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Chapter 6. Shooting Movies > Steps During Movie Making

Steps During Movie Making

Once you have set up the camera for your video session and pressed the red button, you have done most of the technical work that’s required of you. Now your task is to use your skills at composition, lighting, scene selection, and, perhaps, directing actors, to make a compelling video production. Later in this chapter I will have some advice to give you in those areas, but first there are a few technical points you should bear in mind as the camera is (figuratively) whirring away.

  • Zoom, autofocus, and autoexposure all work. If you’re new to the world of high-quality still cameras that also take video, you may just take it for granted that functions such as autofocus continue to work normally when you switch from stills to video. But until recently, most such cameras performed weakly in their video modes; they would lock their exposure and focus at the beginning of the scene, and you could not zoom while shooting the video. The Alpha SLT-A55/A33 has no such handicaps, and, in fact, it is especially capable in these areas. Autoexposure works very well, and you can zoom to your heart’s content (though, as I’ll discuss later, I recommend that you zoom sparingly). Best of all, autofocus works like a charm; the camera can track moving subjects and quickly snap them back into sharp focus with the speedy phase detection focusing mechanism made possible by the fixed translucent mirror. So don’t limit yourself based on the weaknesses of past cameras; these SLT models open up new horizons of video freedom. Also, as I mentioned above, if the AF Area is set to Local, you have the ability to change to a different focus sensor while recording the movie.

  • Exposure compensation works while filming. I found this feature to be quite remarkable. Although the autoexposure system works very well to vary the aperture when the ambient lighting changes, you also have the option of dialing in exposure compensation if you see a need for more or less brightness in a particular context. You could even use this function as a limited kind of “fade to black” in the camera, though you probably won’t be able to fade quite all the way to black. Again, you may never need to adjust your EV manually while shooting video, but it’s great to know that you have the option available.

  • Don’t be a Flash in the pan. With HD video, there is a possibility of introducing artifacts or distortion if you pan too quickly. That is, because of the way the lines of video are displayed in sequence, if the camera moves too quickly in a sideways motion, some of the lines may not show up on the screen quickly enough to catch up to the rest of the picture, resulting in a somewhat distorted effect and/or loss of detail. So, if at all possible, make your pans smooth and steady, and slow them down to a comfortable pace.


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