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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.
Robbie Carman: So Rich, when we go on set or out on a location, we tend to bring a lot of gadgets with us besides just the camera bodies themselves, right? We have little portable lights, we have audio recorders, we have little gizmos like this that allow us to do panoramic photos. I mean, my bag is full of little gadgets, and they seemingly all take batteries. Rich Harrington: Yeah, it's very easy to run out of batteries. So to that end, I always want to make an assessment, both of what type of batteries something takes before I buy it and what I need to bring with.
For example, most of the shock on external type microphones like this that you are going to use run off a 9-volt battery. So you are going to want to make sure you have a couple. I always keep one in the microphone, one in my pocket, one in the bag. That way if I run out, it's easy. With three batteries I could deal with the fact that it was a good chance I am going to pack this away and forget to turn it off before I pack it so I am going to take it out and it's dead. Well, now I got two to get me through the shoot date. Other devices, like lights for example, this is a little portable light panel one, this one runs off of AA batteries, so does the Flash, the off-camera flash for my still shooting.
Well, for this I am going to need lots of AAs. I always carry at least eight with me. Now these are easier batteries to get. You know, you could run to a grocery store or a convenience store, but I just get a simple container, a waterproof container to hold the batteries. This way, you know, in case they were to overheat or explode, acid doesn't get on my gear. And more importantly, the elements, you know, dampness won't get to the batteries themselves. Robbie: Yeah. Rich: And what I do here is I take them out-- now real simple thing you'll see that I've got them all facing in one direction.
I'm a big believer that I shouldn't just discard used batteries carelessly. When I put them back in, I'll flip them the other way if they're dead. Robbie: Right, yeah, that's a good point. Now I am big a fan besides the regular sort of AA batteries, you know, like you buy from the groceries store or whatever, I actually like rechargeable batteries. I feel like I am getting better bang for the buck out of them a lot of times, and the fact that I can reuse them sort of makes me feel better about myself and the environmental and all of that. Now the thing about rechargeable batteries is that not all rechargeable batteries are created equal for all this different gear that you might have.
In fact, some devices or gadgets that you might have might actually have a switch inside of them to determine whether they're running off of rechargeables or non-rechargeables, so you need to pay attention to that. And then, Rich, you mentioned something I think is really brilliant, is sort of taking an idea of an inventory of your gear and what you have. Now I have been known to be a little OCD about things. Rich: He makes lists to keep his lists organized. Robbie: Exactly. And what I actually did not too long ago was I just went into you know a spreadsheet program and listed all of my gear and then I listed some details about them, for example what type of batteries did they take, what type of AC power, whether it's-- Rich: How prone they are to fingerprints? Robbie: Exactly, whether it's, you know, 9-volt or 12-volt power adaptor, because I want to be able to quickly in one snapshot go, oh, you know, for this shoot I am going to need 24 AA batteries, or I am going to need to bring two different, you know, 12-volt power adaptors that kind of thing and I make it very easy to look at.
Rich: And that's a very good point, having more-- you know--a list of what you need to pack is essential. I'm also a big fan a lot of bringing iOS or Android devices on set to help with things like sun path calculations, weather details. So I'll bring an external USB rechargeable battery that I could plug in a standard USB cord to power a lot of these devices. But a lot of times you get into specialty situations, and I got a case in point. Robbie: Yeah. Rich: For example here, this is the GigaPan head, and it's a really cool head for doing robotic movement, for large panoramic photography, it also has some time lapse applications.
Well, the great news is that it's got its own internal battery, and with this internal battery you can go ahead and run it off it-- I'll just hold it up there, it's in there really well, let's just unlock it, there we go--and I could go ahead and run off of this battery or I could plug this battery into the wall and run. But like a lot of these devices, we made a critical mistake that I see happen all the time. We ran the battery down to below 20% and then it gave us a battery, oh, I don't have enough power, I am going into you know shutdown mode. Robbie: Yeah, right.
Rich: Well, the thing was even, oh, I'll plug in the external power supply. No, is still had to get over that 20% threshold. So I really emphasize having more than one battery because you're going to want to have two batteries for each device, because you could run into problems, and a battery problem is going to completely lock you out of that production. Robbie: Now Rich, while we don't have it here on the table, I want to mention one more sort of battery power related thing. You drive a car, right? Rich: Yeah. Robbie: And that's usually how you get from location A to location B. Rich: Well, I tried teleportation, but I failed miserably.
Robbie: That transporter thing, that hasn't worked out. One of the things I am also a big fan of is going to, you know, your local electronics store, you know, a big-box retailer and getting a cigarette power adapter or sort of that 12-volt power adaptor for your car. And this comes in handy in a lot of reasons. You need to run a quick charge, you got it. Need to run something off of the actual battery in your car, you got it. Now every device might not have this capability, but it's another piece of sort of power equipment to have handy, because from time to time you might be in a situation where you don't have access to batteries, you don't have access to sort of, you know, a plug in the wall, but you do have your car sitting right there in the parking lot with the rest of your gear.
And so buying these power convertors just gives you another way of potentially powering some of your gear. Rich: Yeah, essentially in that case what you've done is you've given yourself a portable charging station when you drive from one location to the other, or a gas-powered generator. Robbie: There you go. Rich: Yeah, don't want to sit there running it. Now the important thing is just unplug that inverter. More than one time have I seen a crew member leave a inverter plugged into the car and they just drained their car battery. Robbie: Well, another important point about using some of these convertors is you want to first make sure that you turn the car on first before plugging your gear in.
Some of the convertors don't actually have sort of the capacitors or the technology built into them to sort of regulate actual signal, so when you start that car, it sends a big jolt of energy through the inverter into your gear, potentially frying that piece of equipment. So I always find it a better situation to first start the car with nothing attached to the inverter and then plug in your gear, which greatly reduces the risk of injury to your gear. Rich: Okay, so we've told you about all these great batteries and power-related devices that you need to buy, and you're probably going, great, more money to spend.
But when we come back, we've got one more module to talk about, and in this case we are going to give you some practical strategies to milk the maximum life out of your batteries so you can get the most from what you've already bought.
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