Why not copy the StillMotion look? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 30th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #1
Still Motion
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
Why not copy the StillMotion look?

We've noticed over the past while many comments on this and other forums about people imitating our look, or copying specific shots. These observations have been posted by many others in many other threads- not by us- so I say this as something we have seen a lot of others saying.

I feel our 'look' is a blend of how we shoot, how we see, and how we put it all together. To me, just using a steadicam doesn't mean your doing a StillMotion look- but using it for the exact same shots on purpose would be.

The following are some thoughts I wrote in reply to another thread where somebody asked why our look shouldn't be copied when it looks so 'fabulous'. As this is a rather popular issue, I thought others might like to know what we think.

We deeply care about our work and our couples and we are creating art uniquely for them. If something is copied, it is something we personally don't enjoy, and something that that I feel infringes upon what we are creating for our couples and lessens it.

We love to share, inspire, and educate- and we hope we can do so through sharing our work.

So, why not to use the StillMotion look?

1. because using an SM look isn't original, and originality makes our jobs more meaningful and our products more valuable

2. We hope we inspire others and it helps them to grow and find their own look- not simply imitate ours.

3. we put our work out there to share with others and hopefully inspire many who view it. as it gets copied more and more, we need to hold more back, and as a result those who enjoy our work and are inspired by it lose out

4. as an industry, i think we will develop much slower and with much less diversity if we all look to imitate whats hot at the time

5. our shots are thought out to fit into the sequence, to mean something to the couple, and to add to the overall piece. all of that context and meaning is lost if you take a shot and try to replicate it in another scenario.

6. StillMotion wouldn't be StillMotion if they imitated Jason Magbanua every time they went out. We have a great respect for his vision, unique style, and amazing talent but for us to imitate his look would have been a disrespect to both him and ourselves. Do you want to be the original or the knockoff?

Thanks for listening.

P.
Patrick Moreau is offline  
Old November 30th, 2008, 11:51 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 689
Hi Patrick,

Personally, while I think your points are valid, I believe you have to evolve rather than dissuade imitators. By putting yourself out there and proclaiming success you've set yourself up for imitation. It happens in every industry, but the ones that thrive are constantly reinventing themselves. I have no doubt you'll do the same.
Joel Peregrine is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 12:03 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Yeppoon, Queensland
Posts: 332
Some good notes on why copying is not great.

I am a believer that the images should come from the couples that you are shooting and getting their images and try to capture their style and their story both in composition of the shots and editing.

I am certainly inspired by all other professionals from relating to video and photography and sometimes certain shots may come through which sometimes can't be helped because at that particular moment the shot fits the best and it may not be intentional, its just a shot that works but we all evolve as we shoot more and more and see the images in our own unique way.

I think sharing our work is great tool to learn from each other and help to point out to think out of the box and how to maybe attack a situation, shot etc...learning from others and practising is how we get better.
Peter Szilveszter is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 01:07 AM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Edmonton, Canada
Posts: 33
Hi Patrick,

Excellent points. I think Joel has it right. Every industry has its star players and their style is bound to be imitated. The way these players remain on top though, is by continuing to out-innovate the competition. I think you will continue to do that. The iPod (although not the first mp3 player in the world) is a prime example. There are many imitators, but these imitators never fully catch up. Just when they do, Apple releases another iPod. You can never get ahead by copying.

Sure, if you thought the stillmotion style was static and had reached its creative peak, then you might have something to worry about.

Patrick, how would you define the StillMotion style? What is it that makes your films... yours? Is it specific shots? Is it a sequence of events?

If imitators are merely copying a specific shot, or series of shots, then they miss the point. I think what attracts clients isn't that you can do a certain "ring shot" or that you can follow them with a steadicam. It's that you can create a film that is uniquely theirs and reflects who they are.

I thought I'd post a quote for discussion purposes:

"Bad artists copy. Great artists steal." - Pablo Picasso

Luke
Luke Raymond is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 02:30 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 643
I've seen many videos that had a stillmotion look to them. BUT, they didn't have the stillmotion flair and feel.

I can relate this to bboyin (breakdancing) and what has taken place as far as "biting" (copying) in the scene and it's impact on the bboy community as a whole.

Someone creates a super incredible move. Its bit. Over and over again. Until that move is now a move that has become standardize. With that comes the recognition of the creator of the move. Is the creator still doing that move or are they developing it to another height? Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no. What has happened is that the whole scene has now benefited from that one person's hard work and creativity. Fair? Most of the time, no. But now they go down in the history books as a major contributor to the art form. A legacy that outlives you.

You'll have people just straight bite, no innovation, just a carbon copy. Then you'll have others tweak it and make it their own because they were inspired by their moves and their style and used it as building blocks. I'm sure your post is directed to the former. A few great bboys have been coined biters of another bboy but then they flipped their style up and went on to look original themselves. The bboy they originally copied ends up looking completely different years later so when you compare them at that time, they don't even look alike!

With that said, no one can do the SM style as good as you guys so don't worry about that. "Often imitated, never duplicated" is the cliche that comes to my mind. ;)

Sorry for the long post, thought I'd just comment from a different perspective.
Randy Panado is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 03:48 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 680
Personally I am really glad this has been brought up.

Without naming and shaming, an award-winning company here in the UK completely and utterly carbon-copied some still-motion ideas, and when i pointed this out, the comment was predictably ignored (they also copied my exact title-sequence).

also, (and I am not even 'slightly' in a 'SM-league'), i very rarely post highlights clips anymore (on blogs and forums) as EXACT techiques I've got excited about and developed, have been copied. This annoyance is slightly reduced when the 'copycat' actually asks me directly in an email 'how did i do that because they'd like to do something similar'. In comparison to the people i've caught doing it on the sly, at least they are being man enough to ask.

without a doubt we are all 'influenced' (e.g. the 'MTV' edit-approach, old-film look, gliding, DOF shots), but clip-copies are just quite low IMO.

There are a handful of companies like Still Motion that I quietly list to myself as being the world's best. And I certainly don't sit there thinking I'll copy their shots and styles, I simply think 'they're big, i hope to big like that one day too'. But that means improving my own quirky style that has seemingly got me my business :)

Last edited by Richard Wakefield; December 1st, 2008 at 04:35 AM.
Richard Wakefield is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 04:37 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau View Post
StillMotion wouldn't be StillMotion if they imitated Jason Magbanua every time they went out.
I looked at the last clip on Jason's site and first thought the guy was in your team. :)
I too have seen really great weddingclips here but as you said, a lot of them look alike. I think everybody, even you, will eventually use something in their production that they have seen from others and that even could be on a subconscious level. That can be from other weddingvideographers but also a certain shot or cameramove from a big movie.

Only with weddings and especially what you guys do it becomes more obvious when someone copies you and I can imagine that if the guy that copies only charges half the price you charge a client might ask what the difference is then. And you can be sure the other one also deeply care about their work and their couples.

As I see it nobody has a copyright on a certain cameramove or the way they display the rings in a shot, you always will have trendsetters and trendfollowers. f.i. I saw a video from a guy who used his tripod as some kind of glidetrack by balancing his camera on 2 tripodlegs instead of 3 enabling him to make slow moving and gliding shots. well, i have been using that technique for a while now and I get great shots out of it. As a soloshooter I have to use creative methods with the limited equipment I have since I don't have a glidecam or 35mm adapter.

Does this make me a copycat? strictly yes but I don't see any reason of reinventing the wheel each time. On the other hand I would never carboncopy the style from another videographer entirely. I just pick up a lot from different places and add some own style to it to make it unique again.
Noa Put is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 04:41 AM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 680
well put Noa. and also very funny to read:

"a guy who used his tripod as some kind of glidetrack by balancing his camera on 2 tripodlegs instead of 3 enabling him to make slow moving and gliding shots"

i've been doing exactly that for ages now, in parts of the day when i don't have my trusty glidetrack to hand!! haha, who was first, you or me :) :)
Richard Wakefield is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 04:44 AM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield View Post
well put Noa. and also very funny to read:
you have to take into consideration that English is not my native language but I do my best :D

You try to write Dutch, now that would be funny ;)
Noa Put is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 05:01 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 680
Noa, sorry for the misunderstanding but I didn't meant how you wrote, i meant about the tripod with 2 legs technique that we evidently both do :)
Richard Wakefield is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 05:12 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Wakefield View Post
Noa, sorry for the misunderstanding but I didn't meant how you wrote, i meant about the tripod with 2 legs technique that we evidently both do :)
Oops, I misunderstood it alright, no problem.

Patrick; about your comment: "our shots are thought out to fit into the sequence, to mean something to the couple, and to add to the overall piece. all of that context and meaning is lost if you take a shot and try to replicate it in another scenario."

I have looked at many of the short clips on your site and I really would be interested in seeing a completed dvd from you guys, your clips are usually highly visually entertaining and you are right about them fitting into a sequence, but i don't see how that a particular sequence would loose it's meaning once it is copied?

As I see it it's just a visual thing but I never saw a story behind your clips, that's why seeing a completed dvd might change that perspective.
Noa Put is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 07:26 AM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Columbia,SC
Posts: 806
Patrick,
I'm personally very surprised to hear this from you. I understand your perspective to a point, but you certainly must understand that even if lesser mortals like us attempt a shot by shot copy of your work, it would fall short for several reasons. Number one, I'm not paying 7k for a pilot setup and brevis. I'm not paying the best shooters and editors I can find, and I'm not getting top dollar for my videos, so I'm not putting the hours into color grading and other things. We in this business do not suffer from competition, we suffer from the ignorance of our customer to the need for our product. I will also leave you with this. The greatest in our industry educate on a shot by shot copy basis. If you go to a Vonlanken workshop, they teach you how to shoot and edit like them on a shot by shot basis. Could anyone detract from their work by copying it? I don't think anyone has even though every year there are thousands of new devotees that have all of the secrets and attempt it. I say don't be so sensitive about your work, imitation is the sincerest for of flattery. No way without a monstrous investment in equipment, time, and talent could anyone try and then they would probably still fall short...
Bill
__________________
Cinema Couture
www.cinemacouture.com
Bill Grant is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 07:55 AM   #13
Still Motion
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
I'm glad this started a good discussion.

Joel- I completely agree with you. My point or intent in dissuading others is for their own benefit, more so than ours.

I think our style is what it is because we put so much into what we do, into always making it better, into giving it more meaning for the couple and their family. To try and copy something may be the easy way out but I really feel it can hold you back, makes the job and the work you produce much less meaningful. To me, that is very important, and I think it is a huge part in really pushing yourself to produce the best you can.

P.
Patrick Moreau is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 08:02 AM   #14
Still Motion
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
Bill,

My concern is not that others will copy our work shot for shot and do it as well or better. In looking at the points I put down, they are all about why it is bad for you to copy our work, not why it is bad for us. We certainly don't enjoy it, but we live with it and continue to evolve ourselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Grant View Post
If you go to a Vonlanken workshop, they teach you how to shoot and edit like them on a shot by shot basis. Could anyone detract from their work by copying it?
I'm not sure if this is actually true or not, but I know for our workshop, the focus will be on helping everybody with techniques, helping them see things in a different way, giving them a new set of tools to work with, and most importantly, inspiring them to grow in their own work.

P.
Patrick Moreau is offline  
Old December 1st, 2008, 08:11 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Columbia,SC
Posts: 806
Patrick,
You certainly must understand that the people that try to copy you are on the first stage of a long journey. No one is going to be able to do it for a long time, nor would they want to even if they could. Your points are valid enough, but can you imagine the difficulty of someone just starting out in this business of having to try and do anything original without using influences. I think your fears are unfounded, and I think this point of argument discourages people from experimentation. You set the bar very high and make yourself very diffcult to copy. I steal a shot or two from you here or there, but that's what all art forms are about. All musicians, painters, photographers, etc. take bits and pieces of the people that have influenced them to make something different. It is stifling to the art of what we do to say "don't you dare copy me". It also comes across as a bit defensive. and I have been to the VonLanken workshop, these things are so.
Bill
__________________
Cinema Couture
www.cinemacouture.com
Bill Grant is offline  
Closed Thread

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:50 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network