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Letterboxing DSLR Live View

DSLR D-SLR letterbox letterboxing cropboxes aspect ratios framing

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#1 Matt Hira

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:15 AM

Hello!
I'm on a 60D and have typically cropped everything to 1.85 aspect ratio in post. Lately, we've started cropping to 2.35 because it looks awesome but I'm finding it really difficult to frame shots and visualize the look on the screen during actual shooting without leterboxes in the camera's live view. Like this:
http://www.handheldh...s/panascout.jpg

I know this is one option:
http://static2.filma...04/image013.jpg

But I'd really rather not put tape on the camera. I also would like to stay away from physically blocking the lens because we switch primes and they all have different diameters. I also would like to avoid Magic Lantern because the last time I tried it, it just slowed down everything and the way it loaded screens looked scary. Is there no way to internally work with canon's software to make live view letterboxes?

I'm essentially looking for the least destructive way (for the camera) to see framing in different aspect ratios. What do other people typically do?

Thanks in advance!
Matt
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#2 Travis Gray

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:45 AM

On mine I drew some guidelines on the LCD screen cover, and I can then switch it out with a clean one if I don't want them.

Oh, nevermind. Nikon has screen covers, not canon. (sorry, had to throw that in there)


Why not look into some removable screen protectors? Cut to size. Figure out your measurements (tough, annoying) and draw them on.

Or look into an EVF. I use a SmallHD and there's a preset that blows up the live view to fit the right way on the screen, and then when I throw on my guidelines, it's correct.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

I would honestly just put some tape across the LCD. It's simple, and it works. I normally use that semi-transluscent tape type stuff so I still kind of have a look around. Remove and a little Q-Tip of rubbing alcohol quickly deals with any gunk.
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#4 Matt Hira

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:54 AM

I would honestly just put some tape across the LCD. It's simple, and it works. I normally use that semi-transluscent tape type stuff so I still kind of have a look around. Remove and a little Q-Tip of rubbing alcohol quickly deals with any gunk.


Thanks for the input! I think tape is simply the easiest and fastest way. Or tape on a removable screen cover. How exactly would you tape it properly then? Would you put a picture of the letterbox on the SD card and just tape over that in the preview?

Thanks again!
Matt
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 10:55 AM

I'd make a framing chart (print it out) and just point the camera @ it in live-view and tape away.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

in fact:

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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:05 AM

Or actually I like this one more

http://projection.pi..._71_Framing.jpg
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#8 Travis Gray

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

Framing chart, yes. I tried the letterboxed file route and couldn't get it to play, but also the way it plays something vs how live view is framed is different (at least on Nikon), so you wouldn't be able to get the exact lining right.

I measured out stuff on a wall with tape (didn't think of printing) and tried it that way, recorded, and then letterboxed and it was close. But then I drew the lines poorly on my screen cover. Gave up. Stopped caring haha
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#9 Travis Gray

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:20 AM

Oh, actually, you could look into magic lantern. I believe that has guidelines. Assuming you're using your camera for just video, then I heard it's a pretty good way to go.

http://magiclantern....n_Firmware_Wiki

Haven't used it myself though, just heard something from a guy I worked with on a project.
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#10 Alan Rencher

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:01 PM

Most monitors (Marshall, TVLogic, etc.) have built in frame guides.
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#11 Matt Hira

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 02:10 PM

Or actually I like this one more

http://projection.pi..._71_Framing.jpg


Thanks! I think this is what I'll do. I would love to use a monitor but we plan on a lot of track shots but with a matte box, follow focus, and heavy lens the rail can barely take the weight as it is.

Also, if I may ask a different aspect ratio question...

The film we're in pre-production for a a sci-fi alien movie, but in the Steven Spielberg sense. It really just focuses on one character in a house and a CGI alien. There is contention still about what aspect ratio we should use. I feel that since it is completely void of action and is more character driven, 1.85 would be better, but there is a stigma I suppose about the sic-fi genre/cinema in general preferring 2.35. Jurassic Park looked amazing in 1.85. Also, it always hurts me for some reason to lose so many pixels in 2.35 since it's cropping instead of compressing the image on the sensor. I've always felt that 2.35 was more for grand landscapes, fast action scenes, or exposing expensive effects. Am I wrong? Is 2.35 probably the way to go?
Thanks again!
Matt
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#12 Travis Gray

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 02:17 PM

What's going to help you tell the story better?

There's your answer.
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#13 Zachary J Esters

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 06:53 AM

Hi Matt!


The last music video I shot with a Canon 7D DSLR was also framed for 2.35 as well. I didn't have a framing chart with me (just my equipment and my laptop), so I set the camera on the tripod, faced it toward a yardstick on a wall, and filmed for 5 seconds (don't move the camera, yardstick, or tripod). I imported the clip into the editing software and added the 2.35 matte on the image. Then I remembered the markings on the ruler at which the matte marked. I inserted the card back into the camera and had the camera on live view (see note #1), and I marked the LCD's 2.35 border with transparent tape first. Then, I covered over the transparent tape borders with black electrical tape (see note #2).

Note #1. I marked the LCD using Live View instead of playback because on a Canon 7D particularly, in playback video mode, an extra border is added to the top of the screen and the image is pushed down, so if you marked the LCD while in playback mode, the 2.35 border will not be accurately marked-- which will be much more of a hassle to the editor in post since he would have to push all of the images up.

Note #2. The reason I used transparent tape first, then covered it with black tape, is because sometimes there will be certain pieces of valuable information and playback usage icons at the top and bottom of the screen, that you cannot see with the black tape over it. While you cannot playback footage on a 7D to see your framing specifically (because of note #1), sometimes I peel back the black tape while in playback mode to preview the footage for other purposes, such as showing the director how well the talent performed. Then, I place the black tape back into its original position over the transparent tape, which serves as a "marker". Without the transparent tape, I wouldn't know if I was accurately putting the black tape back into the right spot or not.


From the way you described the story to me sounds like I would resonate more with 1.85, but it's ultimately up to you to decide. I'd suggest looking at some of your favorite Sci-fi movies that use both aspect ratios to make a more accurate decision about your film. :)


Hope this helps!


Zachary J. Esters
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#14 Zac Fettig

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

Magic Lantern. What Travis said. There is a Cinemascope framing guide included (2.35:1). Plus all sorts of other goodies for video work.

I have used it, and can't imagine using the 60D for video without it.
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