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How to capture ILLUMINATIONS : REFLECTIONS of EARTH on video

Walt Disney World: Any experience with this?

From Marco Trevino
Posted October 21, 2013 at 9:37 PM
Which is the best place to capture fireworks, how to avoid out of focus, and the most important, how to focus the planet earth over the lake. My camcorder is a Samsung full HD memory cam. I will appreciate your help.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Russell Meyer
Posted October 22, 2013 at 7:01 AM
I'm not familiar with your particular model camera, but unless you've got a unit with a true focus toggle, you're going to have problems or you're going to have to shoot the entire show in wide angle. I've actually gotten the best results using my old MiniDV camera on a tripod with the focus completely off. With a wide angle view, you can see all of the caldrouns, lights and fireworks, but the globe is tiny and images are unrecognizable. With the camcorder on a tripod, I was able to shoot telephoto stills of the globe to remember what was on the globe during each scene.

The other posibility would be to use a digital SLR equipped with video. I haven't tried it yet at EPCOT, but I have had success shooting with my Nikon D-5100 with the focus set on infinity with a telephoto lens that allows me to change the zoom without losing focus beyond what miniscule adjustments I need to make manually (Nikon DSLRs disable the autofocus when in "live" mode shooting video). The only problem with this setup is that I can't put the camera on a tripod to get good, clean zooms, so I lose the ability to shoot stills while simultaneously shooting video.

As far as locations, I've always been partial to the Japan pavillion because of the framing the arch provides. However, I've seen the shows from all of the typical spots around the lagoon, and they all have advantages and disadvantages. The only issue that will never be solved with shooting loction is that the globe will always look tiny in any shot unless you're deliberately zooming into it.

From Marco Trevino
Posted October 22, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Thank you, Russell, I realy appreciate your advices

From steve lee
Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:39 PM
I've shot with a miniDV on a tripod as well. It came out pretty good for the most part, but I also had the benefit of shooting on more than one night so I had cutaways for moments when the focus wandered off (primarily a problem when there's a lull in the pyro and the focus is on the globe). If you have the ability to shoot on more than one night, I would recommend being ready to zoom in on the globe for that section (otherwise there really isn't much going on visually since, as was already mentioned, it's very small in the frame).

That's assuming you A. have the time to shoot more than once and B. feel like editing it. If both conditions apply, I'd recommend shooting one entire run through in a wide shot, then doing it the second time remembering to move in on the globe and maybe point the camera up for the last few minutes to have tighter shots of the fireworks.

I had the benefit of a pretty solid miniDV camera that maintained focus for 80 percent of the wide shot. Unfortunately, I didn't study the footage to realize that I needed to get the closer shot of the globe.

As a reference, here's the video I shot (and forgive me for the quality - it was five years ago on last-gen gear): link

From Marco Trevino
Posted October 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM
Thank you Steve, I saw your video and it is excellent, Illuminations : Reflections of Earth is for me, for much, the best show in Orlando, thank you again.

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