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Promo reel made using various cameras that all cost under $700 (shots tagged)

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This is a promotional reel I've just made for the small videography business I'm currently setting up (one-man-band doing local community organisations, weddings etc). Everything in it was shot on low-end/cheap cameras, several of which have been discussed and compared extensively on this forum over the last year or two. To boot, other than the Tokina 11-16mm all of the lenses were each bought for under $300.

 

After a couple of enquiries about the gear I used for this reel, I've decided to add subtitles to show each camera (and lens) each shot was taken with. Just click the 'CC' button in the Vimeo play bar to turn the subtitles on.

 

I'd welcome feedback on my reel, but this is mainly posted here in the hope it might be of use to others:

 

 

Sorry the subtitles aren't synched perfectly to each edit (it's not easy with Amara). You'll work it out though I hope ...

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Looks pretty cool Matt ,first run through I felt it would be more effective editing it down to perhaps three minutes

Glad that you are open to doing community shoots ,they are a great way to extend your video /audio skills

and try different shots and mic placement etc.Our suburb has a custom car and motorcycle show in the

park each year which is good fun to film.

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Okay, I got to start looking into that CC thing. I know it's probably very simple, but how do you add those hide-able subtitles?

 

I haven't used any so far, and on the rare cases I have, I've simply 'burned' them on the clips. Which make them reliable, but always visible. I thought it might be nice to be able to hide them once in a while, as long as the system is reliable enough.

 

nit-pick mode on

BTW, regarding the header, I thought the BMPCC is back to $900 or thereabouts again, so it's not exactly an under $700 camera, even as a body alone, is it. 

/nit-pick mode off

 

But other than that, nice and 'blue' reel.  ;)

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Looks pretty cool Matt ,first run through I felt it would be more effective editing it down to perhaps three minutes

 

Thanks Ash  :) Yeah I really need to consider cutting it down because part of me really thinks you are right. The difficulty is that, like me, you guys are watching lots of videos so patience is always at a premium. Plus you are not the target audience - if you are a potential client who is considering paying me to make a film, do you think you might want to see more than a couple of minutes? I don't know ... Maybe not. 

 

I'd really appreciate other's input into this.

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Very nice composition. Proof that all it take it experience and mastery, not the gear, to accomplish good photography and videography. 

 

Thanks Juan!  :)

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Okay, I got to start looking into that CC thing. I know it's probably very simple, but how do you add those hide-able subtitles?

 

I haven't used any so far, and on the rare cases I have, I've simply 'burned' them on the clips. Which make them reliable, but always visible. I thought it might be nice to be able to hide them once in a while, as long as the system is reliable enough.

 

nit-pick mode on

BTW, regarding the header, I thought the BMPCC is back to $900 or thereabouts again, so it's not exactly an under $700 camera, even as a body alone, is it. 

/nit-pick mode off

 

But other than that, nice and 'blue' reel.  ;)

 

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=blackmagic+pocket&_from=R40%7CR40&LH_Complete=1&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xblackmagic+pocket+body&_nkw=blackmagic+pocket+body&_sacat=0

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Thanks Ash  :) Yeah I really need to consider cutting it down because part of me really thinks you are right. The difficulty is that, like me, you guys are watching lots of videos so patience is always at a premium. Plus you are not the target audience - if you are a potential client who is considering paying me to make a film, do you think you might want to see more than a couple of minutes? I don't know ... Maybe not. 

 

I'd really appreciate other's input into this.

 

In this time and age, shorter is better. Even for the 'intended' target audience.

Make an empirical test, show the reel to a bunch of random friends and see if they start talking during the clip. If they do, you'll know it's too long. That particular reel may not have enough clip/content variety (or alternatively, clear enough a plot) to justify the four and a half minutes. 

 

You might want to consider shortening or leaving out the weakest parts of it, and some of the repetition. I mean that's what I'd probably do if it was mine. Or, consider making a set of different videos with slightly different content, look and theme.

 

 

 

Well duh, obviously there are plenty of 'cheap' BMPCC's for sale right now, soon after a major sale. Some people and maybe even companies hoarded them when they were on sale, not to use them, but in hopes to make a profit after the sale is over. But the 'official' list pricing is back on the original level already, including the BM website.

After the new discount stock is sold, you'll only get either used ones or new ones around $800 or more. Oh well, like said, nit-picking, doesn't really matter. 

 

What matters more in a demoreel like yours is consistency.

Now some of the clips don't quite match with the rest of the clips, and the weaker ones sort of disrupt the wholeness of the video. That's one more reason to consider trimming it down, not for us here, but for that intended audience of yours.

Just my 2c...

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

You have an excellent eye for composition, in how you place subjects and items and framing. This is what really stands out to me in your work. Some frames of dull scenes almost look like paintings here, I think your composition is really that good.

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Now some of the clips don't quite match with the rest of the clips, and the weaker ones sort of disrupt the wholeness of the video. 

 

 

This isn't much use to me without knowing which specific clips you are referring to.

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This isn't much use to me without knowing which specific clips you are referring to.

 

 

Sorry, I don't have time to go through it clip by clip, and I'm sure you'll figure it out, or leave it just like it is.

Like said, it's not really that bad, it probably looked better after a second look, and we're more or less nit-picking here, because you asked for feedback.

 

But just as a quick example, if you really want to, you could try experimenting by leaving out the old soft b/w camcorder bits, some softer or mis-focused action bits, might have been D600 stuff or whatever, and most of the narrated seaweed bits, too. Or shorten some things, or something along those lines. The seaweed bits are not that weak technically , but you may have more than enough seaweed in the reel as a whole, and the narrated clips don't quite fit with the music and the rest of the clips, or the general mood of the video.

 

If you wish to cut the reel into two separate bits, try experimenting with one 'blue' reel and another reel with a different mood, theme and music bed. Just a thought. That's just my nit-pick-twit sort of feeling right now, feel free to totally ignore it. 

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You have an excellent eye for composition, in how you place subjects and items and framing. This is what really stands out to me in your work. Some frames of dull scenes almost look like paintings here, I think your composition is really that good.

 

Thanks Ebrahim, that's made my day. I've come to really respect your opinion and the way you conduct yourself on this forum. Amongst all the 'here today, gone tomorrow' gear-fetishism (which I enjoy as much as anybody!) it's invaluable having a seasoned pro with his feet firmly on the filmmaking-ground taking a real interest in all this exciting, cheap new technology.

 

I spent 10 years in art school so I guess composition is one thing I've managed to bring across from the that world. I've had to play to my strengths with this reel as I don't have much material to draw on (I only started teaching myself how to shoot video 'properly' less than 2 years ago).

 

I'm also really loving learning and playing with grading, as that is something that has a lot of correlations with visual art (obviously). Though I think my aesthetic sensibilities with regard to colour, contrast, etc, can often seem quite odd to people with a more traditional filmmaking sensibility/background. There is also a LOT I need to learn on the grading side of things.

 

But I really want (and need) to improve on all the other aspects of the craft - editing, narrative, interviewing techniques, sound, camera movement, and - more than anything perhaps - just clocking-up the hours shooting and working with people in front of my lens. I need to get some distance on all the 'beauty shots' and pixel-peeping, and get a lot more experience making actual films! I'm not aiming to be a cinematographer after all, I need to do the whole thing ...

 

Do you think my promo is too long? Are there too many 'beauty' shots?

 

Thanks again  :)

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Really nice shooting sir. Some great shots in this. Fundamentally.

 

The bonus macro and slow-mo techniques add a lot to it and sound is on the whole very decent, nice and calm. What is the piano piece?

 

Only one criticism really and that is I think earlier on you could establish what the promo is for exactly, more clearly?

 

Some of the subjects speak more compellingly and atmospherically than others. I particularly liked the woman at 2.25 saying she finally had space in her head, in the calm environment, outside London. Would have liked to have heard more from her.

 

Overall, good job!!

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Thank you for your kind words, Matt. Truly appreciated.

Regarding your question on length, no, I don't see it too long. It's actually quite short and enjoyable and the music and content are very compelling. As I said you have a very artistic talent in conposition especially for scenery and objects, my only advice would be to try and apply that same compositional skill in also shooting people, if that makes any sense!

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Really nice shooting sir. Some great shots in this. Fundamentally.

 

The bonus macro and slow-mo techniques add a lot to it and sound is on the whole very decent, nice and calm. What is the piano piece?

 

Only one criticism really and that is I think earlier on you could establish what the promo is for exactly, more clearly?

 

Some of the subjects speak more compellingly and atmospherically than others. I particularly liked the woman at 2.25 saying she finally had space in her head, in the calm environment, outside London. Would have liked to have heard more from her.

 

Overall, good job!!

 

Piano is the beautifully titled "Undercover Vampire Policeman" by Chris Zabriskie.

 

Good thought about flagging what it is more clearly. I have wondered about this, and I need to make similar decisions about my website. But short of writing "I'll do weddings, real estate, bah mitzvahs ... anything really as long as you pay me" I can't seem to find a way of making it work. I'll give it a bit more thought.

 

The woman at 2.25 who you "particularly liked" and want to see more of is my wife and the mother of my child, so don't get any ideas. Sorry awful joke. Those shots are from this little piece I made with her after sunset (on the North Wales and North Yorkshire coast), shot on a G6 with speed booster and 85mm f2 wide open, but which still couldn't really cope with the lack of light, so very mushy:

 

 

Anyway, many thanks again. You and Ebrahim have made my day!

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In general I feel it's all quite morbid. I can see it being hard for a potential client to sit through that and then get excited to work with you. From a cinematography standpoint, yes of course we all think it's great, beautiful work yada yada but if your target audience is bar mitzvah's, weddings, promotional stuff then I might try to cut the footage into something more along those positive lines ^_^

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In general I feel it's all quite morbid. I can see it being hard for a potential client to sit through that and then get excited to work with you. From a cinematography standpoint, yes of course we all think it's great, beautiful work yada yada but if your target audience is bar mitzvah's, weddings, promotional stuff then I might try to cut the footage into something more along those positive lines ^_^

 

Interesting. Do you think it's just the pace of the edit (and the music?) that makes it feel morbid? Or something more than that?

 

I do see what you're saying though. I think the problem is I'm transitioning from doing 'art' to trying to get people to pay me to make fairly straightforward films (my PhD thesis was largely on the relationship between photography and death, so no wonder my work is a bit morbid!!!). I think that I probably want something in-between the two, and that is causing the lack of focus some people are suggesting it has.

 

The thing is that as I get more work, I will update this reel with more standard stuff and probably phase a lot of the 'arty' stuff out. But then again the few commissions I've had so far have been quite interesting, and have dealt with some quite difficult subject matter - and that's where I get most excited about filmmaking. I think the general sense I'm getting is that whatever I do it needs a bit more clarity, focus and perhaps to be a bit more concise...

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