Review: Get in Motion Tour

The Get in Motion Tour is coming to a city near you. It’s for anyone interested in making films with your DSLR. I shouldn’t say “making films” because you can also include wedding and event videos. I’m going to get ahead of myself here and say one of the things the presenters talked about was the fact that photographers already have existing relationships with clients. You might be a senior photographer, or a portrait photographer, or a baby photographer; you get the idea. Well, video is just one more service you can offer.

Okay, on to the review. I attended the workshop last night in Orlando. A bit late on a school night, but overall I thought it was worth it and for 49-bucks a great value. I have to say that I didn’t learn a lot of new things, but that has more to do with my experience and is no reflection on the instructors. My first job out of college was as a news videographer; that’s where I learned the principles of photography (lighting, composition, white balance, etc.). I also know about the 180-rule and not “breaking the plane”.

The first part of the workshops is spent talking about “storytelling”; why it’s so important to draw a viewer in and how to do it by shooting sequences. How those sequences are edited together is part of the story telling process.  Even though I already knew this, it was a good reminder. When I worked in TV news, I knew the best way to tell a story was to personalize it. If I told you about a guy who was murdered or that the housing market was bad, you might not care. But if you heard from the dead guy’s pregnant wife or the mother of three who is about to become homeless, you might care a little more. In other words, I want to tell you their story. It’s not enough to just string together some beautiful clips.

The site claims you will learn how to make videos for events, birth announcements and weddings. You don’t, per se, learn the nuts and bolts of how to do it, but they do show examples which can give you inspiration. In fact, most of the course consisted of showing examples. In a couple of cases, you see the same video clip shot or edited differently to contrast technique.

Then the course goes into gear, specifically lens selection and what kind of look and feel it gives. They also talked about monopods, microphones and recorders. The course wrapped up with some editing techniques in Adobe Premiere.

I wish they had talked about a few things that some beginners may not know. Someone in the audience asked about frame rate; and while the instructor answered the question, he didn’t address how this affects your shutter speed. As a general rule, your shutter should be at twice your frame rate. So at 24fps, you should be at 1/50th of a second. There was also only a passing mention of focusing at narrow apertures. It might be helpful to know that following focus is very difficult (if not impossible) when shooting at f/1.2 or 1.8. There was also no mention on lighting or lighting gear (they did have a couple of hot lights with reflective umbrellas for a live shoot but there was no mention of them). I think it’s assumed that photographers have this knowledge but most of us use flash and not continuous lighting.

Again, I can’t say I learned a whole lot, but it was good refresher. It was also inspirational and I did pick up some tips on syncing audio and doing some post processing on video clips. If you’re just getting your feet wet or haven’t even dipped your toes into  DSLR video, then I would definitely recommend going. If you’re an intermediate, then it’s 50/50. I would say if you have the time, $50 is not much for a 4 1/2 hour workshop. You at least get some food for thought.

Note: If you want to go and need the discount code, David Ziser sent one out. It’s: DPTBLG.


Canon DSLR Used to Shoot NBC Stop-Motion Episode of “Community”

You may have heard that FOX used the Canon 5D MKII to film an episode of “House”. Now NBC is using a 7D for an upcoming Christmas episode of “Community”.

If you’ve never seen Community, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s got great writing and an excellent ensemble of stars including Chevy Chase, Alison Brie (from Mad Men), comedian Donald Glover and Joe McHale (from The Soup on E!).

On Thursday, Dec. 9th, they’re going old school and doing a Rudolph-esq claymation episode. I don’t know why it never occured to me, but that kind of stop motion animation must use still cameras. Well, check out these two behind-the-scenes videos and you’ll see a Canon DSLR and lens being used.

They’re using a Canon 7D with an EF-S lens that kind of looks like my 17-55mm. My first clue was at the :46 mark where you can clearly see it’s a Canon lens. At 2:35 you can clearly see the 7D emblem. I thought it was interesting at 2:08 that the viewfinder is taped off; probably to block extraneous light from hitting the sensor.

Here’s another video shot by a couple of the cast members where you can get a better look at the camera and lens.

I think it’s interesting that HD video capabilities are making DSLRs more common place in Hollywood; but here it’s being used for still photography.

UPDATE: The YouTube videos are no longer available. But I did find this video on the NBC Community site.

Time Lapse Photography

In my last post, I mentioned a relatively inexpensive program to produce slow motion DSLR videos.

Well, let’s speed things up a bit.

Andrew Reese took 1400 shots in 2.5 second intervals then converted each pair into black and white HDR shots for a total of about 700 images. Then he made this video at 12 frames per second:

Over at, I discovered more time-lapse videos taken with Canon DSLRs. The first is of San Francisco taken with a Canon 40D. Here’s the description from the PetaPixel site:

Photographer Simon Christen shot the various clips using a Canon 40D (10-22mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm) around the San Francisco Bay Area over the course of a year. His camera was always in manual mode, and he adjusted the settings as the light changed due to things like fog and clouds.”

I’ll share one more from Tokyo shot with a Canon 7D by Stefan Werc. I love the shots from the moving train!

On the PetaPixel site, under related posts, you can find many more time-lapse videos. If you’re really into it, then you’ll also love these over at

Personally, I think these time-lapse videos are works of art. Interestingly, though, some people who commented on the PetaPixel site, feel that they lack originality; that they’re just pretty pictures with no story. What do you think?

Slow Motion DSLR Video

So you might remember from a past blog post this cool video showing a flame thrower versus a fire extinguisher:

Well, if you can’t afford the expensive Phantom camera ($2,500 a day to rent) used to shoot that, why not use a Canon Rebel with a kit lens and a $300 program?

The program is called Twixtor and it was also used to shoot this video with a Canon 7D: