Twixtorial Part 1. Slow motion with Canon 5D Mark II

Many of you will be interested in this as you are probably in a similar boat to me.
I want to do extreme slow motion but only have a Canon 5d Mark II.
Unlike the Canon 7d and the 5d Mark III which allow slow motion by dropping to 720p, the 5d Mark II doesn’t give you an option to do any in camera slow motion. (See my tutorial for Slow motion with the Canon 7D here)

So I did a bit of research and thought I would share my findings with you.

Today I am going to delve into Twixtor, which seems to be one of the favourites for cheating slow motion. Other alternatives which have good reviews are Apple Motion (Tutorial 1, tutorial 2) and Sony Vegas.

This first part of my Twixtorials will cover the best tips on what you should prepare before you shoot to get the best out of Twixtor so you save yourself time and lessen your chances of artefacts in your final product.

Twixtor

Twixtor is a program which allows you to slow down or speed up footage in post. It creates the illusion of slow motion by changing the frame rate of the RAW footage. Used well, the results can be astonishing. Here’s one of my favourites.

 

Before you shoot

If you know you want slow motion, make your job easier by planning for it before you begin filming. Some of the key points that I picked up during my research are as follows.

Camera Settings

Shutter Speed – Setting your camera correctly will help enormously by the time you get to post. Try setting your camera with a fast shutter. It would be good to research which shutter speed could be best for you depending on the final speed you are after. Having a fast shutter speed will help avoid motion blur. Here is a nifty post on “Why Shutter Speed Matters with DSLRs” by Kerry .

Frames Per Second – Also try to have the highest FPS you can such as 60p.This gives Twixter more to work with.

Lighting

If you decide to opt for a faster shutter, then you will need to ensure you have enough light. This is something that will need to be arranged in advance of the shoot day to ensure you have suitable lights available that day.

Background

Try to shoot with a plain background behind your moving object that you are slowing down. This is important as a detailed or busy background can confuse Twixtor as it can’t tell the difference between the back ground and the moving objects. This can create artefacts.

Another good point to get around the detailed background is to have a shallow depth of field. By softening the detail of the back ground it aids Twixtor by making it clear which part of the clip it needs to focus on.

Movement of the object

This may not always be something that you can’t control, but if you have the option, take this into consideration.
If you are dropping a ball into a pond there isn’t much you can do but film it as it is, but if you are  working with actors, for example, it may be a good idea to get them to act the movements you want in slow motion – in slow motion. This will allow the camera to capture ‘more frames’ of the movement, giving it less guess work and making the Twixter effect more effective.

Movement of the camera

Consider your shots. If you want a moving shot and want to slow an object down, please note that this is difficult to do in Twixter.
It is possible to do, but may require you to animate the background. If you are doing this think about using a stedicam or tripod, try to avoid hand held where possible.
But if you aren’t too confident with Twixtor, perhaps it better you play it safe (unless you like a challenge!)

Shot Choices

If you are considering doing close ups in slow motion, it would be helpful to slow the action down. (See movement of the object). Twixter has less trouble with wider shots because the action happens across more frames meaning as a wide we can see the whole action, not just a close up portion of it)

Coverage

Get lots of it. Do more than one or two takes, just incase Twixtor has any issues with some of your shots or angles or movement. Give yourself more options in case you run into problems. The last thing you want is to have gotten one angle that won’t work and you can’t slow it down.

 

Tutorials

I have read a number of reviews and here are two which I highly recommend you check out. They not only give examples of Twixter slow motion but a very detailed breakdown of how best to use it. These reviews don’t only point out how to slow your footage down in post but also how best to prepare for Twixtor before you have started filming.

The first I found on Phillip Blooms blog: “How to Best use Twixtor For Extreme Slow Motion” by Salomon Ligthelm.

The second is “Best Twixtor Tutorial You Can Get” by David HJ Lindberg.

If you liked this post and would like to see more like it, please follow/like my Facebook Fan page. I keep it up to date with all the projects I am working on and promote opportunities for others when I hear of them. Here is the link to the page: Ehran Edwards Facebook Page.

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