DSLR Dynamics Tour

In this modern age of the digital filmmaker, DSLR’s make it so easy to see your vision come to life on the screen.  There is now a complete industry for DSLRs and the equipment that works in tandem with them.  New equipment to learn along side the classics.  What’s impressive about the DSLR Dynamics Tour is that it gives you all the tools to become a professional DSLR videographer/ cinematographer.  All you need to do is sit back and listen and soak up all the goodness as DSLR expert Barry Andersson, explains all types of equipment starting with their purpose as well as the best products that are out there for the best price. 

This classroom style conference is broken up into sections, first the basics of DSLR filmmaking.  What are micro shakes and rolling shutter and how do you avoid these things?  How do you improve the small weaknesses on DSLR cameras and magnify its strengths on a budget?  Second: Movement.  Your job as the cinematographer is to understand the different ways to capture any kind of scene.  To translate what the director wants his audience to feel at any particular time.  Movement and framing are key fundamental storytelling tools.  DSLR Dynamics starts this section by analyzing classic and current Hollywood films.  It’s all about understanding framing and movement and how you can use it.  But you can’t fully understand movement until you know what equipment is at your disposal.  I doubt any of us have Jerry Bruckheimer or Harvey Weinstein funding our next project so it’s all about stretching a dollar!  DSLR Dynamics is on our side and is here to help create a Hollywood cinematic masterpiece with affordable equipment by educating us.  Everything from tripods, sliders, Steadicams, and a $300 Davis&Standford Jib!

Although, what makes a film really stand out from the others is lighting!  The tour covers the key fundamentals of lighting specifically for DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D mark ll and lll.  In my opinion, this is where the true art of the cinematographer comes in.  Andersson talks about multiple techniques for lighting a scene.  “You can choose to silhouette your characters or make a shot more dynamic by breaking it up with light and dark spots throughout the location.”  He reminds us that it is important not to over light things.  Many beginning cinematographers tend to do this.  Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Don’t be afraid of shadows.  It’s amazing what one key light can do for a shot.  You add a backlight and filler to that and you might just impress yourself!  In the words of DSLR Dynamics teacher, Barry Andersson, “Cinematographers don't recreate reality. They make magic by exaggerating natural beauty.” 

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start when creating a shot list.  Andersson suggests thinking about your scene and the characters within. What is the feeling that needs to be portrayed?  This is the perfect foundation to set for your self.  From here you can determine how much you want your background to be seen as well as your character(s).  What about movement, framing, and lighting?  Andersson gives some wonderful tips during the tour.  Some of his best is what he has to say about lighting, “a cinematographer’s best friend is practical lighting.  The best times to shoot with practical lighting outside is just after sunrise and just before sunset.  These are known as the golden hours.”  And when shooting at any other time during the day, you can come across a common problem of overexposed backgrounds.  A fast solution is to use a screen behind your subject.  Same goes for interior shoots and overexposed windows.  ND paper acts like a giant ND filter for those windows.  They are fast to put up and come in rolls.  Plus if you ever need a fill for an entire body shot and your reflector just isn’t big enough, 4x8 of insulation sheets are great when used as bounce cards.  As for interior practical lighting, you should always be equipped with an assortment of light bulbs.  Depending on the story, location, and style you might want to switch out light bulbs for a different emotion or to mix color temperatures.  Edison bulbs photograph beautifully as they don’t blow out the scene and add a nice flavor to any shot.  When setting up a shot make sure to stay away from LED lights in low light situations as to avoid the dreaded bulb flicker.  And when you seem to have run out of light bulbs in the back of your truck, it’s always handy to have a $10, 500 watt light dimmer with you so you can dim lights already on set.  All of this is so affordable and right at a nearby Home Depot.  Hollywood wont know what hit them!

It's all about training your mind to see the world as a cinematographer.  The best way to get in the habit of this is to watch movies!  Learn from the experts.  Study the way they chose to light a scene or frame the shot or who to focus on.  The DSLR Dynamics Tour is a great head start in the right direction for people who are in their infant stages of the art and for advanced cinematographers who are still looking to expand their knowledge.  There is something for everyone to learn.  Take a look at the DSLR Dynamics website to see when the tour is coming to you.