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GH2 Feature Film Setup
  • Making a feature film with the GH2. It will be single camera. Shot over the summer. I have the actors, crew, script, etc.

    Mission: Learn how to create and avoid GH2 visual hangups.

    Setup: Flowmotion 2.02 24H Sony Vegas 12 (Basic Editing) External Recording setup utilizing Booming and Wireless

    Concerns (How to cause it) (How to Avoid)




    ISO Bug (I am well versed on that one)

    Not too concerned with shooting flat. Going to be lighting things pretty close to how I want them. No really dark scenes.


    Hand to hand combat, A foot chase, Driving, but will use green screen and Go Pro for that.

  • 19 Replies sorted by
  • It should be, for all intents and purposes, practically impossible to vignette with a GH2 unless you're using 16mm lenses (or repurposing an anamorphic adapter that was meant for small-gauge film or tiny video chips from the 1990s).

    Banding is an issue that's helped along with the firmware hack and then in your grade. Grade in 32bits with a touch of whatever film grain addon you have access to for slight dither.

    Judder can be lessened by moving your camera like film shooters have learned to. Pan slowly. It's also been shown to help if you shoot in 1/40th sec shutter instead of 1/50th sec which increases motion blur, smoothing out gross moves.

    If you're not planning to do an involving grade then I'd suggest taking a look at Moon Trial 3 instead of Flowmotion, as it has, straight from the camera, a more filmic look than Flowmotion and is therefore a more directly beneficial patch to be running for narrative work.

  • What about settings? I am currently using:

    Film Mode Smooth

    Contrast -2

    Sharpness -2

    Saturation -0

    Noise Reduce -2

    WB Sunlight



  • I used a GH2 with original firmware a few years ago to shoot a feature. It's been stuck in post production hell since, (but that's another story) but I can tell you a few things about shooting with it.

    Do not worry. Even the stock firmware is/was good enough for most things. Any of the hacks can only make it better. The camera is GOOD enough to do what you want. Focus on making a movie, not showing off what the camera can do. Your talents as a director will show through any camera problems.

    Below is a list of things I have found when shooting features, shorts or really anything that involves more than 1 person. Most people will read this list and go "oh yeah I know that stuff" but trust me, once you get into shooting, things will change drastically and you'll have everyone asking you questions while you are trying to direct. It truly is like herding cats. Stick to the list.

    1. Expose correctly. Do NOT fall victim to the myth that you need huge dynamic range to be cinematic, and do not fall victim to the myth that digital doesn't need to be lighted. Movie sets are lighted a LOT brighter than the real world.

    1a. Light correctly. Movie productions spend huge amounts of money on location modifications and lighting to get a SMALLER dynamic range to work in, contrary to what most seem to think. If you are shooting in a dark place, light it, preferably with bounce light. It's free and looks better than lights unless you really know what you are doing. Buy large sheets of white posterboard or beadboard or foamcore. If the scene is too bright, move the scene to a different time of day, move locations or buy large scrims and have people hold them where you need to lessen the light. Sometimes these things just don't work out so do what you can but ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure your talent is lighted/exposed properly if nothing else. Too many novices try to do too much and try to "split the difference" in exposure between the background they worked so hard on and want to show off and their talent. Don't do it, expose/light the talent correctly. That's what 99% of your audience will be watching anyway.

    2). Do not sweat the details. People aren't going to notice a little banding here and there or some noise in the shadows if your TALENT/ACTION is good. Keep your audience engaged in the story, not the small details that directors/DPs typically ask for in order to only "prove" how smart they are. You are making a movie, so tell the story. You can embellish your resume later.

    3). Focus on the story. I can't stress this enough. Take it from someone who was/is as guilty as anyone else was/is. Sometimes you see a really "cool" shot that you want to make and you spend time/money on it but it doesn't really serve the story very much, if at all. Cut it out before you shoot. You'll be amazed how much time you'll waste on set even with everyone busting their asses to get stuff done, and that will NOT happen. People get tired and distracted and all kinds of issues will pop up. Focus on the story and leave the "cool" stuff for people shooting vids of bushes and cats and posting on Vimeo.

    4). Adequate food, drinks on set. I also can't stress this enough. Supply a good amount of snacks to your talent and your help to keep their energy up during the shoot. Chances are that if you only order a couple meals, people will be tired long before you eat and then after they eat they'll be full and groggy. Let them graze through the day and feed medium meals for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Make sure you have plenty of water available. Keep the sugar and caffeine drinks to a minimum as they'll make people hyperactive or tired at random times during the day. Coffee in the morning is usually ok as long as you cut it off so that nobody has more than a couple cups.

    5). Schedule plenty of breaks. Small breaks are crucial. If you try to work people all day long without breaks, you'll find that they will start disappearing randomly or they'll use the "restroom* a lot more or be gone to the "restroom" for a long time. People will start taking their own breaks when they feel like it and you'll spend a lot of time running around looking for them. They are only human and chances are they are helping for free, so give them plenty of breaks and they'll work harder when you are actually shooting.

    6). Plan on delays. Weather, cars driving by, phone calls, people showing up late/leaving early, hardware/software malfunctions, etc. Plan at least 30% more time than you think you need. Make sure your talent and help agree to this possibility too or else you might be sitting there alone.. Remember, not everyone who helps will take it a seriously as you do. Have extra people on call to help if you can.

    7). Keep lots of notes and organize everything and back up everything on the spot if you can. Keep your memory cards labled with A/B/C/etc and on your shot lists write the card letter and file number on each shot item. That way you can easily go back and look at the list and make changes or redo scenes without having to sift through all of your files to find the right ones. Also, plan on shit happening so if you are taking a break, backup the current memory card to a computer or something else just in case. Someone knocked a memory card to the ground during one of my shoots and then accidentally stepped on it. Had it not been backed up minutes before, it would have been 4 hours of work lost..

    8). Scout your location thoroughly. Sometimes there is a lot more that you can use, sometimes a lot less than you think. Also, scout your locations for a WHOLE day. Watch the sun and the light patterns and plan your shot list accordingly. You'll be really surprised how much stuff changes in minutes. Make contingency plans too.

    9). Take extra tarps, tools, rope, tape, etc and make sure any gear you aren't using is put up. I was shooting in a garden on a hot and sunny afternoon and in less than 10 minutes a thunderstorm rolled in. We didn't have enough time to pack things, we just threw the tarps over everything and tied/taped them down. Things were a bit moist but they weren't ruined.

  • @svart - Thank you for posting this. Very generous of you to list these things out in the way you have here. You might want to publish this little list.

    All the stuff about the food, water coffee and breaks is right on the money.

    And yes, avoiding “cool” stuff can save everyone’s time. Experimentation at other’s expense can be risky.

    I agree with you too about the camera gear. Being organized with whatever you have big or small, makes the biggest difference.

    If you are shooting 35mm and someone mistakenly flashes 1000’ of exposed negative, the film on the screen will somehow suffer.

    I’ve shot millions of feet of film, and after having my lumix for a year, I wouldn’t hesitate using it on many projects that I might have shot on s16 or 35.


    P.S. Permission to send this to some students I work with?

  • Really excellent advice. Having worked on major features, I can't begin to tell you how much time, energy & money gets sunk to save the lack of a fleshed out story.

  • Oh, you can absolutely use these tips for whatever you want. I put these up here for everyone to use and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls I've run into during shooting over the years. I totally understand the excitement and drive that a lot of young/new filmmakers have and they want to make their marks as fast as possible, so they instinctively use all their energy on certain aspects(usually just the visuals) of movie making but they are still novices and may not know/understand that the logistics behind making a film are HUGE and cannot be avoided if they intend to succeed. Making a short film with friends is easy and fun, but unless you invest money and time in the behind the scenes works, it'll never evolve beyond a fun hobby with hobby looking results. Once you have to start fundraising, paying for your feature and paying people to work and paying for food, and paying for renting gear/locations, you start living in the real world where time=money and cutting any extraneous time means more money you can spend on other areas that might need it more, like set design or even paying a professional to come help out in certain areas that you might be unsure of. In fact, that can be #10 on the list..

    10). Don't be afraid to ask for help from a professional, and save money to pay a professional. A lot of time novices have done extensive studies and tend to believe that they know more than they do. Book smarts is great, but getting out on your set and spending hours setting up a shot that might have taken an experienced person 10 minutes can kill budgets, especially small ones where every penny counts. You might have saved a ton of money just having the pro set it up for you. Remember, professional movies take millions of dollars to make and that's WITH professionals making them. Your 1K$ budget with friends requires you to play it smarter in order not to blow right through your budget.

    and this reminds me of tip #11..

    11). Decide what you want to be before you start filming. Many filmmakers, especially in the days of digital/DSLR think that they can be a director AND a DP AND a sound recorder AND whatever all at the same time. Fancy rigs might fool people on the set, but the finished product is the only thing that convinces others that you have any skills at all. Decide to be ONE thing, one thing only, and do it well. Ego will try to tell you that you know best on everything. Experience will eventually show you that you can't control more than one thing at a time. Do that one thing well and let others help you with the other things. If you want to be a director, direct the talent and action. Watch them for performance. You can't pull focus and watch the framing and pull a dolly while watching someone's facial expressions to make sure they got the emotion of the scene. You just can't do it. Have someone else frame and pull focus that has done it before and have someone else pull your dolly. That's why there are camera operators, focus pullers and grips, because the movie industry figured out long ago that you can't do more than one thing at a time and expect to get it right reliably.

  • Here is one of the prime issues with these forums. Some specific, technical questions are asked and someone else has to post a wall of text that addresses none of them in an attempt to prove how smart or experienced they are.

  • Well, you answered his questions didn't you? Well, because there have been tons of threads that have gone over and over and over the same questions he asked and the same answers you regurgitated, I felt that it was then time to expound on how other aspects of making a film can affect the outcome of your film where some are drastically more important than small camera operation details. Alas, now it's your time to come back and denounce what others have to say just to prove how awesome of a forum member you are. Congrats. You win the internet. :)

  • What exactly is "post hell"? I fail to see its relevance in the context of a little indie shot on a GH2. Did someone not "sweat the details"?

  • @svart The greatest post ever I've read on this forum. Thanks for the words of wisdom - they give me a very sound perspective of what is ahead of me.

  • My advise and yes I have shot 2 features on Gh2... -- Use an Intra hack -> Like Moon or Intravenus... -- Get fast cards --95MBps. -- LENSES ----LENSES ---LENSES... make sure you have a nice set..(a wide/fast a medium fast/ a telephoto ....think about what you MAY Need but dont want to be stuck wishing you had...personally I like to use manual glass but even some of the Panasonic glass(yeah its sharper) like the 25mm Leica Summilux are great for the save money vs good glass i have a few M42 thread mount lenses and an adapter...the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar i have looks amazing and only cost me 20 bucks. -- Batteries have at least 3 you can always have one charging and ready if you have at least 3. -- Use a rig to add weight for handheld brainer but trust me you can get JELLO free shots hand held if you have a moderatly heavy rig like DLSR cage rig I use. -- TRANSCODE the files to Prores 444 with 5dtorgb or Adobe Media Encoder etc...before you edit... yeah I know why bother FCPX or Premiere can edit AVCHD..blah blah,,,, listen your computer wont struggle as much and will be more stable plus the files will still retain the latitude(what little exists) for cinematic color work. -- Dont waste time trying to get the sound into the camera --- it will likely sound like dog crap regardless of what you are doing to get it in...have a sound person and sync in post. -- If you go for low light make it a stop brighter than you want you can "darken" in post and have less overall noise the opposite is not true... -- Watch out for the ISO bug make it a habbit to navigate the ISO setting correctly...i am sure there is info on avoiding the ISO bug on this forum. -- Shoot Smooth -2 all...ok so that should have been like 4 but I just thought of it...

    --final advice... Double check your modes and setting before you shoot and set custom mode dial preset for every scene.... so if the camera goes to "hybernate" you dont accidently not realize the white balance reverted or the color mode changed back etc....

    My 10 cents...ergh 11 --- just trying to keep it technical--- obviously story is king.

  • Sorry that was my snarky way of saying I don't have much of worth to add to what's been said, lots of good advice in here already.... but I was feeling left out, so I joined in anyway.

  • ROFL. I'm just here cause I'm stalking Shian.

    The camera is the least of your worries and you want to keep it that way so as far as patches are concerned go with reliability over best IQ (which is why I wouldn't shoot RED even if you gave me one for free). Stay focussed on performance.

  • really good advice itt! I would add that you should get a line producer (if you don't have one). Just get a friend to roll with you and pay for their food. Such a crucial position and so easy to fill but rarely thought about.

  • First of all I would like to thank everyone that has commented in this thread. I am taking notes.

    So let's talk flesh tones. Before, when I was using Flowmotion I was not really seeing the green tint, the GH2 is famous for having. Well, now, after switching to Moon, I am seeing it in spades. I know it is just something I will have to adjust through trial and error, but I am wondering what you guys are using (In cam) to get accurate color in each of the major WB modes.

  • I use FM2, and to avoid green tint, I make a new WB for each new scene and adjust it going 2 steps down (2 steps away from Green), and sometime 1 step left too.

  • Manual white balance?

  • Use manual white balance but don't go wild with it. Get a cheap set of white/grey balance cards and maybe a clapper with color bars, or some kind of item you can use for color reference. I typically stuck to either 3200k or 5500k and worried less about perfect color as I knew there would be correction in post anyway. The colorist or yourself can use the color bar/clapper/ white/grey cards for reference in correction. Using a different manual WB on each scene is a NIGHTMARE in post trying to match each scene together. Stick with the standards and just use a color reference so that you can see what you need to change. It's a lot easier in post like this.

    @BurnetRhoades Post production hell is where the director/editor/good friend has become sick and needed an organ transplant and has had an extended and hard recovery period where he can't work on the movie. We've worked on it slowly as his recovery allows but health setbacks keep him pretty occupied. I've offered to take the editing from him and do it but it's his baby and honestly it seems like it was the only thing he's been looking forward to getting back to, so I don't push it.

  • llya Friedman tweets hacked GH2's used in feature film, Anchorman 2 starring Will Ferrel

    llya Friedman @HotRodCameras 19 Jun

    Watch @HotRodCameras client ANCHORMAN 2 first full-length trailer for … Both C & D cams are custom hacked #gh2