In my quest to relearn video production I have embarked on a series of test shoots to gain practice and to find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to using stills cameras for video production. First of all take a look at this 57 second video and be sure to select 4k to see it as intended. Then I’ll reveal what I’ve learned so far…
That short test was shot on the Fuji X-T2 using an H tone setting of -1 and an S tone setting of -1. I used Acros film simulation and just got on with shooting. The lighting made the images come alive and I used a pair of Lupo fresnel spotlights to do the job. Without lights the shots would look flat. The big advantage with using spotlights is they can be rigged a long way away and spotted in. This means the dancer can move around without changes in the exposure. Even when Rhian walked through the woods towards the light in the opening sequence the exposure on her stayed fairly constant because the Lupo was 40m away. The lights were run from V-mount batteries and ran for several hours without the need for a recharge.
The camera recording was straight to UHS 2 SD card (300 mb/s write time) and it was faultless. The lens quality is sparkling and is what excites me about the prospect of Fuji X video. The manual focus with peaking is fine for initial, pre recording set ups but when recording, a spot zoom in, to track focus detail is needed. I will be getting a SmallHD 501 monitor for just that purpose. It has Zebra, false colour, high quality colour rendition, peaking and waveform options etc. It will be the perfect monitor for the X-T2. I’ll keep the X-T2 screen on full frame for composition and use the SmallHD 501 for focussing and exposure control.
What didn’t work
Me! I was rusty and assumed my new Zhiyun Crane gimbal was going to be a breeze to use as it had a one page user manual. How wrong was I? It will be fine, but I need to work at it. Once I am proficient with it I’ll be using the gimbal all the time. For now though I need to practice hard. I’m generally a slow learner but I never stop learning so I expect it will take dozens of shoots like this to become proficient at decent camera moves. The good news is I know what to do and where to place the camera etc because I learned that in my 14 years at the BBC as a cameraman. I just need to get good at doing it again.
One of my PAs for the past 9 months, while Blaise has been on maternity leave has been Suzi Bird. She has a degree in photography and specialises in photographing dancers. I asked her to set up this shoot and to choreograph about 40 seconds of dance. I chose the music from a collection of pieces that I have bought the usage rights too and we set about making this shot production.
The shooting time was about 1.5 hours and that included a bit of faffing on my part. The music should be longer with less introduction but with more practice we have a showreel product to put out there to professional dancers everywhere.
Would I shoot it in Acros again? No, I’d use Pro Neg S and S tone -1, H tone -1 then if I want monochrome I’d probably tweak the saturation in Final Cut Pro. It’s also possible to do the final monochrome conversion from a colour master file in Photoshop CC using all the advanced tools that it has to offer.
Dancer: Rhian Streeter
Choreographer: Suzi Bird
Production assistant: Mike Bird
Please feel free to ask questions about video production with the Fuji X system below :)