Making the Movie

Filmmaking tips, resources, reviews, news and links.

Know Your DSLR Cinematography

Filmmaker Chris Punsalan ( tipped me off to a great series of tutorials that B&H is making available free on their website. This is crazy smart, of course, because B&H sells the exact equipment they are teaching you how to use. (I provide links to Shane’s kit later in this post if you want to compare prices with Amazon and other places.)

I highly recommend you watch them, because Shane Hurlbut, ASC (Semi-Pro, Terminator Salvation) is actually pretty entertaining for someone who is not a professional host but a working d.p. For my own reference, and for those who don’t have the time or inclination, I thought I’d pull out some of the tips that stood out for me…

Episode 1:

Set camera to M (manual).

Peripheral illumin. correct: Disable.

White balance using Kelvin to eye.

Color space: Adobe RGB gives better skin tones.

Picture style: neutral. Highlight alert: disable.

Image jump: 1 image.

Auto power-off: 8 minutes.

LCD brightness: 4 or 5.

Auto cleaning: Enable.

LV func. setting: Stills + movie.

Movie recording: 1920 x 1080 / 24.

Set exposure level increments to 1/3 stop.

Image Highlight tone priority: disable (better to do this in post).

Image Auto Lighting Optimizer: Disable.

High ISO speed noise reduct’n: Disable (better to do in post).

Optimum shutter 1/50 (200 degrees).

Best ISO: 160, 320, 640, 1250, 1600 (don’t go above 1600).

Episode 2:

Don’t worry about rolling shutter. (This is my opinion too.) Moiré – use depth of field to defocus problem areas or have a graphics artist do it in After Effects.

Watch buttons getting hit, especially the click-wheel. Dummy-check with on-screen displays.

Overheating – use multiple cameras, CF cards no larger than 8GB. (Easy for him to say use multiple cameras. I have to leave my T2i on for a long time to see the overheating warning. May I suggest just flagging the camera to keep it out of direct sunlight.)

Episode 3:

Differences between photo lenses and cinema lenses. Have to add markings, gears to Canon glass (Amazon link, B&H link), Zeiss ZE lenses (Amazon Link, B&H Link). The new Zeiss CP.two lenses are cinema ready (Amazon Link, B&H link). Likes Cooke S4 primes with PL mount (No Amazon link, Cooke link, B&H link).

Differences between sensor sizes on 7D and the 5dmkII. Comparisons of bokeh at difference apertures.

Episode 4:

The “man cam” grip configuration. He doesn’t say what this is, but looks like a sled with grips similar to Redrock’s “Captain Stubling” Bundle. Amazon link. B&H link.

Zacuto Z-finder. Amazon link. B&H link.

Handheld “stripper mode” shooting is not steady. Uses RedRock Shoulder rig. Amazon link. B&H link.

Marshall 6.5″ Monitor. Amazon link. B&H link.

Arri Mini follow focus MFF-1. Doesn’t appear to be sold at B&H or Amazon. FilmTools link.

Sandisk Extreme Memory Cards. Amazon link. B&H link.

LP-E6 Backup batteries. Amazon link. B&H link.

BarTech Remote Follow Focus. Doesn’t appear to be sold at B&H or Amazon. In fact, I haven’t been able to find any commercial listings for sales, just one person selling used. AbelCine rents it for $125/day.

ND Filter Kit – Tiffen Water White 4 x 5 or 77mm. Amazon link to just .9 Filter. B&H link to whole kit – don’t seem to sell filters individually.

Anton Bauer Dionic90 Battery and Charger. Amazon link. B&H link.

HP DreamColor LP2480zx Monitor. Amazon link. B&H link.

Episode 5:

Labeling – cameras A, B, C. Use tape outside of camera. On CF Card, shoot a still, label the still in computer 0999 for 1000 series = A camera. 2000 series B camera, etc. When card is ready for download, label it A1.

Pelican case for CF cards. Upside-down = exposed film.

When downloading in computer, label the folder DONE when done.

Format when card gets back in camera – you can hit play to verify that card has been downloaded – will say “No image” if folder name has been changed.

4 hard drives for each day’s footage – director, editorial, backup editorial, vault backup.

Episode 6:

Lighter weight of camera can be freeing. Sensor is made to react like film. AquaTech DV-3 underwater housing. Helmet cams. Stake-cam instead of high-hat for low angle shots. Can mount in cars more easily.

Low-light capture abilities. Can shoot without lights in tricky situations at 1600 ISO. Inspiring words: “HDSLR cameras are an incredibly powerful brush. I cannot wait to see your canvas.”

HD Cameras Comparison


  1. this is really cool. I will check it out, thanks.

  2. very easy for you to say use multiple cameras…. i have starved 4 months to buy a t2i, anyway nice post…..

Comments are closed.

© 2019 Making the Movie

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑