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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.
Richard: So in our last module we talked about making sure that the frame was how you wanted it, because you can't really crop after the fact. Robbie: Yeah. Richard: Now I think more importantly and closely related is that not everything you shoot is going to show up on every single screen. We have this area called Action Safe and explain that, you do a lot of broadcast television work. Robbie: I do, and Action Safe has, well, a couple of uses, right? The first thing is that you know back in the day--I say that you know, not too long ago.
Richard: Nostalgia Robbie: Nostalgia, we still have it, but it's less, it's this idea of overscan. And what that basically means is that the actual image that's displayed on a television set through broadcast signal was actually bigger than the actual frame of the TV itself right, because you don't want to see the edges of the actual image. And because of that sometimes say you know somebody may be walking towards this side of the screen, if they walk to too far guess what, even though they're really still in the picture, they would have actually exited the frame of the screen.
So we've come up--well not we, but people have come up through the years of this idea of action safe, which generally is 90% of the height and width of the screen. If you draw a box around the screen, it would be about 90% of the total viewable area. Richard: And what's happening here is as Rob said, that 10% pad on the edges is just used as pad just like in the print world where you have bleed, so before something was cut, or margins on a book. So that things don't get shoved right up to the edge which makes it difficult and sometimes makes things feel too tight. So we tend to frame things just a tab looser.
Assume that the end viewer is going to see everything. If they are looking at this on the web, they're going to see it. If they're looking it on most modern TV sets, they're going to see it. Robbie: That's a good point, and I--that's what I tried to say a long time ago, this was bigger issue. Because you know in the past, overscan on TVs was much more present than we have on modern HDTVs. Most modern HD TVs are showing you almost 100% of the image. So if you're thinking to yourself, oh well they are outside of action safe, I shouldn't have to worry about, no, no, no... That object or that person might still be in view.
Richard: So if that boom mike dips into the frame from overhead, most people are going to see, you can't say oh just a little bit, it poked in, it was outside of action safe. Why we bring this up is that the world is changing and evolving, so you need to be mindful that everything you see within that shot is going to be seen by the end viewer in most cases. However, if you're working with old timers, clients, even many editors they may say oh that's just outside of action safe, no one will ever see that. Robbie: Well, it's not so true. Richard: Not so true anymore. So be careful of that, it used to be a hard and fast rule.
Now it's a nice guideline that only affects a few people. Robbie: Yeah and the other thing about action safe is you know when we're monitoring things, because you know a lot of times on bigger productions we'll be using external monitors and field monitors and stuff like that is that you can actually view action safe for different aspect ratios right. So you might be on the set, and you're shooting 16x9 but your end deliverable is going to be say 4x3, right? You're delivering for say may be an iPad or you know a web series or something like that. You can bring up 4x3 actions safe zones so you can say, no I'm going to protect through this actual aspect ratio and the action safe within that aspect ratio.
Richard: Okay and a close cousin that you might hear people kick around a little bit is the term title safe. This only kicks in with graphics, this is a further 10% ingest. So if action safe was 90% of the viewable image, title safe is considered 80%, and this is really closely related to the same reason why books have margins. If we put the text too close to the edge of the screen, it may look cut off or hard to read. So, if you're working with people on a professional video project, don't be you know too surprised to hear the terms action safe and title safe kicked around, as the shooter always think is my frame properly composed for my delivery aspect ratio.
Make sure nothing is in the frame that you don't want. Some times this means stepping back, looking at it, poring over the frame is everything good, you know let me look at this slowly before I roll. Robbie: Yeah, and a great technique that I often do is before I just jump into a shot and go let's go, I'll record 5, 10, 15 seconds, you know rewind or not rewind but playback on my camera or on my external monitor and really study that shot a few times because you know there might be something that is just so subtle that's in the frame that you didn't catch it the first time around. Richard: Yeah, so there you go. Can you crop video? Yes and not so much at the same time.
The better thing to think about here is paying attention to your composition throughout, and remember, that with certain delivery things you're going to have to keep a certain area reserved such as action safe or a particular aspect ratio for a different delivery device.
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