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Lesson 37 from: Use Your Photography Skills to Master Videography

Jessica Dimmock

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Lesson Info

37. Q&A

Lesson Info


A lot of people have been asking about, as we look at going from a photographer to a videographer with regard to our camera skill set, with regard exposures and settings, and things like do you start with a particular ISO, are you shooting in AV. Can you talk us through how video might be different in that approach to your settings than still photography? Yeah, so, when I shoot stills, and everyone's different, when I shoot stills, I actually don't shoot in manual mode, I shoot aperture priority or AV. I really like to control my depth of field, I really like a wide open depth of field, and I'll kind of deal with shutter later, And, shutter will kind of get compensated for. In video, it's very important that your shutter stays the same, and that what you're toggling back and forth is your aperture, which is quite similar, except for the fact that you're not running it all over the place to kind of constantly be compensating. So what I like to do, it really depends on the lighting env...

ironment, but it is good to start at a middle ISO for whatever that environment is. So, if I were in here, I'd probably start at something like an 800 or 1000. That means that I know that if I kind of point towards over there, much more in the shadows, and let's say I'm at 800 or 1000 at F4, right here in kind of the middle. If I point over there where it's darker, I wanna shoot these guys in the background that are running some of the cameras that are in shadow, I know that I've got some room to kind of open up for when I'm pointed there. And, if I know that I'm going to be kind of pointing more towards some of these highlight zones, where things are very bright, I know that I can close down. What I don't wanna be doing is having to go into my camera and keep changing the ISO because I don't have that second variable in exposure in my camera the same way that I would in stills. In stills I can be changing the shutter and the aperture all of the time. And, once I'm in video, I wanna on a solid shutter. I wanna stay a 60th of a second basically and just be changing my aperture. So I don't wanna get locked into something, and where I say "Oh God, now I've gotta go "and change my ISO" 'cuz it's like one more step of a complicated process. It's not just something you do with your finger. So I wanna make sure that I'm always kind of in this kind of middle ground. Terms of going at those upper levels of the ISO, I want to be able to go up, I don't love to go pass on ISO, but I will, especially with some of the newer cameras I can go to 3200. After that of course you're gonna start seeing some things fall apart, it's gonna get a little pixely, a little grainy. It's a trade off. Do you need the shot desperately? You might just have to live with it. Is there a way that you can add light somewhere? Anything? A laptop? A cell phone, just to kind of compensate? You want to make sure that your white balance is not set to auto white balance, because as you kind of pan across an environment, let's say you're in a house, you've got window light, so you've got natural light coming in, and you've got tungsten over there, as you kind of pan across the room, it will start wooooo and compensating, and trying to find that kind of balanced white zone for you. Or kind of neutral white. What you wanna do is commit to one thing. Say, this window light that's coming in is really important. This is my light source, and as I go over here, so be it. Let the tungsten go yellow or vice versa. You say the tungsten is primarily the thing. I don't everyone looking all yellow. Let's set it to tungsten and if we see some window light over here, okay, we're gonna have to live with it, but you should lock it in and kind of keep it in one zone. Uh, what are some other settings? (tongue clicking) Yeah, go ahead. _ I guess to further on the if sort of like audio trumps video, does then shutter speed trump the other factors, there's aperture, are there particular shutter speeds that are the best to use. I know you mentioned 1/60th, but even kind of going from there, are there particular shutter speeds that are best for video? For me, I keep it to a 60th and I just kind of take that one variable out of the equation. I'm just like, it's gonna be a 60th. A couple of situations that I would change it, and there's no specific numbers that necessary work, you just have to kind of toggle through some things. There are a couple of things that will give you like a rolling shutter or kind of those if you are looking at a TV screen it will be like these bands that go up. Or certain types of light will create a kind of flickering effect. In those situations, go into your shutter, and see if you make it a little faster, a little bit slower, does that go away? Every light and camera's kind of gonna be different, so there's not one magic number that will just solve it. But that's where I would say, go ahead and make some changes. But overall, I think it's best to stick just to a 60th, in part because if you always do that, and your co-shooters always do that, then you're on the same page. You're not kind of like each creating, "Oh, this is what I k it should be." You're just kind of on the same page so what's gonna make it look good and you kind of stick to that. In the cinema cameras, you do it by something called "angle", so instead of thinking of it as a 60th of a second or a 125th of a second, you do it by degrees. And you basically set it to 180 degrees, and then that just is always what your shutter is at. Now you might, with the flickering, go to 172 degrees, 240 degrees, and it's this kind of complicated algorithm that I basically set it to that thing and then I just kind of walk away from that. Again, unless I know that it's creating some kind of light pattern problem. And for the DSLR, Richard Seagraves is asking, "What is it about a 60th of a second, like what is "actually happening at a 60th? "Why a 60th?" I bet someone in this room knows. I don't know and it's like as I've learned video and I've tried to master and get a sense of all the stuff, this is the one, where I'm like, I just do what they tell me. This is the thing that works. I've never had a problem. There is something about basically, it's a series of very, very short kind of burst of exposure, and there is kind of a magical equation that happens when these things are all kind of working together. But I just kind of stick to that and leave it be. Otherwise, you can get a little bit of slightly staccato look to the movement or you can get even a little motion blur that will happen. A lot of cameras, when you go into movie record mode, will automatically put your shutter speed at a 60th, and then you're just not even thinking about it. Quick question for you Jessica. Without asking you to give legal advice, because I'm sure it could be its own module, but have you experienced that there are big differences in what's required for releases for incidental people in your shot because you don't wanna lose the composition in public, then you, how do you deal with when you're doing documentary? You've talked to your subjects or characters about the story or what you're trying to put together, but have you even encountered something where their uncomfortable with what you've filmed, and you're trying to convince them. How do you write that release? When it comes to release, I think of it as a very all or nothing type of sport. So, what you want in your release is you don't want caveats. You don't want like, "everything except 'this' is okay". You can have some very specific things. We have written into releases that we will not show the address or name of town where you live. That's something kind of very specific, but once you start getting into the territory of "this is okay, this is not okay", all of these things are about kind of making sure you've got a good understanding with you and your subject and also, God forbid, it would ever go to court, that you have something that shows "This is what I said was gonna happen." As soon as you start getting into this caveat, exception territory, it's kind of very hard. I won't show arguing between the two of you. Well what constitutes an argument? I think that the you just said, "Pfff", that could be an argument. You screaming at each other could be an argument. That's like a very nebulous hard to define thing. Chances are a lawyer would really advise or not help you write a release that has anything like that. So you kind of wanna go in all or nothing, and these releases, and coming from the photography background where we don't really need this stuff, these releases are intense. These say, I get to use everything that I shoot, in all forms of media, that exists now or in the future. Forever. In perpetuity, in the universe. Not on planet earth, not in the world, not here in the United States for sure. In the universe, just in case in 40 years we go to Mars, and someone on Mars has an iPad that wants to show my film, like that's gonna be legal, They're intense, the language is intense, but every time I've tried to talk to a lawyer and say, "Listen, this release is really scaring my subjects. "They're freaking out." I get a lot of pushback. I've never had any lawyer that said, "You know what, you can just say 'earth', that's okay, that's fine." They're like "Nope". Because once it comes time to sell your thing, you're gonna need it to say "universe" and they're gonna want "universe" so, the way I try to handle it is, making it very clear to subjects that I don't love it either, but this is kind of a standard model release. That this is common practice, that this is the model release that everyone signs. Make it very clear to them, chances are that the very thing that your subjects are most concerned about is not you playing the movie in Mars or not. The universe part is scary but it's because it's like it means something and it's intimidating in a way, that feels out of control, but not because anyone objects to the idea of anyone playing it on some foreign planet. So the thing you have to do is kind of realize where that emotion's coming from and scale it back and say, "Okay, I'm making a documentary about you. "The point of this is to make this project and this film. "I'm not going to use this in advertising," and your release can say that, and that's fine. It's not gonna be used to sell products. It's not gonna be used outside of the context of the film that you're making. It's not gonna be used in any kind of commercial setting. These are the things that chances are that your subjects are most kind of concerned about. And, kind of addressing some of those emotional fears rather than the scary language is often the best way. But I hate it. I hate it. And, for your main subjects, and anyone who even talks on camera, get releases for everybody, everybody. People who are on the street, if you can, great. If you can release them, great. If you can't, cross that bridge when you come to it. Talk to your lawyer in that situation. Every situation is gonna be different, and truthfully even one situation with a few different lawyers, you're gonna get different legal counsel. A conservative lawyer will tell you, "Over my dead body, absolutely no." A lenient lawyer, will say, "That's okay, that's fine." And somewhere in between, you've gotta figure out what you're comfortable with. But every situation is different, you and have to find legal counsel. Last thing, if you can't get a written release, and some people, let's say on the street, but you're a little concerned about it, see at the very least, you can get a video release. Can you put the camera on them and they say, "This is my name", maybe even take their phone number, and "Yes, it's okay for you to use my likeness." It's not great. It's not perfect. But it's definitely better than just like "I don't know who these people are," or if it is okay with them, or how to find them. It's also a great way, at least in that moment, being like, they just said on camera it's okay. Can they come and sue you? Absolutely, yeah, but are they less likely to do that if they kind of said, right there in the moment, "Yeah, this is okay." These are all kind of small steps towards getting to someplace that hopefully feels kind of kosher. Yeah? Sort of jumping in off of that question as well, and again in a general way because I realize you're not a lawyer, but location releases, that sort of stuff? Can you talk to that? Sure, so location releases is basically where not only do you clear individuals, but you also say this location that it was okay to film in. We didn't do that for anything in our film. It's a much more standard thing with television. We didn't use location releases and we have interiors of stores, we've got exteriors of things. We stayed away from it. Other people use it, but our lawyer in our situation didn't seem to think we needed it. Which is like, "Whew!" Could you talk just a little bit about, getting back to the film settings for the DSLRs. Film speed? Sure, so that's basically in your ISO. The film speed is in your ISO which is like your light sensitivities. I'm asking about frame rate, thank you, frame rate, Please. So we shoot, I shoot everything at 24P, which gives this kind of cinematic, floatier look. You know when you watch TV these days, especially the sports channel, how everything looks like a little bit more, that's at a different frame rate, it's probably at a 30th, and it has just a little bit more, of a crunchy, kind of crisp, sharp look. 24P just has a little bit more float. It has more of a cinematic quality, and that's something that's available in most DSLRs, and definitely in all of these cinema cameras.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I have been waiting for a course like this. Purchasing it was a no-brainer. Taught by an accomplished professional in the field, with a strong track record of high level work, Jessica Dimmock, I feel, is exactly the type of instructor Creative Live should be giving air time to. I have watched other Videography classes on Creative Live, and this was the first one that I felt was worth purchasing due to how much info was being shared, in a very methodical, easy to follow (but not dumb downed) fashion.

a Creativelive Student

This class has left me feeling very encouraged and inspired about getting into videography. Jessica has made some great work, in her short career with video, and was able to share what she learned through those experiences. She started out as a photographer and has now incorporated video into her skill set and it seems to have expanded the diversity her opportunities and has enriched what she produces and shares with the world. I look forward to doing the same thing in my own way. Thanks CL for another wonderful class.


Simultaneously broad and deep, the information Jessica covers and the way she delivers it really give you the feeling you can jump into video right away. Professionalism in every area, from prep steps to workflow in the field to clean organization and processing, inspires confidence in the value of her methods. She clearly learned most of this in the field over years of work, which means the rest of us now have a huge leg up on our first projects. Thank you so much!

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