… for Random Weirdness

Tip #548: What Is ISO?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

ISO affects gain after the image is captured.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip, presenting by Chris Lee, first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is a summary.

ISO is probably THE most misunderstood term as it relates to digital photography. Stemming in part from people equating ISO sensitivity directly with film speed, and in part from some useful-but-misleading simplifications that are shared quite frequently, people often share two bits of misinformation:

  • ISO is one way to increase your exposure without changing shutter speed or aperture
  • ISO “increases your sensor’s sensitivity to light.”

As Lee explains in the video above, neither of these things are technically true, though both ARE useful ways to think about ISO when you’re out shooting.

ISO is a gain knob. Electrical amplification that is done after your camera is done gathering light. It has no impact on how much light your camera sensor’s photosites can gather during a given exposure, and therefore has no direct connection to exposure itself, despite being part of “the exposure triangle.”

At the most basic level—and Lee plans to do a follow-up explaining more in-depth concepts like ISO invariance and how different cameras handle this setting—ISO is the level of electrical amplification done to the analog “signal” collected by your image sensor before it’s sent to the analog to digital converters (ADCs), eventually producing an image.

EXTRA CREDIT

Visit the link above and watch Chris Lee’s video. In 12 minutes you’ll understand what ISO is and how it affects exposure.


Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #569: Tips for Buying Used Lenses

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Used lens are affordable, but be careful.

Lens image courtesy of pexels.com

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Caleb Ward, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Used lenses provide a cost-effective way to get quality equipment, but know what to look for before you buy.

1. Look at the Focal Length

Lenses are broken up into two categories, prime & zoom. Prime lenses don’t zoom ‘in and out’ but typically let in more light than zoom lenses. They have a fixed focal length.

2. Check the Aperture Number

A good rule of thumb is: the lower the f-stop number the ‘better’ the lens.

3. Check the General Condition

Are there visible signs of use? It isn’t a perfect way to tell if a lens shoots great but it will let you know if the previous owner took care of the lens.

4. Shake the lens

On any lens you will hear a little noise when you shake it, but do you hear anything that sounds extra loose? Listen for screws or broken plastic pieces on the inside as these might be indicators of an unseen problem.

5. Shine a Flashlight Through the Back

Can you see any dust or scratches? If so you will probably have to send in your lens to get repaired which can get really expensive.

6. Does the Focus and Zoom Wheel Turn Smoothly?

Difficulty zooming or focusing can mean the gears on the inside of your lens are messed up…and there isn’t a lot you can do about that.

7. Are the Aperture Blades Closing Correctly?

You will need to connect the lens to a camera to test the aperture blades. It is imperative that they are in good working order. Do they all form a perfectly symmetrical shape when closed? Do they open up all the way?

8. Try the Lens!

Most camera shops will allow you to test a lens on your own personal camera. Put the lens on and shoot some pictures. Zoom into the image and check for vignetting or chromatic aberrations.

9. Ask about a Warranty and Return Policy

Be careful when buying on an online auction site like eBay. Lenses sold “as-is” should signal a big red flag.

10. Know the Seller

Tried and true retailers are the best companies to purchase used lenses from. Not only will they likely have a great return policy but they probably won’t sell sketchy lenses.

EXTRA CREDIT

The source of these tips – Karl Taylor – has posted a video at the link at the top of this tip. Watch it to learn more.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #580: The History of Storyboards

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Storyboards are designed to help plan the story before production starts.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmray02/1440415101/
A storyboard for “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd” episode #408 drawn by Tom Ray.

Topic $TipTopic

A storyboard is a graphic organizer that consists of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence. The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at Walt Disney Productions during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Walt Disney and other animation studios.

The first storyboards at Disney evolved from comic book-like “story sketches” created in the 1920s to illustrate concepts for animated cartoon short subjects such as Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie, and within a few years the idea spread to other studios.

Many large budget silent films were storyboarded, but most of this material has been lost during the reduction of the studio archives during the 1970s and 1980s. Special effects pioneer Georges Méliès is known to have been among the first filmmakers to use storyboards and pre-production art to visualize planned effects.

Disney credited animator Webb Smith with creating the idea of drawing scenes on separate sheets of paper and pinning them up on a bulletin board to tell a story in sequence, thus creating the first storyboard. Furthermore, it was Disney who first recognized the necessity for studios to maintain a separate “story department” with specialized storyboard artists (that is, a new occupation distinct from animators), as he had realized that audiences would not watch a film unless its story gave them a reason to care about the characters.

Gone with the Wind (1939) was one of the first live-action films to be completely storyboarded.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #566: Vintage Software, NLEs and Mac OS

Robert Withers – http://cinesouvenir.com

The best option for FCP 7 or Premiere CS6 is an older Mac Pro with older OS.

Topic $TipTopic

I decided to keep a vintage MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion) so I can access FCP 7 and a vintage project edited in the first Premiere Pro CC (2013) It is too late to buy Premiere CS6, the last pre-rent Premiere; now a Creative Suite on Ebay sells for $2,000.

A friend is editing a experimental documentary on FCP 7 on a vintage machine, similar to what Bong Joon-ho did Parasite in 2019.

There’s one function that doesn’t work, which is the Project Manager, but I understand many have had problems with this in other versions.

On my 2018 MacBook Air Premiere Pro doesn’t really run but DaVinci Resolve 15 seems to require much fewer computer resources. It loads in a third of the time of Premiere and I can do basic cuts-only editing of pieces up to about 40 minutes.

I would like to get an iMac but B&H can’t tell you what OS is installed and I don’t want to test Catalina. I understand if you get a machine that was designed to run Mojave you can reinstall it from a drive.

Larry adds: Robert, you might consider getting an older Mac Pro – say around 2012 – which may come with an older OS and will run FCP 7/Premiere Pro CS6 perfectly. Option 2 is to convert your FCP 7 project to Resolve and edit it there. That would be done with a XML transfer.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #544: 7 Tips for Better Shooting

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

7 Tips to improve your shooting, from Caleb Pike.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com.
Slate your shots. Labeling makes them easier to find in the edit.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, based on a video by Caleb Pike, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Here are the tips that Caleb goes through in the video:

1. Transitional Shots

Utilizing transition shots gives the editor the ability to move from scene to scene without using harsh cuts. As Caleb points out you can find very creative ways to develop and film transition shots without the use of “artificial crossovers and fades”.

2. Slate Your Shots

Metadata is pretty important to an editor. It not only helps you, the director, to keep everything organized on set, but it also helps the editor in post. On any film shoot you’re going to go through several takes of multiple scenes, so by slating and cataloging each slate you’ve already begun the metadata collection and organizing for your editor.

3. Overlap Your Shots

Overlapping shots can make editing easier and its gives the editor more options to work with. To do this you want to film specific actions and tasks in several angles, and you want to be sure and film the action from beginning to end in each take. Total pro move.

4. Get It On Film

When shooting interviews or filming a narrative sequence begin rolling before you say “action”, this way you can gather auditory information about the scene or you can ask metadata questions to your interview subjects. Such questions for your subjects would include asking their name, spelling of their name and title. Having this information in audio form can greatly help your editor when setting up interview titles and or just labeling the metadata.

5. B-Roll

As Caleb says, “B-Roll, B-Roll, B-Roll, B-Roll. You can never have enough B-Roll….it doesn’t matter how important it is or whether you’ll actually use it. I’ve always been taught that, “It’s better to have it than not.”

6. Practice A Lot

You can go to school for years to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking, but if you don’t get out there and practice then you’ll never improve as a shooter or editor. So, use any open time you can and begin filming anything you can think of to practice shooting and editing.

7. Keep The Tone In Mind

Know your story. Know what it’s about and the tone you want to set through the visuals. This is extremely important as the tone will most often dictate how the transitions and b-roll will work.

EXTRA CREDIT

The link at the top takes you to a video where Caleb explains this tips in more detail.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #545: 10 Quick Tips to Spot Fake Gear

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

If the quality is missing the gear is probably fake.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Caleb Ward, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Not sure if that equipment is legit? Does that deal feel too good to be true? Avoid getting scammed and learn to spot counterfeit camera gear with these ten quick tips, provided by Canon.

1. Look for Misspellings

Misspellings, whether intentional or unintentional, are an immediate sign that your equipment is fake. Give your equipment a quick look. If there’s something misspelled, it’s a fake.

2. Where Are You Buying It From?

Buying from a reputable seller is everything. Look for reviews and ratings regarding your seller. The following video posted by Fstoppers shows us that even items purchased on Amazon can be fake.

3. Instruction Manuals

Fake equipment almost always comes by itself in a box. So, if there’s a printed out manual included in the box, it’s a good sign that the product is real. This also applies to equipment purchased online. Sure… someone could probably fake a manual, but scammers likely won’t make the effort.

4. Look for a Warranty

Almost every piece of new equipment comes with a one year warranty included in its box. If a warranty isn’t in the box, you can bet your lens it’s a fake. It’s also important to note that boxes are easy to fake. Just because your equipment is in official-looking boxes doesn’t make it legit.

5. Serial Numbers

Most professional equipment comes with a serial number located somewhere on the exterior. If your piece of equipment doesn’t come with a serial number, then there is a good chance that it’s fake.

6. Does it Fit?

Official equipment such as lenses, adapters, and rigs will be incredibly snug. If you hear things moving around when you lightly shake your equipment, there’s a problem. This is especially true when buying camera lenses or adapters. Good adapters should fit lens mounts perfectly with no slippage.

7. “Too Good to Be True” Prices Usually Are

The online camera market is incredibly competitive, so it’s no surprise that online stores are always trying to undercut each other in terms of price. However, if you find a piece of equipment for half the normal retail cost, it’s probably a fake or, even worse, an empty box!

8. Holograms

Most of the popular camera manufacturing brands have “official” stickers that feature holograms. These stickers are hard to replicate, so they’re great indicators of official equipment.

9. Clear Printing

Printed information on genuine equipment is almost always incredibly sharp and easy-to-read. Counterfeit equipment, on the other hand, tends to be lower in quality – including written content. You won’t see illegible text on official equipment.

10. Test the Equipment

Test the gear! If you’re buying a piece of camera equipment in person, you should always test the gear before you buy. If the seller won’t let you test the camera – that should be a huge red flag. Even if you’re wanting to buy your equipment online, it’s good practice to go to your local camera store and test the camera to make sure it is a good fit for you.

EXTRA CREDIT

The link at the top of this tip includes a video from Canon on how to spot fake gear.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #547: 6 Tips to Better Foregrounds

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Shoot wide and stay low.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Nigel Danson, first appeared in PetaPixel.com. This is an excerpt.

I love shooting foregrounds in my big vista landscapes but it has taken quite a while to find out the things that work well and what doesn’t. I still don’t think I have mastered it but really enjoy the challenge of going out and finding a powerful foreground. In this article, I wanted to share the things that I believe have the biggest impact on creating great shots like this.

So, how do I go about finding and shooting foregrounds?

Point Your Camera Down

When using a wide-angle lens and shooting foregrounds it is really important to point the camera down. I like shooting vertically and getting right over the top of the subject like this image.

Consider the Height That You Shoot At

Shooting at different heights has a huge impact on the outcome of a scene. It also helps with connecting the foreground and distance.

Larry adds: The lower the height of the camera, the more you emphasize the foreground.

Start with Simple Foregrounds

Like most things in photography, simplicity is best. I think that is even more important in the foreground as you tend to read an image from the bottom up.

Think About Patterns

Patterns look great in foregrounds. Look for repeating patterns in the grass, rocks, sand or whatever you are shooting.

Find Something Special

My favorite type of foregrounds are the most powerful ones where you have something a little bit special. It may be some foliage or a rock that stands out. Be careful about the surroundings and make sure there are no distractions.

Midground Matters

Connect the foreground to the distance. As I have already mentioned the height you shoot at can make a big difference. Think about the foreground connection through the mid-ground to the distance.

EXTRA CREDIT

The link at the top of this tip has images and a video that illustrate these points.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #527: 5 Tips to Run a Smooth Set

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Planning and consideration of your crew go a LONG way to a smooth shoot.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s in film school or just shooting short videos with our friends, those “I just got a DSLR, come over on Saturday to help me shoot my short film!” shoots where the director shows up with nothing planned and everything goes wrong happen all the time. It can be a horrifying experience to say the least.

Here are five tips to avoid catastrophe:

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Camera
  2. Scout the Location — Don’t Just Show Up!
  3. Compensate Your Actors and Crew
  4. Plenty of Storage and Extra Batteries
  5. You Can’t Fix Everything in Post!

Watch the video linked at the top of this article. There are some great example videos.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #528: A Look at YouTube’s NLE

The YouTube logo.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

In the short but storied history of digital video editing platforms, we’ve seen just a few familiar names reign king — Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and more recently, DaVinci Resolve. However, while the big giants may still dominate the marketplace, it hasn’t stopped many other third parties and platforms from launching editing applications of their own.

Some are doing it to capture the market. While others — like YouTube — are simply trying to provide a more full, robust service to their current offerings. If you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube in the past year or so, you may have noticed that the social video-sharing platform is working hard to add tons of different functionality, controls, and analytics as its creator space continues to grow.

To get started, all you need to do is upload a video — or choose one you’ve already uploaded — and find the “Editor” tab in the studio.

Overall, at this stage the YouTube Video Editor is best for first time vloggers, or those needing to quickly edit tons of videos or long-form streams. However, I wouldn’t rule out YouTube simply using this as a first step, as they may build out the app much more in the future.

EXTRA CREDIT

Read Jourdan’s detailed review by clicking the link at the top of this article.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #534: What is Shutter Angle?

Motion blur increases as shutter angle increases.

Source: Red.com.
Greater shutter angles equal more motion blur.

Topic $TipTopic

This is an excerpt from RED.com. The advent of digital cinematography has opened up new creative possibilities for how motion is captured. This article explores the influence of shutter angle along with how it can be used as a creative tool for accomplishing one’s artistic goals.

CONCEPT

The “shutter angle” is a useful way of describing the shutter speed relative to the frame rate. This term is a conceptual relic of rotary shutters, where a disc with an angled opening would spin and let in light once per revolution to expose each frame. The larger the angle, the slower the shutter speed, all the way up to the limit of 360°, where the shutter speed could become as slow as the frame rate. At the other extreme, the shutter speed can be made arbitrarily fast by decreasing the angle.

APPEARANCE

By far the most common setting for cinema has been a shutter angle near 180°, which equates to a shutter speed near 1/48 of a second at 24 fps. Any larger, and motion appears more smeared since the end of blur in one frame extends closer to the start of blur in the next frame. Any smaller, and the motion appears more stuttered and disjointed since the blur gap increases, causing frames to become more like discrete images.

DISCUSSION

Although many film cameras were capable of only certain shutter angle ranges, digital cameras provide many exciting new possibilities. Just as focal length and aperture have been used as creative tools for controlling sense of scale and depth of field, shutter angle has the potential to do the same for motion.

The optimal setting will ultimately depend on other factors, such as the speed of subject movement within the frame, or the creative intent of the cinematographer. For example, one might wish to use a larger shutter angle to increase the exposure time and reduce image noise in low-light, or to give the impression of softer and more fluid motion. Alternatively, with fast action one might place more importance on depicting crisp details in each frame by using a smaller shutter angle.

Another consideration might be the film era one desires to emulate. Shutter angles much less than 180° more closely mimic the style of old 1950’s newsreels, for example, and a shutter angle of 180° will typically give footage a standard cinematic style.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s a link from Red.com to learn more.