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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: We're back in the studio, and we've gotten a lot of shots on this project. Let's take a look at a few of them and discuss how aperture played a role. We're going to talk about aperture in the broad sense here, more open, you know, shut down, dial down. Don't worry about the exact numbers because the exact numbers are meaningless. If you have a crop sensor, the lighting conditions change. Robbie Carman: It's totally situational. Right? Like we can't, we can't give you a recipe that says, oh, when you're outside, shoot at this F-stop at this ISO. It's really going to depend on what's going on in the environment, what you're trying to achieve for the look.
So just be a little, what, what is that phrase? Have situational awareness. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: When it comes to the exposure triangle and things like aperture. Rich Harrington: Alright. So let's look at a couple of shots here. We are on the road, and you are actually the focus puller on this shot. And we're seeing him play. Let's just take this up and we'll go temporarily full screen. Robbie Carman: Mm-hmm Rich Harrington: And what I see is that our subject is clearly in focus from the back of the guitar All the way to the front, but the trees and the leaves aren't very distracting. Robbie Carman: No. And this was a situation where we were adjusting aperture for two reasons.
The aesthetic reason, but also to keep the exposure in a good place. We didn't want to go to too low of an expo aperture like 2.8 or 3.5 or something like that. Otherwise you'd have to put a lot of ND on the lens. That kind of stuff. And if memory serves, Rich, we were somewhere right around f8 or so on this, and this was giving us a lot of stuff that was nice and sharp and in focus. That background was ever, ever, ever so slightly you know blurry, but nowhere near where it would be if we had a really wide aperture.
And that was perfect for this shot because we didn't want it to look, you know, totally surreal. But it kept us nice and sharp focus with the artist, Jason, there, and kept everything else also in pretty nice focus. Rich Harrington: Alright. Our next shot, here, we're moving into the car. And we needed to use aperture, because there was not a lot of light in the car. We added light, we've talked about this. But, we wanted to have enough light so things are coming out, and we didn't need to be able to read the whole page, right? Robbie Carman: Right, totally. And in this situation, we were shooting at about 1.8 or so, and we were using the, you know, the fill lights that we have from some of those nice portable lights to get more of a focused effect.
On the actual paper there, but this was really an aesthetic choice. So I think we could have probably gone with a little higher F stop. We could have probably gone down to, you know, 2.8 or something like that. But the reason I really like this is because we have that nice background blur. And again, it gives it a nice aesthetic feel. So sometimes, again, it's a combination between technical reasons why you're adjusting aperture, but then also aesthetic reasons. Rich Harrington: Now our next shot here is an interesting one. We're really open here so that he back of the guitar and the strings are in focus but the, the further hand frets are out of focus.
But, in order to pull this off we had to make a change in our shooting with some hardware, right? Robbie Carman: Well, yeah, we actually had to do two things. We actually had to lower the ISO on the camera itself to probably near its lowest sensitivity because it was pretty bright out there. And then we had to use some neutral density filters on the actual lens to be able to cut down on the amount of incoming light into the camera. Cause we wanted to have this nice sort of soft background there, but if we had shot without a neutral density, guess what, it would have been blown out and overexposed. So that's another thing to consider when you're adjusting aperture. If you want to get that nice soft background blur, especially when you're in a brighter situation, you're definitely going to have to consider using either screw on top neutral density filters or a matte box with slide in neutral density filters.
Rich Harrington: And what we have happening here is, you know, while the clouds aren't pronounced with this soft focus I can actually see the cloud detail versus the sky detail. Which means that it's a good overall exposure. We had to find that happy middle ground. Robbie Carman: Absolutely. Rich Harrington: All right, so here we're back into the night club. We're getting ready. This is the jib shot. Robbie Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: And the camera's moving around. In this case, we had plenty of light to work with but we actually chose to put the F stop smaller. We, we went, you know, probably around somewhere in the 16 range and why is that? Robbie Carman: Well here's the thing, is that this camera was actually up on a jib and when you're shooting with a lower F stop number 2.8, 3.5, so on and so forth, obviously we've discussed this before focus becomes kind of an issue, because of that really shallow depth of field.
And it would be kind of a pain unless you had a remote you know, focusing system to get there up on there on the jib and adjust focus. So shooting at that larger f stop, the higher number and you know, 12, 15, 16, or whatever, is going to allow us to make nice movements while keeping everything in focus. Rich Harrington: Yeah, what's nice here is the performer never goes out of focus, and the camera's able to swoop in and really get emotional and then pull back and reveal the whole stage. Robbie Carman: Yeah, and what's interesting about this though, we did actually have to because we were shooting at that, you know, the eye was, you know, stepped down, we're letting less light into the camera, we actually did have to boost the light out on the scene quite a bit.
We did also stop up the ISO a little bit so the camera's a little bit more sensitive because less light was coming in. Rich Harrington: But this good news was this was shot on the 5D Mark 3 and we decided to put the camera that had the best high ISO performance for this shot. Robbie Carman: Absolutely. Rich Harrington: And that was the newest camera, and as we're seeing ISOs are getting cleaner. None of theses shots we're showing you now have been post-processed. Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: This is straight out of the camera. So we can obviously do more in post, but we want you to see those shots. Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: Now, this was my camera angle from the music video, and I was shooting very shallow.
Robbie Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: I was probably in the, I'd say three, three two range here. Robbie Carman: Okay. Rich Harrington: And as you look at that from the side, look at the backdrop. Robbie Carman: Yeah it's really nice and especially for this type of shot where you have jib shot that's nice and in focus. We want it to be some of these cut away angles, be a little bit more creative, a little more soft and I think you achieved that just well. I mean we, you were shooting pretty wide open, and because of that you could step down your ISO to a lower sensitivity. Again, your shutter speed for all of these shots was pretty much fixed.
We were right around a 50 with this. We were shooting at 24 frames a second, and I think you accomplish a, a nice looking shot here. Rich Harrington: Yeah. I like that the hair has detail, but we could actually see a little bit of stubble on the cheek using that edge but the backdrop of the wood and the beams and the brick just sort of simplifies out the color. Now, you were doing a similar shot from the other side. Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And you were getting the, the guitar and the strings and that action. Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: Let's just roll forward there. And we'll get past the slate there, there we go. Robbie Carman: It's always good to slate. Rich Harrington: Yep.
And so, now, you were able to get, I mean, this is perfect, right? We have one shoe in focus. One shoe out of focus. Robbie Carman: Yeah, and I find, especially on music videos where you're trying to give sort of a feeling, an emotive feel to things. I'm not so worried about hey, you know, he's moving and it slightly went out of focus for a moment there. I'm more about the overall look. And you'll see right there, his face goes slightly soft as he's moving around. And I actually wasn't really worried about adjusting focus. I kind of just locked in. I zoomed in. kind of locked in on to the guitar.
And then let the, the scene kind of develop. Rich Harrington: Now, here we go to another classic situation, which is the interview. And this was important, right? We're at a club. And we had limited choices for the backdrops. And what I wanted here. Let's just be honest, is I want you to focus on the performer. Now, we took a seat at the bar in this cafe, and there was lots of color. But the last thing I wanted people doing was sitting there going, I've drunk that beer, I've had that one, I've had that one. We just wanted a sea of color behind him, but we didn't want it to be distracting.
So we're using the aperture, and we actually pull him closer to the camera. So he was further away so that stuff would fall out. Robbie Carman: Yeah, you know back in the day with smaller, you know smaller chip video cameras, to get that same type of affect, you used to have to place the camera on one side of the room, the subject on the other side of the room, use the telephoto lens, and then cross your fingers that you'd have some nice depth of field. But now, obviously with the larger sensor sizes in the fast lenses that are available in these DSLRs, we can accomplish that in relatively close space. And I think, yeah, this is a perfect look, especially for interviews that are more stylistic.
I would say news interviews, it's okay if you have. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: Things in the background kind of there, but this gives it a nice, soft feel and I also like, you know, kind of how some of the highlights flare out a little bit and stuff. And it looks pretty good. Rich Harrington: Oh, what I struggled with here when I look at this shot, was what to do with the right-hand edge. We were in a situation where if I panned over to the left, I was going to get too much distraction. There were some people working over there. The side on the right was left open. I figured we're going to put some identification information in there occasionally. I left some room so if we want to drop in a picture in picture effect or a split-screen effect.
Robbie Carman: Or you could even push into the shot a little bit and that kind of stuff. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And this is a case, again, where we're doing this interview relatively quickly and I like the way that the background looks. I think your could argue maybe that his shirt is a little, you know crushed and that kind of stuff but this is a perfect situation again you said this multiple times over the past few episodes. That you gotta kind of pick the middle situation, or you're going to spend too much time on the set, wasting time actually. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: Trying to get it perfect. And this is a perfect example where we got the main component that we want on the depth of field in the shot. Well, we can come back later and post. Pick those blacks up a little bit.
Maybe add a little saturation to his face. That kind of thing, and this is the perfect shot to get started with. Rich Harrington: Alright. Well, you've seen aperture put into action. As well as gotten the DPs perspective. Hopefully this gives you some more ideas on how these all fit together. In the next two weeks we're going to take a lot at the other sides of the triangle. Which is going to be shutter speed and ISO.
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