Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 74 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork chats with Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter about how you can use your DSLR camera to make great food videos.
Last week Bjork interviewed Jessica Merchant from How Sweet It Is about consistently creating high-quality content. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
By now, it’s pretty apparent how powerful food videos can be for a brand. They’re awesome! However, there are a lot of technical things to know when it comes to using your DSLR camera as a video camera.
Caleb Pike has made his name by helping people learn how to use their DSLR cameras for shooting video. In this episode, he not only talks about important settings you need to pay attention to, but he also talks about how to make sure none of your video ever gets accidentally deleted.
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Bjork Ostrom: In this episode of the podcast, we talked to Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter and believe it or not, we are going to be talking about DSLR video. Everything from getting a really high quality shot, all the way to how do you store all of those massive files?
Hey, there. This is Bjork Ostrom and you’re listening to episode number 74 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Today, we’re talking to Caleb Pike. We’re going to be talking to him about how you can set your camera up so it’s going to get really high quality footage, what you do with that footage, once you import it in, great tips and tricks for getting high quality DSLR video footage and then editing everything from start to finish.
The good thing is a lot of people that are listening have a DSLR camera and most of those cameras have some type of video setting. If you have a DSLR camera, one that you use for photography, this is going to be a great interview for you because you’re going to be able to learn a little bit about the video side of your camera. Without further adieu, let’s jump in. Caleb, welcome to the podcast.
Caleb Pike: Thank you so much for having me on. I’m excited. Actually, a side note, I told my wife about this interview and she got super excited because apparently she’s been using a lot of your guys’ recipes and loves the site.
Bjork Ostrom: Fun. Good.
Caleb Pike: That was awesome.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s always good for us to hear from people that actually are going to Pinch of Yum and using recipes or following along with it because maybe you can relate to this a little bit, but once you get into it, because we’re so behind the computer screen, sometimes you forget like, “Oh yeah. There’s people out there interacting with it and it’s good to hear in person somebody actually say that as both in email or comments so I appreciate it.
Caleb Pike: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: I want to talk to you a little bit today about DSLR video which makes sense because the site and the brand that you’ve built is DSLR Video Shooter. You’d be the go-to person to talk about this, but I’d love to start talking a little bit about your story because you’ve done something that I think a lot of people are interested in doing is that you’ve transitioned into being able to work on your brand and your content full-time.
Can you rewind back a little bit. What were you doing before DSLR Video Shooter where in the video space is that something you were focusing on? Were you just doing client work? I’d love to hear a little bit about your story.
Caleb Pike: Sure, sure. I wanted to go to film school in Chicago and it just wasn’t going to happen, financially. A lot of people were telling me, “Just don’t get into that career. You have to be one of a kind to go to Hollywood and do all this stuff. Just get something general that you can use anywhere.” I started with a marketing degree and about only into my first semester, I realized just this wasn’t going to work for me.
Bjork Ostrom: What was it that made you realized that?
Caleb Pike: Just sitting in a classroom in an accounting class looking out the window and being like, “I don’t care how much I can make doing this. This isn’t going to work.”
Bjork Ostrom: I took an accounting class and I had the same experience except the only difference was that there was no windows in the class which is made it all the worse.
Caleb Pike: Oh, man.
Bjork Ostrom: At that point, you have this realization, “This isn’t something that I can do.” Is it like right there, you say, “I know that film is what I want to do”?
Caleb Pike: Something with media. I was really into obviously film and video. I just decided that in there, I was going to first, cancel that class because it was expensive. I can still sell my book at that point.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure books, which is so funny that you go back to that because it’s like the $200 textbook. I just remember going textbook shopping in college and just what a terrible experience that was to bring it up and it’s like, “That’ll be $1,400.”
Caleb Pike: Yeah. You have to write in it so it’s worthless after the semester. I finished. I committed to finishing three other classes which were great. One of them was economics which in another life I would do that. It’s just I love that stuff. I finished up that semester. I essentially quit college which I don’t want to say, probably say, but I feel like too many people are afraid of that word, quit. I think it’s a great idea if something isn’t working or just sucks, just stop doing that.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. It’s a hard thing to do because I think there’s pride to build in to not quitting, right?
Caleb Pike: In our culture, it really stresses finishing. That’s worth it no matter what which I don’t think is applicable to absolutely everything.
Bjork Ostrom: You made the decision to switch. You know that you want to do something in media. What does the next step look like for you?
Caleb Pike: I was living with my grandfather at the time and looking for an outlet. His church had a huge media outlet so I just walked in to their offices and said, “Hey, I’ve got a little video experience. Can I help out anywhere?” They take volunteers. I did that for a little while. Through that, I met a director who was working on a short series and did a bunch of client work. I started working with him. Right at that time, the whole DSLR thing peaked in.
Bjork Ostrom: When was this?
Caleb Pike: Oh, man. 2007.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say the whole DSLR thing, for those that aren’t familiar with that kind of transition as it relates to video, can you explain that a little bit?
Caleb Pike: Sure. A lot of us who used the little flip out video cameras that we grew up with the big tapes element stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: With the ones you’d set on your shoulder and your uncle would walk around at the party recording.
Caleb Pike: They always look horrible. When you watch a movie, it look completely different because they use film and essentially there is more shallow depth of fields. They had these awesome lenses and you could get this blurred out background. It just wasn’t possible with video cameras. Canon, I accidentally stumbled into this and they just decided, “You know what, let’s add video to our DSLR so that if a journalist is out shooting photos and they want to do a quick 30-second video, they can do that.”
Then it just blew up and everyone got into it for film and video and way beyond Canon, what Canon expected and it launches a new industry of large sensor cameras. Now, there’s hundreds and hundreds of options.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain that large sensor? I feel like that’s a really important concept for people to understand why that’s such a cool thing that we have access to, affordable access to large sensors.
Caleb Pike: Sure. There’s lots of things, better low lights so you can shoot with less light. You can get more shallow depth of field which is essentially that picture of someone at any focal length and the background is beautifully blurred out. Your guys’ photos have a lot of that good stuff, and interchangeable lenses. Video cameras often have only a few options, if any, when it comes to lenses, but with these Canon DSLRs or any of the cameras that are available now, there’s a host of options out there so you can figure out what exactly you want and go for it. Just a lot of flexibility and shooting grade stills if you use a DSLR.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. Before, that was something that you could get some of those things but it was super expensive. You’d have a 10, 20, $100,000-camera that would have the ability to get that kind of stuff so those large sensor kind of things like a blurry background, for instance, which feels very much like a Hollywood movie kind of thing.
Caleb Pike: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: But with like the uncle’s camera for the family event, it wouldn’t be able to get that cool look.
Caleb Pike: Everything was in focus. With the DSLRs, you can make nasty workshop just look beautiful or you can hide a lot.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. At this point, the DSLR movement is starting to happen. People are starting to use that for video. They’re realizing, “For a few thousand dollars, I can get a shot that looks like something from 10 years ago that would have cost maybe 100,000.” You had that really expensive gear for it. You’re experimenting. You have this gig where you’re able to help out and learn on the job. At what point do you start saying, “Hey, I’m going to start doing some of this stuff on my own,” or did you say, “Hey, I know that right away, I want to go into teaching people about DSLR video”?
Caleb Pike: I had a web background. I’ve always tinkered with WordPress and all that stuff. Back in the day, I just shut it down forever ago which is really sad, but I run a website called the Custom Mac because I’m a huge Apple nerd.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey, all right.
Caleb Pike: I did lots of different post on modding your computer and productivity, all those kind of thing. It actually did fairly well and I don’t know why I didn’t sell it or something, but I was a dumb kid. That taught me about content creation, SEO, all that stuff. When you’re comfortable with it, starting a new website is super easy. I had started several little once and one of those, “Well, if this turns in to something great, if not it only costs me $2 a month or whatever.”
I was really getting into video. I was experimenting with lighting because I knew I was really weak in that area. I was just shooting some tests, experimenting and putting it up on Vimeo. I don’t know where these people came from, but people started commenting and saying, ”Oh, hey. It would be great to see more like this or can you update us on this, that and the other thing?”
Bjork Ostrom: These are people asking for tips and tricks around the video that you’re shooting like, “How did you do that lighting set up,” or something like that?
Caleb Pike: I have to find the video. It was shot in my grandfather’s basement with a work lamp and some aluminum foil or something like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Classic starting out DIY lighting set up.
Caleb Pike: Then I had the web background. I slapped together a DSLR Video Shooter website and I’m a follower of ProBlogger. A big fan of his stuff over there. He had a post on five pillar post and talked about pillar post. When you start out, try to come up with five earth shatteringly good resources that are really flushed out. I started doing that.
Bjork Ostrom: How did you decide what those were? Was that a gut feeling or was that based on feedback that you had?
Caleb Pike: I think my background in writing or working with content, helped me just decipher what would be good content there as well as this was such a new niche and that’s why I really wanted to pursue it. It wasn’t a lot of resources out there. There were tons of forums but someone sitting down in front of a camera walking people through certain things just wasn’t out there.
One of the pillar posts was to help people find those resources. I put together a list of, if you’re into DSLR video these are the 20 sites you have to subscribe to. In turn those people then re-tweeted that stuff. Then it started to pick up. I was still very on the side. I was shooting a lot doing corporate video stuff with a couple different producers.
It just slowly grew and grew. I was doing the sites. I was doing video shoots on the site and I was still doing web design and development. It got to a point and I think this is applicable to everyone especially your audience, some of my audience. You get to a point where you need to start cutting some stuff out and it looks like it’ll be really painful. For instance the web stuff, we would submit all these proposals and they would always start the project at the worst time for me.
I had all these shoots. I was trying to create content and it came to the point where I had to cut that out which that’s painful because those are big checks and as you know month to month is different when you’re a content creator. You don’t get a big juicy massive check consistently always. I don’t think that you’ll never be fully ready, but once you do pull that trigger, as long as you have a backup plan and you’re smart about it, you’ll be so, so happy with that decision. I felt so freed not knowing that I might get an email tomorrow and the next two weeks I’m going to be coding or something like that.
Bjork Ostrom: I think there is really something to be sad about as an entrepreneur, the things you say no to are just as important as the things you say yes to.
Caleb Pike: Absolutely, if not more.
Bjork Ostrom: One of my favorite books, I should reread it this year, but essentialism and it’s a book all about how important it is to pare down and to focus. It’s something that I continually need a reminder on because if you’re doing 9,000 things at 1%, it’s not going to be as effective as doing one or two things at full capacity.
Caleb Pike: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: What was it that you decided to cut out? It was the web designer development then at that point? You had these three-legged stool and you say, “You know what, I’m going to a two-legged stool.” Maybe that’s a bad analogy. You cut this out and at this point, you’re just focusing in on DSLR Video Shooter and then also doing the client work?
Caleb Pike: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. For how long were you at that point because I know at this point you’re focusing full-time on the brand, DSLR Video Shooter and the content there. How long were you doing both of those?
Caleb Pike: Up until probably a year-and-a-half ago, but I went from every week to every month. Then I pared it down to … I only work with one guy. I had a couple of people I was doing work with and I just picked the one guy I really loved working with. When we moved, it was made a lot easier because it was a lot closer to him and his studio. Then it got down to maybe one big gig a year. A big three, four-day shoot and then I just decided, it’s time to go full-time. I was essentially full-time before that.
Bjork Ostrom: Full-time plus then.
Caleb Pike: It’s been probably three years or four years since it was really, really split.
Bjork Ostrom: I think people are interested to hear from other industries doing similar things. You’re all online based. You’re producing content online, blog post video but in a different industry. It’s not food. What does that look like for you? Is it YouTube advertising. Is it working with sponsors? Is it producing courses and content that people purchase?
In terms of the business overview, how does that work for you knowing that you’re in a different industry? I think people would be interested to hear and I would be too.
Caleb Pike: Sure. Obviously the client work was supporting it. Then I dabbled with Amazon’s affiliate account really early days, when I was living at my parent’s place still because you can sign up for free and if you make $15, you make $15. That was the main source of income. Then B&H Photo Video contacted me in the early days of DSLR Video Shooter.
They have an affiliate account. It’s a little harder to set up just because you have to have a certain amount of numbers going on. Then after I set that up with them, they called me back a couple of months later and they have a really cool program where you can pick anything on their site. They’ll ship it to you for 30 days and you can review it.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.
Caleb Pike: That was huge because at the time I was just reviewing whatever I could afford which wasn’t much and I was holding the camera. I needed to talk about what I needed to film with that camera. Some of my early stuff looks terrible.
Bjork Ostrom: As early stuff should, right?
Caleb Pike: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s because you’re going to have to pay your dues.
Caleb Pike: Those two were big for me affiliate essentially just affiliate income. Then I started doing advertising. WordPress makes it easier to do that. Then that, all was growing. YouTube really doesn’t help you out much.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, with YouTube advertising.
Caleb Pike: You have to be millions of subscribers to make that work. Then for a long time I wanted this … I have these different baskets of income. I had affiliate income, advertising and I really wanted that third product based but I didn’t want to get anything physical just with research of … That would be potentially disastrous.
Bjork Ostrom: So much.
Caleb Pike: Yeah. It took me a long time to get over the mental block of I’ve been doing this for free for so long. How can have I charged for something and people won’t flip out or if I charged for it, it needs to be really good and really precise because my videos are a little more laid back. I don’t scripts or anything. It’s just me in front of the camera.
I spent on and off a year working on the first guide which was the GH4 guide. It’s a guide on how to use a particular camera, but once that launched, I realized I should have been doing this for years and years.
Bjork Ostrom: What do you mean by that?
Caleb Pike: Just income.
Bjork Ostrom: By producing a guide like your own product that you could offer?
Caleb Pike: Yeah. Something that I could sell and just percentages for affiliate stuff is very low, whereas if you sell something obviously-
Bjork Ostrom: It’s 100% usually.
Caleb Pike: Exactly, yeah. That was huge and just even more passive, but once it’s done, it’s done.
Bjork Ostrom: It’ll always be available and it’s not like you have to go back and take it. You can continue to build on that by offering additional things on top which I think is awesome.
Caleb Pike: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about that and some of the fears that you had to overcome? I think that it’s really common to think, like you said, “I have this stuff for free. I’m producing this content.” What was it that helped you moved through that and why do you think that people said, “You know what, this is something I’m going to pay for. It’s worth it for me to purchase this,” even though realistically you could probably find stuff if you searched hard enough around the internet and maybe different helpful tutorials or things like that.
Can you talk through the psychological element that you had to go through in order to get to the point where you’re like, “Yeah, this is a good thing and I know that people will like it,” and want to purchase it.
Caleb Pike: Sure, yeah. The first was just often, there will be one troll out there and thousands of people supporting you, but you only hear the troll.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s such good reminder.
Caleb Pike: Just stepping back and realizing that there’s evidence of value being transferred to people and just realizing it takes a ton of work to produce something like that. I mean, I can’t believe how much work some of these guides have required. Overtime, you get faster at it and come up with the system. To produce something, instead of doing a five to 10-minute video, to do something that’s several hours long and needs to make sense and have support attached to that, it’s a lot of work. That was the first hurdle realizing I did have value to offer and people would pay for it.
I did do some, not beta testing but I asked people what kind of information if this was maybe something they’d be interested in. Also saying, “Hey, if you want to just keep tabs on this, get on this separate email list,” was huge because then I had physical numbers and I could directly contact those people once it was available.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Caleb Pike: All that helped and it’s one of those things. There’s another podcast I listen to called Making It. I’m a huge maker, DIY fan. Just one of the recent episodes, Jimmy Diretsa was talking about, one of the guys on the show, when there’s something that just bugs you or you know you have to get it done but you keep pushing it back, and delaying it, it always gets bigger and worse.
If you just sit down and think, in four hours, this will be done and it’ll be a memory, it’ll be the past. I’ll have something finished there. That’s huge. I even get that now. If there’s a video I don’t want to shoot and I just keep pushing it back. When you sit down and film something, if you have a decent set up and it’s streamlined, that’s 15, 20 minutes of your life.
It’s really dumb to try to let that block you. That was a big factor in just getting to work. Over a year, it took to make that guide, but within the last couple weeks is when most of it happen. Just sitting down and plowing through it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cal, it’s such a good reminder and it’s one of those things like you said where in some ways the anticipation of it is worse that actually doing it. If you just sit down-
Caleb Pike: Absolutely
Bjork Ostrom: -and put your head down and start working on it and moving through, it’s maybe not as hard as it seems. In some ways, it’s maybe not as hard and in some ways you’re like, “Oh, Cal. This is a lot of work.” Once you start on it and move through it then you’re able to get it done. A good reminder I think to people that how important it is to have some type of offering like that you can put out there just because it’s so much more efficient than some of the other types of advertising or affiliate income.
Caleb Pike: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s a good reminder.
Caleb Pike: Oh, and one other thing, that was huge that I forgot about, was knowing that this particular guy, this first one I put out, I put … If you look at that guide, it has everything you could possibly want to know about that camera. Knowing that you could purchase it and never have to Google something was a big selling point. I don’t know what that would look like for a cooking product, but something where it’s figuring out what that main point, value point is.
There’s another guy somewhere, I can’t remember his name, but he talks about this subject and approaching it differently than other people. If you have more humor, more humor than people in your niche than can be a strong or quality. If you’re the only guy doing epic videos in your niche, that’s a huge win or just content. No one goes as in depth as you do. There’s those people out there who will watch that 30-minute video in YouTube for review for something because they want to know the ins and out of it completely.
Bjork Ostrom: They’re out there. Those crazy people that are the product people that want to know the very specifics. Those in some ways are the people that you’re serving. It’s like I want to really fully understand the camera which is maybe a good transition here. Thanks for sharing your story. I always love to hear about how people have transitioned into doing the thing that they’re interested in and their passion and building a brand as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, so I think that’s really cool.
Let’s talk a little bit about DSLR video. We have a lot of people that are interested in video that want to really up their game and to shoot high quality video for their blog or for their brand, but you know because you’re in it, it’s not an easy thing to do. What I’d love to do is I’d love to do kind of a quick pass and talk through some kind of the gear side of things.
Caleb Pike: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: Give some advice to people that are either getting started or in the early stages of shooting video. The first thing that I wanted to ask and that I’m curious about is I think a lot of people that are listening probably have a DSLR camera that they shoot for photography. It’s a given that people in our niche would be shooting photographs, but maybe not a given that they’d be doing video. One of the things that’s really common that you hear is, “Hey, if you have a set budget for your camera, spend the majority of it on a lens and then the rest of it on a body.” Does it apply to video as well?
Caleb Pike: Kind of. I would say less because when you’re shooting stills, you have whatever megapixel count and you’re taking full-advantage of that lens. It’s raw, you need to put something nice in front of that nice camera. For video, it’s 1080p and it’s usually compressed. You can get away with murder almost. I, for the longest time shot with just vintage manual lenses so a $30 Pentax lens from who knows what or Nikon lenses. I love those.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. In our case, we have a Canon 60 and then some 70s that we have lying around. If somebody has just kind of a standard DSLR camera and they have a few different lenses, would you say, “Hey, that’s a great place to start for shooting DSLR?”
Caleb Pike: Absolutely. If your camera has video capabilities, one of those Canon DSLRs for instance, that’s a fantastic place to start.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I thought was interesting like when I was looking through your site is you had some recommended gear like the gear that you use and work with. It wasn’t cameras that I was familiar with and I’m not super into the gear side of things so I don’t know a ton about it. Are there DSLRs now that are being produced that are more video focused than photography focused?
Caleb Pike: Absolutely. The irony is I don’t use DSLRs anymore. It’s just the name and people know what it means but I almost shoot exclusively on mirrorless cameras. I still have a 60, but the mirrorless cameras are amazing now so stuff that Sony is producing Panasonic is really good stuff. They are leaning toward video, but for photography, I would almost push people to look into DSLRs because they’re really strong stills cameras which is a huge part of what your audience is probably looking for.
Bjork Ostrom: The idea being that they can do both photography and video?
Caleb Pike: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: It can be both. Can you talk about the mirrorless a little bit?
Caleb Pike: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: What does that mean and why is a mirrorless camera good for video?
Caleb Pike: Sure. DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex. It’s a complicated way of saying there’s a little mirror that when you take a picture, it flips up, closes what you see so that the sensor can grab the image and then flips back down. If you look through that viewfinder on your DSLR, you’re just going to see what you would see if you looked at a plate of food, whereas you’re not going to see what the camera is actually going to capture unless you look at the screen.
A mirrorless camera has no mirror and the EVF or the viewfinder is actually a screen. When you shoot video, if you try to go outside and shoot video with a Canon DSLR, you have to look at the screen which means it’s going to have daylight on it, which means you have to get one of these funky loop things that attaches to the back, to see the screen outside, whereas a mirrorless camera you just look into the IPs and you see exactly what you’re filming or shooting a photo of.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The idea being with a DSLR like if you’re looking in the little IPs on top, when you’re shooting … Well, you wouldn’t be able to would you with a DSLR?
Caleb Pike: For shooting video?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Caleb Pike: Correct. You wouldn’t be able to use it.
Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s maybe hard to explain on an audio podcast, but I’m going to try and do it and you can let me know if I’m right. Essentially what’s happening is you have the lens and then the light is … or whatever it is that you’re shooting is coming into the lens but when you’re doing a photograph, what happens is that that light or that image is bounced up into the viewfinder like there’s a mirror that bounces that up so you can see what it is. Is that right?
Caleb Pike: Correct. You’re still looking through the lens when you look at the viewfinder.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s bounced up so you can see it, but what happens when you do a photograph is that little thing that’s reflecting it opens up real quick and exposes it to the back, what is it? You had called it the-
Caleb Pike: Sensor?
Bjork Ostrom: Sensor. Thank you. When you do a video, what happens is that just opens up so there’s nothing reflecting. It’s just showing it on the back little monitor on the camera. What’s you’re saying is that’s okay, but it’s not necessarily the best way to see what you’re shooting because of all these other factors that could impact it like the little screen is tiny and it’s maybe hard to see if there’s light on it. You would maybe need third-party parts in order to adjust and truly be able to have IPs that you see and look in and see it unimpacted by other factors.
Caleb Pike: Correct. Really simply put a DSLR has a little arm that flips up and down. That’s half of that click sound when you take a photo is that mirror slapping around up and down. The advantages of a DSLR are they’re faster with autofocus. That’s why you’ll never see a professional sport shooter or at least very rarely using a mirrorless camera because it’s not as quick and responsive.
The problems are that you have a giant mechanical piece which makes the camera size much larger and the wear and tear is more severe on your camera because you have something flapping around every time you take a photo. Mirrorless, you don’t have that issue. The autofocus, it’s getting much better with newer cameras, but it’s a hair slower. Again, for us, it doesn’t matter, but for sports photography, it’s really important to shoot that speed. That’s the overview.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. With the mirrorless cameras, what is the advantage with those over the DSLR? Is it that you’re able to see what you’re shooting on the screen?
Caleb Pike: Yeah. I can go out in the desert and pull the camera up and look through that viewfinder. There’s a tiny super high quality LED screen in there. I can see exactly what I’m about to capture video wise or with my stills.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: Whereas the DSLR, you’re out in the desert, you can’t see the screen to save your life and you’re shooting in the dark, essentially.
Bjork Ostrom: If we’re talking specifically to people that are doing food shoots or stuff inside, maybe they have a monitor that they’re able to use. The mirrorless versus DSLR isn’t going to be as big of a deal versus somebody that would be doing more on location type stuff or a little bit-
Caleb Pike: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Let’s say that somebody, they decide that they’re going to stick with the DSLR, that’s what they have. They have a couple of lenses and they’re able to jump in to start doing some video shooting. One of the things that I think is interesting is everything applies as it does with photography but it’s a little bit different, right?
Caleb Pike: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: One of the examples would be even something as simple as an SD card and can you talk about why it’s important to have high quality SD cards for video and why that’s important?
Caleb Pike: Sure. Mainly, it’s buffering and the amount of data being written so when you take a photo, even if it’s high quality raw, if there’s only a small packet that’s captured at one time and you’ll know I’m sure when you take a ton of photos in a row, sometimes it slows down and buffers. It’s saying, “Hey, hang on a second. I’m still working on this stuff.”
You can’t do that with video and because it’s a constant 24 to 60 frames per second being put on to that card. It’s a decent amount of work and your card needs to be fast enough. There’s some great budget speed or fast cards. I use these Transcend. I got ton of them here in my desk, Transcend, 64 gigabyte, class 10, U3 cards and they’re the gold ones and they’re pretty cheap.
I mean, they’re not as cheap as something you pick up, yet really affordably, but you don’t have to get a SanDisk $80 SD card to make it work. Even with 4K, I use this for 4K all the time.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s a really important piece because I remember when I was doing … There was a non-profit that I worked at and I help with some of the video stuff. I just used a standard card that we had laying around and I was like, “Why does this keep glitching out?” It was because the card wasn’t fast enough. This is maybe a little bit technical but I think it’s important.
What are the things that you look at, and we can link to a blog post if you have one to refer people to, but in general, people understand space, so there’s 64 gigabytes. That’s how much space is on there, but what are the little things that people should look for in terms of how fast something should be?
Caleb Pike: Class 10 is the number you want to look for mainly. It’s like a 10 with a most, or I don’t know, most of a circle around it. That’s the main one. If you shoot on a DSLR or anything that shoots 1080, you should be good with that.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: I get the U3 which is another thing or label on the SD card. That ensures that you’ll work with 4K or cameras that record higher data rates. If you get a class 10 U3, any size, that’ll work with pretty much any camera.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Again, a little bit technical, but I think it’s a great little takeaway because I’m guessing most people that do photography have just purchased a standard SD card that was affordable and maybe it was really big, but it’s probably not fast enough for them to transition into shooting the video which is an important element.
As long as we’re on the topic of speed, I’m curious to know, what is your set up for how you store a video because you have these massive files especially if you’re shooting something that’s 4K which is really, really big. Let’s say that somebody gets in the habit of every time they do a recipe, they’re going to, either with their DSLR camera or even if they had their iPhone or something and they were recording, you probably want to store that. You don’t want to just delete that footage once you’re done with it. You can’t really store it on your computer. What does that look like in terms of being diligent about storing it and maybe even backing it up?
Caleb Pike: Absolutely. That’s huge. We create a lot of data if you do a lot of video. I would recommend saving as much as possible just because often, especially if it’s food related, let’s say you do a video for YouTube down the road after you’ve created several videos and you mentioned, the first time I made this recipe was a disaster and you want to cut back to that.
You can jump on your hard drive and pull up the episode and grab a couple shots and you’re good to go. Instead of ripping it down from YouTube and I only have two seconds when I need 10 seconds, yada, yada. My workflow which can be scaled to whatever size is I import the footage. I used Final Cut 10 which is nice because you buy it and you own it instead of Adobe stuff.
Bjork Ostrom: Which you rent. Essentially-
Caleb Pike: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: -like you pay on ongoing fee in order to have access to Adobe whereas Final Cut, you pay 300 bucks or whatever it is and then you have it forever and continually upgrade it.
Caleb Pike: If you’re on a PC unit, I know a lot of people use Sony Vegas Pro and they’re really happy with that. That’s another option as well. I create what’s called a camera archive. It’s essentially a perfect copy of the SD card.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.
Caleb Pike: Just in case something happened during the import or if I think I’ve imported everything and I didn’t. I can always delete the archive later to save space. The main point is when I pull it up in Final Cut, that camera archive looks just like the SD card.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. How do you do that?
Caleb Pike: In Final Cut you just say create camera archive so I have a separate folder just for archives and I named them by episode, that way every, I don’t know, week, two weeks, I’ll look in there and be like, “All right. These five have already been on YouTube. I know everything is fine. I’ll delete the archives.”
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Essentially, and I think this is a good data management tip in general, but that lives in two places then.
Caleb Pike: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: Because you did the camera archive, it’s on the SD card and then also you do an import on the footage into Final Cut? Is that right?
Caleb Pike: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s technically at that point, three places and then I’m guessing once you’ve done both of those things then you clear off the SD card?
Caleb Pike: Yeah. I train this for everyone that works with me. The second the card leaves the camera because all the cards I use are SD, that little switch goes locked. There’s a switch on the side of SD cards. When you lock it, you cannot delete it or write on to it, but you can read it.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.
Caleb Pike: It gets locked. It goes into the SD reader. We read it. The second it comes out, it immediately gets unlocked and is ready to be used again.
Bjork Ostrom: When you say SD reader, that’s a little third party connector that you have that you put the cards in?
Caleb Pike: Yeah, or if you have one built in to your laptop or whatever, that’s cool too.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: It gets imported twice.
Bjork Ostrom: I never used those little switches.
Caleb Pike: Me either for a longest time.
Bjork Ostrom: Which makes sense why you do that.
Caleb Pike: The problem is when you don’t have a system … I have another video going through your really anal stuff. At one point, I was dealing a huge guide, three camera shoot, several operators. We have 20 cards getting bounced around. I came up with this system to make sure it’s really full proof. Now, when it’s just me or another person in the studio here, that system is great because you can look at a card and instantly know, “All right, it’s unlocked so it’s ready to go,” or, “Ops, it’s locked. I better double check to make sure I have this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool. You’re locking it. You bring it in and the locking essentially is keeping it from floating around unlocked and maybe getting deleted or …
Caleb Pike: Formatted over.
Bjork Ostrom: What point do you clear the card out?
Caleb Pike: The second it leaves the computer, it goes into a pile of SD cards that are ready to get used again. I probably handle six SD cards a day or something, just between different cameras around the studio so it’s good to have something like that.
Bjork Ostrom: You have a little holding place that essentially is designated as cards that have been imported, they have it archived, they’re still locked, but I’m going to go through and delete these or is it that you know that they’re okay to use so when you bring them in, next time you do a shoot, you put it in and you clear it out?
Caleb Pike: Yeah. Essentially the second I pull it out once I’ve imported it, I immediately unlock it and put it on this SD holder thing on my desk.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: Then I know it’s ready to rock.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. I think that’s such an important thing for people to understand that the workflow because that’s the type of stuff that takes this gargantuan task of, let’s say, shooting video or photography. Once you have some type of work flow, you’re not making those micro decisions as much which makes it a little bit easier to work through. I think that’s a really important thing for people to understand. With those files then, you’re creating the archive as well as importing. Are you putting those on to an external hard drive and how does that work?
Caleb Pike: I’ll walk through the hard drives. We’re importing. Anything that gets imported goes to a RAID I have set up next to my computer.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain what that is for people that aren’t familiar, a RAID?
Caleb Pike: Sure. A RAID is essentially an array of hard drives that back each other up. There’s several different configurations. There’s some great videos out there of people explaining it, but the point is if one of those hard drive fails, I can pull that out. I can still use the data and all the data is protected. Then I can slap a new one in and it’ll rebuild it. It’s a like a Drobo but Drobos are a nightmare waiting to happen. I would avoid those or I would use those as a backup of something else.
Bjork Ostrom: Drobo is a brand, right?
Caleb Pike: Correct. They’re pretty solid, but it’s voodoo black magic inside of that. If something goes wrong, which has happened a lot to a lot of photographers, you can’t … A RAID is very simple. It’s universal. You could take it to a data center and they could fix it, if something terrible happens. A Drobo is once something goes wrong, it’s gone forever.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s proprietary software that they use?
Caleb Pike: Yes, very much so.
Bjork Ostrom: I want to explain this because this is going to be really important for people that are shooting video. A RAID essentially is it’s a stack of hard drives. It’s like one holding case for multiple hard drives, but the important thing here and I don’t think many people get this, hard drives don’t last forever. It’s a guarantee that at some point, they’re going to die like a car but probably not as long of a life span.
If you have all of your footage on a hard drive and it’s just like a normal hard drive, what happens is that junks out, that dies and then you either have to go through thousands of dollars of data mining to get that stuff back or you just can’t get it, but with a RAID, tell me if I’m right here in describing this, it’s essentially like a stack of hard drives, but the information is distributed on all of those so let’s say, there’s five different hard drives, if one of those dies, you don’t lose any of the data, you just replace that in that hard drive and then it rebuilds itself. I don’t know all the technology behind it.
Essentially it’s protecting you from this reality that hard drives will die and also solving a problem of meeting somewhere to store things that are really big like video files.
Caleb Pike: Right. There’s a ton of different configurations. There’s RAID 1 through 10. If you don’t want to get in to that and you just want something really safe, RAID 5 is a great option. For a long time, I used RAID, I think it was one which means if you have two hard drives, they’re mirrored. One is the same as the other. That’s very simple. It’s slower though. That’s the other thing. Each RAID set up has a different speed and different pros and cons.
Again, lots of great reviews out there, but essentially I’ve got … One of these is called the ProBox. It’s cheap. It’s only $99 which for RAID set ups, it’s pretty cheap, four bays, USB 3-
Bjork Ostrom: Which means four hard drives essentially.
Caleb Pike: Correct. Then USB 3 SATA, eSATA. That’s my main current projects and I have … What do I have? There’s four terabytes I think in there. That gives me 10 terabytes I believe.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially a ton of space. The important thing is those two things we said before. Number one, hard drives always die. Number two, you need a ton of space and then number three, you mentioned this and it’s really important. You said USB 3 which for people that are like what? USB or what is it, eSATA? Why does that matter?
Essentially you want something that’s a really fast connection because your external, it has to travel all over that cord for you to transfer it under a computer or to work on it. If you have something that’s really, really slow, it’s going to take forever to transfer it. In general, is that the advantage of USB 3?
Caleb Pike: Yeah. It’s much faster. It’s pretty much the cheapest fast connection out there.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: If you have USB 3 in your computer, that’s a great, great option.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. All of this stuff is leaning towards technical but for people that want to get into video, these are going to have to be some of the things that you figure out along the way because soon you will realize especially if you’re doing it all on your laptop or your desktop like where does all this stuff go. It has to land somewhere where it can be stored and accessible.
My last question for that just because I’m curious, do you have a backup for that or because it’s a RAID, you’re saying, “In general it’s going to be stuff that I won’t have to worry about backing up”?
Caleb Pike: Sure. That thing next to my desk is just for current work and then I have a server which is a whole another thing but it’s essentially the big brother of that little box. It has eight bays and I have two of those and that’s configured for something like 50 terabytes that has all the archives that backs up all the machines in the studio as well as the current project set up. It seems complicated.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s like 201 and 301.
Caleb Pike: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially you have a back up for that.
Caleb Pike: RAIDs are awesome. Always have a backup of something.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Caleb Pike: Use Carbon Copy Cloner. That’s what manages all the backups in the studio.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. That’s just like a little piece of software that essentially backs things up.
Caleb Pike: It’s fantastic. You could do it over networks. It’s great.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Great. Let’s jump out of the weeds of the technical which I think are really important and that’s why I wanted to hit on them, but let’s shift over into a little bit of getting started side of things. We talked about this in a previous podcast we did where we talked with Alana who helps us out and then Lindsay with doing some of the video stuff we do with Pinch of Yum, but I’d love for you to do … Let’s talk really quickly as we’re wrapping up here, in general if somebody is starting out with video for the first time, they’re using a DSLR camera, what are things that they need to check off in terms of make sure you’re doing this.
For instance, in general, always try and shoot at this shutter speed or in general always try and use this frames per second, things like that. What would your advice be for people that are just getting started out, things that they can say, “70% of the time, this is what I want to be trying to do”?
Caleb Pike: That’s a great thing with video. There’s a couple settings. Once you’re set up, you’re done. I would recommend, if at all possible, shoot at 24 frames per second which just looks great. It won’t look so fake and that’s a whole another discussion as well as setting your shutter speed on these cameras to 1–50th. That’s just going to give a natural motion blur.
You don’t want it too jittery like Saving Private Ryan, but you don’t want it too mushy. Ones those two are set, the only ones you can variably change on the fly is your aperture which is the lens, how much light is coming in and ISO. Then you’re ready to rock. We are talking about a lot of technical stuff. I think it would be great to quickly run through a scenario.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s do that.
Caleb Pike: Specifically with this niche. A lot of time people don’t have a format so I recommend figuring out what a format for your videos would look like. It can be two or three tools if you will. For me, I use voiceovers, b-roll and talking head. Voiceover is what you’re listening to. I’m sitting at my computer talking to a microphone. It could be me walking through a recipe and then I would just put b-roll which is just imagery of the food, beautiful imagery of the food being prepared and all that kind of thing over the voiceover.
Then talking head is me sitting in my studio with a camera pointed at me. Usually, that’s the intro and conclusion. “Hey, this is Caleb from DSLR Video Shooter. Today, we’re talking about this.” Then we cut to the voiceover.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Caleb Pike: Then the b-roll.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially, these are the three types of content that you’re going to need to collect for a shoot?
Caleb Pike: Right. The reason I recommend doing that is you now know the tools and then you can focus on content. You don’t have to think about, “How am I going to shoot this? Am I going to talk? Do I need audio for this?” You know all the main meat is going to be voiceover, intro, conclusion, b-roller footage. It’s really simple and easy to replicate.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Let’s say you have those three things. You create maybe a little list underneath it and say here are the things that I need. Then you go into the shoot itself. When you’re entering into it, should you have some type of, “I know that. I’m going to be shooting at this setting.” I’m guessing it’s discovering that as you go into the shoot and saying, “I’m going to adjust ISO in this way” or-
Caleb Pike: Sure. In general, that’s a great point. ISO should be as low as possible. Having a lot of light is great. That keeps that noise level down because the higher your ISO is, the more greenie and noisy it’s going to look. Then aperture is going to control that depth of field factor which isn’t always good. A lot of people love that and it is beautiful, but you don’t always want to show one millimeter of the image to someone. Feel free to experiment with that, not always shoot at a really wide aperture.
Bjork Ostrom: I remember Lindsay would talk about this when she first started doing photography, she would try and get as much blur as possible. Only the little corner of a salad would be in focus and as like this feeling of like, “Well, if you can do it, you want it to be as blurry as possible,” but like you said the reality is there are some times when you want a lot of stuff in focus, you don’t want that to be blurry and that’s what aperture does and that’s with that controls.
Caleb Pike: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Great.
Caleb Pike: A great quick experiment is shooting like a muffin as an example. I call it muddy depth of field when there’s only a piece of it. I would experiment with getting the whole muffin in focus, but then the background would be blurred out. That’s something you can experiment with per subjects.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. In general, just to recap, I think those important things that you need to hit are in general you want the frames per second to be 24 because that has a cinematic look. Is that right?
Caleb Pike: Correct, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Then you said 1–50th for the shutter speed is what you should always try and be doing?
Caleb Pike: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Then the aperture and ISO is variable but with ISO, in general, you want that to be as low as possible. Those are the two that you play around with and the interesting thing versus photography with video is that you can’t adjust the shutter speed quite as much so you’re forced to change just the ISO and the aperture and play around with those?
Caleb Pike: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. I think it’s important to review that because it’s a mind shift for people that are used to photography to transition into thinking about your shooting video not just the photograph. I think that’s a great little review of things that people should do when they’re shooting.
Caleb Pike: That’s great.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, man. Caleb, we covered a ton of stuff.
Caleb Pike: I hope we didn’t fry everybody or anyone.
Bjork Ostrom: No, I think it’s good. If nothing else, I think for people to know, they don’t have to totally understand it, but they have to know that it’s a reality. For instance the storage side. You have to know that you have to have backups or for the video side, you have to know that you shouldn’t be playing around with shutter speed or you shouldn’t be just setting it to automatic. It should be on manual. You don’t have to fully understand it but now that people have those little action items, they can go and they can do some more research.
They can go to, lead in really good here, to your website and find out a little bit more. As we’re wrapping up here, Caleb, can you talk about where people can find you online and follow along with what you’re doing and learn more about shooting video?
Caleb Pike: Sure. DSLRVideoShooter.com That’s my website.
Bjork Ostrom: Great.
Caleb Pike: I’m really pushing YouTube so that’s another topic, but I stopped doing blog posts and focus exclusively on video.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about why that is, real quick?
Caleb Pike: I just realized my passion is video. It’s the best medium for me. I was spending a lot of time each week, writing post, trying to put images and links, and I realized this is Caleb’s video. All I do now is video and there’s text that goes along with that. That has been so freeing. I’m able to do more video, higher quality videos. I think finding that one thing that just floats your boat and go in 100% toward that has been amazing.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s awesome. Cool. We will link to those in the show notes as well as the other things that we have mentioned here in this podcast, but Caleb thanks so much for coming on. So fun to chat with you about video stuff and I know that people will find it helpful so I appreciate that.
Caleb Pike: I had a blast. Thanks for having me on.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks. That’s a wrap for this episode. One more big thank you to Caleb for coming on today and I wanted to let you know about something kind of fun. If you are Food Blogger Pro member, if you’re interested in joining Food Blogger Pro, I want to let you know that we have a DSLR course on Food Blogger Pro that I’d really encourage you to check out and what happened was for this course, I went on camera with the person that has all of the video for Pinch of Yum. Maybe you recognize her from the forums, Alana.
Alana and I talked through the process that she goes through to shoot video and for all the Pinch of Yum of videos, we use a DSLR. A lot of the stuff will tie in to the things that we talked about with Caleb today, but we dive a little deeper. We use examples. We actually show what that looks like. We show the gear, how we set it up and things like that.
We really encourage you to check that out on Food Blogger Pro if you’re a member and if you’re not, I would encourage you to continue digging into video regardless because it’s a really important thing here for the remainder of 2016. Going into 2017 is going to be continuing to be a strong presence on different social media sites as well as blog, so I encourage you to do whatever you can to really learn about video and the processes that go along with it.
Thanks so much for tuning in to this week’s podcast. If you haven’t yet, I’d really encourage you to subscribe to the podcast and some type of podcast app. If you have an iPhone, you could use the podcast app that is the default app on there. There’s all different types of apps that you can download and follow along with and I would really encourage you to do that because that’s a great way to make sure that you get every one of the episodes when we release them each and every week. Thanks for tuning in and we will be back here next week, same time, same place. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks guys.
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