Beginner Video Rig Help

Discussion in 'Filmmaking' started by Repp, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    So, a friend asked me to do some video work for him, and so I started researching what kind of equipment I'd need in addition to my normal setup for still photography... And it's a rather deep rabbit hole.

    So, I feel that my camera and lens selection will do for the most part. But I was thinking that I'll need some form of a hand-held or shoulder rig to help for stabilization when moving around. I have no idea what I'm looking for but most of the shoulder rigs look like over kill for a M43 gear setup.

    For continuous lighting I was thinking about going with a F&V R-300 LED, as it's gotten a lot of good reviews from various hybrid photographers. Is is something that would also work for normal video? Or on a Rig? Is one enough? I do know that for this project a lot of the shooting will be done at night or dimly lit places.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
  2. RuffDraft

    RuffDraft Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 13, 2013
    I shoot using an X800 video camcorder, and the IS is truly impressive. I see no need for a video rig when shooting with that camera and the IQ is unbelievably good, however, it doesn't have MF, which makes it suck but the new X920 or the old X900 might be a good investment if you don't mind shooting with two different cameras if you like... But that's just because I never shot hybrid, even with the OMD, I still prefer my camcorder.

    That said, what's your setup for editing? When I got into video, I never realised how expensive it would be to garner a professional setup. I use a MB Pro with a G Raid to store my footage and my HDD to store my video editing software - Final Cut Pro X. Shooting HD and running it on an internal hard drive whilst editing becomes ridiculously slow. These might be noob prompts, but just a heads up. I am subscribing to learn more myself.
  3. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    At the moment I've no real desire/urge to switch to another format or pick up a video heavy device... that being said, if I start getting into video and/or hybrid, I may look at a GH3 or the new Black Magic pocket camera.

    For video editing, honestly I have no idea what I'm doing. I've thought about Final Cut Pro X, but I'm also fairly committed to the adobe side for stills. I currently feel that if I get more into video for my own projects, it will probably fall more on the hybrid side... but I have no idea what software would be best for that.
  4. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    So, keeping with the feel that M3/4 should be small and compact, I just ordered a FTV-50 DSLR Rig and a Z96 LED by F&V. Should that suffice for basic beginner video needs (first project will be for a music video, so sound isn't really important) or should I also invest in a steadycam style hand rig? Also, I plan to use a ptool hack for my gx1 if needed for improved formats/codes, but my friend wants it to be in "gritty black and white look" so I also plan to test the native video modes to see how they feel for that style of look.
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Video indeed can be a very deep rabbit hole, both in terms of equipment and perhaps more importantly the skills needed and the time involved.

    The term 'video' covers a whole range of expectations, from capturing your sleeping cat falling off a sofa to post on YouTube, through to a full blown movie to be shown at a film festival, with everything else in-between, and where you are aiming to be in that wide gamut will help define the equipment, skills and resources you will actually need.

    I am no professional expert on all of this, though I have dabbled over the years, and do have shelves of equipment and some basic skills that I have acquired over the years and use with varying degrees of frequency.

    You can see some of my experiments here

    What follows is just a brain dump of my thoughts/ideas/opinions on the various areas you may have to be concerned about if you are 'making a video'.

    They are by no means complete, or possibly well thought out or totally correct - but I think all the major points that need to be considered to a greater or lesser degree if you ask me a question about making a video.

    If you wan't it to be good it is not a simple or quick process, and requires new skills and mindset. On the other hand it is incredibly satisfying when it all comes together

    Good news is that the camera you have should be good enough for most things up to broadcast TV/Cinema level, and the lenses you have , providing you are not going for an arty shallow DOF look are more than fine.
    You will be working your camera on manual so you and not the camera are controlling exposure - the rule of thumb is that you shoot at a shutter speed that is the equivalent of 2 times your frame rate… so if you are shooting 30fps you want to be shooting at 1/60. Shooting at higher shutter speeds makes any motion look jerky.. Given that shutter speed is fixed you only have Aperture and ISO to offer control over the exposure. This can cause problems if you are shooting in daylight and want narrow DOF, and you may need to use ND filters to hit your target shutter speed. You say you will be shooting in dimly lit places, so this may not be an issue for you.

    You have correctly identified that stabilisation is one of the major things that elevates the audiences perception of quality in a video… Even the hand held look beloved of much TV and movies these days is careful controlled and even enhanced in PP. In camera stabilisation, while much improved, is no substitute for a more mechanical form of stabilisation such as a tripod with a good fluid head. Even a monopod with a ball head can make a difference and is more portable/discrete than the full blown tripod. Rigs and steady cams tend to be tricky to set up and use, requiring all sorts of adjustments to get right.

    CheesyCam » DIY Video and Photography Projects

    is a good place to check out various commercial and DIY stabilisation solutions along with many other aspects of video

    As in photography, if you don't have light in the right places you don't have an image. Unless you are in a proper studio, you are going to have to balance existing light with supplemental light. The LED you mentioned would be fine for a flat full on lighting for a face or head and shoulders type interview, but I doubt it would light up a room in a way that wouldn't look like a video of a police raid.

    If you are going for more environmental and or cinematic lighting, you are probably going to have to get into the world of lighting stands, reflectors and diffusers.

    LED lamps are getting better, but they like other lighting require management and of course power, whether that be mains or batteries, and as soon as you talk about batteries you are talking about the whole issue of how many batteries you will need and how you will manage the charging of them.

    Cheap halogen work lamps from your local DIY store are an old standby for video shooting on a budget, but they have their issues with WB , not to mention cables and other safety issues

    Another whole new field that you have to address if you wish your video to stand out. The microphone in your camera will not cut it. It will pick up camera and handling noise and not that of your subject. So even if your camera has a mic in socket (and many don't), you should look at some sort of recording device, and possibly a selection of microphones. You should probably record the sound in the camera as well, as you can use that later to help syncing the better sound from the recorder.

    A poster here has done a couple of good videos addressing this whole area

    Another area to be aware of is if you are producing a commercial video in any shape or form, and you decide to use music, that you get the appropriate permissions/rights to use the music. Even something as innocuous as Happy Birthday may cost you

    Sing 'Happy Birthday' and It'll Cost You - ABC News

    Because so many of the elements listed above have to come together all at once, it is generally a good idea before going out to have at least an idea of what you are wanting to achieve. A script or a storyboard, no matter how rough will help a lot on location to make sure you get everything you need. You will probably need some sort of crew - one man video making is tricky, you probably need a couple of helpers, one for sound and one for lighting. There is a reason why the credits at the end of a movie are so long!!!.

    You talked about shooting at night or in dim places, this sounds like you are on a location, and you of course should scout the location, and get any permissions you require. I lived in Paris for many years, and the Police would get twitchy about setting up cameras and tripods in the street without pre approved permission. Depending on the scope of you project or the locale this may not be an issue, but it is worth considering

    When it comes to shooting you are probably want to do manual focussing or at least SAF, fixed shutter/ISO and not auto WB. You want to be controlling as much as you can so the look is consistent across all the shots. Again in the movie world where you see beautiful sweeping moments with smooth focus transitions, these are usually the work of 3 or 4 guys working the camera together

    You may want to shoot a piece of action from a variety of angles to get 'coverage' so you have options in the editing process, and you may want to multiple takes. Don't be afraid of this. Google shooting ratio to see how much the pro's actually shoot.

    Try to start shooting before the action and continue for 5/10 seconds after. If you pan from right to left, also shoot panning from left to right, it maybe useful in the editing process..

    During the shoot make sure you have plenty of batteries, and plenty of cards, and some sort of system to store them or download then to a laptop and a a backup before erasing them

    This is where the real magic happens, turning all your beautifully recorded images and sounds into a coherent story. You will need a modern powerful computer. I have done short edits on a 2011 11inch macbook Air, but I would suggest a bigger screen and more powerful computer, you are going to be crunching big numbers when editing, and the process will be slow and laborious enough without that handicap.

    You are going to need plenty of storage, video from the camera is highly compressed and not easy to edit, so most programs like FCPX will convert on the fly to an uncompressed format during editing. If you think of a single frame of 1080 being about 2 megapixels and start doing the maths of 25/30 or even 60 fps you can see it starts to add up.

    I am a long time mac user and my tool of choice has been Final cut and now Final Cut X, though I believe adobe premiere is also good. iMovie is remarkably powerful too.

    However regardless of the application, you are going to have to learn how to edit, select shots of a suitable length that fit together well and tell your story in a timely manner., then of course you need to get the sound right, perform colour correction, create title etc etc, all the time keeping track that everything is under control. By the time you finish editing you will be sick of seeing the footage!!


    Finally, delivery… something that should be thought of early on in the process. Most likely you will post the video on a website, such as youtube or my personal favourite, Vimeo. Going that route you can just up load the full res file and they will re encode for various sizes. If you are going to a private or corporate website, you may have to involve yourself in the dark world of video compression.

    Similarly if you are outputting to a silver disc such as a DVD or Blu Ray, you are yet another world of complexity. Remember you will not get all you lovely HD onto a DVD… the format only goes up to 720x486 or 576 depending on where you are in the world.

    OK… enough, thanks for making me do something this saturday afternoon

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  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Even before turning on the camera, storyboard the hell out of the music video that you want to shoot. Figure out the different shots that you want, the sequence of those shots, the effect that each shot has on the story, AND THEN figure out the gear that you'll need for those shots, lenses, support, lighting, etc...

    The planning of the video will determine whether or not you need a shoulder rig or a monopod or a steadicam or an interesting POV shot with a GoPro or something.

    In my experience (and admittedly, it's not tons), video takes a lot more planning than photography. That's the main difference.

    But it is really fun. So enjoy!
  7. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    with john 100% on working out what you want to do before hand if you are doing it for a client.. though I will confess I sometimes do it the other way...shoot lots and work out a story later... but thats good for personal gratification and education

    this came out of giving a couple of young relatives a couple of gopros in a swimming pool.. they had no way of knowing of what they shot... but they instinctively got shots,,, my task was to get to the final shot through editing

    In this one I had a little more control...I was conscious of the shots I was taking in a unplanned way but regardless it was shot by myself on a single GoPro while driving for three hours from Gent in Belgium to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport so the control was limited :)

    now I am not claiming either of these are great videos... but they do kindo of show that video is more than just the camera... its the editing, the audio and story they tell thats important

    would be great to have more video threads here... the m/3 platform is great for video. its definitely not like a photo

    but it is fun

  8. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Just chiming in on the F&V R-300's - I have a couple units that I use for both video and photo work. They are rather bulky and would probably make a handheld/shoulder rig a little unwieldy. Not unfeasible, but IMO they're more suited to studio set up on sticks.

    Used as on-axis lighting (ala Far East Movement music videos and the like) is very tough on the talent. Even at lower settings the light is blinding.
  9. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    After doing some research I ended up grabbing FCPX, regrettably it looks as though it doesn't natively support the GX1 :dash2: With it being supported in iMovie I didn't even think to check. Will this be an issue or is there an easy workaround for this type of problem?

    For lights I ended up going with a pair of F&V Z96s instead of a single R-300. I like the size more, and felt that having two lights that I could use separately would be more useful than a single ring light. I also already have a 2x speedlight set up with stands/modifiers, so hopefully that setup will be able to do double duty and I won't need much else than that for the moment.

    The first project I'm going to undertake is going to be a b&w music video, so luckily I won't have to worry about sound at this time, as I'll have a studio quality track, but it is definitely something to think on for the future.
  10. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Shot in MOV instead of AVCHD, and you'll be fine with whatever your choice of NLE.
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    is the GX1 video that much different from the GH2? Because FCPX handles avchd GH2 files fine.

    Importing is a little from the card is no problem, but if you try and be smart and drag the files from the card to the desktop it doesn't want to recognise it. However if you create a folder, and drag all the files and folders on the card FCPX will now allow import.

    Editing AVCHD is hard from a computing aspect. Being a highly compressed format, designed for delivery as opposed to editing, it doesn't store each frame in its entirety, but rather key frames and the difference in frames. So when you are editing and want to go to a particular frame, the computer has to do a lot of calculating in order to what the information for that frame should be.

    FCPX actually rerenders the AVCHD to Prores in the background, and thats what you actually edit. Prores has all the information for each frame, so is less taxing on the computer while editing.

  12. PatrickVA

    PatrickVA Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 31, 2012
    Central Virginia
    For me, investing in equipment is something that is done to meet a technical requirement. This is mostly because I can't afford it, but also because I still haven't maximized what I already have.

    I normally storyboard and plan, but revel in knowing the situation will guide much of what is captured and therefore the final product.

    This is handheld with the OM-D, 20mm and 45mm lenses, no additional light, audio recorded on my phone, edited on consumer Sony Movie Studio 11. Graphics by plain old MS PowerPoint. It's not client-level work, but it was done on a lark in an hour or two with no planning and no budget.

    <iframe src="//" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">The Embalmers</a> from <a href="">Patrick Tremblay</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    Out of curiosity, has anyone tried to mount an Arca Swiss style clamp on a Manfrotto quick release plate? I already use RRS L-plates on my cameras, and I see the perpendicular/long plates for video use as a little overkill for :43: sized cameras.
  14. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Similar, I mount a Manfrotto QR2 clamp on my Weifeng plate which is about 4 inches long.
    • Like Like x 1
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