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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

Random thought of the day... I'm not sure there really is much of a middleground, though I think everyone, including couples, hopes there is.

At one end of the market, there seem to be "David Jones" videos -- very polished, but often a bit distant. At the other end, there are more human, warmer videos, but not always as pretty as might be hoped.

Obviously, the "cinematic" person does want to capture human moments; and the "documentary" person does want their images to be as beautiful as possible, but can you really have your cake and eat it?

Seems to me there's lots of places where the two objectives come into conflict. For example:

1. Lens choice. If you're using primes for the sake of image quality, doesn't this handicap you in terms of capturing fleeting moments? I feel like there are many moments that I'm barely fast enough to catch with a zoom lens, let alone if I had to zoom with my feet to get there in time.

2. Staged vs natural. Production value of a shot: most bride's houses in the morning aren't these clutter-free perfectly-lit environments where the bride happens to be standing in exactly the right place, and to be standing there long enough, repeating the same action, for you to get a lot of coverage with different angles and lenses. But if you do stage this sort of shot, don't you straightaway lose something?

3. Length of time spent on something. "Cinematic" videos seem often to be characterised by lots of "furniture" shots. Details of a house, a church, a reception. Inanimate objects. But if you're spending time with these shots, and perhaps doing multiple takes, trying to get a slider + pull focus shot exactly right, doesn't that mean you're not spending time where the action is, getting shots of people interacting?

4. Choices in edit. A shot might capture an emotion, but be for other reasons a bit dodgy -- out of focus, videographer in frame, whatever. Do you choose to reject the shot, in favour of presenting a seamless facade of beauty, or do you retain it?
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Old October 12th, 2012, 04:43 AM   #2
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

Hi Adrian

Now our friend in the UK, Tariq (he advertises cinematic weddings) says that an edit takes him around 60 hours to do. I guess that's the difference?? I do a documentary edit in one sixth of that time...I'm still at a total loss as to what the cinematic guys do for the other 50 hours..I have asked many times but cannot pin anyone down to what actually takes a week to edit ??? Apart from an enormous amount of edit time their are the tiny DOF shots ijn the garden I guess and lots of slider work?? I do my documentary style photoshoot on a stedicam with really fancy shorts in slomo but to me it's still a documentary cos I'm covering the day in realtime.

Sure if the bride wants them I'll do panning shots of the Church and low shots of the pews but as long as I'm not so wrapped up in those that I miss out on what makes a wedding special, the people.

Do you have an opinion/explanation to what exactly a cinematic wedding is ??? After 22 years shooting I will admit that no-one has yet told me exactly what it is but you are getting closer than most with the furniture shots!! I see those a lot !

Chris
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Old October 12th, 2012, 05:32 AM   #3
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

I think when people talk about cinematic, they refer just as much to the type of edit as to the shots they get, the one generally referred to as shortform. Where sequences of the day are not always in order, use of voice overs overlaying pretty shots of the venue, the couple and guests throughout the day etc. Is this true cinematic, probably not, but it could be described as Wedding Cinematic. I've dabbled a little, but my shortforms tend to be the long form with the speeches either cut down or out and the Ceremony removed of all the twaddle. Though other sections are occasionally re-edited.
For the last 2 years I've used a Canon 60d and originally tried to make every shot look great, but a few too many fluffed shots at crucial moments plus the cameras poor performance in capturing high detailed shots like brick buildings led me to get the GH2. Now I use the GH2 when on the fly and want to ensure I get the action and the 60d when I have time to grab the pretty shots, plus nearly all indoor stuff as the GH2 isn't too hot on that. Balancing shots of the guests, the venue and the table arrangements is tricky - do I always get the balance right, nope but I have a good go at it.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #4
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
Obviously, the "cinematic" person does want to capture human moments; and the "documentary" person does want their images to be as beautiful as possible

Is it not the other way round? :) I try to blend both shooting styles together, I work with regular videocamera with a large dof to capture the human moments and my dslr to capture the beauty shots, being a solo shooter I have to choose my gear well to assure I get the important shots. For the human moments it's mainly my videocamera's but it can also be a dslr with a wideangle on a steadicam so I can have a wide dof and move while filming to my subject. Only when time allows and when I can do multiple takes of one shot I use my dslr with fast primes, this can be mainly gathering portraitshots of guests during reception or beauty shots of the venue.

My trailers are often more leaning more towards a cinematic approach (beauty shots, voice over, steadicam, slider etc) while the total film will be more documentary oriented so my clients have it both ways.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 09:52 AM   #5
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

To me Cinematic is stuff you do BEFORE and AFTER the ceremony and for a Highlight. IMO the ceremony is the ceremony and while it might be shortened I could never bring myself to make it a cinematic type piece. HOWEVER the prep, photo shoot time, and highlight, have at it!
I think many if not most video folks today actually do a combination of the 2 styles.
Not too many years ago I did nothing but short form, now not so much. Why? With DVDs and chapters it's just as easy to do doco long form and let them use the remote for the DVD player.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:40 PM   #6
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

In regards to your title question, I think the straight forward documentary is the one end of the spectrum where the other end, "cinematic" is a wide open subjective end. I do think most try to put some puff and fluff into their videos, but as Don and Noa mention, those are shot when time is more plentiful, and the shot not as critical.

IMO, "cinematic" or "artistic" or "romantic" or "creative" are all subjective terms, and as Tariq found from his tale in his thread, can be misunderstood between two people, the vendor and the buyer.

Basically, this is a live event and your job is to tell the story of the day. So certain elements of that story are necessary regardless of your editing style or the length of the video you wish to present. After those necessary elements are captured, everything else comes at the discretion of the shooter with his mental plan, for what he wishes to create, dictating his "shot list".

Regardless of whether you are going to shoot "documentary" or "cinematic" you are going to create your own "style" in what you wish to document for your customers. It is just going to happen, based on you and what you find works best for you. You will get to a point where if you are trying to create something completely devoid of your opinions and preferences, it won't work and will definitely show in the final product. Those attempts won't fit "you" and the style you find works best for "you".

So, to now voice an opinion, make whatever you do, "Adrian's Films" and let your own style speak for itself. If you are "sold" on what you produce, it is easier to show that to a prospective customer.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 04:38 PM   #7
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

Quote:
1. Lens choice. If you're using primes for the sake of image quality, doesn't this handicap you in terms of capturing fleeting moments? I feel like there are many moments that I'm barely fast enough to catch with a zoom lens, let alone if I had to zoom with my feet to get there in time.
*Primes are ok. actually, a video tutorial somewhere talks about this, where using prime will make you think and be creative step back etc... but for me it doesn't really work in weddings, fast run and gun situations. im ok with 24-70mm . I can trade my 50mm 1.2 anytime of day (which i just sold last week)
but you have two audiences here 1. your future cilent (for web) 2. you client (for delivery)


Quote:
2. Staged vs natural. Production value of a shot: most bride's houses in the morning aren't these clutter-free perfectly-lit environments where the bride happens to be standing in exactly the right place, and to be standing there long enough, repeating the same action, for you to get a lot of coverage with different angles and lenses. But if you do stage this sort of shot, don't you straightaway lose something?
we actually feel it out first if its worth staging or just natural. this also depends on your client. i claim to do both.

Quote:
3. Length of time spent on something. "Cinematic" videos seem often to be characterised by lots of "furniture" shots. Details of a house, a church, a reception. Inanimate objects. But if you're spending time with these shots, and perhaps doing multiple takes, trying to get a slider + pull focus shot exactly right, doesn't that mean you're not spending time where the action is, getting shots of people interacting?
if you have 2-3 shooters you can do all of these. believe it or not, we spend about 30-45 just to shoot gown, shoes while other shooter is at the brides room. which works for me. so i dont really suggest doing this if there is no time. but it works for me. future brides mention how we shot our details and it helps in decision making. so I do it (if time permits and doable).


Quote:
4. Choices in edit. A shot might capture an emotion, but be for other reasons a bit dodgy -- out of focus, videographer in frame, whatever. Do you choose to reject the shot, in favour of presenting a seamless facade of beauty, or do you retain it?
ill trade eyecandies with out of focus shot, shaky shot , videographer in frame any time of day.

i forgot to add that aside from 1, and 2 as your audience, there is also your 3 videographer peers who watch your work and follow you. you can have helicopter shots and slider shots but if it doesnt connect with your story telling then youll be only impressing number 3.

anyways just sharing, but who cares what you want to do with your films. I mean there is no one stopping us from doing what we think will sell our clients. these are things id worry about last i.e. what others will think of how you do things. if it works for you its great - dont get intimidated with what others will think just get out there and shoot : )
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Old October 13th, 2012, 08:40 AM   #8
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

I tend to think of "cinematic" as using the camera-work to enhance the storytelling. To make up an example: the movie "Titanic" could have been a very short documentary, "boat hits iceberg and sinks." But it was much more engaging (and successful) as the hours-long love-story that we saw on the screen.

Similarly (and greatly simplifying), a wedding video could be "bride and groom each got dressed, rode in car to church, said vows, went to the reception, cut cake, danced, and left together." Or it could be more dramatic story-telling video with careful color-grading, sweeping camera movements, personal asides, subtle sound-layering, and even drops of rain on the window that show us the emotions of the day while also capturing the important details.

For the bride and groom, and the people close to them, a wedding day is their fairy tale about falling in love, declaring that love to friends and family at a public event, and then everyone celebrating the union of those two people.

Some people may just want a video that just captures the details of the day, correctly-exposed, white-balanced and in-sequence, so they can later go back and see what they wore, what they looked like, and what they said. But it is usually more interesting (and more fun) to view a stylized story exposing the emotions related to the events. The difference is a matter of style.

And while I was not a fan of "Titanic," it was a very popular (and profitable) movie.


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Old October 13th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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Re: Is there anything in between "documentary" and "cinematic"?

Hi All,

Think I might add my two pence worth here. I started out shooting weddings back in 2005 and had one thing in mind "shoot everything" and leave everything on auto focus. Clients loved it, they had no complaints as we were all shooting in pretty much the same way. The whole day was documented and as long as the camera was steady they were happy.

I truly believe the industry changed completely when the 5DMK2 was being used to shoot weddings, it was producing amazing DOF which instantly gave that Hollywood film style look. A range of lenses, multiple shooters, stabilizers, jibs, 60fps Slo Mo, sliders all contributed to creating movies which had a much more 'cinematic' feel.

Brides and grooms are also ready to start acting out per-scripted sequences so we can produce trailers as they do in Hollywood.

Here are a few of the best around;

https://vimeo.com/jasonmagbanua
https://vimeo.com/marronevideo
https://vimeo.com/joesimonfilms
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