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Old November 23rd, 2010, 03:54 PM   #1
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Yellowstone National Park Video

I'm a journalist in Bozeman, Montana just getting started with video. I put together this series of shots along the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park using a Canon XH A1s, just straight cuts with some color correction and toning.

Let me know what you think, how I can improve my work, etc. Was thinking about possibly investing in a Kessler Crane to get some more dynamic shots in the future, or perhaps a stedicam.

Yellowstone: Exploring the Grand Loop | Chronicle Outdoors

Thanks for watching,

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Old November 24th, 2010, 12:43 AM   #2
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Hi Ben, like your blog.

Nice work, you captured some great shots. You might want to consider a different camera, the XH-A1 is a great HDV Video camera, but its HDV and without reigniting a format war, I think HDV is just too noisy and doesn't do justice to the environment your trying to capture.

I'd recommend a Canon 5DMkII or 7D, the larger sensor provides you with selective focus which will help capture not only the beauty but also add depth to your video. As good an image as the XH-A1 has it tends to look pretty flat, even though you did a good job color correcting. Canon is what I have, I'm sure there are other DSLR's you may want to consider but I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at the difference.

Sorry for pimping my video's but here's a sample of of 7D footage at Yosemite and June Loop. Sorry for the music, this entire video was hand held so none of the shots are that long or as stable as yours. I didn't have an effective way to add motion so I tried to add depth where I could with selective focus.

Your shots where stable but very static. Adding an IndiSlider would help: indiSYSTEM - indiSLIDERmini

Kessler certainly makes nice products but for your applications I think they're probably a bit too large and heavy. I don't know if or how far you have to pack equipment in with you, but you should keep that in mind. I find steadycam's difficult to use [I guess I'm uncoordinated] so I built a [DIY] dolly and jib. Not nearly as steady as a Pocket Crane but lightweight and inexpensive. I work completely by myself so I have to carry and assemble everything. Here's a sample of using a lot of dolly and jib shots.

Anyway, I hope I didn't bore you. Good luck with whatever you decide to do and don't forget to post...
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Old November 24th, 2010, 04:04 AM   #3
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I really liked the colours.

I think you'd really benefit from a slider and a good fluid head tripod for smooth pans.

You may also want to try a Varizoom but the previous two would be more beneficial in the short term.

I think the clip between 1:47 & 1:53 would have been nice if you'd started as a tele shot on the furtherest fisherman and pulled back to full wide for the 1:53 scene.

I also think, because you're not filming high impact action, fades would work better than cuts, I think your music also suits fades. I think the music suits the video.

I like the light in the ending take, very nice.

Good luck.

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Old November 24th, 2010, 09:17 AM   #4
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@Chuck: Thanks for the suggestions. I agree, getting away from the static shots would be good. I am using a Manfrotto 501HDV Video Head on a photo tripod right now. It gets the job done for (kinda) stable footage (the wind can be brutal in Yellowstone), but I can see the benefit in your videos of moving the camera on either a dolly, jib arm or steady cam.

Like you, I primarily work solo. I spend a lot of time packing into places and bringing those stories back to readers. Thus, weight and size of gear is a serious issue. I am looking to pick up some decent lightweight gear and the indiSLIDERmini looks like it could be a good option. The Kessler Crane looks awesome, but at 20-plus pounds, I have to agree with your suggestion.

Any other crane or jib options you can suggest. Here in Montana, I don't have access to a video shop to really get a hands-on look at gear, so I just have to look on B&H and make a gut choice. Anyway, the advice is really helpful in my case.

I also like your recommendation of working with a DSLR. Coming from a journalism and professional photography background, working with a DSLR is entirely appealing. The depth of field and image quality I have seen from cameras like the Canon 7D and 5D Mark II is obvious, even to a video layman like myself.

I currently shoot a Nikon D700 with a decent outfit of pro lenses (16mm f/2.8 fisheye, 20mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 24mm f/3.5 PC, 105mm f/2.8 macro, 70-200mm f/2.8). The rumor mill has been churning now for well over a year about a replacement for the D700 and I am fairly confident the next iteration will feature 1080p HD video. I just can't see anyway Nikon would release a new camera without stepping up to the plate on the video end. I'm hearing a release date sometime in 2011 and I'm comfortable waiting for the full frame option instead of buying a D7000 or D3100 now.

@Alan: Thanks, I spent a fair amount of time in After Effects working on the footage. I drew some pen paths to mask off areas for specific adjustments. Primarily just used curves, levels and hue/saturation adjustment layers. I also ran a curves adjustment layer with no modifications set to soft light blend mode and tapered the opacity to give the shots a little more pop. I'm finding that similar to still photography, video requires some color correction and editing.

Thinking your right about the fades rather than the cuts, especially with regards to the music. That's something I'll take into account for the next video. I hope to make it back into to the park this winter for some more opportunities.
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Old November 30th, 2010, 08:35 PM   #5
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Nice work guys sick videos!!
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Old November 30th, 2010, 11:14 PM   #6
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Here is a video that I have always loved about Yellowstone by Steven Dempsey. It was shot with HDV. I saw the original on another site, and it was actually a superior encoding. Back then, Vimeo was not doing a great job of encoding.

But this points out that HDV can look great.

Chris J. Barcellos
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:14 AM   #7
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Thanks for posting. I really like the camera moves used in this video and all the misty morning footage. Any suggestions for good, portable jib options that I might be able to pack in the park?
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 10:14 AM   #8
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So do you go to Yellowstone via Bear Tooth Pass ? I ended up on the top of that pass in lightning and thunder in 2001. A bit scary for me.

First thing to worry about is permits for filming, etc. In the UWOL Challenge forum there is a discussion about shooting in National and State parks, Its a hot button issue. Look for posts by Chris Swanberg to get you to the right place. I remember his name in that discussion.

The reason I bring this up, is the more pro looking your gear is, the more likely someone may call you on it. That is the beauty of the DSLR, they look touristy, unless you deck them out with too much bling.

To fancy or pro looking a tripod might also draw attention.

Now a small slider might be something that you can use without being too conspicuous. I built a simple IGUS slider, for about $170.00, that could be ported and mounted on your tripod.

As far as a jib o dolly, that is pushing it, I thing. Of course using your tripod you can create some jib type movement. And a monopod can be adapted too.

Steadicam- take a look at the BlackBird. A fairly inconspicuous looking divice. I just got one and I am learning to use it, but it is said to be one of the easier to operate.
Chris J. Barcellos
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