“I’ll play it safe”
This is a dangerous phrase in filmmaking, especially if you want to improve, impress, and therefore, succeed. A lot of what I’m discussing is in regards to event and documentary style filming, because there are many circumstances in this type of shooting where you get one chance to get something. Do you get a good shot, or push for extraordinary?
For example; say a bride is opening a letter from her soon to be husband on the morning of her wedding day. As a safe videographer you can sit straight on with a medium shot for the full process, or recognize the parts of this small story within the big story. What will she do when receiving a letter? Open it, pull it out, read it (to herself or out loud or both), have facial reaction, maybe show the people around her, and put it away safely. Consider the ways you as a single shooter can grab different angles of coverage throughout the whole process. Tight shot on the hands opening the letter, the medium shot of reading, a tight shot on the letter, eyes, and mouth while reading, medium shots of others reactions and a tight shot of putting that letter away again. Suddenly your single camera has turned into a multi-camera shoot, and if you leave the camera recording the whole time, you can have the full audio from the moment, along with the multi-cam coverage.
This can translate into so many aspects of filmmaking. Look at your subject, choose 3 or more different angles you can cover and get them all. You’re pieces will become more thoughtful and interesting.
Evolution is a key word in the modern video production era. As a person creating videos you may think it’s important to always have the latest and great gear, but I would argue that it is more important to have the most ideal gear. It is imperative that you pay attention to what generates what results and what will tell the story you are trying to tell best. For instance, consider the time you will have to get a certain shot or interview, will a camera requiring a shorter set up time be necessary, or will you have a bit more time to set up something more complex.
Don’t get stuck in the gear you are comfortable with! Because if you do you’ll be shooting SD in 2013, and 1080p in 2023. Try things, rent things, learn new cameras.
We’re in a time where results can be cheaper. A small dslr on a slider can generate similar results to a large panavision on a dolly. Consider the ways you can be cost effective while generating the same results. Remember, the viewer doesn’t see what kind of lights you have or the brand name on your sandbags, all the see is what’s happening through the view finder. One creative cinematographer could do better with half the budget of a non-creative cinematographer.
Don’t be scared of the future. Instead, experiment and lead it.
We all for the most part enjoy weddings, not the third cousin of your significant other’s father’s wedding, but weddings of people you care about are usually great! Sometimes the people are so close to you that you even want to remember every moment, but how can you capture all of those memories?!
Luckily there is a solution for this very situation! In fact that solution is even paid for by the people you care so much about, the Bride & Groom! They’ve paid thousands of dollars to have their wedding memories captured by photographers and videographer, so they have those memories for themselves and to share. So now you can sit back and enjoy the wedding!
Ok, now, sarcasm aside…. please just don’t be this person.
Ran into an issue several days ago with Compressor from Final Cut Studio. It was this ‘Unknown Time Remaining’ notice. I just figured on a 13″ Macbook Pro with 2gigs of RAM, Compressor was saying, “Hey, loser, step it up in the computadora area or I’m gonna take alllllll daaaaayyyyyy”. BUT! After leaving it sitting all night things still weren’t jiving (Yeah, let’s bring JIVING back!).
Anyway, already long story slightly less long, if you encounter this issue; clear your compressor job, click ‘compressor’ in the top left menu, and then select ‘reset background processing’. Then resubmit your job!
To me, the art/technology of video production is…. well… Art and Technology. It’s very difficult to be a filmmaker without having an understanding of both of these aspects and it’s nearly impossible to be a great filmmaker without having mastery of these two concepts.
The art side of video production can be narrowed down to creativity and class. Creativity is a bit obvious. You need to be able to concept ideas… but is your idea good? There-in lies the question of class. Is your work ‘classy’. Is what you’ve come up with too much, too little, or just right? Does the necessary feel of your project require a blaring, bold, true red graphic or maybe the feel asks for a bit of a softer tone that slowly fades in, and then out. The in-your-face graphic may look amazing, but is it right for your project? And vice-versa.
And now enters the Technology Nerd. That’s right. The guy with CanonRumors.com as his home page, the guy who bores his date with discussion of lens aperture over dinner, the guy who tears up a little when B&H shuts down their online ordering for various Jewish Holidays. That’s right… you know exactly what I’m talking about. BUT! What I’ve just described to is a special kind of Nerd. This my friends, is a Video Nerd. “But what is different about a Video Nerd?” … Oh, I’m glad you asked. A Video Nerd creates something special, Nerd Art. Nerd art isn’t made with paintbrushes or charcoal. Nerd Art is made with CMOS chips, memory cards, time code and render bars. But it’s only when the Artist side of your brain and the Nerd side combine, that true, great video is really created. Art side devises the concepts, Nerd side figures out how to make it happen. It’s like Batman and Robin. But it’s not Gotham City that’s at stake… it’s the precious eyes of your viewers.
Alright, so maybe ‘save my life’ is a bit extreme, but seriously redundancies while filming, is essential.
“Hey Dustin, what do you mean by redundancies?”
What we’re really looking at is definition 4. Last week I had an interview, a quick testimonial for a piece I was putting together and the pressure was on. What pressure? The pressure that this guy, was volunteering his time and clearly wanted to be done as soon as possible. So, to accommodate him, I also, moved as quickly as possible. Only problem, someone (me) forget to switch the audio input on my Zoom H4n recorder to ‘on board mic’ instead of ‘external mic’… oops. I didn’t realize until I got back with the footage. “Hmm.. there was supposed to be audio here.” What saved me from having to visit ‘extremely thrilled volunteer’ again? Redundancies. I had set up a shotgun mic directly into my camera as well. My intention was to use it simply to help sync the audio later, but I had taken the time to monitor it so it would be clear, and this audio turned out to be the one I would use for the piece. Phew. A lesson I had heard before, now a lesson learned.
Needless to say… Set up an extra audio feed. Do the take a second time, even if you KNOW you have it. Bring a backup camera. Redundancies, redundancies. Who knows, they could save your life… ehhh… errr…. project.
Your concept is the basis, the foundation, of your project. Just like an architect has a blue print, you (generally) have to go into your project with a concept. Now once you get into post, and see what you have to work with, sometimes this concept is slightly tweaked, but you never what to go ‘running gun’ into an environment with no idea what you want the feel of your project to be.
Concept, Script, Treatment, Storyboard… all of these tools will not only help organize your thoughts, but I’ve found, once you see your thoughts on paper, many times they are even more clear to you, which can lead to even more ideas. Even consider listening through several different music options before you shoot. Music can really direct your project and while ultimately you need to find music that fits with your project, many times knowing the type of you music you’ll be applying ahead of time will help you in determining your shot composition and frame rates.
Simply a few recent thoughts. Enjoy.
Also, I finished up my latest demo reel last week… Check it out here: