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What I learned shooting my first DSLR videos

Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany Sept. 22, 2011, 9:59 a.m. permalink

I am finally making the transition to shooting video with a DSLR. I wrote a blog post about the experience in Mastering Multimedia.

Rep: 19
David Brooks Sept. 22, 2011, 10:23 a.m. permalink

Great post! I didn't really think of the transition for some that are accustomed to shooting with a dedicated video camera... but as you stated in your blog there are serious issues to consider. I made the switch to Premiere because the paper didn't use FCP... but after editing a few stories with it, I found it works better to my surprise... for most people that I talk to that are avid FCP users; when I tell them there is no transcoding, that is in itself a selling point.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 24, 2011, 8:02 a.m. permalink

No doubt! Great blog Colin!

I haven't totally made the switch to HDSLR, instead they fit a certain need under various shooting conditions for me and I don't mind mixing footage of the 5D with my Panasonic and GoPro's. With the transcoding it's almost seamless to the eye.
For me I'll use my Canon 5D's for interviews, when in tight spaces (inside a car when someone is driving, etc), very low light or for nice details, etc.  For example I'm shooting something now where I need to shoot tight on a computer keyboard with a software designer typing away franticly and the wide angle look with my 16-35 and the DOF gives it a better look than with my Panasonic HVX200.

As far as stabilization goes walking around with the Canon 5D I totally understand what you are talking about Colin.  My nephew built me a FigRig to help with stabilization and did it cheap only using PVC pipe.  These FigRigs cost anywhere from $230 to $300 and he built it for under $25 and it works great

I'm still using FCP7 but have a really good tutorial on FCPX that I've been watching.  At the Free Press they wouldn't go for or commit the money to buy 10 licenses or copies of Premiere, maybe one to try out.

David I believe in FCPX it transcodes in the background while still allowing you to work, edit etc.  

Rep: 3
Jan-Willem de Lange Sept. 28, 2011, 2:42 a.m. permalink

Thanks for sharing this, although I think buying a 5D to only shoot interviews or nice details is still a bridge too far for most of us. Nevertheless it sounds very promising!

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 28, 2011, 5:39 a.m. permalink

What do you mean "still a bridge too far for most of us"?

I'm saying for me I like to mix my 5D with my Panasonic, GoPro footage.

Rep: 19
David Brooks Sept. 28, 2011, 9 a.m. permalink

Hey Eric I didn't realize that you didn't exclusively shoot with a video capable DSLR... but I guess that goes to show how well it can be integrated using other HD cameras that don't shoot with DSLR lenses. I mostly shoot with the 5D but when space is an issue or the 5D is not practical, I will use a GoPro or a Canon Vixia, it is small and produces great HD video but only in optimum conditions. Most of the time it is a very clean and seamless edit combining the three.

Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi Sept. 28, 2011, 2:08 p.m. permalink

Great post Colin, I'm right there with you. I picked up a D7000 last week and shot a short film for a competition over the weekend. Even shooting scripted sequences, I felt a bit like a fish out of water. I love the end result, but am still uncomfortable in a news situation. I look forward to hearing more about your transition.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 28, 2011, 5:06 p.m. permalink

Yep you and I do it the same way David and I agree it can be seamless in the edit mixing 5D with video from other high end "traditional cameras"

I was just shooting a project today and 70% was done with two 5D's and the rest with a Panasonic hvx200.

Another video piece I'm working on involving me having to run and gun with quick action all around me it's all Panasonic, my 5D's just don't do it right with quick focus, constant changing conditions......
then again have any of you seen Danfung Dennis documentary "Hell and Back Again" ?  He did it all with a few 5D's and it looks amazing :-)
Here is the link to the trailer


Rep: 50
Michael Lloyd Oct. 11, 2011, 4:14 p.m. permalink

I sympathize with your first efforts with HDSLR video. It is harder than a proper video camera, but not without its upside. I've used the 5D exclusively for a couple years now. Not that I wouldn't choose to use a real video camera on occasion, but The Oregonian doesn't have one, so... I've also been in charge of training in the newsroom for most of this year, starting with the staff's conversion to Canon hybrid cameras from the old point-and-shoot Canon HV30s we used to use. Most echo your frustrations. The solution we use is the JuicedLink mixer that works great with a 5D, less great with the 7D and 1D Mark IV and fairly well with our sole Nikon shooter. It lets you use the pro XLR mics, pre-amps the audio into the camera, and if you are paranoid enough, into a separate audio recorder too. We saved a ton of money by getting the cheap, plastic, but optically comparable DigiFinder Pro from as our viewfinder accessory. $60 vs. $400 for the Zacuto finder. Spend the $400 on the JuicedLink. Magnifying the LCD is still the best way to focus before you start rolling. Using a table top tripod, like my 40-year-old Leitz one, braced on your chest or body is a nice alternative to hand holding. So is pulling the neck strap out tight against your neck. Nothing replaces a tripod for these or any other video camera.

In defense of Final Cut Pro X, I think one of its key markets is the HDSLR user. But it is radically different from FCP 7 which I also used for years. I like Premier a lot, but I don't like Adobe. When I got a 5D, I had to convert all my RAW stills to DNG to continue using Photoshop without buying a new version. A switched to Aperture, replacing both Photoshop and Photo Mechanic, as the one app to rule them all. Which brings up the other good thing about HDSLR cameras. They are still cameras that do video, not the other way around. The still frames from the video clips are amazing. I noted in a post about Eric's mud day video that we should think back to when DSLR still cameras only made 2MP stills. Now every frame of a 5D video clip is a 2MP still. I scrub through them in Aperture, which also lets you work with video, find a frame for a still, choose "Save as JPEG" from the pop-up menu in the player and a still is in my Aperture project with everything else I shot. You can upsize it a bit on export to satisfy almost all print needs. It doesn't really matter which button you push on these cameras, the images are great.

Another great feature of FCPX is the ability to organize foootage, sometimes on import. Finding the best shots is a big, time-consuming job. The ability to keyword, rate and sort shots speeds it up a lot. Transcoding footage in the background is another huge time-saver. But the new Final Cut wants to have a minimum i5 processor and a lot of ram. It was built to use multiple resources. When I tried it on my old Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM, it just didn't work. I now have a Core i7 iMac with 16 GB of ram and Final Cut really screams.

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