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1 hour ago, meanwhile said:

Great discussion on cheap diy follow focus set-ups http://www.theblackandblue.com/2010/09/30/toolkit-diy-cheap-follow-focus-solutions/  The Truedeau silicone jar opener looks perfect for this job - and it seems a lot of people use them this way.

I think that gained a lot of popularity about 6 years ago, after Knoptop's video:

Channels like that used to be the shit. Everyone was just hacking their GH2's, using Magic Lantern, building rigs from pvc and L-brackets... remember those days on FilmRiot (when they were with Revision3)? Or moving your tripod along? Come to think of it, man, haven't heard of 'TheFrugalFilmmaker' in forever.

Then in 2012 ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microfacturing/lens-focus-shifter-lens-mounted-follow-focus/ ) came the more practical FocusShifter: http://focusshifter.com/follow-focus-dslr/ .

There's more interesting stuff coming from crowdfunding, like when 2015 the Parrot teleprompter campaign launched... https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/957253584/the-parrot-a-compact-teleprompter-for-dslr-cameras / https://www.parrotteleprompter.com/ . Class leading ND filters from Breakthrough Photography: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/breakthrough/createdhttps://breakthrough.photography/ or the project Instamic: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/instamic-the-smartest-microphone-ready-to-record-video-music/x/9727099#/ for example.

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Hey meanwhile,

 

Glad you're interested in getting started with video. Reading this thread I see you're finding about everything at once, and there sure are a multitude of facets when it comes to shooting and editing motion pictures of any kind. And each facet goes deep. My 2 cents: You have to learn some real basics first and reading is only gonna take you so far. Doing is the only way. And to "Do" you need to build yourself some structure into this learning experience. I would stop worrying about cinelikeD and picture profiles and color. That's chapter 6 and you're still on the introduction. You have a camera and you have a computer with some editing software. You need to shoot something, edit it, and show it to an audience. These steps will always be part of the process and trust me you're gonna look back on your first stuff later and have a good laugh so it doesn't mean shit what picture profile you shot it in. 

So what to shoot? Pick anything but having a clear goal will help you get it done and the first rule of filmmaking is "Always finish the film." Traveling somewhere? Make a 3 min film about a place you go. Or better yet, make a 3 min short about your hometown. If you have an interesting shop in town, ask the owner if you can make a video about the shop. 5 min max. Then shoot it and edit it. And post it. Then do it again. A good resource I love: the Vimeo Weekend Challenge group. Every 2 weeks Vimeo staff post a challenge prompt for you to complete over the weekend. Simple stuff, like "Film your Dream from last night" "Make a video consisting of 5 clips of 5 seconds each" These are exercises with defined objectives and are great at building skill. The short time limits are a blessing too because they take less editing time and less shooting space. I see a lot of first time filmmakers start a documentary that ends up being 20 mins long and they get burnt out. No need to do that yet, just start making stuff. As you go you'll realize your sound isn't what you want. And then you move on to tackling sound. Once picture and sound are looking and sounding good you can start tweaking your picture profiles and really getting the look you want. Another easy project can just be a montage of footage to music. You have a lot of grey skies so maybe make a little moody short with grey landscapes and some music you find intriguing. Each project will contain technical lessons to learn, and it'll be easier than trying to learn about all of it theoretically without ever even starting. 

 

So there's how I would start. Looking forward to seeing what you create. 

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1 hour ago, freeman said:

Hey meanwhile,

Quote


I would stop worrying about cinelikeD and picture profiles and color. That's chapter 6 and you're still on the introduction. 

 

I'm not the person who asked about cineD. In fact, I'm the person who suggested to the CineD guy that it should be another thread. So probably the first thing I would do is read threads before replying to them...

Aside from that, the first thing I do when I'm learning something new is create a high-level view so I know how different pieces fit and what order I want to take them in. If your brain works differently that's fine - although obviously my way is right and yours is wrong, because (again obviously) knowing where you are going is better than ditzing around blindly. You can certainly modify the route once you start, but if you are smart you'll know where the main rivers and bridges are before pulling out of the driveway.

Quote

 reading is only gonna take you so far

The suspicion I always have when people say this type of thing is that they feel defensive about their inability to do research and so pretend that anyone doing it is ONLY doing research. Because, honestly, I can't think of another reason for pointing out the entirely obvious.

Quote

 like "Film your Dream from last night" "Make a video consisting of 5 clips of 5 seconds each" These are exercises with defined objectives and are great at building skill. 

Thanks; no. When I learn stuff I want to be concentrating on whatever I think is the most important thing for me to be learning at that time. And I'm nothing of a joiner-in. But if you are, knock yourself out.

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1 hour ago, jonpais said:

Here's another great exercise.

 

Actually, it's a textbook example of a bad exercise for building the sort of skills I asked about, because 90% of the effort in making a good film like this should go into the writing and the blocking or storyboard instead. And yes, writing is important, but I'm already good at it. And when I want to learn blocking then I'll open one of the books I have that covers it, read it, and do blocking exercises. It would be a great exercise to do in a month when I have basic camera skills.

The first rule of getting at anything is to concentrate, as specifically and mindfully as possible, on that skill. You don't dilute practice - you concentrate it. When you want to learn focus pulling, pull focus, over and over for an hour. Not for 60 seconds in an hour you mostly spend doing other stuff.

(I probably sound like Vince Lombardi...)

 

10 minutes ago, freeman said:

Lol.. Meanwhile not trying to attack you or anything. Do your thing man! Just giving you my take.

I accept your apology. Obviously you lose points for writing "lol" - but not nearly as many as if you had used a smiley.

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6 hours ago, meanwhile said:

Actually, it's a textbook example of a bad exercise for building the sort of skills I asked about,

You gotta do you, man --and make it work however it works in your mind's eye.

If that involves loads of theory or putting things into reckless practice, that's your call.

You're self-assured as to what kind of process is good for you.

FWIW, guys like me would (and probably could) not work in a very structured sense.

I like reckless and organic, for example.

The creative process is subjective, so there's no way to assert a singular answer on how to do it.

These are suggestions.  Not answers... but Brandon Li... yeah, you can trust that guy.

 

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1 hour ago, fuzzynormal said:

You gotta do you, man --and make it work however it works in your mind's eye.

If that involves loads of theory or putting things into reckless practice, that's your call.

You're self-assured as to what kind of process is good for you, among other things, I'll give you that.

FWIW, guys like me would (and probably could) not work in a very structured sense.

I like reckless and organic, for example.

The creative process is subjective, so there's no way to assert a singular answer on how to do it.

These are suggestions.  Not answers.

 

The chutzpah and luck that makes reckless work is a limited quality. You save it for stuff that matters. Wherever you can use structure and work because they are cheap. Serious artists play the scales, study the hell out of their predecessors, and spend weeks in the library reading Civil War newspapers to get the feel of the language. Then they take risks and follow their insights and blast the hell out of the Newport festival - but if they hadn't done the work to bring it off, no one would care.

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, meanwhile said:

first I have to get rid of this flu.

While you covalence, I do suggest you watch that jonpais video post closely and watch the decisions Brandon Li makes while creating his "challenge" shoot.  Try not to dismiss it.  There's good stuff there.

Notice how he quickly affects mood with modifying or removing the basic lighting he had work with.  Consider how he decides to move his camera.  Check out the effective rapport he has with his "actress." His decisions are based on his well-earned pragmatic wisdom of shooting in the field.  

Now, one can certainly practice these elements in an isolated situation.  "Play the scales" as you say.  Which is a good metaphor.  Let's run with it:  I think most musicians will tell you practice is necessary, but nothing hones the skill and focus like an actual performance.

A youtube challenge is like a recital.

Again, find your own way, but the recommendation to "just do it" with challenges like Brandon's is, I think, an effective one.  There are just things you can't learn by yourself.  You must be effective and make worthwhile decisions in the environment of a fluid setting. 

Above all, in my limited experience as a documentarian filmmaker, knowing how to work the space you're in, and work with the people you're with, is far far far more worthwhile and rewarding than what gear you own and what camera operation skills you have.  Camera skills are important, and you must know them, but they are not what elevates something into the realm of "good."  At best, they can make something "competent."  "Competent" is not a compliment.  It's just the basic expectation.

I've unfortunately DP'ed with producer/directors that don't appreciate the reality of what it takes to succeed making docs, they concentrated on the wrong things --and together we've ended up making steaming piles of shit films because of it.  My camera skills can't fix boring.  It can't fix useless interview questions or b-roll requests that annoy the subject and cause them to withdraw.  It can't make someone look elated for an emotional moment when the reality is they were just tired, bored, and frustrated.  The best thing good camera skills can do in that situation is mask the reality.  I didn't learn that in my office playing with lens choices, I learned that in the field the hard way.

My experience says that, as a documentary film maker, all the camera skills (and especially the camera) can't fix a bad situation.  It would be like asking an accomplished musician on a Fazioli grand piano to make an incredible performance out of an atonal worthless melody.  They could play around with it, re-arrange it, add flourish and musical interest, but at its core, if it's bad, it's just bad.  

Anyways, I sense you got a plan that you feel is going to work for you.  I'm not here to discourage you from that.  I will offer advice that worked for me.  Grains of salt, 2 cents, etc.

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So I went out and shot focus pulls in the woods with a 55mm Takumar on my GX80 with no added hardware except the Sugru grip I made for stills. Conclusions -

- I need an ND filter. Even in the NW UK, getting down to 1/50 with a wide open lens can be impossible without one, at least at this time of year. 

- As I expected, I need a focus lever

- I need more batteries - the camera zooms through them

- I need a grip that stabilizes the camera and supports the weight better while shooting manual focus. I'll try a different arrangement of Sugru, then a pistol grip, then a shoulder stabilizer if I have to

11 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

While you covalence, I do suggest you watch that jonpais video post closely and watch the decisions Brandon Li makes while creating his "challenge" shoot.  Try not to dismiss it.  There's good stuff there.

No, there really isn't. It's a badly designed piece of make work for reasons I lack the patience to explain to you. Oh - I'll try, the short version is that good exercises in skill building fit into the grammar of an activity.  To dumb it down, that exercise is like saying "Play a golf game wearing a blue scarf" rather than "Practice you swing for accuracy on a day with high cross winds." One limitation is random, the other is intelligently designed around the nature of the activity. A series of random exercises willing cover the scope of an activity by chance, will waste time, and won't build the feel for the grammar that gives the participant real insight. Example of good exercises in writing might be "Write a script using Shakespearean 5 act structure that lasts only ten minutes". Or "Write a character opposite to your own sympathetically and so that their POV is correct in the context of the story." Or "Plot a story where theme and antithesis are resolved in a way that leads to disaster for the sympathetic main character". 

More simply, it's a lousy way of getting practice in focus-pulling, and I don't need the practice in writing.

Quote

 Let's run with it:  I think most musicians will tell you practice is necessary, but nothing hones the skill and focus like an actual performance.

I'm now struggling to find a way of answering that doesn't imply I don't respect your intelligence. The point I have been making - which should be an obvious one anyway - is that the intelligent thing to do when starting a new activity is to break into components and then practice those components in a focused way, rather than following you suggestion of learning how to pull focus by re-making The Seven Samurai. What on earth made you translate that as "I intend never to do anything BUT play scales"??? 

Honestly, bizarre. Please stop wasting my time.

Otoh, any suggestions for keeping a handheld camera steady while focusing manually will be gratefully received. I'm hoping a pistol grip straight under the lens will help.

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On 7/26/2017 at 1:16 PM, meanwhile said:

I've picked up a GX80 and want to build some skills. But whenever I try to google for information on starting video I hit a wall of people trying to tell what camera to buy so they'll get Amazon affiliate revenue. I bought "How to make video that doesn't suck" but, frankly, the book sucks.

So this is what I've worked out from memories with conversations with people who - presented for correction and other advice

- I should shoot manual focus

- I should shoot with off-camera sound and synch with a clapperboard or even just a clap

- I should shoot in manual video mode with the shutter set so that it is open at least half the time? Or is it a minimum of half the time? The idea being to get frames to blur into each other

- If I have to alter exposure during a take I should use a variable ND

- Getting things right in camera matters more than for stills and I should shoot with a flat profile (Natural, NR and Sharpness pushed all the way down?)

- I should shoot in 4K then downsize later for the supersampling

- Try desperately hard to avoid mixing light

???

IMO, a good story and attention to detail is worth much more than the gear you're using :) Who cares if you use manual focus or not, or if you shoot 4k  or not. Even using a flat profile has nothing to do.

Go out and shoot, ask yourself and your coworkers the right questions and work together to record straight in camera the best image possible for the project you have. 

I shoot short movies and live events with a couple of cameras from 2008 (Canon EOS 50D) and 2010 (Panasonic AF100) with cheap russian lenses most of the time. So, you have to think and work more than the guys who have the latest gear, but the end result is what matters ! 

Like the guys from Film Riot say : Write, Shoot, Edit, Repeat ;) 

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12 minutes ago, Justin Bacle said:

IMO, a good story and attention to detail is worth much more than the gear you're using :) Who cares if you use manual focus or not,

I'm using a GX80 and a $50 lens, so that's probably one of the cheapest set-ups here.

And saying that "attention to detail" is important but that whether you use manual focus doesn't matter is why I didn't read the rest of your post...

Film has grammar. You have to decide what parts of it you want to use. A vast part of that grammar is inaccessible on current cheap hardware without manual focus. If you don't understand this, I have no idea how large a detail has to be before you will notice it. Really, we're up at the "Is the lens cap on?" level..

You can certainly choose not to use that part of film grammar yourself, but if you haven't realised that a choice has to be made and that someone else may choose differently, then - well, you're a person whose posts aren't worth reading. Imo.

And yes, story is important. But that doesn't mean that you should make it part of practising exposures or white balances right. Or waste time on kindergarten makework.

(If anyone does want to work on their writing ability, I recommend Lajos Egri's work - it gave us Annie Hall and Gurrenn Lagann, so you can't deny it has scope...)

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7 minutes ago, meanwhile said:

Film has grammar. You have to decide what parts of it you want to use. A vast part of that grammar is inaccessible on current cheap hardware without manual focus. If you don't understand this, I have no idea how large a detail has to be before you will notice it. Really, we're up at the "Is the lens cap on?" level..

You are right. What I was trying to say is that as long as the end result is good. No one cares if it was done with manual focus or auto focus ;) We all make mistakes, and improving on that is one of the best way to learn. (Btw, even without manual focus, as soon as you can at least lock focus, there is a lot you can do)

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14 minutes ago, Justin Bacle said:

You are right. What I was trying to say is that as long as the end result is good. No one cares if it was done with manual focus or auto 

No one cares about anything of the end result is good. But that doesn't help you when you are considering HOW to make something good. What does is looking at what techniques generally help with creating that result and mastering them...

So for -

- Practice focusing and focus pulls until I'm happy with them, shooting leaves in the woods

- See if I need to change my exposure techniques, ditto

- Learn sound

- Then re-make The Seven Samurai. Rather than learning how to pull focus by making the film. (On the subject of T7S re-makes, the best one imo isn't TM7 but "Samurai Seven" - an epic anime that was overshadowed by the above-mentioned Gurren Lagann.)

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12 minutes ago, meanwhile said:

(If anyone does want to work on their writing ability, I recommend Lajos Egri's work - it gave us Annie Hall and Gurrenn Lagann, so you can't deny it has scope...)

 

If anyone does want to work on their blocking ability, I recommend Akira Kurosawa's work - it gave us Seven Samurai and Stray Dog, so you can't deny it has scope..

 

It seems with your approach in dealing with this topic and its arguments, you have named your best personal advises yourself by drawing

conclusions from the flaws you see in the arguments of others.

 

How long have you been following posts of this forum?

Have you been an EOSHD member before? I am asking, because your approach to challenge ideas and

communication seems unique to me.

 

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6 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

because your approach to challenge ideas and communication seems unique to me.

I'd use the word bizarre, but he already beat me to it. 

Based on clues I've read in his initial posts and now all this strange aggression, his chances to create a compelling documentary is very questionable. 

That's got nothing to do at all with equipment. 

But what do I know?  As he told me, I'm just a guy with minimal intelligence wasting another guy's time.

I'll bail on this thread, but really and honestly, by wishing the OP luck on his project. Attempting to make a legitimately watchable documentary will, hopefully, be a learning and maturing experience for him. 

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