The very first thing we need to address is settings for your camera when shooting video. Your camera’s options for video can limit your choices. Also please keep in mind the higher the resolution and frame rate the more powerful computer you will need with even more free space for editing.
Full HD – 1920×1080 is now a common setting on newer DSLRs
High Definition (HD) – 1280×720, A very practical balance between broadcast quality and storage space / render time. ESPN broadcasts in this setting.
Other HiDef DSLR settings – 2K, 4K and 6K DSLR video resolutions are available, but overkill for web distribution channels. Great to shoot in and then when you export a project downsize.
- 60 FPS – use for slow motion effect
- 30 FPS – Standard video “look”
- 24 FPS – Cinematic “look” that is used in motion pictures
While there are many other resolutions like 2K, 4K, 6K and even 8K I believe they are overkill for web distribution. Even my friend Ben Smallbone whose credits include the movies: Priceless, Taken, and Steve McQueen: American Icon to name a few of his movies told me that when it came to distributing their films to movie houses all over the country that they said not to give them anything bigger than 2K.
Now there are really two resolutions in video just as there are two resolutions with stills. You have the 1) capture setting and the 2) exported resolution.
While you can shoot say at 4k for the similar reasons you would shoot RAW your computer must be really top of the line to process the 4K files. Unless you want to crop in on your video in post-production I believe there is little to gain for the average project to shoot higher than the Blue Ray Full HD 1920×1080 resolution.
Frame Rate – I recommend 24 Frames per Second
Here is a good video showing why 24 fps is an industry standard for movies.
24 FPS is the Cinematic Look that is used in motion pictures. There are reasons to shoot other FPS and one worth mentioning is to shoot super high rate to then slow down for that “Slow Motion” affect.
Shutter Speed – I recommend 1/48 or 1/50
As a rule of thumb, you want the denominator of your shutter speed to be approximately double the number of frames per second that you are recording. For example, when shooting at 25fps, your shutter speed should be 1/50 of a second. If you have the 24fps and do not have a 1/48 then pick the closest frame rate like 1/50 or 1/60.
Manual Mode – Shoot this rather than Aperture, Shutter or Program mode
If anything on the camera is set to automatic your exposure can change when say something changes in the frame like your subject just moves a little. The camera may think the lighting has changed and it hasn’t. Shoot manual mode and manual focus as well.
Look – use Neutral
In video, just like stills, you can pick a picture color mode. There are modes on most cameras like: Standard, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Neutral. If your camera doesn’t have a Neutral setting then pick Standard.
When later we cover your post production you can do more with a Neutral setting than with say Vivid. More on that in later posts on making videos with your DSLR.
AUDIO RECORDING SETTINGS
Watch this video if you own a Canon to set your audio levels
Watch this video if you own a Nikon. While this is Nikon D7100 you just need to find the menu item on your Nikon. Very similar.
You want to have your recording levels set manually and not automatic for the same reasons for the video. When someone stops talking the Auto level will increase the volume and introduce noise.
Most levels on cameras or a separate recording device like the Zoom Digital Audio Recorders have a way to show you it is too loud.
Most video editors agree that the overall audio level of your audio mix (all of your audio combined) should normalized between -10db to -20db. I personally level my videos around -12db with occasional peaks to -8db.
What this means for me on my Nikon D5 is I want the level to peak right up to the last line before it goes red. I have a person talk for a while and then set the sound recording level before actually recording.
I recommend doing a test video for sound. Set your video settings to get a good exposure and audio levels for good sound. Record 30 seconds to a minute and then download to your computer and play using Quicktime or other video software that came with your computer.
For testing sound play something on your computer like music you downloaded. After you set your speakers for proper volume when listening to your music then play your video. If you have to adjust the volume to hear the recording then you need to adjust your recording levels. The biggest problem is if it is too quiet or if too loud and giving you distortion.
Be very careful that you are not using the headphone volume as a way to see if the audio level is set correctly. Use the levels for audio the same way you use a histogram. Once you have those levels set then adjust your headphone volume to where you can hear properly.
PICKING A LOCATION TO DO AN INTERVIEW
When picking a location you need to pay attention to two things: 1) Sound in the location and 2) lighting/visual.
My recommendation is to just turn on your microphone and put your headphones on and just listen to the environment. Are you trying to do a interview next to a waterfall or water fountain? That will prove to be difficult to impossible.
Finding a totally silent location would be “ideal,” but not always possible.
Make finding the perfect location weigh sound quality over visual.
When doing an interview there are a few things you need to do every time.
FILL THE FRAME
When doing an interview you need to choose good composition and background carefully. Pay attention to everything inside the frame.
Get tight on the person you are interviewing.
KILL THE NOISE
Once you have put the microphone in place and have your headphones on you will be able to hear all the ambient sounds. This is where everyone is quiet for a moment while you just listen.
Lets say you hear the ceiling fan or the air conditioner running. I would turn these off for the interview.
If you cannot turn off something like a water fall or water fountain, then move to a quiet location.
STEADY THE CAMERA
Use a tripod or put the camera on a table. Just keep your primary camera for the interview still. If you have a second camera to use then you can maybe do something like putting that camera on a slider or fluid head that will let you move the camera during the interview.
I believe you always need one camera that is locked and on a tripod for the interview.
LIGHT THE SUBJECT
My suggestion is to find a great place with light so you don’t have to use lights. I find the open shade on the side of a building works as well as porches as you see in these two photos of interviews we were doing in Togo, West Africa.
AUDIO IS KING
There are times for different microphones just as there are times for different lenses. You need to know the difference between a lapel, on camera & shotgun microphone.
SHARPNESS IS QUEEN
Sharp focus is critical. I advise against shooting ƒ/1.4 for video unless this is your second camera perspective. Have a depth-of-field that is forgiving if the person moves during the interview.
Use manual focus and not Auto-Focus.
LOCK DOWN THE LENS
Don’t zoom in and out on your primary camera. You can do some of this with a second camera, but be sure at least one camera is locked down and you have a solid framed shot that is in focus and has enough depth-of-field that the person can move a little and still be in focus.
Scoring a touchdown is about knowing where your goals are in the game.
Before the football team steps onto the field they will practice for many months together. When they execute a play they know what they are doing and trying to accomplish to win the game.
Before you turn the camera on and start your interview you need to practice. You need to interview your subject and from what you learn you then formulate your questions so that the responses help convince the audience what you want them to know just as a lawyer does to convince a jury what they want them to know about their client.
You do not want to sit down and just turn the camera on and ask the subject, “What is your story?” and expect them to give you a succinct well thought out presentation.
GET TO KNOW YOUR SUBJECT
Even before you sit down and talk to the subject for the first time do all the research you can on the subject. Sometimes there have been other interviews done with the person that you can read or even watch.
Other than learning about the subject being the person, learn all you can about the subject of the story. If they are a coffee farmer then learn all you can about coffee.
The more you know the better questions you will ask. I like to say you are peeling an onion. Each question gets you closer to the core of the onion.
You are not just asking questions to find out everything about the subject. You are trying to find the thread that will keep someone interested in them as you reveal more and more about them to the audience.
The Bourne films are a series of action spy thriller movies based on the character Jason Bourne, a CIA assassin suffering from extreme memory loss who must figure out who he is.
To keep the audience’s attention and pull them into your story you may often hold out on the juicy part of the story towards the end as they did in the Jason Bourne movies.
You know you are ready for the on-camera interview when you have your storyline figured out from your informal interviews.
Like a lawyer who calls witnesses and interviews them to reveal in their own words the content that will help build the storyline so that the jury has no choice but to make the right call. Like a lawyer you may need to put different people on the witness stand to help build your story.
Now it is quite common that even when you have done all your homework that in the camera interview subjects can surprise you with new content that improves or even can complicate the story.
Be flexible and be sure you are listening to what they are saying.
Ideally it would be great if someone can just tell you what you need and leave out all those trails that lead no where. I have found time and time again that towards the end I have asked them to summarize what we just talked about and they often in one take say exactly what I need.
You see it can be just like the football game. The players have practiced so many times that often the coach just calls the play and you get the touchdown.
When I do my interviews, I try to always use two cameras. There are many benefits like:
Backup of the interview if one camera fails
Different looks using slightly wide shot and a tight shot
Helps with editing
Let me talk a little about how much two cameras can help with editing. Almost all the time you need to edit someone’s comments. This means you cut something out and when you do it the person’s head will jump on the video and give us the telltale sign that you just cut something.
Now if you have two cameras you can switch camera angles and it doesn’t tip the audience that you cut something. It will just look like you went to a different angle.
Now if you have a slightly wider shot that includes the hands then when the person is quite talkative with their hands and not just their mouth it is good to include the hands.
Besides cutting out a long comment that really doesn’t add to the storyline there are times you need to rearrange their comments. Maybe the last thing they said would make the strongest lead for the story.
Again having that second camera lets you change angles and it will look like they started with this thought.
In the end you will help the subject sound more coherent and look like this was just a straight take and easier for the audience to absorb.
REASONS TO REDO THE INTERVIEW
The first time you do interview someone be sure and tell them you may need to come back the next day or two for a second interview.
Unless you are a seasoned pro most people will not catch everything happening in real time and will notice missing information during the post processing editing time.
If this happens I highly recommend having the subject redo the parts that you liked for several reasons.
- They often have changed clothes
- Matching the lighting and camera angles is difficult
- Matching the sound can be difficult as well
You may want to even play the video parts you liked and have them rehearse a few times before you redo it. I have found that often the person realizes they can even say it better now that they have heard themselves.
I must tell you this funny story about a seasoned photographer learning to do video for the first time. He thought of locations he wanted to use as the background for the interview his subject.
We realized that while teaching we failed to tell people to do their interviews in one place. While in a still photo that would make since to show your subject in the different locations when it came time for editing the sound didn’t match, the lighting was so different and when you finished editing the content and put the takes in the logical order of how it best told the story the guy was jumping all over the city back and forth.
It was so funny. Just imagine the evening news where instead of going to Washington to listen to the correspondent there and then to West Coast correspondent to maybe an East Coast correspondent as well it was the same person. That was what it looked like.
If you do a good job with the interview and have a well thought out storyline being told by the subjects you should be pleased with the results that if this is all the audience saw and heard it would work.
One strategy for editing most any type of production is to do a “radio” edit. Focusing your cuts and the assembly of your timeline on the dialog [AUDIO] places the content of the story as the highest priority.
Once you have this done you will then work on getting visuals to supplement the audio. More on that in the next part of Shooting Video with your DSLR.
SOME MORE TECHNICAL TIPS
I recommend a magnifier for your LCD. You need to be sure your shot is in focus.
Another option is using a video monitor. The advantage of external monitor is not just bigger picture for focusing and exposure control, but with some monitors like this Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ HDMI On-Camera Monitor & Recorder is recording for longer periods of time than the time limits on most DSLR cameras. You are only limited to the size of the hard drive you use.
Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS
– 325DPI, 5″ IPS 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen monitor/recorder.
– Waveform RGB & luma parade, vectorscope with zoom, and test pattern generator.
– Adjustable gamma, contrast and brightness.
– HDMI input and output.
– Real-time monitoring, playback, playout to a PC or Mac with QuickTime, and edit logging.
– Focus peaking, 0-100% zebra, and two modes of false color monitoring.
– Records 10-bit, 4:2:2 in ProRes or DNxHD.
– S-Log / C-Log recording.
– Trigger REC/STOP from camera (Canon, Sony, ARRI, Panasonic, RED, JVC)
– Timecode from camera. [Nikon has no timecode]
– 2.5″ HDD/SSD media storage.
It records up to 1080 30p/60i resolution via HDMI to an available HDD or SSD using either Apple’s ProRes or Avid’s DNxHD codecs. Recording at 10-bit with 4:2:2 color sampling, this unit provides you a monitoring and recording solution in one compact battery powered unit.
ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CC TIPS
Before opening Premiere create these folders inside one folder on your computer or external hard drive.
Open Premier and choose NEW PROJECT
1. Name your project: PREMIERE_EDIT_rev_01 putting it in the folder you created called “Premiere Edits”.
2. Scratch Disks tab – Using the 6 Browse… buttons, point each of the six sources to the Project Folders you created using screen shot on next slide
These are suggestions for what to put on each track. This is what Storytellers Abroad uses as our format so as to make it easier when a coach sits with a person working on the story we are all using similar setup. Helps cut down on confusion.
These are the export settings we use as well.
To add text to a project, click on the Type tool as you see in blue here to the left.
Then click on the picture in the Program Window on the video and start typing.
You can drag the type to where you want and if you want to make modifications to the type then go to the top menu bar to Windows>Essential Graphics.
This is how you gain access to change your Font, Size, Color and things like drop shadow and more.
Auto Ducking: How to set sound levels on dialogue, ambient sound & music
Select all the interview Audio only. Then go to the Essential Sound and click on Dialogue. This will tell the software that this is the Dialogue and not ambient sound or music. This will now be the most important sound in the video.
There are now four selections within the Essential Sound for the Audio Interview which the software is now calling Dialogue.
When you click on the word Loudness, Repair, Clarity or Creative it opens up more controls.
Click on Loudness and then click on Auto-Match. It will set all the volume for the interview to the standards.
Listen to the interview now. If you have problems with noise or air conditioner hum or something else then click on “Repair” and try each of the options here one at a time. Go with the default at first and then if that is good for repair just stop. If not use the slider to see if less or more can help. If either works then you can stop again. If not just unclick that option and try the next.
Often you have to play with all of these in some combination to clean up the sound. There are ways to do more than this, but this usually fixes most common issues.
Now pick the music or ambient sound and click on either music or ambient sound. When you do you can then select “Ducking”.
When you click on it be sure you have the Dialogue icon highlighted. This will say to the software this is the most important sound, which is your interview.
Click on Generate Keyframes.
Then play the sequence. How does that sound. Does the music or ambient sound not overpower the interview? Is it OK or too loud or soft?
Play with the Sensitivity, Reduce By & Fades to tweak this to your preference. Then click on Generate Keyframes. Do this over and over until satisfied.
Some great tips I have found through the years.
Keyboard Short Cuts
Keyboard Shortcuts Used: (Cmd for all Ctrl on Mac)
Arrow Keys – Navigate Timeline One Frame at a Time
Shift + Arrow Keys – Navigate Timeline 5 Frames at a Time
Up, Down Arrow – Jump to beginning and end of clip
Ctrl+K – Cut at current playhead
D – Select clip at current playhead
Del – Delete Selected Clip
Shift + Del – Delete Selected Clip, and Bring Forward Clips back
I,O – Set in and Out Points Respectively
; – Delete Selection With In and Out Points
‘ – Delete Selection With In and Out Points, and Bring forward Clips Back
Shift + T – Go in to Edit “Edit Point” Mode
Edit Mode + Ctrl + Arrow Key – Move the edit point backwards or forwards
Ctrl + R – Speed and Duration on Selected Clip
G – Audio Gain on Selected Clip
J,K,L – Shuttle through timeline Backwards, Stop, and Forwards Respectively
Be sure the Sequence has blue line around the box. The go to File>Export>Media
The above picture will show up but with Black Background. Copy these fields:
- Format: H.264
- Preset: Vimeo 1080p Full HD
Double Click on Output name. Put in the Export Out folder you created with Your Name.
Click on Export at the bottom.