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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: Now, you, and I both do a lot of work in postproduction, the editing stage, and invariably in the middle of a project you'll start looking at the footage going, something just looks kind of weird. Robbie: Yeah, that happens, well, that happens for me all the time. For one of the reasons that happens is typically because we have projects that might have mixed frame rate media. You know, something at 24 frames per second or 23.98, something else at 29.97 and something else may be even at 50 or 60 frames per second. Richard: And this pops up for a lot of situations. For example, we are dealing with clients who have legacy materials, plus new materials, you know a lot of people are moving to 24p, but they'll cut in some older footage, and it's got 30 frames per second or 25, or they just get--I don't want to say it, but it's true: careless.
Different crews shooting on different days use different settings, because the producer, the director never says these are our tech specs. They just let the crew set up the camera. Robbie: Yeah, that first one obviously is avoidable, right? You know, check the camera every time for its frame size and its frame rate before you start shooting. Ask the producer whoever else is sort of the stakeholder in the project, what frame rate should we be shooting at, right? Because, you know, it's fixable, a lot of times we can integrate that stuff, and we'll talk about this later on, when we talk more about postproduction. But we are going to integrate that stuff, but it's always best to shoot at the proper frame rate to begin with.
The other thing I want to point out is that if you have footage that uses a fractional frame rate, say, 29.97, and you're going to go out and acquire a new footage, just make sure you also shoot at a fractional frame rate, say 23.98. And another point that you bring up that I think is a good one is that especially with work like documentary work, for example, right, you might have a lot of archival footage that say at 29.97, you go out in the field and shoot all your interviews at 23.98, because you like that look, and we can integrate that stuff really nicely, but it generally happens in postproduction.
Richard: Yeah, you basically run a filter on the material, and it will drop frames or merge frames, or you could run it through a utility like Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder to just generate new video files, but it makes more work. Editing tools do an okay job of mixing frame rates, but I think the bottom line here to realize is that this is an avoidable problem, and it really comes down to find out what is the frame rate that people want to be shooting. If it's up to you--in our previous movie we discussed what frame rate you would choose-- but once you've locked that in, communicate it.
All cameras shoot the same, everybody follows it, as much as possible you stick to it. Robbie: Yeah, and there's one more big point that I want to make about frame rates and mixing them is when we shoot in a faster frame rate, 50 and 60 frame rates, we want to make sure that everybody on set is aware what we're doing by shooting 50 in the case of PAL or 60 in the case of NTCS, because typically we are using those faster frame rates to then do slow-motion type effects in postproduction, right? And the problem with that is that when we slow down the footage in post, we're also slowing down the audio, right? So if you're going out there, and you're going to be shooting 50 or 60 frames per second, you want to make sure, everybody aware of, hey! We are doing this to create a slow motion effect, so you don't want to do things like have somebody talking during the shot, right? You don't want to do an interview at 50 or 60 frames per second and then go, oh yeah, we'll slow this down, because the audio is then going to become ror-ror, right, that's not something we want.
Richard: Yeah and to make this easier in the field, take advantage of something like DSLR Slate or Movie Slate. You could have it right on your phone just hold that out in front of the camera with the frame rate right on it, so it's slated, because remember, while you can open up the file and see that by, browses columns of information, having that visual slate upfront that says the frame size and the frame rate, really good idea. So I think that gives you some really specific workflow things to think about there. Try to avoid mixing frame rates, a great movie once said, don't cross the streams.
Robbie: Right, exactly! Richard: Yeah, keep it clean as much as possible, but if you do have to mix frame rates, make sure everybody knows that that material is clearly flat, and you're doing it for a reason, and that reason might just be you have no choice, and then the old adage kicks in, fix it in post. Robbie: Yeah exactly, and I mean, I will say that if you make a mistake, don't freak out, we can always fix this stuff, as Rich said, later in post.
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