7 tips for getting great footage on the Canon EOS Rebel T3i

[Note: a colleague wrote this for my video production class, and I thought that other beginning filmmakers may find it useful.]

1) Frame rate: frame rate refers to number of frames per second. The frame rate remains the same throughout the project, but should be double-checked each day before shooting.

a. press [Q].
b. scroll down to "set recording quality . . . "
c. set to 24 fps for the most "film-like" look.

2) Shutter speed: shutter speed is the speed in which the shutter opens and closes. The shutter speed remains the same throughout the project, but should be double-checked each day of shooting.

a. for video, it should be roughly double the frame rate.
b. on the main screen, use the rotor to change shutter speed to 50.

3) ISO: in general, set the ISO as low as possible to maintain film clarity and reduce graininess. ISO should be reset every time lighting conditions change.

a. point the camera, press the ISO button, set as low as you think you can get away with. OR:
b. press the ISO button, set to auto.
c. point camera.
d. press the shutter button halfway to see the ISO number.
e. press the ISO button again, and set it to the ISO number (this prevents the camera from changing ISO on you.)

4. White Balance: white balance should be reset every time lighting conditions change.

a. for outside shots, use daylight setting (even when shooting in shadows).
b. for Lowes lights, use the tungsten setting.
c. for mixed lighting, use custom setting:

   i. set white balance to auto.
   ii. take a photo of a white piece of paper, which should fill your screen, avoiding any shadows.
   iii. press the menu button, and locate "custom white balance"; select the photo.

5. Audio: recording levels are critical, and need to be adjusted for each new shot.

a. make sure the camera is set to manual recording levels.
b. test audio with actors, and adjust the recording level to approximately -12db or somewhat higher. Test the loudest volume you expect to record, and avoid getting into the red.

6. Aperture: aperture size determines how much light the camera lets in, but also affects the focus. You want the aperture to balance nice exposure with the depth of focus you want. It needs to be set for every shot.

a. press the [AV +/-] and use the rotor to adjust.
b. check settings for exposure: look at the histogram, and check the exposure meter along the bottom of the display.
c. depth of field: lower f-stop gives you a shallower depth of field, and vice versa. If you'd like to adjust depth of field and run into exposure problems, you can try adjusting lighting or adding an ND filter.

7. Focus: focus needs to be set for every shot.

a. focus manually to where it looks crisp.
b. use the digital zoom button to get up close, and get the image super sharp.
c. hit the digital zoom button again to get back.

For nice demos, take a look at these:

a. ISO, frame rate, shutter speed, and aperture.
b. focus
c. white balance


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