The Story – Setting up the framework

So, this section of my blog is going to be (or at least attempt to be) an ongoing story of my journey to get to present day as it concerns my career, my experience, how it all played in with my family life and life in general.  This isn’t going to be technical or about the gear or anything like that, it’s basically my story.

I feel like the place that I’m at now still has room to grow and I have some of moving up to do, but I am currently 11 years in to doing something that I really love and have been able to make a freelance and corporate career out of it. I’m not saying that I’m an authority on anything…well, ok…I’m am pretty savvy behind the camera and in the edit room! 🙂 But seriously, I just want to share my story in the hopes that I can share info, and who knows…maybe someone will get inspired.
If you out there in blog world are reading this and have questions or comments I am more than happy to field any of them, so don’t be afraid to leave comments, share or like.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post regularly! At least a couple per week.

I hope you get something out of it!

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The 10 non-gear essentials for an event shooter

I was about to take a lunch break while shooting a while ago and in preparation to eat, I pulled out my bottle of hand sanitizer and the guy I was with said, “you really are a shooter, all the shooters I know carry one of those around”. To me it just seemed like a natural thing to have with me, but then I started thinking of all the other non-video, essential things that I have with me on every shoot. So, I am writing this posting as my list of camera operator’s essentials.
• Hand Sanitizer – think of all the hand shakes and gear grabbin’ that happens throughout the day
• A bandana – wipe the sweat away or to be used as a slider on a smooth surface (more on that later) or to protect your good pants’ knees when kneeling to get a shot
• A good multitool
• GPS – get an app, saves the cost of buying dedicated hardware or…get dedicated hardware like a Garmin or TomTom. I personally use TelNav on my Blackberry.
• Phone car charger
• Gum – I like Stride 2.0 myself
• Black electrical tape (fixes and modifies all kinds of stuff!)
• Antihistamine – not only for seasonal allergies, but I’ve used it after having a reaction from some weird bathroom soap on a shoot, as well as bee stings.
• Tide To Go Pen – at weddings, I’m in the public eye as much as the bride and groom are. Gotta eat…gotta stay clean
• Fully stocked refresh kit – work all day, summer sun, carrying a Glidecam with a camera, monitor and mic on it all over the church, park and hall in a suit means…better have travel sized deodorant, toothpaste, tooth brush, chapstick, hand lotion, body spray and hair brush (unless you’ve been blessed with the chrome dome like me). I keep this kit in the car, all the other stuff is always with me.

Well there it is, my list.  What are some of your essentials?

My lens kit, the must haves for this versatile shooter

I would like to take this time to introduce (to those that are interested), what I have put together as my “all around” kit of lenses that allows me to shoot 100% of the work that I do with my DSLR.

  1. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens
  2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
  3. TokinaAF 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX Canon Wide Angle Zoom Lens. 

These lenses cover the entire range of my event and corp videography requirements with exceptional performance, image quality, sharpness and colour.  Yes, the lenses are pretty pricey, but they are worth every penny in my optinion.  Here’s the rundown…

The Tokina 11-16mm is a super wide-angle lens that allows you to get tons of people in your shot, work at very close distances to subjects, minimize the obviousness of camera shake because of its width, is amazing to create the look of movement when on Glidecams or sliders and has hard stops in manual focus mode which is great when using a follow focus system like my D|Focus (Check out the D|Focus System Blog and website for info.  GREAT product!!!).

The Canon 24-70mm is great for interviews and speeches, but also covers a range that is suitable for what I would call “typical” event shooting.  This lens provides a natural feeling focal range…more like the feeling of looking around or seeing through a typical human perspective.  Now, obviously this depends on the distance between you and subject, but in an event world I think you’ll find this to be a “natural”feeling range.  Oh yeah…it’s a macro lens too.

Canon 70-200mm, AMAZING!  The ISII (image stabilization, 2nd generation) on the new version is great!  2 levels allow for pan type shooting (back and forth) and vertical stabilization (more for photographers as vertical shake is more common when trying to hold the cam still for  a photo).  The stabilization is a very welcomed feature, especially when on the telephoto end because you’ve zoomed in so close. Not having stabilization on a lens like this (for anyone that doesn’t get the why you need stabilization), well it’s kinda the same as trying to shine a flashlight across a dark football field at a person’s eye…and holding it still.  Wouldn’t be easy.  In addition, the depth of field on the tight end (how blurry you can make the background) is amazing and just looks so…uummph!  Beautiful!

So, here’s the summary.

  • 11-16mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm (the entire range from wide-angle to telephoto is covered…including macro)
  • All of them are f2.8.  This means great Depth of Field and good low light capabilities.  Also pretty darn sharp focus too
  • They give you versatility in the gigs that you can do and versatility in what you can do while there
  • They are all good quality lenses that can outlast your camera and go from cam to cam
  • you look like a pro (and yes, that matters)
  • Can cover anything from interviews to concerts, weddings to corporate video, super close-ups of things right in front of you and zoom-ability to things a football field away.

So for me, there have been and will be gigs that come up that a different lens or set of lenses will be needed.  I mean, let’s not forget that Prime lenses are the sharpest images you can get.  There are situations where if you can get your hands on Prime lenses either for a project or maybe even to own yourself then you would want to do it.  But generally I let the project pay for the rental of some really good Primes and this is two fold.

  1.  They are not as versatile for run-and-gun and event situations as zoom lenses are and with the huge number of corporate shooting that I’m involved in, the need to be versatile is even greater.
  2.  As expensive as the Canon Zoom lenses are, to cover the focal range with Primes that I have covered by using my 3 zoom lenses…let’s just say that in a lot of cases it makes sense for the client to rent the lenses on their budget!

Anyways, thanks for listening to my opinion!  Please feel free to comment or let me know what’s in your lens kit, I’d love to hear!

Shoot straight…and in focus!

July 30th wedding…now it’s July 31st…barely

So the day is done.  I’m home after leaving the house before everyone was up and getting and everyone is sleeping except the dog who greats me like Dino used to greet Fred at the beginning of the Flintstones.  No…seriously…he does!  My dog is a 135 pound Mastweiler and when he gets excited he can knock a grown man down just by pushing up against you and wagging his hind quarter and non-existent tail (clipped at birth).

Anyways, the SDE (same day edit) played, the dancing started and true to form at weddings, the countdown to departure was on and we hadn’t thrown the garter and bouquet, the sweet table hadn’t opened, Groom and Mom hadn’t danced yet and there were 4 or 5 family shots that needed to be done.

A good rule of thumb that Sean (who is one of the photogs, a colleague, a new dad and friend), and I were discussing tonight had to do with deciding how long after the discussed quitting time do you start charging OT if things go late.  We said 30 minutes, then you’re into overtime hours, payable at the end of the night. So here’s the thought process:  We wake up early…really early to start shooting, go on minimal food most of the day, are on our feet most of the day, are hot, sweaty, always happy (even if we don’t want to be), our minds are on full-tilt all day and I’m away from the family for the entire day.  So, that being said, don’t do this job unless you love it!  smirk!  Just kidding, the real point is that you can’t just walk up to the B&G and say, “yeah, contract says 11:30, it’s 12:01 that’s $100/hr/person”, not cool and probably won’t go over well.  But at the beginning of the night what I like to do is go over the flow of the night and let everyone that needs to know, understand what time I’m contracted to, this way we can all work towards having things run to time.  Also, it gives me a chance to say (as it did tonight) at 10:00, “hey Mr. DJ, any idea when we might be able to get the parent dances out of the way?  Don’t want it to get too late on us”…or something like that.  Giving the B&G a heads up on timing early on makes the onset of the conversation about overtime not seem like a cash grab.  In actuality that conversation about overtime is a great catalyst in moving things forward and sometimes they actually keep you around…at $100/hr/person.  One could only be so lucky.  So, to summarize what Sean and I were saying…30 mins past contractual end time (with multiple previous reminders to B&G as well a the DJ) is when you should start billing the overtime.

Anyways, Jeremy edited the SDE today that Pierre and and I shot the footage for and it was a hit (I’ll post it as soon as I get my hands on the edit).  SDE’s are always a big crowd pleaser. After all the formalities were done, I headed home.  Til next time…

Shoot straight!

Don't mind the shiny bald dome...it's all about the rig!

 

Same Day Edit

Late night gear check for wedding tomorrow

So, it’s just past midnight, I am gonna go walk the dog but before I do I am getting my gear in check for tomorrow’s wedding with Frame of Mind.  I have an 8:45am start time, so I have already gassed up the van, loaded the real big stuff (my lights, stands, tripod, weights etc), and am putting together my camera gear.  So let’s run down the list:

Canon 7D

24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 11-16 f2.8

Zacuto EVF (AMAZING!!!) w/ z-finder

Rode Video mic pro

4x 32GB CF Cards

Matte box w/ 4×4 filters

Beachtek audio adapter

D|Focus follow focus system

Glidecam 2000

Uno Slider (tell you about this later)

tripod, lights (some arris, totas and no-namers)

 

in addition to this I’m packing extra shirt for the evening and shaving kit w/ all the “make yourself smell good after a long day of shooting” stuff (for the reception).

There are some other small yet key items in my arsenal like the light remotes that are often taken for granted but missed when not used.  My kit really has been tailored over the years and I’ll let you in on what’s in it sometime.

I’ll post about the day sometime over the weekend and hopefully some clips.  We’re doing a SDE tomorrow.  I’m not editing, that’ll be Jeremy, but I am shooting video to be used in it, so stay tuned!