By Landon Morgan
Philip Bloom is a king among camera nerds. He mastered the art of shooting with DSLR cameras and he shares his knowledge with anyone who sees the value of paying $150 to spend the day with him. This of course will end with the final date of his US Tour on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, CA. I'm sure the price for his next US tour will be even higher, but probably still worth it! For a complete list of the remaining cities visit: http://canonfilmmakerslive.com/
On Sunday, March 13th, 2011 his tour brought him to Nashville, TN. With a wide assortment of gear strewn about on the table in front of him, Philip stalled as his computer rendered video. It was 10:00am on the morning after Daylight Saving Time...okay, it was 10:05am and I hate Daylight Saving Time.
I thought I would find a small room with 10-15 of the typical Nashville DSLR shooters. Although some of them were there, the room was large, and filled with people from far off exotic destinations like Illinois, Indiana and Philadelphia, oh my! We were all tweeting with #cflive and connecting with each other from the privacy of our smart phones.
For those of you who don't know who Philip Bloom is, I'm not sure how you made it this far into my story. I'll spare you the bio, which is available on his blog http://www.philipbloom.net - In short, he is a brilliant cinematographer that shares his knowledge and experience with the peers in his field. He does so in such a way that it makes the entire industry better. The nine-or-so hours I was able to spend learning from him was nothing short of invaluable, and he let me and my fiance' play with his Leica digital camera (she wants one now, btw).
Here are Seven great tips for any DSLR shooter, from the workshop :
1. Shoot on smaller cards (16GB are great) and don't try to offload during your day. You will eventually trip yourself up with human error. (Although, I wish he would've told me this before I spent ridiculous money on three 32GB cards).
2. Turn your sharpening to 0, turn your contrast down all the way and turn your saturation down slightly. This makes your images look flat, but it preserves the detail for you to see when you're processing and editing your photos or video later.
3. Rather than ask what camera and lens someone used, ask why they used a particular camera and lens...and if you've never seen a GH2 with a macro lens in action, find a friend with one and check it out!
4. If you're running HD out on your 5D, you've noticed there is a delay when you hit record. The video on the monitor goes to black and it can last upwards of 8 seconds (yuck!). I never knew why this happened so I thought it was worth sharing here - the delay is due to the camera downres-ing the video to 480p, while still recording in the camera at full HD. However, sometimes there are valid reasons to output full HD while you shoot (external recording or high-end client come to mind). The 7D and 1D mk4 both maintain an HD output while shooting.
5. DSLR cameras are limited to 29:59 worth of video per clip, because if they could shoot longer they would be classified as video cameras by EU standards and taxed at a higher rate. The 12 or 14 minute limits that you'll find on most DSLR's are due to compression, and the same tax issue.
6. Sometimes cameras overheat. Personally I thought the 7D was most notorious, but it will actually warn you of overheating prior to the image degrading - the 5D will continue shooting while the image degrades (yuck!). Be a boy-scout and put a few cold packs [the ones you break/crack to freeze] in your bag.
7. Sound is more important than video! Learn about the Zoom H4N or Tascam DR100 - these record audio independent of your camera and you can sync using software like PluralEyes. FYI - Philip prefers the Tascam DR100 for the superior pre-amp. If your camera doesn't have XLR inputs or a headphone jack (I'm looking at you Mr. 5D mk2), a workaround hardware solution will eventually burn you. If you can't monitor what your camera is actually recording, and you can't see the levels - it is very possible that no audio is being recorded. It isn't a question of if you will get burned, it is when.
Hopefully some or all of these tips will help you in the field. Remember, http://www.philipbloom.net is also a great place to research any gear that you're looking to purchase - go there now and check out the Pocket Dolly Slider he developed with Kessler Crane. If you already have one, please buy one for me. These are things that Philip has learned, lived and we thank him for sharing them with so many people. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
Find Landon on Twitter: @studionowlandon