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Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week

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David Speace
Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 20, 2011 at 4:34:25 pm

I wanted to put this in one of the Forums... I posted this in the DSLR form but I think it should go here because maybe Dennis was there when this interview took place and maybe he can shed a little light on what the thinking was! Last week (Thursday night 12/15) I was watching ABC's 20/20 program and I noticed that one of the interviews with Diane Sawyer and the guest was shot either with the Canon 5D or the Sony F3... might have been the F3; anyway, what I noticed was how out of focus the background was... like completely out of focus... huge circles of confusion! So... gee I got my legacy 50mm lens on the camera and I can choose f/1.4 and wallah... the background is totally out of focus... so much so that whatever setting this interview was conducted in was obliterated. I would think that it is important to reveal the setting a little bit... like if the person being interviewed is a doctor, author, or expert then you might see something in the background that shows this...by being only a little out of focus. Diane Sawyer and the guest looked like they were sitting with a foggy cloud in the background with only a hint of little color splotches here and there... it was like an effect going on in the background and to me, detracted from the interview. Choosing the depth of field that you want is important, but it has a definite purpose in the story telling process... this is especially true in film making, but for the television interview we should take care and make sure that how we throw the background out of focus has some meaning for the interview setting and the story being told! Just like there is motivation for good lighting, the same should be true when we begin to decide how out of focus the background is going to be!

Dave Speace
Producer/Director/DP
DZP Video

Windows 7, 64 Bit, i7 8 Core, 16Gb Ram, GeForce 4800


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 20, 2011 at 4:52:14 pm

Hi David,

While I shoot many interviews for ABC including those with Diane, Barbara and the rest of the cast, I did not shoot nor see the one you're referring to.

I do often use my F3's either for all three cameras, or more likely just for the wide shot(s). I do this primarily to fuzz up the background like (although probably not to the extent that) you describe.

We are able to fuzz up the backgrounds plenty in the closeups with 2/3" cameras (PDW700/800's) especially if there is some distance to the background. What I hope to accomplish with my F3's is to fuzz up the bg's in the wider shots to match, and in the process create a better continuity to the look and soften the cuts.

When we do soften the backgrounds in the closeups to the extent that you describe, hopefully the wide shots (and the DV camera b-roll) establishes the location or setting of the interview to the extent necessary to ground the pictures in reality.

Recent examples of my work like this (2/3" on CU's and F3 on wide shots) are the Tim Allen piece on 20/20, The Clint Eastwood/ Leonardo Decaprio, James Cameron, Jane Fonda interviews on Nightline, JD Martinez on the Katie Couric Special and Janet Jackson on GMA and Nightline (just last week). You can see all these pieces on the ABC News website.

JS




JS



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David Speace
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 20, 2011 at 5:21:39 pm

Thanks, John... I will look at some of the shows you have been shooting. I directed the comment at Dennis, knowing that one of you guys lights and shoots for abc. Anyway, the segment was on pregnant Afghan women and the interview was between Diane and Nick Kristof of the NY Times. I shoot for 6abc in Philly and 2-weeks ago I had a first! I shot a segment for FYI Philly and did no lighting at all! 6abc is considering using dslr cameras, too! The world of tv magazine videography is changing!

Dave Speace
Producer/Director/DP
DZP Video

Windows 7, 64 Bit, i7 8 Core, 16Gb Ram, GeForce 4800


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 20, 2011 at 5:33:57 pm

I have to say that the use of DSLR's in the broadcast environment is very limited and I believe the "fad" is almost over, especially because of cameras like the F3 and NEX-FS100 which offer more complete and compatible feature sets to previous broadcast cameras than the DSLR's could ever do.

The F3 in particular is easily matched to ENG cameras like the PDW700/800's, as I often do using RMB750 CCU's and have camera and recorder formats that are in daily use at the networks, including Standard Def DVCAM and 720/30 and 60. It even does 720/24 which the PDW's will not.

I would strongly advise against DSLR's for news and magazine work except of course where their "stealth" factor allows their use in situations where any other video camera would be impossible. Otherwise the implicit limitations in sound recording, focus, monitoring, etc. disqualify them from everyday news and broadcast use.

Finally, the company moving to DSLR's supports the position that anyone can shoot video and further weakens what is left of our contractual job security; this alone is enough to draw the battle lines.

JS



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Bill Davis
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 21, 2011 at 4:26:10 am

I do think the "shallow depth of field" look is still in vogue, and not just in video. It's also following the practices of the "large chip sensor" still shooters who are commonly using long lenses to limit light, open apertures, and compress depth of field even in outdoor daylight shots that would otherwise be tack sharp in a much wider range - and the propagation of this gear being carried more often is now defining what modern "imaging" looks like to the public in BOTH photos and video.

Here's an example from USA today last week.

I don't remember seeing "publicity" still shots like this all that often before.

And I think it's partially just the result of increasing sensor size geometry.

Remember, the 5d deal "as video camera" is just using a small part of the total sensor area. Imagine what will happen if the still cam processors follow Moores Law and they can eventually read the WHOLE sensor array fast enough for "full frame" motion video.

Those new aesthetic "possibilities" are going to change popular camera looks even farther - like it or not.

Shot by Stan Godlewski for USA Today.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/73vtnet

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 21, 2011 at 6:46:46 pm

[john sharaf] "Finally, the company moving to DSLR's supports the position that anyone can shoot video and further weakens what is left of our contractual job security; this alone is enough to draw the battle lines."

I disagree. 99% of the time, I'm hired for the end-result I can produce (and my no-drama attitude), not for the the equipment I have. I shoot with a DSLR (most of the time) because I can get great looking, high resolution video from a camera body I can pay for in one shoot. That's just smart business.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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john sharaf
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 21, 2011 at 7:06:25 pm

Jason,

What you say actually reinforces my statement that experienced and long serving technicians will be displaced by disposable cameras like the DSLR's you mention.

Camera people at TV news operations have spent years honing their skills in photography, sound, editing and storytelling, only to be replaced by newbies with cheap cameras for "smart business" reasons.

This is the same phenomenon that is occurring in many industries, where bean counters and anti-union management seek downsizing and cutbacks that seem like "smart business" but in the long term mostly destroy the business and reform it as something else.

Getting back to the point of this discussion, it's easy to make pictures with fuzzy background with oversized imagers like those found in DSLR's (especially full sized like 5d's) but it takes skill to use them with a purpose in propelling the story telling.

JMHO,

JS



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Jason Jenkins
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 21, 2011 at 7:25:46 pm

[john sharaf] "experienced and long serving technicians will be displaced by disposable cameras like the DSLR's you mention."

I agree.

[john sharaf] "Camera people at TV news operations have spent years honing their skills in photography, sound, editing and storytelling, only to be replaced by newbies with cheap cameras for "smart business" reasons."

I've never worked in news, but I have spent 10+ years trying to get better at what I do.

[john sharaf] "This is the same phenomenon that is occurring in many industries, where bean counters and anti-union management seek downsizing and cutbacks that seem like "smart business" but in the long term mostly destroy the business and reform it as something else."

We can choose to cling to the past and fade away, or embrace the change and adapt to survive. Part of that adaption may be finding new clients who appreciate quality.

[john sharaf] "it's easy to make pictures with fuzzy background with oversized imagers like those found in DSLR's (especially full sized like 5d's) but it takes skill to use them with a purpose in propelling the story telling."

I agree.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 22, 2011 at 5:47:54 am

[john sharaf] "Finally, the company moving to DSLR's supports the position that anyone can shoot video and further weakens what is left of our contractual job security; this alone is enough to draw the battle lines."

+1 for that!

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Mark DAg
Re: Lighting for the DSLR camera and the out of focus background on 20/20 last week
on Dec 26, 2011 at 5:02:54 pm

I use a DSLR - When appropriate - and more recently the F3 - when appropriate, (it's a more grown up version of the DSLR:) ). However our workhorse is still the HDX900. When I truly feel shallow depth of field actually advances the marketing strength of the video I'm producing then the DSLR is the choice. All of these are just tools and each has it's advantages and disadvantages. Recently the F3 died on a shoot. I fortunately packed our 900 and was able to replicate the look of the F3 and complete the shoot. Again, knowledge of how and when to use the tools, but more importantly an understanding of composition and lighting and how they affect a story will always trump the cool technology of the moment. Anyone can "use" a DSLR but a true professional knows when, why and how to make a DSLR work for the client.



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