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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Rich Harrington: So it seems like besides power, audio, and everything else, we always have gadgets. Your DSLR kit is not complete unless you at least hang two things off the camera. Robbie Carman: Well, right, you know if you go on Facebook and Twitter and places like that it seems like all the pro DPs and cinematographers out there, they have these gigantic rigs with 14 bazillion things hanging off and they for sure make for cool pictures, but to get all of that stuff on the actual camera or the camera rig itself, you're going to have to have different adaptors and ways of getting stuff to the camera or to a rail system or something like that.
Rich: And let's start with simplest one here. We have a hot shoe on the camera, chances are that's covered up. This is normally where the flash attaches and the reason why it's called a hot shoe is because there's actually a transfer point. Now most of the devices we're going to use for DSLR video are not going to take advantage of that, but you could easily attach things like your shotgun microphone. Robbie: Yeah, and a lot of these DSLR-specific microphones which are great for run-and-gun situations are going to attach right to that hot shoe. Now granted, they're not going to sort of pass off data to the camera through the hot shoe, it's just literally a mounting point.
This is great for attaching things like microphones, but what if I want to attach something else? Maybe like on camera light, I mean, I only have one hot shoe here. How am I going to get other stuff on to the camera? Rich: Well, we just adapt it. One of my favorite adapters is something like this, and this is just a Y adapter that's going to take me and notice it's got two different heights, so they don't collide. So I can now loosen that up, slide this in and this was just find on Amazon.com, I just typed in Y hot shoe adapter and there's lots of different ones out there just slides in place.
Robbie: Amazing what you can find on Amazon. Rich: Yeah, and we'll just tighten that down and there's a top screw here, too, that I could tighten, but this allows me to go ahead and slide that into place. Robbie: And then if you wanted to, you could just put your light in right there. Rich: Yeah, and let's just tighten this down here. Robbie: Okay, here we go, be careful that your light is not all that secured yet. Rich: That's right, go ahead and tighten the light down. Robbie: Okay, here we go. Rich: Yep, so now we have both devices attached. I have got a top light which is going to work well.
This of course will allow me to adjust this here, except it's kind of fixed. Now I could turn this and this one just simply has the ability to then swivel and reposition. So notice that the adapter in this case going from hot shoe to light actually has a swivel point making it easy to adjust the lights. Robbie: In this setup, something like this is a great thing for like, you know, ENG or news gathering or something like that, where you need to have a small sort of self-contained package and you don't want to have the bulk of say a rail system or cage or something like that.
Rich: Yeah, and this is really sort of the minimal. Two mounting points, a microphone and a light that's really going to do if for most folks if you are in run-and-gun situation. I wouldn't call this ideal lighting or ideal sound, but it's a lot better than what the camera comes with, so you nailed it. News, small documentary, running and gunning, I have got this, I can go ahead and I have gotten on there. We'll just tighten all that down, so it's really firm and as you tighten those you see you got a good solid rig, so now you can move around, I could use my gorilla part here as a grip.
One of things I like is sort of flaying that out, so now I have got two handles. And I could run and use the camera, but eventually you're going to run out of mounting points. In this case, people usually step up to a rail system. Robbie: Right, you are not only mounting points, too, Rich, but a setup like this also sort of changes your center of gravity and how ergonomic the kit is, and as you pointed out a lot of people, after they sort of try to put everything they can on the camera, eventually come to a system like this, where I have a set of rails on a tripod plate like this right in here, the rail is right here and these rails are going to come in different lengths, right? You can get 8-inch rails, 6-inch rails, foot long, 2-foot long rails, it just really depends on how much stuff that you're going to put on it.
Now in this case, we just have a few simple items. I have a mounting point for the actual camera itself and then a mounting point down here, so I could put this on the tripod, and if I turn this around a little bit, you'll notice that this system actually has a Follow Focus, and we'll talk about Follow Focuses in future episodes, but a Follow Focus is simply a way of allowing you to adjust focus directly on the camera without having your hand on the actual lens and allows you to do much more accurate and how you focus the camera. Rich: And then going off of this rail system here, we could easily do things like take the electronic viewfinder and put that on an arm to extend it.
Robbie: Absolutely, I mean, these things can get really kind of beefy, you got a various arms for monitors, audio recorders and then sort of the next step up from the basic rail system would be what a lot of people are referring to these days as cages. Now a cage is sort of a sort of a self- contained unit that would go around the camera itself, and it provides just a plethora of mounting points and the cool thing that I really like about cages is that they actually have power options, too, on them and sometimes even audio options. So instead of having to have various adapters for power and that kind of stuff, you can simply plug the camera directly into the cage with an Anton Bauer or Sony battery, or whatever and you have power right there to go, plus you have the additional mounting points that allow you to attach things very nicely and it's all one sort of self contained unit.
Rich: Now a lot of people grumble why do we need all this stuff? The real reason is, is that the DSRL camera was not exactly designed with all the video accessories in mind, but even pro-video cameras have adaptions. We use rail systems on full-size video cameras, we use cheese plates or mounting points on the back to attach things, external power supplies. So the DSLR has it particularly bad, but this is not unheard of and it has been used throughout the traditional film and video industry. So just get a kit that works for you, think about the accessories need to add, and then you can go ahead and build it and rig it, and you are ideally going to want something that you could break down, so it's easy to carry and then quickly assemble, so you're ready to go and start shooting.
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