Swing-out Monitor, Viewfinder, or External NTSC Field Monitor

Once you’ve settled on a frame rate and aspect ratio, you’re just about ready to shoot. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, one of the great things about working with digital video is that you see exactly what you get as you’re recording. Depending on your shooting style and technical needs, there are number of ways you can go about monitoring your production.

An external NTSC field monitor (Figure 2-5) connected to your camera shows you exactly what your work will look like on screen, so using one is the most reliable way to compose a shot. These monitors are often referred to as critical monitors, because they don’t hide flaws in an image. Unlike consumer televisions, which automatically adjust video signals to make images look better on screen, critical monitors let you see your video exactly as it appears, warts and all, so you can fix potential problems before it’s too late. Critical monitors come in various sizes for portable and studio use, but none of them are really pocket sized. If you’re doing guerilla filmmaking, quickly setting up in one location and immediately moving on to the next, or if you’re shooting handheld, a critical monitor’s bulk may become an issue. Even the smallest and most portable NTSC field monitor isn’t something you can pick up and hold while you’re operating the camera, so while it provides tremendous accuracy, it also limits your mobility.

Figure 2-5. A field monitor, such as the Sony PVM-5041Q, ...

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