TLDR – Today I played with a couple of different cameras to see how they might affect the outcome of a video in relation to audience immersion.
29.10.16 – One morning I decided to see how one standard event (in this case, a penalty) could be captured using different technology – and how that technology might affect what the footage looks like. I didn’t really plan this in advance, so I didn’t have a vast array of equipment, just the things in my house at the time. I opted for my iPhone (using the standard video app), my old Nikon D3200 DSLR (and the 18-55mm kit lens), and my old GoPro 3+ Silver. I took them all to football one morning, and before the match, I asked a few of the guys to take a few practice penalties so I could record them. The whole thing took less than ten minutes.
I’d like to expand on this experiment in future by first of all increasing the amount of equipment I use, and secondly, by trying to deliberately trying to capture a certain emotion in a scene using different equipment.
The first option seems easy enough. I can get a couple of more cameras – high end DSLRs, old 16mm cameras, a drone, a phone app, maybe tiny spy camera… I’m sure each of these gives wildly different representations of the same scene, but it would be interesting to see just how different the outcome would be.
The second option might be a bit trickier. I might try to look for a certain scene, such as a couple having a conversation, and then see how each of those different cameras affect what the audience sees and takes away from the footage.
During the edit, I became more aware of certain limitations and restrictions that each camera brought me. In an ideal world, when making a film I would use a combination of different cameras, depending on the situation and intended outcome. I would obviously need to make sure the camera footage was compatible, which is not always the case.
- iPhone SE, 1920 x 1080p @ 30fps
- The full HD footage in this section looks clean and crips. The colours are a bit flat, though there aren’t really any manual options when using the basic video app on an iPhone.
- Another problem is that Apple don’t really care too much abour their video app, and as such, they haven’t adjusted it depending on international territories. That’s why this footage is shot at 30fps (NTSC) as opposed to the more standard (in the UK) PAL setting of 25fps. This would be useless if I was looking to get additional footage for a film as the framerates wouldn’t match up.
- iPhone SE, 568 x 320p @ 120fps
- The iPhone also offers a slowmo option, though again, at 120fps (I would have preferred 100fps).
- One of the problems when transferring this footage is that it will more often than not convert the video to 30fps and downscale the quality to enable the transfer. While the footage may be 1080p 120fps on your phone, it will appear as 320p 30fps on your computer. Another fault courtesy of Apple. There are third party apps which allow you to capture and transfer the original data, but for the sake of this edit I didn’t bother.
- The quality of the video (on the phone) is actually very good, and does allow a more in depth view of the scenario. For something like wildlife photography this would produce some beautiful footage.
- Nikon D3200, 1280 x 720p @ 25fps (18mm lens)
- While this Nikon camera does shoot in full 1080p HD, it’s only at 24fps. Due to the fact that I wanted to potentially cut this footage with the GoPro footage, I needed to match the frame rates – so I opted for 25fps but at only 720p.
- The widest angle I could go with this camera was with the 18mm lens and it captures a lot of the scene in clear detail, but everything is kept at a distance.
- Nikon D3200, 1280 x 720p @ 25fps (55mm lens)
- The zoom lens, at 55mm, allows the viewer to get a lot closer to the action, though the background images are compressed and flattened somewhat.
- GoPro 3+ Silver, 1920 x 1080p @ 25fps
- This camera was affixed to the players using a chest harness – first on the striker, then on the goalkeeper. The view brings the audience right into the action, getting a true point of view from inside the scene.
- While giving the audience an unparalleled view of the action, the footage can be a bit nauseating if not stabilized correctly.
- Also, due to some unforeseen actions like flailing arms, the camera can actually get blocked off a lot of the time, limiting the amount that the audience can see – a stabiliser or a head mount would potentially fix that.
In future, especially when making natural history documentary, I’ll look to combine the versatility of a DSLR, with the intimacy of an action camera. I may also look to add a drone into the mix to get some aerial shots.