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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pro Tips For Making Multimedia

HD video in DSLRs is a hot topic, and more nature photographers see the potential for creating a new way to display and share images. OP went to a seasoned pro for the secrets to a first-rate production.

There are general guidelines to keep in mind when shooting video with a DSLR. For maximum quality, a preferred ISO range of 100-300 is where I try to shoot. When shooting a long clip and leaving the live view window open for extended periods of time, the sensor begins to heat up, which is where noise comes from, and I’ve found it’s quick to appear after a series of long shots. When possible, try and give the sensor time to cool down. If you stick to these two rules, your noise levels and image quality should be relatively managed.

Another important factor to consider when shooting video is knowing your shutter speed. As photographers, we’re used to balancing our apertures with shutter speed, and many of us may shoot in aperture priority (I’m guilty). When shooting video, however, you’ll most likely want to shoot with shutter priority in mind. Typically, I shoot in manual mode, leaving the shutter speed at 1/60 sec., or as close to 1/60 sec. as possible that most emulates a true motion-picture film shutter rate. Faster than this, say, 1/200 sec., and you’ll get the Saving Private Ryan action-sequence effect, which is slightly jumpy and lacks fluidity, which could be good if made as a deliberate creative decision. Otherwise, the rich, creamy, film-looking imagery will come at 1/60 sec. and adjusting the aperture. Frequently, with broader scenes, my aperture is set to ƒ/5.6, which is a nice sweet spot for depth of field and balanced lighting.
Video works in ways that photographs do not. With the ability to capture motion, shots that haven’t typically worked for us as still photographers may now work for us as videographers. For instance, if you see a field of grass blowing in the wind, it now suddenly may work better under poor lighting than a still shot; additionally, this peaceful scene also furthers the experience of what it’s like being there, advancing the story.
Always remember to use the camera to record motion, not to create it. Your first outing, work on getting dynamic static shots with no camera motion like you would as a still photographer. For instance, set up the camera on a tripod, get near a flower in macro mode and wait for a bee to land and do its thing. Once you start recording, you’ll have some great footage. Handheld video quickly becomes a disaster, especially if you try panning movements.

Sound is an undertaking unto itself. While most cameras are set up for in-camera audio recording, it’s recommended to avoid using the internal mic due to the typically poor quality. The camera is there to capture high-quality imagery, first and foremost. If you intend to capture sound, look into an on-camera, external microphone that will clean up the quality of the audio significantly. Don’t underestimate the importance of sound—it easily can make or break a well-assembled multimedia project.

Crafting The Story
Shooting video and stills for a multimedia story is much different than trying to tell the whole story with stills. Think about a magazine article; you may have eight to 10 images to tell an in-depth story. Each image must capture an extensive amount of emotion, insight and complexity that captivates the viewer and carries the message of the piece. With multimedia, eight images often only will get you 20 seconds into a piece. Almost every photographer’s first attempts at multimedia result in undershooting. When in doubt, shoot, shoot, and shoot more—shoot everything and lots of it!

This is an opportunity to go a layer deeper with your storytelling, to share more images, more details and more complexity on a larger, longer scale. The addition of video only heightens that opportunity. While you should continue to look for those hero shots of storytelling like in a magazine article, you also should look for details that can connect one image to another. Images should relate to each other, and frequently you’ll find that images you may typically edit out in an editorial layout now suddenly will help further along the end product of your multimedia piece. Photographers must think differently.


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