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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: We have a lot of different stuff here and I think before we start getting into expensive rigs that are very, very dedicated or high specialty-- Robbie Carman: Let's go low-tech. Richard Harrington: Yeah, let's go low-tech, some of the basics. So, I've got a camera here, I got a strap. Robbie Carman: Yup. Richard Harrington: Strap can go around my neck and just extend it out. Robbie Carman: Hey, stabilization. Richard Harrington: Yeah. I'm transferring this here, so now there is less shake, because I have resistance and I could still even do focusing and turn. Just make sure this is a firm connection because if you're really cranking on this and it goes pop. Robbie Carman: The other thing about this, I've done this technique before, because this is a nice light weight kit, obviously straps are easy to walk around with.
If you do it all day, next thing you know, you definitely have a little bit of a pain in the neck. So there is another way of actually doing this that that you showed me that I think is really nice. It's kind of putting it under the arm and pulling on this. Now you're not pulling on your neck, you're more pulling on sort of the back part of your shoulder here and it gives you not the same, but again, a nice little bit of stabilization there. Richard Harrington: Yeah, you are just cranking that in or you could tighten it down, you can go under the elbow. Now some people will trap that there with the elbow and just get a little bit tighter. Yeah, you could shorten this, but it's just putting tension on it to really tighten that up. And another type of thing like this is the R- Strap, is another one that goes across the chest, camera slings to the side, you could pull that up for some good support.
You are just using the strap and that works well. Another device that we talked about before is using a loop or a viewfinder, and this can add another point of contact. Robbie Carman: So this is just a loop or a viewfinder, but before we talk about the points of contact, generally speaking when you're using a Live View mode, you only have really two points of contact, left hand, right hand, right? But if we go ahead and add that viewfinder here, just by snapping it on the back here, now I have a third point of contact, right? So my two hands, and then the actual loop on the back of the camera attached to mine, and this nice and even if you don't have a loop on it for a third point contact, you can easily create a third point of contact.
What I mean by that is using things that are around you. So for example, if you're shooting and there was a wall in front of you, like a brick wall or fence, you can place the camera on that. For example, I just place it on the table here and now I have another point of contact for stabilization. So you don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money to get some cheap stabilization. Richard Harrington: Well, one of the favorite terms I heard that a photographer introduced me to, "oh that's my trash pod," using the trashcan as a point to set the camera on so it's stable. You'll see trashcans out there, you'll see railings, park benches, anything that's flat and sturdier than you is a great place to set the camera. Don't set it and walk away.
It will get stolen or blow over, but just set on that ledge and use it, and that really cuts down on the shake. Robbie Carman: But you said, you mentioned the word pod, trash pod, but let's talk about some other types of pods, right? One of the most common ways that photographers use to stabilize their shot, even if they are not doing studio shots, they are out there in the field, is with a guy like this, like a monopod, right? Mono meaning one, so this is just a single leg monopod that I can extend out, twist these guys out, and put this you know on the ground or wherever I'm shooting, and I have a little extra stabilization. This is particular great when you have a heavier camera or heavier lens attached to the camera and it's little hard to handhold.
Richard Harrington: And I got a trick with this too. One of the things I like about this, if I extend it all the way, I can actually do things like, I'm not going to hit the ceiling here, but this gets pretty tall, going up at a concert to get over the crowd, doing basically a boom type move where you lift the camera up to reveal something, following the action around a corner. I have actually hung cameras and got low angle shots underneath vehicles. This opens up all sorts of things, and it let's you use your body. Robbie Carman: Just make sure that plate is tight up there.
Richard Harrington: Yeah correct; safety, cables, chains. Yeah, so yeah, this is normally designed so you're holding it in that, but this is a great way to just really extend your reach and get a lot of shots. Robbie Carman: And so besides the monopod of course, we have the tried and true tripod. Now this is a more of a photo type tripod base with the legs here, but the nice thing is we have a fluid head on this tripod and that's actually something I think is pretty important when people go to tripods for stabilization. If you're coming from a photography background, you might be used to sort of the ball head on the tripod, and it can work okay for locked down shots when we are shooting video, but if you're getting more equipment on the tripod, bigger lenses, various things on there, it's probably going to sag a little bit and not work too well. That's why we always suggest when you use a tripod and you're shooting the DSLR video, get a fluid head on here, and this can obviously range in price, but they're definitely worth it.
Richard Harrington: And what's nice is they actually have locks, but they generally lets you adjust the tension, so you can have it so you could freely position it and then when you let go, there is enough tension that it holds, as opposed to a photo tripod, where you have to keep unscrewing things, angle it, okay is it level, okay, tighten it all back down. They're fine, but you know, you brought up the point; this was a photo tripod that I adapted to a video tripod by just swapping out the head. Still lightweight, carbon fiber legs. I switched the feet to being rubber feet. They are a little more robust, make it a little more stable, but there's lots of ways a video tripod can be an adapted photo tripod, or you can get a dedicated video tripod if you have the dollars.
Robbie Carman: Yeah and of course, video tripods are--they're going to run the gamut from relatively inexpensive, aluminum and steel models, up to very expensive carbon fiber models that can handle huge big rigs. Richard Harrington: Now there are other types of approaches. Robbie Carman: There are. So, the next step after you've sort of gone and you've used the monopod or the tripod, one of the things that people find particularly challenging is stabilizing the shot when they're mobile, right? It's difficult to do that and sort of the first line of way or sort of the first method of doing that is with sort of shoulder mount or handheld rigs like this.
This particular one is made by a company called Redrock Micro. That one that you have there is made by a company called Zacuto, but there are ton of manufactures out there. And the real point with these is that they offer multiple points of contact. So on this one, for example, I have two handgrips here, a shoulder grip, and if I had a camera mounted I can even have a little loop on the back, where I can have a fourth point of contact. Richard Harrington: Yeah, let me have that for a second. Robbie Carman: Yeah sure, you snap that on the back there. Richard Harrington: And this just makes it nice and secure, so in this case, I could adjust the angles of these pieces here, so I'm just going to tilt this down a little bit to hit my shoulder blade.
It goes in, the eye is placed, it's going against my shoulder blade. I have two hands here, so I can walk, I could pan, I can rotate and if I had to I could let go with one arm and adjust the lens depending on the type of connection we had. Now this particular one is a prime, so there is really no zoom to adjust, but you could refine the focus, and this is just very comfortable for lots of shooting situations, so if you have to shoot for a long period. Now I will let you know that taking one of these devices through an airport security is pretty much a guarantee that they going to say, and what do you do for a living? But these do break down nice and small. I usually pack mine into my bag, so I don't have to deal with the hassle, but you could break these down into just the tubes and the kits, and all of these come apart pretty simply.
And then if you are doing lots of shooting or real hard-core stuff. Robbie Carman: This is more sophisticated rig that we don't have a camera on there right now, but you can see it's a little bit more complicated. We have sort of dual style pistol grips here, over the shoulder, which is really nice. And you can see on the back there, there's a weight, so we can actually counterweight this depending on what we have going on, on the front end of the rig here. Richard Harrington: Yeah, you adjust where that weight is positioned and so you if had a matte box and a follow focus and audio equipment and a monitor, this will get really front heavy. So having all that weight in the back, means that you're not holding the camera up, rather it just balances perfectly on your shoulder and you're just keeping it there safe.
Robbie Carman: And this one is also really nice, because it has this handle, so we can actually do some low angle work, holding the rig, we could have multiple handles. Now I actually think that's a really good point with all of these rigs, because that they're pretty modular in the way that you can adapt them. You can put on different bars and different attachments. Now there is one thing Rich that we don't have here that we should talk about, that is sort of the upper end of stabilization, would be sort of systems like the Steadicam system or Gimbal Systems, where we're going to have the camera sort of floating in a supported space, in the case of a Steadicam, with a vest on us and sort of a balance rig like that.
Richard Harrington: I got a couple things to say about that though, buying a Steadicam does not make you a Steadicam operator. If you're going to get one of these rigs, there tends to be classes, and training, and lots of practice. It takes years to get great at it. But you can absolutely do that with a DSLR. There are affordable ones from companies like Glidecam that are designed for lightweight cameras. Another way though to get smooth movement in, this a popular thing with DSLR, is the use of a slider, which is essentially a platform on wheels and you mount the camera and you've got the ability to go ahead and slide that back-and-forth, and that let's you get fluid motion for tracking shots, pans, et cetera.
Robbie Carman: These have become really popular. A lot of people use them for time lapses. I particularly love them for interviews, where we having not so much, you know, a very drastic move, but a nice sort of slow sort of move left and right, and that adds some sort of dimensionality to the shot, makes it seem a little bit more dynamic. Now the cool thing about these, this one you have right here is just sort of a push model, but they can have motors attached to them. So if you're doing this, for example, action photography or sophisticated time lapse photography, you can have it move in specific increments and things of that nature.
But this is great--come in different lengths depending on how much you want the camera to move. Richard Harrington: Right. And if after all of these things you still have camera shake, there's always postproduction. When we come back, we'll talk about strategies for eliminating camera movement during the editing stage.
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