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Andrew Reid

Video is difficult

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So many times I wish I were a photographer instead :)

You can get a beautiful shot with a camera that looks the same whether moving or still...

But movement always has to justify itself.

If the frame floats or moves with IBIS, shot dead. Mood gone. It's such a fine art. Camera movement is such a fussy thing. It's like colour - There's no point it being there unless the movement is beautiful or has meaning. Otherwise, may as well be still - or black and white.

With a photo you can just make a pretty shot and it's job done. It's about timing, framing. With video you have to sustain all that's nice and has meaning for 10x longer. Sometimes 1000x longer.

With photos there's the one-man nature of it... with video, you have to rely on others a lot more - actors, writers, and so on. And that's before you've even started the shoot :)

Sometimes I hate video.

And think I'd be better off with a Fuji GFX 50R, just enjoying myself.

Just one man and his camera.

With video, you often have to lug around rigs, tripods and monitors.

To anybody who sustains their filmmaking over the years at a high level I salute you. It must be incredibly stressful!

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Absolutely. I love photography, you get to be a quick thief. Though we know that when everything comes together in motion picture - including evocative sound - little else can compete. Well... except for a high alpine stream.

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Agreed. I'm a relative newcomer to video (~3 years) after almost 5 decades of photography and I got into it reluctantly because I like keeping things simple. But as a creative outlet I don't think anything else can match it. I get to conceptualize and tell a story, compose my own music, solve lots (and lots) of problems, and learn new skills like color grading. The technical details and nitpickery can be overwhelming, but it's good to remind myself that I don't shoot videos for cinematographers and colorists. They're not my audience.

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Video is tuff if you're alone. Sometimes, when you're working with people, you can feel lonelier because of how difficult it can be to explain what you want to others. But if you have a project, a series of photographs, a documentary, a topic you want to approach and you know where you want to go with it, even if you're feeling alone, you know where you need to go in order to achieve it. Sure, mistakes will be made. But if the will is there, you push trough. Most of your understandable preocuppations will be answered when you find a project that drives you. Even if it takes longer than you were expecting. If we're just taking great pictures, without any tought behind it, just for fun, it will be easier to lose motivation. The past 5 years I've been working in commercial video. Small commercials and corporate videos. Low budget stuff. Eventually I lost all motivation for picking up a camera, as I was only doing it for paying the bills. It was no longer fun. I took some time off and started to mix professional work with personal projects. The personal work is what drives me to do video and tell stories. The corporate stuff still sucks the life out of me but as long as can I have a small project here and there, I'm able to continue. That's my recommendation, find a topic or a message that interests you, bothers you, drives you and go for it. 

 

PS: And maybe mix photography projects with video projects. Some stories are better for certain mediums. 

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

With video, you often have to lug around rigs, tripods and monitors.

To anybody who sustains their filmmaking over the years at a high level I salute you. It must be incredibly stressful!

Video is very hard for so many reasons, especially when there’s a load of elements involved. It’s a gruelling and exhausting experience. 

In all honesty I’ve grown quite tired of the larger setups, sometimes it feels like you’re training to move houses rather than create art. Saying that, it depends on the subject matter. If I’m totally engrossed in the subject, I don’t feel the pain as much. 

Overall I’ll be focusing on smaller setups with less stress and more control. 

With gear, I’m looking to completely overhaul my gear and go smaller on everything. I’m going to sell most of what I have and replace them with smaller and lighter versions of stuff I only need. 

For what it’s worth, it depends what you do. How Christopher Nolan shoots for 16 hours a day for 7 months solid is beyond me. But some people are built and made for that. 

Then there’s others who just like to get a kick out of filming cats, trees, flowers and buildings in 8K RAW. As long as you’re happy, doesn’t matter. Do what’s right for you. 

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7 minutes ago, FranciscoB said:

Nolan isn't carrying around gear in his shoots...  Still, 16 hour days for any amount of time is admirable.

The trick is to get into his position. The support around him, the budgets, the sheer size of the credits that roll afterwards. It makes his job a lot easier, so he can get on with the art.

A musician strikes his instrument and that's the art.

A photographer uses his instinct and inner vision, minds-eye, that's his art.

A filmmaker - fuck. Where to begin.

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17 minutes ago, Oliver Daniel said:

In all honesty I’ve grown quite tired of the larger setups, sometimes it feels like you’re training to move houses rather than create art.

Yeah. I know exactly the feeling. I just want to do the art bit... The rest of it is truly exausting and haphazards sometimes.

Regarding the gear, it gets in the way for video like it doesn't for stills. Gimbals, tripods, it all slows me down too much. I want to strip all that back. I think AF, IBIS, even auto exposure, are all a big help... But then they're all designed for stills and the camera designers don't seem to have much of a 'cinematography brain' when it comes to how they've designed them to work in video mode.

17 minutes ago, Oliver Daniel said:

With gear, I’m looking to completely overhaul my gear and go smaller on everything. I’m going to sell most of what I have and replace them with smaller and lighter versions of stuff I only need. 

Good plan.

17 minutes ago, Oliver Daniel said:

For what it’s worth, it depends what you do. How Christopher Nolan shoots for 16 hours a day for 7 months solid is beyond me. But some people are built and made for that. 

Then there’s others who just like to get a kick out of filming cats, trees, flowers and buildings in 8K RAW. As long as you’re happy, doesn’t matter. Do what’s right for you. 

I find it most enjoyable when the content just unfolds around you, and you're zipping around lightfooted, with just a tripod and a really capable, responsive camera.

The natural street shooting, mood pieces, natural light, all amaze me.... But it's so fleeting. You blink and you miss it.

I envy that photographers don't need to write a story and script, they can just hire the content and shoot it. Done.

Music videos are a lot more my thing.

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I love photography and do quite a bit of pro photo work, but for me it just doesn't quite scratch the itch like video does; I dread the drudgery of endless hours editing photos. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy post-processing a few of my favorite pics from a shoot, but then I feel satisfied, and it just feels like a chore to have to get through the rest of them. 

Video, on the other hand, the post process is so satisfying! Cutting a sequence together, adding the perfect music, finessing the story... I can't get enough of it! 

Video vs. photo, particularly of the same event, is also an interesting comparison; the moving image just captures the moment so much better. Last month my sister had her first child, and I shot a handful of clips between photos as my parents got to meet their first grandchild, and ended up with enough footage, as it turned out, to cut a little sequence together. The photos are great, they're precious, they'll hang on the wall for years to come, but the video truly captures the moment, the emotions, the environment, in a way the photos never can! 

That's what keeps me coming back to video; photography, particularly on vacations, will always be a hobby, but with video, it is just so multi-faceted! I enjoy the scripting and pre-production phase, then get tired of it and can't wait to shoot, then after long production days I'm exhausted but very excited to start playing with my images in the edit, and by the time I'm through with that process I'm dying to get away from the screen and get back out shooting again, all the while constantly trying to improve my skills, hone my craft, better my storytelling abilities. I don't think I'll ever get sick of that. 

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I agree 100%, I love video. A massive buzz and lifelong passion. I'm not saying I don't like the process. I am saying it's just extremely difficult... To make great stuff that is.

The post process, perfect music, story... These are the highest of the arts.

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Getting to Nolan level takes time and dedication. Didn't he shoot his first released short "following"? 

If you're filming street scenes, without a particular story, similar to what Philip Bloom does, what's really the goal? While I love street photography, the same for video does seem a little creepy and its harder to go unnoticed. That's why a big part of Philip bloom aesthethic is with long lenses. 

Some jobs you have a script, others you develop it. If you want to deal with a team and actors, doing it without a script it's not the best idea. Even Malick goes boring without a particular structure. 

So what's your goal Andrew? You seem frustrated with some of parts around filmmaking but, and I don't want to sound disrespectful, you seem a little lost without an idea that excites you. Without that, it's harder to start or carry out filming. 

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1 hour ago, FranciscoB said:

Getting to Nolan level takes time and dedication. Didn't he shoot his first released short "following"?

It's not even worth talking about. There is no comparison. It is not even just about time and dedication. It's about luck and talent, social connections, money, backing and reputation.

You will never get to there.

I will never get to there.

We should focus on what's actually feasible.

Quote

If you're filming street scenes, without a particular story, similar to what Philip Bloom does, what's really the goal?

I'm surprised you ask something like that really.

The goal is cinematography.

What do you think it is? Scoping out who has the nicest hats?

If we must dissect the art...

The goal is to create emotion for the audience.

Emotional shape... beauty, ugliness, all kinds of mood, and to do this by capturing real life.

Of course it always helps if the audience has a sensitivity to what they are seeing.

Some, erm.. don't.

It's also about sound. The combination of music with moving poetry is really spectacularly moving, if done right and creativity.

I it has a point to put across, a theme...

It is easy to put some orchestral cliche over a sunset shot - but there is far more to cinematography in terms of poetry than that. It is like writing. Anybody can write, we can all use words and form sentences.

But what makes the difference between a sentence by a monkey and one by a great storyteller?

Quote

So what's your goal Andrew? You seem frustrated with some of parts around filmmaking but, and I don't want to sound disrespectful, you seem a little lost without an idea that excites you. Without that, it's harder to start or carry out filming. 

I am not frustrated, not lost at all.

I have all sorts of ideas.

There is a bit of writers block... Since I left Berlin, my life has changed.

The issue is implementation.

I don't have the energy or motivation. I know that whatever I create, it'll probably go on the internet and be tears in the rain.

I also don't have here the connections to musicians and actors that I had in the city. So I am probably going to change what I do. And I have too much gear and a blog to run. It takes up all my time. Although the Berlin days are over where I shot a lot of creative work, the goal now is to travel and try to make emotional images, stuff that has meaning. Not easy in today's environment where everything is so gentrified. There's nothing commercial that attracts me. By not taking jobs, you have to do it all yourself, you're not institutionalised. You're on the outside pretty much all the time. Much harder. Experiments and some documentary style vignettes of life in the city are great but I am bored of them and want to move onto something fresh. It might not be video related at all.

Anyway that's my existential crisis. How's yours?

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I don't see how "experiments and some documentary style vignettes..." are different from what Philip bloom does. He goes to the same old places around him and shoots people and landscapes. Sometimes to test cameras, other times just for fun. I don't want to sound arrogant with this and it might be an unpopular opinion but with street photography, you tend to build a collection so it becomes a body of work. And you can examine it and take different meanings from it. The different people, expressions, the looks, the streets, etc. With video, that's much more difficult. If Philip bloom did a compilation, over the years, of the same places he goes to test cameras so we could see the subtle changes that occur with light, with people, architecture, streets, seasons, etc that would have more weight and meaning for me. His pandemic diaries were great as they were exploring a specific subject and it had a general interest in documenting this strange time. The videos he publishes on social media are great but I wouldnt call it art. Now Ron frickes samsara or Ulrich seidl the basement... It's not a fair comparison but I'm more inclined in calling that art. 

 

PS: I want to confess that I have a hard time calling and considering "things" art. But art different for everyone. Sorry for the cliche. 

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Video is much like theater plays; there are a lot of moving parts. Sound, music, costumes, acting, vocals, stage production, lighting...and you have to do it in realtime (in motion)...and you have to meld all of that together. If just one aspect is off, the illusion is over and the audience not only knows it, they feel it too.

It’s incredibly difficult. However, the payoff can be incredibly satisfying because you can elicit emotions out of the audience unlike any other medium. I would say literature  comes close but even there you have the power of the readers imagination to “fill in the scene” that you never have with cinematography.

You have too be a master painter, a conductor, a writer/storyteller and a magician.

There is nothing quite like making something and them watching your audience be brought too an emotion. That can be incredibly powerful, healing even, life changing, when done right.

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Honestly I kinda have the opposite feeling these days about video. I started out on tape and doing linear editing with Videonics equipment, then moved to a NLE but still having to transfer footage from tape, to now being able to quickly edit things I've filmed. 

I remember being 14 years old and carrying around a heavy shoulder mounted camera. Now I have a tiny GH5. I can rig it up, or I can use it stripped down. It's liberating compared to what I started out with. 

Even the equipment I work with, it's lighter, easier to use, and most importantly, more affordable. 

My only complaint, when comparing it to photography, is that with photography I feel more in the moment. With video I have to think ahead to editing, what I want out of the finished project, etc. When taking stills I really only need to focus on what is going on right then and there. Sure you'll tweak the photos later, but mostly what you see is what you get. 

Still video is what fascinates and intrigues me. It's what I got into before doing any photography. I was just a 10 year old kid with a camcorder and a VCR, making his little masterpieces. I've loved it ever since.

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I feel people underestimate the effort that goes into good photography. There is a lot of cropping involved, a lot of touching up and post work. Plus very few of the photos we took, actually make it to the final cut. This has been the rule since the days of B&W analog cameras. Plus studio setups and even so called street photography has to be put together, painstakingly. And the much of news photography, especially in war zones, is similar to studio setups, with actors being asked to do multiple remakes and makeup and touching up. Much of what appears, isn't really like it is. It's like Boney M and Milli Vanilli. 

About filmmaking, the so called greats of cinema, especially the ones who started by making low budget undies and/or who wrote books about their great low budget experiences, either befriended the sons of city and district mayors or found producers who handled all bits of production. Many of them also befriended great cinematographers early in their careers. They basically exaggerated their own struggles to glorify their journey.

Filmmaking is tough, because it's a team effort. The director must be a master of management, more than anything else. He needs to hire a good writer, a good cinematographer, a good sound recordist, a good editor, a good music and foley composer, great actors etc. Therefore, he also needs great casting skills. He basically had to put a great team together and allow everyone a certain level of comfort and creative freedom, and inspire people on the job. And coordinate things between everyone. Doing too much can be a problem, and also not figuring out one shortcomings or limitations too.

 

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Yes, video is very hard. The difference between, for instance, wedding video and photography is almost ridicilous. 

I have seen photographers literally just burst firing away at the wedding cake whilst moving the camera. One of those 30 pics should be alright, not? 

And if not, you just crop and enhance the 30 MP 14-bit raw image until it looks good, with a bunch of downloaded Lightroom presets. Also, the shooting is done on auto iso, auto focus, auto shutter speed, etc. The difference couldnt be greater. No audio, no capturing complete stories or scenes,  no camera movement, no keeping the focus, no 'shit people might move in front of my camera soon', just recompose and burst away. And yet they earn the same or more. And girls drool over them. The last one was a joke. But not really. 

But then, lets talk about actual film making. I just finished my first feature film script. Jesus christ, i have a lot of respect for writers now. What a task, to do it properly. And it's never finished. There is always room for improvement. Of course I wrote something that needs a big production budget and a lot of visual effects... Impossible to pull of without major funding or a production company. But then, i will probably not be given the chance to direct. Difficult. 

But working on proper film productions is the only way forward. No more messing around with cheap and soap like short films. Or test video's. Cat video's. Travel video's. They were interesting when i started out, but also because camera's were just getting better and content was interesting just because it was shot with a certain camera. Those days are over. Every modern camera looks good. Its a done deal. 

Also, there a literally millions and millions of video's online now who do the same thing. Everyone seems to do the same. Billions of GB's of test video's, flowers with shallow dof, their girlfriend in slowmo in the park, their last holiday with a cheese voice over to make it look like there is a narrative, city shots without meaning, etc. 

I cannot look at it anymore. It's the 'easy' version of film making. You point your expensive big sensor camera at random stuff and expect that people will want to watch your 'film'. There is no story, no narrative. Also not when you add a voice over in post. Or music you ripped from another youtube video. 

Yes i am very harsh. Also on myself. I want to make real films. I am talented, but i'm not sure i have enough of it. And i will ever make the high end narrative stuff that i appreciate from selective other people. 

And... If i will ever fully enjoy it. Because film making is indeed hard. Long, exhausting days on the set. The stress. The constant 'will this even work'. 

But, when you finally do create something which has story, performance and production value and it all comes together and actually does work, it is the most beatiful form of art that exists. 

When you blow the audience or your clients away, in retrospect it was all worth it. 

Or was it? 

 

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38 minutes ago, Stab said:

Yes, video is very hard. The difference between, for instance, wedding video and photography is almost ridicilous. 

I have seen photographers literally just burst firing away at the wedding cake whilst moving the camera. One of those 30 pics should be alright, not? 

And if not, you just crop and enhance the 30 MP 14-bit raw image until it looks good, with a bunch of downloaded Lightroom presets. Also, the shooting is done on auto iso, auto focus, auto shutter speed, etc. The difference couldnt be greater. No audio, no capturing complete stories or scenes,  no camera movement, no keeping the focus, no 'shit people might move in front of my camera soon', just recompose and burst away. And yet they earn the same or more. And girls drool over them. The last one was a joke. But not really. 

Wedding videographers are not just underpaid for the work they do, but there is less demand for them too!
For every wedding with a photographer, only some will have a wedding videographer too. 
Yet how many weddings with a videographer don't have a photographer? Practically none would ever dream of doing it the other way round!

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