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T351 Week 1 Lab


  • Introductions
  • Review lab policies
  • Review cameras
  • In-class competency exercise
  • Begin Field Shoot Exercise (due in one week)

Welcome & Introductions: Who are you? What movies or TV shows do you like to watch? What are you interested in?

Lab/Class policies: (Quick Review of policies & checkout procedure)

  • Be sure you know the lab policies (In syllabus), the lab hours (Posted on door), and how to check out equipment.
  • You can use the loading dock to pick up/drop off gear (for short periods of time).
  • Be sure to give extra time for checking out and returning gear.
  • When you return equipment, be sure to wind cables and make sure everything is neat & accounted for. Expect to go through checklist with lab monitor
  • Be considerate when shooting in/around the RTV Building - Do not obstruct hallways or shoot in restrooms.

Camera Overview: Good camera operators are artists and engineers. In addition to knowing the rules of composition and being able to frame your subject, you must know your camera inside and out and be highly skilled at lighting, audio and working with talent. An incredibly well framed image will be worthless if the white balance is off, or if the lighting is bad or the audio is noisy.

Sony NX5U Camera tour:

  • Manual (PDF 11.3 MB)
  • Power
  • When inserting fresh SDHC card you'll need to format. It will prompt you to create a new Image Database File.
  • Pick the card to record on by opening the SDHC door and pressing A or B.
  • If you've already got media on the card, it's a good idea to re-format it. Press the "MODE" button on the top panel to access the "MANAGE MEDIA" functions.
  • Recording format - So many to pick from. You'll likely want 1080/60i for PBS/Major network playback.
    • FX: (Best quality) max. 24 Mbps (Shorter record time.)
      FH: (Decent quality) approx. 17 Mbps
    • HQ: (HDV quality) approx. 9 Mbps
    • LP: (Lowest quality) approx. 5 Mbps (Longer record time.)
  • Bars There's no color bar switch. It has to be assigned to a button. Do this via the menu controls. (It's common practice to record at leat 30 seconds of color bars at the head of a tape or with your clips.) WHn you turn on the bars it will generate tone.
  • White Balance - Always Check! A/B/Preset setting Presets usually work well.
  • Viewfinder: Use color bars to check/set brightness, contrast & focus.
  • Lens
    • Focus (zoom in to focus)
    • Focus - Manual/auto - When you see the hand icon in the viewinder, you are in manual mode.
    • Minimum focal distance (usually several feet unless you stay wide)
    • Zoom (Servo switch can be switched off)
    • Iris - Push "iris" button to toggle between auto/manual mode. WHen you see the f-stop displayed on the viewfinder you are in manual mode.
    • Depth of field. This is the range of distance to the lens that objects can be in focus. Sometimes you want a large depth of field, sometimes a small one. How to control:
    • Aperture: A smaller aperture has a greater depth of field than a large aperture. So adding light to a scene can increase your depth of field.
    • Wide shots have a large depth of field. Everything will have a tendency to be in focus. Close-ups have a shallow depth of field.
    • ACT camera shake reduction
  • Mic/line inputs (48 volt Phantom power for condenser microphones)
  • AGC
  • Audio monitor switch (L/R/Mix)
  • Shutter - Need to see 60 on the viewfinder for 1080i video (for 1/60th of a second). Going to a faster shutter speed (E.g. 500) will reduce the amount of light entering camera. Good for fast action slow motion and grabbing stills. This can also affect the depth of field.
  • Gain (Should see 0dB in the viewfinder. Adding gain adds noise. Mainly useful for situations where you can't add mroe light.)
  • Timecode (Free run/Rec run) Common practice is to set specific time code hours for each reel. It's good if the hours correspond to the reel numbers: Reel 1 can start at 01:00:00:00, reel 2 at 02:00:00:00, etc.


  • Leave tripods laying down unless they're being used. (Don't lean them up against a flat wall or counter. They'll fall over.)
  • Make sure the camera is perfectly level. Slightly tilted shots are a sign of mediocrity. A tilted/canted camera shot can be good to use (known as a Dutch angle), but one that's just slightly off looks bad.
  • Never take your hand off of the camera unless you are sure it's secured to the plate and tripod.
  • Never leave a camera unattended on a tripod unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE the tripod is locked off and nothing (E.g. wind or a passerby) wll knock the camera over.
  • Develop the habit of unlocking the pan & tilt before you try to move the camera and locking it as soon as you are finished.

"Before you shoot" Checklist:

  • Do you have all of the proper gear? (Batteries, camera, tripod, headphones, etc.)
  • Is camera set to the proper recording format, frame rate and bitrate? (E.g. 1080i 35 Mbps)
  • Is your White Balance set for your location? (A/B/Preset)
  • Are Neutral Density filters, Gain, and Shutter settings turned off?
  • Is your proper timecode preset?
  • Is you audio recording properly?
  • Record at least 30 seconds of color bars & check monitor/viewfinder.

General Shooting Tips:

  • Camera level?
  • Is your shot well-composed?
  • Always capture at least 5 seconds of pre-roll and post-roll
  • Before shooting, don't just think about the shot, but about the entire sequence:
    • Rule of threes: Consider the shot that comes before the one you are shooting, what you are shooting, and what comes after.
    • What specific action or point is motivating your edit?
    • Are you following the rules of continuity (Think about the line and follow the 180 rule, no jump cuts, etc.)
    • Always try to make mini-continuity sequences.
  • Shoot 2 more establishing shots than you think you need
  • Add depth/motion whenever possible (block and shoot along the Z axis)
  • Tell your story with close-ups
  • Use a tripod (unless you have a really good reason not to)
  • When you do go handheld, be sure to stay wide - don't zoom in and out whatever you do!
  • Always record (good) audio - even if it's just with the camera mic.

Cold Weather:

  • It's OK to go from warm to cold. You can use the camera immediately if you go outside in cold weather.
  • Going from cold to warm is problematic. Condensation forms on the gear. (That's why glasses fog up when you come inside.) Do not open the camera inside if it's cold. Condensation will form on the head drum. Give it time to gradually warm up before opening (ejecting) a tape. Don't store a camera somewhere cold and expect to use it someplace warm immediately.
  • The heat of summertime is enough to cause problems. Be sure to give your gear time to warm up if stored inside where it's air-conditioned.

Go through T351 Field Shoot Exercise. Be sure to cover white balancing, setting timecode, and getting rack focus shots.

NOTE: To view or edit clips you can use Adobe Premiere. Insert your SD card into an iMac SD card slot. You can then view/import your clips through Premiere's "Media Browser" window. (Media will be in the "PRIVATE/AVCHD" folder.

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