Many people like to tell stories, some are good at it and some are not. The following advice is just a few pointers that can help you when you plan on telling your story. To have a compelling story you must have plot. You may have heard that word before when people talk about story and structure. You must have a plot for a story. Plots have a beginning, middle and an end.
Whether you are telling a personal story, or a business’ story you must use a beginning, middle and end to hold peoples’ interests. I am a producer of short films and like to focus on one character who can drive the story. I recently picked up the Muse Storytelling course and they teach that each character must have three traits. They should have uniqueness, complexity, and desire. These three major traits give you a head start to tell a very good story. The Muse group calls these three traits the heart. Why the heart? Well, each story should be led by a person. We relate to people more than we do dogs or cats and even robots.
It does not end there. Muse also teaches that you need a strong hook to get the audiences’ attention. I like to add my hook within the first fifteen seconds of the short film. Your character must have conflict, and they need to have overcome that conflict or are in the middle of transitioning to overcoming the conflict.
Some stories have quite a bit of people in them. I like to focus on one individual. This individual must be a strong one too. If you lead with just anybody who has not much desire, or uniqueness, then your story is dead on arrival. That is why it is important to do your homework first before you even consider pressing the record button. Sit down with your character, and talk to them about what makes them tick. Why are they so passionate about their purpose or cause? Where do they see themselves in five years? You could meet at a coffee house and just talk without cameras or notepads. It’s time to get to know one another and really build a rapport. Trust me, the more you know the better the story can be told. You are not only receiving valuable information while conversing with this individual, but you are also building a relationship. A relationship which will allow the individual to feel more comfortable with you, thus making it easier for them to share.
If you have too many characters, the audience does not have a real chance to relate to them. If you are shooting a longer film, than yes, more characters can work. However, when the film is only five-ten minutes long I would focus on one main character and maybe a helper. A helper is a character who helps drive the story. They are not as interesting as the main character, but help drive the piece.
Places are a big part of storytelling as well. If your character owns a family owned flower shop, you would not want to interview them inside a home or some random business building. You would most likely want to interview them on camera around flowers. Place your characters in their surroundings. This will make a better story and it will make it more authentic too.
I was hired to tell a story about a girl who was adopted when she was twelve. I decided to go to the house to see how and where I should shoot, but more importantly, due to the subject I wanted to build a rapport with the mom and daughter. Here it the their story.
I am very passionate about telling compelling stories that have a positive impact. When I have the chance to tell an individual’s story that I know will better society, I jump on it.
A few weeks ago, I was finishing up my workout at my gym. I went to get a drink of water and while waiting I noticed the guy in front of me wearing a hat with a cross on it. When I took a better look, it said Faith with the t being larger than the rest of the letters. It looked as if it was a cross and sure enough it was. I asked the guy where he bought it and he said a local guy sells them. I asked for the artist’s info and I connected with him a day later.
I emailed Tony, owner of AOF Apparel, and he called me back later in the day. We briefly talked about his hats, and he told me he also sells shirts and other merchandise. Tony said it was more than a business to him, it was a ministry. After we talked a bit we decided to meet up for coffee so we could chat more in depth about his vision and his ministry. I was intrigued and was looking forward to meeting him.
Saturday came, and we met up at a local coffee shop. Right off the bat I could tell that Mr. Lopez was a passionate individual. He talked to me about why he is leading this ministry and how it has brought him so much hope. Tony has a love for people and wants to plant seeds in which Christ can water. Tony explained his troubled past and how he found Christ. I explained that I would love to do a feature documentary on him and what he has gone through. We talked about incorporating his passion for his ministry in the documentary too.
I met up with Tony at Fitness Evolution the following week. I wanted to get video footage of him selling his merchandise and talking to people. The man is very wise and articulate when talking about Christ. You can tell by his choice of words and how he uses verses from the bible to explain his ideas and thoughts to people. Tony is on fire for Jesus.
We met up a second time where his apparel is made. I shot some footage of how his hats are made, as well as how the shirts are made. It was interview time and after I finished setting up all the lights, cameras, and mic we both just had a conversation. The interview went very well. Tony spoke about his upbringing, his ties with gangs, and how he used to drink too much. We also talked about how his friend invited him to church and it was there he had a head on collision with Christ. We finished up talking about his ministry and how he is very blessed to spread the word.
Now, I had to edit this piece. It was going to be fun because I had plenty to work with. When I originally thought of telling his story I was going to focus on his ministry. However, Tony’s testimony was so strong I had to tell it in its entirety. As I was editing, the pieces just came together. It was as if Christ was behind me telling me what needed to go where. After the video was done, I told Tony that our meeting was not a coincidence, it was God’s intervention. We were His tool, and this story needed to be told.
The video has only been out for a few days, but peoples’ lives have really been impacted by Tony’s story. This video has been chosen to be a teaching tool for inmates. They hope to show them that they too can overcome hardships.
Stories are all around us. We just need to open our eyes and listen to them. As a filmmaker I am constantly looking to help serve my community, and I think I did by telling Tony’s story. Tony was very brave to tell his story, and he is helping lead people to Christ. Just think, if it wasn’t for Tony’s apparel I wouldn’t have seen his hat that morning and this very powerful story wouldn’t have been told.
Let’s face it, if you want to get better at your craft you’re going to have to work at it, it’s called practice. You should always practice your craft so that you can become the best videographer you can be. There are several very well-known artists, musicians, composers, etc. that practice daily on their craft. Carving out time to practice will benefit you in many ways.
As a videographer, you can gain muscle memory which leads to being able to operate the camera faster, which means you will have more opportunities to get those great shots. Try not using your camera for about two months. You will find that you’ll have to think about each move when it comes to dials, buttons and other parts of the camera. After a few moments with it, things will become normal again. But not working with it for a while will limit you for a bit until you familiarize yourself with your tool.
I like to take one subject and try to get as many shots as possible. Doing this exercise forces me to think creatively and get shots at different viewpoints. I recently did this exercise with our water tower here in Fresno. At lunch, I took my camera and my gimbal and started taking as many different shots as I could. In the end you will have close-ups, medium shots, extreme long shots. You can take those shots and edit them together which will benefit you in a totally different exercise…editing. If you pre-plan your shots and think about them, you can really create a stunning piece of art. This exercise also gives you the flexibility to learn more about your camera techniques. You will find what you’re good at and other things you need work on.
When I have time, I like to grab my camera and go downtown. I use this time to help me with understanding and nailing exposure as well as color temperature. I shoot things in the sun, things that are in mid shade, and things that are completely in the shade. This exercise helps me understand Kelvin degrees and what number I need to dial in for each shot. For instance, if I am taking a shot of a statue that is in shade I more than likely will have to dial in 6000-7000 Kelvin to get my color temperature correct. If I am shooting a subject in direct sun at noon time, my Kelvin will be around 5200K-5800K. Getting correct color balance is important but getting exposure correct is also very valuable. While I walk around the city filming different things I am constantly looking at my waveform monitor to get the exposure needed for the shot. Get creative with your color temperature and see what comes of it. I like to shoot with a high Kelvin to make the videos a warm tone. At times I like a cold tone, so I will shoot them with a lower Kelvin.
How about practicing with the many tools you use with your camera. When I shot the water tower I not only was focused on one subject, but I also was using my gimbal. I think it is important to familiarize yourself with your tools so that when you are on a paid job you know your limits and what amazing things you can do. Clients are not paying you to learn on the job, they expect you to know what you are doing.
One last thing I should mentions is working with your lights. Ask your friend, wife, son whoever, to sit down for an interview lighting setup. You do not have to interview them, but rather work the lights to see which lights look best. You may want to experiment with different lights than you would on a paid job. This is when it becomes fun, because you may find new ways in lighting your interviews. This exercise gives you the chance to work with your lighting without the pressure of being on a tight deadline. Try different hair light techniques, or try a kicker light and see what it does on the face of your subject. This is all for your benefit.
All in all, practicing your craft can be fun. You will learn your tools, and become well versed. I like to think about getting better each time I am behind the camera.
Let’s say you have a big shoot that is going to take place outside. You want to use your field monitor but it’s hard to see the screen in bright day light. You even place a hood around the monitor and it helps a little but not much. This can be a huge problem. I have a GH5 and rely on the EVF when I am out in the sun. The EVF works great on the GH5, but if you are conducting an interview outside, you do not want to have your eye up close to the EVF the entire time. So, what do you do?
There are several great monitors you can buy that are bright enough to withstand sunny days, but they can cost anywhere from $500-$1000. That’s is a lot of money especially if you already own a monitor. A trick that I have learned and adopted is using a black fabric called Duvetyne. This is a black fabric that is used to black out unwanted light. You can drape it around your monitor and have it over your head which will block out much of the sunlight. I purchase a small piece from Amazon for around $20. Duvetyne has been used on movie sets for ages. It can block out natural and tungsten light. Maybe you need to block out some of the light that comes from a window, duvetyne to the rescue. The fabric is fire retardant, and is also known as "commando cloth.”
I am big on using resources, especially if you can save money. So, if you already own a monitor but can’t view the screen in direct sunlight; pick up some duvetyne and start using your monitor outdoors. I have linked a video to show you how well this works.
I go through this and you may too, gearhoging. I know, it’s not a real word, but when you constantly want the latest and greatest camera gear you really do feel like a hog. And then reality sets in, you buy buy, buy, and then you must learn about the equipment all over again, like you are meeting that special someone for the first time.
Look at your gear now. Does it serve a purpose? Are you getting paid with what you own now? What’s the problem, oh yea…it’s not new? Well, that next camera you want won’t be new forever, in fact it will more than likely be replaced by a newer version in two years. Before you replace equipment ask yourself a few questions. “Do I need additional gear that I do not already own?” and “Will this new equipment I so desperately want solve any problems?”
If you already have a camera, why are you looking at another one if you do not have a decent mic? I use this for an example because many people believe video is the only thing that matters. And if you do have a camera and a descent mic how will a new camera better your production? These are all logical questions one should ask before they even consider buying. Sometimes, after doing your research on your desired product you may find out that it really won’t work for you, or it’s not worth the money. Research it on YouTube and watch the reviews. If you are on Facebook, and you belong to a videography type group, ask them about the product and see what they have to say about it.
I have been here several times; therefore, I really want you to understand the whole gearhoging phenomenon. If you have what you need then go shoot. It’s nice to have new things, but it’s also great to earn money by using the gear you already have.
There are times when new gear is warranted, I’ll give you that. For instance, I shoot with a Canon C100 and there is no way I am going to hold that on a gimbal for moving shots. The camera is too heavy for me, and it shoots 1080p. Panasonic released the GH5 not too long ago which is a smaller camera. The weight of the camera is manageable on my gimbal and it shoots 4k. This means I can crop the image if I need to, and I do not need to bring two cameras to my interview shoots. I can simply punch in with the GH5 in post and make it look as if the piece was shot with a two-camera set up.
Half the time after you buy the equipment you feel guilty, or at least I do. Really think about what your needs are, and contemplate your decision for a few weeks, you’ll thank me in the end. Think about all the time you have already invested in learning about the equipment you already own. You understand it’s limitations, it’s pros and cons. What you can get away with and what you can’t. The time you spent learning about your gear is an investment.
I wish you well in your gear shopping and think about what problem will be solved once you make that purchase.
This article was provided to me by Josh Wardini from websitebuilder.org
I hope you enjoy the very useful information.
I feel some people treat sound as a secondary source of information when it comes to video. Video is all they think about. How will it look? did you get that shot I was looking for? Don’t get me wrong video is quite essential sometimes more than video.
This short blog is to help educate people on sound and why you need different tools for different situations. Down below is a video I shot to demonstrate my point of view. I wanted to show how using a microphone placed on top of the camera is inferior to that of a microphone placed above the talent (12 inches above) just out of camera frame. You would use this method when you interview someone.
Simply using a microphone that is placed on your camera to record your talent’s audio will sound hollow. The farther the mic is from your talent the less signal (his/her voice being the signal) you will get. This is called the signal to noise ratio. The farther away the voice is, the more noise will be introduced into the audio signal. You want the voice to be as close as possible without causing a proximity effect, this is when the microphone is very close to the talents’ mouth which in return creates a more bass sound response.
So, for an interview setup, I prefer the mic to be as close to my talent as possible. You can clip a lavalier microphone on your talent’s shirt or jacket and that will yield satisfactory audio. However, you will more than likely see the little microphone pinned to the talent’s shirt. I like to use a boom mic and place the microphone just about 12-18 inches above my talent. This allows me to record their voice without showing the microphone. Another reason I like this approach is you do not have to place anything on your talent. Sometimes that can be awkward, especially if you are a male videographer and have to place the lavalier microphone on a female interviewee. Plus, you must hide the cord if you are not wireless.
They make a variety of boom mics for conducting interviews. I use a hyper cardioid mic which works great indoors. There is less room reverb with a hyper cardioid. You can use a boom stand to hold your microphone or a light weight microphone tripod stand. These are just few things to consider when recording an interview.
1.Microphone on camera not good
2.Lavlier microphone on interview decent
3.Boom mic place above interviewee best option in most cases
Here is an audio example of me recording audio with a mic on the camera vs a hyper cardioid placed above me. Listen with headphones, you will hear the difference.
Remember when we had to pull out the old yellow pages to contact a business? We would call them to ask questions about what they sell, and get an idea of the general business.
We no longer have to do this chore. Now days we have the internet to explore which business we want to do business with. More than that, video is a huge component for businesses to get their message out. If you are a business, a nonprofit, or a start-up company, you would be crazy not to use video on your website. Video is king now, and is only growing in popularity.
Let’s say you want to tell the story about your organization. You could write about it sure and place it on your website. But who will read it? No one has time to read a large amount of text, but they are willing to watch a quick two-minute or so video about what your message is, what you stand for, and what you are selling (If you’re a business selling product or services). People tend to identify with a business, or organization when they can hear and watch their story. If the video is done right, it can be as entertaining as it is educational for the viewer. Many times, great videos get shared with others which only expands your audience. Videos are seen on smartphones, tablets and laptops more than they are on traditional television sets. The future of video marketing is here, grasp it and be creative.
There are some things that can be better understood if you see it. For instance, you may be a local business which deals with lawn care, and you want to give valuable tips to those who visit your website or Facebook page. If you show and demonstrate these tips people will remember them more, and understand them better. These tips on lawn care will be appreciated, and because you have out great content people will remember you and your business. Who do you think they will go to when they need fertilizer or some type of nursery product? You that’s who.
Maybe you’re a small business owner and you want to celebrate your store’s anniversary by having a sale. You can hire a local videographer to produce a well thought out promotion. This promo doesn’t need to air on tv. You can save money by placing it on Facebook and Instagram. Television viewership is decreasing year by year, and the internet is where promotion is. You can have a stunning video created for your business or nonprofit and place it on YouTube and send out the link, or place it on Facebook and run Facebook ads.
What’s cool about Facebook ads is that you can create the ad yourself. As a business owner you know your business better than anyone, so it only makes sense for you to dive deep into the Facebook and target the audience you want to target the most. You can target age, interest, male or female, location where you want the ad to appear and more.
Video is where it is right now, and we really have the internet to thank for this. As a videographer, I am very pleased to see how well businesses are profiting by using video strategically. Place your video ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Vimeo for more exposure. To tell the truth, video marketing is endless. What is coming to an end is the old way of distributing content….by television.
I have added my own promo as an example of how you too could market your business, nonprofit or start-up company.
I like to shoot a variety of things: events, promotional spots, mini-documentaries and I need a camera that suits this type of versatility. When I decide on a camera I try to think ahead and figure out how well the camera will work in low light, tight settings, does it have the in-body tools I need to expose the picture correctly and so on. For the past few years I have owned several different Canon cameras. The Canon 60D was my first dslr, then came the 6D, and then I bought the Canon EOS Cinema C100. These cameras did well and performed to my expectations.
Technology is advancing and some companies are not willing to listen to their customers. As a videographer, I want to buy a camera from a company that is not going to hold back features from me. Companies such as Panasonic seem to listen to their customers and give them the features they want in a camera at a reasonable price.
The GH5 is small. Unlike the full sensor 6D, the Panasonic camera has a micro four thirds sensor. What does that mean? Because the micro four third sensors are small they do not allow much light as a full sensor camera does. Full sensors allows more light onto the sensor giving them a better low light ability light. There are ways to get around this though. You can buy a faster lens which will help you when you need more light. I like to use a F2.8 or less lens. Voigtlander makes manual lenses that have a F stop of 0.95. That equates to a very narrow depth of field. To focus on anything at a F 0.95 would be hard to do, plus it would have a glow effect around the subject. Stop the lens down to F 1.4 and you will have a stunning image. There are also speed boosters that will allow you to adapt you current non- micro four third lenses to the GH5. For instance, people have Canon glass and would need to buy a EF to M 4/3 adapter. Metabones makes great adapters that not only change the focal length of your lens but allow more light to enter the camera. When you have a micro four thirds lens it is double the length (12mm is really equals as a 24mm lens). However, when you adapt a 12mm ef lens to a M 4/3 Metabones Speedbooster, you have the equivalent of a 20mm (depending on which Speedbooster you choose 0.64 or 0.71).
Just yesterday I was hired to record video of a basketball team. I had a choice to bring either my Canon C100 or my new GH5. I knew I was not going to be on a tripod, so I wanted to implement the in-body stabilization the GH5 offers. The evf is very bright and when you use it you can see what your shooting, unlike some other cameras. By using the evf you can also steady your shot better by using the eyecup as another steady reference point. The combination of your right hand griping the camera, and your left hand is holding the lens and using the evf keeps it very steady. I shot the entire game without a monopod or tripod and the footage looked fine. Going hand held with the GH5 can be done!
I also could use this camera in a restaurant kitchen. The kitchen was very small. I could place the camera in discrete areas, where the C100 would have been too large to do so. I used the GH5 on a monopod which gave me the flexibility to shoot over the head shots as well as getting low angles. The kitchen was dark and I relied on my waveform monitor that is built into the camera to get correct exposure levels.
The GH5 does not have XLR inputs but you can buy audio adapters. I recently bought a Sound Devices Mix Pre-D, which has built in XLR inputs with both line level and mic level. I then can connect the device to my camera and monitor sound.
The GH5 can quickly come off a tripod after an interview and be placed on my Zhiyun-Tech Crane for gimbal shots. This camera is very versatile, and can be used in many situations. It is becoming my go to camera.
Owning your own business is hard work. You constantly need to be on the up and up, and find creative ways to attract customers. Depending on what you sell, sales during certain parts of the year can help. Coupons can be beneficial too, as long as you don’t give away too much. One thing all business owners have is their story. Sure, you may have written a small paragraph about it on your about us page on your website, but your story told through video could benefit you so much more.
Not too long ago I did a story on Fresno’s award-winning restaurant, Rudy Jr.’s Chicken Man. Janet Walsh, the owner, spoke to me on camera about Chicken Man, and how it got its name. The food wasn’t necessarily the focus of the story but played a secondary role to the back story of the business. Sure, I captured the food and how it was prepared, but the meat and potatoes of the story was about people. People attract people, and the art of telling stories goes back to ancient times. Do you think people are going to remember the shot of the waffles and chicken? well maybe, but they will defiantly remember how Chicken Man got its name. Janet called me a few weeks ago and said business was up more than 25% after the video went online. She explained to me that many of the customers saw the video and loved the story, and that they just had to visit and try Chicken Man.
Business owners can really benefit from telling their story because there are plenty of people out there who can relate. When customers know more about you, and what you stand for, the more they will patronage your establishment. Being transparent isn’t a bad thing it allows people to see who you are and what you had to endure to get to where you’re at today. By telling your story on camera you could possibly motivate a person or two to follow their dreams on owning their own business, you never know…possibilities are endless.
One thing is for sure, your story is your story and no one can tell it like you. Share your ups and downs, you’re human, right? I just finished a story regarding a downtown restaurant which has gone through some rough times. Parsley Garden Café, has a great story and it is full of ups and downs.
More people will want to visit your store after watching your story being told through video medium. And what is great is you can post your story online to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and even your own website. Did I say the cost of posting is FREE. Free advertising, something all businesses owners crave. Use video to tell your story, the sky’s the limit when it comes to this strategy.
Not too long ago I purchased a Panasonic GH5. This camera shoots 4k video with a 4:2:2 color space and it’s capable of shooting 10 bit. I am a Canon user and have been for many years, so I was hesitant to start using the GH5 for video production. I originally bought the camera to use on my gimbal. However, after viewing the footage from several shoots, I noticed how nice the image was. This got me thinking about incorporating it in all my video production.
It is a good thing to test out all your gear before you start making money from it. You really need to know the ins and outs of your gear, especially if you are getting paid. It is important to know how the camera reacts in different situations. By taking it through these test, you can be better aware of how the camera will perform in any given situation. I started shooting video of my kids around the house and outdoors shots but I really needed to take it out in a real-world situation. I needed to shoot a story with nothing but the GH5 to really understand how well it could work.
A few weeks went by after owning the camera and I read about a local business and how they were struggling to make ends meet during Fresno’s downtown Fulton Mall construction. Juan Carlos, owner of Parsley Garden Café has owned the business for seven years, and he was making good money until Fresno decided to reconstruct the Fulton Mall. During this time Juan’s customers had fight fences that closed them off from his restaurant, construction, and all the dust that comes along with it all. To be frank, the business was not doing as well as it had in the past.
After I read this article in the Fresno Bee, I decided to contact the owner. I wanted to do a story about him and his business. Many times, God whispers in my ear to do stories for people who are in need. Did I expect to get paid…no, but what I could do is use this opportunity to test out my new camera and give a local business a video they could use for promotion. I am a strong supporter of local business and fell the need to help them whenever I can.
I contacted Juan Carlos on a Thursday via Facebook. I explained to him that I read about him and his business and wanted to create a short video for him. The video would be for free, and hopefully it could help bring him business. He said he would like the video and appreciated my willingness to help him.
The GH5 is a micro 4/3rd camera, which means that the sensor is not as big as say a Canon 5D Mark lll. Smaller sensors do not perform well or as well as larger sensors in low light. This was going to be a true test. The kitchen of the restaurant has some light but it was not bright. I chose to shoot the project at 23.98 frames which allowed me 1/3 stop more than if I shot it at 29.97 frames. As I started shooting, I realized a flicker on my LCD screen. I had to change the sync of the shutter so that it would not flicker. The GH5 has the ability to change the sync so I was in good hands. The camera was accompanied with a Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 lens. Because I am shooting on a micro 4/3rd camera that equates to a 24-70mm lens. You double the length of your lens. So, for instance if I was to put on a 24mm lens it would become a 48mm lens.
The small camera did great in such a small space. While I was getting my video footage (broll), I was thinking to myself that I would have had a heck of a time with my Canon C100 in this small space. The GH5 also has built in stabilization. The stabilization helped me out quite a bit. There were times when I held the camera over my head and the stabilization really helped. I was getting shots of the food being prepared, fries frying in the fryer, and customers paying for their food. I was focusing shooting video in two parts of the restaurant. The front of the restaurant where there was more light (natural sunlight) and the kitchen which had florescent lights. Going in between the two areas, I had to change my white balance which was a good test. I was getting all the broll I could since I hadn’t interviewed Juan Carlos yet. Usually I like to interview first and then shoot what I need to tell the story.
Juan Carlos and I decided to shoot the interview on a separate day. So, I arrived after hours to complete the shoot. I choose to bring two 5600k led lights to light the interview. There was some sun coming into the business so to match the color I chose my 5600k lights. One light was for the key and I used the other for a rim/kicker light. I asked Juan to turn off all the overhead lights except for those that lit the menu up on the wall. I set the camera to 800 iso and shot the interview at 3.5 aperture. The interview looked good, but what stood out to me is what Juan Carlos had to say during his interview. He spoke about his dream of owning his own restaurant, after working as a cook simultaneously at two different restaurants. He wanted something to call his own, and he eventually had the opportunity to buy Parsley Garden Café seven years ago. As I was conducting the interview I was thinking how well this story is going to be. Everything from the subject, to how Juan passionately told it. This is a man who receives help from his family at all times. His wife works the front of the house, while he and his two boys work in the kitchen. What makes this story so great is that it is a restaurant that represents dreams, family, and hard work. Juan Carlos is determined to make Parsley Garden Café a success, and I know he will come out on top.
While I edited this story together, I realized how well the camera shot the kitchen scenes. The colors were good, and I could punch in on the interview, which made it look like I shot the interview with two cameras. All in all, I was very glad I had this opportunity. On one hand I got the chance test out a new piece of gear, and on the other I made friends with Juan Carlos. The Fulton Mall is going to reopen in late October of 2017. I have no doubt that Parsley Garden Café will be a success.
If you are a videographer or photographer you will use and buy several cameras in your lifetime. Technology gets better and more efficient and we as creatives want the best we can afford. There are several questions you should ask yourself before you plunge your money towards new gear, specifically cameras.
One question that you should ask yourself is, “Will this new camera solve a problem?” I will use an example so you understand. For the past couple of years, I have been shooting with a Canon C100 Cinema EOS camera. I use the camera on a monopod, slider, tripod but not on a stabilizer such as a Steadicam. I have tried and wanted desperately to use it on my Glidecam, however, the combination of it and a lens adds up to approximately four pounds. Four pounds does not seem too heavy, but try holding it steady on a stabilizer for more than three minutes! It gets very very heavy very fast. At times I felt my wrist was going to break and my arms were going to give. So, this was a problem.
The C100 has a very sharp image and I needed another camera to compliment the C100 when I was incorporating stabilizer shots. I used to use a Canon 6D which is a full frame camera that produces fantastic imagery. The 6D just was not sharp enough though. When you use both cameras in a video you can tell that one of them is a tad soft. I needed to fix this and I ended up shopping for a new camera that could match the quality of the Canon C100, but was small and light enough for me to fly on my stabilizer.
Not too long ago I picked up a Panasonic Gh5. This camera produces 4k video that matches very well with the Canon C100. The combination of the Gh5 and a lens is only around two pounds, which is manageable. I have tested the two camera systems and they do match well. I still must color match the Gh5 to match the C100, but the overall experience is great.
Buy the camera when it solves a problem. I couldn’t fly the Canon C100, and the 6D just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I pulled out my wallet and paid for a new camera.
After purchasing the Gh5 I started to realize how great the imagery was. So, it got me thinking…. The C100 is five years old, a tad heavier, and shoots only 1080. The Gh5 has several of the tools the C100 offers such as waveform monitors, zebras, peaking and it shoots 4k. It got me thinking about replacing the C100 with my new Gh5 for all my video needs. However, before I even think about selling the C100 or just leave it behind, I first needed to test the Gh5 in everyday situations. Shooting flowers in the back yard is a start, but to really understand how a camera can benefit you, you must use it under stressful situations. You need to be able to understand the functions and how it best suits your shooting style. What better way to break in a camera than to offer your services for free? You might think FREE, I have been doing this videography thing for a long time, I don’t give away anything for FREE! I understand you completely. You have been working as a videographer for several years, you have the background and knowledge, but what you don’t have is experience with a camera you want to start placing in your bag to help your produce videos that you can charge people for. Trust me, using a new camera on a free gig is not a big deal. You are testing out gear and if you make a mistake so be it. People only learn from making mistakes. I appreciate and welcome mistakes when I go out with a new piece of equipment, because I grow from it and it makes me a better videographer in the long run.
I want to learn as much as I can about the camera, and how it can be a part of my tool kit for telling stories. After working with the camera a few times, you will also learn where all the buttons are, menus, and create muscle memory which is very important. Not only are you benefiting yourself by shooing a video for free, but you are also making friends and new contacts with the business or organization you are recording for.
Maybe you need to update your review section on your website. You could ask the business for a review of your services; do you really think they are going to say no after you have spent several hours interviewing them and shooting broll for them for free? Who knows, they may call you up for a paid gig later on.
It’s a win win situation. You get to dive deep in a new camera and learn about its pros and cons. What you can and cannot accomplish with it. The free video will help a business thrive and maybe they will post it on their website or Facebook page…. if it’s good, people will ask them who shot it.
So to wrap it up, think before you buy, read the Amazon or B&H comments regarding the camera and ask yourself does it solve any of my problems? How can this camera benefit you in the present as well as in the future? I strongly advice you to use the camera extensively before you use it on a paid gig. I wish you well with your new purchase.
Jeffrey can be contacted at: www.jeffreycookvideography.com
When it comes to video production many feel that video or film is the main objective. The picture is important, but so is audio. Try watching your favorite program with the volume turned down. You could probably get the just of what was going on by the action played out, but would miss a lot as well. You’d soon realize how important audio is and how it complements the videos we watch.
So, what could be said about these two microphones? Yes, one is larger than the other, the larger one has many ridges on both sides of the microphone while the shorter of the two only has a few ridges (phase-interference slots). What are these microphones and when should you use them?
The longer microphone is a Super-cardioid condenser shotgun microphone. Super-cardioid refers to how the microphone picks up the sound. When a microphone has a super-cardioid pick up pattern it picks up sound mainly in the front of it, and somewhat on the sides of it, however, the sound picked up on the sides will be out of phase thanks to the phase-interference slots. The sound behind the microphone will be rejected do to the super-cardioid pick up pattern. So, for instance, If I were to point the microphone at someone who is mowing their lawn, the mic would pick up the sound of the lawnmower, and would reject the sounds behind the microphone (people talking for ex.)
Shotgun microphones are best suited for outdoors. Their long interference tubes (ridges on the side of mic) do a great job picking up sounds far from the mic, but when you use the same microphone indoors it can have a reverb effect on dialogue.
If you are interested in capturing audio from an interview indoors, you would then want to use the shorter microphone which is a hyper-cardioid microphone. Due to its size and it being a hyper-cardioid mic, it can reject reverb that is caused by rooms with highly reflective surfaces. It too is a condenser microphone (condenser mics need their own power to operate +48 volts, usually provided by professional cameras). It can capture sound directly in front of it, and on the sides, different mics will have different results. If you plan on capturing an interview, you would want the microphone to be placed on a boom stand. By using a boom pole, you can adjust the length just enough to place the microphone over the talent. You want to direct the head of the mic towards the talent’s chest not their mouth. The further away you place the mic, the more noise you will get. However, if you place the mic too close to the subject you will get a proximity effect where the voice tends to sound too bass like. Usually you get good sound when the microphone is placed between 12-18 inches away from the talent, this is also true for shotgun microphones. Too far away, and the dialogue will sound like it is captured in the distance.
Next time you want to record audio either indoors or outdoors, you’ll know which mic to choose. There are some cases when you can use a shotgun microphone indoors when in a pinch. The thing to remember if you do choose to use a shotgun indoors is to keep the mic close to your talent when they are speaking (12 inches will do) and to make sure the room does not have too many reflective surfaces. If the room is too reflective, (tiled floors, hardwood floors, short ceilings etc.) you will need to treat it with sound absorbing blankets.
If money was tight and I only had the opportunity to buy one mic, I would choose a shotgun.
There comes a time when I think we reflect on our life and evaluate how we are doing. I do this a lot and decided to write about it. This blog post is not about a camera, microphone, or video I shot, but rather the course of my career as a videographer. I am hoping to inspire those who want more out of life to follow their passion and to not settle.
As a teenager, I wanted to make films. I wanted to be a director. It soon dawned on me that that role would be hard to fill so I considered video production. I declared video production as my major and learned about the industry. After five years at San Francisco State University, I graduated Cum Laude and received my degree in Television and Radio Broadcasting.
Breaking into the video production biz was very hard to do. They wanted you to have experience, but how can I get experience if no one hires me? So, I decided to take on a photographer/editor position at KMPH Fox News, where I made many mistakes and learned quite a bit on the job. Learning from the books was on thing, and learning hands on was another. I had several jobs throughout my news careers where the hours were not favorable. I used to wake up at two in the morning just to go to work. I stuck with these jobs so I could continue to learn, and provide for my family.
After being in the news industry for several years I wanted to do something more than hard news. New cameras were coming out (dslrs) which allowed filmmakers the flexibility to own their own cameras without selling their left arm. I mean this new technology was revolutionary and spawned a whole new outlet for young and old. With this new technology, I could make short films, promotional videos, shoot weddings. There was one problem though, I was working in news and could not rely on the flexibility that was needed to do what I wanted. Another obstacle was the conflict of interest.
Let me explain what I was doing at the last station I worked at before I move on. I was hired to edit the six and eleven O’ clock news and eventually edited the 10 O’ clock news as well. There were times when I was asked to shoot some news pieces but that was rare. I filled in as a photog when folks were on vacation and or ill. The thing is I really wanted to shoot, not edit. I felt that I had what it took to shoot like I had at my previous jobs, however I was used as their editor. I really couldn’t complain because I did take on that role, but throughout the years I yearned to be used as a photographer. Mind you, I was working from mid-day till eleven at night and never saw my wife or child. When I went home I slept. I would wake up to see my family off to work and daycare for about 30 minutes and then I was alone. Was this all worth it? There had to be a better way.
I soon left news and started working full time as a videographer for a large employer in Fresno. I slowly started buying camera gear to do what I truly wanted to do. Soon I was shooting weddings, promotional videos for local businesses and non-profits. I can tell you this: I have not been happier than I am right now.
If you are settling for a job and you really want to do something else I would like to encourage you to do it. What is the sense of going to a job which you despise? Especially if you feel you can benefit from the change. Can this new job open opportunities for you? Is it a better fit for you and your family? Will you be able to help others in need? Can you teach others your passion? The list goes on and on. My main point is, do not settle. Do what you love, and what you know you can do. Sometimes we must go with our gut feeling and believe in our talent even though others might not see it. We only live once, and we need to utilize the gift’s God has given us to better serve those around us.
Not long ago, I did a quick setup to test out my new Lowel Rifa 55 softbox tungsten 500-watt light, as well as two Aputure 528 Spot LED lights.
I first wanted to see how much light would be transmitted using the Lowel Rifa 55. It gives a great soft light that wraps around the interviewee. I placed the light about 3 ½ feet away from the subject and about eight feet high. I was very impressed with this light, and plan on using it for my key light when I need to use tungsten lights. You can also place a CTB gel in front of the softbox to change the warm hue to a more of a bluish hue to match daylight. Tungsten lights are great to work with because they produce 100 CRI. They are hot; however, you just need to be careful when managing them.
When I know I need to use a key light for 5500K situations I can rely on my Aputure 528 S lights. I placed two of the Aputure 528 S lights side by side to be used as a key. When these lights are paired up, they produce a lot of light. I took out the plastic diffusion panels that come with the light, and used silk fabric. The silk was draped over a microphone stand in which I boomed the extension arm. The light that they produced was very good to my eye. This could be a quick setup time which can yield soft light for your interviewee. Aputure lights have a high CRI of 95, not as good as Tungsten lights, but then again, you do not have to plug them in. It’s important to have many tools for each job. One tool does not cover all the bases. The silk that I bought was from Alzos and only cost $8. The dimensions of the fabric are around 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. The farther you separate the light from the silk, the large the light source becomes. Down below you can view the video which has both lights I tested.
One may ask, “What is a Telly Award?” Telly Awards.com explains, “The Telly is one of the most sought-after awards by industry leaders, from large international firms to local production companies and ad agencies. The Telly Awards receives over 13,000 entries yearly from all 50 states and 5 continents.”
I am blessed to have won two Telly Awards this year. Last year I was also awarded a Telly Award for my mini-documentary The Friday Phil. This year, the two entries I chose to enter were My Adoption, and Real Change Fresno.
My Adoption won for general documentary: individual. I spoke to the camera about how I was adopted, what I went through as an infant, and how God called on two special people who adopted me. I wrote about this first and was hesitant to even put it out there. But after I prayed on it, I decided to set up the camera and just talk about what I went through. Such as the child abuse, how I was able to meet my birth parents and sisters and the people who adopted me. I decided to share my story because I wanted those who are adopted to not feel ashamed. I also wanted to connect with those who are thinking about adopting a child. When you adopt a child, they are chosen, not forgotten…that in its self is very special.
The second entry, Real Change Fresno, was about how people can help the homeless in Fresno county. This was right down my alley. I was chosen to work on this video by Jenni Solla and Katie Williamson, who were both part of Fresno’s Leadership class #33. Their project was to help people understand what homelessness is, and how we can strive to fix it. They were very instrumental in gathering info and people we needed to interview. I always say it is the people who tell the story that count, I just put it all together.
The awards are nice, but being recognized for the work I put out is more important. I am a strong believer in getting messages out. Video is very instrumental in getting the word out. You can share videos now through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and your own blog site. My Adoption may be the most vulnerable I have ever been. People who know me understand that I am not the loud guy at the party, I am reserved, but I needed to tell my story so that I could hopefully help others in need. Thank you, God, for giving me the will to express myself in a video that could possibly someday change someone’s life.
In today’s society, local businesses shouldn’t solely rely on their About us page to communicate to the public who they are and what they stand for. Local businesses can really stand out if they use video to help share their story with the public. You can even place the video on your about us page to help showcase what your services are and what you’re all about. The story does not have to be long, but something that the public can grab on to. Did you know that stories can bring about emotion, and people are drawn to specific characters in a story? People can identify with you as a local business too. You are not only a business that sells a service or products; you are an individual business that has personality. Showcase why you are in business, what you care about, how you would like to make a difference, talk about your top services or products. The list is long, you as the business just need to know which stories you would like to tell. Check out this story from Chicken Man, an award-winning restaurant right here in Fresno. A video like this could even be shared on Facebook, which posting is free, and many, people can view and share it.
Are you a fan of crispy fried chicken or BBQ ribs, or chicken and waffles? If so, I have the perfect place for you; an award-winning Fresno restaurant that has been serving delicious food for 50 years. What place am I talking about? Rudy Jr.’s Chicken Man located at 2707 N Hughes Ave, Fresno, CA 93705.
My family and I frequent the restaurant maybe once every month or so. The last time I was eating there, I asked the owner, Janet Wash how business was going. She replied that due to the construction of the high-speed rail, business was down a bit. Chicken Man just recently celebrated their 50-year anniversary. I have a soft spot in my heart for local businesses; without them we are left with cookie cutter restaurants that serve the same old’ same old.
I wanted to help Janet in any way possible. So, being the videographer that I am, I suggested to do two videos for them to remind people about how great their food is. I explained to her that I would not charge her anything to do the videos. I explained to Janet that I believe in her restaurant and wanted to help spread the word about her great restaurant. One video would focus on the back story of the restaurant, and the other would be a :30 promotional focusing on their food. Janet and I agreed on a few dates for shooting.
During my time shooting the footage, I was able to talk to a few regulars. Chicken Man regulars love, love, love this place. One regular said he had been going there for forty years. Another came by to pick up an order for her husband. She said he had just retired and wanted his favorite food…Chicken Man.
As a videographer, I have the opportunity to help others by telling their story in a through a powerful medium. I wanted to tell Chicken Man’s story and remind people that we have an award-winning chicken restaurant right here in Fresno. As of this blog post, I have posted the video online. Many people have commented that Chicken Man has the best chicken in town. One post mentioned that they had been going to the restaurant for over 40 years. It is obvious Rudy Jr.’s Chicken Man is a restaurant worth going to. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Down below are the two videos that feature this award-winning Fresno restaurant.
1. Brides, meet with your videographer and go over your wedding day plans. Will there be a first look? etc.
2. Supply your videographer with an itinerary of the day. This will help better prepare the videographer for certain events that will take place throughout the day.
3.Trust your videographer and his or her skills, you hired them for a reason I hope, and not just because they have a camera.
4.Videographers need to be prepared for multiple situations. They should have plenty of adapters to plug their audio recorder into the DJ’s mixer for clean audio for your finished video. They should also be prepared to move if need be to get the best shot, if it is allowed.
5.Videographers should keep in contact with the photographer and explain how they plan on shooting the wedding. This will allow both vendors to capture great shots of you and not of one or the other in your shot with you.
Being quick at your craft is not a bad thing. There are several things you need to master to deliver video production work in a quick and timely matter; I am talking about within a 24-48hr period. Some people say that one should work at a slower pace to keep the production at a high standard. I agree, with this statement when it comes to those who do not know how to execute the final product. Here are a few key points that can get you moving faster with your work.
This is what has helped me streamline my work. You may find other ways to be more efficient. The main point of this post is to be familiar with your equipment and understand what you are shooting so that you do not have to re-think it once you’re editing. By being able to work fast, you can deliver quick turnarounds to your clients, and clients like quick turnarounds. I hope this has helped.
I have been working in television/media for over 17 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer. Essentially I am a storyteller.