2.06.2017

Shooting across two disciplines. A few thoughts about using Sony cameras to bridge the gap.

Ben uses a Sony rx10 iii and an Aputure LightStorm 1/2 to harvest "texture" shots.

A commercial photography changes we are doing more and more video projects and also projects that call for a mixture of both video programming and good photographs from the same engagement. On our previous project for one of our healthcare clients Ben and I wore multiple hats. For scenes with our main subject I did the important, direct to the camera, shots with a Sony a6300 while Ben shot different angles and different magnifications with a Sony RX10 iii. We used his shots in the final edit when we wanted to cut away and keep from hanging on one view for too long. 

Throughout the project we also shot still images. The Sony RX10iii allows me to shoot 1080p video and, while rolling video, hit the shutter button to capture full res, Jpeg photographs (at the highest image quality setting) at the same time. There were no glitches or breaks in the video and, as long as my shutter button pushing was gentle there was not discernible camera movement. This is a very powerful tool. There are times between video takes when we talk to the subject and prep them for a different question. This is also a good time to grab still frames.  

There is also an automatic setting that I've been experimenting with after reading Alexander White's wonderful book on the RX10iii. It allows you to set the camera so that it automatically shoots frames when the A.I. in the camera determines that a shot with people is good. So, in the video we just finished I had some longer lens shots that featured a woman in a wheel chair, and her friend, walking and rolling up a long, curved sidewalk, toward camera. Following them with the camera while adjusting focal length and making sure they were in sharp focus took all my attention. With the automatic setting engaged I can relegate the timing and the shooting of the stills to the camera and not have to think about yet another production detail. Since the stills use the same color settings, exposure and white balance as the video everything works well. 

It's still early times for this sort of automation and you may have to intercede to get the shots you want when you want them but it's a much more powerful way to capture concurrent stills than trying to "grab" them from 4K footage. Capturing from 4K with most other camera brands gives one an 8 megapixel file while the capture during video with the Sony gives me a full 17 megapixel image (cropped from the 20 meg image by the 16:9 video crop). 

At the end of the shooting process our clients get a video time line with all the good footage distilled into a H.264 file along with a folder full of high res still images that are ready for immediate use in social marketing, on websites and even for print. 

This week I'm shooting in Canada and I'm planning on making much greater use of the ability to create still frames while shooting video. If the camera can effectively take over the actual shooting task for me then so much the better. 

I need to do a bit of research and see if this feature is also available on the A7Rii as it will be my main "interview" camera. 

The only restriction I've come across when using the automatic still shot feature is that it cannot be used in conjunction with 4K shooting or shooting a 120 fps (for slow motion). I can live with that.

Shooting double is so efficient, both for me and the client. When I work with Ben and we use RX cameras we greatly increase the amount of content we are able to capture for our projects. We both set our cameras to the same profiles, make custom white balances from the same targets and have the same exposure aim points via zebras. This makes editing a lot more effective because everything we shoot cuts together very well. The added bonus, with "auto shot" enabled is that we'll both be generating still images simultaneously. 

It's not a catchall though, we still need to stop from time to time and set up and shoot important still shots. The nice thing is that we already know our settings are nailed because we've just seen the results on an HD monitor. Most times were just shooting vertical and horizontal of the same set up but with the talent holding a pose or pausing their action. It sounds daunting at first but with a little practice it becomes second nature. Double shooting adds value for our clients. They like that. It keeps our wheels of industry turning...

Packed and ready. Flying out in the morning.