Family Stuff

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I found myself in England with a week of downtime between a couple of other videos, so spent a couple of days doing this one. Most of the time was fishing through 15 terrabytes of drives digging out the material. Laury’s back in France. I’ll be going back there tomorrow.

Unusually, this one started off with a piece of music that I had bought and never used. I liked it and thought it might work for a short promotional/mini-bio piece on my wife’s work.

Laury doesn’t follow this blog, so this is between you and me.

At the end I’ll be asking you a favour.

What’s with that picture?

That’s Laury being ‘pushed into her new life’ by the Chief of the Blackfeet Indians, ‘Earl Old Person’.

That’s our wedding in Montana where we lived for about 18 months before moving to England.

I asked Earl Old Person if that was always his name. You know, even when he was a kid. Yes, that was his name, even as a kid.

The ceremony was a mixture of Blackfoot and English. When he pushed Laury (who didn’t know what was going on) she resisted. (that’s our Laury)

The Chief’s secretary had to whisper from the sidelines, “He’s pushing you into your new life.”

“oh, cool.”

See that feather in her hair? He had me put that there. It’s a American Bald Eagle feather. We were both given one.

One of the concessions the US government gave the American Indians was that only American Indians could possess eagle feathers. (they’re a significant part of their spiritual culture). It is actually a crime with a $10,000 fine for a white man to possess or try to sell eagle feathers.

We think Earl Old Person got in trouble for that. But that’s another story.

We also were given Indian names, which we didn’t expect.

Me: ‘Mountain Walker’

She: ‘Bird Woman’

Another long story.

Anyway, there’s a bit of the background to the ‘in the Rocky Mountains of Montana’ part of the video.

In the 18 months there Laury joined an artist group called the ‘Alpine Artisans’, of which Jennifer, the master basket maker was a member.

Laury made lots of friends no matter where she was. And she got involved in art projects and sculpture, no matter where she was. There’s practically no place on this earth where she doesn’t have friends to visit or stay with when she’s travelling. Believe me, I’ve stayed with many of them.

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There’s Mountain Walker getting pushed into his new life.

Anyway, the video?

It’s just another run and gun video. At least all the footage was. A ‘compilation’ video is probably the proper term.

I’ve been practicing with my Mavic Pro Platinum, so there’s that.

Also, near the beginning there are a couple of short ‘dolly shots’ (handheld with the Sony X70). Those are a couple of statues she did near Dublin, Ireland about 10 years ago. One of my recent videos was in Dublin. I made the short trip to Drogheda to see the statues and sent her a selfie with me and her work, to which she replied, “OMG!” (I didn’t tell her I planned to go there).

Attention: Justin Opinion. (follower of this blog). If you see this, contact me with your details. I’ll be in Texas first week of December. I’d like to visit.

And, as always, it was fun making it.

Hope you enjoy it.

And that favour I was going ask of you, my few loyal followers:

Please share it on your social media with whatever excuse.

She wants to make more steel sculptures, and who knows; maybe one of your friends will find the perfect Christmas present they’ve been looking for.

 

Off-Topic Rant

I like good police dramas; ‘The Killing’ (Danish version), ‘The Bridge’ (Swedes?), ‘The Money Heist’ (Spanish), and many others. And things like ‘Breaking Bad’ (best of the best in my opinion). I think I’ve written about each in this blog.

Now I’m watching an Amazon Prime series (Bosch), a US police drama because, it seems, I’ve already watched just about everything else.

It’s good and I am enjoying it. Excellent characters and acting across the board along with an excellent and original storyline.

But why, oh why, in EVERY single drama I’ve ever seen are the obligatory scenes of ‘protests’ always so unconvincing?

It seems there’s a must in contemporary scriptwriting to include protests scenes involving ‘social justice warriors’.

I know the drill. I used to direct.

They hire extras and make up a bunch of prop signs and ‘stage a protest’.

If everything else is so good (acting, characters, etc.) and they feel so obligated to stage scenes of social justice warriors protesting, WHY are they always so unconvincing, including the casting and acting of the principle actors of the protest? Why do they always give it such short shrift, assign to ‘Second Unit B roll directors’ or whatever.

Is it because all these protests and movements are so fake and sponsored by unseen vested interests hiring paid bad actors to begin with?

It’s hard to believe Hollywood is so honest. Or so stupid.

Well, not really.

Just sayin’.

 

5 Day Music Festival, 2 Cameras

Chalabre, France

Hello.

I know. It’s been a while.

You’re looking at where I live when I’m not in England, home of the annual Chalabre en Sérénade music festival, now in its second year.

The founder, Vinx , lives two doors down, and we both live in the centre of the town where much of this takes place on our doorstep.

You may have seen videos I did of last year’s festival, mainly for promotional purposes to help increase sponsorship for this year’s festival and those to come.

This video tells the story of the festival in Vinx’s own words. It’s an interesting story because this festival has features not seen in any other festival in the world.

It’s my longest ever project (850 GB original material), 5 days to edit, 20 minutes final length.

I gave my Sony NX30 to a retired British local. I shot on my X70 and a bit on the Mavic Pro II drone.

And there were the usual run and gun challenges to overcome.

I’m not going to get into them all, but I do want to cover one of them: The lighting and shooting of Vinx’s interview. (that was a 45 minute interview)

I hadn’t planned to do that in the beginning. Actually, I didn’t have much of a plan at all–except to wait and see what I got and see what the footage might ‘tell me’ to do with it.

What you will see is what it told me to do.

Trouble was, I didn’t have any of my lighting kit with me, nor a tripod. That stuff was in England.

So I propped the camera up on a window sill and tilted it with a matchbook wedge.

I turned off his overhead lights to get light off the back wall and used a 50 watt halogen gooseneck reading lamp from my house to create a key on his face in the room that was otherwise lit by daylight from a small window behind me. That was enough to separate his face from the background both by light and by colour (mixing daylight and tungsten can be a good thing). Afterwards, in post, I used one of my favourite tools, the Slice X Vignette Shape Mask, to subtly vignette the background in a shape that wouldn’t be obvious. And voilà! I must say I was pleased with the result.

The other main challenge was, of course, music audio recording.

I pretty much knew at the outset that we wouldn’t be doing a ‘concert video’. For one, there were over 40 artists in multiple venues all around town. For two, I had no interest in even trying to do that.

I decided I’d do it the way I did last year: Establish one good track to tie together each of the single events into a montage.

That required at least getting some good recordings to which end I took a feed off the board at the main concert, and otherwise used the camera mic to record an act that sounded potentially good. When I was doing that, I kept still and let the other camera  guy move around getting additional B roll. Ironically, the feed off the mix board I mentioned was faulty, and much of that sound had crackle and hiss on it. But I got by with the skin of my teeth despite even that.

I also didn’t hang around long at most events. Sometimes I regretted that–such as at the church sequence at the end, but I took my chances knowing I’d have to edit with the best of what I had even if I missed some really good stuff. Of course, if it was a paid gig, I’d dutifully stick around for everything, but charity  shouldn’t have to kill me.

Sorry about any ads that might show up. Someone’s got a copyright claim on it and I’m trying to find out who it is so I can get permission on behalf of the festival, since we’re not trying to monetise it.

Finally, I think you might find that this 20 minutes goes by pretty quickly.

If it doesn’t, then for you, I have failed.

 

 

 

 

Staged vs Un-staged Action in a Corporate Shoot

I was wondering what to say about this one. Yea, I know, I said this blog has run its course and the next lot of stuff would be about drones.

I do have one waiting for approval that features drone shooting in a distribution centre warehouse, but meanwhile this one was approved.

It occurred to me that there is something I’ve never really mentioned in regards to run and gun corporate shoots.

I never stage action.

Everything you see here was shot in about 1 1/2 hours, not including the interview which was another 45 minutes.

Staging action is almost always a bust. The people get so introverted they either ham it up or act so silly you can’t use it.

So what I do is run around with the camera in my short allotted time and shoot just about everything that’s happening, as it happens–including all the bits I know I have to cover in terms of the machinery itself. But the working staff are always shot discretely just doing what they are doing.

Yes, they often notice I am there and maybe get a little introverted, or smile or something, but you know they are working and doing what they always do. If you staged it, you can always tell that too. So just don’t–unless it’s an emergency.

The key is to shoot a lot. You don’t know in the end how you’re going to use it or how it will fit in with the narrative from the interview, but if you want to show how something works, you just shoot all parts of it as much as you can. Later, in editing, you’ll find you have enough pieces to put together B roll that supports the narrative or tells the story of what the narrative is about.

 

My Town

 

My Town?

Frankly I think this blog has run its course. Couldn’t think of anything of much interest to post or comment on.

There is one tiny difference in this video though.

If you’ve followed me, you know I’ve often said that I shoot everything hand held (using both Sony PXW X70 and HXR NX30) except for sit down interviews. That’s the only thing I use a tripod for.

Well, this one has sit down and stand up interviews and they’re all hand-held–which means, except for the drone shots, and one locked-down camera shot during one of the concerts, the whole video is hand-held.

I shot about 98% of it. Ironically a couple of the ‘hand-helds” that weren’t so lovely were shot by someone else. But still, who cares? It is what it is. It’s a live music festival.

One guy who was shooting with an OSMO gave me his footage. I used one shot.

As far as my comment about this blog having run its course, I do expect to be posting more later this year on drones. That will be the next generation of Video Whisperer posts featuring the Mavic Pro II.

As to ‘my town’, well, this is where I live. My house is the one with blue shutters in the center of the photo above and is right across from the Market Square where the main night concert was held.

We’re doing it again this coming August, only bigger.

If any of you Sony owners fancy a little vacation to southern France and can get yourself here, I’ll put you up and feed you in exchange for being a second cameraman. I say Sony owners for ease of color matching in post.

Any takers?

Double interviews

Normally I hate double interview shots. I’ve even advised against it in my book I think.

The reason, of course, is because the guy who’s not talking is sitting there like a lump on a log.

So I told these guys they could stand side by side and chat and I’d feature one or the other as we went.

But I changed my mind.

They actually pulled it off.

I just held the camera and let them talk.

If you don’t know, Phil Burtt is the David Beckham of the shooting world. He’s known internationally and is also a very nice bloke.

So this whole video was done on the strength of his name. And he knew exactly what to say.

So I let it ride and with very little editing and some judicious B roll, I thought it came off very well.

Yes, it’s a bit long, but if you’re a soccer fan and the video features David Beckham, you’re going to watch the whole thing.

And so it is with this one for those in the world of shooting.

Drone Flying: Beware Old Lead Roofs

Drone over Belvoir Castle in the Fog

 

(whoops: when I first published, I forgot to add the video!)

It was only my second day flying the Phantom 3 Standard and my confidence was up enough to go for an early morning spooky fog shot over Belvoir Castle.

Fog turned out to be the least of my worries.

It didn’t occur to me that standing at the hulking base of that castle that the lead on the roofs would come between the controller and the drone and effectively cut transmission.

In fact, I wasn’t thinking about lead roofs at all.

But that’s what happened.

Yes, it crashed, but there’s a happy ending. Tough little bugger only suffered 3 broken props and lived to fly again.

So…if you fancy flying over old churches or buildings–keep line of sight with the drone. Those old buildings might have lead roofs.

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