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DSLR Video Production

I finally caved in a month or so ago and bought myself a DSLR camera – a Canon T2i.  The family cameras until now were a series of mid to upper level point and shoots, which served their purpose well.  We got plenty of quality pictures of birthday parties, school events, etc. and there was nothing wrong with them.  Still, my last real camera purchase was my film-based Canon AE-1 back in the 1980’s, so I surrendered to my camera lust and settled on the T2i.  I LOVE this camera – not that I really know what I’m doing yet, but the pictures are beautiful and the features are very robust, especially for someone on the lower end of the DSLR learning curve.

I settled on the Canon for a simple reason – the quality of the HD video is very high, and I wanted to be able to take full 1080p video.  Nikon does offer some HD abilities, but my research suggested the Canon would meet my needs better, so I went in that direction.  Which of course provides fodder for a blogpost on the use of DSLR cameras for Enterprise-level video content creation.

There’s a whole universe of DSLR video, and the internet provides a lot of discussion, demos, how-tos, etc.  (Neumann Films is one source I found recently.)  At the Enterprise level, more and more organizations are taking to DSLR platforms for at least some of their production.  A CMMA colleague produced a large chunk of an internal message using a DSLR platform, and the results were fantastic.  So the big question for anyone in the space is how to approach the use of DSLR within their environment?

The first step is to assess current production levels and processes.  If you’re outsourcing every step of your video production, you’ll certainly save money if your team can shoot, edit, and produce in-house.  The camera costs are pretty manageable, as are the editing and production suites.  That of course assumes your existing team can handle the work you’ve been sending out – the equipment here is much less important than the overall skillset and time availability of your own staff.

If you’re already doing work internally, you have to see what your team wants to do.  There’s certainly a lot of value in equipment that can handle both still and video production, but your videographers have to be prepared to work with a completely different platform. There are benefits to smaller equipment footprints, but it’s an adjustment for videographers who have been working in a certain way for a long time, and certain features will be different or absent moving from a pro grade video camera to a DSLR.  You still need to worry about lighting, sound quality, and all the other parts of a good video production, so the DSLR on its own does not mean you’re suddenly set to go with an equipment bag 1/3 the size of your gear before.  Another thing about a switch –  you either have to buy enough equipment to enable the still guys and the video guys to work at the same time, or be prepared for scheduling conflicts and adjustments.

I think the essence of a move to DSLR is that it’s really just another piece of technology.  It’s certainly improved life for tinkerers like me – one piece of equipment provides the features of two, and produces a high quality video result.  But for a professional space, managers need to look beyond the affordable price and small-footprint package. You really need qualified staff to develop high-quality pieces more than you need equipment, no matter how attractive it seems. Good videographers & editors can produce great material with almost anything decent (leaving aside the cheapo handheld video cameras for now.)  Untrained shooters and editors will turn out bad work even when using the highest quality cameras.

In the end I suspect most enterprise media departments will simply add DSLR shooting to their arsenal alongside their other tools.  It provides a quality image capture at an affordable price, and it can allow staff with some videography skills to fill in if primary personnel and equipment are unavailable.  It’s important for media departments to learn something about this new world of video capture and consider it as a part of their tool and skill sets.

  1. September 17, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Hi….It feels so nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. Really thankful to you for starting this. Thanks for sharing.It is very informative.

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