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kye

How do you practice?

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Like all skills, film-making improves with practice.

As my focus is on family videos of holidays and special occasions, I get one shot at capturing them, so my skill level really matters.

When I was a stills shooter I took up street photography for practice as it is a similar environment.  With video I find that haven't found a suitable replacement - partly it's because editing is such a burden after shooting stuff, and partly it's because of a lack of interesting things to film.  Yet, with the Pocket 2 and other cameras coming out, there's an even greater temptation to learn to manual focus, manually expose etc, all things that require a lot of practice to become proficient at.  At film-school they start you off with 'editing in camera' and even do so with 8mm film so you can't cheat.  I wonder what other interesting methods there are like this.

Do you practice?  How often?  How?

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To me, shooting stills with manual focus is a pretty good way to practice, and you're only editing stills afterwards instead of video. You learn different framings and lenses and the muscle memory for focus pulling in unpredictable situations. Shooting doc-style stuff also helps. One way to practice is to reach out to friends or people who interest you and shoot a short profile piece. Something you can shoot in a day and edit in a weekend. Here's one such piece - an interview with a former bank robber that I did when I was researching and working on a feature script. I didn't have a sound person and borrowed a couple camera bodies and just operated all three cameras myself and did the interview.

But as they say, "the only way to get ten years experience is... to work for ten years."

 

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Lucky for me I have the College down the street to shoot and there is a state park with a good sized lake in it only about 4 miles away. There are always sailboats going in and out on it, I find those interesting to manual focus on as they can be pretty erratic, and bouncy in rougher weather. I rarely do any edits or deletes in camera. I find just about any footage can be used down the road for B Roll stuff.

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i practice a lot recording my nephew, he is 4 yr old and he moves like crazy so its a good actor to practice xD.

i really love to go handleed with manual focus, i think it if you practice a lot handleed you will improve your skills in different skills.

and handleed let you to play with a freedom and framing without limitations like tripods, steady, 3axis stab etc...

i also practice a lot recording local shows.

 

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44 minutes ago, Raafi Rivero said:

To me, shooting stills with manual focus is a pretty good way to practice, and you're only editing stills afterwards instead of video. You learn different framings and lenses and the muscle memory for focus pulling in unpredictable situations. Shooting doc-style stuff also helps. One way to practice is to reach out to friends or people who interest you and shoot a short profile piece. Something you can shoot in a day and edit in a weekend. Here's one such piece - an interview with a former bank robber that I did when I was researching and working on a feature script. I didn't have a sound person and borrowed a couple camera bodies and just operated all three cameras myself and did the interview.

But as they say, "the only way to get ten years experience is... to work for ten years."

Nice little edit ?

Because I only tend to get enough motivation up to get through editing when I go on actual trips or family outings I think it would take me more like 500 years to get 10 years experience!

I do camera tests and kind of get to know my equipment and what modes work etc, but the feedback I'm missing is the storytelling and finer aspects you only get through going through the complete edit process.

42 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

Lucky for me I have the College down the street to shoot and there is a state park with a good sized lake in it only about 4 miles away. There are always sailboats going in and out on it, I find those interesting to manual focus on as they can be pretty erratic, and bouncy in rougher weather. I rarely do any edits or deletes in camera. I find just about any footage can be used down the road for B Roll stuff.

That's kind of how I work - I shoot a lot but don't edit much except big projects.  It still takes a long time before the camera sits nicely in the hand and the dials stop squirming around and just sit nicely where your fingers go to access them when you're not looking etc.

36 minutes ago, capitanazo said:

i practice a lot recording my nephew, he is 4 yr old and he moves like crazy so its a good actor to practice xD.

i really love to go handleed with manual focus, i think it if you practice a lot handleed you will improve your skills in different skills.

and handleed let you to play with a freedom and framing without limitations like tripods, steady, 3axis stab etc...

i also practice a lot recording local shows.

Nice!

Yes, young children would make excellent practice subjects running around having fun.  My kids are 14 and 12 and are more in the 'get that thing out of my face' stage ???

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I never practice, I practice during projects. So I #@{* up some projects now and then because I am trying out some new things. Sometimes it pans out, mostly it does not. You learn from your mistakes. I don't like filming stuff for practice (as in uninteresting subjects with bad lighting) as it would kill my love for shooting. 

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Going off the street photography for practice thing. You could try making a series of 1 minute docs about your town.

Episode 1 - the people there, try to get comments from people on the street about what they like/dislike about the town

Episode 2  - the business and shops there

Episode 3 - the parks and recreational spaces

Episode 4 - what's there for tourists, what do they think of the town?

Episode 5 - tell us about the nightlife.

This will give you an interesting story, and hopefully something you'd be keen to edit and produce. While also giving you all kinds of situations to test your gear out. I doubt it'll take more than a day to film each episode, and limiting yourself to 1 or 2 minutes means you can edit it in an afternoon. It also means you'll be more careful with what you shoot, since you don't need hours of broll.

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I absolutely hate my test shots. If there is an idea, a purpose, a plan behind what I'm doing, then it also is much better in every way. My cats also hate my test shots. 

Testing AF, exposure and gimbal skills with a one-shot. On the TV runs a loop of the intro of Rear Window. I make a long travelling shot over items I arranged in my living room (like in the film), then finally I pan over to the window front, where I have almost the same backyard theater. It's much brighter outside (aperture/ND transition). Need to find he right speed so that vertical edges don't stutter @24p. Need to program AF and see how it reacts. 

Also: weddings!

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Make some very short pieces, like 30s , maybe adapt a poem or something.

Personally, I always go shoot a bit when I get a new piece of equipment or a new lens, I usually go to a park with my girlfriend .

Do not test new things in proper productions ! that where you fail and loose a client .

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Not really relevant to the OP, but I practice filmmaking by doing filmmaking.... a LOT! 
As in every single week, usually several times a week, sometimes even every day for weeks straight. 
But it helps to be doing it more often when you're being paid to do it :-) 

But what I did back when I was a student, is I was always carrying a camera with me at all times and would do a lot of photography. Like others here have mentioned. Although I rarely do that now :-/ 

7 hours ago, Raafi Rivero said:

But as they say, "the only way to get ten years experience is... to work for ten years."

Exactly.


However working around others helps your own development a lot, especially if they're a lot more advanced than you. 

Even though I've kinda half given up on chasing the cinematographer dream, I feel like my understand and appreciation of it has still been growing and getting deeper thanks to being able to work closely alongside so many talented DoPs on many various sets as a soundie instead. Can learn a lot just from observing first hand! Although of course I'm still a long long long long way short of them, I'm going to stick to sound :-) 

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14 hours ago, Raafi Rivero said:

To me, shooting stills with manual focus is a pretty good way to practice, and you're only editing stills afterwards instead of video.

 

 

X2 on this. You can even practise cinematic portraits with some old, battered Elinchrom or Bowens strobes that you got for 100 on ebay that output a similar amount of power (for a still) as a really expensive movie light. Obviously compared directly the quality of light of a big 10-20K fresnel/HMI will be a bit different to a small flash head but you can learn to work with light and get a decent idea of what you can accomplish in a small kit.

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11 hours ago, zerocool22 said:

I never practice, I practice during projects. So I #@{* up some projects now and then because I am trying out some new things. Sometimes it pans out, mostly it does not. You learn from your mistakes. I don't like filming stuff for practice (as in uninteresting subjects with bad lighting) as it would kill my love for shooting. 

Totally agree with this, I hate shooting stuff without an actual end goal i.e a short film, music video, whatever.

I do a fair few modelling videos which is great fun for soooo many reasons. You can get models to shoot on various Facebook groups, TFCD, TFP or whatever who will work with you for free in exchange for some edited video or photos for their portfolio.

Am shooting one tomorrow in fact....

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Nice thread.

These years, I throw myself, or am pulled in, where I have to go from zero to 100 right away. I love the thrill of this but there is a ramping up until I'm in synch.

Being paid is a great motivator to push myself... but the real magic comes when the project is close to the heart and the material is for something larger than just me.

Short vignettes with interesting people seems a good way forward. If it gives you goosebumps, or makes you laugh, you are on the right track.

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I found it hard to create anything that I found interesting in many areas around where I live. I think it is more inspiring to go find somewhere you think is cool and practice there. I started by filming friends, then comparing what I had done to big filmmakers. That helped me to continue to improve, I still have a long ways to go, but progress is progress haha. 

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