Travel II: a short video

I am posting today my new short video, called “Travel II”.

Although my interest in photography has not decreased, I am spending more time with shooting video footage these days. The good thing is that the D800E is a great stills camera, so together with video, I have the opportunity to also make stills images. All it takes is a switch from Live View, change camera settings, getting the shot, and then go back to video mode.

I don’t consider these videos to be “serious work”, by that I mean that they are not real documentary or travel videos, just my experiments with planning the scenes I want to film, work on my technique, and practice with editing, color grading and all the necessary steps involved in producing the final result.

The Nikkon D800(E) is an excellent too for video. Maybe not so good like the Canon 5D Mark III (especially with Magic Lantern installed) or the Panasonic GH4 which has been the camera everyone talks about these days, but it is a very good camera for shooting video. Since I already have invested on the Nikon system, I am staying with it.

Let’s see some things about the equipment used to make video.

For this short clip I used the 14-24mm, 24-70mm, 28-300mm and 135mm lenses. A LCD viewfinder is something I find absolutely necessary. For sound, I use the Rode Videomic Pro. Although I didn’t capture any dialogs in “Travel II”, it is a good shotgun mic for isolating sounds from background noise. The videos I post have a soundtrack, so you can’t hear what this mic can offer, but for other projects which require capturing good audio quality, it is very useful.

Now, the two most important things are a video tripod and a monopod. I have a light Manfrotto tripod and a cheap Manfrotto RC128 head, which for now is sufficient. I know I will probably have to upgrade it to more serious head/tripod combo at the future, but due to my restricted budget, I preferred to invest first on a good monopod. A monopod will give me the flexibility to work on the projects I have planned in the near future, so the tripod will have to wait for now.

I am still trying to overcome my urge for panning and zooming, it’s something many amateurs like me overdo during their first steps in filmaking.

Keeping a constant shutter speed of 1/50 (I shoot at 25fps) requires the use of ND filters. Luckily for me, I have a good set of LEE filters for my landscape photography, and they proved to be very usefull. I can use simultaneously up to three filters with my holder, so I can control not only my shutter speed, but also use a polarizer for static shots and my graduated ND filters to deal with high contrasty scenes.

The scene with boat at 0:37, was shot with a 3 stops graduated ND filter in order to darken the upper part of the frame. That allowed me to have a balanced exposure, something that is very helpful when editing.

The D800 produces a 8-bit 4:2:0 compressed video, which means there is it much room for heavy grading or intense post processing. It’s now like the RAW files I am used to with stills. You have to very carefully nail parameters like White Balance for example. So, it requires the best technique when shooting, and I have a long way to go before I can produce a close to perfect (technically) footage.

I use the Final Cut X software for editing my video. I also have a few plugins, but I haven’t still invested on a good color grading software. The wonderful DaVinci Resolve Lite (which is free) is too heavy for my MacBook Pro to work with, so I am currently researching other software (like Colorista II or Looks for example). This is not something urgent for me, since I still have a lot of basic things to learn before I mess with serious color grading.

And one thing I consider important, is to start writing my own soundtracks, and stop using copyrighted music. This is probably an easier task for me, since I have composed quite a few scores in the past, so it only requires spare time (not much free time lately, but I will work on it !)

So, this is my travel so far into the wonderful world of video. There will more videos coming at the future !

(c)2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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