Glidecam Tutorial

13 12 2010

Here’s a very good tutorial on using the Glidecam. I wish I can say that I did this tutorial, but no, it’s from the creators of


Sound Recording

29 11 2010

What do you use to record sound when using your DSLR for video? Personally, as I only have the 500D with no audio input, I have to use the Zoom H4n recorder. I have a boom mic as well as Azden’s dual channel wireless mic system. This is more than enough for my use.

Anyways, here’s another good read from my favorite blog, Mr Shane Hurlbut.

Sound Guru
We are so excited to feature our first guest blogger Gene Martin on the HurlBlog. Whenever I am asked about a specialty such as sound, specifically sound with the 5D, I turn to this expert to weigh in with what he feels is the best. Visit Gene’s website to learn more about what he offers at

What I love about Gene is that he is a one man sound mixing machine. He delivers top notch quality audio as the only member of his sound department, so it fits perfectly with our small footprint work-flow. Gene always has a smile and can do attitude that is required to be one of the cowboys with this new technology in the wild, wild West.

Indie Film Sound And The 5D

“Sound is never noticed unless it’s bad. It can make a beautiful film or meaningful documentary painful to watch. So, for the Canon 5D you’ll need to make a small investment to enhance your film’s sound.

The 5D records 16-bit 44.1kHz linear PCM audio and you have no real control of the camera’s input levels. Its AGC (Automatic Gain Control) is ok for general b-roll, but it’s going to amplify any loud unwanted sounds (near by lawn mower/wind). I know there is a firmware hack that changes the settings, but it’s still not the final solution.

First lets avoid spending more money than you need or just buying items that don’t really solve the Canon’s sound issue. The BeachTek DXA-5D and the JuicedLINK CX231 both add XLR inputs, phantom power and gain control, but just plug into the camera’s 3.5mm input leaving you with the same 16-bit 44.1kHz audio.

Double system is the only true solution for the Canon 5D. Treat it like film. Just like the Red One camera, both can record sound, but any sound recorded on the camera should only be used for reference in post. It will add a little more time in post, but the result is well worth the time. The most important step in doing double system is a slate. Whether it be a actual slate, the clap sticks from a slate or even the clap of your hands you just need to ensure the clap is heard by both the onboard camera mic and whatever mic you may be using for your external audio recorder. In post if you look at the audio waveforms of the camera and your external audio recorder you’ll see a spike in the audio when you clapped your slate/hands. Once the two audio clips are lined up via the spike in audio you’re now synced.

Zoom H4n

There are many options for an external audio recorder, but the best solution for the money is the Zoom H4n ($299). The Zoom H4n can record up to 4 tracks simultaneously via 2 onboard microphones and 2 external inputs via XLR or ¼”. It records WAV audio files from 44.1kHZ 16-bit to 96kHZ 24-bit. (Typically we would record at 48kHz 24-bit) The Zoom records on SDHC cards up to 32gb, which would give you 15hr and 25min. It also has phantom power if needed and has a headphone jack for monitoring. If you are using the Zoom’s onboard mic’s for ambient audio recording outdoors you’ll want an additional windscreen. Rycote and Red Head both offer windscreens for the Zoom H4n that will protect you from unwanted wind noise.

Zoom H4n

Tip: If you wanted you can get a y-cable to split the headphone jack and use one side for your headphones and plug the other into the 5D’s 3.5mm input jack. This will make it easy to sync the audio in post, plus if you play back your files from the camera you’ll have your actual audio (reference only) to listen to while viewing back your shots.

G3 wireless

As far as what mic’s you’ll need to capture dialogue there is a very large variety. For the money if you need a wireless system Sennheiser G3 is the way to go. They come in a kit with everything you’ll need to get started. As for a boom kit, you can’t go wrong with Rode. They are very well priced and offer a 10yr warranty on most of their products. The best boom mic for most dialogue situations would be the Rode NTG-2 or the Rode NTG-3. Both are good microphones and will get the job done, but the NTG-3 is more than twice the money.

Rode VideoMic

If in the end you just want an improvement of the 5D’s onboard mic, again go with Rode. They have two different options, the Rode VideoMic and the Rode Stereo VideoMic. Both are battery powered and have a hot shoe mount for easy mounting on the 5D. Again these are best for improving ambient audio recording or just creating a better reference camera audio track for syncing your audio later. The audio is still controlled under the camera’s AGC. If you did NEED to record dialogue this way you would want the Rode VideoMic and would need to be fairly close to the subject speaking in a not too loud environment.”

Media Management

22 11 2010

When dealing with file-based system (SDHC cards, CF cards etc), how do you manage your files when offloading them onto your hard disks? Here’s something that I’ve read from Hurlbut Visuals Blog.

Media Management For DSLRs
We are so excited to feature guest blogger Mike McCarthy on the HurlBlog. Whenever I am asked about the post production work flow and technology, I always consult with Mike about what he feels is the best. Visit Mike’s website to learn detailed post information and workflow at

Mike is that he has been at the forefront of designing the Canon 5D work flow since the camera was created. He understands the camera platform inside and out, how it writes its media and is a genius in post production process. Mike takes the time to get out there and do the research by blogging or reading about technical data. He constantly educates himself about the medium and always has a can do attitude with a smile. It is an honor to have his brain trust on our blog because Mike’s IQ is about 180.

Media Management for DSLR’s

“I am Mike McCarthy, the Director of Technology at Bandito Brothers. I have been working with Bandito Brothers since the company started in 2006, and have been involved with projects using almost any format imaginable. (Film, SR, HDCam, XD, EX, P2, Red, Si2K, and DSLR among others) I work with many different hardware and software companies through their beta and development programs, to find the best solutions to the work flow problems presented by new formats and tools. I also document many of the solutions I come across on my own website, and do occasional consulting work for companies that are trying to adapt their existing work flow to new tools and formats.

At Bandito Brothers, we have been working with Shane over the past year or so, to really push the Canon DSLR work flow to the limits. This is in regards to both visual quality and organizational efficiency, factors which are both critical to being able to scale the Canon DSLR video work flow up to larger projects. Hopefully the things we have learned from this process, and presented here, will be of benefit to others who are sure to find themselves in similar situations.

A large part of my job over the past year has been to develop a solid work flow for handling Canon DSLR footage, from shooting through to final delivery. This work flow has evolved dramatically over the last year, as new projects had different needs, and new tools have been developed. While media management is a subject that has been touched on by previous articles on this site, this one is going to focus on certain steps you can take to process and sort your media as you shoot, that can greatly simplify your post process. We have developed this work flow while supporting many different Canon DSLR shoots, from commercials to feature films to documentaries. Most of these tips can be applied to any project and will improve your editing experience regardless of whether you are cutting in Avid,Final Cut or Premiere.

Backing up your Footage:
The first step in that process is to make multiple backups of every card before it gets wiped and re-used. Due to the possibility of drive failure, I make sure that every clip is backed up on at least two drives before releasing the card to use again. Usually this will be a copy from my Express Card CF Reader onto my laptop HD, and onto an external drive. If I have power available, this will be an eSATA drive for best performance, but frequently it is a bus powered USB drive sitting on the palmrest as I work in the seat of my car, or where ever else we happen to be shooting. Once the footage is on two separate drives, I rename the folder on the card. This causes the camera to acknowledge that there is data on the card, but shows nothing in the playback window. That way the camera assistants know that the footage is backed up, and also that they need to format the card before they begin using it again.

As long as the footage is duplicated on two drives, I feel safe, until the end of the day, when I make up four copies at night and send them different places. Once I have the footage safely on a Raid5 array the office, I wipe all but one of the backup drives and return them to the field. The copy on the Raid becomes my master copy, that I use for for all the remaining steps detailed below.

Sorting your Footage:
Good media management is clearly important for any tapeless workflow, especially with DSLRs, and that goes far beyond just making backups. Naming conventions play a large role in organization, since having all of your footage named MVI_####.MOV is not ideal, especially if you are shooting with multiple cameras. Eventually you are likely to have overlapping numbering, leading to duplicate filenames. I deal with this by sorting all footage by camera as it is shot and backed up. This is a much simpler process if all of the cameras are shooting in totally different ranges of numbers. The cameras can be forced to start numbering the files where ever you want, and once you have the footage sorted and logged, it is a good idea to rename each file using a convention that makes it easier to sort through and organize them. I have a very specific breakdown of how I would recommend doing that posted on my site here.

Logging your Footage:
Keeping a log of your footage and file names is important, not just for sorting through the content, but because it allows you to retrace your steps if necessary, and it can also assist in automating certain steps in the work flow, for example the file renaming process. Once you have a folder full of properly sorted and renamed MOV files, (and a few backup copies as well) you are ready to begin the real post work. I will give an overview of the post production options and recommended work flows in another post coming shortly.”

A Media Manager Has Your Back

In the world of HDSLR technology, media management is a very important position. Every Elite Team member has held this position at some point during the untitled Navy Seal Movie to gain an understanding of HD image capture in a small footprint work-flow system and they all have jumped in head first!

The unique skill set that my Elite Team brings is that they all have a film background and are comfortable with certain rituals that accompany being a motion picture film loader and 2nd assistant cameraman. These include: managing the truck; keeping track of the gear and specialty pieces of equipment; creating an inventory and log; assessing how many magazines you have to load and color coding it according to the stock; labeling the magazines with the date, job, film stock and amount loaded on the magazine itself; and writing a camera report with the same information.

The system we designed for the untitled Navy Seal Movie is a mixture of the traditional film loader combined with the DIT job in the digital world. On our movie, Mike McCarthy who is a brilliant post production guy at Bandito Brothers with an IQ that I swear is above 180, set up our media manager work-flow system. The Media Manager station is very simple and compact. Sticking with the small footprint approach we employ a Mac Book Pro Laptop, a 24” HD Cinema Display monitor, and 4 External 500GB hard drives.

We shoot 10 to 15 minutes on a 8GB card. I like using the 8GB cards the best because the counter on the top of the camera kicks in depending on jpeg settings at approximately 15 minutes of media recorded. This is a great gauge. Once the counter starts to come off of 999 we re-load the card. Just like a 1000 foot magazine on a film camera.

There are three important reasons to do it this way:

1. We can get that to the media manager and he can check the focus on his big monitor. We all know how critical the focus is with these cameras.
2. The cards tend to heat up and when that happens the noise factor goes up. So keeping a fresh card in there is very good way to keep the image as clean as possible.
3. It promotes a steady pace of backing up cards, so if for any reason something happened to the camera or the card you are not losing a whole day worth of footage.

In our work-flow system, the 8GB card from the 5D camera goes to the media manager. He downloads the media into the computer and simultaneously sends it to the 4 external hard drives. After the download is complete, he checks for focus and exposure and labels each set-up for the assistant editor with as much detail and description as possible. Then, he formats each card before sending it back to the cameras in the field. When the cards go back to the field to be reused, the camera assistant knows to double check that each card is coming back empty.

Next, one hard drive is shipped to the editor to start logging the footage; one is a back up if the original one gets lost in shipping. A third is for the director to view on his laptop. The last one is a “cloned master “of what we sent to the editor, which is held in post. This system has been successful in delivering the entire equivalent of 1.8 million feet of film safely into the edit room.

And here’s another good read: Managing Footage in Tapeless Workflows.

Documentary Scenes

1 11 2010

A breakdown analysis for documentary scenes.

How many scenes does a documentary have?

Music Video

25 10 2010

Here’s a good article for filmmakers on music video.

Music Video Deconstruction

How to shoot music video

Editing DSLR video on PC

18 10 2010

Here’re a few links that are useful for us PC users, as most of the online guides are for Mac users.

From Hurlbut Visuals Blog
Here is the much anticipated post-production work flow blog that you have been asking for from Mike McCarthy, our technology guru. Please visit Mike’s site at for even more in-depth technical information on the post-production work flow process.

Post Work flows for DSLRs

“Here at Bandito Brothers, we have been handling the post aspect of many of Shane’s DSLR based projects, ever since the first “Terminiator Webisodes.” The tools available have developed during the past year from a relative hack job, to a reasonably well supported work flow.

File Format:
The first thing we need to understand about a work flow, is what we are starting with. In the case of Canon DSLR footage, we have full raster HD footage, in YUV 4:2:0, with a full range (0-255) of 8bit color values, at a variety of frame rates. This is saved into Quicktime files, encoded with H.264 compression at about 40Mb/s, with 44.1khz audio. While high bit rate H.264 files preserve a tremendous amount of detail into a relatively small file size, that level of compression makes it difficult to playback the native files in any editing program. In almost all cases it will be easier and more efficient to convert the footage into an intermediate editing format before editorial. This choice of formats will probably be dictated by your NLE options. DNxHD will be the format of choice for Avid, with ProRes for FCP, and a couple other options like Motion-JPEG, MPEG2-IF, or Cineform for Premiere Pro.

Frame Rates:
From a post perspective, the most obvious unique work flow challenge presented by the original Canon 5DMk2, was “30P!?” Since a transcode to an intermediate format was already required by most work flows, we slowed the footage and the audio by .1% to 29.97 for our first few projects. So 29.97 based work flows can be relatively simple, and are even easier now with the true 29.97 support in the 7D and 1D, and recently the 5D as well.

Inter cutting with film on the other hand usually requires editing and finishing in 24p, (by which I always mean 23.976p) which is a lot more complicated challenge with 5D footage. As Shane has mentioned in the past, the simplest way I have found to deal with this requires that you edit in Avid, and online with Twixtor in AE and Premiere Pro CS4. We use Re:Vision Effects’ Twixtor plug-in to convert our 30p clips to 24p, with true motion compensated frame blending. It works quite well for more footage, but it is extremely render intensive and take a long time to process footage. The details of the relinking process for Twixtored footage with Avid edits are fairly complicated, but can be found on my site, (Link to Avid page on my site) for anyone who is interested in going down that path. For footage shot at 24p on a DSLR, the on-lining process should be relatively straightforward by comparison, and have no unique challenges over 29.97p DSLR work flows.

Editorial Options:
While Premiere and FCP are both useful tools that will work well on smaller DSLR based projects, Avid is the most stable and responsive editing program, for large projects that encompass hundreds of hours of footage spread across thousands of individual clips. Most Avid edits of DSLR footage will use DNxHD as their editing codec. Since Canon MOVs have a full 0-255 color range, you have to select the RGB (0-255) color space when importing the files into Avid, in order to maintain the full range of the color space. If you are going to use you Avid output as your master, without a separate online conform, using a 10bit editing codec like DNxHD175x will prevent you from losing bit depth during the Rec709 conversion on the initial import transcode. We use 8bit DNxHD36 offline files in our Avid edits, since this is an offline, because we aren’t editing at the 5D’s native frame rate, and we use simple EDLs to online in CS4 via file name relinking after the frame rate conversion. There are other more expensive options for on lining Avid edits, but I am not as familiar with any of them, since Adobe’s Creative Suite satisfies most of our current needs.

Now as a PC guy, I will still be the first to admit that Macs do have their uses. (Specifically generating Pro Res files and accessing HPFS volumes;) For Final Cut Pro work flows, life is a little simpler in that Pro Res is capable of 10bit color by default, as long as the host application supports it. Batching your DSLR files to Pro Res in Compressor should allow you to maintain the full resolution and color space. Compressor also has the capability to solve the 30p to 24p issue through use of Apple’s Optical Flow technology. Compared to Twixtor, our tests have found this process to be slower and the results aren’t quite as good, but if you can’t afford a dedicated conversion plug-in, this is probably the next best thing.

For Premiere based edits, while DSLR files can be played directly on the time line, using an intermediate format will give you a more responsive and stable editing experience. Adobe Media Encoder will give you the proper processing bit depth to convert your files into a variety of possible third party formats, for editing or on-lining in CS4. At Bandito Brothers, we batch process our Canon 5D footage in After Effects, which allows us to use Twixtor to convert our 30p clips to 24p. If the footage is already in the right frame rate, AME is totally sufficient and will process the conversions much faster. We usually online with Cineform AVI files, to utilize the head room that 10bit color offers, especially since SpeedgradeXR can access native files, which is usually our next step after the conform.

Once you have exported an online conform, preferably in 10bit color, there is one more step that should be added to DSLR work flows. There are a number of cleanup processes that can be undertaken to deal with common imaging issues with DSLRs, similar to a dust-busting pass on film work flows. Dead pixels, usually caused by dust on the sensor, which can happen to any camera, are more frequent on DSLRs due to their large sensors and interchangeable lenses. These artifacts are usually static and can be fixed by overlaying nearby pixels that were unaffected, usually directly above or below. You also may see rolling shutter issues, caused by the top of the frame capturing a slightly different moment in time than the bottom. Certain types of rolling shutter artifacts, especially ones related to camera motion, can be fixed with plug-ins from companies like the foundry. Other rolling shutter artifacts like horizontal bands caused by flashes of light are much harder to fix, unless you manually replace the image data with information from another nearby frame. And if you have run a frame conversion process like Twixtor on your footage, this is when you should replace any frames that interpreted poorly with frames from the original source files. These processes are all very labor intensive and require quite a bit of fiddling and fine tuning to perfect your image. As with any step in the process, consider your available resources and carefully prioritize the issues you want to fix.

Once you are finished fixing any defects in the footage, the resulting files should be similar to any other workflow, and you can proceed to visual effects, color correction, tape lay back, web encoding, or disc authoring the same as you would a project from any other acquisition source. Most of the things that are key to an efficient DSLR based work flow take place at the beginning of the process. Once you are off to a proper start, the later steps should come together the same way as any other tapeless project. Hopefully the tips above will give you a good overview of the potential pitfalls, and things you can do to stay one step ahead of the game. I have much more detailed information available on my site, that I will continue to update as new developments are released.”

And here’s another one from Next Wave

First I’m going to assume you have a quad core PC or are at least able to view raw footage from your 5D in Windows Media Player without it skipping. If you can’t do that, your computer may not be able to handle 5D footage very well. Also we’ll assume you’ve already offloaded the footage from your CF card to your computer. And lastly, I use Adobe Premiere Pro so this workflow will revolve around that. If you use Avid, Vegas, or something else try to substitute parts of this guide for your setup.

Now that it’s on your computer, you’ll need to transcode it. Raw 5D footage is encoded in H.264 which is great for capturing, but horrible for editing. Macs can read H.264 and edit it pretty well, but PC editors don’t use the GPU of the computer the same way Macs do so transcoding is a necessary step in PC editing.

I personally use Cineform NEO Scene for my transcoding. Mainly cause it creates an editable, lossless file that is converted from 30 fps (which is the 5D’s only frame rate) to 29.967 (which is the industry standard frame rate).

Now that you’ve transcoded your footage, open your editor. Select a project that is 1080 HD at 29.967 (sometimes shown as 60i). Go ahead and drag in your transcoded footage and try playing it back. You will notice that the raw footage from the 5D will barely play at 1 fps in your editor, but the transcoded footage should play back fairly smoothly. Depending on the power of your PC, you may notice some choppiness in playback, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the footage. It just means your computer has a hard time editing Full HD 1080 footage. HD editing is very resource intensive so the newer and more powerful the computer, the better.

Hopefully that helps. Remember, transcoding is pretty much a requirement of PC editing of 5D footage. If you’re planning on buying a 5D MkII and a PC to edit it on, add Cineform (or something similar) to the cost of your purchase.

Good luck!

I thought I’d share one more thing. Cineform is great for commercial productions when you want the best possible editable copy of your footage. But what if you just want something smaller to edit and archive?

I’ve been using Adobe Media Encoder to convert my 5D footage down to 720p 29.97 which works great. The file sizes are much smaller and it’s a standard format that I can work with.

I usually compress out an MP4 using an H.264 encoding. Here are the typical settings I use. Depending on your sequence settings, you may want to change a few of the settings around until you get something you are happy with.

And here’s a website that might be of interest to you: Hd4pc.

Wedding Video Guide

11 10 2010

These are pretty much a hands on tutorial on the how’s/why’s/what’s to shooting (weddings) on DSLRs. Sponsored by Canon and Stillmotion crew.

Introduction to shooting a ceremony

Introduction to shooting outside

Introduction to audio with DSLRs

The tilt/shift lenses demystified

Stillmotion’s guide to lenses for weddings and events

Get to know your lenses

I’ve decided to put together this video as an easy reference for myself in the future.