The secret to cinematic FPV is motion blur. Here’s how to master it.

By | November 9, 2022

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00:00:00 – Motion blur: the key to high-quality video
00:00:51 – Where does motion blur come from?
00:01:27 – Aperture and exposure
00:03:08 – ISO and image noise
00:04:54 – Shutter speed and motion blur
00:08:08 – Low shutter speed for extreme motion blur
00:09:42 – Shutter angle = how much motion blur
00:12:20 – How to think about motion blur
00:13:21 – The problem with GoPros and how ND filters fix it
00:16:14 – My preferred setup: Auto shutter, ISO locked at 100
00:17:41 – Locked shutter results in over-exposure
00:18:39 – Why I never lock both shutter and ISO
00:19:58 – This is the “correct” way. But not my way.
00:22:59 – Why not also use auto ISO?
00:24:02 – Two things we overlooked


One of the biggest things that separates Professional looking fpv video from the Kind of stuff that a hobbyist would just Copy off their SD card out of their GoPro and slap up on YouTube is motion Blur professionals spend a lot of time Thinking about the right amount of Motion blur for their footage to have And how to get it and that's going to be The topic of this video because when Done wrong you end up with something That looks kind of like this way too Much motion blur but not enough motion Blur can be almost as bad as too much in This video you're going to learn why Motion blur happens how to set your Camera up to get the right amount of Motion blur for your use and why I don't Set my GoPros up according to the Standard best practices for producing Optimal motion blur but I still think I Get better results I'm Joshua Bardwell And you're going to learn something Today in order to understand how the Camera's settings affect the motion blur That we see in the video we've got to Understand how a camera's exposure Settings work in the first place so We're going to do a very brief sort of Photography 101 before we go talk about Motion blur That's what this is going to be for more About that later the reason I'm outside Here using my DSLR instead of a GoPro is

That the DSLR has controls on it that Let me easily change the settings so you Can see the effect that the settings Have and we can also record the screen Of the DVR so you can actually see down At the bottom of the screen what the Settings are and the first thing that I'm going to tweak is this one the Aperture it's currently set at 4.5 the Aperture is a sort of Iris that opens And closes within the lens to let more Or less light in and that's basically What we're talking about when we talk About exposure how much light is going To be hitting the sensor of the camera And how bright the image is going to be So if I open up that Iris as wide as It'll go That's as wide as it'll go and this is The most amount of light that we can let Into the lens uh it has a more Pronounced effect if we shut that Iris Down we can see the image get darker and Darker as less and less light gets in And you can see of course the effect That this is having on the exposure this Is an underexposed image it is way too Dark it doesn't have any detail it's not Something that we're going to be able to Fix like in editing or just turn the Exposure up the information just isn't There if I keep going That's as dark as this lens can get and This is basically not good for anything

Now if I open this lens up all the way To try to over expose the image well 10 Minutes ago the sun was that was not Behind a cloud and we could have easily Completely blown out this image but even With the aperture all the way open it's A little Overexposed we can see some Highlights here on my face are getting Lost we can see over here that a lot of The you see you can't really see the Cracks between those boards whereas if I Turn the uh if I close that aperture a Little bit that detail comes back so That's an example of overexposure where We are losing details in the highlights Next we're going to look at this number The iso and the iso refers to the Sensitivity of the sensor basically There's a sensor in the camera light is Hitting the sensor it's converting that Light into electrical impulses which are Then turned into a picture and there's a Certain amount of gain or amplification Of the signal coming off that sensor the Amplification or gain makes weak signals Stronger in other words it brightens up The image but it also introduces image Noise in order to demonstrate that the First thing I'm going to do is I'm going To stop down the aperture until the Image is super dark And then I'm going to turn the iso up And the image will get brighter but we Should also see that it gets noisier

Okay so here we go 250 400 it's brightening up 1250. around About 800 or 1250 is what I think is the Reusable ISO range of this particular Camera we shouldn't see a ton of image Noise here but if we keep Opening up that how high will it go Thirty two hundred four thousand five Thousand sixty four hundred eight Thousand geez I didn't even know the Camera could go this far we've got a Super bright Overexposed image because We've turned up the gain so much but we Should also especially If I Stop down wow I can't stop down far Enough to get Shadows we need to go Somewhere darker but we should see a Whole lot of like Speckly image noise especially in the Very dark shadows is where it shows up I can't see it on the monitor that I'm Looking at now but hopefully it's there And hopefully you're seeing it and Pros Really hate that image noise they don't They think it looks really bad and they Try to avoid using High ISO now there's One more parameter that we can use to Tweak the exposure of the image and that Is the shutter speed and the shutter Speed is how long the shutter is open During each frame of the video so the Video that we're shooting right now is 30 frames per second that means that

Every 1 30th of a second or 30 times per Second the camera takes a picture of Whatever is coming into the sensor and Then when you play back those pictures Play back rapidly and that appears to Your eye as movement we have 30 frames Per second but we don't need to leave The shutter open for the entire length Of that frame and by making the shutter Be open or closed for longer or shorter Periods of time we can let more or less Light hit the sensor and adjust the Exposure by the way I'm talking about The shutter digital cameras don't have Mechanical shutters the it's just how Long do you sample the sensor for within Each frame and you can see that my Shutter speed right now is set to 1 over 80. that's kind of weird I usually set It to 1 over 60 for reasons which we'll Show later in the video ah the sun's Coming out it's getting super bright Let's let's fix that by adjusting the Shutter speed and so I'm going to turn The shutter speed so it is faster a Faster shutter will leave the shutter Open for a shorter period of time and Let less light in so now it's 1 250th of A second and we can stop that we can Take that all the way down it'll go down To one geez one sixteen thousandth of a Second if I really wanted to but uh I Don't instead let's let's set this to Around 1 to 50th

And let's adjust the aperture to get the Light Where I want it to be that's about right That's a pretty decent exposure and I Want to show you the effect that shutter Has on motion blur because this is the Number one thing that we need to think About when we're trying to get good Looking motion blur on our flight videos And that that's where this guy is going To come in I want you to look at this Propeller spinning around and what you Should see is That when we have 1 250th when we have a Fast shutter speed it looks almost like A strobe light is hitting it you're Getting almost a stop motion effect Instead of looking like Smooth movement In fact I could turn that shutter speed Up even further let's let's do it let's Crank the shutter speed As fast as we can make it one ten Thousand one sixteen thousand and then Let's use the iso to get the exposure Back correct That doesn't look very pleasing I mean it might there's certain times Like if you're shooting a music video And you really want that kind of Stuttery effect there's times where you Might do this but in general people Don't tend to like to see this oh my God We have to go even further we have to Adjust again get the sun's changing

People don't tend to like to see Movement that looks stuttery like that And it's not just that propeller which I'm using to demonstrate it you should See that even if I like get Gesticulating with my hands it doesn't Look smooth it looks kind of stuttery And is not generally what people like to See now let's go the other way let's Take the shutter speed as slow as we can Get it well maybe not as slow as we can Get it but to a really slow value like One tenth of a second and then we're Going to adjust the ISO Back down as low as we can get it to Compensate for that And then we're going to need to also Adjust the aperture a little more To compensate for that and we can bring The exposure back into a correct range Just barely notice that my at my Aperture is at 22 which is the smallest It can get and my ISO is at 200 which is The smallest it can get this is Literally as far as we can go with a 1 10 shutter speed and still have correct Exposure and look what's happening to my Movement now It's super blurry oh that's kind of cool We need some dubstep the reason it's Super blurry is that the shutter is open For one tenth of a second and for every Frame it's open for one full tenth of a Second and that means that any movement

That happens within that one tenth of a Second is blurred together and we get This super blurry video and this is Motion blur this is where motion blur Comes from but this this is way too much Motion blur like you wouldn't unless you Were trying to do some kind of David Lynch dream sequence you wouldn't want Your video to look like this if your Quadcopter video looked like this it Would just be a watercolor blur and Nobody could tell what you were really Doing so where's The Sweet Spot the way To answer that question is to think About your shutter speed in terms of Multiples of your frame rate so right Now my shutter speed is 1 over 60 and Hold on let me adjust the rest of the Settings to get a proper exposure so There we go I like that that the way That professionals think about motion Blur is through the concept of shutter Angle and shutter angle means that you Take your frame rate 30 frames per second in this case and You take one over that frame rate 1 over 30 and that is referred to as a shutter Angle of 360 Degrees why is it referred To in degrees there's a reason that goes Back to very old film cameras that's out Of scope for this video so if I have a 30 frame per second frame rate then a 1 Over 30 shutter is 360 degrees and let's See what that looks like right now

Here's what that looks like and I'm Going to just move my hands around and You can kind of get a sense of the Amount of blur that's on my hands and oh Let's get my let's get my propeller and See what that looks like Oh That's pretty nice that's blurry that Doesn't look all oh stroby does it it Looks blurry and the reason it looks Blurry is because at 30 frames per Second the shutter is open and capturing All of the movement within the time that The frame is being captured so there is No possibility of a strobing effect Because the entire movement of the prop Within the frame of video is captured Now it turns out that a lot of people Feel that that's too much motion blur And they like something a little bit Less now I'm going to take my shutter And change it from 1 over 30 to 1 over 60 and again I'm going to just adjust The aperture to get the exposure back Correct and that's pretty good I think What we've got now is referred to as a Shutter angle of 180 degrees so the Shutter is twice the frame rate 30 Frames per second 1 over 60 is our Shutter and a lot of people feel that This is actually the most preferable Amount of motion this is like the Default amount of motion blur that Cinematographers and videographers will

Shoot for so there's just a little bit Less blur than at one over 30 but still Plenty of blur to give a sense of motion And no strobing effect as I move my Hands the reason that this is thought of As The Sweet Spot is that if you have Too much motion blur then everything Looks out of focus and and that's no Good but if you have too little motion Blur then you get that strobing effect And that also tends to be unwanted so The first thing we're going to think About when we're thinking about motion Blur is how much motion blur do you want And we're going to think about that in Terms of shutter angle and generally a Shutter angle between 180 degrees and 360 degrees is going to give you a Pleasing amount of motion blur anything More than 360 will tend to look really Smeary and anything less than 180 will Start to tend to look stroby remember That this is going to depend on your Frame rate so if you're shooting at 60 FPS then your 360 degree shuttle shutter Angle is going to be 1 over 60 and your 180 degree shutter angle is going to be 1 over 120. if you're shooting at 120 FPS that's going to be 120 and 1 over 120 and 1 over 240 and so on and so on Those of you who shoot High frame rate Because you want to be able to do speed Ramps you'll also need to be run faster Shutter speeds in order to get the same

Amount of motion blur and then once You've decided how much motion blur you Want then you're going to adjust your Aperture and your ISO in order to get The right exposure and here we come to The problem with GoPro because GoPros Don't have adjustable aperture they only Have adjustable shutter speed and Adjustable ISO and if you are fixing the Shutter speed based on the shutter angle You want to hit that means the only tool You have to adjust your exposure is the Iso except that's not true this is a Neutral density filter or ND filter so Let's pretend for the sake of argument That I have set my shutter speed at the Correct shutter speed for the amount of Shutter angle that I want and then I've Adjusted my aperture except on a GoPro You can't adjust your aperture and then I've adjusted my ISO and I've hit the Limit of what the gopro's iso can do and My image is still Overexposed a neutral Density filter simply makes the image Darker And brings the exposure back into the Correct value and in fact this is Actually a variable ND filter I can Adjust the amount of darkening by Turning this ring on the outside so if You've heard of people using ND filters On their GoPros the reason that they're Doing it is well there's two reasons one Of the reasons is that when you're

Outside on a bright sunny day if you set The gopro's iso as low as it will go it Can still be too bright it can still be Too bright the image can still be Overexposed and at that point the only Choice you would have would be to change Your shutter speed Except that's going to screw up your Motion blur and so what an ND filter Lets you do is keep your shutter speed Slow enough to get the motion blur you Want And Get the exposure of the camera correct I Know that was a lot of information and Some of it probably went in one ear and Out the other so I'm going to put on Screen here a couple of key points that I think are essential before we go on to The flight testing where you'll see how This stuff actually pans out and while You're looking at that I'm going to tell You about the sponsor of today's video There is no sponsor for today's video You are the sponsor of today's video and All my videos I rely on folks like you To sign up and support me at patreon.com A website where you can subscribe to me For as little as two dollars a month or More if you feel like I've earned it the Amount that you subscribe at is totally Up to you and you can stop whenever you Want patrons get access to my Discord Server where you can chat with other

Friendly helpful folks in the fpv Community there's troubleshooting forums That just chat about fpv you get access To that and you get podcasts of all of My live streams in case you like to Listen to those in the car as opposed to Watch them live but most importantly What you get by supporting me at patreon Is just a good feeling of giving back if Today's the day that I earned your Support there's a link in the video Description below to my patreon page I'd Love to have you as a subscriber and if I haven't heard it yet you keep watching I'll keep making the content and Hopefully that day will come now let's Take a look at some examples of this Actually working in flight and the first Thing we're going to look at is my Standard setup which is not how Professionals would tell you to do it But I'm going to try to justify this Decision to you over the course of the Rest of this video and you can decide if You agree with me or not my standard Setup is to lock ISO at 100 and have Auto shutter to allow changes in Exposure the way a professional would Tell you to do it is to lock your Shutter for example 1 over 60 shutter For a 30 frame per second video gives You 180 degree shutter angle and that Means that you always have a consistent Amount of motion blur throughout the

Whole video but the problem with locking The shutter is that exposure changes if We were working in a studio where there Was a controlled amount of lighting and We could perfectly set the exposure of The camera then it would be fine to lock The shutter and we could lock the Aperture and we could lock the iso and We could turn the lights up and down we Could tweak it however we wanted but we Don't have control of our lighting when We're just shooting freestyle videos or Even a lot of times when we're shooting Cinematic videos the lighting can go From very very bright like out in this Field to significantly darker like Flying under these trees and the camera Needs a tool to allow it to change the Exposure in order to adjust for that Otherwise we're going to end up with Overexposed or under exposed footage What if I took the professional's advice And I locked my shutter at 1 over 60 and I allowed the iso to adjust to control The exposure well here's one possible Result and no I know this wouldn't Always be the case for example we're in A very bright environment and so this is Too much light for a 1 over 60 shutter This image is almost always completely Overexposed we can assume that the Camera is turning the iso all the way Down to 100 to reduce the sensitivity of The sensor it needs to go further it

Needs less light to be hitting the Sensor and there's simply nothing it can Do if we were shooting indoors or like There's some situation where the amount Of light hitting the camera would be Just right for a 1 over 60 shutter I'm Not trying to say it'll always be Overexposed but in a lot of cases I find That when I lock the shutter No matter what I do I end up with incorrect exposure for the Image now some people would say if you Lock the shutter and the image is Overexposed then obviously what you need To do is put an ND filter on the camera And then less light will come in and You'll get the best of both worlds and There's definitely some truth to that Here I'm going to put an nd32 filter on This camera and let's see what kind of Results we get in this example I've got The shutter locked at 1 over 60 a Perfect 180 degree shutter angle and I've got the iso locked at 100 and the Problem is right now do you see what Happened to the exposure as I went Through that shadow that was Significantly under exposed the ND Filter is making the exposure correct When I'm out in the sunny areas but Because I have locked both the shutter And the iso when I go under the trees Like you're seeing here the camera has No ability to change the exposure to

Correct it and there is too much Variation in the amount of light that Exists in the world between Sunny areas Like this and darker areas like this This might be just barely passable but If I go into something much darker than This the image is simply going to be Underexposed and that is why I never Lock both shutter and ISO unless I'm Like working in a studio where the Lighting is 100 controlled which I never Am what if we lock the shutter at 1 over 60 so we get exactly the amount of Motion blur we want we add an ND filter To prevent the overexposure and then we Let the GoPro adjust the iso to correct The exposure that's what you're looking At right now and I've limited the iso to A maximum of 1600 because I think that That 3200 and 6400 ISO the image gets Grainier than I would like but you might Tolerate it and give the GoPro a little Bit more flexibility and what we see Here is that now when we go into the Dark areas the exposure is able to Compensate here we're going to fly under These trees we basically have correct Exposure throughout the entire video With no issues and a lot of people would Say that this is the right way to do it And they wouldn't be wrong if your Number one goal is to control the amount Of motion blur that you've got in your Footage and keep it consistent then this

Is the right way to do it you lock your Shutter speed at whatever shutter angle You want you let your ISO shift between I'd say 100 and 1600 but you may feel That you want a little more or a little Less just be aware that the more you Lock down that ISO the more the chances Are that you will end up with an Overexposed or underexposed image and You use an ND filter to then bring the Exposure into the correct range and you Are good to go but here's an example of Why I don't like to use this approach so Here we've got the shutter locked at 1 Over 60 variable ISO exactly like before And we've put an nd4 filter on here this Is just a cloudier day and this image is Just on the edge of Overexposed in other Words we could not really let any more Light in without risking overexposure And you'll see that when I go through Here this is okay this is tolerable Everything is working fine but then as I Come back through this much darker part The image is under exposed it simply Doesn't have enough light hitting it and I certainly could raise the ISO from 1600 to 6400 and get a little more light In there in those dark areas if I was Willing to accept a little more image Noise but my point is this in my Experience when I take the approach of Locking the shutter and using a neutral Density filter

I often end up with cases where some Part of the flight is not exposed Correctly that's just my experience if You try this and you don't have that Experience this will give you more Control over your motion blur it is Objectively a better approach but I am Tired of accidentally number one Misjudging the amount of ND filter that I'm supposed to get because I'm standing In the sun when I put the ND filter on But then I fly over somewhere where it's Dark or it's for some other reason the Exposure is just not correct during the Flight I would rather have a flight that Has correct exposure throughout with Maybe not the optimal amount of motion Blur than a flake that has ideal motion Blur but some part of it is blown out or Some part of it is totally dark so that Explains why I use auto shutter because I find that auto shutter is more likely To produce videos with correct exposure From start to finish as opposed to auto ISO but why don't I just use both why Don't I use auto shutter and auto ISO Wouldn't that give even more latitude to Correct the exposure for bright and dark Situations and it would it would but I Find that I usually get correct exposure With auto shutter by itself that the Additional latitude of auto ISO isn't Necessary for the kind of situations That I find myself flying in and by

Locking the iso at 100 it minimizes the Sensitivity of the sensor and means that The shutter speed that will be selected Will be as slow as possible in other Words locking the iso at 100 means that I get as much motion blur as the camera Is capable of giving me while still Having correct exposure and to me that Is the ideal little way to get the best Most consistent results there's two more Things that I forgot to mention earlier That you need to know before you finish Out this video and the first is as you Probably knew this already All of this is subjective some people Feel like 180 degree shutter angle is Too much and they just don't like the Blurriness in fact watching this video I've kind of thought like maybe for fbv I'd be happier with a less motion bird Maybe a 90 degree shutter angle maybe One over three X or one over even 4X the Frame per second you can play with that In fact I recommend that you do fix the Shutter speed at one over the FPS one Over two x one over three x and just do Some flights and try it out and see what You like the second thing is that if you Are doing any post stabilization like Gyroflow or real steady go the motion Blur can really screw it up something About the way that the stabilization Program tweaks and stretches the image Makes the motion blur look wrong it

Messes it up so if you're planning on Doing that you actually don't want a lot Of motion blur you want a faster shutter Speed you want a lower shutter angle and You should keep that that in mind there Is an option like in Adobe After Effects There's a thing called pixel motion blur Effect that tries to fake motion blur so If you did have some cinematic footage That you shot at a low shutter angle so You could stabilize it maybe you could Do that afterwards in something like That but anyway that's that's just Something you got to keep in mind and Then this is the part of the video where I tell you that I've got another video Over here for you to watch but I kind of Can't think of what would be a good Video to follow on like this so I'm Gonna Leave it to YouTube and let them Recommend you something See you there Happy flying