19 April 2012

Author Mike Pinnington

A lot of people own a decent camera these days. If you're anything like us, your skill with it may be limited to point and click and hope for the best. We, you could say, are probably on the rung marked in caps: BEGINNER.

The workshop kicks off with a round of introductions from those attending. Apparently we are not alone in our novice-hood, one lady here literally introducing herself as "a point and press type of person". Phew!

Our hosts ask: "why do people shoot video on DSLRs?" The answer, apparently, is that they compare well with a traditional film standard camera, particularly shooting with a film aesthetic in mind. The disparity in cost is very favourable - the Canon range starting at around £800. There are some difficulties associated with shooting on DSLRs however: Stabilisation and Sync Sound amongst them. A boom or radio mic can provide the solution to the sound problem. Mpeg Streamclip allows easy un-compressing of H264 when it comes to editing.

In terms of choosing the right camera, first of all, it must have a video setting. Good examples we should look out for: the Cannon 550D, 60D, 7D, the Nikon D300S, D90 are good places to start.

And we're back on artplayer with Grizedale again used as an example, this time for shooting moving footage. What we see are "images with a lovely crisp quality", going to show the versatility of DSLRs in this field. Often "the footage looks good enough to export for the web without very much post-production".

So what are the techniques?

- Depth of field can be provided with different types of lenses, starting with 50ml.

- Glidetrack, where shots are given a sense of movement. This is achieved using a tripod set up to 'glide' horizontally. The kits can be expensive; the one used in the workshop was £200, made by Glidetrack themselves. There are much cheaper ones available, but we are advised to be wary. You get what you pay for seems to be the mantra here.

- Wide angle lenses, while not providing much in the way of depth of field, is "something else for your armoury". Quite expensive to buy but relatively cheap to hire.

Interviews - Interview shots can be composed really nicely with a good background. Using a DSLR you can always get the right shot with the choice of lenses available. Often the most important thing about interviews is getting the lighting and composition right.

- Slow motion, a technique sometimes overused in the hands of many a derivative director, is nevertheless a tool which adds a certain gravitas to footage in the right situations.

- Time lapse is probably best explained with use of an example, the wonderful In A Liverpool Minute 

Using an intervalometer you can set the camera to take a shot every 10 seconds. It's particularly good when shooting buildings, clouds, trees, etc.  

People are invited to 'have a go' with the cameras. No shortage of volunteers step up for a chance to play with some of the new features picked up from our excellent pair of FACT tutors, Carl and Mike! 

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