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Exposure for Video

Lesson 9 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

9. Exposure for Video


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Exposure for Video

Exposure for video and how this differs from photography. Shutter speed and aperture and ISO, are obviously it's the exposure triangle. You're a photographers so you already know this. I don't need to go into how to expose correctly, you should already have a good handle on that. Where this is different is that shutter speed affects the way that your footage looks. That's the most important thing to know about shutter speed is it affects the way that your footage look. Someone tell me what happens when you shoot a photograph at a low shutter speed? Blurry, right? You get motion blur. And what happens if you shoot a photograph at a high shutter speed? (soft indistinct audience response) Yes, sharp. Freezes motion, it's very sharp. If you're shooting video and you want it to look smooth, what should your shutter speed be? (soft indistinct audience response) Low. Blur. If you're shooting video and you want the motion blur, what should your shutter speed be? Low. Okay, low. Now in filmmaki...

ng cinematography the rule is double the frame rate. But I'm gonna say as close as you can get because it is very hard to shoot photos and video at double the frame rate. If you're shooting at 60 frames per second, what's double the frame rate? What would that be for a shutter speed? (soft indistinct audience response) Right. That's okay for photos but what if you're shooting 24? Then what's your shutter speed gonna be? 150. I mean you gotta be really still. (audience laughing) Right, like that's hard. For me, I just really like havin' a higher shutter speed. I would, one over 200, one over 250, is a good place to be. I don't think it really affects the look of the footage that much. But, I think this is one of those things that you need to decide for yourself. It's a really, really good thing for you to experiment with and play around with. Don't rely on anyone else to tell you what you should do or shouldn't do. I think you should do this and understand what the shutter speed does to your footage, by playing around with it and seeing for yourself. Okay. Because the more that you do that yourself, the more you'll be able to pick it out in your footage later. And you'll be like, oh I had a really high shutter speed there (laughs). The thing is, is that it doesn't ruin your footage if you have a really high shutter speed. You can still use it. It is usable. But you're gonna see, and I'm gonna show you some examples, of what it look like when you have a standard frame rate and a high shutter speed. One of the beauties that I think is great about slow motion is that it's less obvious when you have a high shutter speed. That makes it even easier. That's another reason why I have a lot of slow motion. Aside from the emotional aspect, it's just that added bonus that I just don't see a huge difference if I had a high shutter speed, when I'm slowing the footage down. I think people get really hung up on that, on this whole double the frame rate thing. And that's valid. Don't get hung up on it. Just shoot it at a shutter speed that's comfortable for you, and as you're gaining experience start noticing, when you find yourself at a really high shutter speed, start noticing that, okay. If you're outdoors and you're shooting a high, because you would naturally have a high shutter speed if you're outdoors. There's a lot of light, so you need to bring your shutter speed up to reduce the amount of light that's coming in. That's where the variable ND filter comes in handy. Right, because if you want to shoot at a standard frame rate, and have the footage, have that motion blur to it, and have it look smooth and more like what our eye sees normally, then you wanna have a lower shutter speed, and if you're shooting standard frame rate, you're gonna really need variable ND filter to help you with that. Aperture, I would say very similar to however you normally shoot. You can increase your aperture to compensate for the shutter speed, if you want, that's fine. You can adjust your ISO to compensate if you really want to keep you shutter speed low. You can use that too. It's not gonna help you outdoors, but help you indoors. Aperture for me, I tend to shoot between (inhales and exhales deeply) 1.4 and 2.2. So it's a really big range for me. I can't tell you wait I always shoot. But it really, really depends. I really like a shallow look. I love to be able to, it's called a rack focus, but I'll get into this in a little bit, but move focus from the foreground to the background, and so, having a lower aperture really helps with that shift. It makes that more obvious. I like it as a storytelling tool. It brings focus exactly to where I want my viewer to be focused. You know, it does blur out a lot of stuff, and so that's kind of the trade-off, when I'm then switching to photos that I don't often shoot at a higher aperture when I'm doing photos. But I just love the look at a lower aperture. I also think that it's easier for me to see when they're in focus at a lower aperture. I find that. But it's also a lot easier to mess up if you're moving a lot, because it's so shallow. So you have these planes and if you're 1.4, you can screw that up real quick. Right, so you are moving in and out of that focus. I think finding the sweet spot for you is the key here. And there is, again, no right or wrong. Play around with it. Whatever you think is best, that's what you should go with. ISO, there's a list of, ISO is one of those things that is really different from camera to camera. There's a list of native ISOs. It's based on your base ISO for your camera. I would recommend Googling that and figuring that out for yourself. Because there's too many cameras to list what the native ISOs are for them, okay. So look that up for yourself. Again, you can test this out yourself. Put your lens cap on, test the ISOs. The more grain you see, for video, that's not a great ISO to use. There are some ISOs in the mid-range that add more grain than others. 1250 for me is a sweet spot on the Mark IV Canon. So I tend to shoot 1250 indoors a lot. And then I'm usually around 1.8, 2.0, on over 250. That's usually what my settings tend to be. And then I'll increase the shutter speed up or down, to change my exposure as needed. Indoors I don't usually change my ISO, usually changing shutter speed and aperture if I go outdoors. Okay. Yes. Do you have any tips for using the ND filter, when you're outside and you're moving between shade and full sun, and just switching and keeping it consistent? Yeah, it's really tricky. It takes a lot of practice, and I can't say I have a really, a tip (laughs) to give you, apart from that you should just practice doing that, yourself, and when you notice a vignette around the edges, that's the issue with the very variable ND filter. You can quite quickly get a vignette going on. When you notice that, you've gone too far. So, you're looking at your settings and just making sure that everything is where it should be, and that it's all looking good, and then you can adjust how much light is coming in with that. But, yeah, it's a tricky situation. When I'm in situations like that, I'm usually always exposing for highlights, always exposing for highlights. So, you know, being mindful of that, and where that is and anticipating when you're gonna change will help. Any others. Awesome, okay. Here's and example of a shutter speed at one over 4,000. I am indoors. This is a standard frame rate. What I want you to notice is his head. Watch his head. See you don't notice it as much on her, but case he's running, you can see, can you see all the little frames of him? Watch it again. It's like you can see his outline, several times as he's running. That's what a high shutter speed does to your footage, at a standard frame rate. So, it's usable, but, you know, it's gonna look like that. And it's something to just know and be aware of. Just try and keep it lower if you can. Now here's what it looks like, same shutter speed, in slow motion. (soft music) You don't see the frames of her as much. You can see like her hair is moving slowly. There's enough blur still. It's sharper than it would be if the shutter speed was lower, but it's still smooth. I don't think it's that bad. And so, I think here's where things differ. And it's that whole letting go of perfection. You're making these for families. You're on your own. It's just you. You have a lot to think about. Shutter speed doesn't need to be the enemy (faint laughter) to stop you from doing this, right. It's okay. Let it go. Know what the rule is, try to get there. Don't let it stop you. Understand what it actually does, and what it does to your footage. That's what's the most important thing, I think, not what people tell you. (laughter) I'm gonna get crucified for that. (laughter) But that's okay (laughs). Rollin' with it. Okay (clears throat). I touched on this earlier. But the most important thing to understand is that the video files that you're working with give you the editing flexibility of a jpeg. Shooting video will make you a better photographer. Hands down. It makes you so much better. You're photography editing will get so much faster, because you're really nailing it 'cause you have to (laughs). You're nailing exposure because you have to. Because it is not forgiving, when you screw up exposure when you're shooting video. I think that is the most important. You don't have any wiggle room. You need to be consistent. Saying all that, I don't wanna scare you, but it (laughs) you'll learn as you do it, and keep experimenting, and keep pushing through it. And know that the more you do it, don't give up, know that, the more you do it, the better you're gonna get, and you're just gonna keep improving, because it requires you to. You don't have as much room to move.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work