Run ‘ Gun Boot Camp

Chalabre, France

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:

 

 

My wife’s steel wire sculpture of fighting stallions greets you on the main road into Chalabre

“Number 10”. That’s the house on the market square where you will stay. Late 1600s. We’ve got a shop on the ground floor to the right behind the bench (which is made of slabs of pine I hauled from Montana)

Attic windows open with wires hanging out (current renovation project)

View from one of the attic bedrooms currently being renovated. The chapel on the hill is at the top of the silhouetted hill on the right.

From the chapel on the hill after a brisk 20 minute walk to get there. Chalabre is down below.

One of Chalabre’s roads along the river

Right around the corner from the house are two grocery stores and a butcher shop. (the bakery and another butcher shop around another corner).

 

 

LED Lighting For Video

LED thumbnail

Some time back I did a review of a Flexlite (flexible LED panel).

I was fortunate in that I got two of them in exchange for the review. I did the review because I was already sold on them at the Expo I saw them at.

Anyway, I realise they’re a bit pricey and not really something every run and gunner wants to go out and buy when you can get a couple of flouro soft boxes for 1/3 the price of a single Flexible LED light–or just about any other LED light for that matter.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s all changed now.

But before I get into that, let me say that there isn’t a better lighting tool for the run and gunner.

  1. They take up hardly any space in your kit bag.
  2. They’re feather-weight.
  3. You don’t need to carry big bulbs or replacement bulbs.
  4. They’ll probably still be working when you die after a long life.
  5. You can drop them and they don’t break.

I love mine. I have only two and need a third.

A few days ago I found the video I’m about to share. This guy shows you how to make them for about $60.

Not only that, he really went through the hoops to source the right LED lights and bits and pieces you’ll need and shares the links. This is important because not all LED lights are equal when it comes to the spectrum of light they output.

Finally, what he’s going to show you is how to make a bi-color flexible LED panel. (Mine are only ‘daylight’ balanced). With bi-color you’re all set up for either indoor or outdoor shooting and can even mix the two different colors independently to create just about any color temperature you want.

 

The Real Essence of the ‘Cinematic Look’

Understanding Movement in Composition

As I’m sure I must have mentioned in Run and Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, the word ‘cinema’ derives from Greek kinema “movement,” + graphein “to write”. In short, it has to do with motion. But that’s just the definition of the words, not the art form that evolved.

Just because the camera moves or things move within the frame does not necessarily mean that it’s good ‘cinema’. Poorly done or done without understanding can actually make it ‘bad cinema’

These days it seems the ‘cinematic look’ has been reduced down in meaning to shallow depth of field and cinematic ‘looks’ being given to the film or video in post production. I covered this somewhat in a chapter of the book called The Filmic Look which was also published on this blog.

Anyway, all this is to introduce an excellent short video produced by someone else on this very topic. No, he’s not talking about the ‘filmic or cinematic look’ per se (because no one in the film world ever uses the term), rather he gives an excellent commentary on the subject of movement in composition using the works of Japanese film maker Akira Kurosawa.  And this is truly what the cinematic look is all about. It’s the art form of moving composition in a medium that records motion.

For those of you who have read Run and Gun Videography, you’ll know that much of it is based on and reiterates the fundamental idea of forwarding a message with everything do you in motion pictures. Without saying so, you’ll notice that the commentator in the following video is talking about message with practically every point he makes. And there’s no doubt that the film maker understood that’s exactly what he was employing his tools to do.

It’s 8 minutes. Watch it through. There’s some fascinating material in there that anyone can put to immediate use in one degree or another.

Original article: http://digg.com/video/understanding-movement-in-composition-through-the-work-of-akira-kurosawa

 

Color Correction Basics

 

Color Correction thumbnail

Like anything else, color correction has its own fundamental principles and rules.

And like anyone else, if you don’t know the rules you wind up with lots of questions:

Do you adjust the black levels first or the while levels?

How do you correct skin tone?

How do you completely change the color of something in the scene?

I found this 20 minute video from Larry Jordan particularly informative and useful. (For his written article on the same subject go here.)

Extreme Run and Gun

run-and-gun

I was happily working in the bright sunshine atop a hillside doing some preparatory work on a steel peacock sculpture my wife made that will be raised next week for a BBC program on Belvoir Castle.

The castle itself looked down on me from a mile away across rolling fields and lakes.

About an hour into my project, hands partially covered in sticky black mastic,  I heard the rumble of our Landrover approaching. My wife arrived to tell me there was an emergency at the castle. There was a lavish Hindu wedding ongoing and the videographer hadn’t shown up.

Naturally I explained why I had to say no. No preps. No 2nd or 3rd cameraman arranged. Simply too risky. And besides, I was already having fun.

She left.

20 minutes later I heard the rumble of the Landrover again. This time she popped out with the castle events manager who pleaded with me.

The ceremony was scheduled to begin in 90 minutes.

Great.

30 minutes later I was there, one hour before the ceremony.

The bride and groom explained that they wanted the whole ceremony and all the speeches that would occur afterwards at lakeside the reception dinner. Since the traditional Hindu ceremony itself was going to be two hours, that meant it was likely going to be a 2 1/2 hour program.

Normally, for a wedding,  I’d hire an additional cameraman or two in addition to planting a couple of additional static cameras of my own and use my X70 hand-held for all the interesting shots.

I only had time to hang one additional camera on a long shot of the ceremony.

I stayed close to the action with the radio receiver for the priest on the X70.

So far, no big deal, right?

In fact it was going rather well despite it all being unfamiliar to me–that is until 20 minutes from the end of the ceremony my battery died (wasn’t paying attention). I swapped it out quick to be greeted with a warning that the camera was unable to save the recording. It asked me a dumb question: Did I want to recover the file?

So I answered the dumb question and then it told me that there was a data-base error and asked me another dumb question: Did I want to re-build the data-base? Anyway, I spent a few seconds chatting back and forth with the camera in this fashion and a few seconds later everything seemed to be back-to-battery.

When the ceremony was over I changed both cards.

I wasn’t sure if it was a problem with one card or both. It didn’t tell me that. So naturally I was a bit concerned the rest of the evening.

It got worse.

The same thing happened toward the end of the speeches on the new cards. And this time it wasn’t because the battery had died.

I had smartly routed the audio to the receiver on the other camera (NX30), so at least if it happened again (as it did), I’d have the good sound.

But now I was really freaked.

They specifically wanted the whole ceremony and all the speeches.

All the B roll was fine (drinks in the rose garden, cannons being fired, long shot of the venue from atop the hill where I was so rudely interrupted only hours before. But the meat of the whole wedding was in severe jeopardy.

When I got home I put in the first of the cards that reported the error. Heart sank. The main chunk of the ceremony (with the good sound) wasn’t there. Same with the second card, though there were more files on that one, but the important bit was gone.

Strangely, the reception speeches and stuff seemed to all be there.

Long story short and twelve hours later after a lot of research (and purchase of) card recovery software (that reported “0” volumes on card), I tried rebuilding the data base in the camera again. (It said everything appears to be fine).

Stuck it back in the computer again (as one does) and suddenly there were a lot more files. Was the important one there? YES! In fact, they were all there.

(somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but apparently sticking the card in and out a few times can have this result–and that’s honestly the only thing I did in the end)

Anyway boys and girls, that’s ONE reason why you have multiple cameras on a live event of any sort. You can lose one and not lose the whole show.

 

 

Memory Cards–“If It’s Too Good To Be True…”

Counterfeit SD cards

I’ve always used SanDisk cards and never, ever had a problem in the 5 or 6 years I’ve being using digital equipment.

Also, I generally get the highest rated cards in terms of speed and bit rate for the equipment I’m using.

One is tempted when making SD card purchases to find a really good deal.

BUT, if what you find seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Here’s a story about SD card counterfeiting

As you will see, the counterfeited cards look identical. And where you’ll find these great deals is on eBay, Amazon or similar sites.

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