Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kauai - The Lost World - Questions

I posted a video I shot in Kauai today, and within the first 12 hours I've gotten over 30 emails of people asking several different questions as far as how things were pulled off, camera settings, etc. This blog is in response to those ask questions.

For those of you who haven't seen the video yet, here it is.

Common questions:

1. With your glide cam how do you get the shots that are going over the cliff, and high up in the air, are you using any other equipment like a book stick or something? OR just holding it the whole time?
I am ONLY using the glidecam 4000 for all the shots in the video. I even use it as a tripod aswell, for the shots where the camera isn't even moving. I DO NOT use a vest, or harness, or anything of that nature.
For the shots where the camera goes over the waterfall the first 30 seconds into the film, and other similar shots... I personally am afraid of hights that big.. In fact that waterfall is 180 feet high, and anyone of any recent times that has jumped off it has died... So to get that shot, and any similar shot... I walk through it several times on my own, just to make sure I know the terrain (it was all rocky), then I walk through it slowly with the camera/glidecam several times to get the movement down, and then I film it 10-15 times just to make sure I get it right. This whole process on several of my shots can take anywhere between 1-15 minutes.

2. How do you get the camera to fly over the water, rocks, and sand so smooth?
I have been filming with the glidecam for the last 5-6 years now, almost every other day, which is no exaggeration. So a lot has come with experience. I didn't start out smooth, but anyone can make it smooth with time/practice. It's like riding a bike :) When I film on the sand, because you sink, I have learned to walk a certain way, (kinda looks funny, ha) that makes it so I can still have the glidecam work the same way as I was walking on flat cement. The same thing goes for walking over big rocks, I've just learned to walk on them and pace my self so the camera consistently stays smooth.

As far as the shots that fly over the water.. There is no fancy tricks about it, if it looks like we are flying over the water, that means I got wet filming it :)

For all the glidecam shots, I use a wide angle lens, 16mm is the focus length I normally use. That also gives us a much wider perspective, and makes us look like we are a lot higher then we are, just because of the lens perspective. I'm not holding the camera up higher then I normally wouldn, generally speaking anyways. I have never once put it on a pole or anything fancy like that.

3. What camera do you use? And why?
I use the Canon 5D Mark II. I think without a doubt its the best camera quality out there for its money, and because i'm a photographer as well, it allows me to do that on the side :) Also, because the camera is super small, it allows me to be a one main film crew, and take it anywhere I go, and blend in with anyone else, as far as I'm not carrying around a big camera where I go.

4. How do you treat the footage you shoot? What do you do to it in post/editing?
I generally do nothing to it, except for some times raise the contrast a little. Almost 95 percent of the shots are exactly as they come out of camera. I try and shoot everything in camera how like it, just because I don't like to spend a lot of time coloring it later, because I don't have a ton of experience in that world. So in camera, I always set the white balance for sure. The shutter speed I try and get as slow/low as possible, ideally it would be 30, often times its to bright for that. And then I have a "picture style" I have set in the camera that gives me a "saturated look" that brings out the colors a lot more then typically what the camera would do.

5. Do you use any filters or effects in post to make your shots smooth?
Every video I do, it depends. For this Kauai video, I would say on about 10 percent of the shots that I filmed on a glidecam, I used a filter that comes with Final Cut called "smooth cam". It zooms into your image a little, and smooths it out. It works great, however, keep in mind that you must have shot it smooth first in order for it to work to begin with :)

6. As far as the "exact" picture styles that I use on my Canon 5D, or any dslr for that matter, i use these settings.
Sharpness: 0 | Contrast: -1 | Saturation: 1 | Color Tone: 1

There is an awesome blog online that shows different examples of picutre style settings, and how they effect everything, you can check out that blog, and video in the two links right below.

I hope that helps, please let me know if you all have any other questions, and I will do my best to answer them :)



  1. Devin-

    Thanks for sharing. I have just become very interested in photography and dslr video and I'm trying to learn as much as possible. The northwest and hawaii are some of my favorite places. Your videos do them justice.


  2. Dude, the color looks great. I'm totally interested in the picture style you created for this! I have been shooting "Flat" and color correcting in post but I'm starting to feel like getting it right in camera is a better way to go. Well done!

    1. Did you ever come across a good pic style? I've been doing the flat thing too (which I'm site Devin now does with his new equipment). However these raw shots are better than any color grading I've done.

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  3. A.MAZE.ING! Thanks for sharing!!! I love it!

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  4. Hi,
    I love your work! I'm just making the switch to film with my Canon 5d Mark ii, and I was wondering if you could tell me the program you use to convert the footage to edit in Final Cut Pro. Also, how do you upload to YouTube in 1080p? I can only upload 720p? Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much maddiepeters. Are you using a mac?

    I use compressor to convert everything I shoot on the Canon 5D Mark II, to a different video format. I convert it to "AppleProRes 422".

    I then edit those video files in Final Cut, and then export them out as a Mov. Then for youtube, I throw it back into Compressor, and I export it out as a custom setting I made that keeps the quality super high, and in 1080p. I will be doing a youtube video tutorial on all of this soon, so stay tune :)

  6. Devin,

    How do you manage to keep the picture relatively focused all the time?? its wonderful!! do you use any settings on the camera?? do you have a follow focus?? and how do you manage while using the stedicam? shots seem to be so sharp sometimes!!! i have also seen your video of that boy in Africa and the shots are also very focused. How do you do this please? and what wide lens do you use exactly?

    I would like to get into this HDSLR buisness but sometimes the manual focus thing puts me off. im really confused because im afraid i wont be able to master manual focusing.

    many thanks for your help!


    1. I know this is old, but to answer your question:
      A wide angle lens has a very deep depth of field which removed the need for constant focusing. I generally 'set it and forget it' unless I'm doing a close shot or something. I focus about 20 feet in front of me with a 10mm on a 1.6 crop.

      If you're interested, here's some of my work:

  7. @Clayton. I'm using a wideangle lens, 16mm to be exact, which means everything is gonna be in focus already for the most part :) I usually set my focus aroud 15 feet in front of me, and everything else takes care of itself. If I am shooting someone however, I usually try and keep the same distance that I start filming them, that's how I manage that.

    I don't even own a follow focus, just bare essentials, camera and glidecam.

    The lens I use for ALL my glidecam stuff is the Canon 16-35mm F/2.8 L series lens, and I love it!! Use it 90 percent of the time :)

  8. Hi Devin, Great shoot of Kauai. I wanted to ask you if you use neutral density filters, and if so, how do you use them when there is a lot of light

  9. @ David. I actually don't use them. I only use polarize filters. When I am shooting movies, with movie cameras, I for sure use ND filters, but I've never used them with DSLR cameras.

  10. Do you sell your footage on stock footage shots? If not then should definitely sell some of the footage from Kauai on sites like and

  11. I am really looking forward to a video tutorial on exporting details. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. I just watched your Tahiti: Ocean Voyage video. Wow! You are truly a gifted shooter. Once again, great stuff Devin. I'd love to see just how your Glidecam HD4000 is set up to pull off such stability. I know you're a super experienced "glider", but a question if you many weights do you use (bottom and top) and how long is your post extended. Needless to say, you're superhuman to pull off some of those shots and the best thing of never call attention to you...the's all your vision.

  13. You said "The shutter speed I try and get as slow/low as possible, ideally it would be 30, often times its to bright for that." If your frame rate is 30fps, then, as you know, "standard" practice would be for the shutter speed to be 1/60th (and 1/50th sec for 25fps, on the 5D mk II). Why would you want to shoot at 1/30th of a second?

    Thanks for the listing your 5D mk II picture style settings. How do you color match the 5D footage with the GoPro footage? My GoPro footage looks nothing like my 5D mk II footage!
    Since you don't use ND filters, how do you get correct exposure? Are you simply shooting only when the light is right for a correct exposure at your chosen frame rate/shutter speed/aperture combo?

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  15. Hi Devin, I watched all your videos hundred times which you shared in youtube, are fantastic. I wonder how you can shoot the footages with no rolling shutter or jello effect while you move the 5D Mark II "pan" or "tilt" ?
    (which CF card do you use for HD video ?)

    Many thanks for your reply.

  16. Do you have to constantly rebalance your setup when you take your camera off? I tried numerous quick release plates, but notice that you just mount your camera on the glidecam base. Even by doing that, whenever I take the camera off and put it back on, the setup is off balance again. Thanks for any tips.

  17. Hi Devin,
    beautiful videos! I watched them all in the last 48 hours ;)
    I am from Germany and do a lot of freelance stuff... primarily photography at the moment, but some videos, too.

    What made you buy an additional HD 4000? What are the upsides compared to the HD 2000 when shooting with the 5D-II?
    When do you use the one or the other? And: Which one to get for documentary-style work?

    A lot of questions, I know. It would be really, really nice to get some tips.

    Thanks a lot, Martin

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