Sony Z1 User`s Guide
Sony Z1 User’s Guide and Important information
Contents and contacts……………………………………………………………………………... 1
Dos and Don’ts…………………………………………………………………………………… 2
Visual Guide to the Camera…………………………………………………………………… 3,4,5
Power; Battery charging; Switching on/off………………………………………………………. 6
Tapes; Recording a shot………………………………………………………………………….. 7
Playback; Recording Formats- HDV, DVCam and DV SP…………………………………… 8,9
Recording Formats; Aspect Ratio; Using the Menu…………………………………………..... 9
Using a Tripod……………………………………………………………………………....... 10,11
Manual Controls- Focusing and Zooming; Picture Controls……………………………………. 12
- Iris, Gain & Shutter Speed……………………………………………………. 13
- White balance……………………………………………………………… 13,14
Sound Recording- Internal, External, Sennheiser 416…………………………………………….15
- Senn 416, Senn K6, Boom operating, Radio mics…………………………. 16
- Radio mics, Lip mic, Camera setup………………....……………………… 17
- Camera setup, Monitoring, Auto levels…………………………………… 18
- Auto levels, Sound Devices 302 mixer…………………………………. 18,19
Shooting language basics; Types of shot and how to do them…………………………………. 20
Shooting for the Edit……………………………………………………………………………. 22
The Rule of Thirds (Framing)…………………………………………………………………… 23
Broadcast Lab staff contact details………………………………………………………………..23
[email protected]
6334 for Gatehouse office: Naomi Smyth or Richard Wood
[email protected]; [email protected]
5420 for Ashton Begent’s kit stores
[email protected]
6267 for Karen Cooper’s admin centre; keys for Broadcast Lab and other queries
[email protected]
This guide was produced by Naomi Smyth.
Please email with comments, suggestions and congratulations.
DO’s and DON’Ts
DO: Hold the Z1 with two hands as much as possible.
:Hold the Z1 by the handle on the top AND/OR with your hand cradled
underneath it.
:Make sure that anyone you pass it to has a firm grip on it before you let go.
:Remove the Z1 from the tripod and put it in the case before carrying it any distance.
:Change tapes quickly and efficiently, making sure nothing gets into the tape slot.
:Keep checking the lens for smears and particles and cleaning it if necessary.
:Fasten the tripod base plate firmly to the bottom of the camera using a coin to
tighten the screw.
:Tie or loop trailing wires out of the way and away from the floor.
DON’T: Hold the Z1 by the LCD screen, the Velcro strap, the lens hood, the battery
or any other detachable or extendable part.
: Pass it from person to person with one hand, across a gap or while either
person is in a precarious position.
: Leave the camera unattended, or anywhere it could be kicked, knocked over
or tripped over or have things spilled on it.
: Touch the lens with your fingers or anything except a fresh cleaning cloth.
: Clean the lens carelessly or unnecessarily.
: Carry the Z1 by holding the camera while it is attached to a tripod. You
could rip out or otherwise damage the bottom of the camera.
: Leave the tape slot open for any longer than strictly necessary to change
: Force ANYTHING. If something does not click into place, chances are you
are doing it the wrong way. Ask a demonstrator to show you.
: Handle the camera with dirty or wet hands.
: Take the camera outside in the rain or snow without waterproof protection.
: Leave or carry the camera with wires trailing off it.
: Film alone. You need at least one person to watch your back in case you
become too involved in filming to see what is happening around you.
Accidents and thefts can easily occur otherwise.
Guide to the Camera
Lens hood
Internal stereo microphone
Lens cover release tab
Accessory shoe
LCD screen
Manual focusing ring
Ring/ lever
zoom switch
External mic
Zoom ring
Manual Iris dial
Neutral density
filter switch
Secondary Zoom
lever + record button
6 Assign
Gain presets- H, M,L
White balance presetsdaylight, indoor +
Man/auto iris button
Man/auto gain button
Man/auto shutter speed
Zoom response switch
Sturdy handle
Focus manual/ auto +
‘push auto’ controls
Tape open/
eject lever
Man/ auto white
Hinged LCD viewfinder
Manual/ auto lock switch
Audio level manual control dials
focusing slider
Rubber eyepiece
Guide to Camera
Lens hood release screw
External mic holder
release screw
S video,
AV outputs
under flap
line inputs
Visible security mark
Primary zoom lever
hand strap
focus button
Headphone and servo
remote sockets under flap
Record button
Camera/ VCR/ Off
Kit number
Battery release button
LCD viewfinder with rubber eyepiece
External mic holder
Mic holder release
Record light
(also flashes when battery or tape is low)
Battery release button
Zebra switch- LCD will display
overexposed areas with stripes
audio level
Peaking switch- LCD will display
faint outlines around the parts of the
picture that are in focus
Programmable picture settings
Main menu- to change most settings
Long-life rechargeable
battery pack
To check settingsespecially audiowhile recording
Personal menu- programmable shortcuts
to favourite functions, etc.
Scroll wheel- roll to page through
menu functions and increase/
decrease shutter speed. Push to
select a menu function.
1. Supply power.
From Battery:
Take the battery with the arrow on the back pointing downwards, and fit it onto the back of the camera
below the viewfinder. Slide it down until you hear a click.
DO NOT FORCE THE BATTERY-it should slide down easily and if it doesn’t you probably need to
readjust its position. It is easy to damage the terminals by forcing it and if this happens the battery can no
longer be used.
From Mains: Plug in the charger, plug the mains terminal into it and connect the oblong terminal in the
same way as the battery. Be very careful of trailing wires. If the wire is tight, or it lies on a piece of floor
where people are likely to walk you must adjust your position or use another power point.
2. Removing the battery or mains terminal.
You do this by pressing the ‘batt release’ button to the right of the viewfinder. With the
button pressed, slide the battery or main terminal UP and off the camera.
3. Battery charging:
The Z1 takes ‘L’ size batteries. The multi-purpose charger is designed so that ‘L’ batteries slide on in one
direction and ‘M’ size batteries in another.
Slide the battery from the middle to the left onto the ‘L’ terminals on the charger. You should feel it click
into place.
If the charger is correctly plugged in, it will make a noise when it is switched on. The length of battery
life will appear on the charger’s LCD screen. When the battery is fully charged the LCD screen will show
You do not need to use a release button to take it off- just slide it sideways and it should come free.
In order to maintain battery life, you should always use a battery until it is totally or very nearly totally
discharged. You should not use a discharged battery again until it is fully recharged.
The large Long-life batteries will give you approximately 6 ½ hours with the LCD screen closed. Using
the LCD screen considerably cuts down the amount of time on the battery- don’t count on more than 4
hours if you are using the LCD screen a lot.
Microphones that require ‘phantom power’ (power from the camera) such as the Sennheiser 416 also take
a toll on the battery life.
Make sure the battery or mains terminal is safely and securely connected. Locate
the switch where your thumb would be if you were shooting handheld- it is part
of the record button. Push down the little green button in the middle of the switch
and slide it ether to ‘Camera’ or to ‘VCR’ depending which function you want.
To switch off, slide the switch to the central ‘off’ position.
Always label your tapes clearly in a way that makes sense to you. It is best to label your tapes in
advance of shooting, perhaps with the date and a number. After recording, you might also want
to write some notes on the tape about what is on it.
Always store tapes at room temperature, in their cases, in a dry, clean location away from direct
sunlight. Do not store them too close to magnets, computer hard drives or other electrical
Always insert a tape with the underside (wheels and screws) facing into the camera and the top
side (tape brand, labels, smooth surface) facing out. The end with the green or red tab on should
be furthest from you.
If the green or red tab on the tape is in the closed/visible position, the tape
can be recorded over. A good way of protecting your footage is to push the
tab to the open position after recording your footage onto it. That way it
cannot be recorded over by mistake.
Use the lever marked Open/Eject. It is on the left side of the camera. Slide this
lever open, then pull the side of the camera gently but firmly open until it will go
no further.
Wait until the metal casing rises and pops open.
(If this does not happen, check that the outer side of the camera is firmly pulled as far as it will go. Then
if it still doesn’t happen, check that the power is securely connected. If it is, the camera may be damaged.
Seek assistance.)
Then, either insert your tape or remove the tape that was in there.
When your tape is inserted, use the outer casing to push the inner metal casing shut. Then wait.
The camera will check the tape for condensation or damaging particles. If there is nothing damaging on
the tape, the metal casing will move back down into place.
Close the outer casing back over the inner metal casing.
The LCD screen and/ or viewfinder window should register the tape and show its timecode on the display
as well as how much record time is available on it.
I would encourage anyone who wants to use the Z1 to become familiar with its manual controls. I will go
through those later in this guide. However, to start with, let’s look at how to record a shot
and play it back, letting the camera take care of the other functions.
Switch on your camera in Camera mode.
Make sure the focus, audio levels and picture controls are switched to
Open the lens cap using the switch on the left of the lens hood and frame
your subject using the viewfinder and/or the fold-out LCD screen.
You can zoom in and out using the rocker switch on the right, near the viewfinder.
When you are happy with your frame, press the ‘record’ button to the immediate left of the function wheel.
When you are recording the indicator in the viewfinder will change from a green ‘STDBY’ to a red ‘REC’.
The timecode numbers will start to run up. A red light will also come on at the front and back of the camera,
one below the viewfinder and one below the microphone. This means you are recording. These lights will
flash if your battery or tape is about to run out in the middle of recording, or if there is another problem with
the camera.
To stop recording, press the ‘Record’ button again. The camera will go into standby mode.
First of all, it is best not to play footage back too often on the Z1. Playing back, rewinding and fast
forwarding wears out the tape heads- the bit of the camera that records the footage for you. So it is
very bad for future footage quality to use your camera as a VCR or for importing footage. The
University has purpose-built decks you can hire out, and if you have shot in DV SP you can even use a
Panasonic camera to play back and import footage.
But- if you just want to quickly check a shot in the camera:
Push the switch to VCR mode.
Open the LCD screen and use the VCR control buttons underneath.
Rewind your footage a little way, stop the tape and play it back, watching it in the viewfinder or LCD screen.
Depending on the format you shot the footage in (HDV, DVCam or DV SP), the VCR settings
may need to be changed in order to play back correctly. The easiest way to make sure the camera will play
back all your footage is by selecting ‘auto’ in the ‘Rec in/out’ menu. Then the camera can detect what format
the footage is and alter its own settings to play that back.
Before you start filming a project, you should decide which out of the three recording formats on the Z1 you
want to use, as well as the aspect ratio of your project. Here is some information about the options:
This format is a low-budget version of High Definition footage. Like most HD formats, it is ‘native widescreen’,
meaning that widescreen (16:9) is the default frame size. It uses some complex maths involving pixel shape and
GOP (Group of Pictures) MPEG encoders. This enables the camera to record a picture onto ordinary DV tape
with a much higher resolution than DV SP or DVCam. It also uses only the same amount of tape as DV SP,
despite the improvements to picture quality. Quite a miraculous format.
Issues to consider- Equipment for editing, outputting and screening HDV footage has yet to catch up with the
technology for filming it.
-You can edit in HDV using Final Cut Pro 5, but things like applying effects and transitions can really slow
down the process. One option that can speed things up is to capture your footage at HDV resolution, edit in a
downgraded resolution and upgrade it all at once later. Then, in theory, you can hit the render button and go off
and have a cup of tea or six while the computer works it out.
-If you want to screen it at HDV resolution you will need a High Def monitor or projector, and a way of
connecting up your tape deck with it. Very few places have this facility, especially for HDV as it is in many
ways quite a strange format.
-High Definition DVD burners are still not widely used in the UK and the college doesn’t have any yet.
-The way the data is compressed onto the tape can cause problems if there is any corruption. The GOP format
means that an error in one frame will be spread across at least 9 frames, magnifying any possible errors. Errors
are not likely, but if they occur more of your footage would be spoiled than in another format.
What is the benefit of using this format?
-Future-proofing: when HD DVD’s and other HD viewing formats are more widely available, your project
will be ready to be put on one of these in the highest resolution.
-It is better to shoot in the highest quality format available to you, because from then onwards the
capturing, editing and exporting process can gradually degrade your footage in minute ways. If you have started
with crystal clear images you are in a good position to end up with the best quality possible on your Standard
definition DVD at the end.
DVCam is basically the same resolution as ordinary DV. However, the footage is recorded onto the tape in such
a way that where 40 minutes of ordinary DV would take up forty minutes of tape, 40 minutes of DVCam
footage would take up the entire 60 minute tape.
Issues to consider- You cannot shoot or play back DVCam with an ordinary DV camera. For importing
purposes, you would need the special deck. The camera will play it back, and so will some other DV cameras
such as the PD150 and PD170. But it is best not to use a camera for importing or playback too often, as it wears
out the recording heads, which can reduce the quality of footage the camera can record.
What are the benefits of this format?
DVCam is a more secure way of recording footage. The way the data is spread out over the tape makes it safer
to store long term, as any corruption or damage will affect less of the footage.
Many people believe that the quality is greater. It is also considered a more ‘professional’ format as only better
quality cameras provide it as an option. So often saying you have shot on DVCam will impress people more
than standard miniDV.
DV SP (Standard Play)
DV SP is the standard format for all camcorders that take miniDV tapes. Although cameras vary what audio
quality they use (12bit or 16bit, 32kHz or 48 kHz), the basic video recording and playback function is the same.
The quality of the footage can still vary widely from camera to camera though- depending on the quality of the
lens, the number and quality of the sensor chips, how good the camera is at handling low light etc etc.
As a good quality camera, the Z1 takes much better DV SP footage than, say, the Panasonic Handicams that the
University supplies to beginners. If you mix footage from the two cameras in one project you will notice the
greater subtlety of colour and sharpness of line on the footage from the Z1.
Aspect Ratio
The two aspect ratios available to you on the Z1 are 4:3 and widescreen 16:9.
In HDV mode the default setting is widescreen and all the pixels are used.
However, in DV and DVCam mode, the camera will record a good widescreen image without visible stretching,
but in reality the image is anamorphic.
An anamorphic widescreen image means that it is recorded on the standard number of pixels for DV (720 x
576). The standard frame size is a 4:3 shape but in anamorphic mode it ‘squashes’ the picture so that later you
can ‘pop’ it out into 16:9 for editing and screening.
Before you select the aspect ratio of your footage you should think about where it is going to end up.
If you want to screen your film in a cinema, widescreen would be best.
If you want to make DVD’s for people to project at festivals or view at home, widescreen will probably be fine
for that too. Most new televisions are also manufactured with wide screens, and most standard (4:3) modern
televisions will ‘letterbox’ widescreen DVD’s (putting black bars at the top and bottom) to make the whole
picture viewable.
However, if your film is going straight onto YouTube, for example, the ideal size they specify is 320 x 240
pixels. That translates to 4:3. If you want to upload a widescreen film onto Youtube you will have to letterbox it
before you do so.
Also, if you are mixing footage from a Z1 and a standard DV camera, the standard camera will not be able to
record in widescreen. Therefore you should set the Z1 to record in 4:3 so that you do not lose any footage later
by having to crop the image.
You select your recording format and your aspect ratio, along with many other settings, by using the
Press the ‘Menu’ button on the back of the
You can navigate through the menus by
scrolling up and down with the wheel marked
‘sel/push exec’ (the same wheel that
controls the shutter speed). Push the
wheel in to select an option or enter a sub-menu.
Pressing ‘Menu’ again exits the menu.
The tripod you are likely to use with the Z1 is the Manfrotto 501/525. It’s a very good tripod and easy to
It’s a good idea to get your camera onto a tripod early on, unless you are shooting handheld. Even then it
can be useful. You can always take it off later, and you can adjust the settings and sort things out without
worrying about dropping it or putting it down.
Start by getting out the tripod and unclipping the legs. Pull them out so that the spreader lies flat on the
Then unclip the large catches at
the bottom of each leg, and pull
up until the top of the tripod is
roughly at chest height. Make
sure the legs are roughly the
same length, and do the catches
up again.
Remove the ‘base plate’- the
oblong at the top with the screw
sticking out of it. You do this by loosening the screw-catch on one side, pressing the red release button
on the other side, and sliding the base plate off the tripod.
Carefully turn the camera upside-down. There are two holes, one plain and small, and one larger and
screw-threaded. These correspond to the plain post and the larger screw on the tripod’s base-plate. Fit
them together and tighten the screw. For the last few turns you should use a coin or key to make sure it is
firmly fastened.
Then slide the base plate back on.
If you can’t get the red catch to
‘click’ as it slides on, or the base
plate sticks, try putting it on
another way. Have patience with
this part, as it is not always easy
to start with.
Do not force anything. If you
have to force anything you are
doing it wrong.
When the red catch ‘clicks’, line up the edges of the base plate with
the head of the tripod and tighten the screw-catch.
If you need more height, you can use the large catches on each leg at
the top or bottom. It is easier to adjust the top catches, so always
extend the bottom ones first. That way you can do small adjustments
with the
in the
and you don’t have to lean down
middle of filming.
Never extend the legs or move the
by pulling up on the camera. All
adjustments and movements must
be done
by holding the tripod itself. If you
drag on
the screw that holds the camera you could put massive strain on it and possibly rip the bottom out.
Once you have your height right, look at the head of the tripod.
At the top of the legs there is a small circular spirit-level.
You can make sure your shot is level by reaching under the
legs and twisting the post under the head to release the ‘bowl’
the head rests on. Hold the camera steady by the handle on
the top while doing this.
When you have centred the bubble in the spirit level, tighten
the post back up.
Tripod movements: The fluid head of the tripod will allow you to move the camera from side to side
(pan), up and down (tilt) and a smooth combination of the two.
You can adjust the position of the ‘pan handle’ by loosening and tightening the screw holding it in place
and moving it to a comfortable position for you.
You can increase or decrease the ‘fluid drag’ on either axisso you can have quick, whippy loose movements or slow
steady ones.
The fluid drag control for the pan axis is underneath the base
The fluid drag control of the tilt axis is on the right of the
head just below the base plate.
You can also lock off either axis or both and have it completely
The lock for the pan axis is behind the camera by the spirit
The lock for the tilt axis is on the right hand side of the tripod.
Never try to pan or tilt with the locks on- this can damage the threads.
Always lock off the tripod- especially on the tilt axis- before letting go of the handle.
Focusing and zoomingAuto/manual switch- within manual mode, this switch can be pushed down to set focus
to Infinity- use this if filming something on the horizon or a general wide view shot
with nothing in the foreground.
When in manual mode, you can control the focus
by eye using the focusing ring
However, it can be hard to tell if your subject is
really in focus. A useful way to do it is to use the
‘Push Auto’ button. Hold the button down
until the focus comes clear. The LCD will show
you the focal length and go back to manual mode.
Always zoom all the way in before focusing manually. Zoom in, focus on your subject
(if it is a person focus on their eyes), then zoom out again. If you keep the switch set to ‘man’
the camera will hold your focus as you zoom out again.
You can control the zoom with either of the rocker switches on top of the camera. The main one is
positioned so that your forefingers reach it if you are shooting handheld. It can be slower than you’d like.
If you want to control the zoom manually, you can push the switch on the side of the lens to ‘ring’
and use the zoom ring (the one behind the focusing ring.)
If you can’t zoom in as far as you’d like to focus on your subject, you can use the ‘Expanded focus’ button next to
the zoom rocker switch. This gives you a second or two of extra close-up in which to quickly focus before reverting
to the maximum amount of zoom available. You cannot record in Expanded Focus mode.
Picture controls- this row of buttons switches between auto and manual modes for each function.
The switch can be set to ‘auto lock’, which means ALL functions are automatic;
To the central position which enables individual adjustment of functions;
To ‘hold’, which will freeze the current settings until released.
When a function is under manual control, the settings will appear on the LCD screen or viewfinder
Shutter speed
Audio levels
White Balance
When the function is under auto control, the camera will not display the settings to you. They will
constantly change depending on light and sound levels and the colour of the light at the time.
Iris: The Iris controls how much light reaches the sensors in the camera. This is known as the ‘exposure’.
The information is displayed with an ‘F’ and a number. The number increases as the iris closes and lets less
light in. So the more light there is in the room, the higher the ‘f-stop’ (a photographic measurement of light)
and the narrower the iris has to be.
To manually control the iris, you can
use the control knob towards the front of the
Iris knob
Gain switch
However, the LCD screen can be deceptive when it comes to light levels. You might not be able to tell if the
exposure is right.
For a safer way to get the exposure right: Press the Iris ‘auto’ button, allow the iris to adjust automatically,
then lock it manually by pressing the button again.
-If you are filming a person, it is a good idea to zoom in and fill the screen with their skin before you press
the auto Iris button.
-When you have set the Iris using the auto function, you can then decide if you want it a bit brighter or a bit
darker- depending on what effect you are going for. But the auto setting should give you a good guide to start
Gain: Gain is a way of digitally boosting the light levels in your picture without getting any more light into
the camera. As with all non-optical methods of brightening footage, it can cause graininess and a decline in
picture quality.
-Try not to use gain unless it is so dark that you absolutely have to. First you should try getting more light
into a scene, and if there is not much movement in the scene slowing the shutter speed can help too.
-For this reason, never switch the Gain to Auto unless you are filming a documentary where you have to
move swiftly between bright and dark locations and you absolutely can’t stop to adjust the camera manually.
-Ideally you would be able to see ‘0dB’ on the screen at all times.
-Having said that, if you do need to use it, you can keep it under manual control by using the gain switch.
This switch has presets of High, Medium and Low gain. Low should always be zero, high can be 12dB or
18dB and usually Medium is 9dB.
Shutter Speed: Shutter speed controls how quickly the camera gathers the light. The default setting is 50,
and you should really try to stick to that because the picture is the most normal in this setting. However,
there are reasons to alter the shutter speed in some situations.
-If there is a lot of light the shutter speed can be fast. The faster it is, the less light can get in, but if the scene
is bright enough the iris can be adjusted for that.
-The shutter speeds on the Z1 will go up into the thousands if you want.
-Very fast shutter speeds can be very useful for sports documentaries or any situation where you need to film
something that moves at high speed and possibly slow it down later. High shutter speeds avoid the fastmoving object turning into a blur.
-However, the trade-off is that the colours can look dull and at normal speed movements can look jerky and
somehow clinical. It lacks the more ‘natural’, softer impression of a little motion blur.
- Shutter speeds slower than 50 will give you very vibrant colours and bring lots more light into the shot.
However, as soon as you go below 50 you will get a lot of motion blur.
-Try not to use slower speeds unless: You are doing it for an effect; OR: Nothing in the
shot is going to move.
You can control the shutter speed manually using the ‘Sel/ push exec’ scroll wheel
you use to navigate the menu. Don’t leave it on auto.
White balance: Light comes in many different colours. The two light sources we mostly see by (and film
by) are the sun and man-made lightbulbs. These two light sources are very different in colour and strength.
Daylight comes from such an incredibly hot source that instead of ‘red-hot’ it is ‘blue-hot’. So in comparison
to a lightbulb daylight looks very blue.
Lightbulbs (called ‘tungsten’ lights in film speak) are nowhere near as hot of course. Think of them as the
dying embers of a fire. Their colour in relation to daylight is very orange or yellow.
Our eyes adjust very quickly to these differences and our brains compensate, using what we ‘know’ about
what colour an object is to keep our impression of it consistent as different lights fall on it. This knowledge
overrides the fact that objects can appear to be any number of different colours depending on the light.
Cameras have no brain as such. That’s why we have to ‘tell’ them what colour things are supposed to be.
White balance is our method of doing that.
Again, if you cannot see a symbol where the white balance is normally displayed, the camera is performing
this function automatically.
Unlike the iris, you cannot ‘lock’ the camera’s auto white balance by pressing the button twice.
You can set a number of presets for the white balance and page through them quickly using the white
balance switch:
-The camera has ready-made presets for daylight and tungsten but these may not always
be suitable. I recommend you either leave it on Auto or set it manually.
-To set the white balance manually, set the switch to A or B, find something white (not
off white or cream- you should bring some plain white paper if in doubt) and zoom in so
that it fills the screen. Then press the button above the switch and hold it down. The
white balance symbol on the LCD screen should flash.
-Hold the button until the symbol stops flashing. When it stops the white balance is set.
-If the white balance can’t settle or the picture still looks strange, you might not have enough light in the
scene or you may be getting a mixture of light.
-When daylight and tungsten mix in a scene it often looks strange. Picking one light source and sticking to it
is ideal.
-If that’s not possible you may need to try a few different settings before finding a white balance that works
for you.
Timecode is numerical information that is laid down to tape alongside the footage. Each frame in a piece of
video has its own timecode.
-When shooting in PAL (British television standard), there are 25 frames per second. So the numbers in
‘frames’ will go up to 24 and then to zero.
-In NTSC (USA TV standard) there are roughly 30 frames per second.
-The tapes the Z1 uses should record an hour at the most- though in practice sometimes they run for up to 63
-You can use the ‘hours’ section of the timecode to distinguish between different tapes in the same project, if
you remember to alter the numbers each time you put in a new tape.
eg. First tape- set the timecode to 01:00:00:00
Second tape- set the timecode to 02:00:00:00
And so on. Then, when you capture the footage to Final Cut Pro, these numbers will indicate the ‘Reel
number’- and every bit of your footage will have a unique timecode. This can be invaluable if you have to recapture in different formats or find a badly labelled piece of footage.
-You can set the timecode to ‘free run’- which will run from the moment you switch the camera on- or
‘rec run’- which will run only when you are recording.
-Use ‘Rec run’ most of the time. ‘Free run’ is only really useful if you are recording something with a few
different cameras at once and you need to sync them up later.
Choosing your location/ awareness of sound
Wherever you shoot, as long as you are not making a silent film, you will have to decide about sound.
What sounds do you want in your film? What sounds can you put up with? What sounds do you definitely
want to exclude?
There is no point in choosing the lip of a waterfall for a dramatic dialogue scene if the crashing water is
going to drown out the actors’ voices. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the shots would be- if the sound
doesn’t work, the audience won’t have a clue what’s going on.
Roads, aeroplanes, power lines, computers, air conditioners, fridges- all can create unacceptable levels of
background noise. Listen carefully for these things when choosing a location.
Sound can be digitally adjusted in the edit suite, but as with the picture, the more digital tweaking you
have to do the more false and tinny the sound will be by the end.
What you want is a good strong signal with no distortion- not too much background noise, but enough to
establish the atmosphere of the location.
You should test out the microphones by ear and using the sound levels on the camera before you start to
shoot- so you know what you are getting. Even if you are using a mixer, you should always do at least a
quick check on the camera headphone socket, because that is the sound that will go down onto tape.
Internal Microphone
There is a stereo microphone provided on the Z1, just between the LCD screen and the lens. It is OK, but
it will pick up lots of atmospheric sound, not to mention camera noise. You can get far better sound with
external microphones, so we do not advise you to use the internal mic for serious work.
External Microphones and mixersWe have a few mics that are suitable to use with the Z1. Which ones you use will depend on the purpose
they need to serve.
External mics and mixers plug into the two XLR ports on the Z1.
If you are only using one mic, plug it into the top port (Input 1). Only use Input 2 when Input 1 is already
in use.
Make sure the XLR cables are pushed in firmly- it’s not always easy to tell so give it a controlled push
and make sure it’s in as far as it can go.
Some need ‘phantom power’ from the camera, while some run on their own batteries. You need to
know which is which, because there is a switch by the XLR ports to
provide or shut off phantom power, and if it is on the wrong setting your
mic will not work.
Also, some need particular equipment to attach them to the camera or
otherwise support them.
In order to use an external microphone, you will need to set it up in the
camera menus.
First I will go through each mic individually, assuming that it will be
attached straight to the camera. Then I will deal with setting up the camera,
using more than one mic and/or working with a sound operator using a
Sennheiser 416
This is a really good quality shotgun microphone. It is very uni-directional or cardioid, so whatever you
point the tip at will give you the clearest signal.
It requires phantom power from the camera.
It plugs in using an XLR cable.
You can attach it to the camera using an offset bracket screwed to the base of the existing mic holder, or
a Rode mic support with a cylinder grip that slots into the existing mic holder. The offset bracket takes
the mic further from the noise of the camera and may be more stable, but requires unscrewing the existing
If you are filming outside at all, you will need to protect it from wind noise. This currently means you
will need a Rycote cover with a shotgun grip and/or a boom pole attached. With the kit we have, you
cannot yet have a wind-protected mic mounted on the camera. *
*(Keep checking, as there may soon be Rycote Softie wind covers that can be camera mounted.)
Unless you are filming somewhere completely static and can leave it on a mic stand, this means you will
need a boom operator in your team.
Check that the Rycote cover you have fits the mic. On some of them the supporting hoops are too big for
the 416. Also check that all the rubber bands are in place and the mic doesn’t wobble or knock against the
You can open the Rycote cover by twisting one end, it should come loose. Then you can loosen the
screws underneath by the handle and slide the supporting structure out of the tube to snap the mic into it.
Make sure the XLR cable slots into the gap at the back of the tube so you can close it again.
Sennheiser K6 System
This is another good mic, this time with interchangeable attachments. The cardioid shotgun attachment
ME66 is very similar to the 416. There is also an omnidirectional mic attachment ME62 which is better
at picking up atmospheric sound.
It is self-powered by a battery, so check that your batteries are in and charged and turn off the camera
phantom power.
It is slightly wider than the 416, so it fits the Rycote covers with wider support hoops. Otherwise the
mounting and boom mic instructions are the same.
Boom operating/ Sound people
For both the above mics, a boom operator will be useful- even inside. You can mount the mic on the
camera, but it may pick up the noise of the tape mechanism. You may also want the mic pointed in a
different direction to the camera lens.
The boom operator will need a boom pole, a Rycote, a long XLR cable, plus headphones and a few
extender cables for the headphones. If they have a few mics to deal with they will probably also use a
mixer and become the sound person.
The boom operator needs to hold the mic as close as possible to the desired sound without getting the mic
in shot. This can be difficult and tiring, so allow time for a new boom op to practice and get used to it.
You also need to allow time to get mic positioning just right. It’s no good to start shooting if the boom
op’s arms are going to get too tired and collapse halfway through a shot!
With enough practice, the boom op can also ‘swing’ the boom to follow a character as they move and
speak or follow some footsteps passing.
The boom op will be connected to the camera during recording. He or she needs to be able to keep their
XLR cables and headphone cables as neatly looped as possible and available to be extended when
necessary. Trailing cables are messy and can be dangerous on a shoot. Always disconnect the boom op
from the camera when changing your setup.
Radio mics
Radio mics can be attached to actors or interviewees so that their voices can be recorded as they move
around without getting a mic poking into shot.
The radio mic kits are self-powered, so put the batteries in and make sure they’re charged. When you
have finished with the radio mics the batteries should always be taken out again. Turn off the phantom
power on the XLR input.
Try to tuck the wires in and stash the transmitter pack somewhere on your subject’s body where it will
not be seen, crushed or knocked. Clip the little mic to their clothing at the neck, as near to their mouth as
possible while remaining inconspicuous.
Monitor the sound coming into the camera. If there is too much rustling from clothing you will have to
adjust the mic placement.
Attach the receiver pack to the hotshoe on the top of the camera or clip it to the velcro handle on the
If the radio mics are switched on and seem to be working, and the inputs are correctly set on the camera,
but you are not getting any sound- it may be that the radio frequencies are out of sync. You can change
these using the buttons on the packs. Make sure they are the same for transmitter and receiver.
Lip mic
We have one mic that is designed for recording clear
voice-overs in a noisy environment. It was designed
for sports commentators.
The lip mic should be held as close as possible to your
mouth without affecting the way you speak. You
should check by speaking into it that you are getting a
decent level. You should be able to get a good level
speaking normally with the mic right up against your
mouth, so if it is any further away than that the signal drops off rapidly.
The lip mic will still record other sounds, but they should not be at a level where they will interfere with
the clarity of the voice recording.
If you want no other sounds at all you should find a very quiet place to record. A small space with a soft
lining to the walls is ideal- a wardrobe or coat cupboard perhaps!
Setting up the camera for external mics
Go into the menu and select the musical note icon for the Audio submenu.
Scroll down to Mic Select, and select ‘XLR’.
Then go back to the Audio submenu and scroll down to ‘XLR set’.
If you are using one external mic, select Ch1,Ch2. This means that the mono input from the one mic will
be duplicated onto both tracks of the stereo audio on the tape.
If you are using two external mics plugged directly into the camera, select Ch1 + Ch2. This will lay
down each mic input as a separate track on the tape.
There are various other controls for the mic inputs, like the Limiter (best left on) and Wind sens (as low
as possible if shooting outside). It’s worth trying out what difference it makes to change the settings, but
only if you have time to absorb the information. Just before a vital shot is not the time!
Monitoring and levels control
You can monitor each track through each side of the headphones, but also by looking at the
If your audio levels are set to ‘Manual’ on the switches at the back,
the levels for both channels will be visible on your LCD screen at all
times. You can control the levels with the wheels on the left, behind
and below the eyepiece.
A peak level three-quarters of the way up the level is a good level to
shoot for. Test the likely sound levels in your scene before recording
to set the levels appropriately.
If the levels do peak into the red, you will have distortion. Digital
sound distortion sounds awful and there isn’t much you can do about
it afterwards.
Auto Levels
If your levels are set to ‘Auto’, you won’t be able to control them. You can still check up on them by
pressing the ‘status check’ button at the back of the camera.
Auto level works quite well, in that it more or less eliminates the possibility of distortion occurring.
However- for a scene in which the sound levels go up and down a lot, Auto level may provide some
unwanted effects.
For example, in a dialogue scene the auto levels might cope fine with a character’s voice. But when that
character stops talking, the levels may attempt to boost in order to amplify whatever sound exists in the
room. What you intended to be a quiet pause can turn into the magnified sound of the tape running
through the camera as the auto levels attempt to boost up whatever sounds it can get hold of.
This type of thing is unlikely to ruin your footage- the internal sounds of the camera are just not that loudbut it can create annoying glitches and mess with the smoothness of the sound, creating more work later.
Having said that, if you’re shooting with a reduced crew it can be well worth the risk. It’s up to you.
Shooting with a Mixer
The mixers available are 302’s from Sound Devices.
Make sure your mixer has three charged batteries inserted + end first, and that the cover is screwed on.
You can check your battery level by holding down the ‘Batt’ button.
Select the powering method- INT (internal battery power) or EXT
(externally powered by DC link)
Plug each mic into one of the three XLR inputs, making sure the switches
next to the inputs are correctly set for your mics. The options are:
PH= Phantom: powers the mic. Required for the 416 and other mics
without their own power supply.
If you use phantom power you should check the voltage required. You can
switch between 12v and 48v on the mixer. It will most likely be 48v.
DYN= Dynamic: For mics that do no require power from the mixer
T= For T-powered mics only. These are particular types of 12v mics and we don’t have any as yet so don’t
Setting up the Camera
Go into the menu and the Audio submenu.
Make sure the camera input levels are set to ‘Line’ instead of ‘Mic’ for both XLR inputs.
Plug the mixer’s XLR L and R outputs into the camera’s XLR inputs 1 and 2.
Plug the headphone socket on the camera into the ‘RTN’ socket on the mixer.
Plug your headphones into the mixer and adjust the
monitoring levels as required with the knob to the right. You
can select what inputs you hear through the headphones by
turning the switch to the left of the levels control. You can
listen to one input at a time, the left output channel, the right
output channel, (in Mono or Stereo) and ‘RTN’, which is
the feed coming back from the camera so you can monitor
what the camera is actually getting.
Please remember- changing the headphone settings does
not change the actual recorded sound!
You can also monitor for distortion using the levels.
You should be looking to get your sound levels peaking between -30dB and 0dB.
If the lights go into the red you may be getting distortion. If they peak all the way to the top, that bit of your
sound is probably ruined!
There are also ‘PK’ and ‘LIM’ lights next to each input’s Fader. These show you if your input is close to
overloading and, if you have the limiter on, whether the limiter is having to kick in to prevent overload.
Adjusting levels
You should set the rough level using the Gain knobs. These can be made to pop out by pushing them in. Set
it once for each input, and push it back in.
From then on, use the Faders corresponding to each input to control levels.
Adjusting Pan
Use the switches next to each input marked L, C, R- Left, Right and Centre (equally split left and right)
More complex setups
The 302 has an obscure menu system that works with coded signals sent through the level lights!
If you need or want to know how to use it, book out a manual and learn how from that. We will try to keep
the mixers set up in the optimum way for the kind of shoots you will be doing.
Shooting language Basics
The starter session is to teach you the basics of operating the camera and to cover some health
and safety stuff. You really learn how to use the camera when you take it out and start trying to
shoot a drama or documentary.
When that happens you also find out about style decisions and certain ‘rules’ about creating an
imaginary 3D world- which is what a piece of moving image tries to do.
These ‘rules’ are not unbreakable, and once you have had more practice you will find that
breaking them creatively can give great and sometimes unsettling effects. But when you start
shooting you will see why they exist and why most filmmakers abide by them.
I will discuss a few of the ‘rules’ later, but right now I’m going to outline some useful terms that
will help you to plan, execute and discuss your filmmaking, both with other filmmakers and in
Some Basic Shots:
WS- Wide Shot. eg. A landscape, a building, a street or a whole
room and everyone in it.
MW- Medium wide eg. A kitchen table and people sat round it.
Two-shot- eg. Two people in frame, often head to chest depending
how close they are to each other/ different heights etc.
OS- Over shoulder shot eg. In a conversation, you can see a bit of
one character’s shoulder and the other person’s head and
POV- Point of view shot eg. Imitating a character’s point of view.
MS- Mid-shot eg. A person from their head to their middle, with
some background.
MCU- Medium Close-up eg. Someone’s head and shoulders
CU- Close-up. eg. Someone’s head filling the frame
BCU- Big Close-up. eg. Someone’s face filling the frame
ECU- Extreme Close-up. eg. Someone’s eyes or mouth filling the frame.
Basic Camera movements and how to do them:
Pan- Side to side horizontal camera movement from a fixed point.
How to: Fix the camera to a tripod, loosen the horizontal axis as much as you need and move
the pan handle smoothly from side to side.
Or: Stand very still, using your arms to hold the camera steady and rotating your waist.
Tilt- Up-Down camera movement from a fixed point.
How to: Fix the camera to a tripod and loosen the tilt axis. Move the pan handle up and down.
Or: Hold the camera steady and do the same movement with your body. It will be steadiest if
you move from the waist with your knees slightly bent.
Track/ tracking shot- shot in which the camera moves, usually steadily in one direction
parallel to the ground.
How to: Fix a tripod securely to standard tracks and dolly suitable for your camera- or
improvised tracking devices such as a bike, skateboard or trolley. Any tracking device on wheels
or tracks may make noise, be visible in the shot or cause sudden bumps and jolts.
Or: Use the GlideCam kit. You will need lots of practice and special demo sessions for this.
Or: use the circular Fig Rig, practice your ninja steps and hold the rig steady, walking very
quietly, steadily and slowly.
Finally: You can do plain old hand-held tracking shots but you have to practice your technique,
and at the end of the day they still probably won’t be totally smooth.
Whichever way you do it this will probably take some practice, so allow time in your scheduling
to set it up and get it right.
Jib- camera movement up or down vertical to the ground.
How to: Attach your camera or tripod securely to a jib or crane suitable for your camera. Use
the appropriate weights to balance it and move the jib steadily like a seesaw. You will need
special demo sessions and some practice before you use the jib or crane. It involves heavy
weights and large bits of equipment.
Or: You can also achieve a similar effect over a very small distance using the GlideCam kit. As
above, this requires special demo sessions and practice to avoid hurting yourself or the kit.
Jib shots will always take some practice, so allow time in your scheduling to set it up and get it
Or: Hold the camera and use your knees to make the up-down movement. You could use the Fig
Rig to help smooth out arm shakes.
Or: Find a nearby escalator to provide you with a dramatic crane-like jib!
Tips for Shooting
Spatial Rules:
• If your subject is walking or looking to one side of the frame, try leaving a bit of space in
that direction. If you pan to follow their movement, try anticipating their movement
instead of following it- that way they can’t catch you out and leave frame before you catch
up with them.
• Try thinking about how shots will cut together in the edit. If the next shot involves them
coming into frame or travelling across frame, think about the direction in which they left
the last frame and which way they were facing. Having them come from a different
direction can be confusing and seem false.
• If two or more characters are having a conversation, think about what side of the
conversation you want to shoot from. It’s best to decide and stick with it. If you change
sides mid-scene the characters can seem to switch places in the frame, which can be very
confusing. This is known as the ‘180° rule’ and breaking it is called ‘crossing the line’.
The ‘line’ is the line of eye contact between the two actors as they speak. Imagine this line
extending indefinitely behind their heads- pick your side and stick to it. One of the few
exceptions is if you can cross it within the shot, by moving the camera.
Shooting for the Edit:
• If you are shooting a documentary interview or dialogue scene, think about gathering lots
of different shots. It can be boring to watch one person talking for more than a few
seconds. Your documentary will look much more professional if you can cut to a shot that
illustrates what the interviewee is talking about, or even just cover a cut between two bits
of the interview with a shot of their hands or something in the room. There are different
conventions with drama but it can still be useful to have the option of cutaways during
dialogue scenes.
• If you are going to shoot something for a documentary, it’s worth getting a few different
shots of it. Cutting from a wide shot to a slightly closer shot of the same thing from the
same angle looks jerky and boring, so try to get lots of shot sizes and angles.
For example: If you were filming a digger smashing up a building, you would want at
least a wide shot of the whole scene, a medium shot of the digger, a close up of the digger
operator, a close up of the jaws of the digger. You’d probably also do well to get other
close ups like the operators hand on the gearstick, rubble falling, wheels turning etc. The
more options you have, the more visual texture you can provide and the more smoothly
and enjoyably your film will come across.
• Once you’ve decided on a shot, try to record for about 10 seconds at a time without
changing frame. That gives the editor leeway over how much to use. If you are planning a
shot with movement, try to think of it as three separate shots: the first camera position as
one shot, the movement as another and the final camera position as another. So you
should have 10 seconds of static frame at each end of the movement, plus as long as the
movement takes in the middle.
To create a starting framework for pleasing, dynamic pictures, you should divide the
screen into a grid of three columns and three lines and line up the elements of your picture
roughly along those thirds of the screen.
This is called ‘the rule of thirds’, and has been used as a standard of visual beauty in art
for centuries. Many of the world’s most famous paintings are based on this rule.
See below for a more detailed demonstration of the rule of thirds.
The Rule of Thirds (
For the rule of thirds, imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds. The most important
elements are placed where these lines intersect (see diagram a.) In addition to using the
intersections, it also helps to use a 2 to 1 ratio (thus dividing the image both horizontally and
vertically into thirds) so that nothing is dead centre, which makes for a static image. Instead, when
placing the horizon line of a landscape, or the eye line of a person, use the lower or upper third as
an approximate guide.
diagram a
image a
image b
In image a, the subway shot, the most important person is the woman in the third on the left of the
She could be the main character of a video, or she could be about to do something important that
will influence the story.
Image b is an extreme close-up of the eyes of a girl. They are placed on the line along the lower
third of the image.
This image draws us in, we share the introspective moment that this girl has. In a video there could
be a voiceover narration telling us her thoughts, for example.
Any questions about this information or equipment?
Email [email protected] or call ext. 5420 or 6334 and ask Naomi, Richard or Ashton.
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