Due to lack of interest and feedback, this blog is being discontinued.
For now, The Video Whisperer Blog is still in operation.
Due to lack of interest and feedback, this blog is being discontinued.
For now, The Video Whisperer Blog is still in operation.
Nothing special about this recent video I did (the only footage of mine was the interview; the rest was footage provided by the charity), but it was the first time I ever used Google Maps in a video production.
I was inspired by a link provided by Ryan Nangle, a plugin creator who also does excellent tutorials. In this case, it was how to use Google maps. In his tutorial, he provides the link to his extremely reasonable zoom transition used in the particular tutorial (which I bought for something like $6). It’s not the first transition I’ve bought from him.
The clouds are from FCPX and Ryan shows you how to manipulate them in terms of appearance, density and mist layers.
Thought I didn’t do it here, he even shows you how to animate an object (in his example, a boat on a river) in the otherwise static Google image. Quite easy in FCPX and quite clever too.
In this video, I didn’t incorporate the camera-shake effect from FCPX as he did because it wasn’t as appropriate to my purpose as it was in his sample (where it was very effective).
Nevertheless, it gave me a new tool which I was able to use effectively and appropriately in this little video I did for a charity for the purpose of promoting to gap year students. And that was the sole purpose of this video. (to those in the U.S., a ‘gap year’ is often taken by UK students who complete the equivalent of high school before going to university. Usually, they spend a year in another country for cultural or experiential purposes).
As a note, in the original review, I did of the X70 I mentioned the advantage of shallow depth of field (due to the large sensor size) compared with the earlier review of the NX30. The only original footage in this video is the interview itself, and it’s a good example of the shallow depth of field obtainable with the X70. I know many videos cameras more closely approximate the fast lenses of film cameras, but the point is more comparing the price point of the X70 versus the price point of the high-end cameras that emulate high-end film cameras.
So here’s the video. After that you will find the link to Ryan Nangle’s excellent tutorial. In the YouTube description of his video you will find a link to his transition effect used in this video. As a note, he has many useful and clever transitions available, so he’s worth subscribing to.
Here’s the link to Ryan’s tutorial and transition download:
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.
I’m launching a new navigation tab on the Run and Gun Videography Blog called Run ‘n Gun Bootcamp of which this will be the first entry.
This is following up on my earlier post suggesting the idea and asking for feedback. It seems there are enough people interested to make it happen, so current plans are to do so by Spring or Summer next year (2018).
As the name implies, it will be a video boot camp based on the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide.
It will happen in Chalabre, France.
This post will be a very short summary of the types of things that I will keep updating and expanding in the new Boot Camp tab. It will include photos of the town, the house you will be staying in, the town’s fascinating history as well as the history and summary of the plentiful activities in the local area as far away as the Mediterranean (only 90 minutes away). We’re in the foothills of the Pyrenees, about an hour from Andorra and Spain and in the midst of Cathar country going back 1000 years. Spotted with Cathar castle ruins (castles built impossibly at the top of steep rocky mountain tops), sprawling with vineyards in one of Frances’ best wine regions, and with rivers, steep gorges, white water river rafting, not to mention mountain trails, skiing, horse-back riding and many social activities happening every day throughout the summer, Chalabre is what many of us here call “Frances’ Best Kept Secret”.
Chalabre itself is a medieval town founded in the late 11th century at the confluence of 3 rivers. Sometime in the 12th century and upriver dam burst and flooded the village. Consequently, the town was rebuilt on top of the old village. It’s interesting to note that when you buy property here there is small print in the contract which says that there ‘is nothing of any historical interest below (your) house”. Sure. Everyone knows the old town is down there.
The advantage of having a boot camp here is that there is SO much to see and do and film at almost any time of year, particularly in the summer.
As part of this new tab, I will create a calendar of events (give me some time as that alone is a huge undertaking) which may help you decide which time of year you’d like to come. Afterall, it will be a bit of a holiday at the same time–not all work and drudgery.
I’ll introduce you to the house which we are renovating and show some before and after pictures of the spaces we have been working on over the last two years. Currently, we are renovating the attic–which is probably where you run and gunners will be staying–though there’s plenty of space elsewhere in the house. It’s all a matter of scheduling this activity along with others that will be happening at this house (such as Air BnB and other events planned here). That’s why I’m sort of reserving the attic for this program. It will be a pretty cool space with two bedrooms and one crash loft along with a bathroom, kitchenette and lounge.
As time goes on I will finalise pricing and options, so feel free to feedback as I start posting all this stuff.
One thing for sure is that couples are welcome even if one of you are not going to be doing the video program. Like I mentioned earlier, it will be a great holiday with a video bonus for you video enthusiasts.
A quick photo tour:
Color grading is relatively new to me, so I’m not an expert, but so far it has enabled me to not only make shots look better, but has allowed me to dramatically improve the look of interview shots.
Denver Riddle of Color Grading Central originally introduced me to the whole subject when he released Color Finale for FCPX. It’s an invaluable tool and I highly recommend getting it.
FCPX has some powerful grading tools itself in its Color pane. It’s more powerful than many people realise, but I’m not going to attempt a tutorial that others would be much better at.
Instead I want to show you a couple recent examples, starting with a little contest Denver Riddle posted on the FB Color Grading Central page.
I’m also going to tell you about the amazing vignette tool from Slice X and show you how and why I used it in grading a few shots. It is definitely way better than the built-in FCPX tool because you can infinitely manipulate it.
I’ll put the links to all these things at the bottom of the post.
First, here’s what Denver posted and asked people to grade:
And here’s what I did with it:
Hundreds of people posted their grades in response to Denver’s challenge. Mine seems to be one of the few he commented on directly saying it was a nice color balance. I was kind of chuffed, though he said there was too much separation from subject to background. On that I had to disagree. It is one of the primary things I try to achieve with lighting first, and grading afterwards because it creates more depth and 3 dimensionality. But in fairness, I didn’t spend that much time on it and there were still some things I wanted to do to improve it. He might have had a point. Too much separation? Anyway…
I did this grade using both the FCPX color pane and Color Finale. The FCPX color pane, amongst other things, gives you the ability to isolate shapes which you can then adjust independent of the surroundings. In this case I isolated their faces and graded them separate from the background. Most of the color work on the background was done using Color Finale which allows you to independently control the hue, saturation and brightness of the main color components (along with many other things).
Finally I used Slice X vignette to direct attention to the subjects.
All of these things are key-framable. Since this is a still shot, key-framing was not necessary of course.
Here’s a screen grab of Slice X Vignette in use:
Unlike most vignette tools, including the one in FCPX, this one is infinitely controllable in terms of shape and access. Like all the others, you can also control the density, size and softness of the vignette. But this is the only one where you can also shape it and change its axis. Here are the properties that you can vary from within the inspector in addition to the on-screen controls you see above:
Ok, now for real life.
For those of you who read Run and Gun Videography–The Lone Shooters Survival Guide, you’ll know I covered the subjects of lighting both generally and specifically in regard to interviews. Lighting is the lifeblood of cinematography and is much more effective in creating that ‘cinematic look’ than shallow depth of field alone.
Here’s an interview shot I did recently as it came out of the camera:
It was not without some problems.
While I did manage through lighting to effectively separate him from the background in a white room (turned off all overheads, closed the window blinds, skimmed the back wall with a light to give the impression of of an off-scene window while controlling the spill from hitting the opposite wall as much as I could and gave him facial modelling and a backlight–both of which I had to severely control with black foil to avoid spill). The trouble with white rooms is that light bounces all over the place. So this was pretty good and I could have left it as it was, but there was another problem I hadn’t realised at the time. It was shot with relatively high gain (unnecessarily) and so is a bit grainy. You’ll see what I mean if you click on the picture to see it full-sized.
Here’s what I did with it:
Grading was done with FCPX and Color Finale. Then I added the Slice X vignetting tool subtly. I also used Neat Video to de-noise it. The result, I think, is that the shot has more depth and dimension.
And one final sample and a small test:
The first one was out of the camera, the second one graded. But what may be of more interest is the lighting. See that big window in the back? Well, there were three more to the left which effectively lit up the whole room. I closed the heavy curtains on the side windows. Then I placed a softbox in the floor in the background (left) to create a fake light from the (now dark) window being sure to keep it off the walls. Now I was able to light her with a relatively low intensity softlight and have her more dramatically separated from the background. I gave her a backlight and a little frontal fill which also gave her eye lights.
As I told Denver, this is what I try to achieve with almost any shot–separation of subject from background which can be achieved with focus or lighting or both. (In this case lighting was going to carry the job as the focal length was wide and the depth of field too great)
I could have done it more telephoto (which can also be more flattering), but chose this because she is a Duchess in a castle and I felt the grandeur of the room was important to include.
Now for the test:
Did you notice the microphone in the shot ?
(I didn’t think so–which is why I left in in there rather than crop the shot)
Because of the depth and because of the directing of attention to her face, what is it that you look at when you see this shot.? Her face, right?
Our little secret
Color Grading Central Website (where you can get Color Finale)