Nikon | Cinema

Moving Pictures: Riding the RAILS

For Smooth Moves, Add the Essential Accessory | by Steve Heiner, Fall 2012

Someone asked me recently, “After your HD-SLR and NIKKOR lenses, what’s on your essential equipment list?” That was an easy one: a slider (the term is shorthand for a device that replicates tracking or dolly shots). It’s the most important accessory you can have. It’s versatile, easy to use and inexpensive, and it will quickly raise the creativity level and production value of anything you film. A slider will allow you to smoothly follow action or accomplish a reveal, in which the camera starts its move behind an object and slides to reveal the scene. If you watched the Olympics, you saw the results of highly specialized, motorized and computerized sliders smoothly keeping pace with runners and swimmers.

Two of the most popular types of sliders are the fixed slider, with its carriage on a fixed length of rail, and an extendable slider, which is fitted with wheels that are adaptable to common PVC pipe that you can assemble to the length you want. There are many suppliers of sliders; the ones I use are made by Cinevate. One is a simple rail and carriage device about three feet long; the other is four feet long, and its stainless steel rods can be attached to tripods or light stands. The unit’s ball bearings make for really smooth movement, and this slider also features a bowl-type mounting system that allows me to level my camera independently of the slider and make…

 
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Grab Stills While Shooting HD Video

This image was captured as a frame grab after shooting HD video of the ice climbers.

There are a number of reasons why a photographer might need to simultaneously capture Full HD video and still images. Most photojournalists are being asked to not only photograph still images of the news events they’re covering but also to shoot video and put together multimedia stories. Event photographers may shoot both stills and video, switching between the two when they realize they suddenly need both video and a still of a specific moment. Even sports photographers who are shooting video might want a “photo finish” still image to enhance their coverage. With most D-SLRs, when you click the shutter to snap a photo while recording video, the video recording ends to allow the camera to capture the still photograph.

This is no longer the case—at least not with Nikon’s new D-SLR, the D4—using the Live Frame Grab feature. Using the custom settings, you can set the camera to simultaneously record Full HD video and still images. You need to be in Live View Mode, and set the shutter button’s functionality to simultaneously record a still photograph while continuing to record HD video when it is depressed fully. (Continuous shooting is not available.) Still image files will be recorded at 1920x1080 pixels in size, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, and JPG Fine quality setting. This gives you approx. a 2-megapixel image. At 300 dpi, the image will be about 4x6-inches in size. You might ask the question, ‘only a 2MP file?’ Odds are that the photographers who…

 
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Time Lapse Photography

Time lapse photography adds interest to your D-Movies | by Steve Heiner, Spring 2011

Want to control the space-time continuum? Sure you do; it's fun, and you can do it when you add time-lapse footage to the D-Movies you make with your Nikon D-SLR. Time-lapse is, in effect, a compression of time. Set the interval timer function that's available on most Nikon D-SLRs (including the D3S, D3X, D3, D300, D300S, D700, D7000 and D5100 models) to take x-number of frames every x-number of seconds—say, one frame every three seconds—and when the images are played back time seems to speed up. Time lapse goes way back, farther even than the original Time Lord, Dr. Who. If you ever sat through a high school science course you've seen the bean-sprouting footage.

More recently it's likely you've seen intriguing time-lapse sequences on cable TV's nature and learning channels. Well, your D-Movies can be likewise creative and exciting. Nikon's resident D-Movie maker is Senior Technical Manager Steve Heiner, and from time to time Steve blends time lapse footage into his D-Movies for a couple of reasons. First, it's a cool story-telling transition device that moves viewers from scene to scene in an interesting and appropriate fashion. Second, it compresses time so viewers can experience the essence and importance of an event without having to see the entire episode. As Steve points out, with…

 
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Online Exclusive: Slow Motion

Slow motion is a sure-fire attention-getter for its ability to reveal what happens too quickly for us to completely observe.

Whether we're making our movie clips with a COOLPIX, a Nikon D-SLR or one of the Nikon 1 advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses, we've got a lot of creative choices at our command, choices that will affect how our movies look. One of those choices is slow motion, which is the topic of Steve Heiner's Moving Pictures column in the fall issue of Nikon World and the subject of the accompanying video that offers excerpts from several slo-mo clips shot by Steve with COOLPIX and Nikon 1 cameras. Movies move because they're essentially a series of still images, a sequence of frames going by in rapid succession, and the key to slow motion is the speed at which we shoot and play back our footage.

We normally shoot at 30 frames per second for our traditional movie clips, but when we shoot at higher speeds—say, 120, 140 or, with the Nikon 1 cameras, 400 or 1200 fps—and then play back at the standard 30 fps speed, we've got a slow motion movie or sequence. As a technique, slow motion is a sure-fire attention-getter for its ability to reveal what happens too quickly for us to completely observe. As Steve points out in his column, what we're seeing in slow-motion footage "is all the detail, all the extra information, that normally goes by too fast" for our eyes to catch. The really cool part of slo-mo is that it's applicable to just about anything in motion…

 
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