In 2011, we made a series of six HDSLR education series with B&H to cover everything from the settings we use on the Canon 5D Mark II to the kind of lenses and equipment I recommend. Whether you are just starting out with HDSLR, or want to see the details of my setup and workflow, I think you will find a lot of value in watching. The lessons apply to other cameras as well, not just the 5D. Enjoy.
Here is episode one accompanied by the transcript.
Know Your Camera
HDSLR Education Series Episode 1 shows you the settings to get the most out of shooting with your HDSLR camera.
Episode 1 Transcript
Hi. I’m Shane Hurlbut, ASC. Welcome to Episode 1 of the B&H HDSLR Education Series.
Let’s get right to it. We’re going to start with Menus. But before we even go into Menus, we want to go to right here on the top of your camera and scroll to M. This has to be on Manual for you to be able to access all the inner workings of this camera to be able to turn it into that movie-making machine.
Peripheral Illumination Correct
We’re going to start with the first one, Peripheral Illumination Correct. This is a still photography function. What it does is it corrects the illumination around the peripheral of your lenses, specifically wide lenses. We want to disable that.
We’re going to deal with White Balance. I never Auto White Balance. Instead, I always go straight to Kelvin, and I dial it in from there. I like to do this on the fly. I don’t get set into “okay, daylight exteriors, 5200 degrees.” Maybe I want to warm that up a little bit, or maybe I want to cool that down. I do it to I. It’s what inspires me on the day. A shortcut is on top of the camera. There is this white balance queue. You can push this and you can scroll on the small little wheel here, and you can watch your color change on the back LCD screen. You can literally dial your color temperature in perfectly.
Now we go down to Color Space. You have two color spaces. You have sRGB or you have Adobe RGB. I’ve found that Adobe RGB gives you the best skin tones out of this camera.
Now let’s go to Picture Style. Picture Style usually comes loaded at Standard. When I’m doing my picture style editor, I start at Neutral. Let’s click on that. That’s our Picture Style.
We’re rolling on to the next one. Highlight Alert – you want to disable that. Image Jump, I always do to 1. That way when you say, “I’d love to see take 3″ –by going with the image jump at 1, you can scroll from take 6, take 5, take 4, bang, right on take 3, lock on it and play it back.
Now we’re going to scroll down to the Wrench. Auto Power Off – a lot of people go to the setting and they turn it off. Basically, what that’s going to do is keep your camera on as long as you have it in live view. That’s a recipe for overheating the sensor and you see a lot of fixed pattern noise. What I do is I make it 8 minutes. If you get distracted and you wander off if you’re lighting or you’re talking to an actor or an actress, the camera times out.
Now we’re going to go the Wrench with 2 dots. Go up to LCD Brightness. I always have that on Manual, and I always have it either around 4 or 5. The LCD screen is not milky at 4 and 5. It gives you the best contrast and dynamic range that you can see that you’re camera’s actually capturing.
We’re going to go down to Sensor cleaning. For the Sensor cleaning, I always set it to Auto, so Enable. Every time you turn on the camera or turn it off, it cleans the sensor automatically.
Live View/Movie Function
We’re going to go into Live View/Movie Function Set. This is a still camera. We have to turn it into a digital film camera. We’re going to click on Live View Function and it comes up Stills only. We’re going to go to Stills+movie. Now you’ve turned this into a digital film capture device.
Movie Recording Size
Now you go down to Movie Recording Size, usually, it comes loaded 30 or shooting 24 frames today. When I use this camera, I use it as a double system. I don’t actually use this record sound. I always have Sound Recording to Auto. It’s a wonderful scratch track to help you sync sound.
If you’re using Canon lenses, I always like to make sure your exposure levels are set to a third of a stop increment. With Canon glass and the Zeiss ZE glass, you can use the back wheel to scroll. With video, you definitely want to be in third-stop increments. A third of a stop, that difference between a half and a third, is sometimes you being able to hold that cloud in the sky and the detail in the shadow areas.
Now we’re going to go down to the Image. Image highlight tone priority. If it’s enabled, then you will always see D+ next to your ISO in the bottom info bar. You want to take it off highlight tone priority. What it does is it tries to suppress and hold highlights. In video, I like to know if it’s blowing out. I don’t want the computer system within the camera controlling my highlights.
We’re going to go to Image Auto Lighting Optimizer. This is a recipe for disaster, this thing. It always comes in low or standard. You want to get rid of this thing. You want to disable it.
Now we’re going to go to High ISO Speed Noise Reduction. I always set it to disable. I’d rather be doing my noise reduction in the post process than having this small little computer inside the camera doing it for me. Basically, what it does is it softens the image to be able to blend the noise.
Now we’re done with all the menus. Now we want to set shutter speed and your ISO. I’ve found that a 50th is the best shutter speed for capturing commercials, music videos, and feature films. You adjust that shutter by scrolling the small little wheel right here. I shoot a 50th because it’s a 200-degree shutter, and it kind of takes the edge off of the sharpness of HD.
Now I’m going to change the ISO. You want to be either on 160, 320, 640, 1250, or 1600. I don’t go above 1600. Shooting in those increments of 160 will give you the least amount of noise.
So we’ve adjusted our shutter, we’ve dealt with our menus, we dialed in our ISO.
Stay tuned for episode 2 of the HDSLR Education series where I go into the challenges of this platform.
Julien Lasseur – Director
Karlyn Michelson – Producer
Shane Hurlbut, ASC, Lydia Hurlbut, and Brad Bitton – Executive Producers
Clint Milby – Associate Producer
Bodie Orman – Director of Photography
Edited by Karlyn Michelson
Sponsored by B&H
Shane Hurlbut, ASC – Instructor
Eli Jane – Model in Introduction
Production Coordinator – Anne Gaither
Camera Operator – Kevin Anderson
Cam Operator – Eric Wolfinger
Camera Operator – Valentin Vignet
Steadicam Operator – Hayden Houser
Key Grip – Fabio Newman
Hair/Makeup – Teddie Bergman
Sound – Vincent Fatato
Production Assistants – Brian Touhy, Lucas Petri
Special Thanks to Mole-Richardson
- Watch episode 2 – Canon 5D MK II: Challenges and Solutions
- Watch episode 3 – HDSLR Challenges: Working With a Still Lens
- Watch episode 4 – HDSLR Cinematographer Starter Kit
- Watch episode 5 – HDSLR Workflow and Etiquette
- Watch episode 6 – HDSLR: A New Digital Film Language
Looking for mentorship in the film industry? Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with Shane Hurlbut, ASC today! This is where you can get expert advice from an industry professional on your career or a particular project.
About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema. He’s a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.