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.

Toppling a 17th Century 2nd Floor Stone Wall

The Forge (1652), as purchased and before site cleanup.

 

Not my usual type of video. It was done for family originally but just thought I’d make it public now because it’s kind of interesting.

It’s a detailed account of the process of removing a dangerous 17th century stone wall (the old Forge, a typical ruin in south France) without machinery and without getting killed in the process.

The exciting bit is at the end of course.

Money Heist, Filmmaking Par Excellence

 

If you really want to learn film making, yes it is usually necessary to school yourself on the fundamentals. Really school yourself, learn the basics and get them down cold. I say ‘usually’ because there are a few geniuses that have by-passed that approach because they somehow gleaned it all from the next point I’m going to make.

The next thing is to study the work of real professionals who successfully applied those fundamentals and made classic or ground-breaking films. And even ‘cult underground’ ones. I’m sure you can think of a few,

But amongst that group are a smaller group of visionary artists who push things to a whole new level. That’s a very small group in my opinion.

In the book Run ‘N Gun Videography–The Lone Shooters Survival Guide, I made mention of a few who I felt were in that category at the time. Mentioned were ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Killing (Danish original–not the American version which is crap) and ‘The Bridge’ (a Swedish/Danish collaboration), all of which were crime dramas.

I confess, I’m a crime drama fan, so I’m going to have to add one more to the list.

It may be the best one of all.

La Case de Papel (literal translation: ‘House of paper’ and stupidly translated as a series title to ‘The Money Heist’) is a Netflix original Spanish crime drama. Strangely, I’d never really seen a Spanish film before. Looks like the Swedes, Danes and Spanish have all left Hollywood in the dust. (my theory: Hollywood got into politics while the rest of the world seems to be making better and better films)

Anyway, I was gobsmacked. (a British expression meaning what we might call ‘shit-faced’).

Wow!

I binged watched the whole series in two days.

Why is it so good?

Well, for you readers of Run ‘N Gun Videography, you’ll know what the primary point of that book was and how that primary point is the common denominator of all the fundamentals for any part of film making–MESSAGE.

This series is a fantastic example.

It’s cinema par excellence in all departments. ALL departments (camera, lighting, casting, acting, scripting, sets, props, music, editing….you name it). That’s always what makes a great film great. All departments acting in harmony to forward a message with the greatest possible emotional impact.

But all that techno babble aside–if you want to see the greatest heist film of all time, the most unexpected love story of all time, a great story and  a great thriller, with world class actors you never even heard of, that you will watch episode after episode until 3 am when you realise you’ve unavoidably fallen asleep, and with a fantastic ending–watch ‘The Money Heist’ on Netflix. And learn.

And by the way, I don’t say that smugly. These guys are way out of my league.

YouTube Channel Coming Soon… (but not what you might think)

 

 

Heads up! Tons of rock coming down!

A couple months ago I started thinking about starting a YouTube channel to see if (using what talents I still have) I could hit the Big Time. Or even close.

About a year before that I had another idea. You see, we have a house in southern France that we’re renovating. An old house. Older than the United States. Sounds exotic, I know, but honestly we wouldn’t have it if not for an inheritance. Since then another family member who fell in love with the area bought an old ruin and we’re renovating that too.

But mainly this area of southern France is amazing in so many ways. It’s not the ‘usual’ southern France (Provence, Nice, Cannes, Marseille) that you normally associate with that term. It’s about 100 miles west of that in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It’s France’s Best Kept Secret. (and that was going to be the name of a promotional series I was going to do for the benefit of the local area).

But then, one day, as I was standing in the ruin of the old Forge (1652) that I was working on, I got this new idea.

The Old Forge (1652) as purchased and before site clean-up. That’s a very productive, ancient grape vine growing across the face of the building.

After all, renovating old stone houses is extremely interesting. It takes an understanding and appreciation of the technologies that they were built with that made them last so long. (Perversely, the one sure way of expediting the demise of an old stone/oak frame building is with the introduction of modern building materials such as concrete).

Anyway, interesting as all that that might be, it wouldn’t sustain interest as the sole subject of a YouTube channel…and that’s when the penny dropped and when the two ideas became one: a channel that showed how easily an old ruin can be transformed into a dream house (and also showing you some houses around here and how unbelievably cheap they are) along with a tour of the region and the myriad of interesting things that happen here, particularly throughout the summer, and all the fascinating things and places that are around here. From Cathar castles perched impossibly on sheer stone mountain peaks,

Montsegur, not far from here and one of dozens in the region.

 

to white water rafting, wine tasting tours, street parties that take over villages throughout the summer, concerts, tattoo festivals, traditional festivals, quintessential French villages and towns, lakes, the Pyrenees, skiing, tax-free Andorra, the Mediterranean, Roman hot baths, flea markets that take over towns and villages all summer long (called ‘vide granier’, which means ’empty the attic’ and the treasures you can find there) –all within 90 miles. And so much more.

And to make it interesting, I’d take you around to all these places in a 2CV.

2CV (‘deux chevaux’ –meaning ‘two horses’)

 

The French have an absolute knack and creating the ugliest automative designs that are so adorable they become beloved classics. I don’t have one (but hope to eventually), but may be able to sweet talk a local English friend who has one into borrowing it now and then. It’s the ONLY way to tour old France.

In an earlier post I talked about the possibility of starting a ‘Run and Gun Videography Boot Camp’ down here this summer. If that happens and I manage to get this channel idea going, guess what we’ll be doing? –making videos for the YouTube channel and running around in a 2CV. What could be more fun?!

So there you have it. That’s the news.

The video posted here was done mainly for family members at the time, but with this YouTube channel in the back of my mind. It’s much longer than it would be for the channel idea, but the channel approach would definitely highlight some of the interesting bits of renovating (like the last minute of so of this video).

And like most of what I do, there would be an element of humour along with interesting information to share–except all in short, digestible videos (not 14 minute ones like the Sony camera reviews–which nevertheless were the most watched videos on the internet for those cameras ever and to this day. Thank you. I probably wouldn’t be announcing a possible new YouTube channel if it wasn’t for those videos and your support.

And by the way, my chance for success is based on hedging the bet that many of you will come aboard and help me share it with others when the time comes.

So, for a wee taste, here’s the LONG version of a day in the life of renovating a 380 year old stone house.

(I just noticed a typo in the date. This didn’t happen in the future–it was last month. My bad)

 

 

Sony PXW X70, Extreme Low Light Shooting

 

Sorry to be a bit repetitive. The video linked here is the same on from my last post. But, for an entirely different reason.

I’m posting it in response to an email I just received from Leo Vital.

Here’s the email and my response:

Dear Joe,
…Joe, could you please help me to find the proper settings for rather poorly lighted indoors, when you do not have any way to help it? Lately I was at a Young people gathering and they gathered in a gym size room, with walls painted brown and one was even pitch black. Well now way to light that up 🙂 This was an extreme, but it seems to me that whatever I do, I get rather disapointing outcome, even though while recording it doesnt seem to be that bad. I was trying also recording in the Auto mode, but it was also dissatisfactory. Could you please share with me how you fight the low lighting problem?
Thank you,
Leo
Dear Leo,
I’m going to give you a link to a video I just did a few days ago with the Duchess of Rutland who I’ve been doing a bunch of videos for. This one was ‘a day in the life of a duchess’, and as typical with her videos, they are unplanned. I just follow her with a camera with no idea where she’s going or what she’s going to say. In this one, she called me into some dark cellars. The only light (thankfully) was a work light on in an adjacent room where some workers were renovating some toilets. If you watch the footage carefully, you can see me at one point moving my own shadow out of the light path that was giving the only illumination in the otherwise unlit cellar. Even the shot where she went into a portion of the cellar with no light came out ok. And, to answer your question, I was on full intelligent auto. No choice. Even the auto focus on her held pretty good. So, naturally there was some noise in the dark shots as the camera tried to increase iso to give me an exposure. The answer to all of that is NEAT VIDEO. It’s the ONLY video noise reduction program that really works. The price you pay is worth it. Considering the alternative (no usable shots at all in this classic ‘run and gun’ situation), I still got a video product. It was almost as bad as having to shoot ‘a black cat in a coal mine at night’. There are some cameras (more expensive) that can do better than this, but for the price, your camera is pretty damn good. So, have a look:
As a note, I do have a nice little LED light I can slide into the shoe on the top of my camera, and it would have come in handy here. But, I had NO IDEA I was going to be going into the dungeons (and the shoe was occupied, at that moment, by a rifle mic). So, I kept the camera running and crossed my fingers.
The shots in question start at about the 36 second mark. In fact, ALL of those early morning shots early in the video had NEAT VIDEO processing.
(sorry for poor formatting–paragraphs all run together–and video not showing up properly–Wordpress seems to be having a bad night. Will try to fix tomorrow)
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