David Forrester

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  • in reply to: Depth-of-Field in small offices/spaces #210487

    All the comments above are correct. The reality is that wide angle lenses do not optically give shallow depth of field and zero with small chip sensors such as 1/3", mft, APS-C (limited).  So you are hooped.  I have a 15mm f4.5  Voigtlander which is fantastic for what you need.  Mounted on my Sony FS100 (super 35mm sensor), it has almost no shallow dof of what you are looking for.  Even an 18mm f2.- 2.8 on a 35mm full frame camera (best case scenario) is going to give deep dof.  I think that work around is the lighting control spoken of – now that makes the most sense. Lighten the subject more, darken the background is your best option plus your lens settings. I like the macro part too – never thought of that, but it DOES work but wide angle may not be available. On that note, I wonder if the +1,2,3 close-up adapters may nor work for you.  I don't know because I have not tried it out nor have those lenses.

    I have the 5DM2 and the low light issue has been a thorn. Like the others have stated, the cleanest max is 1250 – 1600 tops otherwise you get a window screen line effect and noise – not pretty.  You can go to 1/30 second in a pinch, and might even get some interesting nice mini-blur which is OK for what you are doing. I would.  


    I always use prime lenses at f1.4 – 2. Keep it wide angle – 21-28 mm to solve the next problem: You are going to have a bitch of a time keeping your subjects in sharp focus. You will be follow focusing like crazy and trust me, 2/3 of your stuff will be out of focus because you are working at close quarters and the camera full frame sensor.  That is the beauty of small sensors like the 7D or triple chip 1/3" cams (except the are crappy in low light where the 5D shines!!)  – they are gorgeous in deep focus.  See – you can't win!  


    So what is the solution?  18-28 mm lens, f 2 or better, 1/30, a 3X scope / viewer (Hoodman) on the back, set you focus at a certain distance (say 6') and keep that distance to the subject. If the subject moves – you move with it (sure helps).  Take lots and lots of takes because you will have a ton of mis-takes guaranteed. Numbers win here. Don't use a zoom ever unless it is a wide angle and big f stop.  Primes are the only way to go.  


    Have the night club turn on more lights if at all possible (doubt it)  Lighting is your answer to super clean video for the 5D, although I have taken awesome video in a concert, got up close with a 180  F2.8 and the subject was well lit with black bacgrounds.  Blew me away in fact. Sound sucked, but we all know that anyway.


    Then process with a program called neat video. It is excellent for removing noise and adding sharpness etc.  Many other softwared pkgs such as Sony Vegas and Adobe have these, but I think a dedicated noise remover is the best way to salvage a clean image. 


    Cheers, Take 5

    What do you mean by justify?  Haven't the money? – OK, fair enough.  Thinking of value for the quality and trying to quantitate it – that is false economy.  IF you want good images, there is a threshold between poor, good, great, best.  These dedicated video cameras give you superb audio and XLR inputs and without good audio, you only have half the story.  Simply put, you need to have great audio.  DSLR's don't work – period.  You have to get an accessory mic, or an adapter to get XLR's mics into it.  Been there, can't skip out on this one.


    The only other next best solution from what I have heard is the Panasonic GH2 or 3 that has had rave reviews and can compete close to the others. Haven't tried it, but there is lots to make you eyes open up.  And it is cheaper – about $1,000 range. But then you need the optics.  So add another $1000 for a decent lens or 2.


    As I said:  CHEAP, FAST, QUALITY.  Pick any 2 at the expense of the 3rd.


    Take 5

    Having been in your shoes, here is the bottom line from my experience of a Canon 5D Mk2, Sony7 Z5 (tape-3 chip, 20x zoom) and Sony FS100 – S35 sensor.


    The very best image by far is the Sony FS100.  Clean, clear, gorgeous results. Easily take night shots, great latitude, no grain, needs good optics.  Can be expensive – $5000 + optics – and they better be good optics!


    The pro Z5 has auto or manual everything – great run and gun.  20X zoom, decent image, poor low light compared to the FS100.  Compact – does OK in good lighting. Tape based. 


    Canon 5D.  Stills with motion, but not nearly as clean as the FS100.  Has a great shallow depth of field – artsy camera.  Of course, takes superb stills!


    Smart phones – don't even go there.


    If you want quality, you will have to bite the bullet – there is no getting out of it.  Don't cheap out. The FS100 is mind blowing for what it can do.  I have tried the so called economical route and unless you get a great deal used, cameras will give to you what you pay for – it simply costs money to make a great image.  CHEAP, FAST, QUALITY. Pick any 2 at the expense of the third.



    Take 5



    in reply to: Versatile external mic for DSLR? #203860

    Peter: Allow me to share with you what I have taken a long time to learn – the benefit of experience with the 5DMk2, a Sony Z5 professional camera and a Sony FS100 – the DSLR killer!! Buddy is right – audio is more important than video. Turn off the TV sound and you get a duhhhh. But turn off the picture and listen – well it is like radio in a way. You have got to nail this right.GEt your students into audio right away and nail it!

    The Canon’s audio does not cut it. Period. So you need to either record it extenally (Zoom Hn4 or 2 or Tascam or portable recorder). This dual method generates aproblem. First you have to hit the record button twice – the camera and the recorder, and you have to hit them again when the shot ends. And do it again and again and again. You are going to miss something – it happens. You think you are recording but it is on pause – that kind of stuff.

    Then you have to sync them together in post. That is a challenge. That is what clap-boards are for. However, Plural eyes software makes it easier to sync in post. By the way, if you are even 2 frames out, the audience will notice the out of sync – that sensitive.

    Hollywood uses this dual recording system – but then again they have 100 crew on the set! And many specialize in audio. The technician for the choice of mics and equipment, the recorder, the boom pole, the guys who put all this stuff in place. Then the editors – that is another story. Big headache. It is a challenge – but the advantages are pure sound, a multitude of inputs in a 12-24 track recorder, a mixer to adjust the mic levels and get it right. In post, you can then mess around with all of this information and make a great stereo mix. But that is not your case. Just to let you know . . .

    Your best bet is to record stereoon camera. There are several add-on modules – Beach-Tek, Juiced Link that make the camera audio friendly and can accept pro quality microphones with the stereoXLR feeds. To make it even better, Magic Lantern has a new hack that makes the Canon 5D reallyreally video and audio quality ready in stereo and when coupled with the adapter – you have a winning combination. That is what I would recommend.

    I have tried the dual system approach and if by yourself or even with 1 other, it is a pain in the ass. Why? Because the cinematography is so challenging, intense to get great video, especially in follow focus mode, lighting, iris control, composition, following the action, that adding audio to this – well . . .you WILL lose great shots, either in video or audio. So unless you have a crew behind you, forget the dual system. I have failed too many fantastic, never to be had again shots. This adapter method gives you a great fighting chance.

    For microphones – I use several. Sennheiser ME66 professional medium shotgun – terrific. It gets the audio and greatly reducesunnecessarysound on the side. But that is mono and great for voice up front. But you need great quality stereo. I used the Audio Technica 4025 phantom powered stereo mic. It gives a wide stereo field that you have to hear to believe. It can record music and bands extremely well. It can record crickets at night time in the quietest of settings. The Zoom is pretty good for its stereo mics, but a far cry from the AT. Nothing beats a mic that is attachedto the talent. And for that, I use the audio-technica 899 lavaier – a clip on mic to pick up the voice crystal clear. These types of mics are what the news casters use. And if you want freedom, then you go wireless on these mics. Another chunk of gear!

    It all gets pretty complicated and pricey, but the results are worth it, hands down. You can get cheap chinese mics these days for about 1/3 the price, but it needs research. The NADY stereo mic I hear is very good – about $100 on ebay. Bottom line: you get what you pay for.

    Too much? At least, now you know. Forearmed is forewarned. Just do it right, OK? πŸ™‚


    in reply to: How do YOU learn new software? #182185

    Good Questions:

    Nothing beats training. I have tried the learn it by book and by hit and miss, but the experts will get you there faster and better than anything else. I use Vegas Pro. I bought VASST’s 3 discs for training. It was worth every penny. I bought Vortex’s CD on the use of my Sony Z5/7. It was worth every penny.

    I go to Sony’s webinars and there I learned a ton of stuff. Get hands on with expertise where ever you can find it and stop dicking and clicking around. These guys are so far ahead. You can learn a lot by the in-bred training and that is worth a lot, but the cost for the expert training discs, even here on VM, is worth the price many times over. Sure it costs, but it also gets you up to speed fast and make less mistakes and wasted time trying to find answers.

    in reply to: video editor needed #202976

    Wow, how true. In my non-video business world, I have been through years of struggle and suffering because of the incompetency of those who over promise and under deliver. There is a plague out there of incompetents. So what have I done? Last month I fired the bookkeeper and salesman and went out and sought the very best with good rewards for a job well done. Perform and you will reap the benefits. Right away, the sales are coming together, organization is falling back into place, mistakes are being corrected and finally I am feeling rather good about the future. A welcome breath of fresh air.

    And I have no problem of saying no or refusing to pay over inflated invoices for shoddy work.

    Moral of the story: Surround yourself with the very best (clients, buds, fellow members, cast, crew, directors etc.) and run, don’t walk from the rest. Spielberg does that, even if he has to wait for 6 months to find Elliot in ET, or Guy Hamilton’s wait for Gert Frobe as Goldfinger (arrived just days before shooting). These choices made these productions world classics.

    Somewhere in the bowels of these forums, someone once stated: Do a movie for free just once and you will NEVER do it again. Good advice!

    I suggest that you make a portfolio so damn good, brilliant, obscenely powerful that any client will look at it and be awed and blown away. When they see that, and you tell them how long it took, they will covet wanting the same and are mentally prepared to get it without argument to cost. I have found out that they are far more appreciative for an expensive and well done production that makes them look like a million, sell their goods, and impress their friends. The others who want to nit-pick – walk. They are not worth the time of day to even discuss it.

    in reply to: Vote for my final six… (Software) #198645

    Sony: I used Vegas Pro 11. It is huge. Lots to learn. Very powerful. Movie Studio is a watered down Pro, but the main features are in there – the ones that really count. I have done short films with a sizable wow factor from the gallery. You don’t want to outgrow your software – but can transition upwards easily. That is the advantage of Sony. They are pretty aggressive in getting great stuff to you and compete with the competition. I have canvassed users and teachers as to which program I should stick with. they unanimously say Vegas. I trust them and I have no regrets.

    in reply to: Newby here…What do I need!?! #198637

    Hi Ashley: I agree with Videoman – keep shooting. I have both a Sony Z5 dedicated camera as well as the Canon 5D Mk 2 and the Hn4 recorder (+++). Let me give you the benefit of experience. A DSLR is NOT a good choice for video. You are plagued with far too much work, constant focusing due to the very shallow depth of field at wide open apertures and audio issues.

    The sound quality is no good on them unless you invest in a Beachtek or similar and even then, it is marginal due to poor pre-amps on the camera. With a separate recorder, you have to push 2 record buttons and then sync the sound afterwards – it is a pain – but you get terrific sound this way. You have an enormous amount to do at the recording session without
    adding additional work load – unless you can bring along a dedicated
    audio guy. That I highly recommend if you stick with your Canon.

    To offset focusing issues, a separate monitor with peaking is sorely needed. A marshall 5 or 7″ will do a superb job. I tell you, i have lost soooooooooo much footage due to focusing issues. When I do night shots as f1.4 or 2 at 2500 ISO, the depth of field is razor thin and if there is any fore and aft movement, you either move the camera or move focus. It is a pain. Don’t know about autofocus on your camera, but this is a huge issue.

    Now another problem surfaces – noise – especially at night. The 5D is remarkable, but at 2500 iso, noise starts. At 5,000, it is no good. Ideally is 640 tops – not powerful enough for night. I try to max out at 1250, but sometimes I am forced to 2500. Then noise. rats!

    A dedicated camera does everything – I mean everything either automatically or manually or in combinations. You can add any sort of mic system, line input, phantom power and so on. You will not get shallow Depth of field, that is the only downfall and that is where the DSLR wins big time. And you will not get the best of night shots either – again noise. But the 5D is better – much better.

    The Canon will need a moderate telephoto lens. I use a 28-85 zeiss zoom from my Contax line and I swear by it. All manual of course. but it is not good at night as it is only f 3.3. Night shots are always f1.4-2. Even my f2.8 28mm is too dark.

    You must have a darn good tripod with a great fluid head. I have Manfrottos and quite pleased with them. Non-negotiable. Get a rather hefty one with a long control arm. Nothing looks so good as a steady shot on a tripod. Jerky motions scream amateur.

    If you get a dedicated camera which I highly recommend, get a 20X zoom, dual XLR inputs. The cameras that you are looking at in this league of those 2 options will give you everything you will ever need. Don’t get caught up in the trap of a gear head, but get shooting every darn thing you can. And you will find out soon enough what your real needs are.

    Best of luck. Dave

    in reply to: Another Newbie askin questions #181893

    Casey: Allow me to be to the point – been there done that!

    #1: Go HD. Non-negotiable. SD will be a dinosaur in a few years and you might as well get as much footage as possible and build up that library of good stuff – If you stick with SD, you will beat your head against a wall in 2 years when you DO switch over and the stuff you have been collecting is in SD – it will be pretty much useless and wasted time.

    #2: Get a powerful computer with 2-3 Tb or hard drive. Start to categorize the stuff and be ruthless in keeping only good stuff and chucking out that bad. 10 secs =50 Mb, so keep it thinned out and organized.

    #3: What do you want to do? If documentary is important then you will need a 1/3 – 1/2″ chip sensor with a built in 15-20X zoom. I use a Sony Z5 and love it. There is absolutely no moire and this is clean footage in low light. Incredible images. – you want that. The advantages are that this camera has deep depth of field. Shallow DoF does not exist. But if you want the background way out of focus – see step #4!

    #4: If you want creativity, then you need a larger sensor as in super 35mm, Canon 7D / 5D. But be warned, these are amazing cameras and the 5D is stunning for night shots, but sound is no good – so you need a separate recorder. The SONY NEX series is getting rave reviews that has obscenely good audio and interchangeable lens and super 35MM sensor I think. These cameras can throw the background out of focus, but the Canon 5D is a hell of a lot more work to get a great shot and keep it in focus – and you will ruin lots of good shots due to focusing issues. But when it is done right – they are winners. About the only way to get perfectly good shots every time is with a Marshall 5 or 7″ monitor and follow focus systems and that alone costs $1-2k.

    #5: You need good audio. Sound is 50%. The Sony records in 16 bit 48Khz stereo. you can use a line input, or phantom power, or internal stereo or external shotguns, or anything – auto or manual. Whatever you choose, make sure audio is tops. For my Canon 5D, I use a Zoom Hn4 4 channel. Hollywood quality.

    Don’t get caught up in gear. At the end of the day, the story always always wins. Technical wizardry, SFX and VFX are bandaids to good stories and sadly, today, there is far too much of it. Take a look at ET. Simple, loveable story – 15 years at the top of the list. Nothing special.

    You need good tools to make the story look the best. Get them and don’t scrimp. Then shoot, shoot and shoot some more. And oh, ya – get a good editing system. I use Sony Vegas Pro 11. Sweet program. Takes about a 3-12 months to learn it extremely well. The real story comes from the Editing room, but you better have good shots, good cast, good images and a good story.

    Now go get an Oscar!


    in reply to: DSLR vs. Prosumer Camcorder? #198602

    Robin: I have both. A dedicated camcorder Sony Z5 and a superb DSLR Canon 5D Mk2 with 8 Zeiss lenses. I have used them extensively for over a year. Both cameras give stunning quality pictures. When it comes to stills, the Canon is world class. When it comes to clear, clean night or low light photography, the Canon wins hands down. When it comes to shallow depth of field, creativity “art” type of shooting, the Canon wins big time and in truth, that is why I got it.

    But when it comes to audio – and remember audio is 50% of the total capture and often overlooked or minimized, the Canon fails miserably. So I had to buy an external Zoom Hn4 recorder – which means you need another person with you to focus in on the audio component. It means you have to turn on and off the camera AND the recorder each time – watch for level controls, etc. It won’t work for a single gal. Not at this stage of the game. And then you have sync the sound in post. The Zoom does give a huge range of audio options and quality and 4 channels – so that is amazing alone and worth the price of admission!! But it IS another job for a dedicated sound guy.

    The Sony Z5 does these things that the Canon cannot do: Delivers stunning pictures with a 20X zoom, the quality and sharpness indistinguishable or better than the Zeiss and the Canon. Maybe the colors aren’t as saturated, but that is always done in post anyway. That Sony has superb built-in mics and another directional mic that is as good as my Sennheiser ME66. The controls of the Sony allow me to do anything my heart desires from run and gun automatic to any form of manual / auto and therefore alllows me to follow focus. The audio is taken care of automatically or manually. It can accept 2 XLR mics, on line inputs, phantom power. I don’t have to change out lenses – the range is from 29-580 – huge! And variable zoom rates which can almost duplicate a slow dolly shot! and 2 zoom rockers and start / stop buttons for low angles. It has a flip out rotational screen – awesome! For ultra wides, I use an adapter.

    It has 3 built in ND’s which are absolutely a MUST (Canon does not). it has something like 100 functions including peaking, color settings, profiles, last frame review, variable rates when color or light changes, 24 and 30p as well as SD and interlacing (dinosaurs these days). And variable lens stability too! And I USE all of them often. Even slo-mo (but you sacrifice pix quality). And it can record for an hour non-stop – then you have to change tapes. It does not overheat. One battery is good for 6 hrs of continuous recording – unheard of in a dslr.

    The only downside is the lack of shallow depth of field at 29-150mm settings and low light with clarity and no noise. But trust me, the Sony is still the king of the 2.

    I love that Canon 5D, but it has become a cash sink-hole to make it work. For instance, when shooing at f 1.4-2.8, the focus is shallow – sometimes razor thin. Following action is almost impossible and takes great skill and practice. The live view is the only way to see the picture and it and it is not nearly good enough for precise focusing with a big lens of 50-180mm range and a moving subject 5-10′ away. You are always switching to 5 and 10X zoom for precision – a pain but necessary. The fully manual Zeiss lenses are world class and trust me, they need exacting precise operations to make them sing – therefore you need help. I got a Hoodman to look up close to the live view which is a great asset, but still cannot equal an external monitor such as the Marshall 5 or 7″ (absolute pre-requisites) and that costs 500-1000. The Canon cannot do a 15 min straight shoot as it gets too hot and shuts down to cool off. I can do it in the winter tho.

    The Canon has moire and a digital look with microscopic vertical and horizontal lines. The Sony’s Exmor chip eliminates that completely.

    The Canon shines when it comes to the creative aspect, but really needs to be properly set up and very carefully used only in the right setting.

    The Sony weighs 6 pounds. The Canon with lenses, audio, gear accessories is 30 lbs or more. Canon investment is around $10k. Sony is $4k and is easier to use by a wide margin. But when it comes to stills, Canon is the king in the world. Hope this gives a really detailed, in depth, understanding of what you are up against.

    Now, having said that, a great DP once said this after looking at the Great Camera Shootout, “Give me a good script, a good cast and a good Director and I can win the world” even with so-so equipment. Schindler’s List is a classic example of exactly that.

    in reply to: HDSLR Focusing…. #167593

    I second cville. The VG20 is a letus adapter killer! A good Letus, and only the best ones work within reason, I understand costs upwards of 3G’s. Plus you need lenses, rails system and it is a long unit. Plus you can’t shoot more than 1/250 sec.

    It has been proven time and time again, a peaking and false color monitor for a Canon 5D is the best way to get really good, tact sharp, pro quality follow focus. The winner? Marshall monitors. They made a 5″ specific for a 5D. The House MD crews us the 7″ monitors. This and a follow focus system (trusmt) is the next and final acquisition. After that, it is write, write, write. Shoot, shoot shoot. Edit, edit, edit.

    in reply to: New 5D Short: The Super List (superhero theme) #201464

    That was GOOD! I see you had a fairly large gang working with you – well done! OK, tech talk time!

    Was it done on a 5D? What cameras?

    Where did you get that fantastic sound track. It fit in so incredibly well. You do that from scratch or get audio tracks from somewhere?

    How did you capture the audio? Did you use sound effects, foley or was this all recorded on set?

    Did you use dollies, sliders, steadicams or what?

    Once again, most impressive!

    in reply to: Music Video Shot with Canon 5D Mark II #189535

    Very well done. You are going to do well in the future. Good talent.

    How does it look on the big screen? Tact sharp? OK? noise? I also have the 5D – what was you average aperture setting? How long do it take to shoot it and how long to make it in post?

    OK, here is an open question: In still photography is called the aperture. In movies, it is the iris. But a DSLR like the Canon when used in stills, is it the aperture, but when used in movie mode, is it the aperture or iris? I give!!

    in reply to: The crop factor associated with the EOS Canon 7D #201410

    KT: Having studied many of the great films ever made, and being a still photographer for years (note the Contax RTS3 in the mug shot) with 20-30K slides taken, my issue always was depth of field. This is the creative art of still photography. I was almost anal in getting the right depth of field to achieve maximum effect on the viewer. The precise amount of depth of field is the make it or break it factor between stunning images or also rans. Ya, that critical.

    When you study films you can see the depth of field in almost every scene and surprisingly, over and over again, it is relatively deep – ie, using an f5.6-8-11 on a 50mm lens full frame camera for comparisons. On a cine camera (Arri, Red, Sony f35 etc.) , the sensor is quite a bit smaller than a Canon 5D – more like a bit less than the 7D. To attain similar Hollywood depth of field effects, the 7D is your choice. The 5D is far too shallow at wide open aperture and trust me, it is a bitch to follow focus precisely if there is any quick fore-back movement – try next to impossible unless you have a Marshall monitor with peaking in it and can follow focus fast (it is not easy). And it still doesn’t quite look Hollywood. The work around is to stop the lens down to f8-16 range, but at night, that is defeating the purpose of the large sensor. So, you have to go wide angle – say 28mm f2.8. Too wide, want an 85? Then you are at f2 and the depth of field is about 3″ at 7′.

    Why do you think the 1/3 – 1/2″ chip cameras are so popular with news crews – because focusing is almost a non issue. Everything is in deep focus relatively so. even up close and the distant background. Can be a deal breaker for many creative scenes for movies. Just doesn’t cut it. It is like the Canon 5D 50mm with f45!!

    So, what is your objective? News (small sensor), theatrical movies (7D, maybe 5D size), youtube (small), weddings (large), documentaries (small)? After that – pick your camera for what you want to do with it. Sorry for the rambling on, but I have a Sony Z5 (1/3″) and a 5D (full frame) and have faced these situations over and over again – can be frustrating. But those Reds are sure getting pretty attractive now! (dream on!)

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