Shooting Fireworks

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Woody
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Joined: Apr 30 1999

With November 5th fast approaching I thought it wpould be a good idea to try and film a Firework display prior to visiting Orlando early next year, when I'm sure I will see some outstanding displays.
I have a JVC Digital camcorder and can set the Focus, Zoom, White Balance etc. Manually or leave on automatic. Previously when filming coloured lights that change, they all appear to be white when played back.

Any help would be much appreciated.


tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

The white fireworks are simply overexposed fireworks. The camera sees all that black sky out there and opens the aperture/pumps up the gain in an effort to "correctly" expose.

The only real way is manual exposure, taking a potshot at what aperture to lock in. Fireworks are pretty bright, you'd be better to shoot lots, at varying apertures, and select the best ones later.

What works well is a cross screen on your lens (a glitter filter) especially if used at telephoto settings. Spon the filter on its threads as the firework goes up. Also, come the editing day, put different firework explosions on different timeline tracks to "multiple expose" them. Often they can look better in slo mo, too.

This needs a bit of planning ahead, and it's good if you've shot some that occupy the left hand side of your viewfinder, and some occupy the right. These mix together rather better.

tom.

Bill M
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Joined: Oct 30 1999

I shot some fairly nice views of the fireworks at Epcot,Disneyworld, last year, using a Cannon ES4000 Hi8. I locked the exposure and everything looks pretty good. As I recall, I set the exposure after the first burst of fireworks.

Johnc
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Joined: May 25 1999

Hi
A couple of Nov 5's ago and using a Canon Hi8 I zoomed up on a ground firework which was preety bright and locked the exposure. I then zoomed back to normal and the results were OK. Has to be remembered, though, that if you are mixing shots of fireworks with flame lit people's faces the exposure will not be OK. I shot fireworks and then shot people, mixing them later at editing.

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Any final recommendations from anyone experienced about white balance?

Which setting is best to use for fireworks to retain the colours - daylight, artificial, manual (difficult to find a stable reference, surely, to set up manual? )

TIA

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

adgroberts
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Joined: Aug 22 2001

Sorry no recommendations but wonder if this is the longest period- 4+years to ressurect a thread- ? a record.

Regards
Tony Roberts

adgroberts

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Correct, Tony.

But surely: I am a model forum user - with exemplary behaviour, I search and read previous posts on the subject before posting my question.

I think I deserved a gold star for that. Which brings me rather nicely back to my original question, anybody?...

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

SIFI
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Joined: Sep 16 2001

I have filmed a few firework displays recently at weddings using full auto settings and the results are great. Exposure or white balance didn't provide any cause for concern.

Simon

PS I used both an XM-1 and a PD150, both giving good results.

Simon

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

They didn't come out in "any colour you like, as long as it's white", Simon?

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

They should have, especially with the excellent low-light capabilities of the 150. Anyway - to the w/bal question. Fireworks are man-made so the light they produce has got to be artificial, right?

tom.

Unicorn
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Joined: Apr 12 1999

No, white balance is really down to temperature, not whether it's 'natural' or 'man-made' light... sunlight is from a higher temperature source than artificial light, so it's bluer.

I'm not sure which would be best, but the difference should be pretty obvious if you try both and watch with a color LCD, viewfinder or monitor.

P4-3.06/2GB RAM/2500GB IDE/SATA. Avid Media Composer, Liquid Edition, Premiere 6, Lightwave, Vue 6, eyeon Fusion 5. DV and HDV editing/compositing.

cstv
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Joined: Jul 26 2002

tried to shoot fireworks yesterday from up on the Hog's Back (A31) near Guildford...

although it looks fantastic to the human eye, it was just too far away for the camera, and trying to fight my way into Guildford (Stoke Park) for a closer look was a VERY bad idea!

i'll just have to wait until saturday for the big display at Aldershot to get some decent shots...

mark.

look! i'm doing a mooblie! or is it a chirpy...?

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Nope. That's not a mooblie.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

cstv
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Joined: Jul 26 2002

hearing the fireworks outside made me think of this post... i thought it might be helpful to anyone shooting fireworks so this is to bump it back up the list again...

DV Ed
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Joined: Jun 10 2002

I'd like to add some experience to this. If you have a camera with manual choose 1/50th second F5.6 gain 0dB as a starting point, outdoor white balance.
If your filming to a musical show put audio on manual and set the music to around -12dB Yes the bangs will distort as they will be far louder than the music, BUT you wont get AGC pumping of audio levels which sounds very strange. Using headphones to check things is a good idea.

Ed

Ford Prefect
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Joined: Jun 17 2001

I agree with DV_Ed but to add some more experience, try using a shutter speed of 1/100sec and you will get much "cleaner and clearer" results. It depends on whether you like to see the "trails" or not and whether you want a "soft" effect. From my experience, 1/50sec gives nice trails at a distance but if you zoom in they can look fuzzy. At 1/100sec they will be crisp.
I presume you already know that you have to lock the exposure to prevent "hunting" and over-exposing? I usually do this on the first burst if it's a display.
HTH,
Regards.

DV Ed
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Joined: Jun 10 2002

Never had a zoom problem. But on the topic of fireworks here is a display I did on the 6th

http://www.fusionfireworks.co.uk/videos/sheppyfireworks.wmv

mooblie
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Joined: Apr 27 2001

Fine recording.

I find it interesting (and frustrating) that even with fireworks against a black sky, it's obvious when you have to zip-pan (and leave it showing in the edit) to reframe the burst. I find it distracting, as all the fireworks suddenly accelerate together across the sky, which seems unnatural to me.

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

DV Ed
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Joined: Jun 10 2002

That was an accident in my edit. I didn't film it as I was firing the show. I had my two cameras on it and I threw it togther in Edition. I shall correct them when I get a chance as I totally agree its very noticeable. Other than that its not too bad for a firework video. Its quite hard to keep them interesting when there is no other audio/music track.