Product Videography with the Godox TT350

Apple’s deep black close-ups that portray their MacBooks and iPhones like solar eclipses are as iconic as their commercials with white iPods and earphones on dancing silhouettes.

We associate the feelings that these iconic commercials create with Apple’s brand: a silent materialistic euphoria and a sense of trust about quality. It feels good to open a new Apple product. Their products, to the touch, feel like high-class pieces of engineering.

This is all to say that the way Apple shoot’s their products determines how customers perceive its brand. This is true for any company with a product that they are selling. How they shoot their products impacts how customers perceive the product.

I have not created product videography for any clients (yet). But, since I have the equipment to do it, I decided to practice. The following photos are raw frame-stills taken from the camera. The footage was later corrected to enhance the blacks and overall sharpness. This product setup uses 1 light, a bounce card, and a black background.

I began by setting up a black background behind a gray wood desk and positioning the camera 2 feet in front and at the height of the desk. There was a 1-foot gap between the back of the desk and the black background. This gap prevented a shadow at the meeting of the background and back of the desk, which resulted in a smooth transition from the table to the background.

I then placed a 1k Dracast light 2 feet above and 1 foot to the left of the product’s placement on the desk. I attached an egg crate to the Dracast light to direct light straight at the product, not the background. I also added a bounce to the right side of the desk to fill out the product using the single light.

The product for the test shots was a junky Nikon 70-300mm. I ended up using a Godox TT350 speedlight as the product in the video.

Attempt 1: Too much light and too soft

PostProductVideographyGodoxTT350-p1
My arm is pure white. This is not a good look.

In this first try, I had used a 50mm prime at f/1.4. The light was somewhere around 60%, and at that percent, it had blown out my skin and created harsh shadows. Also, the focus was too soft. To fix the lighting, I raised the light by 1 foot. This softened the shadows. I then changed to f/4 on the lens. This lessened the light coming into the camera while also boosting the sharpness of the overall shot. The product was far enough from the black background that the change in f-stop did not noticeably alter the bokeh.

Attempt 2: Still too blown out

PostProductVideographyGodoxTT350-p2
My fingers are blown out. The shine on the barrel of the lens is too strong.

The second try was much sharper. My skin was not blown out. But, I was not a fan of the blown-out ring of light on the lens. This, again, was caused by the light’s intensity. Rather than decrease the intensity, I raised the light by another foot. At this point, the light was almost touching the ceiling.

Attempt 3: Just about right

PostProductVideographyGodoxTT350-p3
My arm is not blow out. The shadows are soft.
PostProductVideographyGodoxTT350-p4
Notice how the highlights on the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 lens are not blown out. Also, this lens is great for real estate photography.

I reached a nice balance of softness and brightness by the third try. This is the setup that I used when creating the video with the Godox TT350 speedlight.

I noticed that in some of the close-ups, the focus was not completely sharp. The next time that I do this, I will raise the f-stop to f/5.6 and increase the intensity of the light.

PostProductVideographyGodoxTT350-p5
The “TT350” logotype is out of focus. A f-stop of f/5.6 would increase the sharpness of this part.

If you have any comments or advice, please let me know! I am always open to learning.

So this is the Panasonic GH5S

The Panasonic GH5S is real. And here are the details.

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Panasonic released a video 10 minutes before their conference at CES 2018, the International Consumer Electronics Show. The video shows off the new 10.2MP Digital Live MOS Sensor GH5S camera. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. New 10.2MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
  2. A maximum ISO of 51,200 and extended ISO of 204,800
  3. Dual Native ISO at 400 and 2500
  4. Cinema 4K 60/50p recording (4096 x 2160)
  5. 4K HDR with Hybrid Log Gamma
  6. Internal 4:2:2 10-bit 400Mbps recording at 4K and Cinema 4k
  7. Internal 4:2:2 10-bit 200Mbps Full HD
  8. Internal 4:2:0 8-bit Cinema 4K
  9. Full HD 240fps variable frame rate
  10. 14-bit raw photos at 11fps for AFS and 7fps for AFC
  11. Multi-aspect sensor (4:3, 17:9, 16:9, 3:2 aspect ratios)
  12. Timecode In/Out (Sets in and out points while recording so editors can see it in post)
  13. Optional SLR Microphone adaptor and battery grip
  14. Pre-installed V-Log
  15. IBIS is included in the menu system on the camera but it’s greyed out. Might be included in a software update?
  16. Unlimited recording time
  17. Live View Boost mode (makes the image brighter on the viewfinder than what is actually being recorded)
  18. Night mode (camera interface turns red for minimal light leaking)
  19. Priced at $2,499

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Take Vertical Real Estate Photos

To experienced photographers, vertically aligning real estate and architectural photos is, as a concept, so ingrained, so practiced, that their heads twitch bolt straight, eyes parallel to the horizon, when they hear the words.

Whisper “vertical” to a photographer at a party and watch as their head rises like a balloon set free.

They have nightmares about that one shot where the hallway was crooked but the kitchen was straight.

They have a folder labeled “bad,” all letters lowercase, filled with real estate photos from the early days when shots were taken handheld from 6 feet, camera angling down and stock flash popped up to get those hard lines, those blown out whites you would see in swat team raids from the show COPS back in the 90s.

Ask on any photo-centric forum, Facebook group, or Flickr page what they think of verticals. Ask Scott Hargis, Rich Baum, Nathan Cool for their thoughts on verticals. The resounding answer is the same: line up your shots.

There are no excuses.

How to line up your verticals

  1. Place your camera on a tripod that is perpendicularly aligned with a hallway or flat surface. This is a one-point perspective. You will need to see the corners of the walls on both sides of the frame.
  2. Loosen the tripod head. It doesn’t matter what head you use. It just needs to be loose and adjustable. There are better heads out there with bubble levels and easy adjusting knobs like the Manfrotto 405 that will make you faster.
  3. Find a spot on the wall directly in front of you that is the same height as your camera.
  4. Raise the camera up until the center of your shot is that exact spot.
  5. Notice the floor-to-ceiling corners of the walls on the edges of your frame. These are your verticals.
  6. Rotate the camera so that these verticals are parallel to the edges of your frame.
  7. Take the shot.
  8. Using Adobe Lightroom, straighten the verticals using the straighten feature.

 

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