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Infrared video school, part 1: The setup

I’ve started to dedicate myself to infrared video during the last couple of weeks. Filming is in many respects similar to photography. The rules stay the same regarding composition, lighting and the main functions of your camera.

On the other hand it’s very different. You have to focus on movement, your own movements and the movements of your objects and subjects. Not everything that looks great in a still image does in a video. It’s physically more challenging and you need a couple of gadgets and software to make it work.

But it has been rewarding so far and, most importantly, I could recreate (more or less) the look of my IR photographs.

So let’s start with this infrared video school, a series of posts dedicated to the hows and whys of infrared filming. In this first post I’d like to show you what kind of equipment I use and how I set it all up correctly.

This is my gear:

1. A camera (Nikon D7100) with a lens (my favorite, the old 28mm Nikkor)
2. A steadicam (unknown brand)
3. A microphone (Takstar)

You may ask how expensive this is. I bought the camera, which is a used model converted to full-spectrum photography, for around 800 dollars. The rest is pretty cheap: Maybe 40 dollars for the steadicam and around 20 dollars for the microphone. Both are great for beginners, but sure, you can find much better products.

 
infrared video school

 
infrared video school

 
The steadicam will help you stabilize your camera. Try following these steps when you’re installing the camera (with the mic) onto the steadicam:
1. Remove the strap (will sway and hence disturb the stabilization).
2. Also remove the lens cap.
3. The right amount of weights is important. You can test it by holding the steadicam with the camera horizontally and letting the side with the weights fall. It should go in around 2 seconds from horizontal to vertical.
4. Then move the weights and shift the bar holding the camera until everything is in balance. Consider marking the positions of the weights for each configuration (maybe you want to use different lenses).

 
infrared video school

 
You should test with the microphone. Not all models have the same buttons and options. These are my preferred settings:

 
infrared video school

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