Shooting Video at Night

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

In working towards giving motion to the flour series of images, I am going to be shooting at night.  This presents some problems.

First, I’m going to be limited to how closed I can shoot.  I want to keep to the 180 degree, but its going to be dark and I’m also overcranking, so I’m going to have to shoot quite wide open.  This presents its own problems, the lenses offered by the ANU are slow (f/4), but there isn’t much I can do about that for now.  The problem I can consider though is in shooting open, focus becomes critical.  I’ve done some research on this and discovered you can zoom in on an area of the frame on the 5D’s to do fine focusing.  This is something I will have to take advantage of during shoots.  Dealing with movement, I will have to pre-focus and mark the focusing points on the lens with a white pencil.

Another issue is contrast. Night scenes are inherently contrasty, usually dominated by blacks.  This in itself is not an issue -its one of the reasons I want to shoot at night- and while crushing the blacks that should be black is fine, I’m assuming there will be issues with getting details in highlights that are artificially lit and backgrounds that are not.  Turning the lights down isn’t really an option because the lenses I’ll be uses won’t  be fast enough, and turning up the ambient light is similarly impossible (except to shoot before the sun completely goes, defeating the point and seriously restricting shooting time). So, other than being careful with exposure on set, I can play with the  settings in-camera to get maximum detail with future grading in mind.  This is something I intend to do all the time, but is especially applicable for a night shoot.

I have found a few websites now that tout settings for the 5D’s video to get the most out of the raw footage.  This website   { }   seems to offer the most comprehensive overview, and I’m most interested in the custom picture control settings.  In reducing the contrast setting, I should get more latitude in my exposure with the option to deepen blacks and increase contrast in post.  I don’t know what shooting with the H.264 codec is like for grading after capture, but I suspect it isn’t great, so I’m going for “get it right in camera” as much as possible.

Another issue will be noise.  I’m usually not a big fan of noise so I do want to keep it to a minimum thus I want to shoot at as low an ISO as I can.  This is easier said than done.  Like I’ve mentioned, the lenses aren’t that fast (and there are other problems with shooting open) so there isn’t that much wriggle movement there.  I would really like to keep to the 180 degree rule, so my shutter will be set to 100th second when overcranking – can’t do anything about that.  So something has to give, and I suspect that’ll be the ISO and with it, noise.  I don’t know how well the 5D’s cope with noise but I’ll hazard a guess that the MKIII’s are better than the MKII’s at Hi-ISO noise.  I will have control of artificial light though, so I’m hoping those lights can be bright enough to keep the ISO down and still balance the exposure with ambient light. This is something I’ll just have to find out when I shoot.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Shooting Video at Night at Luis Power.


%d bloggers like this: