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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: We're back in the studio, and it was a fun shoot, but I think under the controlled conditions of the studio with scopes and everything up, let's take a look at some of the shots we got. We're going to show you some of the ones that were good, and some of the ones that weren't so good, so that you can learn from our purposeful mistakes. Robbie: Now just to be clear, the ones that I was shooting were the good ones. The ones that Rich, no I'm kidding. Rich: Sometimes we shoot things wrong, and the technical term is. Teaching slides from the photo world. Robbie: Right. Rich: But we want to show you how the shot would work without using any filtration and that's what we have up here first, right Rob? Robbie: So this shot that we're looking at here obviously has a boatload of problems.
I mean, just looking at it, you can see that everything has just kind of gone to white. Gone to gray. If you look at the reference monitor over here, and the wave form monitor, you'll notice at the top of the scale, right there around 100 IRE, we have this huge clump of trace. This indicates that things are just being clipped at 100, or 100% white. And the unfortunate thing, especially with DSLR footage, Rich. Not really going to recover a lot of that highlight detail, once it kind of gets blown out like this and as you can see in the shot, it's kind of gone and the best you're going to be able to do in the post production is kind of put a little bit of ban-date on it.
Rich: Yeah, I mean, we'll, we'll show people just how poor that is and we'll explore some of this in future episodes, but there is the fast color corrector. And, let's just take a look at that. We'll go over to the effect controls, temporarily. Robbie: Yep. Rich: And so, I'll pull down those mid-tones, thinking, maybe I could rescue that. And, no, there's really not much there, is there? Robbie: Yeah. Rich: What was white is still white. Robbie: Yeah, I mean even if you pull down the highlights, you know, the top th, in there, nothing's going to really kind of change about this. Um,you know, this is some Rich: It's just a lighter grey.
Robbie: Right. This is something that you need to try to avoid in the field, is trying to get, especially with the SLR footage, which is not raw, of course, or most of the time is not raw and and try to avoid this because you're not going to be able to recover that highlight detail. So, down here on this shot Rich, things look a whole lot better. And we didn't actually adjust any part of the exposure triangle. We left the ISO and the aperture and the shutter speed all the same But what we did do, is apply an ND Filter. And the ND Filter, of course, stands for Neutral Density and that allowed us to reduce the amount of incoming light into the lens.
And here we have an okay looking shot. I mean I don't see too much wrong with this, except that I would say that the hight lights. Rich: It's a little hot still. Robbie: It's a little hot still especially if you at the waveform. You can see that we still have a bunch of trace right around 100%. We assume it's being clipped but not as bad as the first shot. And, you know, I can deal with this. We can make this work. Rich: Yeah, and this was the shot that we got. Remember when we just had a single Neutral Density Filter. One neutral density filter. There's wasn't variable we put one neutral density filter on it. Robbie: Yep. Rich: And we said well, that's better, but it's not enough.
And so the option was stack it or what are we going to do here? I mean, you're absolutely right. This shot could be made to work, but the skies are going to still pretty much be blown out, right? Robbie: Yeah. The skies are a little too blown out, Rich. And we could obviously go back and recover some of that detail. But again, it's not going to be totally recoverable. Rich: Yeah, so let's just pull that down really quick. We'll take a look and see how good that is. I don't think this is one of those shots where I would use it if I had to use it. You know, that's getting there. Robbie: Yeah, come, come into, come into the highlights control there a little bit. Yeah.
Not too bad. Rich: It looks a, a dismal gray day. One of the little tricks that I sometimes use in Premiere, you can't do this in all NLEs, is I'll just take the video only track and put a copy on top. Robbie: Mm-hm. Rich: And select that, and by changing that to the multiply blending mode, sometimes you can start to stack the footage and get it to combine a little bit and pull back a little more details, but it's, it's not good, is it? Robbie: No, it's not. I mean, and we, we can definitely get this looking better. Rich: Alright, well, here's the shot when we put the Variable ND Filter.
Oh, it was actually a blue sky day, not a gray sky day. That looks a lot better, doesn't it? Robbie: Yeah, true, and the Variable ND, of course, is going to allow you to adjust the amount of ND. That you're actually applying to the shot. And the variable nd is a great tool to have when you need to be able to sort of quickly adjust how much ND you want to apply to that image. And it's very useful sort of in sort of splitting exposure situations like this. And you can see that you're rotating the ND. Across the shot. We're going from blown out to overexposed, you know, to properly exposed.
Rich: Yeah, so it's really nice to have that level of control there and being able to dial that exposure in so it feels right. Let us still maintain that shallow depth of field but the skies look so much better. There's blue in the sky. There's blue in the water. Robbie: Yep. Rich: I think that definitely works. But you nailed it there, you know, the Variable ND Filter lets us really just sort of dial that in until it's the right amount. And that worked a lot better for that shot. We got the type of depth of field we wanted. Robbie: Yep. Rich: But we got the right exposure. Robbie: Absolutely. And, you know, the Variable ND is something that I, I mean, I really think that everybody should probably have in, in you know, their kit they're not that expensive and. Rich: Well, well let's get this straight.
They're expensive but it's less expensive than buying seven filters. Robbie: Absolutely and it's one of those things where it's a sort of a jack-of-all-trades kind of filter. Like you can co from really, you know, because it's variable, you can quickly apply the level of neutral density that you need appropriate for the shot without having to switch filters as you pointed out five, six, seven times. Rich: Yeah, what I would say though in general, when you're working with a variable ND Filter, the plus, minus, the sort of stops on the sides the numbers, don't actually line up exactly with true stops.
So, they're just sort of treated as a more or less sort of number. Now we did one other type of shooting. And that was we took out the matte box, and Kevin was over on the dock shooting with the matte box. He had more sunlight issues. What's the main benefit of the matte box, besides filtration? Robbie: Well besides the, you know, obviously the, the levels of filtration stages that we have here, and we actually in this particular matte box have two, one of them is rotating. The other advantage is these flaps right? So, we can do things like lock off how much light is coming into the lens so we can control things like light flares and that kind of stuff.
But the really nice thing about map boxes is that you don't actually have to screw something onto the end of the lens. You can literally just put something right here into the filtration stage like the four by four filter that you have right there. Rich: Yeah. Robbie: And not all the time, but generally speaking optically four by four filters usually are, you know, of a little bit higher quality than screw on type filters simply because they're used more in the professional setting. Rich: And I really like the exposure we have here. I think it's great. The blue water is reading. We've got nice richness on the shadows.
Let's bring up the scopes and just look at that in the reference monitor. Now, you give the play by play here. Why is this a great exposure? I notice that we're not reaching the entire dynamic range but it would be easier to do that. Post, right? Robbie: Totally, and I mean, maybe we don't even want to do that. I mean, I'm looking at this and we have, you know, we have sort of peaks on the trace here, right around 85, 90%, which is great. If I wanted to make it a little brighter, I could. If I wanted to make it a little darker, I could. And the same thing down here with the bottom end of the trace. I'm not crushing the blacks. You'll notice that the bottom of the trace here. Somewhere maybe around 1015 IRE and that's great as well.
So, in close production when I'm color correcting this I can add some contrast to this image and beef it up a little bit but this is a nice exposure. Not over exposed not under exposed and we have the ability if we want to sort of expand the contrast of the shot. Rich: So, if we brought in those black levels a little bit the blacks would get a little bit crispier, bringing in the whites. The whites get a little bit more intense. And moving that middle slider, we have control over the mid tones. That's too bright, but you know we can dial that in, maybe a slight adjustment, and, and a little bit of color, right? Robbie: Absolutely.
You can saturate it a little bit more as well. And the whole point about exposure, is that you want to give yourself a fighting chance later on in post production. When things are overexposed, when things are underexposed, you're dealing with problems. You're having the fix issues. When something's properly exposed like this. The color corrections in the work that you do later on in post, are just enhancing the shot. And that's the situation that you want to be in. Enhancing the shot, not having to fix a ton of problems. Rich: Rob, I think you really nailed it there. The whole goal is to get a solid base exposure in the field. And if you add some of the simple hardware, whether it be the higher-end, like the Mapbox, the middle of the road with the Variable ND Filter, or even just a couple of ND Filters that you keep in your bag.
You're going to have a good, solid base exposure. Robbie: Yeah, and, you know, that's the whole point, is that, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time fixing problems when you can sort of get it right in the field in the first place with just a few pieces of equipment. Rich: Well, I'd like to thank you for joining us. My name's Rich Harrington. Robbie: And I'm Robbie Carmen.
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