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

DPP: And now you can add or substitute actual video footage.

Grecco: We still can use the time-lapse coverage, stills cut into it, so it truly becomes a multimedia piece. It’s also, of course, important to create great footage. I think that the best footage is like a good photo essay. A good take consists of an establishing shot, close-ups, medium shots, maybe some behind-the-scenes shots. The footage tells a story and cuts regularly to keep someone’s interest.

DPP: How are you doing post work with the footage you shot of Karlee?

Grecco: I have a great editor who works in Final Cut Pro. I give him directions. I know the results I want. A business manager taught me years ago that my time is best spent handling client relations, getting work, checking in with clients, that sort of thing. Editing for days and not shooting or not keeping my business functioning isn’t, for me, the best use of my time. Also, as long as my editor edits better than I do, why would I do it?

DPP: Do you light differently for your still/video shoot than if it was strictly a still shoot? You had a bank of lights on your set.

Grecco: I did that as a kind of cool, beauty thing. I’m basically using the modeling lights from my strobes to light the video. We actually added a ¼ CTB [color temperature blue] gel into the strobe heads, and we also corrected for it in the Canon 5D Mark II shooting video. We’ve found that by bringing the tungsten light a little closer to daylight, it’s less noisy. A tungsten source isn’t triggering the two blue pixels out of the four very well because the light is predominantly warm and orange and on the infrared side of the spectrum. From a taste standpoint, I might warm that up slightly, but it needs to get closer to daylight to prevent noise first.

I’m waiting for the manufacturers to put more powerful modeling lights that are closer to daylight-balanced into these heads. If I put an extra-small softbox inches above someone’s face with a 20-degree fabric Lighttools grid spot, I want that exact light for strobe and for video. You don’t get even close to that now.

DPP: Hence the need to bump up your ISO three stops, shoot more wide open and change your color balance.

Grecco: The beauty of the 5D Mark II is that it works so well in low-light conditions because it has a large sensor and interchangeable lenses. And really, in video, the less depth of field you have, the better. With the two $3,000 video cameras, the chip is small, and there are two issues with that—high depth of field because the surface is so small, and it’s not true broadcast-quality video because there aren’t enough pixels there; it has to interpolate up the signal to give you 1920x1080p. Shallow depth of field is part of the beauty of working with the 5D Mark II for video.

You can see Michael Grecco’s video and more of his work by visiting his website at www.michaelgrecco.com.


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