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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:01 PM   #1
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What was it like when zoom was first introduced?

Event videographers have a wide range of tools that can be used to produce some very impressive productions. Frankly, some of the samples that I am seeing are amazing. But in some cases there is a tendency to overuse the latest and greatest new tool. When that happens, the professional appearance of a production is diminished. It can even give the impression that someone is playing with a new toy. I wasn't around videography when other tools were new. Was it the same when zoom was first available on prosumer cams? Was every single scene "highlighted" with a wowie-zowie zoom? What about when NLE's were first introduced? Was every cut emphasized with juvenile transitions? Give me a break. Zooms are useful; transitions are nice; the latest rage tool, shallow depth of field, can add a great deal to a production. These tools and many others can add tremendous production value. But every - single - scene? No, it has the opposite impact. Now I know why movie productions have directors. If the cameraman is in love with a new gizmo, he will want to use it in every shot. The director can reign things in as needed.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 03:59 PM   #2
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To quote Homer Simpson:
Homer: "star wipe, star wipe, star wipe... fade to black"
Lisa: "DAD... there are other transitions BESIDES THE STAR WIPE!"
Homer: "Yes Lisa, but why eat hamburger when you can eat STEAK!"

<tongue planted FIRMLY in cheek>
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:22 PM   #3
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Zooms predate the title "prosumer"--they were available on the first video cameras (such as the Sony Portapak) and of course before that, on film cameras of all sizes, including "amateur" formats like Super 8. One of the most oft-repeated pieces of wisdom for novice shooters is "lay off the zoom!"

The Amiga Toaster was probably the earliest prosumer computer-based editing device, and its limited library of transitions became worn out pretty quickly (who can forget the silhouette of the seemingly naked young lady pulling down the shade?).

Certainly shallow DOF has become an obsession of many and it is approaching cliche. However I would suggest that it will be worthwhile for many cameraman who are using it for the first time to get it out of their systems and then consider it just one arrow in the quiver that they can apply where appropriate, rather than as much as possible all the time. I would also suggest that many young directors are equally in love with the look and it may come down to the cameraman being the ones to talk them out of it.

Along these lines, I'm seeing a lot of footage that has a very uniform "Magic Bullet"-esque color treatment--again, trendy and overused.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:41 PM   #4
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(who can forget the silhouette of the seemingly naked young lady pulling down the shade?).
My understanding is that Spokesmodel Kiki Stockhammer was the model for that and the tumble wipe as well. Urban legend?
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:47 PM   #5
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I would also suggest that many young directors are equally in love with the look and it may come down to the cameraman being the ones to talk them out of it.
Sounds like the voice of first hand experience.

Charles, with respect to color grading, what tools /techniques are used on TV and movie productions? A lot of what I have been seeing recently appears to have been color graded. I imagine that more sophisticated tools than Magic Bullet are being used. When I mention color grading, I'm referring to changes that are made for impression or mood. I view that differently than color correction although they do overlap.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 05:56 PM   #6
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As a long time wedding and event videographer I hang my head in shame when I say YES!, I fell in love with ALL that stuff but luckily I wasn't the only one :-) Every videographer I knew at that time did the same. Thank goodness we've grown out of that. Whew!

Today I see stuff that kind of reminds of that time although to a very small degree. It seems that SOME people just braking into the business feel that since they have 100's if not 1000s of effects and transitions available why not use them. All of them. In the same video. Fortunately there seem to be only a few ot those people and they are learning fast.

Ahhh, the Amiga. Man what a revolution that machine was. 72 gigs of HDD space was about $4000.00. Oh boy-72 gigs.

Ah, the good old days. Of course if they were so good I guess we'd still have them.

You can tell I'm an old guy but HEY, I did LOVE my zoooooom lens :-)
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 07:12 PM   #7
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Ahhh, the Amiga. Man what a revolution that machine was. 72 gigs of HDD space was about $4000.00. Oh boy-72 gigs.
Although it still seemed big at the time, the Amiga Toaster had two 40 MByte hard disc drives for a total of 80 MByte unformatted capacity or roughly 72 MBytes formatted, not 72 GBytes. Oh well, that's "only" 1,000 times smaller. The concept of even a 1 GByte hard disc was unimaginable at that time. We've had some big changes in a relatively few years.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 08:46 PM   #8
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yep Jim, you're right. My fingers and brains weren't connecting. Bad day on the golf course;-)
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Old September 24th, 2009, 03:03 AM   #9
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Heck, this thread really does make me feel old - I was advised I only needed a 5Mb hard drive on my first computer, an Apricot, but that was long before NLE.

Before zoom lenses we had two- and three-lens turrets on the better cine cameras like Bolex B and H series which reduced the hassle of cleaning the gate after every change of lens and made changing quicker. The problem was that early zooms were never as sharp or as fast as prime lenses. As I recall it was the improvement in lens coatings which made the difference.

Once the quality was improved, zooms became de rigeur for television and then video cameras because of the ease of use - and television still has extraordinary long zooms, especially for sports. But you’d hardly know it because the professional use for a zoom has always been to give a range of focal lengths not, with notable exceptions, to use the zoom movement itself.

I remain firmly in the school which regards zooms (except very slow, artistic zooms) as no-nos and any transition other than fades, dissolves and cuts as the mark, not just of an amateur, but an amateur who’s never read a book on the subject. I also happen to dislike cuts into moving pans and zooms, page turns and flying frames. In my view they all distract from the objective of the medium - to tell a story. These devices are like bad grammar in the writing of the story. Just an opinion.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 04:06 AM   #10
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Although I go along with much of what's said here, I still believe there's a time and a place for crossing the line, cuts in the middle of a pan, tilt, zoom, jump cuts and transitions that keep the spice in a spicy subject. As we all agree though, fashions come and go and I look back at my early wedding videos and wince at the length of the takes and then the dissolve mixes that bring in the next scene. Agggg!

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Old September 24th, 2009, 04:46 AM   #11
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Ahhh, the Amiga. Man what a revolution that machine was. 72 gigs of HDD space was about $4000.00. Oh boy-72 gigs.
What?? You got 72 gigs for $4000? I got my first 9 gig SCSI HDD for $5000, and I had two of them for the Toaster Flyer! Did I get ripped off???

A decade from now, we'll all look back and laugh at our video "fads" that come and go.

Animated chrome balls with mirror reflections of blue sky and brown earth. Exploding transitions. Solarization/Posterization. Selective color in a B/W scene. Morphing. Black and white shots in a color sequence for no apparent reason. Dizzy Glidecam & Steadicam "run around the couple" shots. Organic, curly swirly AE borders. 24p. Timelapse of the sky. Color grading. Shallow depth of field.

Who knows...maybe a decade from now, when every bride watches her wedding video in UHD 3D, she'll want everything shot in 240p, the deepest depth of field possible, and no color grading because it looks so much more "real and lifelike" than those old, dated, stuttery and out of focus videos....
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Old September 24th, 2009, 01:50 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=Jim Snow;1389142]Was every cut emphasized with juvenile transitions? use it in every shot. /QUOTE]

when NLE first came out, I was guilty of using dissolves too many times, it was such a pain to do a dissolve before NLE came out and having the ease of doing it makes one trigger happy.....
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Old September 24th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #13
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A decade from now, we'll all look back and laugh at our video "fads" that come and go.

Animated chrome balls with mirror reflections of blue sky and brown earth. Exploding transitions. Solarization/Posterization. Selective color in a B/W scene. Morphing. Black and white shots in a color sequence for no apparent reason. Dizzy Glidecam & Steadicam "run around the couple" shots. Organic, curly swirly AE borders. 24p. Timelapse of the sky. Color grading. Shallow depth of field.

Who knows...maybe a decade from now, when every bride watches her wedding video in UHD 3D, she'll want everything shot in 240p, the deepest depth of field possible, and no color grading because it looks so much more "real and lifelike" than those old, dated, stuttery and out of focus videos....
There is a lot of sage wisdom in what you say. I believe that the productions that will appear the most dated and perhaps even funny from a future perspective are those that are produced by the current "crop" of avant-garde "Roman Candles". It's hard to beat well composed, well shot and well edited footage. While wowie-zowie and slick gimmicks may be briefly sensational, they often don't "wear" very well.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 02:49 PM   #14
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While wowie-zowie and slick gimmicks may be briefly sensational, they often don't "wear" very well.
That I feel is very true of the music chosen by my brides to accompany their wedding films. I try and make my shooting and editing as gimmick-free as possible so that it will stand the test of time, but the Westlife and Robbie Williams will (I'm sure) have a shorter shelf-life than some gentle Shostakovich piano - that they never choose.

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Old September 24th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #15
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That I feel is very true of the music chosen by my brides to accompany their wedding films. I try and make my shooting and editing as gimmick-free as possible so that it will stand the test of time, but the Westlife and Robbie Williams will (I'm sure) have a shorter shelf-life than some gentle Shostakovich piano - that they never choose.
While I agree with this in principle, I think it's important to remember who we're selling these videos to; the young bride. Young people tend to lean toward fresh and trendy and therefore although my production instincts want to avoid the trendy new thing for reasons of longevity my business instincts tell me otherwise.

The very people we're selling our work to are looking for modern and trendy. Your typical 23 year old isn't thinking about watching these videos 30 years from now so much as having a really cool clip to stick on youtube or their facebook page.

Also, I'm not sure modern and trendy tools/techniques can't be coupled with solid production values to produce a timeless piece of work. You'll never really be able to separate a work from the time it was made, but if it's truly great then it should age well regardless. Is the Godfather any less of a movie because it was made with the best tools and techniques of the 70's? I'd say not, but you certainly can tell by watching it for a few minutes what era it was produced in.
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