DSLR Workflow Overview

Hope that you are having a great New Year...Just in case you or a friend are shooting DSLR Video, I want to share some tips and settings to help make your DSLR shooting easier.
Just a heads-up that all our workshops now feature a new Hands-on Color Grading 
Overview and DSLR Settings Lecture. 

Our next 4-Day Video Crash Course is January 26-29 in Los Angeles..10am-7pm. Space is limited
Give a call if you need more info.

Aron Ranen Lead Instructor DVworkshops.com (415) 810-5934

Upcoming Hands-on Video Workshops

Los Angeles Workshops 
Camera and Computer provided during workshop at no extra cost

4-Day Video Crash Course
January 26-29      

2-Day Video Camera Bootcamp

January 26-27  10am-7pm

2-Day Final Cut Pro X Course
January 28-29   10am-7pm

4-Day Video Crash Course
March 2-510am-7pm

6-day Documentary / DV Journalist Workshop $1,200
June 17-22 2003 link to more info

Please visit our Facebook page for Student Testimonials posted directly from their pages.

Step One:  Use Older or very High End Lenes
This is the Secret that most Cinematographers would rather I do not share with you.
Find older Pentax 35mm camera lenses..and use this adapter to make them fit your DSLR.  By shooting with these older lenses...your footage will have a film look that is difficult to achieve with the "Kit" lens that comes with most new cameras.
These Lenses help to create an emotional and atmospheric look that resembles high end Commercial Productions
Another option is to rent very high end lenses from photo rental houses. or companies that will FED EX the lens to you. 
It's about the Glass....that's why you are using a DSLR in the First Place!

Former DVworkshops.com student Josh Soskin has been shooting with these old lenses to create his Award Winning Commercials...

Material was "Color Graded" in Editing with Magic Bullet Looks and Final Cut Pro Color Corrector.

Step Two: Get a good stabilizing
 set up

If you are going to shoot with a DSLR...common wisdom is that the 

Not cheap....but unlike others..this also includes 
a Focus Ring Adapter.
This allows you to control your focus with out hitting the camera every time.   Spend the extra $200 for this rig.
also makes some nice Shoulder mounted rigs. 
Many of these have space on the back for a secondary recorder to store uncompressed video from the Canon 5d III HDMI Slot.

I also suggest a Monopod.  

Great for quick Interviews that can challenge your hands & wrist after 
4 minutes in the same position.  
A nice trick is to extend it all the way...then raise it in the air as if it was a "Jib Arm". Allows you to get an angle from above the action. These run from $100-$150 for a decent one.

Step Three: Purchase Magic Lantern Software for your Canon Camera.

This is Firmware that you download to the camera itself.  When you enable the Magic of the Lantern you will have Zebras to help control your exposure, Manual Audio control and more.  
Zebras are like a Light Meter.  In your Viewfinder, Striped Black Lines will appear on any part of the frame that is over-exposed.  
You can also use Zebras for exact exposure calibration for the skin 
of Caucasian people. They are awesome in helping you control the overall image that you are creating.
In our Video Camera Essential DVD you can learn more about Zebras...and how to set them to the correct level.
Click below for exact details on the Magic Lantern & directions on installing it.


Step Four: Audio for DSLR Video
You have three basic choices for recording audio 
1- Record directly into the 
camera using a lavalier or 
shotgun microphone.  You will need the adapter pictured below in order to use
professional mics with a DSLR.
Audio Adapter to plug Professional Microphones directly into a DSLR -click for more info

2- Use a Mixer attached to 
the bottom of the camera.  This is a great solution because it enables you to record at least two Audio Sources/Microphones at the same time.  It can also record each Audio Source on it's on Track/Channel.  

3 - Use a Secondary Audio Recording device and Sync these Audio Files with the Video files when editing.  If you are using Final Cut Pro X ..this is simple to do...there is a new Synchronize Function Built in.
The most important thing to remember when using these recorders is to RECORD AUDIO on your DSLR at the same time.  This does not have to be high quality....this is perfect for those cheap "Zoom" microphones that attached to the DSLR Hot shoe and plug into the mic input. Final Cut Pro X will use this "Scratch" Audio to Sync up the Video to Audio Files.

Please click here to read more about Best Microphones and other Audio Essentials.  We cover Audio in-depth and Hands-on in all our Video Workshops. Learn More 

Step Five: Choosing a Recording Format and Shutter Speed.
It's inside this menu that you can select 24p which will give your Video a "Film Look".  
1920 30p ALL-I  means full HD = Very Big Files..TV/Video Look
 4-5 minutes recording time on a 4gig SD Card
1920 30p IFB Full HD..TV/Video Look..compressed image...
15 minutes recording time on a 4gig SD Card 
1920 24p ALL-1 means full HD = Very Big Files..Film Look
 4-6 minutes recording time on a 4gig SD Card
1920 24p IFB Full HD..Film Look..compressed image...
15 minutes recording time on a 4gig SD Card 
Stay away from all the other choices unless you are doing
slow motion, then the 60fps can produce better results.
To record in uncompressed 4:2:2 the new Canon 5d Mark III can output this format via the HDMI cable.  You will need to attach it to a secondary recorder.


Shutter Speeds will effect your Image.  Set them to Match your choice of 24p or 30p.

If you selected a 30p Recording Format. Set your Shutter Speed to 1/60


If you selected a 24p Recording Format. Set your Shutter Speed to 1/50


Step Six: Select the ISO with the least Noise  

ISO makes your shot brighter or darker..similar to opening or closing the aperture of your lens.  

In the case of ISO..it does it electronically inside the brains of the camera.  The newer DSLRs have the ability to use very high (5,000) ISO with little noise or degradation to the picture.  
If you are changing environments a lot...dark to light..you will constantly be playing with the ISO wheel as you move around.   
The ISO settings that have the least picture degradation are ones that are in multiples of 160. 
160, 320, 480, 640..etc.   These settings have the least "Noise" when shooting video with a DSLR. 
This is important ..but don't freak out if you mix these up while shooting...they will not look vastly different, and can be cut together.  
If you are shooting commercials..motion pictures...and have time to monitor ISO...thats when it would be best to use the 160 ISO settings

Step Seven: Control Color with White Balance
If your picture is looking too RED or too BLUE...then it is a White Balance Problem.

White Balance Menu Basics
Number 1 is AWB.  This means the camera will run this function for you, and can do a good job.
Number Two is the OUTDOOR preset Button.  Use this to maintain the Warmth of Sunrise or Sunset. 
Number 8 is the Manual White Balance Button.  
This is a Manual adjustment that does the same thing as Automatic, except with Manual you get to decide the exact source to take your Color Temperature Reading from.
Number 9 allows you to "Scroll" through all the Color Temperatures. It can also be used to match the exact color temp of lights in the scene. These Temperatures are measured in Kelvin..that is what the "K" is for.
2000K-3200K are standard Indoor
Kelvin Temperatures
4500K-6000K are standard Outdoor
Kelvin Temperatures

Step 8: Choose your Picture Profile

If you are not going to "Color Grade" or  "Color Correct" your material during Editing use the Normal  "Standard Pre-set Picture Profile"
If you plan on adding a film look using Magic Bullet or other Color Grading Software.  Experts suggest creating a new CUSTOM PROFILE WITH THE SAME SETTINGS IN BELOW IMAGE.

By reducing the Sharpness..Contrast and Saturation...your image will look less sharp when shooting....you will  bring back this detail and color using Magic Bullet Looks and a Color Corrector...which is explained in Step Nine below.


Step Nine: Get a copy of a "Color Grading Software" to treat clips in editing.

Most Commercials, Motion pictures, music video and even infomercials are color graded to give them a "Look".

If you shoot in the Picture profile suggested in Step Eight, it's here you will vignette and add warmth to the shot creating a high end look.  

A popular color grading software is Magic Bullet looks...and one of the great things about it's interface are the pre-set looks that can give you a good starting off point.

In our workshops we cover DSLR Work Flow which includes  an overview of using the Color corrector inside final Cut Pro and using Magic Bullet Looks..which opens up right inside FCPX once you install this software.

Most TV Shows, Commercials and films that are shot using a DSLR are color corrected using these types of Software.  Another  popular Color Grading system is DaVinci. 

Step Ten: Watch other DSLR Cinematography to find looks you like ...and perhaps make money or get gigs.

Check out this website...watch the winning videos..most shot on DSLR Cameras and Color Graded with Magic Bullet looks or similar programs.

Video Camera & Audio Essentials DVD $49.95
with Aron Ranen
  • Basic Video Camera Operation
  • Audio for Video
  • White Balance & Exposure
  • Shooting as a Storyteller

Features many of 
Aron Ranen's lectures from the DVworkshops Camera Bootcamp.
Designed for Video Camera users, but can also be helpful to DSLR Shooters.  
Video Camera Essentials DVD
Click above image to view free video sample of DVD


Sample Includes 
  • How to Film an Interview
  • Understanding Negative Space
  • Best Microphones-Shotgun & Lavaliers
  • How to Hide Microphones
  • Correct use of Lapel Microphones
  • Intro to Zebras 

Many of the Lectures from our Video Camera Bootcamp
are included on this 75-minute DVD   $49.95
  Buy Now

Camera and Audio Essentials DVD

Chapter One

Understanding the Buttons and Controls on most Video Cameras.

  • Exposure Controls
  • Zebras as a Light Meter
  • Understanding Zebra Level 70% and 100%
  • ND Filters
  • Tips on getting best Exposure
  • Understanding Gain
  • Recording Formats Overview


Chapter Two

Audio for Video

  • Using XLR Audio Cables
  • How to plug mics into your camera  ccc
  • Understanding Multiple Audio Channel recording
  • Mic and Line Explained
  • Plugging into PA Systems & Sound Boards
  • Mic ATT
  • 48V Phantom Power
  • Best Microphones  Lavalier and Shotgun Mics
  • Using Wireless Systems
  • Audio Trouble Shooting
  • How to monitor and adjust audio levels
  • Adapters which allow professional mics to be used on smaller video cameras and DSLRs

Chapter Three

Understanding White Balance

  • Using the Manual White Balance controls on your camera
  • Understanding "White Balance"
  • Using White Balance Pre sets
  • Automatic White balance
  • How to White Balance in "Mixed Lighting" d
  • How to adjust White Balance using white cards

Chapter Four

Cameraperson as Story teller

  • Storytelling with Shots
  • Understanding Negative Space
  • How to frame Interview Shots
  • Getting Effective coverage
  • Importance of Close-ups
  • Basic Framing
  • Creating depth in your shots

Over 75 minutes of training with real life examples shot on location

Cost $49.95    Buy Now


DVworkshops is located in Los Angeles and New York City.

Give us a call today!
(415) 810-5934

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