On Saturday night I attended the Glazers Camera’s PhotoFest event “An Evening with Alex Buono“. Alex is a veteran SNL shooter from their film unit, and produces their digital shorts and mock-commercials. Remember how “Lazy Sunday” was yanked off YouTube until the bigwigs at SNL discovered that it boosted their ratings by like, a million-fold, then it was put back on and it consequently launched the digital short revolution? yeah, Alex is mostly responsible for that.(you can watch Lazy Sunday here if you haven’t seen it a bakers’ dozen times).
I got the opportunity to chat with Alex before his talk and learned that he grew up in Portland, moved to LA to go to USC film school, and would like to put a cleaver in Fred Armisen’s head (OK, that last one’s not true). Alex was super down-to-earth, funny, and full of practical advice and information for shooting with Canon DSLRs. He shot the opening SNL sequence entirely with 5D’s, in multiple NYC locations, and no lights (at night people). One particular amazing shot of the top of a cab zipping through the streets was simply a 5D suction-cupped to the roof, nothing more. He shoots the digital shorts and commercials with 7D’s instead of 5D’s simply due to the HD monitor output that the 5D sorely lacks. He gave some great tips for cinematic style shooting with the 7D that I thought I’d pass along.
- Shoot in 24 FPS – obviously, that’s the film standard and even though you might think “why bother? it’s all spit back out in 30 Fps anyway”, it does give a more cinematic look to the video.
- Double your shutter speed to match your frame rate. So, for 24 fps, shoot at 1/50th shutter speed, and the subject’s movement will be a represent more true action - of course you would adjust this for slow or fast shutter effects.
- You can go into the “User Define” setting in Picture Style to choose Neutral Style, and Sharpness: 1, Contrast:-4, Saturation: -2, Color Tone: 0.
- These settings are to ensure greater control when your color correcting in post- even a little color correcting adds polish and consistency that’s worth the effort. (you can also download the new technicolor cinestyle for greater color correcting flexibility).
- ISO settings: work in multiples of 160 (320, 640, etc). Alex recommended not shooting over 800 ISO, but then proceeded to admit he breaks this rule all the time b/c the camera is so damn forgiving in low light.
- Use a video splitter like the Black Magic HDMI-SDI to hook up a monitor (an HDMI splitter will totally work too but Alex likes SDI better).
There’s other stuff I learned about making amazing timelapse videos with everyday equipment and scouting locations using cheap apps, but I’m not giving away the farm here people! I can’t wait to run outside tomorrow and play with these new settings and compare before/after new settings videos!