For anybody who lives in or is visiting Los Angeles at the end of August....... this looks like a ...
For a still photographer moving to motion, there is much more involved than just adding a follow focus, a loupe, some 15m rods, a high def lcd and a fluid head.
Even beyond the obvious need of story line; visual, oral or a combination, beyond the frame dimension 16x9, 2:3 or anything in-between, and beyond the ability to hit exposure, hold detail and go to a finished out piece is a huge learning curve.
Just like still photography the consumer guys have it easy. Take a Sony handicam, I-movie, a soundtrack and making a short video is easy, in fact it's almost so easy it's fun.
Go to the higher quality cameras, Final Cut Pro, Avid, Vegas, and then mastering the skills even basic editing, input to output, color grading to tonal changes is like learning how to drive a car on earth, then somebody from Mars puts you into the Mars Car and you realize the gas pedal controls the brakes, the steering wheel actually runs the radio, the windshield wipers only work in sunshine.
It is that different and mainly because in digital video, regardless of what anybody tells you, there is no standard format. standard editing platform, standard codec, standard proof process, standard color suite, standard compression, standard delivery even standard file size/type.
If you work in Broadcast High Def to Fox is a different Hi Def to ABC and few people understand that even compressing a movie or a real budgeted television show for I-move, dvd, or blue ray play is a huge process of compression, encoding, multiple pass actions that the movie studios spend millions on.
Just figuring out how to compress a file for web and Iphone play can be an art in it's ownself and whatever is the semi standard today, will change next week with the next update to qucktime, Avid, FCP or Vegas.
Converting a finished quicktime movie to flash in Sorenson Squeeze takes about a two days of a learning process, understanding just the basics of final cut pro is weeks, actually many months and if your familiar with Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One and think your the imaging master of the universe, just take your final cut pro edit and send it to apple color.
You head will explode like those cartoon characters when they're tricked into putting their face into a oven baking the dynamite pie and you quickly realize why the DiVinci is a million dollar machine and Apple Color is free.
Photoshop CS4 extended will work video and since the controls seem familiar once you import and start doing your normal type of adjustments adding filters, curve corrections, even liquify you puff you chest out and think s**t this is easy until you realize all of that work only applied to ONE frame and guess what you've got 24 frames a second to correct. Then you learn about smart objects, how to apply them and now getting closer to where you want to be, but it's still a stretch and photoshop becomes a much different process than it was with stills.
Now there are ways to do this and nothing a still photographer or retoucher can do in photoshop can't be replicated in motion/video but the leap is huge and if you outsource it, very expensive.
Even if you want to lay off your footage to a colorists just make that call and the conversation will go like this.
Photographer: Uh I've got like some really cool stuff of the model on a sofa and uh, this cool looking guy comes in with no shirt and uh, he's holding a gun so uh, I want to make it look like my stills when I shot the 6 page spread in Flapper Magazine, you know kind of move the curves, desaturate the reds, and uh, you know kind of tricked out looking.
Colorists: What camera, format, settings, codec did you use?
Photographer: Uh you know I shot it high def man, you know with the xha1 and that Canon 5deetwo . . . it's really great except they kind of look different and the male model's face is kind of red compared to the girl, but it should be easy right, cause it's all high def?
Colorist: Actually the xha1 shoots 1140 x 1080 and the footage has to be de-interlaced, the 5d2 shoots 1080 x 1920 and the footage has to be de interlaced, xha1 filesuprezzed to 1920 x 1080, all files progressive 23.98, all transitions removed, timecode intact, you must give it to us in 10 bit rgb dpx sequences, which must originate from 10 bit uncompressed quicktime clips, etc. etc.
Photographer: Uh, can't I just give you the footage and your find the good stuff and you fix it? I pay little Darrin the retoucher like $120 an hour and he can do 10 images a day, so I guess the video will be like $1,200 to color because it's ahhh test man, right, right?
Colorists: Without seeing all the footage I would estimate it at about $8,000 at a discount rate.
Photographer: Uh, ok, well uh, I'll have to call you back and see if some client will pay for this.
You can color and tone your footage in a non linear editor with filters (slow and very difficult to match), CS4 complicated somewhat and very difficult to match scene to scene, Apple Color, whew better take a class, actually better take a month off and take a long, long class.
Once you've finished your video you'll know exactly why every DP and Cinematographer loves film, because film has standards. Technicolor can do it for them and film is robust, the standards for processing, viewing, proofing digitizing, correcting, effecting and output are set, but in digital video it's the wild wild west.
Actually, just the opposite of digital stills shooting digital motion is much more exacting than film because the files just don't have that many stops of dr and even if you fake it, it takes a lot of work. Film is much more forgiving.
You'll also learn why video guys run those zebras to check highlights and you'll understand why video guys always have a kino flow or two, or twelve out there to balance the shot and make it look a little flat.
Digital Video is fragile beyond belief and if anybody remembers the transition from still drum scanned film to digital stills, you'll think the file from a 20d s is robust compared to any digital video camera I've shot.
Now I haven't used the RED and I will but I've used about everything else and they all shoot very tiny, fragile, files.
Personally, I think the 5d2 is one of the best digital still cameras ever devised "for the money" and an ok video camera and not because of the lack of auto focus or variable frame rates, but the video file to the still file are way different. It's a pretty good video file, but compared to the still file it's kind of soft, kind of holds the highlights funny, kind of too smooth, kind of a different color pallet and obviously takes a much different workflow than the still images.http://ishotit.com/dsmc.jpg
Shooting a mixed media, (or is that mixed medium) project you will also realize that you better get the light meter out, because you can't rebuild highlights, or balance stuff with layer masks later . . . OK you CAN do this in digital video but it's a long process so the phrase garbage in, garbage out takes on a new meaning.
Also in still photography rarely do you have more than a few images run side by side, but with video, you have many multiple scenes many thousands of frames and a subject just turning their head away from the key can bump the color 10 points, or waking towards a key light can make a subject go to blowout in three steps. Try fixing that with key frames where it looks natural.
It can be done, (sometimes) but it ain't like working on a dozen stills in photoshop and there is no easy way to put in a background, remove a moving object, put data back into blow highlights, etc. etc.
I have a piece that's in post production now, with 50 something separate models in 50 something separate cuts on a solid background. Should be easy . . . but try to match up 50 something skin tones in video and wow, two weeks will slip by like it never existed.
I now call my office the black hole of time. I walk in on Monday morning blink twice, and it's Sunday night, the wife hates me, I haven't shaved, the dog forgot who I was and barks at me every time I exit, I'm living on green tea, olives, espresso and toast and my back feels like I've played 8 quarters as a running back in the NFL.
You'll understand why so many of those fashion stylized, cool looking videos are black and white or highly desaturated.
Right now I'm rendering 6,000 frames of one clip in cs4 and if you think light room is slow making web galleries, you'll understand the new meaning of render times.
The biggest thing you realize is that this is work that has to be done by professionals using professional equipment. Focus pullers, grips, gaffers, swings, dps, flicker free lights, editorial houses, colorists, exist for a reason and though a motion crew may look like they move at the same pace of highway road repair, one small part of the process out of place can be a disaster.
Sure, for a documentary you may be able to grab a red or a handicam, slip on a zoom mike and start shooting and if the subject matter is interesting, the editor is good, the expectations of color, tone, are not that high, even a long motion piece with a good story line can work well, but take the same footage and try to give it the look of CSI and your just spitting in the wind.
I think this two day seminar would be a good first step, especially the talk by Rodney Charters as he has done a lot of testing of HDv cameras for 24 and has reported online.
I also know you have to keep in mind that right now there is a lot of hype about shooting a mixed media campaign and to some extent a lot of misdirection. The references to W magazine and the Bruce Willis piece is actually just a still shoot using a video camera. Yea it looks good, but as of today I haven't seen any video of the shoot, (I guess because W isn't going to spend 2 million dollars in post to replicated the still effects). So in other words it could have been shot with a 1.5 cropped d-20 and had the same results, especially after all the retouching.
The Esquire piece I think was black and white and that makes sense because black and white is easy and all the other terms like Hybird, conversion, combo shoots is just a a bunch of words that have little to do with real world imaging. That 5d2 movie was kind of cool, and sold a lot of fivedeetoos, but in a world of "the client is paying type of gig", there are about twenty things in that video that most clients would expect to be different and could easily mean a change of cameras.
There is perception and reality and then the horrible leap to the real world. Final Cut Pro is a great program, can do almost anything, but that's the problem you can do almost anything which means if you learn it, somebody is going to ask you to do about anything.
Just like in still photography the expectations of digital video get way different when a client starts paying for a project. What a client may think is easy, like matting in a window scene can be a huge process and remember just like looking at still images that Pascal does for Vogue vs. what some local retoucher does for Bill's plumbing and auto repair, there is a world of difference due to budget, subject, time available and obviously talent. The thing with motion is even the consumer is trained to see great imagery. Every night just watching 2 hours of television, the standard consumer will see about 4 million dollars of production and post work and assumes all crafted motion pieces should look this good. They may know that the crew to shoot a 30 second spot can be huge, the post production to edit and time and effect that spot can takes weeks, even months, but since we as still guys are moving into this territory, they're probably going to want the CSI Miami look on a still budget.
So what I'm saying is these shooting seminars are probably pretty good, will give you the basics of how to run the camera, how to stick the footage in FCP, maybe even make the transition to a 16x9 frame, but past that it's a whole new world. Just keep in mind this and other seminars have a lot of dealer, manufacturer support which usually translates into dealer manufacturer sales messages.
These seminars are a good starting point, but they are just that . . . a starting point.
A day or two of shooting seminars is kind of like getting your learners permit and then somebody hands you a formula one car. You can drive it but without a dedicated investment of leaning and time your gonna stuff it head on into a wall and probably take out a few dozen spectators.
In other words, don't try this at home, until your really ready.