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Author Topic: Shooting running water  (Read 1389 times)


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Shooting running water
« on: May 16, 2011, 09:37:29 PM »

I will be shooting in Yosemite for two weeks with my Canon XF305.  With all the snow this year, the waterfalls and Merced will be full of water. I am wondering what would be the best settings for shooting rushing water. Is inter-laced better than progressive? Is 30p better than 60p?

I'd like to hear from those who have actually done some work in this area rather than those who are just guessing.


Sareesh Sudhakaran

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Re: Shooting running water
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 11:42:39 PM »

Running water has been shot at 24fps for a hundred years. For PAL, stick to 25p. For NTSC, stick to 30p. The differences among these frame rates for running water in all practical terms is negligible.

50p and 60p are for slow motion effects. Hope this helps.
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Re: Shooting running water
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 01:27:30 PM »

There is one good reason to consider shooting 30 fps or 60 fps.  With those shutter speeds better slow motion is possible.  24 FPS doesn't produce enough frames to warrant slow motion, while 60 fps does. Why slow motion?  This effect can often yield a more "dreamy" look.

But the previous response is correct, movies have been shot for over 100 years at 24 fps.  Just be careful how quickly you zoom or pan, as 24 fps can look jerky if the camera moves too quickly.  If you can find a copy of the American Cinematographer's Bible, there is a whole section devoted to motion and frame rate.

With respect to interlaced and progressive scan, I'd recommend making some tests at home before venturing out to see which you prefer.  I've been shooting video for 31 years professionally and we only had interlaced as the choice until a few years ago.  I'm glad to have the choice.  Interlaced footage can smooth out fast motion passing through the screen, but comes with some issues.  Since each interlaced field records only every other line of the picture, freeze frames will display jagged lines where the subject has moved across the picture between field 1 and field 2.  For that reason, I am happy to have the option to use progressive material and prefer it for most subjects.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2011, 03:54:29 PM by bjammin »

Chris Sanderson

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Re: Shooting running water
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 05:36:04 PM »

It may also be worth experimenting with shutter speed (as opposed to frame rate).

While the effect on the water motion of higher than 1/48 or 1/60 shutter speeds ('normal' for 24 fps & 30 fps) will depend on the motion speed through frame, I found that for a detailed, 'sparkly' or 'refreshing' look to the water droplets of a water fall, it is often worthwhile experimenting with shutter speeds of anywhere up to 1/250 or 1/500. No, it will not look 'normal' but it's a matter of the effect that you want. Luckily you can sit and play by the water's edge and review your efforts before committing to a final shutter speed.

Always remember that if you have the luxury of recording at high frame rates for slow motion, you can always bring it back to 'normal' in post with no quality loss (assuming no loss in data rate); similarly, overly detailed water from higher shutter speeds can be blurred in post with little problem.

BTW there is an example of this sort of shooting in LLVJ18 "Algonquin Run-Off"
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