Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

How To Shoot A Talking Head In Two Sizes At The Same Time


When I first began shooting corporate videos, it was standard practice to have the talent deliver to the interviewer off screen. And this is still the standard practice today. However, with the increasing volume of YouTube videos out there (where people are delivering straight to camera), it is becoming more and more the norm to deliver straight to camera.

All of this is great and easy to do if you are shooting with one camera. But what do you do if you have to shoot a talking head that delivers straight to camera and you need it in two shot sizes? Well, I recently spent the day experimenting with setups and came up with a solution that is easy and affordable to implement.
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The Secret To Delivering Great Images Within Tight Deadlines

Test Frame: Experimenting With Gels

Earlier this week I received news from my writer & director friend AJ Brooks that the short I DP'd for him won first place in last months DVXuser fest. To add a little perspective, this film was shot over two nights with a volunteer crew of five (AJ & myself count as 2 of that 5), and then edited and delivered it four days later. The news of this win reminds me yet again that the secret to great images with tight deadlines is not in using fancy gear and large crews, but it is in spending the time in preproduction developing a solid plan and testing it out beforehand.

Here are the two steps I took to set us up for success.
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How To Build A Wireless HD Transmitter For Under $275


This past week I was the cinematographer for an intense action short that was shot using two Epics. Even though we were on two Epics, we were still on a shoe-string budget, and we had to get creative to deliver cinema quality visuals. Due to the tight schedule and limited crew, we needed to go wireless for our director's monitor. Top of the line wireless systems are great to work with when the funds allow, but for this production, it wasn't an option. Fortunately, my long-time 1st AC Jerry Turner came to the rescue with an affordable solution he had created based off of research he'd done on the internet.

And, while I've had varying success with home-brew wireless HDMI in the past (so I was skeptical), I was delightfully surprised with how this unit performed in the middle of an industrial district in a major city. And all for under $275. Here is what you need to make this happen for yourself.
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How To Save Time In Post By Shooting Charts


As I prep for the grade of "The Kid," a short film I shot for Jeff Winograd on the 5D MKIII in RAW, I'm reminded about the importance of shooting charts during production. While I wouldn't say that you have to shoot charts during production, I will say that if you take that extra minute on set to shoot a chart, you will save considerable time in post, and make the grading process easier on yourself.

If you want to spend less time grading, and have more confidence as you grade, here is what I recommend doing...
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How To Prepare Youself For Working With An External Recorder


So how do knock off $10,000 from the price of a a $16,000 camera? By using an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja and buying a C100 instead. When recording externally to the ProRes codec you get a higher quality codec then what you can get out of the the more expensive C300 natively. And while I welcome the ability to save a chunk of cash and still get the same, if not better quality images from a more affordable camera, it's not all a bed of roses, as I experienced recently on a shoot. Continue reading to find out what happened, and how you can prepare yourself for working with an external recorder.
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Cinematography Apps You Should Be Using


Over the last several months as I have shared various behind the scenes photos on twitter and facebook I have routinely been asked "what app is that?" So I thought it was time to detail out what apps I regularly use as a cinematographer. I have broken them down into three categories: Must Haves, Nice To Have, and Don't Need, But Fun To Use.
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Why You Should Be Using ND Filters For Interior Work


Last week I talked about the importance of in camera filtration, and this week I am going to address why you should be using ND for interior work. Typically, ND filters are thought of as exposure tools that are only used for scenes that take place outside. While they may have started out as a tool that was primarily used for exteriors, that is no longer the case. As camera technology continues to advance, the ND filter is playing a bigger role when shooting indoors.
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The Power Of Camera Filtration



As a cinematographer, one of my responsibilities is to craft the image to reinforce the story I am helping to tell. While lighting, framing, and camera movement are often the first tools that come to mind, an often over looked tool at our disposal is camera filtration. Unfortunately, with the rise of the digital age, and the power of our grading software, filtration at the camera level is not as popular as it once was. While I can appreciate the fear that some directors and productions have of baking in a look, here is why I think in camera filtration can be a powerful tool, and why you should be considering it for your production.
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Three Reasons Why "Fixing It In Post" Will Ruin Your Career


How often have you been on set and heard the words, "We'll fix it in post"? Here I share why those words make me cringe internally. As you will surmise while reading this article, I am a huge proponent of creating compelling imagery in camera- not in post. Even if I am shooting with a RAW camera, I can create stronger visuals if I get the image to around 80-90% of where I want it, rather than relying on post color correction. Relying on post to "fix it,"  or waiting until post to create your imagery, is the quickest way to shorten your career. Here are three reasons why you should avoid this common pitfall.
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1080p is better than 4k. (Or Why I Chose The Canon C100)


After many years of owning a wide range of camera systems, including a Red One and an Epic, I decided to sell it all and rent. So for the past three years I have been exclusively renting cameras on a per project basis, that is until recently when I made the plunge and bought the Canon C100. Little did I know how many eyebrows and questions it would raise when I posted a picture on Facebook. Here is why I chose a 1080p, 4:2:0 camera over a 4k RAW camera.
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Three Myths About The Blackmagic Cameras


In case you happened to be living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, Blackmagic Design has announced two more cameras to their lineup. Not only were they able to do what Red wasn't by offering a 4k camera for $4k, but they also introduced a Super16 pocket camera. Once again, the show floor at NAB was abuzz about Blackmagic. At NAB 2013, and in the weeks following, I have heard three myths repeated in casual conversation, and on podcasts, that are simply not true. Here is what you need to know...
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The Letus or OConnor: Which Matte Box Is Better?


If you are in the market for an affordably priced, lightweight matte box, chances are that you have taken a look at the Letus Matte Box and the OConnor Matte box. Both matte boxes are similarly priced and built, which can make the choice difficult. Fortunately for you, I've shot a feature film with the O-Box, and many commercials with the LTMB. Here are my recommendations based off of my real world, long-term use of each of these products.
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One Battery To Rule Them All (Or How To Simplify Your Camera Rig)

Too many batteries...
Do you ever find yourself caught in the frustrating task of juggling the myriad of batteries and chargers that fill your camera bag? Cameras continue to get smaller every year as they shed unneeded weight. While my back is thankful for the lighter load, the downside is that they are also shedding standard parts like monitors and XLR connections. That means I have to add them back on in order to make the camera work properly. And with each additional accessory comes an additional battery and charger to manage. Here I present my current solution for taking four batteries down to one, which includes a power solution for the JuicedLink Riggy. One battery, forged by Anton Bauer... One battery to rule them all...
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Does The Blackmagic Camera Still Have a Future?


As NAB 2013 is only weeks away, you may be wondering what camera companies have up their sleeves. Will someone else come from out of nowhere and release an amazing camera at an affordable price, stealing Blackmagic's thunder? If you are like me, these are real questions that I continue to ask myself as I wait for my pre-ordered camera. If I already had my camera, it wouldn't be an issue as I would be out shooting with it. But as NAB 2013 gets closer I wonder about the camera's future... Should I keep my preorder for the MFT version of the camera?...
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How To Choose A Slider. Or Which One Is Right For Me?


It seems like these days everyone and their grandmother is making a slider. And with the deluge of options on the market, it can be tough trying to figure out which is the right one to buy for your setup. I'm going to take a look at three different systems, and address their issues in an effort to better help you navigate your purchase or rental decisions.
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Dear Camera Manufacturers (An Open Letter For The New Year)


Over the last several years I have noticed a disturbing trend among camera manufacturers that seems to be influencing more companies, and setting a standard for how cameras are designed and released to the market. And it is not in a positive direction. As we begin this year with a clean slate, I want to see this trend reversed. So camera manufacturers, here is my letter to you, from an avid user of your products, and constant contributor to your bottom line...
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How To Prepare Yourself For RAW


Now that it appears that Blackmagic has sorted out the sensor issue and will begin shipping the camera in mass this January, a flood of $3,000 RAW cameras is about to hit the market. But is the market ready for affordable RAW? Are you ready? Am I ready? Don't let this DSLR-like camera fool you. It isn't as straightforward as you may think. Here is what you can expect, and what you should prepare yourself for as you make the switch from compressed formats to RAW...
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New Camera Bags For A New Generation Of Filmmakers

One of the least sexy, but most important camera accessories is the camera case. If your camera is not well protected and it isn't easy or convenient to transport, then it really doesn't matter what you are shooting on. Over the years I have used a wide range of camera cases and bags, some of which have been more successful than others. Most recently I have been putting the Tenba Roadie II HDSLR/Video Shoulder Bag through the ringer to see how it holds up. Here is what I have found...
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The Urban Legend of 18% Grey

18% grey as recorded by the Epic, 5D MKIII, F65, GH2, & Alexa
Ever since I picked up my first camera I've been on a pursuit to create visually compelling imagery. A big part of my education has come from taking classes and reading books written by those who have come before me. One of the early lessons I learned was about the importance of 18% grey, and how that value fit the Zone System in obtaining proper exposure. But what if what I was taught wasn't quite as solid as I was led to believe? Read on to find out why I now think 18% grey is an urban legend, and how that impacts us in todays digital age ...
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The Problem With Digital Cameras & My Secret Solutions


Thanks to many innovations in technology, digital cinema cameras are continuing to improve in quality by leaps and bounds. The mere fact that we can now shoot at an actual EI of 800 and have clean useable images with 13-14 stops of dynamic range was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. However, the pristine images that these cameras are delivering have introduced a new problem that we haven't had to think about until now: the images are getting too good. They are too clean. Read on for why I think this is a problem, and what to do about it.
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How To Build A Speed Rail Dolly For $80


Pulled from my archives, this video shows you how to take $80 and turn your skateboard dolly into a tool that is more useful and can support a wide range of camera systems. This dolly is great for small crews that need to work fast, and don't have a lot of time to lay and level track. Links to everything you need are below.
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Working With The MCS System


I have had an opportunity to work with the Master Cinema Series system for several months now in real production environments, and I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the system. It really does take an un-ergonomic camera like the 7D or 5D and make it more friendly to use in production life. What I really appreciate about the system is that it is camera agnostic - to date, I have used the MCS with the Epic, C300, FS100, 5D, 7D, AF100, and GH2. It is from these experiences that I offer the following tips to help get even more out of the system ...
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How To Hack The GH2 On A Mac


The GH2 is the little camera that could- time and time again I continue to be impressed with the image quality that comes out of this little $900 camera. But to realize its full potential, it has to be hacked. And thanks to Personal View there is a community of people who offer some very impressive hacks, the most impressive of which is the Driftwood hack. (At least in my opinion anyway.) So all you need to do to turn your camera from something fun into something that could be used seriously is to install the hack. Great - no problem if you are on a PC. However, it is not so easy for those of us in an all Mac environment. After spending way to much time online searching on how to hack the GH2 using a Mac, I decided to throw up this little tutorial to explain how to do it step by step, hopefully making it easier for you, then it was for me when I first did it.



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Camera 101: Introduction to the camera.


[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]


Welcome to your camera system! In the 100 series of videos you will be taken through the basics of using your camera. In episode 101, Ryan introduces the basic components that makeup any camera system and explains their use and offers insight into their importance. He explores the importance of the camera body, lens selection, the follow focus, matte box, monitors, tripods, and light meters.
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