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Video is difficult


Andrew Reid

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36 minutes ago, Kisaha said:

Ι paid a fairly experienced camera operator to do a little camera job for me of a traditional dance night, almost a 50 years old guy, with a steady camera on a tripod for the wide, and another on a monopod for closer looks, and the footage is terrible! He missed almost all the things he should capture. He started as a photographer, and turned to video after the 5DMKII revolution, and obviously never got it...

Changing framing way too fast. Moves were terrible and non usable. 

I have some experience now with music and live performanes, and I believe I am quite good (I am a trained musician anyway), but some things are just common sense, I mean, if the goddamn guitarist is soloing, just zoom in a little, don't go to the drummer! He missed stuff like that!

Some of those lives (especially with dance groups) I put 4-6 cameras. It is a nightmare after to edit of course, but it can be impressive, and it is a lot better and different than the usual stuff. I also charge a bit more, but not what I should.

Yeah I was talking about shooting at an Opera house, pretty high end venue. So no room for error. I'd imagine ideally someone who films bands has a good sense of music. I don't really haha but I can follow along pretty well. Like you said film whoever seems to be going at it. I filmed for a musician a few months.. We did one wide shot unmanned and then two cameras for close ups that me and my friend were on. It was like music plus poetry. It wasn't perfect but the artist was really happy with the footage. 

Shooting live stuff can definitely be a bit tricky if you are a one man operation, you definitely have to know your gear. Overheating is a bitch with live events, had to learn the hard way with a Fuji and Sony slr. I've realized camcorders were made for a reason haha. 

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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.

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

I think it would be usefull to separate the several areas of filmaking and not generalize. I did a few weddings during one summer and I hated it. People are unconfortable around cameras and just want

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Some frustrations come when you change your gear constantly and you get mixed results. If you take the time and effort to know your camera, exposure and post workflow, your luts and how much can you change your image after, you might be surprised how good an old camera can be. That's one of the reasons why professionals stick with certain gear. They get to know it and push it as they go on the next job. If you keep changing your gear, you might be surprised when it doesn't get you the results you wanted. 

You can argue about his films and whatnot but I think this director is a great example for this post:

 

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David Sandberg is awesome, a huge inspiration for me. I also agree its better to stick to gear you know, or at least do a ton of testing on new gear prior to using on paid gigs. I've found out the hard way. Funny enough I just got the URSA he mentioned in the vid. No more updates suck but its a great camera. CDNG is better than BRAW in many ways (imho) and if I need something a bit less data heavy I can shoot HD 444. 

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10 hours ago, Chrille said:

 

I think photography and shooting video are just different fields. I even feel it when i am on holiday and i try to go back and forth between shooting video and taking pictures - it seems to need different parts of the brain. 

 


They can be which is why when I get asked (a lot! By other photographers and clients) how I do both at the same time the answer is quite simple, - simplicity, ie, not trying to be too ambitious in the first place.

My rule of thumb and thought process is that my video work is simply an extension of my photography work.

No different angles or compositions or focal lengths or lighting or anything.

Instead, one camera captures the video aspect of any scene and a second camera the stills and the only difference is actual lens choice.

IMO it’s the only way one person can do both!

This way video can be as ‘easy’ as photography but of course there is audio and random people walking in the way and a whole other load of things to consider but it’s all scaleable...

Shoot clips + lav mic the talent? Pretty ‘easy’ to capture enough material with intent to tell the story you want.

Anything more than that, the ‘harder’ (or at least more inconsistent) it gets to capture it without disruption.

For instance I say the same thing to all my clients and that is:

If photography is 1 and video (ie, the static capture of ceremony & speeches) is 10, then your ‘Wedding Film’ (ie, the 9-12 minute highlight production) capture process is a 2.

Ie: in the 1-10 scale, the filming /clips are not so different to photography but that static and lengthy duration stuff such as the ceremony is the equivalent of 1 single stills picture and the speeches the same, ie, the total opposite and other end of the scale.

Every single; cough, stutter, mic drop out, serving staff that walks in the way, child that knocks the tripod, the light levels changing, - all have to be considered and the reality is at a wedding you can try and alter the tilt of the playing field as much as possible in your favour, but you can never truly level it. It ain’t a Hollywood or Netflix closed set!

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On 5/25/2020 at 11:36 PM, Andrew Reid said:

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.

What would help is trying to tell a story. If you're just looking for mood or tone, it just won't work in the long run. But telling stories will.  And then the other things (like knowing how to get a mood) will be in service of the story. It doesn't have to be a mindblowing story, it can be very simple too.

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46 minutes ago, MrSMW said:


They can be which is why when I get asked (a lot! By other photographers and clients) how I do both at the same time the answer is quite simple, - simplicity, ie, not trying to be too ambitious in the first place.

My rule of thumb and thought process is that my video work is simply an extension of my photography work.

No different angles or compositions or focal lengths or lighting or anything.

Instead, one camera captures the video aspect of any scene and a second camera the stills and the only difference is actual lens choice.

IMO it’s the only way one person can do both!

This way video can be as ‘easy’ as photography but of course there is audio and random people walking in the way and a whole other load of things to consider but it’s all scaleable...

Shoot clips + lav mic the talent? Pretty ‘easy’ to capture enough material with intent to tell the story you want.

Anything more than that, the ‘harder’ (or at least more inconsistent) it gets to capture it without disruption.

For instance I say the same thing to all my clients and that is:

If photography is 1 and video (ie, the static capture of ceremony & speeches) is 10, then your ‘Wedding Film’ (ie, the 9-12 minute highlight production) capture process is a 2.

Ie: in the 1-10 scale, the filming /clips are not so different to photography but that static and lengthy duration stuff such as the ceremony is the equivalent of 1 single stills picture and the speeches the same, ie, the total opposite and other end of the scale.

Every single; cough, stutter, mic drop out, serving staff that walks in the way, child that knocks the tripod, the light levels changing, - all have to be considered and the reality is at a wedding you can try and alter the tilt of the playing field as much as possible in your favour, but you can never truly level it. It ain’t a Hollywood or Netflix closed set!

So you have one camera for video and one for photo all the time? Other than the static ceremony shot, would it not be easier to just use one camera?

I have been thinking about doing hybrid photo/video weddings to see what's possible.

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Don't make this a wedding thread please. Make a new one if you need info about it.

@thebrothersthre3 it is pretty simple, if you have to do something really important, it doesn't have to be an opera, even a traditional dance group can be important, then you have to watch a rehearsal of the show/live performance or better, the prova generale, maybe you have to keep notes as well.

Pre production is part of the job description!

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4 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Don't make this a wedding thread please. Make a new one if you need info about it.

@thebrothersthre3 it is pretty simple, if you have to do something really important, it doesn't have to be an opera, even a traditional dance group can be important, then you have to watch a rehearsal of the show/live performance or better, the prova generale, maybe you have to keep notes as well.

Pre production is part of the job description!

Yes. So many people forget or dismiss the pre-production and then lament any surprise on the job. Scouting and preparation are so important. That way you can plan for a better execution. Time of day, sun position, shitty lighting, ugly decorations, the lenses and lighting that can improve your approach. Even the aspect ratio choice can be impacted by just scouting the places you're going to film. 

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23 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

I reluctantly call myself a DP or Gaffer, but it depends who I am talking to lol. Its hard to gauge my own experience as I work in the really low end indie level where I am often the most experienced person on set. That said I've seen far less experienced people than me calling themselves a DP. But I am always honest about my experience level.

Same feeling here. 
Often it can be quite "relative", depending on the context. 
If I'm doing a no-budget short film with a couple of mates, then sure I can call myself on that set a "DoP" if that is what role I'm doing. 

But if I'm on a professional set, being paid my full day rate for what I usually do as a sound mixer, then I'd be mad to refer to myself there also as a "DoP" when around actually properly seriously experienced people!! As I'd be way out of my depth. (however, it isn't too much of a stretch to call myself a "sound mixer" though! As that I can justify)
 

23 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Its a lot easier to buy your way into the industry than it was before as equipment is way easier to use. 

Depends on what you mean by "easier". 

For example, back in the pre-DSLR world, if someone simply owned a broadcast camera (such as a new Sony HDW-750) then they could get a fairly steady stream of work due to simply owning that camera. As you'd be a rarity!

These days owning a Panasonic GH5 (or even a Sony FS7) is pretty meaningless, as dozens other people also have the same gear too. 

So in one sense of the word, it was easier to "buy your way into the industry" than it is today?

23 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Before digital being able to get decent wedding photos was so much more difficult. Not because of the price but you actually had to be pretty dang good at getting nice compositions and exposing properly. Now you can take 40 photos every minute and as long as you get 100 decent ones out of 5000 you are not doing so bad


That's true too. Back in day it took a certain level of minimal technical competency to get a good image with a analogue camera, so if you had that skill that often might be sufficient to get your work (might be just basic run of the mill, bread & butter, work. But, it was still work!). Of course that isn't applicable now, a higher standard is expected!

  

22 hours ago, Geoff CB said:

This is a huge aspect for a lot of people around me. I've also constantly been asked why I don't want to direct myself. The answer is that I hold people around me and myself to a standard that I can never reach, and never ever enjoy the process of properly directing.

Bingo!
Is annoying enough just having a boom op under you who isn't living up to your expectation as a Mixer for what you want from him!
But being a director, and being disappointed by the entire crew (and cast!) because they're not living up to the high expectations you've got in your mind? That's a stressful day!

  

22 hours ago, Geoff CB said:


I wished I had realized that sooner. 

I'm trying right now to probably do more color grading and being a cinematographer. But honestly, I love doing color work more than anything, and there are very few aspiring colorists compared to the huge volume of aspiring directors and DOPs.

I think far more people would find success if they follow a niche.

Deciding to focus on the Sound Department and specialize, was one of my best decisions ever. 

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5 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Don't make this a wedding thread please. Make a new one if you need info about it.

@thebrothersthre3 it is pretty simple, if you have to do something really important, it doesn't have to be an opera, even a traditional dance group can be important, then you have to watch a rehearsal of the show/live performance or better, the prova generale, maybe you have to keep notes as well.

Pre production is part of the job description!

Definitely if that is available. I tend to work low end stuff where a ton of effort isn't just expected. But if you can show value above your paygrade hopefully one can transition to higher end work. I honestly love preproduction. Having to completely improvise everything the day of sucks, but that is a skill unto itself I suppose.

I don't have the equipment or resources to shoot something at the Detroit Opera House like the video production company I work for does though I suppose you can always rent out equipment. 

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38 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

 

That's true too. Back in day it took a certain level of minimal technical competency to get a good image with a analogue camera, so if you had that skill that often might be sufficient to get your work (might be just basic run of the mill, bread & butter, work. But, it was still work!). Of course that isn't applicable now, a higher standard is expected!

  

That's true I was talking more photography than video in terms of being able to buy yourself in(shooting without a lot of talent). You are right expectations may be higher today than 10 or 20 years ago, due to how many people have access to pretty damn good gear, if used semi properly.

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

Depends on what you mean by "easier". 

For example, back in the pre-DSLR world, if someone simply owned a broadcast camera (such as a new Sony HDW-750) then they could get a fairly steady stream of work due to simply owning that camera. As you'd be a rarity!

These days owning a Panasonic GH5 (or even a Sony FS7) is pretty meaningless, as dozens other people also have the same gear too. 

So in one sense of the word, it was easier to "buy your way into the industry" than it is today?

Yepp, this. I'd say it's cheaper to buy your way into the industry now, but it was easier years ago. Now, anyone with some savings could buy a decent camera setup, but so can a lot of other people. Wedding photography is the extreme example. During the film days you'd have to own a couple very expensive cameras, loads of film, and lighting to shoot a wedding. The skill was secondary to simply having the capital to buy the equipment. You had to be skilled obviously, but how many skilled photographers couldn't shoot weddings simply because they couldn't pony up the cash upfront to build their kit? Now, you can effectively shoot a wedding with $2000 worth of equipment. 

That's my only wedding reference on this thread, I promise!

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Higher standard is NOT expected. 

People are influenced by youtube and instagram these days, or from the 1 bazillion reality shows they are watching on Mtv and 1000 other networks producing crap.

The only thing they want from their photos, is more bokeh. Shoot 5000, crop 200 of them, add some "filters" and you got a job done.

20 even 30 years ago we were going 1-2 or even 3 days per week at the cinemas to catch up with the latest and greatest. 

Now cinema seems to be based only on technical aspects.

Youtube is the big educator of YOLO generations, and all the main professionals are NOT there, there are just young kids, doing a few weddings, and then suddenly are the world's experts about film making!

I have worked with some of the previous generation here and abroad, and not one of them is on youtube!

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17 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

 film whoever seems to be going at it.

Not always true though, depending what you're doing.  

For instance, say you're filming a pottery instructor and you know you'll be cutting her 45 minute presentation down to a 3 minute video.

you better stop filming her talking along the way and get plenty of close up shots of the throw wheel, hands, or her students looking on...

Its all part of the craft. Knowing what to shoot and when. 

That said, I've hired plenty of people to shoot stuff for my projects and when I review the footage I'm like, "what the hell man!"

That said, I've been the shooter for plenty of my projects and when I review the footage I'm like, "what the hell man!"

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I proved to myself what I am capable of as an camera operator and originator of my own cinematography. I am pretty happy about my potential. But the it takes so much to keep senses and body and soul and metaphysics:) sharp. To keep the game up is where it is.That is the skill game. Hard enough for me to deliver all the time under these exhausting circumstances I having been working under. Now, the "industry game", getting paid well is even another story. A lot of talent struggling to make it as a creator. Many of them leaving the industry or switching towards being an AC, AD, Boom OP, PA and so on.

I admire the amateur, I love Maya Deren and the likes. Nolan never did it for me. Super tough stuff to make but as much art to me as a super high skyscraper would be to me, none. I love my shit. To me it is art. I love a lot of your guys stuff. There is a photographic Gestalt to some of the images you people created one will not find anywhere else. So keep it up and sell the burden of too much gear for a darn good price. There are many out there willing to buy some of that promise of newly acquired happiness.:)

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I think we're missing something important here. In this area communication is key. I've directed, I've dp'ed, operated, was an ac and done just photography. Some jobs it went well and others not so much. Luckily none was a disaster. When I direct, my main difficulty is explaining to people what and how I want things. I know a little bit of the technical side and that way I don't think I have crazy expectations. The jobs that didn't go so well was when I was on the other side and the director couldn't explain shit to me and was mostly unprepared. Other times I didn't listened properly. It's easy to point the finger but if we're hired to do a job, we need to have the information so we can do it properly. It's a two way street. If your boss isn't explaining correctly, ask better questions or just ask again.

What's my point with this? We all have expectations, deadlines and budgets to abide to, so it's crucial that we communicate and make sure our team understands it. When you're directing, the main part of the job is just answering people, so they can do their job properly. And allowing them do to it without being constantly behind their shoulder.

Why some things fail comes mostly from lack of preparation, communication and just being human. Somedays we're more confident and can explain easily what we want. Other times we''re going through something in our life and don't want confrontations and let go of certain things. That's why we need to keep asking for information and listen when we're on the other side.

Other times the weather just does not cooperate. Fucking weather.👍

It's crucial that we have realistic expectations and that comes from preparation. If you're working with natural light and don't want it to look like shit, don't go out at 2pm. Go in the early morning or late in the day. Easy. But just managing that little detail is a constant struggle.

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18 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Higher standard is NOT expected. 

I'd say in the past, back in the pre-DSLR decades (say in the 1970's), that if you could simply get consistently a well exposed, and in focus image, then you could make a living from that. As that wasn't so easy to do.

But in 2020 that alone isn't sufficient. 

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I always think that shooting video is like having to think in 5 dimensions at all times - particularly as a one man band. You're thinking about the 3 physical dimensions you're occupying with your body, your equipment, the physical space of your subject, your environment, where is the light, is the sound ok..

You're also thinking about movement  and time - where is something coming from, where is it going, how long is the shot. And you're also projecting part of your mind to the edit, where future-you, or an editor, is sitting down to view your rushes and working out how it all goes together. Added to that any interaction with the subject in a documentary setting where you're also trying to chat, ask questions, capture something real. Yes, it's really hard.

Most of the youtubers, for obvious and understandable reasons, create content in environments where they are in control - whether that be standing with a long lens on a tripod where you can pick off shots from a distance, or in their bedrooms.

What, for me, it all boils down to is this: The craft and technique and equipment are 2%, and what is happening in front of the camera is 98%. That's why you're probably frustrated if you're reading this with thousands of dollars worth of top equipment around you but nothing to point it at. There are very, very few people who can shoot mundane things and make something great out of it. Not many Dziga Vertovs or Ron Frickes around.

An amazing tornado or once in a lifetime sporting play captured on a shit camera is worth 1000x the most beautifully crafted shot of your cat. Perhaps one of the problems is that there are so many people with cameras now in the world, and in actual fact so little of the world is 'cinematic' or lends itself to being filmed. That's not to say there aren't great stories everywhere, but not everything works well on screen.

Likewise the reason we enjoy professional movies and tv isn't because they have the best equipment and budgets, although that obviously doesn't hurt. It's because there's millions of dollars in value in front of the camera - the greatest and most beautiful actors, spectacular scenes, great scripts and stories that have taken years of man-hours to craft. Without that, the best DP in the world would have nothing.

My final comment on Phillip Bloom - not everything he does is my cup of tea, but he's certainly very skilled and knowledgable. He's had the bravery to put his face and name out there on the internet, and also you may criticise his work for being mostly slow mo shots of people doing nothing shot with a 100-400mm, but to me the fact that it's usually watchable and evocative to some degree is pretty great. As we've all seen in this forum, that's a hard trick to pull off.

I've worked solidly for 15 years or so now shooting and editing big sporting events internationally, and doing some corporate, and honestly while I think I'm ok at what I do, if I wasn't shooting something with millions of dollars of value flying past my lens, my work wouldn't be interesting. I'm not what makes it interesting. I try to do personal work sometimes and I find it a struggle and it's never something I'd share here, just memories for my family and friends mainly, or tests for myself. I don't think my daily life is that cinematic or interesting to people on the internet. I've tried to make peace with that.

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I am curious. With the emergence of so many different VoD platforms globally, hasn't breaking into the industry become easier?

Like many low budget films or series for VoD? Especially since there is far greater demand for content and far lesser content actually available. 

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