Skip to main content

Camera Settings for Filmmaking

Lesson 4 from: The Cinematic Filmmaking Workshop

RJ Bruni

Camera Settings for Filmmaking

Lesson 4 from: The Cinematic Filmmaking Workshop

RJ Bruni

buy this class

$00

$00
Sale Ends Soon!

starting under

$13/month*

Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Camera Settings for Filmmaking

Lesson Info

Camera Settings for Filmmaking

(dramatic music) So we don't need drones and gimbals and cameras that shoot slow motion. What do we need? We need a camera that shoots video. For me, I started with the Canon 60D. I was super young and I didn't have a lot of money. And my family, they helped me host garage sales to save up for one. I was so excited to finally have a camera where I could control all the settings. And what I was most excited about was being able to change lenses and get that cinematic feel with different lenses. The camera didn't have 4K or slow motion and 1080p. It had 1080p, 24 frames per second. That's it. I used that camera for so many years, and that's what launched my career for many years to come. I thought I needed a stabilizer, and my dad helped me build this ghetto stabilizer out of galvanized piping where you'd put the weights on the bottom and screw the camera on top. It didn't work very well, but I was willing to do whatever it took to create the stories that I was passionate about. If you...

're taking this workshop, I can imagine you have a camera that shoots video. If you don't, I can pretty much guarantee you at least have a phone that shoots video. I've actually shot a few projects just using a phone and the audience that I showed it to, they didn't even know, 'cause they were more focused on the storytelling. If all you have is a phone, you can still take this course and create films that are cinematic and tell meaningful stories. There would be many limitations, but it's 100% doable. No matter what type of camera you have or will be using, it's important to know how to use it. Let's get into setting up our camera. The settings that I'm gonna go over, they're pretty universal for any DSLR or mirrorless camera or even cinema cameras for that matter. We're gonna start with frame rate. Frames per second refers to how many frames per second is captured by our camera. Naturally, our eyes can see 10 to 12 images per second and perceive them as individual images. But beyond that, we see motion. Classic cinema was projecting movies between 20 and 26 frames per second. And when sound was introduced, they landed on 24 frames per second. Since then, 24 frames per second has been the standard in movie cinema. So today, if we're trying to make cinematic looking films, we're gonna set our frame rate to 24 frames per second. Every now and then, there's a time and place to shoot slow motion. It's important that we do this intentionally. The way we shoot slow motion is we shoot at a higher frame rate, and then use those extra frames that we have and expand it to match 24 frames per second. Essentially, that makes slow-mo. But 60 frames per second on a 24 frames per second timeline looks very different if it's not slowed down. It looks very choppy and fast and it's not that smooth motion that looks cinematic. So in order to avoid this, when we shoot at 60 frames per second or 120 frames per second, we have to guarantee to ourselves that we are going to slow that footage down. That's a rule that we're studying for ourselves in order to get cinematic footage. So we have our frames per second set. Next is shutter speed. We're gonna wanna set our shutter speed to double what our frame rate is. If you're using a mirrorless camera or a DSLR, it'll be 1/48 of a second or close enough is 1/50 of a second. And if you're using a cinema camera, you might hear the term, the 180 degree angle. That refers to the exact same thing. This rule is super important and often overlooked by new filmmakers. This rule can guarantee that our footage is gonna have proper motion blur. When something fast paced moves across the camera, we don't want it to be clear every single frame 'cause that's not what our eyes naturally see. If there's a little bit of motion blur, that's what we want. So if we're looking to make cinematic footage, we're gonna want our shutter speed to be double what our frame rate is. So we already have two rules set for our camera. Next is our first creative decision, setting our aperture. For me, my aperture is constantly changing. Sometimes I'm shooting pretty wide open at f/1.8 or 2.0 and getting lots of depth of field and making sure there's lots of separation between my subject and my background. And sometimes, I'm opening it up to around four or 5.6 and getting a little bit less separation between my subject and my background. These are decisions I'm making based on the story I'm trying to tell. And later on in the workshop, you'll see me change my aperture based on what the story is and what emotion we're trying to evoke within the audience. Remember, in filmmaking, our subject is constantly moving and we want to keep them in focus. So if we have our aperture really wide open around 1.4, it's gonna be really tough to keep them in focus. That's just a tip. But later on, we'll get into aperture a little bit more deeply. Now the last step to getting proper exposure is going to be our ISO. For ISO, we're gonna wanna shoot at our native ISO. Our native ISO is essentially where our sensor performs the best and gives us the cleanest image. Do some research on your camera's native ISO because every camera's different. On my C200, it's 400 ISO. And on my R5, it also performs best at ISO 400. Now when shooting outside, ISO 400 being our lowest, it will probably leave our image overexposed. This is where a neutral density filter comes into place. This is something that we put over our lens and it makes the image darker. So essentially, we can keep all of our shutter speed and aperture settings the exact way we want them. For filmmaking, this is a tool that is pretty much necessary whenever shooting outside. Next, we have our white balance. First rule of white balance is, do not keep it on auto. This will keep our white balance from changing throughout the scene. And essentially, we're gonna get shots that don't look similar and might have different moods and feels. For me, I don't take a super scientific approach to white balance. I usually match it to what my eye is seeing in the scene. Sometimes I'll even go a little bit colder or a little bit warmer depending on the feel that I've decided I want the scene to have. But for the most part, if you set your white balance to what your eye is seeing, you're gonna be in good shape. For me, I shoot outside a lot. So I usually hang out at around 5,600 Kelvin. Now we're gonna talk about focus. A lot of the cameras nowadays actually have auto focus settings within video. For me, a lot of my footage is actually just shot in manual focus. It allows me to make sure I'm getting exactly the shot that I need. And most of the time, I can guarantee that my shot's in focus even more than the auto focus system can. So I think it's a good skill for everybody to practice. Sometimes your camera might actually have a tool like focus peaking that will tell you when your subject is in focus. I use tools like that all the time. So when we're starting out, don't worry if your camera doesn't have auto focus. Manual focus will work great. For the most part, our camera is now set up and ready to go. The last thing that you might wanna look into is the picture profile on your camera. If your camera doesn't shoot in raw, which most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras don't shoot raw, we're gonna wanna set our picture profile to as flat as possible. If your camera has a log setting, we're gonna want to set it to that. If not, set it to neutral and try to get the contrast down. This is gonna give us lots of freedom in post production to change the colors to whatever the emotion is that we're trying to evoke. The one thing we haven't talked about is audio settings, but we'll get into that in a separate episode. So our camera's set up. And from now on, most of the decisions we're gonna make are all creative decisions. Let's just make sure we're following the few rules that we set for ourselves within our camera settings.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Live Lesson: Feedback and Q&A Session with RJ
RJ's Final Film | SHARED EARTH
Email Questionnaire
Project Breakdown
Scene Breakdown
Creative Deck

Ratings and Reviews

Dani
 

I LOVE this workshop - I have been wanting to film my own 'home life' movies as I am a photographer but I wanted to add even more memories. This workshop has added so much value to how, why, when, and what the process is of film-making for film-making. Thanks to RJ for sharing all his amazing information while being clear, precise, and informative. I am excited to film my next 'home life' film!

Alex Bocajj
 

Great insights into Rj's process. Really enjoyed it all. Rj is smooth and easy to learn from. Loved the "in-field" BTS and going thru the motions live. Looking forward to more material.

Patti Sohn
 

Really informative and inspiring. One of the best video tutorials I have watched.

Student Work

RELATED ARTICLES

RELATED ARTICLES