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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 Harrington: Rob, you and I both make a good part of our living doing postproduction. Robbie Carman: Because people say, oh, we'll fix it in post. Richard Harrington: Yeah, and an image stabilization is definitely one of those things. Now, I think it's important to point out that if you are stabilizing in postproduction, the simplest concept what you're basically doing is scaling the footage up and then moving it around the opposite way that the shake occurred. So if we are shaking this way, it moves it back that way. Robbie Carman: Yeah, it's all about counterbalancing that movement, right, by doing the opposite kind of--opposite move.
Richard Harrington: Yeah, and you don't have to do this manually any more. We've got great tools that help, but the thing to realize is you're blowing up the shot. So you can only stabilize to a certain point, and if you stabilize footage that's really shaky, it might start to look soft, because it's gotten too big. Robbie Carman: Right. And there's that, but there is also part of the aesthetic thing that I think people don't realize. One of the things that's become very popular over the past, I would say 5, 10, 15 years is that slight sort of drifting camera type look where it's moving-- Richard Harrington: Yeah, the float. Robbie Carman: Yeah, where it's moving around just a little bit.
I think there is a sort of--a lot of people sort of go into seeing shaky footage and they have this mentality of, it must be rock solid, no movement at all, and in fact, if you think about the way that you stand up, I mean you're doing it right now, I'm doing a little bit, you know, we're moving around a little bit. Our world is not perfectly static, so one of things I think--I tell people all the time is a little bit of movement is okay, if it's the right type of movement. If it's a little bit of float--if it's this really fast kind of like shake like that, yeah, then we probably want to do something about it. Richard Harrington: Well, I think you're going to see the shake a lot on pans, especially if you're following the action with your body, it's not going to be smooth as a tripod, but you're right, you do want some of that motion.
The good news is, is the software tools support that. So we now have things like the stabilizers inside a Final Cut X built right in. They will go ahead and correct, we've got the Warp Stabilizer in the Adobe Suite, does the same thing. All of these have choices, like you could say, I want no motion or you could apply a percentage; stabilize it 50%. Remove 50% of the shake. Robbie Carman: Yeah and to be honest with you even if you're not using just the basic editorial tools, which most of us probably are, when you get into the high end of things, I've been amazed by tools like Smoke on the Mac, and DaVinci Resolve, and these other high-end finishing tools, that they have dedicated toolsets for doing nothing, but stabilization, which is great! Richard Harrington: And this is often tied into things like match moving where they're integrating 3D objects that are rendered into that handheld shot so that looks like it was in the scene.
A movie like Transformers, this is obviously done a lot, but the thing to realize here is that there are lots of solutions. You also have dedicated Apps besides those high-end ones that are reasonably priced that you can get like the Mac App Store for stabilizing footage. You really have no excuse. At this point, stabilization is subjected. It is essentially an effect. You really hit on that before, when you said some people have this desire to pull it all out. The best description I've heard is that you want to stabilize, so it feels pleasing, not so it looks like you've excised a demon.
Robbie Carman: Right, exactly! I mean, as I said before, there is something to me anyway; just a little bit unnatural when there is no movement at all. When you clearly have sort of locked that off. But again, it's a subjective thing and I think the important thing to sort of say here is that we now have those tools. If you can't get it with devices like this, other stabilization methods on set or on location, we do now have some great options built into editorial tools, standalone tools, and on the high-end, the finishing tools to help us stabilize shots and to do it pretty quickly and to yield great results.
Richard Harrington: Yeah, and I think the last piece of advice I would have on this topic is that make sure that all the parties that have an interest in the piece talk, because I've seen instances where the DP wants to shoot it one way and maybe the director was onboard, but the client wasn't, and then they spend a fortune of time and money in post fixing it. Conversely, I've seen editors take it upon themselves--oh, the shot is shaky, I'm going to take this out, and the director comes in to review and they are like-- Robbie Carman: What's that? Richard Harrington: Wait! Where's all the energy? I had shake in there! Like many things these days what used to be a strict mistake, lens flares, light leaks, jump cuts, flash frames; camera shake is often used as a stylistic tool, but you can fix it ahead of time by changing your shooting style, or using support devices, or like you said, you can go ahead and even further refine it during the postproduction stage.
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