DVB-Camera Basics v2
MassArt Professional and Continuing Education
Documentary Video Boot Camp
Video Camera Basics
Thrown together by David Tamés, [email protected]
from various sources (see acknowledgement section)
Panasonic DVX 100B Digital Camcorder
We’ll be using the Panasonic DVX 100B, a Mini-DV
camera with many advanced features that were
not so long ago only available on high-end
cameras. These features include true 24P, a spot
meter, cine gamma, scene file controls, a smooth
servo zoom, etc.
This camera is a good learning tool, since it has
many settings and capabilities in common with
higher end cameras like the Panasonic HVX200,
HPX170, which are High Definition follow-ups to
the DVX with very similar operation, so much of
what you learn using this camera is applicable to
other cameras as well.
The DVX is special among prosumer camcorders
in that it was the first to support true 24 frame per
second progressive video and can be configured
to produce a look that resembles the soft, creamy
look of film. Even though it’s not a high definition
camera, the DVX holds it’s own as one of the best
standard definition cameras ever made. Many
filmmakers have used the DVX100 to give their
films a film look on a video budget. Some
examples include: Acoustics: The Modernism of
Julius Shulman (2008); Beyond Belief (2007); A
Scanner Darkly (2006, processed through
Rotoshop); The Road to Guantanamo (2006); Iraq
in Fragments (2006); Murderball (2005); Al Otro
Lado (2005); and Four Eyed Monsters (2005).
What’s in the camera bag?
When you check out a DVX 100B from MassArt
Audio Visual Services, you get a complete kit: the
camera, a manual, a charger/power adapter (for
charging the battery or powering the camera
using a wall outlet), A/C cable for the charger/
power adapter, a cable that connects from the
charger/power adapter to the camera, a short
shogun microphone, a foam windscreen,
headphones, and two batteries.
Using the camera for the first time
1. The first thing you want to do is take the
camera out of the bag and check it to make sure
there is nothing obviously wrong with it. Note:
That clacking noise you hear when you move the
camera around when it’s turned off is a
component of the the image stabilization system,
there’s nothing wrong with the camera. Turn it on
and the clicking goes away.
2. Next you will want to insert the battery (you
push it into place and then slide down to lock)
and turn the camera on. Push the white button
while sliding the on/off switch to turn on the
3. Insert Tape. To do this press the blue eject
button located on the camera. Don’t forget to
label your tape.
external microphones that require phantom
power, set the MIC POWER switches to ON.
Set routing of Ch1 and Ch2 audio on the side of
the camera (you can choose INT mic or EXT input
4. Push the “Auto” button to switch to auto
recording mode. The Camera controls the
following settings when in auto mode: Focus; Iris;
Gain; and White Balance.
to be fed into Ch1 and Ch2. If you are starting out
using the camera mic, then make sure that that
Ch. 1 audio is set to INT(L) and Ch. 2 audio is set to
INT(R), otherwise, you will typically set this to
route Input 1 to Ch. 1 ( Left ) and Input 2 to Ch. 2
6. Check and adjust your audio levels. One or two
red squares once in a while is OK. Several most of
5. Make sure that the inputs are on the right
settings depending if you are using an external
microphone or other source or using the internal
microphones. Set Mic/Line switch on the front
when using external audio source. When using
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
the time, too loud. But at the same time you want
to see lots of white lines for a strong enough
signal, otherwise your audio will be lost in the
“noise floor.” When you see six (like Ch1 above)
you’ve hit the digital “brick wall.” The DVX has a
Limiter instead of Automatic Gain Control, so
even on automatic you have to set the audio
levels. This results in better sound, so it’s worth
the effort. You will not hear the “pumping” or
“breathing” you hear with the Automatic Gain
Control common on other cameras. Make sure
that the limiter is not disabled in the menu (see
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7. Monitor audio with
headphones. These plug into
the back of the camera.
Monitor volume control is
above the microphone
switches on the side
“Camera” / “VCR” button that toggles between
Camera mode and VCR mode) and back up a little
bit and play and then stop before the end of the
clip to make sure it’s overlapping a little bit. The
camera picks up the time code from the video
recorded on the last frame of the previous shot.
8. Begin shooting by
pressing the red record
button. The red “REC”
indicator on the LCD will confirm you’re actually
recording. Stop shooting by
pressing the red button again.
Adjustments Overview
Additional tips
1. To zoom in and out use the
toggle located near where the
tape is loaded. If this does not
affect the zoom, check the the
“Manual / Servo” switch located on the front of
the camera. Never move the zoom ring manually
when the switch is set to “Servo” as it may
damage the internal gears.
2. Never point the camera directly into the sun.
3. Use the ND Filter when filming outside on
bright sunny days. You want to avoid shooting at
small apertures like 11 or 16, so the ND comes in
4. Consider using outlet power when available,
unless you’re mobile and need to use the battery.
5. Use a tripod, or another camera stabilization
device when possible to stabilize your shooting.
If shooting hand-held, use the Optical Image
Stabilization (OIS), the button for turing this on
and off is on the side panel of the camera. When
using a tripod, turn the OIS off.
6. Avoid time code breaks: make sure to overlap
with the previous video clip a little bit. If the time
code number has gone back to zero, you can use
the Rec Check button to go back and play a little
bit of the previous shot which will then stop on
the last frame of recorded video. If Rec Check
does not work, you might have to go into play
mode (on the back of the camera there’s a
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
The things we are mostly concerned with when
we’re adjusting things on the camera are:
Focus adjustment
Focal Length adjustment
Iris adjustment
Gain Setting
ND Setting
White Balance Setting
Set the Frame rate option (60i, 30P, 24P, 24PA)
Set the Aspect Ratio option (4x3 or 16x9)
Shutter speed setting (slow shutter, fast
• Choose the Scene Settings (gamma, matrix,
master pedestal, etc.) for a particular look.
Primary Camera Functions
White Balance
A-B-PRESET: When switched into the A position,
the camera stores the last setting in this storage
bank – as is the same for the B switch when in
position. This unique feature allows for two
custom stored settings in the event of a multiple
lighted shooting conditions. For instance: You
may want to set and store and outdoor setting in
A and then set and store an indoor setting in B in
the event of needing to switch from indoor to
outdoor during a shoot. The Preset switch is used
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DVX100 Focus conversion chart (compiled by Eric Petersen)
3' 10"
4' 10"
6' 6"
22' 9"
3' 11"
4' 11.5"
6' 9"
10' 8"
26' 6"
11' 6"
31' 10"
4' 1"
5' 2"
7' 4"
12' 4"
39' 9"
4' 2.5"
5' 4"
7' 8"
13' 4"
52' 11"
4' 4"
5' 6"
14' 7"
79' 5"
4' 5"
5' 9.5"
8' 6"
160' 8"
4' 6.5"
17' 9"
4' 8"
6' 3"
9' 6"
19' 11"
in conjunction with the AWB Button. When the
white balance switch is on PRST you can push the
AWB Button to switch between two presets:
• 3200K incandescent light, indoor.
• 5200K typical daylight, outdoors.
AWB Button
ND Filter
This can be considered sunglasses for the camera.
The ND filter is used outside when it’s sunny or
even when it’s cloudy there are two settings: 1/8
& 1/64.
Focus Switch and Button
Auto, Manual, Push: Use Push in the manual
position to quickly establish the focus setting and
still maintain manual control. Be
aware that the auto focus is slow,
so you’ll want to hold this in for
several seconds as the camera
seeks to the new focus setting.
Focus Ring
Sets the white balance. The AWB button is in front
of the camera. When this button is pushed while
the white balance switch is in the A or B position,
the white balance is automatically adjusted. The
white balance value is then stored in the memory.
When the AWB is pressed while the white balance
switch is in the Preset position, the current white
balance value is displayed. It
also allows you to toggle
between the Daylight and
Tungsten settings while in
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Manually controls the focus. The
distance is displayed in the
viewfinder as a number. To translate this curious
number only an engineer can appreciate to feet
and inches preferred by most humans, use the
conversion chart on this page.
Zoom Control
Servo control of the zoom is provided by this
rocker switch on the camera above the tape
compartment. Notice you can press it a little for a
slow zoom and press it further for a faster zoom.
The Zoom Servo/Manual switch on the front of
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the camera needs to be set to Servo for this
rocker switch to work.
Zoom Ring
Switch the camera to MANUAL before doing
manual zoom by hand. See Zoom Servo/Manual
Iris Button
EVF DTN End Search Button
This button can be set to search for blank tape or
the last shot in the playback mode
Counter - Reset Buttons
This button is used to reset the counter value on
the counter display and memory counter value to
zero, not time code
When the Iris button is
pressed, it toggles
between the auto iris and
manual iris modes.
Mode CHK Button
Iris Dial
The Optical Image Stabilization is used to set the
camera shake compensation to on or off. In other
terms this make the picture steadier when you are
filming hand held. Avoid this setting when using
a tripod.
This is used to adjust the lens iris. It can be used in
both the manual and auto setting. (See Iris Dial
item in the menu under SW mode)
Use this button to check the current status of the
camera in the Viewfinder or LCD monitor.
Secondary Camera Functions
Handle Zoom 1 2 3
These are the speed
settings for the handle
zoom. This zoom is
different from the other
zoom because it is not
pressure sensitive. In the
menu of the camera the
speed can be set to LowMedium-High or Low-OffHigh.
Zoom Servo/Manual
Use to choose auto zoom
(controlled by the zoom buttons) or manual zoom
(controlled manually by the zoom ring). Make
sure to set the MANUAL/AUTO switch at the front
of the camera to MANUAL before manually
adjusting zoom.
When turned on this can tell you when you are
overexposing your shot, a zebra-like pattern will
appear over the overexposed area. This button
can be set for Zebra 1 = 80%, Zebra 2=100% (See
Set Up mode in Menu to change the value of the
Zebra). Pushing on the Zebra button takes you
through the settings, Zebra 1, Zebra 2, Marker On,
Marker Off.
Shutter & Speed Sel Button
Press the shutter button to change the speed
then press the Speed-Sel button to set the speed.
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Record Check
Is used to view 2 seconds
of the last recording,
from with in the shooting
pause mode. The
recorder will reposition at
the pause point of that
most recent recording.
User Buttons
User 1,2, and 3: The setting options for the user
buttons are in the menu under SW Mode. There
are eleven functions that can be allotted to the
user buttons for special shooting conditions or
When these two
buttons are pressed
at the same time in
the VCR mode the
camera can be used
as a VTR.
Audio Functions
Audio Mon/Var Buttons
Use these buttons to adjust the volume of the
built in monitor or headphones connected to the
Other Goodies
Cold Shoe (a.k.a. accessory shoe)
Used to mount a light, microphone, wireless
receiver, or other gear.
Tally Lamp
A light that alerts you when you are recording or
in some cases when the battery is running low.
There is a lamp in the front and rear of the
camera. These lights can also be turned off from
the Menu – Other Functions – Rec. Lamp.
Tripod Socket
The camera has a standard 1/4-20 (1/4" diameter,
20 threads per inch) socket for attachment to a
tripod. This can also be used for attaching the
camera to custom made mounts. You can find
compatible bolts at most any hardware store.
Make sure that any bolt you get is not too long,
you don’t want the bolt to bottom out in the
threaded socket and risk damaging the socket or
Lens and Lens Shade
Always keep the lens clean. If you need to clean
the lens, apply a drop of lens fluid and then clean
gently with a crumpled piece of lens tissue. Never
press on the lens while cleaning, as a small grain
of dirt could easily scratch the lens. If you’re not
confident with lens cleaning, ask someone with
experience to show you how to do it.
Audio Control Dials
These dials control the audio recording level.
Refer to the level readout (discussed later) and
listen with headphones for the best results.
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The lens shade is removable (loosen the screw on
the side an then turn gently, the lens shade
attaches via a bayonet mount).
6. Display Setup
7. Other Functions
VCR mode
Menu Functions
1. Playback Functions
The only reason to go into the menu is for
changes in the functionality of the camera. There
is no need to use the menu for basic shooting if
you are happy with the camera defaults or how it
was set up before you started using it. However, if
someone was in the menus messing around, they
have have set things you don’t want. This is the
joy of a prosumer cameras, so many settings to
2. Recording Setup
3. AV In/Out Setup
4. Display Setup
5. Other Functions
Scene File Settings
Scene file dial
This dial has setting designed for various shooting
conditions. When shooting the needed file can be
quickly loaded using this dial. (see the menu for
Scene file mode options.)
Scene File Dial Settings
F1. Scene: Standard Settings (start with this one)
F2. Scene Flou: Indoor shooting under fluorescent
mess you up (or give you creative options).
F3. Scene Spark: Events increase color and detail
If the camera is ever functioning in a manner
inconsistent with this handout, it’s possible that
there’s a menu setting that has been changed.
Consult the user’s manual for specific details on
adjusting the various menu settings.
F4. Scene B-STR: Enhanced gradation in dark
areas of sunset shots
The VCR controls double as menu controls
depending on the mode. Push the pause button
and left/right arrows for menu setting changes.
Menu Options
Camera Mode
1. Scene File (changes with scene file dial on back
of camera)
F5. Scene 24p: 24p mode + Cine-Like gamma (use
this one for a more film-like look, be aware you’ll
have 3-2 pulldown embedded in your video, if
you’re not sure what this means, start with F1).
F6. Scene Advance: Advanced 24p mode (only
used 24pA if you know why you want to use it
and are aware of the post-production issues
associated with it, so start off using F1 or F5 until
you have a specific need for 24pA.) Don’t use this
scene file setting if you’re editing with Final Cut
Express or another editing system that does not
support 24p advanced (24pA).
2. Camera Setup
Recommended Settings
3. SW Mode
For starting out, simply use one of the preset
Scene File Settings mentioned above. However, if
you want a nice creamy film-look or your own
custom look, you can adjust the camera settings
4. Auto SW
5. Record Setup
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to your liking. These are the settings I like using
with the DVX100:
Vertical Detail Frequency: Thin [See Note 1]
Vertical Detail: 0
Detail: -3 [See Note 2]
Detail Coring: 0 [See Note 3]
Skin Detail: Off
Chroma: 0
Phase: +3
Gamma: Cine Gamma
Matrix: Cine Look
Master Pedestal: -3 to -6
Format: 4:3 or 16:9 LETTERBOX [See Note 4]
Time Code: Record Run
First Record: Preset (set Tape #)
Shutter Speed: 1/48 [See Note 5]
Exposure: Use spot meter (”Marker”) in
camera, highlights with some textural detail
at 90%, “middle grey” ay 45-55%, dark areas
with textural detail at 10-15%
• Mode/Frame Rate: 24P (or 24P Advanced if
you are using it with a good reason to be
using it) [See Note 6]
Start by resetting all camera settings to their
default values, then set your scene settings and
then name and save them into one of the camera
scene files. Double check settings each time you
insert a new tape or power-up the camera. These
settings are a starting point, you should do your
own testing and establish the look appropriate for
your project. Refer to your DVX-100 User Manual
and Barry Green’s most excellent DVX Book and
DVD (links below) for more details.
Notes on these settings
1: Vertical Detail Frequency. If you are intending
to do a video to film transfer, up-convert to HD, or
plan to project at festivals and other venues that
are using 720P projectors, use the Thin setting.
This provides the full 480 lines of vertical
resolution the DVX is capable of and yields a
better image when the SD video is up-converted
(start with the sharpest and best image you can).
The problem is that most television monitors are
interlaced and thus can’t handle the high
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
resolution, so you see what’s called line twitter (as
a result of interlacing), but if you’re using a
progressive display, projector, going out to film,
or able to do post-processing in post production,
it’s the way to go. The Mid setting brings the
vertical detail down to about 400 lines reducing
the twitter artifacts on an interlaced display. The
Thick setting offers about 360 lines without any
artifacts and ideal for material intended for SD
broadcast. You will notice the twitter effects of
the Thin setting when looking at a scene with lots
of fine detail on an interlaced display. Another
alternative is to shoot with the Thin setting and
process the video in post to lower the resolution if
you need material for both up-conversion to HD
an SD.
2: Detail. Detail enhances edges, too much and
the image starts to look electronic and artificial,
like oh too many bad wedding videos. Leave off
unless you have a specific need for it. A slightly
softer image is part of the film look. Exaggerated
edge detail is part of the video look.
3: Detail Coring. When you enhance detail, you
add noise, especially in the shadows. Detail
Coring reduces the added noise.
4: Aspect Ratio. Shooting 4:3 of 16:9 letterboxed
within the 4:3 frame assures it plays on every TV, if
you choose squeeze, you limit your screening to
televisions and projectors capable of 16:9, which
is not yet universal, also, some experts suggest
even if you want squeeze, the scalers you can use
in post will do a better job than the scaler built
into the camera for creating a squeezed 16:9
version. Shoot 4:3 with vertical detail set to thin
and you will get the best up-convert to 16:9 HD or
film out possible. And while it’s more work to do
the squeeze in post, the creative advantage is you
can correct framing slightly up or down in post,
so you might even consider shooting 4:3 even if
your final destination is a 16:9 video.
5: Strobing. When shooting 24P, because you are
“exposing” 24 frames per second (rather than 60
fields per second as with video) you will notice
“strobing” when you do a fast pan. This can be
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reduced by panning slowly. The rule of thumb is it
should take seven seconds for an object to cross
the screen as you pan. Another approach is to
move with the subject and distract the viewer’s
attention from the strobing background. Another
way to deal with strobing is to use a lower shutter
speed, the default for the DVX is 1/48 when
shooting 24P, you can lower it to 1/24, for
example. This will increase motion blur (not
always a bad thing, it’s kind of cool and another
element of the film look). At the 1/24 shutter
speed there is less strobing that at 1/48, however,
more motion blur. Shooting at 30p exhibits less
strobing, however, this format does not convert
gracefully to other formats like film (24fps) or PAL
6: Frame Rate and Scan Mode: For the standard
video look, shoot 60i. For the film look, shoot 24P
Standard or 24P Advanced. Unless you
understand clearly why you want to shoot 24P
Advanced, Shoot 24P Standard and capture your
project at 60i in Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express.
24P standard will provide you with the film look
and the ease of editing a standard video project
at 29.97fps. Final Cut Express does not support
capture of 24P Advanced material. If you chose to
shoot 24P Advanced, make sure you capture the
project in Final Cut Pro as 23.97. 24P advanced
has advantages if you want a 24fps master, which
is what I personally prefer. It’s easy to derive 60i
from 24P. Getting 24P from 60i involved reverse
telecine and some loss of quality. For web video
24p is a good choice. For DVD 24P is a good
choice. True 24P (shooting Advanced w/ the
camera) is a universal standard easily converted
to other standards. 24P advanced uses a 2:3:3:2
candence to encode 24p onto 60i video and then
the editing system reconstitutes the 24fps video
from the 60i. Your editing system needs to know
how to handle this. Some argue that it’s easier to
simply shoot 24P standard which uses the
standard video to film cadence of 2:3 and edit
standard 29.97 (60i) video in your editing system.
If you are OK staying in 60i, then it’s OK to shoot
24p standard. I prefer a true 24p master and I
think the extra trouble in capture is worth it.
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
However, it does require the use of Final Cut Pro
or another non-linear editor that supports 24P
Advanced and a lot of additional care and
attention. Whatever you do, test your workflow
before you leap. One nice thing of tape going
away is the digital card formats make it possible
to shoot and ingest 24p material without any of
these hassles.
LCD Display
The LCD display screen can seem like it’s literally
swarming with information. In the following
section I’m going to try and sort out what the
most commons symbols and flashing light mean.
Red flashing box in the upper left corner: This
means you do not have a tape in the camera.
TC with a bunch of numbers: The Time Code is a
digital code or number inserted into videotape,
unseen on the final product, for editing purposes.
The time code identifies every frame of the
videotape and displays hours, minutes, seconds
and frames (HH:MM:SS:FF). When editing, Time
Code allows each video frame to be addressed
Hand with lines: No you’re not hallucinating.
That’s the image stabilization symbol, if you can
see it, it is on. But, if you’re not as steady as you
used to be, you’ll want this to be on. When the
camera is mounted on a tripod you will want it to
be off.
Battery icon in bottom right corner: This is the
power level of the current battery that you have
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in the camera. Watch out if it’s flashing your
battery is about to go kaput.
Lines that move: The audio meters. Be sure to
keep them out of the red, but at the same time
you want to see lots of white lines for a strong
enough signal.
SP in the upper left corner: That stands for
standard play and is the setting you want to
record in. If you don’t record in SP the footage
from your tape won’t work in some decks .
There is a lot more to the display screen, but
that should give you a general overview of the
things you need to know to successfully operate
the camera.
If you don’t see timecode numbers as shown
here, press the “Counter” button on the side panel
of the camera (you may have to do this several
times) to display time code on the LCD.
Shooting Basics
To ensure you can capture everything you shoot,
start off each tape with either black or bars for
about 15 seconds at the start of tape.
Properly white balance the camera whenever
light changes.
Shoot to edit - allow for at least five-second preroll time. Take into consideration with all shots in
relation to how they may look in an editing
Make sure that there is enough room in the shot
to add titles, graphics, lower thirds, or other
possible adjustments in the editing process..
Pre-production check-list
Program outline
Shot list
Interview questions
Subject releases
Location releases
Location agreements (if needed)
Shooting permits (if needed)
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Shooting in the Field
Stable body position - leg spacing, kneeling arm
support, hold viewfinder up to your eye for the
steadiest hand-held shot (you head is very
steady), or use a tripod if it’s more appropriate for
what you’re shooting.
Use your environment to your advantage:
For support use a wall, step, chair or whatever you
can find. A monopod provides an interesting
alternative to a tripod, and when used hand-held
off the ground, helps to lower the camera centerof-gravity, which makes for a more stable shot.
Find a unique angle, the more variety and mix of
shots you have the more interesting your final
piece will be. Not everything should he shot at
eye level. Documentary is an expressive medium.
Focusing: different types: setting focus, depth of
field, deep focus.
• Telephoto: perspective flat, narrow field, lacks
• Wide angle: emphasize space and depth,
• Manual vs. servo zoom
Framing and shot composition
• Rule of thirds
• Head room / Lead room
• Cropping - crop at joints, allow for overscanning (still important to consider)
• Foreground / background
• Move with subjects / subject pushes frame
Shot selection
• Types: XLS, LS, MS, MCU, CU, XCU
• Motivation
• Light
• Composition
Remember to shoot to edit with these basic
principles. It may be necessary to experiment
with several clips in Final Cut in order to learn
how best to apply these principles in a shoot to
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edit situation. We’ll discuss the concept of
Handheld - Omnidirectional
Mic Cables
Boom Pole
Pistol Grip or other mount
Microphone Stands
Wireless system (avoid if you can, but oh so
convenient, interference can be a problem)
• Mixer (optional)
Reflector (flex-fill)
Light Kit (soft/open/fresnel)
Diffusion material
Reflective umbrellas to use w/ Tota lights
Light Stands
Clothes pins, groves, gaffer tape
Things to avoid
Pointing camcorders at a bright light source will
cause a vertical smear on the video, usually
undesirable. Do not use the camcorder in
situations under 32ºF or over 100ºF. Do not store
camcorder in car trunk or in a closed van; it may
be exposed to harmful conditions or theft. Do not
expose camcorder to rain or moisture.
Location Pre-Production Check List
• Obtain permission to shoot location or event
if needed.
• Obtain release forms from subjects.
• Shot List, think about transitions and cover
shots, you want to express your idea visually,
not just with people talking
• Scout location prior to shoot if possible
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
• Check for power outlets, lighting and audio
• Verify set-up time with location and crew.
• Ask about a convenient unloading/loading
area if you have more gear than you can easily
carry in one trip
• Inform any security or PR staff of your
schedule if shooting in an institutional setting
• Have any release or location release forms
that may be needed, especially when working
in a school or institution that may have
particular concerns with cameras in their
space, and usually you’ll need to get
permission to use the location in advance.
Things to Have on the Shoot
Extension cords, extra audio gear, gels, trickline, gloves, tools, gaffer (not duct) tape
• Forms, subject and location releases, parking
permits, admittance waivers, etc.
• Garbage bags
• First aid kit
• Where will the sun and shadow be during the
• If shooting indoors, are there windows in the
• Where will the lighting go?
• Is there enough power? Watts = Voltage x
• Will others be drawing power from the same
• Fluorescent office lights, even “warm” ones are
not flattering on faces, use lighting for formal
interviews when you can.
• Is there a lot of background noise? Can you
get mics close enough to subject? Lavalieres
work well in noisy environments as long as
they are placed close to the subject speaking.
• Do you need more than one microphone?
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• If using a wireless, try it out first. There may be
interference from electrical sources or
competing transmitters.
More Information
This handout is not a substitute for looking over
the camera manual, so if it’s not clear how to
make a particular adjustment, take a gander at
the users manual. Point your browser to ftp://
manuals/OM_AG-DVX100B.pdf to download the
manual. The DVX Book by Barry Green is the
perfect companion to this camera. It explains
many of the things that are described but not
explained in the owners manual. The book is
available from: http://www.dvxuser.com/articles/
Glossary of Video and Camera
360-degree pan. A panning shot which turns
around a full circle.
24p, 24pA, 30p,. See Progressive Scan.
3:2 Pulldown. A technique used to convert 24
frames per second film to 30 frames per second
16x9. The aspect ratio of wide screen television
(may be either standard or high definition) as
opposed to the 4x3 of standard television.
Sometimes referred to as 1.77: 1 or 1.78:1.
60i. See Interlace Scan.
Aerial shot. An overhead shot, usually taken from
a helicopter or airplane or some clever
contraption involving wires. Can also refer to any
high angle view of a subject taken from a crane or
any high stationary position.
Aliasing. Defects in the picture caused by too low
of a sampling frequency or poor filtering. Usually
seen as jaggies or stair steps in diagonal lines.
Aliasing also can occur in the temporal domain,
for example, as wagon wheels moving backward
or slower than the wagon is moving, due to the
frame rate of the camera vs. the speed of the
wheel. Any undesirable distortion of image or
sound that is a result of less than perfect digital
encoding can be considered aliasing.
Analog. A signal that varies continuously in
relation to some reference. In contrast, a digital
signal varies in discreet steps.
video. Every other film frame is converted to 3
video fields resulting in a sequence of 3 fields, 2
fields, 3 fields, 2 fields, etc. See also Progressive
4x3. The aspect ratio of standard television, as
opposed to the 16x9 of high definition television. Also known as 1.33: 1.
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Anamorphic lens. A lens that allows a wide image
to be photographed on a standard-sized frame.
For example, anamorphic lenses are available for
the Panasonic DVX100 (and several other video
cameras) which allows the use of the full 4x3
video frame when shooting 16x9 video. The
anamorphic lens essential takes a 16x9 image and
squeezes it into a 4x3 frame. In video terms this is
often called “squeeze” or anamorphic video.
Angle. See Camera angle.
Angle of view. The angle of acceptance of a lens
which depends on the focal length of the lens
and the camera aperture (related to the size of
the imaging device or film frame). Wide angle
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lenses have a wide angle of view, telephoto lenses
have a narrow angle of view.
Anti-aliasing. The process of removing aliasing
artifacts. For example, adding vertical blur to an
interlaced video image, which assures that any
fine detail straddle more than one line, prevents
“line jitter” on an interlaced display.
Aperture. An adjustable opening (iris) in a camera
lens that controls the amount of light passing
through a lens, often expressed as an f-number (a
ratio of the opening and the focal length of the
lens). The aperture has an effect on depth of field.
Wide openings (e.g. f/2.8) result in shallow depth
of field, smaller openings (e.g. f/11) result in
greater depth of field. Thus the aperture affects
both the exposure and the depth of field.
to cover breaks in an interview. Often used to
refer to the footage that is shot for the purpose of
using later as cut-away shots. See Cut-away shot.
Balanced signal. An audio circuit with 3 wires,
two carry the signal, and the third provides the
ground. Compared to unbalanced circuit using a
single signal wire and a ground, balanced signals
are much less susceptible to picking up
interference. Therefore, professional sound
recording equipment is usually designed to work
with balanced wiring. While XLRs are the most
widely used connectors with balanced wiring, a
particular connector does not guarantee the
existence of balanced wiring. Better camcorders
provided balanced XLR connectors for audio
Apple box. A sturdy rectangular box commonly
used in media production made of wood used to
support equipment, people, props, etc.
Sometimes called a “man maker” since they are
used to stand on to appear taller. Available in
various sizes: Full, Half, Quarter, and Pancake
(eight of a Full). Also works well on it’s side as a
temporary place to sit on the set.
Bandwidth. The amount of information that can
be passed through a system at a given time.
Typically, the greater the bandwidth the better
the image or audio quality, however, the
compression techniques (if any) used also
influence this, since some compression formats
allow for a reduction of bandwidth while
maintaining very similar image quality, for
example, H.264 vs. MPEG-2.
Artifact. A visual effect caused by an error or
limitation in the system.
Bird's eye view. See Overhead shot. Aspect ratio. The ratio of the horizontal
dimension to the vertical dimension of a picture.
35mm films are typically shot with an aspect ratio
of 1.85: 1 or 2.35:1, widescreen video is 1.78:1
(a.k.a. 16x9), and standard video and 16mm film is
1.33:1 (4x3).
ATV. Advanced Television. An acronym for the
new digital television standards. See HDTV.
ATSC. Advanced Television Systems Committee.
The standards organization that recommended
the new digital television standards to the FCC.
Automatic white balance. A circuit in a video
camera that attempts to adjust the white balance
automatically. See White Balance.
B-roll. Shots in a documentary that are used to
illustrate what an interviewee is talking about or
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Bit. 1. A single element (1 or 0) of digital
representation of information. 2. A minor role in
which an actor may speak only a few lines of
dialog. Also known as a bit part. Bit rate. The amount of data transported in a
given amount of time, usually defined in Mega
(Million) bits per second (Mbps). Bit rate is one
way to define the amount of compression used
on a video signal. Uncompressed standard
definition video has a bit rate of 270 Mbps. The
DV and HDV video standards have a bit rate to 25
Mbps. These video standards reduce the bit rate t
Broadcast quality. An nebulous term used by
marketing people to describe video products.
Camera angle. The position of the camera in
relation to the subject during filming. It may be
straight (eye-level shot), tilted up at the subject
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(low-angle shot), tilted down at the subject (highangle shot), or tilted off the vertical axis to either
side (Dutch-angle shot).
Camera movement. Any movement of the
camera during a shot, such as panning, tilting,
dollying, tracking, etc.
Camera log. A sheet used to keep track of
information about scenes or shots on a particular
tape or memory card.
Camera speed. The rate at which film is run
through a motion picture camera in frames per
second (fps). The normal speed for sound film
recording is 24 fps. Video cameras that simulate
film shooting at 24 fps use the same terms as film
cameras to describe the camera speed. See also
Overcrank and Undercrank.
Canted frame. See Dutch angle.
Chrominance. The color component of a video
signal. See Luminance.
Cinéma vérité. In French, literally, “cinema truth.”
A style of documentary filmmaking in which the
filmmaker captures real people in real situations
with spontaneous use of hand-held camera,
naturalistic sound recording, and with
participation on the part of the filmmaker, for
example, Chronicle of a Summer (1961, Jean Rouch
& Edgar Morin, French title: Chronique d'un été).
Also called direct cinema, however, direct cinema
sometimes refers to a different style that was
dominant in the United States in the 1960s and
differs in terms much less filmmaker involvement,
for example, Salesman (1968, Albert & David
Cinematographer. The person responsible for the
camera work and lighting in a film. Sometimes
the term is used even though the medium in use
is video. Also called a lighting cameraman or
director of photography.
Clipping. When an input signal exceeds the
capability the equipment to reproduce the signal,
clipping occurs. In an analog recording system
the results are audible distortion, however, in a
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
digital system you end up with incomprehensible
Close-up (CU). A close view of a person or object
which features details isolated from their
surroundings. A close-up of a person typically
only shows their head.
Component video. A video signal in which the
Luminance and Chrominance signals are kept
separate. This requires a higher bandwidth, but
yields a higher quality picture.
Composite video. The luminance and
chrominance signals are combined in an encoder
to create the common NTSC, PAL or SECAM video
signals. Typically the format that comes out of a
consumer VCR or camera (connector RCA
connector color-coded with yellow). Essentially a
form of analog video compression to allow the
economical broadcasting of video.
Compression. The process of reducing the
amount of digital information required to
represent an image. This is usually accomplished
by throwing out redundant information, or doing
sophisticated calculations to represent portions
of the image in a manner that they can be
reconstructed with minimal amounts of data.
Compression techniques using DCT techniques
simply throw out redundant information, other
techniques like MPEG-2 and H.264 use more
sophisticated analysis, modeling, and
reconstruction techniques.
Compression ratio. The ratio of the amount of
data in the original video compared to the
amount of data in the compressed video. The
higher the ratio the greater the compression.
Coverage. Additional and more detailed shots
which are intended to be intercut with a master
shot or scene. Typically involves shots and their
respective reverse-shots in a dialog scene, along
with inserts and possibly a two-shot, and any
additional shots that will help the editor construct
the scene.
Crane shot. A shot taken from a crane or large
mechanical arm that moves the camera and its
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operator smoothly and noiselessly in any
direction. See also Jib arm.
requires more space than formats like MPEG-2,
however, it exhibits significantly fewer artifacts.
CRT. Cathode Ray Tube. The technical name for a
glass video picture tube. LCD flat panel displays
have all but replaced them, and most
manufacturers have stopped making them for
environmental and cost reasons, but some
colorists and cinematographers still prefer to
evaluate images on “glass” monitors (e.g. Sony
BVM-A20F1U 20" BVMA14F5U 14" HD monitors)
with SMPTE-C/EBU phosphors, providing the
most accurate color, tonal range, and solid black.
In spite of their image quality, their time is slowly
coming to an end as LCD monitors improve and
offer a weight, cost, and environmental
advantage over CRTs.
Digital. A representation format in which data is
translated into a series of ones and zeros.
Numerical data (base 10) is translated into binary
numbers (base 2). Symbolic data is translated
according to codes (for example, the ASCII code
system assigns binary numbers to characters so
they can be encoded digitally). Audio and images
are sampled. See also sample, sampling rate.
Curtain. Placing a conventional 4:3 video image
within a wide screen image (typically 16x9) in a
frame by placing black bands at the left and right
of the screen.
Cutaway. A shot of an image or action in a film
which is not part of the main action, sometimes
used to cover breaks in a scene's continuity. In
documentary often called “B-roll.”
Dailies. In film production the first positive prints
or video transfer made by the laboratory from the
negative shot on the previous day. Also known as
rushes. It can also mean on a video production
the video shot the same day when it’s watched at
the end of the day.
Deep-focus cinematography. A cinematographic
technique which keeps objects in a shot clearly
focused from close-up range to infinity. Involves
the use of wide lenses and small apertures.
Citizen Kane contains some wonderful examples
of deep focus cinematography.
Depth of field. The range in front of the camera
lens within which objects appear in sharp focus.
Diagonal. A shot where the camera pivots both
horizontally and vertically, a combination of
DCT. Discrete Cosine Transform. A widely used
method of video compression. The technique is
employed in formats like DV and DVPRO HD. DCT
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Digital recording. A method of recording video
(or audio) in which samples of the original analog
signal are encoded on tape or a file as binary
information for storage and retrieval. Unlike
analog recordings, digital video (or audio) can be
copied repeatedly without degradation.
Digitizing. The act of taking analog video and
converting it to digital form. The term is often
used synonymously with ingest or capture, which
is the process of transferring a digital video
format into a non-linear editing system (it’s
already digital, so you are simply capturing or
ingesting, you’re not actually digitizing).
Direct cinema. See Cinéma vérité.
Distortion. The addition of artifacts to the original
audio signal appearing in the output which was
not present in the input.
Documentary. A non-fiction film, usually
photographed using actual people in real
locations rather than with actors and a scripted
stories. Defined by John Grierson as “the creative
treatment of actuality,” a definition that allows for
a wide range of films to fall under the definition,
which has always been a source of debate among
filmmakers, viewers, and theoreticians.
Dogme 95. An avant-garde filmmaking
movement started in 1995 by directors Lars von
Trier and Thomas Vinterberg with the signing of
the Dogme 95 Manifesto and the "Vow of
Chastity". The goal of the Dogme collective was to
purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and
spectacular special effects, postproduction
modifications and other gimmicks. More
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information may be found on the official Dogme
95 web site at: http://www.dogme95.dk/
Dolly shot. See Tracking shot.
Doorway dolly. A versatile plywood dolly with
four soft tires which is narrow enough to fit
through a doorway. On big features it is used to
transport equipment and cables, on smaller
productions it is used as a camera dolly with the
camera placed on a tripod which in turn sits on
the plywood platform. The four soft tires can be
replaced with track wheels allowing the doorway
dolly to operate on standard track. Panther has
developed a version of the doorway dolly called
the briefcase dolly that folds up into a smaller unit
for easier transport.
Double exposure. The superimposition of two or
more images. Also called multiple exposure. With
film it is achieved with multiple exposures.
Double-system sound. The technique of
recording sound and image using separate
recording devices. In film production this is the
normal methodology since film camera can’t
record sound, however, it is sometimes used in
video as well when mobility is required by the
sound recordist who may want to avoid running
wires to feed the video camera with the audio
Drop Frame (DF). A system of time code
generation that adjusts the generated data every
minute by skipping frames as it counts up (not
dropping video frames) in order to compensate
for the spread of the NTSC television system
running at 29.97 frames per second. Otherwise,
the running time code would not match real time.
Drop out. Loss of a portion of an audio or video
signal, usually caused by an imperfection in the
tape’s coating or dirt covering a portion of the
tape. HDV, due to its long GOP format is
particularly susceptible to drop outs because an
drop out is likely to affect multiple frames. Hi8
was a format notorious for drop outs.
DTV. Digital Television. Another acronym for the
new digital television standards. See HDTV.
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Dutch-angle. A tilted camera angle obliquely
slanted to the frame's vertical axis so that the
horizontal frame line is not parallel to the horizon.
Also called an oblique angle shot or a canted
DV (Digital Video). A digital video format
developed by Sony, Panasonic, and JVC using a
small tape that has become a widely used
standard among consumers and professionals
video production and well suited for
documentary video using small camcorders. The
DV specification (IEC 61834) defines both the
codec and tape format. The intraframe DCT codec
with a bit rate of 25 Mbit/sec provides good
image quality and simplified editing. DV cameras
are easy to connect to non-linear editing systems
via a FireWire (IEEE 1394) interface. Unlike Hi8,
which was notorious for video dropouts, DV
provided excellent image and audio quality
acceptable for video documentaries intended for
broadcast and theatrical distribution. Sony also
introduced DVCAM which uses a wider track pitch
for increased reliability. See also HDV.
Dynamic range. The difference in decibels
between the loudest and quietest portions of
audio that a system is capable of processing.
Establishing shot. A camera shot, usually a long
shot, which identifies, or establishes, the location
of a scene.
Ethnographic film. An anthropological film that
records and perhaps comments on a group of
people and their culture of which the filmmaker is
not a part of.
Exposure index (E.I.). A film's sensitivity denoted
as a number, for example, EI 100 is relatively slow
film, EI 800 is relatively fast film. often used to
express sensitivity of a video camera.
Extreme close-up (XCU). A very close view of a
person or object which features specific details.
An extreme close-up of a person typically shows
only their eyes or mouth.
Extreme long shot (XLS). A panoramic view of a
scene, photographed from a great distance.
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Eye line match. Editing shots that are aligned, or
matched to suggest that two characters in
separate shots are looking at each other.
Fast motion. Shots photographed slower than
the standard speed of 24 fps so that the action on
the screen appears faster than normal when
projected at standard speed. See Slow motion,
Under-cranked, Over-cranked.
Frame. 1. An individual photograph recorded on
motion picture film. The outside edges of a film
image on the screen. 2. One complete video
image, or two video fields. There are 30 frames in
one second of NTSC video. Also a single video or
film image. See also Interlace, Field.
Framing. The visual composition of a shot within
the frame.
Field. One half of a complete video image (frame),
containing all the odd or even scanning lines of
the image. See also Interlace, Frame.
Frequency. The number of times a signal vibrates
per second. Expressed in Hertz (Hz), which is the
number of cycles per second.
Filter. A piece of glass fitted in front of a camera
lens to control the color or quality of light
entering the camera.
Full shot. A long shot that includes the human
body "in full" within the frame.
First-person shot. See point-of-view shot.
Fisheye lens. An extreme wide-angle lens that
distorts the image so that straight lines appear
rounded at the edges of the frame.
Flicker. The alternation of light and dark which
can be visually perceived.
Focus pull. The process of refocusing a lens
during a shot in order to keep a subject in focus
or to change the subject of attention.
Focal length. The distance from the center of the
lens to the point on the film plane where light
rays meet in sharp focus. A wide-angle lens has a
short focal length; a telephoto lens has a long
focal length.
Focus. The sharpness or definition of a film image.
Following shot. A shot in which the camera pans
or travels to keep a moving figure or object within
the frame.
Footage. 1. Exposed film stock. 2. Recorded video
Format. The video codec, resolution, and frame
rate used for a production. For example, DVCPRO
HD 720/24p (1280 x 720 progressive scan at 24
frames per second using the DVCPRO HD video
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Gain. The ratio, expressed in decibels (dB), of the
signal level at the output of an audio device to
the signal level at its input.
Gaffer’s tape. A strong cloth-based tape with a
special adhesive that does not leave behind any
residue when carefully “peeled” off surfaces. Not
to be confused with duct tape which leaves a
sticky mess behind.
Gigabyte. 1 Billion bytes.
Hand-held camera. A shot where a camera
operator, rather than a tripod or a mechanical
device, supports and moves the camera during
HDTV. High Definition Television. A television
format with a wide screen (16x9 as opposed to
the classic 4x3) and higher resolution. Rather than
a single HDTV standard the FCC approved several
different standards, allowing broadcasters to
choose which to use. This means that HDTV
television have to support all of them. All of the
systems are broadcast as component digital. The
New HDTV/SDTV standards include: HDTV 1920 x
1080 @ 30i or 30p or 24p frame rate with a 16 x 9
aspect ratio; HDTV 1280 x 720 @ 60p, 30p, 24p
frame rate with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio; SDTV 720 x
483 @ 60p, 30p, 24p frame rate with a 16 x 9
aspect ratio; SDTV 640 x 480 @ 30i with a 4 x 3
aspect ratio (i = interlaced, p = progressive, scan).
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HDV. A consumer-oriented high-definition video
format using MiniDV tapes which differs from DV
in that it uses MPEG-2 inter-frame compression in
order to encode the higher resolution needed for
HD at the same bit rate as DV using the same
tape. The use of a MPEG-2 long GOP inter-frame
compression can sometimes produce motion
artifacts. HDV also complicates the editing
process since inter-frame compression requires
significantly more processing power than DV
since editing systems have to reconstruct
intermediate frames computationally. HDV has
been widely adopted by both consumer and
professional users who need to work with a small
and portable camera but want to produce shows
that are compatible with the newer high
definition video standard. HDV does not
implement full-resolution high definition, instead
it records at 1440 lines (full HD is 1920 lines). See
Hertz (Hz). A unit for specifying the frequency of a
signal, formerly called cycles per second (cps).
High-angle shot (H/A). A shot where the camera
is tilted down at the subject.
In-camera editing. Editing done within the
camera itself by selectively starting and stopping
the camera for each shot.
Independent film. Any motion picture produced
outside of a commercial film studio. The term
applies generally to avant-garde, experimental, or
underground, narrative, and documentary films
made outside of the Hollywood establishment.
Often the term implies independent vision as well
as independent financing.
Interlace. A process in which the picture is split
into two fields by sending all the odd numbered
lines to field one and all the even numbered lines
to field two. Field one is then displayed first,
followed by field 2. This process was necessary in
the early days of television broadcast when there
was not enough bandwidth within a single
television channel to send a complete frame fast
enough to create a non-flickering image. See also
Field, Frame.
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JPEG. Joint Photographic Experts Group. A lossy
standard for compressing still images. JPEG-2000
provides lossless compression.
Jump cut. An abrupt transition between shots
which disrupts (often deliberately) the continuity
of time or space within a scene. When cuts are
made between shots that don’t have at least a 30˚
angle change, they appear more as jumps rather
than seamless cuts. Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless
introduced a whole new way of thinking about
the jump-cut.
Kilobyte. One thousand bytes. Actually 1,024
bytes because computer storage is measured
using base 2 (binary) number system with each
digit’s value based on a power of 2 (1, 2, 4, 8, 16,
32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1,024) rather than base 10
based on powers of 10 (1, 10, 100, 1,000) which is
our everyday number system.
LCD. A solid state technology used for image
display. See CRT.
Lens. An assembly of several pieces of precision
ground glass through which light rays are focused
to create an image on film or imaging device. See
normal lens, telephoto lens, wide-angle lens,
zoom lens.
Lens aperture. See aperture.
Long shot (LS). A shot that shows a fairly wide
view of a subject within its setting. A long shot of
a person typically includes his entire body and
much of his surroundings.
Long take. A take (shot) of lengthy duration.
Low-angle shot (L/A). A shot in which the camera
is tilted up at the subject.
Letterbox. Placing a wide screen image (typically
16x9) on a conventional 4:3 video frame by
placing black bands at the top and bottom of the
Masking. Blocking out part of an image, usually
at the edges of the frame, thus altering the size or
the shape of the frame projected on the screen.
See Curtains, Letterbox.
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Master shot. A single shot, usually a long shot or
a full shot, which provides an overview of the
action in a scene.
Megabyte. 1 million bytes.
Medium shot (MS). A relatively close shot that
shows part of a person or object in some detail. A
medium shot of a person typically shows their bo
MPEG. Moving Picture Experts Group. A standard
for compressing moving pictures. MPEG-1 uses a
data rate of 1.2 Mbps (Mega Bits per Second), the
speed of CD-ROM. MPEG-2 supports much higher
quality with a data rate (a.k.a. bit rate) from 2 to
10 Mpbs. MPEG-2 is the format specified in the
DVD standard and is also used in broadcast.
MPEG-4 is a lower data rate version used for web
video and mobile devices. For web video, the H.
264 codec within a MPEG-4 wrapper is widely
NTSC. National Television Standards Committee.
The analog broadcast television and video
standard in use in the United States. NTSC
broadcast is scheduled to be turned off in 2009.
Consists of 525 horizontal lines at a field rate of 60
fields per second. (Two fields equals one
complete Frame). Only 487 of these lines are used
for picture. The rest are used for sync or extra
information such as VITC and Closed Captioning.
Normal lens. A camera lens that shows a subject
without significantly exaggerating or reducing
depth of field in a shot. Neither wide nor
telephoto, typically has a 45 degree or so angle of
Oblique angle. See Dutch angle.
Overcrank. To run film stock through the camera
faster than the standard speed of 24 fps,
producing slow motion on the screen when the
film is projected at standard speed. Also used to
describe the analogous effect in a video camera.
See Undercrank.
Overhead shot. A shot photographed from
directly overhead, a.k.a. bird's eye view.
PAL. Phase Alternating Line. The standard
definition television and video standard in most
of Europe. Consists of 625 horizontal lines at a
field rate of 50 fields per second. (Two fields
equals one complete Frame). Only 576 of these
lines are used for picture. The rest are used for
sync or extra information such as VITC and Closed
Pan. Short for "panorama." A shot where the
camera pivots horizontally, turning from left to
right or from right to left. Also called panning
Petabyte. 1,000 Terabytes, or 1 million Gigabytes.
Today Terabyte drives are common, someday...
Pixel. Picture Element. The basic unit from which
a digital image is made. Essentially a dot with a
given color and brightness value. High Definition
video images are 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Point-of-view shot (POV). A shot taken from the
vantage point of a character in a film. Also called a
first-person shot or subjective camera.
Pull focus. To change the focus of a lens during a
shot in order to follow a specific object or person.
See rack focus. Off-screen space. Space beyond the camera's
field of view which nevertheless the audience is
aware of.
On location. Also called shooting on location. See
location shooting.
Out-take. Any footage deleted from a film during
editing; more specifically, a shot or scene that is
removed from a film before the final cut.
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equivalent of RAW images, unlike standard video
cameras that record raw data off the image sensor
but then throw away a substantial amount of
image information in the conversion to a
standard video format.
Resolution. The amount of detail in an image.
Higher resolution equals more detail. Also used to
describe the size of an image, usually in pixels,
e.g. a high definition video frame consists of 1920
x 1080 pixels.
Progressive scan. An image scanning system
where each line is displayed progressively (1, 2, 3,
4, 5 ...) in contrast to interlaced scanning,
consisting of two fields: the first field (lines 1, 3, 5,
7 … ) and then a second field (lines 2, 4, 6, 8, ...).
Computer monitors use progressive scan. The
HDTV standard includes several progressive scan
options. Video has historically been 60i (60
interlaced fields per second, 30 frames per
second). The Panasonic DVX100 was the first
prosumer camera to provide 24p and 30p
progressive scan. Today, many video cameras
offer a progressive scan option. Progressive scan
offers an image that is well suited for web video
and for display on computer monitors and flatscreen displays. The Panasonic can be used to
shoot true 24p progressive using 24pA (24p
advanced) mode in which the progressive frames
are recorded onto interlaced video using a 2:3:3:2
cadence which is then unravelled back into 24p
by the editing software. This can be tricky, so
consult with your teacher before shooting 24pA.
Rack focus. To change the focus of a lens during a
shot in order to call attention to a specific object
or person. Also called a shift focus or focus pull.
RAW. An image format that consists of the raw
image data collected from an image sensor with
little or no additional processing. Requires
processing in post production for use as an image
with proper color rendition and tonal response.
D-SLR cameras typically offer a RAW mode, and
the Red digital cinema camera provides the
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Resolution independent. A term to describe
equipment or software that can work in more
than resolution. Some equipment and software
work with only certain video resolutions, but
many newer pieces of equipment and software
are resolution independent (e.g. Final Cut Pro is
able to work at various resolutions including
standard definition video, high definition video,
and digital film, e.g. 2K).
Reverse angle, (R/A). A shot where the camera is
placed opposite its position in the previous shot,
"reversing" its view of the scene.
RGB. Red, Green, Blue. The primary colors of light.
Computers, video cameras, scanners, and similar
devices typically process images using separate
red, green, and blue color channels. For example,
a three CCD cameras has a CCD sensors for each
S-Video. A consumer version of component
video that separates the luminance and
chrominance of the video signal to maintain a
higher quality picture compared to composite
Sampling frequency. The number of sample
measurements taken from an analog signal in a
given period of time. These samples are then
converted into numerical values stored in bytes to
create the digital signal.
SDTV. Standard Definition Television. The new
HDTV standards call for a range of different
resolutions. Those that are higher than today's
NTSC are considered HDTV. The ones that are
comparable to NTSC are considered SDTV.
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Because SDTV is component and digital it is of
higher quality than NTSC.
Selective focus. See rack focus.
Set-up. The positioning of the camera and lights
for a specific shot.
Shift focus. See rack focus.
Shooting ratio. The amount of video footage shot
compared to the length of the film's final cut.
Shot. A single, continuous run of the camera. The
images recorded by the camera from the time the
camera starts until the time it stops.
Shutter. 1. The mechanical device on a motion
picture camera that shields the film from light at
the aperture during filming. Some shutters have a
variable angle adjustment allowing the camera
operator to vary the exposure time. The smaller
the shutter angle, the crisper the image and the
more “strobe like” its appearance. Used to good
effect in Saving Private Ryan. Lowering the frame
rate of a film camera and step printing provides
an effect very similar to show shutter on a video
camera, in which the image update happens less
often than 24 times per second and each frame
exhibits motion blur. 2. On a video camera an
electronic device that varies the effective shutter
speed of the camera. Fast shutter provides crisp
frames and the more “strobe like” its appearance.
Slow shutter increases motion blur providing an
effect very similar to lowering the frame rate and
step printing, in other words, a single image is
translated to multiple frames, with the
appearance of motion blur when the camera
moves. You have to experiment with the slow
shutter of your video camera and see the effect
for yourself.
Slow motion. Shots photographed faster than the
standard recording speed so that the action on
the screen appears to move slower than normal
when shown at standard speed. See fast motion.
Smash zoom. A fast jarring zoom into specific
detail or object in a scene.
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
Soft focus. Blurring the sharpness of a film image
with a special lens or a gauze over the lens in
order to diffuse or "soften" hard edges; used
especially for close-ups to make the human face
look more sensual or glamorous.
Special effects (FX). Shots which are
unobtainable by straightforward filming
techniques and may require special models,
compositing, computer modeling, etc. The term
also applies to most pyrotechnic and ballistic
effects in a film.
Stop-motion photography. Filming real objects
or live action by starting and stopping the
camera, rather than by running the camera
continuously, in order to create pixilation, trickfilm effects, or time-lapse photography. Also
called stop-action photography.
Subjective camera. See point-of-view shot.
Swish pan. A shot in which the camera pans
rapidly causing motion blur. Also called a whip
pan or zip pan.
Take. A shot resulting from one continuous run
of the camera. A filmmaker generally films several
"takes" of the same scene and then selects the
best one. Rarely done in documentary.
Telephoto lens, a.k.a. long lens. A camera lens
with a long focal length that magnifies the size of
distant objects.
Terabyte. One trillion bytes. A two hour highdefinition movie at a resolution of 1920 x 1280
would take about one terabyte to store in an
uncompressed format. Acquisition formats like
DVCPRO HD, XDCAM HD, and HDV involve
significant levels of compression in order to
reduce the data required to store video.
Three-shot. A medium shot with three actors or
Tilt. A shot in which the camera pivots vertically,
from top to bottom or from bottom to top.
Time Code. A time reference recorded on video
tape or video file to identify each frame.
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Time-lapse. A type of cinematography or
photography in which the camera photographs at
time intervals the same scene over an extended
period of time in order to speed up on the screen
a lengthy process or action, for example, the
growth of a field of corn, traffic on the Golden
Gate Bridge, the construction of a building, etc.
Tracking shot. A shot in which the camera,
mounted on a vehicle, dolly, or other moving
support device, moves while filming. Some
people differentiate tracking shots as those
following a subject as they move. Thus the
method of support and characteristic of the
movement determines the actual term used, for
example, we call it a dolly shot when a dolly is
used, we call it a tracking shot when tracks are
laid down for a dolly to roll on, though not always
true, for the most part, dolly, tracking, traveling,
and trucking shots are synonymous.
Trucking shot. See Tracking shot.
Two shot. A medium shot featuring two actors or
Undercrank. To run film stock through the camera
slower than the standard speed of 24 fps,
producing fast motion on the screen when the
film is projected at standard speed. Also used to
describe the analogous effect in a video camera.
See Overcrank.
VBR. Variable Bit Rate. A video compression
method in which the amount of compression is
varied to allow for minimum degradation of
image quality in scenes that are more difficult to
compress. For example, the MPEG-2 video
compression used for making DVDs is typically
done using VBR.
Whip pan. See Swish pan.
Wide-angle lens. A short focal length lens that
enables the camera to photograph a wider area
than a normal lens. For 35mm films a wide-angle
lens is 30mm or less. Also called a short lens.
XLR. One of several varieties of sound connectors
having three or more conductors plus an outer
Documentary Video Boot Camp Camera Basics v.2
shell which shields the connectors and locks the
connectors into place.
Zoom shot. A shot made with a zoom lens, which
makes the image appear closer (zoom in) or
farther away (zoom out) by varying the focal
length of the lens. Offers a very different quality
than a tracking shot. See Tracking Shot.
Zip pan. See Swish pan.
This document is based, in part, on “Introduction to
Digital Camcorder” by Suburban Community Channels,
White Bear Lake, MN, www.scctv.org. Some materials
have been derived from notes and sources too
numerous to properly document. A special thanks go
out to everyone who has so generously shared their
knowledge on the web. Special thanks to Eric Petersen
for the DVX focus chart. 3:2 Pulldown illustration
courtesy of Adam Wilt.
© 2009 by David Tamés, Some rights reserved. This
document is provided to you under the terms of a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share
Alike 3.0 License, a copy of which may be found at:
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ This
means you can use these materials and share them as
long as you provide attribution in the form of a link
back to kino-eye.com/dvb/ with something along the
lines of “based in part on…” and share what you create
with the same license. Any trademarks mentioned in
this document belong to their respective owners. All
DVX100 images by the author. 3:2 and 24pA
illustrations by Adam Wilt, used with permission for
educational purposes. Other images not credited
belong to the respective product manufacturers (for
which they may retain copyright) and are used under
guidelines of fair use.
Mention of specific products, vendors, books, web
sites, or techniques does not constitute an
endorsement nor professional recommendation.
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