Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A photographer who can deliver a still shoot and a video shoot simultaneously is a photographer who’s in demand and commanding a high fee. Michael Grecco is doing it and putting HD DSLR technology to the test as he works his multifaceted magic.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Grecco is actively shooting still and video on the same shoot. The process requires considerable planning and consistency across the shoot. Grecco is teaching a workshop on the topic through Sunglow Workshops in October 2010.
I also had on set Von Thomas of Image Mechanics operating the RED ONE system for extreme close-ups and cutaway shots. The idea is to cut his footage, my footage and still sequences into the video.

DPP: Why do you use a longer lens on the video-dedicated body than on the still-dedicated body?

Grecco: We were in a small studio with a small set and we didn’t want to see the crap all over the set that you could see in the horizontal video frame. Since it’s motion, we could be into one small space and move the camera around the face or the body.

With the 24-70mm lens on the still-dedicated body, I’m making a vertical image that’s either a full-length picture or a head-and-shoulders or a “cowboy.” A cowboy is the term for a shot from the knees up to the head. It’s where the guns end; it’s an old Hollywood term.

DPP: What did you do in terms of recording sound?

Grecco: In this case, since Karlee is a singer, we’ll cut the music video to the track. I put my iPod into a boom box and used hands as a clapper, and she lip-synched to her song. We recorded stray sound just to help us sync everything up, but we won’t be using that sound.

One of the things I took away from film school is that everyone thinks that sound is the least important thing. Everyone worries about getting great visuals, making sure they’ve got all the cuts, but everyone sort of fudges the sound. That’s a mistake. I think if you’re doing this and need to record sound, you should go out and rent a DAT recorder for a hundred bucks and get a boom operator or have an assistant hold the boom. And if you’re going to have an assistant hold it, make sure they do it right.

DPP: What’s a proper way to work with a boom?

Grecco: The best sound is a shotgun mic coming in from above aiming down. If the mic comes in from underneath and is aiming up, it can pick up sound bouncing around the ceiling. By aiming it down, you get the voice, if you’re recording dialogue, and not a bunch of stray noise—it goes relatively dead by hitting the body or the wall or the floor or the couch. There are basically three types of mics. There’s omnidirectional, which takes in sound from all around. There’s unidirectional, which is from one direction, but a relatively wide patch. Then there’s a shotgun mic, which has a very narrow diameter that it reads the sound from.

If you’re shooting video with the 5D Mark II, you’re getting amazingly beautiful footage. The only thing you’re missing is great sound, and that’s easily rectified.

DPP: Can you plug an external mic into the D5 Mark II?

Grecco: You can, but it’s highly compressed. It’s not great sound. When you have a deliverable requirement and that requirement is HD 5.1 sound, how are you going to get that recording out of the back of a camera?


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