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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, one of the questions that I hear all the time and I am pretty sure you hear also is, I shot some stuff. I bring it back to the studio. I start looking at it, now everything looks kind of jittery. What gives? Richard Harrington: Well there is two things; one is hand held shooting, you know, and there it's more wobbly. It's not so much a jitter, but yeah, it's people being over over-caffeinated. Or if even if they using a tripod they are not using a fluid head tripod so they are holding on to that with the death grip and they are shaking. Robbie Carman: Yep. Richard Harrington: So if we have eliminated human error then it's probably the camera settings, and lot of photographers are used to shooting with really fast shutter speeds. So if you are shooting stills, you might go to a thousandth, a hundredth, the 500th of a second to freeze the action. Robbie Carman: Exactly and a lot of photographers use shutter if they are in their Shutter Priority mode even to sort of control their exposure even on the shot. Richard Harrington: Yeah, and I think the big thing here to realize is like if you are shooting in say Aperture Priority mode, your shutter can vary over time. It might change depending upon the brightness of the scene if something dark or light comes in, or if you pan to a different area, which is why I always tell folks shoot manually. So if you are seeing shutter only some of the time, chances are you weren't shooting in Manual mode where you precisely set the shutter speed you are letting the camera choose the ideal shutter speed. And the camera brain is actually more designed for still work than video work. You need to manually set that shutter, and what should they be setting it to? Robbie Carman: Well this is a good--debatable thing, but the general rule of thumb is that we like to follow the 180 degrees shutter rule, and so what that basically means is you first determine your frame rate. So let's say you are shooting at 24 frames per second. What you do is you double that so you get 48, and then you put a one over it. So the ideal shutter speed at 24 frames per second would be 1/48th right? Most DSLRs you are not actually going to be able to get to 1/48th so you just go to the next thing that's close to usually 1/50th, right? Richard Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And if you were shooting at say frame rate of 30 frames per second you would go to 1/60th. And that's going to give you sort of natural type motion blur in the shot. So again, it's sort of--try to mimic traditional film look, film cameras right. But that's not to say you have to stay at that. Richard Harrington: No, that's the default settings that are going to produce the most natural results most of the time. I find for example, we talked about in low light shooting, that if it's really, really low, I might have to slow that shutter down to say a 30th of a second. So it's staying open longer to let in more light. Robbie Carman: But you are going to get a little bit more motion blur when you go do that. Richard Harrington: Yeah, it won't be jittery; it will just be blurrier or streakier. Robbie Carman: Right, right. Richard Harrington: So it's good for locked down shots like shooting at a concert where maybe the performers basically stationary, but the bigger problem is when people aren't using all three sides of that exposure triangle. You know, they have gone and they have set what they wanted with the aperture for the depth of field, and then maybe they have cranked the ISO the wrong way. So then they are using shutter speed to cut down the light. Robbie Carman: To control their speed and consequently they go to a really fast shutter speed and that's when they get that jittery look. Richard Harrington: And this is particularly true when people are shooting outdoors on full frame sensors. You know they have got a reasonable ISO, maybe they are ISO100; it's a bright sunny day. And they have got a shallow depth of field and they got too much light. Oh I will just crank up the shutter speed, you know. I will have a faster shutter so less light gets in. And then all of a sudden everyone looks like it's a stop motion movie, like you know, it's Mr. Roboto out there. Robbie Carman: So the way that I feel about this is if you are try to follow most of the time that 180 degree shutter rule, you might have to do other things to control exposure. You might have to use, say outside, you might have to use ND filters, or something like that, to drop down the exposure. Now you can go up and down, but I tend to do only go up and down, maybe one or two levels, right? So I might go down to 1/40th or maybe 1/30th on a low end, and on top end of let's say I am shooting 24 frames a second, I might go to 1/60th or 1/70th, something like that at the most. More than that, you are going to start to get excessive motion blur on the low end of things, and then at the top end of things you get that jitter effect and people start looking and the movements starts looking sickado if you go too fast in the shutter speed. Richard Harrington: All right, so I think the real thing here is to realize get into Manual mode and manually set your shutter. You know, set it to that base shutter, go into Aperture get the look you want, try to control it with ISO, and then if you can't get there with ISO, choose filtration or light, but really this becomes a problem usually when there is too much light and people are going to those faster shutter speeds. So just keep an eye on that, you may not see it like most things on the back of the camera. This is going to be more evident when you are playing back the video file full screen. And that's when you go, wow it looks kind of weird, or it looks shaky, or jittery. So you can completely avoid this problem by just setting up the manual settings correctly.
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