What Camera Settings Should You Use To Shoot A Glidecam Walkthrough Video?

March 6th, 2016

Diane in Colorado asks:

I plan to shoot both photo and video for my real estate clients and am wondering what camera settings I should use when shooting glide cam video for a walk through style video? (meaning the lighting conditions will be changing from room to room) Also, what frame rate is typical for real estate videos? I shoot with a Nikon D810 and use a 20 mm prime lens for these types of shots.

Here are some rules of thumb:

  1. Frame rate: 24 FPS is probably the most popular rate to use because that is the frame rate that movies use and everyone is used to seeing that frame rate.
  2. Shutter speed: The rule of thumb is you set the shutter speed to two times the frame rate. So if you are shooting 24 FPS you use a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second.
  3. Aperture and ISO: Because, as you point out, the lighting changes as you move between rooms one strategy is to manually control the aperture and ISO (note Fred Light suggests a different strategy below). That is, set a brightness that is a compromise between the windows and the interior. Then leave it that way until the conditions change. You can always make cuts where the lighting changes significantly or where you want to expose for the view out the windows rather than the interior.

Since #3 above is a key part of making a good looking video walkthrough, and I don’t shoot walkthrough video, I thought I’d better consult the master of this subject (Fred Light). I did and here is the strategy that Fred uses:

I shoot with auto ISO… that helps adjust as you walk from lighter to darker areas…assuming you walk slowly enough so it adjusts evenly as you are walking. Of course, after 11 years of doing this you also kind of know where to go and where not to go, so I try and stay away from what I know will be trouble. Adjusting blinds also helps at times, cutting where it becomes a problem is another way around it. I can see where this is a problem when I’m shooting so it’s easy to then just shoot the same area from a different angle where the light is more favorable. I also shoot 4K which does help a lot in regards to being able to adjust and balance the light in post if there is an issue.. without too much degrading of the image.

There you have it! The words of the master of walkthrough video.

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7 Responses to “What Camera Settings Should You Use To Shoot A Glidecam Walkthrough Video?”

  • This post is so timely for me. I have rented a glidecam for the next 2 weekends. I sought out a few realtors that had really nice listings and offered to do free tours for them so I could add to my portfolio… but also for me to practice my skills on the glidecam. I have a question about Fred’s comment… he says he shoots 4K…. Is that a setting on DSLRs or is that mainly for high end cameras? I’m starting out with my rebel T5i… Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Great stuff!

  • I would also be interested in knowing about the picture profile settings, color grading, and LUTS, etc. (my Sony A7Sii and Phantom 3 Pro both have the ability to shoot in SLog for more dynamic range and tonal correction). Would like to know others editing strategies around that. What is the learning curve around that, and is it worth it?

  • A couple of comments / thoughts on the discussion so far:

    – 4K refers to the horizontal resolution in pixels of the image – typically you have true 4K at 4096 x 2160 and Ultra HD 4K at 3840 x 2160. Ultra HD is the most common in my experience as it’s in a regular 16:9 ratio, so cuts well with 1920x x 1080 HD. 4K is actually 17:9.

    – Increasingly you can get 4K on some DSLRs, although a quick Google suggests not on the Rebel T5i. 4K is great to have certainly for the reasons Fred mentions above but regular HD still has plenty of resolution for RE filming.

    – Re picture profile settings, I suggest you take some time (in advance of an actual shoot) to try them all out in a non-client environment. I have a Sony A7s (Mark 1) and initially used Cine 4 / S-Gamut picture profile, as suggested by Philip Bloom. Bloom is a very experienced cameraman with a fantastic kit / techniques blog and is well worth checking out for this kind of thing. His recommended A7s profile is quite ‘flat’ which means that the camera can record a high dynamic range. It’s (a bit) like RAW in stills work – you get a low contrast video image which you then have to colour grade in post-production to bring out the true look.

    – The A7s also has SLog2 which captures more dynamic range still but to my eye it also has too much noise in the dark areas. You can reduce the noise in post or by over-exposing in-camera but I have not explored that option as the Cine 4 / S-Gamut works well for me in RE. Having said that, I recently have been using the A7s as a second camera for interviews and was getting odd colour casts with Cine 4 / S-Gamut. So much so, that I’ve now just turned the PP off completely and the image looks amazing! Charlie Dresen (multiple PFRE video winner) bought an A7s around the same time as me and I believe he uses it with no PP also – with amazing results. Again, do some tests and see what you like the look of. The A7s is a great camera and you can make stunning images straight out of the box.

    – As an aside, if you get the chance to use a camera with SLog3 (as opposed to SLog2 on the A7s) then that is certainly worth doing. I’m not sure of the exact technical differences between the two logs but I’ve used SLog3 a lot and it is phenomenal for RE work – you can bring back bright windows and dark corners with great precision and very little noise. Look on my website (link above) for an example in the Queens Gate Place Mews film on the Property page. The downside is that SLog3 tends to only be available at the moment on more expensive cameras such as the Sony Fs7.

    – Re colour-grading, there are lots of standalone programmes to do this but I find that Adobe Premiere Pro has everything I need. It has a very similar interface / features to Lightroom and once you get up to speed, is very versatile and very quick.

    – Re LUTs, these “Look Up Tables” are basically instant grades that you apply to your footage first to get it looking more ‘normal’ (as opposed to the ‘flat’ look of a SLog image) before you do any further colour-correction. You can also get special LUTs to match old film stocks / styles. Re getting LUTs, there are lots of place to buy them online. I found a good basic (and free) set on a website called XDCam User, which is run by a cameraman called Alister Chapman. XDCam User is another excellent resource for information / advice about Picture Profiles / LUTs etc. Specifically for you, Wade, he also has lots of information about how to get the best out of the Sony A7s. It’s pretty techie stuff and can take a few reads to understand but worth persevering in my experience!

  • I rarely use auto-iso… Only outdoors in mixed lighting (yards with sunlight and deep shade). The main reason I don’t use auto-iso indoors is because I don’t want to be constrained to certain times of day to schedule, and auto-iso is practically useless midday. Windows too bright, interior considerably darker. It’s better to just adjust the camera for the interior and let the windows blow-out IMO. Typically for me, that’s f9, 50s, iso3200. I then just use iso adjustments to regulate exposure per take. This way of shooting makes post processing much easier, since the same recipes applied to adjustment layers can be applied to many clips, instead of individually having to edit and grade each clip. Editing is very time consuming, so the last thing I want is to have to spend time grading what the camera “thought” was correct.

    I do use auto-color balance though… though I wish the cameras could make some adjustments to color on-the-fly. They seem to stick with whatever color-balance was chosen wherever the clip starts, but if you move from daylight to florecent in the same clip, it’s not accurate.

    In lieu of a profile, just go slightly flat, -1 sharpness, -1 contrast, -2 saturation. Color saturation is the easiest component to bring back, and one of the hardest to reverse once you’ve “cooked it”. I also tend to like allowing the camera to provide some of the sharpening, as opposed to relying totally on software to sharpen in post. A little bit of each seems better to me. I actually feel the same way about contrast, in allowing the camera to provide some, and software to fill in the deficit.

  • Hamish – S-Log3 is available on my Sony a7s mark II as is internal 4K recording.

  • Awesome… anyone want to buy a A7s mark 1?!

  • Great tips from Pros above.

    I just wanted to add ;
    If you don’t have any movements in your shot (people, etc) and only furnitures and walls, you can go between 1/40 to 1/100 for the shutter speed

    About Aperture and Iso , I recommend not to changes Apertures (choosing a compromise between rooms) only changing Iso if necessary, to avoid changes of depth of fields/sharpness/focus.

    About picture profile, i’m not using Nikon but there is Cineflat for videographer maybe you can give a try as you will massively gain details in the mid and shadows (there’s a link to download)

    http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/news/393-shoot-flat-on-your-nikon-d7000-and-then-edit-flat-in-final-cut-pro-grade-in-color

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