A comprehensive filmmaker’s toolkit is grown slowly over time: picking up technical knowledge here and there until one is equipped to really play around with this all of this knowledge in the creation of something unique.
Sareesh Sudhakaran of wolfcrow‘s comprehensive look at shutter speeds and shutter angles is one such building block. In “How to Cheat Shutter Speeds,” Sudhakaran builds on his initial shutter speed guide and demonstrates how breaking the standard 1/50 filmic formula might be necessary in your project.
Shooting at different shutter speeds is normally reserved for shooting outside in natural light. In Sudhakaran’s case, the special lens he was using for a short film would vignette (fade at the corners) at a higher F Stop. The solution for this problem is ND filters but this unique lens couldn’t be fitted with these. So, in order to get the proper exposure, he was forced to shoot segments at higher shutter speeds.
Using “frame blending” as a motion blur tool in Adobe After Effects can prevent any mismatches in movement that occur as a result of differing shutter speeds. Sudhakaran explains that while Adobe recommends the “pixel blur” setting under “frame blending,” a filmmaker can experiment with the various options After Affects offers to achieve the technique that suits their clip the best. He also recommends using differing shutter speeds for simpler shots. His short film had limited actor and camera movement, and the background remained relatively still as well. Frame blending helped mask any out of sync moments in his project; he’s relatively confident the average viewer will not be able to spot any moments where higher frame rates are being employed.
According to Sudhakaran, “with artificial lighting, like LEDs or florescent lights, things can get ugly pretty fast.” Using a clip from Better Call Saul, he showcases the flickering effect that occurs with mismatched shutter speeds and artificial lights, and how this might be a conscious aesthetic decision for your project.
Sudhakaran’s wraps it up: “You don’t have to be married to ‘the shutter speed should be one by twice the frame rate’ formula. You can break the rules sometimes as long as you understand when you can do it and when you can’t.”
Have you been forced to use different shutter speeds on a shoot? Do your eyes notice when a video is being manipulated to imitate the standard more filmic shutter speed? Check out the video and then let us know in the comments below. MM