Your Equipment Does Not Define You or Your Skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(originally posted on my Run and Gun Video Blog , but seems not too many people follow that one, so sharing it here)

 

I noticed my book cover on Amazon along with some of the related ones being promoted (and their covers) which reminded me at the same time of the many postings I’ve seen of people’s equipment. Some nice stuff and some Frankenstein monsters, but the underlying message (despite what was being said) was usually, ‘look at me’.

You know, the guy posts a shot of a whole load of expensive stuff with the caption: ‘off to do a blah-blah shoot’. Since surely nobody cares that he’s off to do a shoot, the obvious intended message is ‘look at all my cool stuff and be envious’.

Now look at the cover above.

That was very deliberately posed. Of course there was a humorous analogy with and throughout the book of the camera being a gun (so the Marlboro man hat and coat forwarded that), but note that the relatively small and unfancy camera is just dangling from the hand as if it were a 6 shooter and he’s off to shoot some vermin on the ranch that are stealing his chickens–or off to the OK Corral  to dispatch Billy the Kid for that matter.

The gun, the camera are tools, they are not the man.

They come out when it’s time to do the job and the pro doesn’t care what you think about them.

They’re taken care of, oiled and cleaned as any professional would treat his equipment, but except for a few of the narcissistic crazies, they don’t sleep with them, pose with them in the mirror or caress them fondly when no one is looking.

They’re just tools.

And look here: The gun that killed Billy the Kid didn’t even have a laser scope on it.

 

 

Free Book Offer: Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide

Run 'n Gun Videography

I’ve decided to enrol in KDP Select which gives me some promotional options including making the book available for FREE for 5 days.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m doing it for two reasons.

  1. I’m locked into KDP select for 90 days during which period the book can only be available on Kindle. So that gives me a sort of deadline for making the book available in soft cover and putting it on other platforms. I can’t promise it, but it’s a good target for me because I’m going to be pretty busy before then anyway. Plan is to update it and make it available in hardcover next fall.
  2. Though the book has sold a few hundreds copies, it’s only gotten about a little over 30 reviews between the UK and US markets. They’re all good reviews, but I’d like to see a lot more reviews.

The Free Download Offer is NOW LIVE on Amazon and runs through Sunday.

I hope that most of my subscribers here who don’t have it yet will take the opportunity to download it.

In exchange I have a humble request: Please review it on the Amazon page once you’ve read it.

US Amazon Link

UK Amazon Link

Available world wide.

‘Run ‘n Gun Videography’ — Amazon reviews

Run 'n Gun Videography

 

Some newsy stuff.

The video review of the Sony PXW X70 completed its journey from page 26 on a Google search to the number 1 video spot in just under 2 1/2 months. Still annoyed by the couple of sound faults in that video but strangely in just under 17,000 views to date, no one has complained. That’s good because that was a 26 hour upload on a tenuous internet connection.

Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide has now been out 5 weeks, with 125 copies sold. New territory for me. Not sure how that rates. Here are the reviews so far:

 

This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems 5 Feb. 2015

By WisePurchaserPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems that occasionally crosses one’s path, if at all. I say this because the author has distilled a wide assortment of complex issues related to videography into one easy-to-understand source. The author, Joe Caneen, is a veteran videographer with years of industry experience – 30 years and counting, in fact. Yet, unlike many seasoned authorities of this caliber who usually get locked into trade convention or spout out-of-reach techno jargon, Mr. Caneen is refreshingly unpretentious and accessible. So, if you are a beginner videographer who values a didactic approach that fuses intellect with common-sense, that balances artistic technique with practicality, then the good spirits of fate have led you to the right place. Read this text! Learn the many nuggets of wisdom contained within! And you will most assuredly thank me later.

By Kenneth Mullinge

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I’ve just finished reading Joe’s book and I have to say I found it very enjoyable and easy to read. He points out a number of things that I found very useful, the single main point which he makes (and I will not describe here) was more than worth the cost of the book alone. Definitely buy this book if you are interested in becoming a better videographer.

Kenny M

5.0 out of 5 stars

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips 16 Jan. 2015

By J. J. Robertson

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips. Joe Caneen really knows his trade and gets straight to the point with his writing. I wish I’d read this book years ago instead of learning the hard way by making lots of mistakes!

5.0 out of 5 stars

The most inspiring video teacher I have found! 6 Jan. 2015

By Justin OpinionPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I have waited patiently… oh who am I kidding, I’ve never been patient about anything! But I’ve waited for this book to be finished because – well, because I had no choice. But Joe (The Video Whisperer) was kind enough to share snippets of the text on his blog site during the process, and that helped.

Let me preface (what, preface has to be at the top?), okay then let me just say that I have not read the full finished work as yet and am reviewing it anyway. I don’t normally do that – but want to give full disclosure to it. I do feel qualified to offer you my opinion now because I have read so much of it already, and am familiar with the work of this expert craftsman. Joe, from what I’ve learned over time, has spent a career behind the camera in many types of productions. The kind of work where you get one chance to get it right, and that’s it. And even if you can take a second try at it – it comes at a high cost. You don’t have a long and rewarding career if you don’t excel at meeting those objectives.

Good quality cameras are readily available now on nearly every budget level. But if you want to get beyond “point it that way and hit the red button” skill level, you need advice and insight. And The Video Whisperer is the best I’ve found. In part, I freely admit, because I just like him. His personality and easy communication style are very relaxing and familiar. And I find that with that relaxed feeling, my mind is much more receptive to the information being given.

I make videos on YouTube – mostly about the shooting sports and guns in general, so I was not only not offended by the many gun references, I enjoy them. If you are of a different opinion on that topic, don’t fret – the book really is about cameras and how to use them. The analogies are just too easy, and I think quite entertaining. I mention that I make videos because my point is that I fumble at it, and I struggle with it. The improvements I have made have come largely from the inspiration and information from The Video Whisperer – whom I discovered accidentally by watching his review of a Sony camera (that I ultimately purchased and use). The quality of his work in that review left my jaw on the table, and I’ve been hooked since.

If you have a passion, just an interest, or simply a need to learn more and improve your skills with video cameras, I can’t recommend this book enough. What I think you will receive from it above all is INSPIRATION!

5.0 out of 5 stars

This Should be a Required Text for Video and Film Students!! 18 Jan. 2015

By M. RajaPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am not a videographer or a photographer, but do need some help in taking nice pictures of my orchids. Years ago, Joe had given me some basic suggestions about photography and, having internalized them, I have often found myself using those basic techniques even when taking pictures with my iPhone camera. This book, thus, provides a whole wealth of practical and conceptual explanations that would be useful for all those who enjoy filming or hope to launch a professional career as cameramen/women or as film-makers.

I found it especially refreshing that the author first provides the fundamental and core concepts about larger practices (Read Chapter 2 as a great example of this) and then builds on that: this is what we do in our literary studies classes, where we encourage our students to learn the basics first and after that performing complex tasks becomes easier. It seems Joe has given his audience a kind of how-to-book that explains, beyond technique, the how and why aspects of the craft of videography!

This book will be highly useful to all those studying film or film production at college level and I, for one, am certainly going to recommend it as a possible text to the film department at my university!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Concrete advice for solo videographers 22 Jan. 2015

By MatthewPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Great read on fundamentals and advanced techniques of a solo videographer’s world. Easy to read and filled with practical info on lots of topics: gear choice, marketing yourself and your videos, interview tips, editing, what to charge for your services…. Written very conversational and witty, this book kinda feels like sitting down with a trusted mentor sharing his wisdom.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Brilliant book from an authentic working professional explaining the concepts and mechanics of invisible camerawork 11 Jan. 2015

By Miklos NemethPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Absolutely worth every penny. The book has general “life philosophy/wisdom” as well as videography/cinematography/photography (concepts) sections, and specific detailed technical chapters, too. The main advantage of reading a book like this is that it comes from the pen of an authentic/original source, a professional videographer who has been earning his family’s bread for decades on videography. On a couple of videography forums I found a number of excellent comments, but I wanted a book that you can read from page one to the end covering practically every aspects of videography.

4.0 out of 5 stars

Good honest book about videography with tips earnt with experience. 12 Jan. 2015

By cheekysaffer

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am one of those people who watched the Sony NX30 camera reviews on YouTube a while ago looking for a new camera.

The first thing I noticed when watching the video was that Joe seems very sincere and it was obvious that he has years of experience in the video and film industry. I am just starting up my video production company and it was very assuring to hear that you don’t need to have a really expensive camera to be professional. Although I did spend £4k on a second hand one which I wanted….

I visit thevideowhisperer YouTube channel from time to time and this is how I learned that Joe has now written a book on the subject of videography.

I just bought this today and finished it tonight. Its a good honest book that really strips down the whole professional videography subject into core chapters. Its filled with really good advice that you can tell was earned in the field.

As I don’t have any professional paid experience yet, I was looking for this kind of book. Anything that can help me produce better quality videos for my future clients and possibly help to prevent me making silly mistakes is worth the asking price of this book.

As someone who is about to leave an engineering career to do what I always wanted to do, its good to find that extra little inspiration from a real professional in the game.

A good easy read, highly recommended for people who are thinking of going pro.

 

“Run ‘n Gun Videography” eBook, First Reviews

Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide is now live on Amazon as a Kindle eBook.

25 Chapters, 219 pages, 60 photos and illustrations, $7.77 /£5.05 (available worldwide). You can buy it here.

You don’t need a Kindle reader to read a Kindle book. Anyone can download the free Kindle app for pc or Mac right on the Amazon page (links below).

Along with the new book is a new blog Run and Gun Videography, which is both a supplement to the book and a developing resource for lone shooters and those just starting off in the videography business.

Run ‘n Gun Videography is the perfect primer for those starting out as videographers. It will get you off on the right foot.

The book was written mainly for lone shooters, small production companies and those just starting out in the business. You’ll find, however, that the information is equally applicable to class A feature films.

In my opinion you could either go to film school or read this book. Or read this book and get a hell of a lot more out of film school because you will have your priorities set straight.

Reviews

It’s been out for three weeks now with 7 reviews so far between the US and UK. I don’t know these people, except through the blog, but I sincerely appreciate the time taken to post the reviews and look forward to more.

Here’s a sampling:

Justin Opinion

…Good quality cameras are readily available now on nearly every budget level. But if you want to get beyond “point it that way and hit the red button” skill level, you need advice and insight. And The Video Whisperer is the best I’ve found. In part, I freely admit, because I just like him. His personality and easy communication style are very relaxing and familiar. And I find that with that relaxed feeling, my mind is much more receptive to the information being given…

If you have a passion, just an interest, or simply a need to learn more and improve your skills with video cameras, I can’t recommend this book enough. What I think you will receive from it above all is INSPIRATION!

Miklos Nemeth

Absolutely worth every penny. The book has general “life philosophy/wisdom” as well as videography/cinematography/photography (concepts) sections, and specific detailed technical chapters, too. The main advantage of reading a book like this is that it comes from the pen of an authentic/original source, a professional videographer who has been earning his family’s bread for decades on videography. On a couple of videography forums I found a number of excellent comments, but I wanted a book that you can read from page one to the end covering practically every aspects of videography.

Cheeksaffer

I am one of those people who watched the Sony NX30 camera reviews on YouTube a while ago looking for a new camera.

The first thing I noticed when watching the video was that Joe seems very sincere and it was obvious that he has years of experience in the video and film industry. I am just starting up my video production company and it was very assuring to hear that you don’t need to have a really expensive camera to be professional. Although I did spend £4k on a second hand one which I wanted….

I visit thevideowhisperer YouTube channel from time to time and this is how I learned that Joe has now written a book on the subject of videography.

I just bought this today and finished it tonight. Its a good honest book that really strips down the whole professional videography subject into core chapters. Its filled with really good advice that you can tell was earned in the field.

As I don’t have any professional paid experience yet, I was looking for this kind of book. Anything that can help me produce better quality videos for my future clients and possibly help to prevent me making silly mistakes is worth the asking price of this book.

As someone who is about to leave an engineering career to do what I always wanted to do, its good to find that extra little inspiration from a real professional in the game.

A good easy read, highly recommended for people who are thinking of going pro.

Professor M. Raja

…This book, thus, provides a whole wealth of practical and conceptual explanations that would be useful for all those who enjoy filming or hope to launch a professional career as cameramen/women or as film-makers.

I found it especially refreshing that the author first provides the fundamental and core concepts about larger practices (Read Chapter 2 as a great example of this) and then builds on that: this is what we do in our literary studies classes, where we encourage our students to learn the basics first and after that performing complex tasks becomes easier. It seems Joe has given his audience a kind of how-to-book that explains, beyond technique, the how and why aspects of the craft of videography!

This book will be highly useful to all those studying film or film production at college level and I, for one, am certainly going to recommend it as a possible text to the film department at my university!!!

Matthew

Great read on fundamentals and advanced techniques of a solo videographer’s world. Easy to read and filled with practical info on lots of topics: gear choice, marketing yourself and your videos, interview tips, editing, what to charge for your services…. Written very conversational and witty, this book kinda feels like sitting down with a trusted mentor sharing his wisdom.

Price: U.S. $9.99/UK £6.52, but it is available globally, so depending where you are, either of the two links at the bottom of this page might ask you to sign into Amazon in your own country.

New: Run ‘n Gun Videography Blog

With the release of this book I’ve started a new blog called Run ‘n Gun Videography. It is meant to be a companion to the book in that part of its function is to supplement the book with sample videos relevant to certain chapters. Beyond that I hope to build it into a growing resource of information for lone shooters and small production companies with links to helpful information and relevant articles sent in by subscribers. You don’t need to have read the book to subscribe or to read the new blog, but in certain cases it will make more sense to have read the book. The blog is in its infancy, but I will endeavor to regularly update it with useful information.

Review Request

I would sincerely appreciate it if those of you who do buy and read the book  would post a review on Amazon once you’ve read the book.  As most readers here know, we don’t tend to buy anything of this sort (be it equipment or books) without reading reviews first.

Please feel free to share the link on your own networks.

Also, feel free to write me directly with any questions or requests using the contact links at the back of the book or through this blog.

BUY U.S. version (Amazon.com)

BUY UK version (Amazon.co.uk)

 My Own Wee Promo for the Book (VIDEO)…

The Book Cover:

Run _'n _Gun_Videography-cover

A Key to Professional Camerawork

 Intention is senior to Mechanics.

When you mean to do something, no matter how small or big, no matter how simple or impossible, if one truly and purely intends to do it and then does it, it was the intention that carried it through to completion. It was the intention that guided all of the mechanics necessary to get it done. And by mechanics is meant tools and materials and stuff–and even the human body itself.

A short story:

I was once interviewing the employees of a rather bigger-than-life character.  A couple of the lads were on the back of his yacht shooting at targets in the sea with a .45 hand gun. They weren’t having much luck. And they weren’t aware they were being watched. Suddenly the old man tapped one of them on the shoulder and said, “Give me that”.

He took the .45 and “BLAM, BLAM, BLAM”, hit all three of the targets.

Then he handed back the gun and said, “Just hit it”, and left.

It reminded me of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”.

You can add all matter of complexity into anything, most of which will prevent you from getting anything done–

If you think about it, all the best things you ever did or accomplished and which brought the greatest joy were driven by the purest of sheer intention. If you waver, you miss. Or you take a long time. Or produce a less than desired result.

I’m pretty sure this applies to Martial Arts and to the apparent miracles pulled off routinely by the best sportsmen and women around the world.

Intention is senior to mechanics.

So how does this apply to camerawork?

I had already sort of figured this out earlier in my camera career. By treating the camera as an extension of my eye and keeping my attention outward (whether I was on a tripod head, crane, dolly or hand-held) I was essentially eliminating a certain number of mechanical “vias” (like going from Point A to Point B via Point C, rather than going direct).

The trickiest was the Worrel geared head, and that’s where I sort of perfected my approach. With a geared head (designed for the heavy cinematography cameras) you’ve got one gear that does the pan and one gear that does the tilt, and you have to operate them together regardless of different speeds or degrees of movement of either the pan or the tilt. If you thought about it much, you simply couldn’t do it.

I’m sure you can think of similar complex actions that, once practiced, you execute “without thinking about it”. And when you find yourself thinking about it, you mess it up.

Another thing that complicated it was the need to hold your eye to the viewfinder on those big cameras–added to the fact that as you panned or tilted, sometimes the viewfinder was hard to keep your eye on–in which case you had no choice but to aim the camera like a gun.

So I used to sort of consider that cross hair in the viewfinder as a target that I would draw across the scene. I was well aware of composition needs, but by then that was second nature and tended to fall in place as I guided the cross hairs (and I’m talking about complex camera moves involving changing planes on multiple axes (plural of axis).

The advent of video assists suddenly eased some of the mechanics (no need to twist and crane your head and neck).

When I later heard the “just hit it” story, the full simplicity finally dawned on me. But it was with an understanding of the meaning of that statement.  Intention is senior to mechanics.

So in camerawork, what are the “mechanics”?

It covers the camera itself and all of its mechanisms, the lens and the subject of optics, film and the subject of exposure, the camera mount (tripod, dolly, crane, etc.) and head,  your hands, legs, eyes and everything else that holds that all together. And then there’s the stuff (people, objects, spaces) that move within your frame.  It’s all the physical stuff and there’s lots of it.

When you’re brand new, you worry about all of these things and you might say that you’re introverted into the mechanics. Your stuff probably even looks mechanical. But with knowledge, practice and experience, your attention goes more and more outward and the mechanics just become an extension of your intention when framing and composing scenes.

And that’s what it takes–knowledge, practice and experience.

Even this is a rather complicated explanation of something which is itself a simplicity when it comes to explaining good camerawork.

The short version is:

Just shoot it.

(or)

Just Do It!

Unshackled Camerawork

Just made up that term. Wonder if it will stick.

As a 30 year career cameraman, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on camerawork for the one-man-band videographers and small video production companies out there.

It’s a many-faceted subject, but like any subject, it has fundamental rules. And while this isn’t meant to be a dissertation on the rules, I thought I mention one that probably isn’t written anywhere anyway as a foundation for my comments, and that is: the purpose of camerawork is to forward the message of the script or production (and that goes for every other department–sets, props, costumes, make-up, lighting, sound, music, editing, etc.).

The corollary might be: The purpose of camerawork isn’t to call attention to the camera or cameraman.

That said, there are probably few camera support systems I haven’t extensively used in both film and video production–from geared heads, the most expensive fluid heads and tripods, dollies, cranes, camera cars and steadicam. But I used them toward contributing to the overall message of the scene.

In the mid-90s I changed over to video, traveling the world in small teams of 2 or 3, self included, with an 18 pound Sony Betacam. The work was fast and often “ninja style”. Little preps, lots of thinking on one’s feet.  My biggest impediment annoyance? Tripods.

So early on I ditched that $7,000 carbon fiber tripod with the Sachler head for everything except sit-down interviews and I learned to do everything hand-held. Not “shakey-cam”, just a nice, steady hand-held. I’d prop that big Sony on my foot, on the ground, on a ledge, on my knee, hip or shoulder, lean against a pole or fence or building or sit it on a small bean bag I carried and shot stuff that few ever realized was hand-held.

But the main point was, I was able to shoot un-impeded. I didn’t miss those fleeting shots on location because I was setting up a tripod and introverted into my equipment.

Then came the digital revolution.

And now most of the cameras we used have built-in stabilization and most of the editing programs we use have camera stabilizer programs to boot.

Better still, the cameras themselves are light-weight with rotatable flip-out monitor screens. What more can you ask for?!

Ok, so now let’s re-visit that fundamental above about the purpose of camerawork.

Camerawork (or lighting or editing or any of those other departments mentioned) is good when it involves the audience in the story; when it helps to impart mood or emotion or direct attention.

And, (corollary), these things are bad when they call attention to themselves, or worse when they call attention to the operator showing off his technical prowess.

In fact my view regarding camerawork had always been that it’s best when it’s “invisible”–when it seamlessly becomes the eye of the audience.

That doesn’t necessarily mean perfect camerawork. It just means appropriate to and not distracting from the message.

It’s quite alright if someone after the show remarks that the cinematography was excellent, but by that they generally mean that everything contributed to the message or story and they were wowed by it all, not distracted or knocked out of the show by it.

Don’t be fooled into the notion that to appear “professional” you’ve got to have all these cool rigs and techniques. You don’t even need it to impart a “cinematic” look.

Think about all the lost opportunities to catch snippets of life and reaction at a wedding or great B roll of people working at their jobs in the office or on an industrial site while you were busy setting up that fancy shot. Instead keep your attention outward. Be invisible. Catch the stuff that only happens when no one thinks you’re watching.

Get your technical expertise up as high as you can get it without losing site of why you’re there.

I’m not saying get rid of all your cool stuff and I’m not saying don’t buy it. Just don’t get the notion that you need it to be professional. Far more important is obtaining total command over your camera so that it becomes an extension of your eye which is always outward looking, and then with it you capture what you came for better than your client ever expected.

Message is senior to technical rendition. In fact it trumps it.

If you capture something in a way that screams the message or mood or emotion, it will resonate with the audience even if faulty.  They didn’t come there to watch and critique your camerawork or technique (unless that’s what your video message is about!).

My two cents.

UPDATE:  While this was the subject of my last post, it occurred to me that it’s, at least, a current sample of an 11 minute video that’s entirely hand-held except for the sit-down interview (as all my videos are , to be honest). I link to it here as, unlike most of the corporate and wedding videos I do, I think it would be of interest to anyone. It’s a mini-doc on the making of a bronze statue by my wife, international sculptor Laury Dizengremel:

Color Temperature, Warts ‘n All

This tutorial was by request of Daren Henderson.  I do appreciate all the feedback on the first two videos in the “Lighting For Video That Doesn’t Suck” series, and particularly requests.

I’m also chuffed that people have started subscribing to this blog. I’ve just added share buttons to the articles, so please share as you see fit.

I called it “Warts n All” because I did this one 100% solo without the benefit of moral support from my assistant/model Gemma. But also I demonstrate and discuss color temperature errors.

For you Americans: “Warts n All” is an English expression that’s sort of self explanatory. So is “chuffed”. The English have a way with expressions that make no sense on the face of it until you hear them in context and suddenly they make total sense. (I live in England)

Don’t miss Part One, Lighting for Video That Doesn’t Suck, Getting Started

and Part Two, 3 Point Lighting.

Cheers!

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