gray shim

P351 Summer 2015 Lab #2


  • Camera followup / advanced tips
  • Continuity
  • Storyboard & Continuity sequence exercise


Misc. Announcements

  • Don't forget to stay on top of the readings. If you need to find out anything about class, labs or assignments, please check the web site first. I'm happy to answer your questions and emails, but please make sure the information isn't already posted on-line.
  • Start thinking and planning your various projects. Planning and scripting these ahead of time is critical to success. Your proposals for all of your summer projects are going to be due next Tuesday.

Camera 202

Exposure - It would be nice if you could use a light meter to measure every scene or have a waveform monitor to check for proper video levels. The reality is that videographers rarely carry these tools (and many don't know how to use them). Still you must strive to shoot video that's properly exposed.

Waveform monitor and IRE units - A standard waveform monitor shows brightness (or luminance) levels in IRE units. Within the "legal" range, you have up to 100 IRE units. 0 IRE is digital black and 100 IRE is the brightest white.

Using the camera's built-in auto iris can be useful at times, but not always. It assumes it's looking at an 18% grey card. If you are going to rely on auto-exposure, you must understand what the camera thinks it's looking at and be aware of its limitations. For example if you were shooting a person against a light background (the sky for instance) it would close the iris down too far. If you were shooting someone against a black backdrop, the camera would overexpose the subject. One way to trick the camera is to zoom in to your subject so that they fill most of the screen, set your iris, and then zoom out. This may cause your background to be overexposed.

Zebra strips are a visual aid that show brightness levels- and they only appear in the viewfinder. Be sure you set them at a specific level (E.g. 95 IRE) and that you know what it is before making any judgments based on them.

Always check your gain (should be 0dB), shutter (should be 60 for 1080i video) & WB before shooting.


CCD and CMOS sensor sizes

Most sensors are made in different sizes such as 1/4", 1/3", 1/2", and 2/3". Some of the new HD video cameras use larger CMOS sensors that more closely match standard film sizes such as 35mm. This allows DPs to use their existing collection of 35mm lenses and attachments.

Consumer cameras usually have only one pickup device or three very small CCDs. (1/4" for example.) As the price and quality goes up, so does the size of the CCD. Professional studio cameras generally have larger CCDs. (The Canon HLX1 and Sony Z1U use 1/3" CCDs while the Grass Valley cameras in Studio 5 use 2/3" CCDs.) Lens mounts are standardized and matched to the corresponding CCD size. (You'd use a 2/3" lens mount with a camera with 2/3" CCDs.) The bigger the lens mount, the bigger the CCD and the more room for more pixels. Generally speaking, bigger is better and the more pixels a CCD or CMOS sensor has on it the higher the resolution or detail that can be delivered by the camera.


Continuity Style Production vs Technical Continuity

Continuity Style Production

Readings from cybercollege.com: 50, 51 & 52 (all about continuity)
#1 rule: Maintain Continuity - Preserve the illusion of space & time. People and objects remain faithful to their positions (this can be tricky over days of shooting)

Edits must be motivated for the best continuity. When shooting think about how you will get from one shot to another. Will action motivate the edit? A sound?

Viewers create mental maps of where things are and expect time to progress forward.

A Master Shot, which is often a wide shot, establishes the initial relationship of people and things within a given scene or location. You can preserve this illusion by using the 180-degree rule when you shoot.

Review the 180-degree rule. (two people sitting at a table)

How to cross the line:

  • Subject changes attention or changes gaze to establish a new vector.
  • Shoot down the line
  • Subject moves
  • Move the camera over line (dolly, crane etc)
  • Use a cutaway, then come back to your scene from a different vantage point

Viewers are used to seeing the rule broken

Insert shots – close up from a larger shot

Cutaways – cut away to something related (could be something happening simultaneously)

Technical Continuity

Unplanned changes in sound, lighting, video or setting is referred to as a technical continuity problem.

Moviemistakes.com has lots of fun examples of technical continuity problems.

A famous one is in T2, when the T2 liquid robot cop is chasing Ahnuld and little John Conner. The T2 is driving a semi, Ahnuld & John are on a motorcycle down in a drainage canal. The T2 drives the semi off of the overpass down into the canal, and we can clearly see the windshield popping out. In the next shot of the front of the semi, the glass is back in the semi. That's an example of a technical continuity problem.

While your productions are not likely to suffer from an elaborate problem such as this, beware of common mistakes:

  • Changes in color temperature. Avoid mixed lighting locations and white balance whenever you change the locations.
  • Changes is light levels Keep lighting levels consistent within a scene.
  • Primary Audio - use the same mic, in the same manner when recording your talent. (Don't use a lav in one scene and a handheld on a stand in another)
  • Background audio - avoid abrupt changes within the same scene. Always record 60 seconds of ambient sound, which you can layer in to the audio mix.


  • Physical Continuity - props & clothing change from shot to shot. If your talent has sunglasses on in one shot, they need to be on in the next shot.
    • Have one crew person watch for these potential problems.
  • Time Continuity - if a clock, candle or position of the sun appears in more than one shot, the time must be consistent with the scene.
    • Keep references to time out of the scene. Try to shoot scene under similar lighting conditions.
  • Technical Continuity - shots don’t match in image quality or sound.
    • Make sure filter is set, microphone is working, etc.
  • Event Continuity - The same person in two consecutive shots and has changed “magically” from one action to another.
    • Have the frame clear before and after each action to provide time to cut. Cut on action and overlap your shooting.

Storyboard / Action sequence exercise

  • Review storyboards
  • Students can shoot the project during the rest of lab
  • Tips:
    • Shoot as close to the line as possible
    • Emphasize the close-up
    • Overlap action on shot transitions
  • Edit together a simple sequence - be sure to start and end in black
  • The critique will be due at the beginning of next Tueday's lecture.


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