DSLR film-making with Philip Bloom

Renowned director and cinematographer Philip Bloom is in Australia for a range of dSLR workshops for budding film-makers. He sat down to chat and share his techniques with us.

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Philip Bloom is one of the most important film-makers working with digital SLRs today.

Philip has most recently worked on the George Lucas film Red Tails, but he's been active as a director, cameraman and director of photography for the past 20 years.

Here's a few of Philip's tips and tricks for film-makers using digital SLRs as their tool of choice.

Stabilise

Even if you can't afford a hand-held rig to mount your SLR, you can still achieve very basic stabilisation by placing the camera strap around your neck and using it as support while you hold the camera. There's also plenty of options for extra accessories including tripods, a Steadicam or one of Philip's favourites, the Zacuto Z-Finder Pro.

Picture settings

For Canon SLRs in particular, like the 5D Mark II, you can apply different picture profiles in-camera to achieve certain effects. Unlike creating still images, SLRs don't have a RAW codec for video so custom picture settings make working with the files in post-production easier, especially for grading purposes. Philip suggests creating custom picture profiles or downloading them.

Sound

Sound quality is incredibly important in any film but it's pretty difficult to get quality audio from the built-in microphones in any SLR. There are also plenty of limitations in monitoring input as SLRs don't have a headphone port. For general and spontaneous shooting, Philip has been using the Rode Video Mic Pro, which is a small on-camera shotgun microphone with a hotshoe mount.

It's also possible to set up dual-system sound, using the Rode Video Mic Pro as the reference audio and an external audio recorder with XLR connections. The audio can then be synced together in post using software like PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro.

7D audio
Using the Canon 7D and Rode Video Mic (Credit: Philip Bloom)
Overheating

SLRs are notorious for overheating during long stretches of continuous filming. There are a couple of ways around this, with the easiest being to wrap a cold towel around the camera, as long as it's not overly damp or wet so it could damage the SLR.

These are just a few of the many tips Philip shared at his workshop, for more information on his technique and tutorials, visit PhilipBloom.net.

Philip is conducting his final Australian workshops in Brisbane on Friday and Saturday, 25-26 February.

 

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