Before you jump into making movies of your own, let’s go over some of the basic settings you’ll use in order to ensure that you’re getting the quality you want.
The fi rst setting that’s important to understand is resolution. You’ll need to know what movie-recording size you want to use, along with the frame rate, or frames per second (fps). The fi les are recorded as .mov fi les, and the quality and the resolution (size) of each fi le is measured in pixels. The fps rate is defi ned as how many frames (images) the camera records in a 1-second timeframe.
The 7D has three different sizes you can choose from:
- 1920 x 1080: This is the full High Defi nition (HD) setting (16:9 aspect ratio). You have the option to record in 30, 25, or 24 fps. Using this setting at 24 fps is the standard for recording motion pictures. This setting is often referred to as “1080p.”
- 1280 x 720: This is another HD setting with an aspect ratio of 16:9, but in a smaller resolution. It records movies at 50 or 60 fps and is often referred to as “720p.” This is good for shooting Web-sized videos or if you want to create a high-quality slow-motion effect with your movies using editing software. Using this setting will take up the same amount of space on your CF card as the 1080p setting since it records twice as many fps.
- 640 x 480: This setting is for Standard Defi nition (SD) recording and records at a 4:3 aspect ratio.
The frame rate numbers listed on your camera are an approximate number of what the camera actually records. The true frame rates are as follows: 24: 23.976, 25: 25.00, 30: 29.97, 50: 50.00, and 60: 59.94.
If you want to slow down your videos and create high-quality slow-motion videos, then you’ll want to start by shooting in 720p. This setting records the video at 60 fps so that when you bring it into an editing program you can set it to play back at 50 percent speed, or 30 fps. Your video will now play back half as fast as you originally recorded it without sacrificing image quality.
NTSC AND PAL
You can set your 7D to record video in one of two formats: NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) or PAL (Phase Alternate Line) (Figure 9.1). NTSC is the standard format for broadcasting in North America, South America, and Asia; and PAL is the standard format for most European countries and other parts of the world. The main difference between the two when shooting with the 7D is their frame rates (25/50 fps for PAL and 30/60 fps for NTSC). It’s recommended that you set your video format to the broadcasting standard for whatever country you’re located in.
SETTING THE MOVIE-RECORDING SIZE
- Set the camera to video mode using the Movie shooting switch (A).
- Press the Menu button and use the Main dial to get to the fourth camera tab (B) (you’ll notice a new icon at the top of this menu—this is because you are in video mode).
- Scroll down to Movie Rec. Size using the Quick Control dial, and press the Set button (C).
- Use the Quick Control dial to select your preferred movie-shooting mode, and press the Set button to lock in your changes.
- Press the Menu button to go back into Movie shooting mode.
The 7D is also limited in regard to the length of each individual movie fi le. The longest movie fi le you can record at a time is roughly 12 minutes for HD and 24 minutes for SD (a 4 GB fi le size). This typically should not be much of an issue since most videos are recorded in small segments and pieced together during the editing process, but it is good information to know since there may be times when you’ll want to have a movie fi le that is longer than usual.
When shooting video with the 7D, it’s a good idea to turn the camera off between shots, especially if you are outdoors on a warm or sunny day. The camera’s internal temperature is more likely to increase when using the video mode, and shooting for a prolonged period of time could degrade the image quality of your still photos and videos. So when you’re not recording, be sure to turn the camera off.
The next thing you’ll need to consider is the type of compact fl ash card you are using. Because the camera will be writing the movie quickly and needs to process the information as fast as possible, I recommend using a card that has a very fast write speed (anything greater than 8 MB a second).
IMAGE QUALITY—WHY DOES IT MATTER?
You might have noticed that an image quality setting (RAW/JPEG) displays when your camera is in the video mode (Figure 9.2). Whatever your image quality is usually set to, you’ll see that this setting stays the same on the Info screen in between recordings— if you typically shoot in the RAW format, that setting will appear on your screen before you start recording movies. Just to clarify, the camera does not have the capability to shoot each frame of the video in the RAW format, but this setting does have a purpose…trust me!
Let’s say you’re in the middle of doing a video recording and you want to take a quick still photo but you don’t want to stop the recording, go back to still shooting mode, change your camera mode and exposure settings, and so on. Instead of going through all of that trouble just to get one image, all you need to do is press the Shutter button down, even if you are still recording your movie. You’ll notice a pause in the recording, but after the camera takes the photo it will automatically return to recording your video. The drawback to this feature is that it creates 1 second of a still image in your movie, but it’s a nice feature to have if you need to jump to temporarily taking still photos.
SHOOTING AND PLAYBACK
So now that we’ve gone over some of the basics of getting started with video recording, I’m going to show you how to record your video and review it in the Playback mode. There are still a few other things to discuss in order to ensure that your videos are top-notch quality, but before we get to that, let’s put everything to the test—and the only way to do that is to actually shoot some video.
RECORDING A MOVIE
- Locate the Movie shooting switch on the back of the camera and turn it to the red video camera setting (A). The rear LCD Monitor will immediately go into Live View mode.
- Compose and focus your scene and press the START/STOP button to begin your recording. You’ll notice a red dot appears in the upper-right corner of the LCD Monitor (B). This indicates that video recording is in progress.
- When you are fi nished recording, press the START/STOP button. The red dot will disappear, indicating that you are no longer recording video.
- Press the Playback button located on the back of the camera.
- Turn the Quick Control dial until you reach one of your videos. You’ll know it’s a movie when you see the video camera icon in the upper-left portion of the LCD Monitor (A). Then press the Set button.
- To begin playback, press the Set button (the Play option on the bottom of the LCD Monitor will be highlighted by default) (B).
- To stop or pause playback, press the Set button once again.
- To exit from the playback screen, use the Quick Control dial to select the Exit option and then press Set (C).
The 7D gives you several other options while in the playback screen. Figure 9.3 shows all of the options you have when playing movies on your camera.
C Slow Motion
D First Frame
E Previous Frame
F Next Frame
G Last Frame
I Sound Volume
J Main Dial
VIDEO PLAYBACK ON YOUR COMPUTER
Viewing movies on your computer that were recorded with your 7D is simple. Just download the .mov files to your computer from the memory card (you can also connect the camera to your computer using a USB cable). If you have a Mac, they will automatically play in QuickTime when you open the files (PC users can download this software online for free). The Canon Utility software that was included with your camera also has a program, ImageBrowser, that allows you to view still photos and play .mov files on your computer.