -12, for some reason, that's the sweet spot? Yeah, so decibels are measured in negatives. So it's -40 to -12 and it peaks in clips at zero. Okay, it's ideal, got you, thank you. All right, I think I'm pretty much at the end and I want to field a couple more questions. I know this was thick and dry material, I hopefully made it interesting for you, but I think it's necessary. So anything we got to ask? Absolutely. Definitely, let's start with one from Movie Magic. "If I change frame rates throughout "the course of a day of shooting "and then combine them in post, "will the edited video look funny?" Yes, absolutely. So what'll happen is let's make believe... So before you start a product, you want to know what your final output's gonna be. It's either gonna be 24 or 30, depending upon where you're gonna output it to, let's assume it's 24. If you capture an interview at different frame rates, so I'm gonna capture an interview at 30, 60, and 24, and I try to put back that interview into a 24 frames per second timeline, the audio and the video from the 60 frames per second clip just won't look right because it'll play back slow and you're gonna have a sync problem with that 60 frames per second to your audio. So there are ways to get around it. There are ways of fixing it, but if you're just starting off and you're just doing it, you'll want to stick to one frame rate, and the only time I'd ever veer off of it is if you're gonna go ahead and just assume that that faster frame rate is gonna be slow motion. Question from Hannah Banana, "I've heard that you need to turn "image stabilization off on your lenses "when you shoot video, is that true and why?" So image stabilization is a yes and a no. So I've used image stabilization when I'm handheld to great affect, but I turn it off on tripods and monopods because what actually happens is inside a barrel of a lens, there's a little motor that keeps the lens in place, and if I'm on a monopod, you'll actually see, it's a really fun affect, you'll see the image shift back and forth as it's trying to compensate for the motion of the monopod or the tripod. And you really, really get it when you're panning. So if you're panning, you'll pan the camera and then the lens element will follow afterwards because the motor's trying to keep that image stable. So I tend to turn image stabilization off, but granted, my lenses are about 13 years old. I've got some image stabilization lenses that are pretty old, and I've been told that the newer stabilization lenses tend to be a little bit better. So I would say practice, test it, and don't take my word for it, see what it looks like for you. I've used it in handheld situations to great affect, though. A question from Ninja Tech Dual, "Can you talk briefly about custom picture styles " like Technicolor, CentiStyle, stuff like that." So we're gonna go ahead and talk about picture styles. So I don't like to do custom picture styles a lot of the times because, one, I'm not a grader, I'm not a post person. I don't do that for a living and there are people who get paid a lot of money to learn that process, so I'll keep my neutral and just light grades in post. However, if I'm ever gonna use an editor or someone who's gonna do my color grading for me, Technicolor released something called CineStyle. So we're gonna get a frame of reference here. We're gonna pop myself into video. That's what this screen looks like, that's what the footage looks like in just a basic picture style. If I swap over and pick up CineStyle, it's gonna look like this. Now, the only thing that I changed was the picture style, but it became flatter. So I'm gonna use Zack again. Oh, geez. Sorry. (chuckling) Okay, my audience here. So I'm gonna use Zach here. Use Charlie. And if I go ahead and switch back to my neutral, you're gonna see it be a little more poppy. See how much more contrast-y and punchy it is? So this is neutral versus CineStyle, which is a little bit more punchier, or which is less punchy. And the whole purpose of that is remember I talked about pulling out contrast so you can actually get more information in the file, not twist it too much? CineStyle keeps it completely flat, but you have to put all of it back in. So when you get into grading, there's things called LUTs, and there's things called... A LUT is look up table, but you apply a look up table to that footage to get it to look a certain way. What's the least that have until that compression? Is that just... So we work in one file off of DSLR, which is H.264. So there are some ways to get a nice file, like an uncompressed video out of the HDMI port from a Nikon D800 and a 5D Mark III, but for practical sake, for practical reasons, a lot of us won't ever do that because it requires so much equipment. There's a good number of us that are always gonna just record the cards, and whatever we record to a card is in H.264 compression, and that's just what we live with. That's just like industry standard-- It's a codec that you work with. Inside of some Canon cameras, there's a higher or lower compression, I tend to pick the lower compression because it gives me a bigger file and I've been taught that the bigger the file, the better. But the compression mean the same thing that at a JPEG would do to a picture you take, it's compressing it and then it... Yeah so, a JPEG is a codec that takes an image, dumps it into a box, zips it up, and gives it to you in an envelope so that when you put it in your computer, the computer opens up the envelope and gets the image. Video codecs work in the almost exact same way in the sense that it packages up all this information, but it's just so much information. So there's just certain things they do before they package it up into that envelope inside the camera, it's still H. and, effectively, there really isn't a way for us to not record H.264 unless we're recording out of the HDMI, which for most beginners, and even for seasoned people who shoot DSLR, it's just another added element of equipment that they don't want to handle or deal with. A very small percentage of people will use the HDMI doing what we do because doing what we do, we're gonna be in events, portraits, and weddings, and that tends to be cumbersome when you have a huge output recording deck attached to your camera. I guess what I'm asking is the advantage that you have with scanning RAW over JPEG is not the same advantages you have when you have a tremendous amount of latitude, do you shoot RAW over JPEG? Because that's not the same translation at all. You don't have to worry about getting your wheels crossed, thank you. You're still getting a compressed image, it's just flat. Okay, thanks. Okay, question from McGreatest, going back to focusing, "How do you deal with action footage, "such as a dog running in the park "or something like that, in terms of "maintaining focus on a moving object?" So it's understanding where your plane of focus is. So if you're starting, you're gonna want to make sure you understand where plane of focus is. If I put my nose on a piece of glass and I stack people up next to me and put all of our noses on that piece of glass, I can pan from left to right and they'll all pretty much be in focus, relatively. If I stagger this piece of glass, I angle that piece of glass and I put all the people up against it and I try to pan, I'm gonna get a focus effect, right? It's gonna get one person in focus and as I pan, it's gonna go ahead and change that focus because my plane of focus is always here. If I shift my plane, but don't shift my camera, then I'm gonna have issues. So if you're beginning, and you're gonna capture motion, you want to be perpendicular to the motion. You want to be perpendicular. I know it's boring, but it's a good place to start. So if this is my camera here and my motion's happening right in front of me, I want to be perpendicular so I can set my focus and pan as they're going across, that's the first trick. Second trick is that I want to angle my shot. My subject now is running diagonally across my plane of focus, I'm gonna pick one focus point. Pick a focus point probably at the end where they're gonna stop. What I'm gonna do at that point is set my focus point, go back to the starting point, pan with them so that when they stop, they're gonna be in focus, that's what I'm gonna do. Another one is the quintessential they're running towards you. Just pick the focus point, for you starters, pick the focus point where they stop, let them run into focus. Because for you to rack focus as they run towards you, that's gonna be a world of hurt, if you're starting off. It just takes a little bit of practice and there's a tool that you would use, anyway, to make sure that's proper. So beginning, no tools, just camera, set your focus point, go to it, keep your plane perpendicular, pan through it, have them walk into focus. Those are three very viable focusing techniques that if you watch a lot of video and you start to dissect it, you're gonna notice that a lot of people do it. Love it, let's do one more question. Now, there are a lot of questions when you started talking about audio, lots of questions coming in about audio and sound. So everybody, just to let you know, we are gonna be talking in depth about audio and sound tomorrow, tomorrow right? So stay tuned for that. Maybe just one question here, " Victor, you don't record audio "on the camera and use it for reference audio, "so how do you record your master audio?" No, no, I record reference audio to the camera, but I don't record production audio to the camera, so if I didn't say that properly, I apologize. So I will always record reference sound on my camera. My production sound is always onto a second device, like a Tascam DR60 or something like that. But I always record a reference track and that's how you know to sync and I'll show it tomorrow, I'll show a syncing process, I'll walk you through some of the equipment. I had a fun little mic test that I did, all that good stuff. So if you're gonna come back tomorrow and you're gonna be here for the sound, make sure you have a good set of speakers or a set of headphones. So that's your PSA for tomorrow because it will help you hear some of the nuances in that record test. Luckily, here, we have some great speakers, so we're good.

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!