Rich Scinto, crime reporter at the New Haven Register, spent a day at DFM’s Thunderdome newsroom with DFM video producer Mimi Schiffman, and came up with some good tips on shooting video.
DSLR video mania started around 2008 when Canon released the 5D Mark II, its first camera capable of shooting video.
The Mark II was only a few thousand dollars and helped democratize independent film. Its large sensor allowed for better low-light performance the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field.
This combined with a wide variety of high-quality interchangeable lenses allows the camera to achieve a cinematic look at less-than-cinematic camera prices.
A wide variety of DSLRs and similar camera systems now include full HD recording.
Despite some great video qualities, DSLRs are still designed primarily for photography. The shape is conducive to photography, but can be awkward to hold for video without a DSLR rig or tripod.
Sound quality is just as important as video quality in a video project.
Unfortunately, sound is a weak point for many DSLRs. The onboard microphone is virtually useless and DSLRs lack high-quality audio ports such as XLR. Many have no audio meters and even fewer have headphone jacks. A workaround for this is to record on an audio recorder and sync video and audio in post-production.
-Relatively inexpensive for quality performance.
-Ability to shoot shallow depth of field.
-Good low light performance.
-Switch between photo and video easily.
-Sound recording and monitoring.
-Awkward to hold without rig or tripod/monopod.
-LCD screens are difficult to see in bright light.
-Video clips require transcoding for older video editing programs such as FCP 7.
I’ve incorporated some of what I learned while doing video training at Thunderdome below (Thanks Mimi!) along with background knowledge. Some of these quick tips can vastly improve video quality while reducing headaches.
Quick tips to improve shooting quality-
-More is more when it comes to variety of clips. Oftentimes, a clip might look fine in the field, but something will be off when you go into post-production. Having a wide breadth of shots (tight, medium and wide too) will allow for greater flexibility and less headaches during the editing process.
-Shoot clips for 12 seconds: There might be some camera shake at the beginning and end of clips. Shooting too many long clips can complicate the editing process by forcing the editor to go through what is likely very similar footage.
-Don’t shoot video like your grandma: Hold the camera steady and try to stay away from panning and tilting.
-Don’t be afraid to do multiple takes: Technical aspects aside, a person might say something in an odd way during an interview. Only having one take leaves you with no options.
-Use custom white balance if possible: White balancing is essentially telling the camera “In this environment, this is pure white.” The camera will then set other colors based on that information. Going too warm with white balance will make people and objects have odd red or orange hues and going too cold will add bluish hues.