Tools in Forgetting the Border

Part of our research for How to Forget the Border Completely is going to come from a lot of video. We’re not sure how many interviews we’ll do or exactly where we’ll be shooting, but we wanted to be prepared. I’ve had a Canon T2i for over a year now and it’s a very solid camera. I originally picked it up because of its video capabilities (specifically, the 24p option), but I hadn’t really made much time to shoot anything.

So, while HFBC seemed like the perfect opportunity to start, I also knew we needed to upgrade things a bit. I read about the Magic Lantern firmware hack a little while ago and finally got around to installing it — more in a bit on that — and with the advice from Karlyn‘s partner, John, I also picked up a Rode VideoMic and Zoom H1 for audio.

First things first though, before putting on Magic Lantern, I had to update the firmware on the camera. Canon had a good walk-thru.

The step-by-step is fairly clear, though I admittedly had to attempt the process a few times. The stumbling block seemed to come from using the software, Macboot, suggested to make the SD card  bootable. I ran Macboot a number of times (perhaps incorrectly?) on the card, but it failed to make the card bootable. So instead…

I used the .sh file included in the Magic Lantern firmware zip file, made the required updates to the .sh file itself:

# change this

and after running it, my card was bootable, and I could finish the install process.

After the install, you can see Magic Lantern running it all its glory. Some of my favourite improvements are in the audio settings — the ability to turn off auto-gain is hugely welcomed and the on-screen audio levels are awesome.

And then, because it’s fun, some tests in Color and moving footage back and forth between Final Cut. With Michelle having spent some time with our dearest Daragh over the holidays, I’m anxious to see her mad editing skills.

Also on the test bench soon, the Zoom H1. For the price, apparently very worthwhile.

And under the heading of “should have invested a long time ago” a good tripod.

I’ll be giving some kind of a quick demo on Friday at our meeting. We need to make sure we’re all working in a similar manner in case we cut all of this footage together down the road.

How to Forget the Border Completely is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

2 Replies to “Tools in Forgetting the Border”

  1. Yay! Gear! I’m curious to hear how the H1 and the tripod turn out. I need to get a tripod at some point.

    A note about auto-gain: manual gain tends to only shine when you have a sound guy on the decks who can actually pay attention to the levels. Auto-gain for doc/news stuff can save you more often than it will burn you. I know a few news magazine shows that shoot with it (but then again, the quality of the limiter is usually good on the cameras they use; I don’t know what it’s like on your camera).

    When do you guys start shooting?

  2. Thanks for the tip, Daragh! I definitely would have forgone the Auto-gain settings — it seems pretty noisy from what I’ve read, but I haven’t done enough test myself yet. I need to look at the possibility to connect the USB-style output for A/V on the camera to some headphones and see if that would work … sound plausible? I figure the H1 could also act as a back-up recorder. Some people mount it to the camera, but I wanted the flexibility to use it elsewhere as well.

    As for a start-date. I think Michelle has some interviews she wants to do, I’m hoping to get out and shoot some stuff this weekend — not sure exactly what yet, but just want to spend some time exploring with the camera. We’ll see.

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