Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And it suddenly got very real...

The past week hasn't seen much development on this project. I've practiced a bit with shooting in low light environments with large crowds, coming to the conclusion that:
1) I need some compact way to stabilize the camera. A steadicam of any kind (even a merlin sized one) will be hard to fit and use in a crowd, so I need something even smaller, maybe just a pistol grip or some kind of 2 handed grip/follow focus.
2) MUST BUY A MICROPHONE. This was already on my list of to-dos, but now has been bumped up a couple notches because really, the on-camera sound is just unusable in anything but perfectly ideal conditions.
3) Manually focusing a Canon 50mm F1.8 II is annoying. I need a lens thats just as fast but with a much more accessible focus ring.

The getting real part however came this afternoon when I finally told a coworker a small detail of my plans. This was done in order to see who I need to talk to in order to either take an extended leave or finally begin the quitting process. Maybe this should have happened earlier, but I think now is a good time to finally start this process, as a best case scenario could have me rolling off by the end of July, which would just squeeze in to the end of my planned timeline. I fully expect that this word will get through the grapevine within a week or so, which should make for some interesting conversation with my coworkers. Who knows, maybe one of them will be willing to be interviewed...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

First HD video test!

And here it is, the first (well, actually second, but the first day anyway) video test for the 7D! Shooting this made me realize just how badly I need some sort of follow focus. Trying to accurately focus with a tiny focus ring on 50mm is definitely not going to work when the real shooting starts.

When doubt... just do it!

Well... not quite.  I've so far been just talking about this project, and too much talk is well... boring.  However, today was the first day of ACTION!  Granted... said action took place in my friend's family room, and was just a crash course in how to light a set, but I felt like this was a huge benefit for me having someone who know's what the hell they're doing just showing me the basics.  A few of the (many) lessons learned:

It may be simple, but it sure as hell isn't easy
Lighting is tricky.  Its easy enough to deal with when you've got a flash (or 2) and need to take a picture, but its a whole different can of worms when you have to light for film and video.  I pretty much have the best case scenario short of a 5DMKII with a f/1.2 lens, but even with a simple setup, a pretty fast lens, and a still subject there's quite a few things you need to take into consideration, be it the ambient light sources, the color and texture of the background, the color and texture of the subject's clothing, effect you are trying to achieve with the light, etc.  This is the art of filmmaking well before one exposure is ever taken.

Do it now, so you don't fumble with it later
A lot of stuff I saw and picked up were just really simple things, like how to correctly set up a c-stand and how to correctly wire and string up some lights.  Nothing was complex, and the art at that point was pretty minimal, but just those basic tasks make you realize how in a pressure situation they could get needlessly complex.

Sell your content correctly
I don't mean literally selling for money, but rather looking at the potential audience and maybe, just maybe, paying a little lip service in order get those all important views.  There may be some great takes later with some neat people that just don't show up right when edited, and sadly those takes may have to go in favor of something with a little more audience holding power.

Goals are great, but flexibility is better
Going into a project without a goal is stupid, but going into a project with only a goal is not very intelligent as well.  I'm not sure how much veering off I will be doing with this, but I know that I will need to be able to actively update my goals as the project goes on.

Give yourself WAAAAY more time than you think you'll need, cuz in the end you'll need it
No brainer here.

People like attention.  Give it to them.
One of the things I got out of talking with Vanessa, who's the documentary buff of the group, is that in the end, people really do enjoy taking about themselves, even if they don't seem to be that way when you initially point the camera.  All you have to do is give time, a little encouragement, and more importantly a little freedom for the subject to express themselves however they wish and sooner or later they'll do or say something interesting.