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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old March 19th, 2008, 03:56 PM   #1
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Cinematography Advice

Hello everyone!

I've been using the XH-A1 for about 4 months now. I've been searching the forum here, have outfitted the camera with what I've felt to be the right gear (Letus35 Extreme, Nikon Lenses, Follow Focus, Rails, Tripod/Fluid Head, Pelican Cases..

My question is this: Now that I've got the gear, I've come to discover the hard way, that it isn't the equipment (not entirely at least), that makes a great cinematographer.

I've been looking at the projects that many here have posted, and was wondering what advice you can give for someone who understands(?) the basics, but feels like he's missing a large piece of the puzzle.

Is there some "practice routine" that is known among cinematographers, that wouldn't be apparent to someone who is teaching himself?

I often feel like I have the gear, but somehow don't know exactly what to do with it. Something like a writers block..

I guess what I'm trying to ask is, what information is a "given" when you've been working as a cinematographer, or DP for a long time.

Thanks you to anyone who replies, I really appreciate the community here. It makes it easier not to feel "on your own" when there are other people doing the same things, and having the same struggles that you are.

-Dmitry
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Old March 19th, 2008, 05:19 PM   #2
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Here's one suggestion:

1. Write yourself a shrot script (for a 3 min. film). Remember you are going to tell the story with pictures, not words.

2. Make a story board of your script showing key shots, angles, etc.

3. Shoot your script.

4. Edit your video and put a soundtrack to it. (I suggest shooting pictures only, not sound for this exercise. If you need one or two key lines of dialog you can add them in post.)

5. Post your result hear (then duck).

This will give you an idea of where you are starting, what kind of raw talent you have for the visual medium and how well you can compose a story thinking in pictures.

If you are interested in documentary type shooting, do the same thing, but shoot real situations.

If you are interested in sports or event shooting, shoot some interesting shots and put it edit together into a little story with beginning, middle and end. Again, I would think pictures only, adding any music, sound effects, dialog snips or narration in post.

The key to this project is starting, going through all the steps and finishing. Make yourself a deadline and work within that framework. Just like on a professional project, don't get thrown if something isn't perfect. The goal is to complete and deliver.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 09:27 PM   #3
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Jack, I appreciate the advice. I'm going to do exactly that.

Thank you.

-Dmitry
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Old March 20th, 2008, 11:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitry Futoryan View Post
Jack, I appreciate the advice. I'm going to do exactly that.

Thank you.

-Dmitry
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 11:31 PM   #5
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you can get involved in either of the regular comps here to get some great experience - the DV challenge or the UWOL challenge.

I'm in a similar position, got the gear but how do I get good? I decided to try UWOL for the outdoors but I think both challenges are a great way to learn
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Old March 21st, 2008, 05:39 AM   #6
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Jack,
Quote:
5. Post your result hear (then duck).
That's good :) It made me laugh just imagining Dmitry ducking. And also reminded me of my first "take a look at my video" post here.

I'm still new at this. I mean I have the technical stuff down. It's the compositions, angles and such that I have to really apply my mind to.

I rember the first "project" I gave myself. A 3 minute thing. It wasn't a test but rather the real thing. Just boiling down the script to 3 minutes and still getting the message across took us 3 days (A marketing video). We shot and re-shot due to a multitude of reasons, 5 times. Eventually, I did the edit.
http://exposureroom.com/members/skum...3175405a108d5/
and it turned out ok I think.

Since then we've re-shot the interview (I bought some soft boxes and wanted to use these softer lights) portions. But even the B roll stuff was hard. That is, coming up with the idea and then actually being able to shoot.

But you can't learn this stuff sitting on front of a computer or TV screen. You've got to get out and do it. Or as Paul mentions, take part in competitions.

The last short I did (I've posted in the sample clips group) was very interesting during post since I had footage of stuff and later decided I was going to try and tell a story with it. So my editing skill got tested on that one.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 08:35 AM   #7
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Keep an eye on the Pros!

Jack is spot on with turning your idea into a completed project. If you want to "Get Good", I've found that emulating the pros will help you learn much faster. Try shooting a few parody movies not long 2-3 minutes. Find a few of your favorite movies and pick out the most memorable shots, include those in your parody. This will give you a attainable goal. You've got the gear now replicate the shots. You'll soon find that your camera work is improving on a very fast pace.
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