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#1 John Adolfi

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 08:25 PM

My wife is asking this question. What one or two things can one do and get famillar with right away with a decent video camera to get a better than amature picture. My thought is white balance. Not sure after that.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 09:23 PM

My wife is asking this question. What one or two things can one do and get famillar with right away with a decent video camera to get a better than amature picture. My thought is white balance. Not sure after that.


A lot of this is just basic photography: learn to compose a shot, expose for mood, use color creatively, etc. Some of this requires a camera with more manual control. Knowing how to use white balance helps, sure. Knowing how the focal length used will affect the look of the shot. Learning how to control depth of field. Understanding editing. Learning to operate smoothly when panning, handholding, etc. (i.e. use a tripod when necessary, and when not, learn to handhold smoothly.)

And here's another secret: shoot interesting subject matter. What's in front of the camera is important.
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#3 George White

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:31 PM

My list might be obvious but:

1. Turn off auto exposure.
2. Its very easy have very blown-out shots in day time interiors if you get a window or open door in the frame.
3. Speaking of windows and open doors, if they're not blown out then they are distractingly very very blue.
4. If the camera has a mic. jack consider getting an external mic. Too often in low sound level situations the automatic gain control (probably can not turn this off, depending on the camera) goes up and we hear the motor turning the tape.

My son goes to a high school for the arts and when the students show their work (done on video) every semester these seem to be the most distracting, repeated technical problems in some of the younger student's work.

---george
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 02:11 AM

Just adding to already great advice...

Don't be afraid of close ups. I'm consistently amazed with people who claim to be "terrible" at taking pictures, yet we are bombarded with examples of great composition everywhere we turn. Study film, TV, and pictures in magazines. See how the photographers have framed closeups and compose wide shots. Leave enough head room and keep the shot steady.

Shoot for the edit, meaning, get an adequate assortment of establishing shots, mediums, and close ups to tell the story. If you're taking the wife and kids to the zoo, shoot a steady shot of the Zoo sign out front. Get shots of the wife and the kids walking toward the entrance and again from the other side as they walk toward you. It takes a little extra effort, but when you go to cut the footage into an interest "day in the life," you'll be glad you had the footage.

Most of all, have fun doing it and it will show on the faces of those who are on the other side of the lens.
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#5 John Adolfi

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:27 AM

Thanks for all the great advice. I guess my wife's question is: Is a film camera (super16) going to be more difficult or less to get a good picture vs. a video camera right out of the box? For the uninitiated that is. Which is going to give a better consistant picture for the Dummy.
My question is if the camera is, for example the DVX100a, what 2 or 3 things do I need to understand right away to get a better picture? What I'm talking about are the switches and function of the video camera. Thanks.

Edited by John Adolfi, 16 August 2006 - 07:30 AM.

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#6 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 11:54 AM

Is a film camera (super16) going to be more difficult or less to get a good picture vs. a video camera right out of the box? For the uninitiated that is.


It is easier to get an acceptable image from a video camera (DVX100a) right out of the box than a film camera right out of the cases. (particularly if you don't know what to do with the film camera and its parts after you have taken it out of the cases).

Which is going to give a better consistant picture for the Dummy.


The video camera will have a better consistant picture for the Dummy right out of the box. Most 16mm and 35mm film cameras presuppose in their design that the persons using them are knowledgeable in camera technology - which goes beyond the few steps needed to get a DVX100a going. The rewards, of course, of not having the "out of the box" expectation and being able to properly build up a film camera, understand how the emulsions work etc. is that you get an image on film.

My question is if the camera is, for example the DVX100a, what 2 or 3 things do I need to understand right away to get a better picture? What I'm talking about are the switches and function of the video camera. Thanks.


Well, most video cameras like the DVX100a are designed so that when you pull it out of the box you can turn it on, put a tape in and start shooting. The image should be technically watchable. If you want to get more sophisticated with how the camera is capturing images and how you want to shoot, you really need to look at the instruction manual and experiment to see how the different functions work. Does 24p give you the look you are going for or does 60i? If I raise the black level, does that work better with the kind of lighting I plan on doing and the mood I'm going for? Once you know what your definition of a "better picture" is, then you can find out what 2 or 3 things you need to do to get it that way.

AJB
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 12:04 PM

Consumer video cameras are more user-friendly, which helps minimize mistakes, whereas film is more tolerant of exposure mistakes... but requires more basic upfront knowledge, like knowing what film stock to use and how to use a light meter. It's not rocket science though.

Either way, you still need to know the basics of framing a shot, operating, etc.
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