Using D800 for Video Interviews

Started Aug 17, 2012 | Discussions
TheD70Kid
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Using D800 for Video Interviews
Aug 17, 2012

I'll try to keep this post short, I appreciate people looking and hopefully lending advice.

I belong to a WWII veterans reunion group that will be meeting in about a month. I was just honored with the opportunity to do video interviews with the few veterans that will be able to attend. Every year there are fewer and fewer vets so any chance to video is precious.

I'm a perfectionist. Which is good and bad.

I currently own a D300 with about a dozen lenses (mostly DX) and a Sony HVD miniDV 1080p handycam (I think it's about 6 years old).

I have been lusting over the D800 since it was internet vaporware. I do know that it has pretty nice video features (much better than my Sony handycam).

I feel like my need to buy the D800 has become catalyzed by this situation. I am already planning on covering the reunion through photographs (with my D300), but if I get the D800 I would, no doubt, have a better "all-in-one" solution.

What are your thoughts? These guys are heroes to me and I want to have the best for myself, for them, and their families.

If I do get the D800, I would need to get lighting . If I'm going to be spending a tremendous amount of money on the D800, I will need to sacrifice some on lighting. I would like to get a couple (soft) hot lights just to have a professional look to the video. Are there any kits someone could recommend within a reasonable price?

Just to be clear, I am doing all of this for free. These guys sacrificed so much that it's the least I can do.

I am a professional photographer (independent as well as with a company) so purchasing this equipment would go to good use, it's not simply for this single event.

Decisions need to be made ASAP.

Thanks!

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bmcdad
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Re: Using D800 for Video Interviews
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

Not an interview but I shot this with the D800 the other day

https://vimeo.com/47625347

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Biological_Viewfinder
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The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

If you use auto-focus at all, you're going to hear it (IT IS VERY LOUD).
You cannot change the zoom smoothly, like on a dedicated video camera.

Pick up a Canon dedicated video camera, and you'll be able to afford the best lighting.

I'm using a Panasonic TM-700 (couple years old now), and there's no way in the world that I would use the D800 for video. First off, I'd have to buy off-board sound recorder, because the D800 without at least a boom-mic is the loudest, most annoying video you'll ever witness. You will literally have to have music or something else for any video because the sound of the camera is so loud. Secondly, there is no smooth zooming at all. It will make you look like a complete amateur. The only way around it is to use out-of-focus starts that come into focus, because the camera is so terrible you'll have to resort to trickery. Nikon should have left it out completely. HORRIBLE!

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TheD70Kid
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Re: Using D800 for Video Interviews
In reply to bmcdad, Aug 17, 2012

Thanks for sharing your video, it looks amazing! What was your setup?

I'm still so torn on what I should do.
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TheD70Kid
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to Biological_Viewfinder, Aug 17, 2012

Thanks for the advice, I hear what you're saying about the focus, zoom, and audio... these are very legitimate concerns of mine.

I just don't see myself buying a dedicated video camera right now... I think I'd only use it once or twice a year. If I had good video in an SLR, that would make things ideal.

sigh.

I really wish there was an easier solution.

As I see it now, I would need to get external audio equipment and and lighting if I go the D800 route... it all adds up. I'd also need a new (FX) lens... (thinking the 24-70mm Nikon or Tamron VC)

The zoom issue doesn't concern me, the vets will be seated during the one-on-one interview process. The camera will be fixed on them. I'm not sure I would need to adjust the focus much for that matter either.

Any ideas on lighting? I feel like I've only seen the tip of the iceberg for what's available/possible. Overwhelming.

Again, thank you for raising those very good points/concerns. I clearly have a lot more thinking to do.

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bmcdad
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

With all due respect focus, zoom, and audio should never be Automatic unless of course it's for amateur use.. D800 in capable hands will produce amazing quality work unlike any dedicated small sensor camcorder on the market... Amateurs will most likely think it is a horrible camera though.
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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

Well if those vets move even just a little bit, the focus will go out and take WAY TOO LONG to come back in. It's like a whole ruined second waiting for them to resolve again. Like I said, just a terrible camera for video; and I really haven't seen many that are good for it unless it's dedicated.

But okay, let's say you do it anyway. I would keep it on manual focus. That way, even if they do move; at least you won't have to see the focus searching at all.

You can use a boom mic. I have an Azden. You can couple it to a forward LED lighting system. I use a Bescor. I have both of them attached to a bracket that fits beneath the tripod socket and comes out and around the camera, off to the side slightly, ending up with 2 hotshoe fittings. All of this is very cheap, but very effective lighting and sound.

Beyond that, you'll need some soft boxes and 1 umbrella light. I would suggest using them on only 1 side at 90 & 60 degrees. This will enhance their rugged appearance. You would want a 3rd light for a woman because women look better with more even lighting, but not entirely even (in fact, I'd slide that light back twice as far as the others). The soft boxes diffuse the light very well. But if you go cheap, then they will be almost useless. If you can afford them, Alien Bees makes some great lights.

If you are going to be outside, an oval gold/silver reflector can be very useful.

If you demand better sound, then you expenses ramp up pretty quickly. But you should go buy a shotgun mic immediately and see if it will meet your needs while you are researching other equipment in case it doesn't. It should do okay for what you are planning. Just turn off auto-focus, don't zoom, and don't change anything, and don't touch the camera during the interview.

If you can't help but to touch the camera, then have a Pan head, not a ball head.
Also, just don't do it often and be extremely gentle.

You're probably looking at an entry fee of $1000 for the extra equipment. And that's for the stuff just beyond useless. Oviously you could spend much, much more.
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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to bmcdad, Aug 17, 2012

Completely inaccurate.

The D800 cannot exist in just 1 pair of capable hands. It would require a focus-puller, offboard sound, and offboard lighting. I'm well aware that some TV episodes such as House were made with DSLR cameras; but it sure wasn't with one guy by himself doing it.

THe only videos you see with 1 guy and a DSLR are those people incorporating out-of-focus to in-focus trickery to make you think it's good video. And I have to admit that it is a pleasing effect. But then you also have to realize that all of these videos have music instead of the D800's sound, because the sound from the D800 is poop.

The D800 and any DLSR out there have just begun their journey to becoming true hybrids. Right now though, there is absolutely no comparison to a dedicated video camera. One takes great pictures, one takes decent video. Neither bridge across very well.

bmcdad wrote:

With all due respect focus, zoom, and audio should never be Automatic unless of course it's for amateur use.. D800 in capable hands will produce amazing quality work unlike any dedicated small sensor camcorder on the market... Amateurs will most likely think it is a horrible camera though.
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Slimoli
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

There is no way a cheap camcorder (less than 2Gs) can match the image quality of a D800. Just look at the videos on Vimeo.

Light will not be a big deal with a fast lens and the 24-70mm is great for video. If you need light, there are very cheap gear you can buy, like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Dimmable-Digital-Camcorder-Panasonic-Samsung/dp/B004TJ6JH6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

You will need to improve the audio, as you would with a chaep camcorder, but an external mic will be enough for interviews in quite places. (I am assuming you won't be on board of an air carrier). For about $130.00 you can buy a Nikon ext mic or a Rode VideoMic, both will do the job.

You are on the right path for a pro-quality stuff.

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Slimoli
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to Slimoli, Aug 17, 2012

The OP is a professional photografer, he knows about ligh , zoom, and other stuff. What he wants is to film interviews , probably using a tripod and in a quite room. He is not going to shoot a Rolling Stones concert!

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bmcdad
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to Slimoli, Aug 17, 2012

No "Schindler's list" but here some samples I shot alone with DSLRs.
I bet you no Camcorder on the market can pull this type of footage..

https://vimeo.com/24679058
https://vimeo.com/26633028
https://vimeo.com/17748649
https://vimeo.com/21687932

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herbymel
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to bmcdad, Aug 17, 2012

I do think the camera is pretty capable for video, but in certain situations. Given the time frame to get comfortable with new equipment you're probably not looking at the best outcome. You'll be dealing with a lot of old guys who many aren't going to have the best memory, and probably won't be the most patient. You might not get a second chance to get a good interview. Unless you feel like you can used to some of the nuances of it, perhaps rental of video equipment might be easier and cheaper for now.
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studio460
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to Biological_Viewfinder, Aug 17, 2012

Biological_Viewfinder wrote:

Completely inaccurate.

The D800 cannot exist in just 1 pair of capable hands. It would require a focus-puller, offboard sound, and offboard lighting.

You don't need a separate focus-puller for simple sit-down interviews. A follow-focus rig would make it easier, but isn't absolutely necessary. While Red Rock Micro is among the best, there are much less-expensive alternatives for DSLRs these days (Google, "follow focus DSLR," for example).

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studio460
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Re: Using D800 for Video Interviews
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

TheD70Kid wrote:

If I do get the D800, I would need to get lighting . If I'm going to be spending a tremendous amount of money on the D800, I will need to sacrifice some on lighting. I would like to get a couple (soft) hot lights just to have a professional look to the video. Are there any kits someone could recommend within a reasonable price?

A nice portable hot light that's not too expensive is the Lowel Rifa-Lite. It's basically a self-contained, collapsable, tungsten soft-box. It's convenient in that it doesn't use a speedring--it simply opens up like an umbrella. Hundreds of ENG crews have used these for years. We used these for more than a decade where I work, before we switched to fluorescent units.

For a bit more money, you could opt for a KinoFlo fluorescent-based unit. I shoot for a major broadcast network and have equipped all of our packages with KinoFlo DivaLite 200s for our main interview keys (I chose KinoFlo Barflys for backlights). They're dimmable, and fairly bright, using a pair of 55W tubes. Nice light, but kinda pricey. I just lit Olympic Gold Medalist, Allyson Felix with a Diva 200 today (using a "Flozier" diffuser), and she looked great.

A simpler (and cheaper) solution is to fire an open-face unit such as a Strand-Century "Redhead," through a 24" x 36" polysilk (or, even a 4' x 4' silk if you have the space). Actually any open-face unit would do (e.g., Lowel Omni, DP, or Tota-light), but the ones with large barndoors are much more controllable (i.e., not a Tota). But, if you don't care about spill, many local news crews still rely on Lowel Tota-lights, bounced into a Tota-brella--another not-too-expensive option. For a bit more money, you could opt for an Arri 650W or 300W Fresnel to shoot through your silk instead, which offers far more control than open-face units since their beam is focusable. Good luck!

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studio460
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Re: Using D800 for Video Interviews
In reply to TheD70Kid, Aug 17, 2012

TheD70Kid wrote:

Are there any kits someone could recommend within a reasonable price?

In my opinion, lights are best "kitted" when you select your desired units yourself. I can suggest two "professional-grade" kits in two different price ranges. Either would serve you well.

A. Tungsten kit: Lowel Rifa-lite (key) + Arri 150W Fresnel (backlight).

Alternatively, you could also use two Rifas, instead of one Rifa and a Fresnel, and simply use the second Rifa as a backlight. Lowel also makes fabric eggcrates for their Rifas to limit spill (highly recommended). I've been starting to use soft sources for backlights over the last few years now, and now prefer this look over hard backlights.

B. Fluorescent kit: KinoFlo Diva-lite 200 (key) + KinoFlo Barfly 100 (backlight).

These are what we keep in our production vehicles. Their quite nice to work with--both lightweight and energy-efficient. Also, metal honeycomb grids are available for both units in a variety of degrees (I believe we use the 60-degree grids most often). The Kinos are quite pricey, however. One major advantage: the Kino bulbs are available in both tungsten and daylight color temperatures, and the bulbs swap-out super fast.

Of course, there are many other options available, and these suggestions only cover the barest of lighting requirements (you would typically augment either of the above with additional units of varying types for lighting backgrounds, specials, etc.). But, these are two "industry-standard" ENG/EFP kits which should service anyone shooting simple sit-down interviews quite well.

Good luck!

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shaunly
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to Biological_Viewfinder, Aug 17, 2012

Biological_Viewfinder wrote:

If you use auto-focus at all, you're going to hear it (IT IS VERY LOUD).
You cannot change the zoom smoothly, like on a dedicated video camera.

Pick up a Canon dedicated video camera, and you'll be able to afford the best lighting.

I'm using a Panasonic TM-700 (couple years old now), and there's no way in the world that I would use the D800 for video. First off, I'd have to buy off-board sound recorder, because the D800 without at least a boom-mic is the loudest, most annoying video you'll ever witness. You will literally have to have music or something else for any video because the sound of the camera is so loud. Secondly, there is no smooth zooming at all. It will make you look like a complete amateur. The only way around it is to use out-of-focus starts that come into focus, because the camera is so terrible you'll have to resort to trickery. Nikon should have left it out completely. HORRIBLE!

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Shot with a D4

http://vimeo.com/35639074

Absolutely horrid!!

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shaunly
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to shaunly, Aug 17, 2012

Keep this in mind, ALL DSLR are more suitable for cinematography and not PJ/sports/action filming. That being said, AF, zooming, built in mic are all irrelevant to this type of shooting. Everything should be manually set.

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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to studio460, Aug 17, 2012

studio460 wrote:

Biological_Viewfinder wrote:

Completely inaccurate.

The D800 cannot exist in just 1 pair of capable hands. It would require a focus-puller, offboard sound, and offboard lighting.

You don't need a separate focus-puller for simple sit-down interviews. A follow-focus rig would make it easier, but isn't absolutely necessary. While Red Rock Micro is among the best, there are much less-expensive alternatives for DSLRs these days (Google, "follow focus DSLR," for example).

And yet a dedicated video camera would have it done with less hassle in less time, and looking at least is good in all the ways that really matter excepting shallow depth of field; which for most people isn't a big problem.

There's a reason that dedicated video cameras still sell well; it's because DSLR cameras are a complete bitch to deal with.
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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to bmcdad, Aug 17, 2012

Are every single one of your videos covering the horrid sound of the camera with music? Becuase it's pretty apparent that the OP wants an interview, not a music video.

It looks nice, but it's just a bunch of tricks. The camera performs like a clumsy magician. A true video camera outperforms it in every single category except shallow depth of field. Otherwise, everyone would be buying and using DLSR cameras for video; BUT THEY ARE NOT DOING THAT!!!!!

So you're just completely and utterly WRONG .

If you have to justify your purchase this much, then you should go into sales.

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Biological_Viewfinder
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Re: The D800 is horrid for video
In reply to shaunly, Aug 17, 2012

That's a D4. That's not a D800.

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