I have been thinking about how technology has helped and crippled those of us in the video world. Technology such as auto focus lenses that track people in motion can be beneficial such as tracking a person walking. Some of these cameras that can do this are the Canon 70D, 80D and the new Canon 1DX Mark ll. I think technology can help in certain situations and I do believe that this track focusing technology can be useful in certain situations. I feel that since these cameras can do this, many people rely too heavily on it. If you cannot manually focus your camera you shouldn’t be holding it. Let’s say your auto focus tracking feature on your camera begins to malfunction. You have been relying on it for some time, could you pull focus manually, or have you forgotten how to? What good are you behind the camera if you can’t keep things in focus? Utilizing the focus technology can be really beneficial but let’s not forget how to manually focus. Keeping subjects in focus is a great skill and with this skill comes knowledge of your lenses as well. You may want to stay a little wide to make sure you can keep your subjects in focus so you reach for a 28mm lens instead of your 85mm. You know that the wider your lens is the easier things will stay in focus. This is just an example of how important it is to really understand your lenses capabilities, as well as knowing the basics of manual focusing.
Another technology that has caught on is the brushless stabilizer gimbals, such as the DJI Ronin. These stabilizers rely on software programs which help keep your camera balanced while flying. I myself use a Glidecam, which does not rely on software to keep it steady. With a Glidecam, you yourself need to know how much weight you need to add to the Glidecam sled in order to keep it balanced. Not only do you need to know how much weight you need to add, but you need to adjust the Glidecam in such a way that it does not sway left to right or front to back. Is it hard? Yes it is, and you need to practice quite a bit to get good. Practice makes you better whenever you try to get better at something. It’s doing the hard work of practicing that gives you the joy when you develop the skill. That skill could be hitting a baseball, playing a guitar, and in this case flying a camera on a stabilizer. Let’s say the software program on these brushless stabilizers fail, then what? You would not be able to fly, and the time it takes to set this software program can be long as well. After I balance my camera on my Glidecam I am ready to go. I can fly it, and I can set it down without a stand. The brushless gimbals need to be set on a stand whenever you are not holding it. What I do like about the brushless gimbals is that they work better when you are recording in windy conditions. When using the Glidecam in windy situations you will find it hard to keep it from swaying.
We as a society have come to rely on technology to make things easier. But in doing so, we cripple our ability to gain new skills. How important are you as a videographer if anyone could pick up a camera that does its focus and a stabilizer that can hold its balance? Whatever happened to practicing your gift, so that you could build your skill?
I have been working in television and media for over 18 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer and storyteller.