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Old February 26th, 2012, 02:35 AM   #1
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A lament

Look, I’m not complaining, but! How’s that for a way to begin a post? What you are about to read (if you stay with this text) is more of a lament, (definitely not a rant) a gentle non-aggressive lament somewhat akin to a regret, not unlike the feeling of getting old (which I am) while all the youngsters blindly, sometimes stupidly it seems to me, forge ahead with no regard…

If you are a professional doing anything from weddings to high-end commercials to broadcast-style documentaries and or event recording this post is not about you or what you do. If your name is Doug Jensen or Alister Chapman or heaven knows lots of other technically equally excellent names around here then please forgive me for dwelling in the land of the trivial ethereal aesthetic for a moment. I would be the first to admit that there is a lot of engaging, delightful and high quality footage out there done by us types, the non-professional shooters, and that outcome is partly; no let’s make that largely, due to the excellence of the advice given by you men (not a lot of women in the cohort, but that’s another subject altogether, or is it!) and the foresight and persistence of Mr. Obstreperous himself in bringing us all together and keeping it sane, sensible, polite and personal as he does; my hat is off to you all as I say thanks very much indeed.

So what am I on about? I’m on about my fellow artist, enthusiasts, small time shooters who take delight in knocking off a 3 to 5 minute piece, uploading it to Vimeo or suchlike and basking in the feedback from family and friends, however momentary (and it mostly is), and then onto the next ‘production’. I’m on about how the footage out there is drifting headlong into a boring conformity of highly overdone shallow DOF, stuttery 24pppppee, out of focus, hideous post-production induced blue-greens and all set to ripped-off music that is so out of whack that it has me frantically reaching for the mute button at the first note. And all this is proudly presented as being ‘filmic’.

How did this come about? My sense is that someone discovered that DSLR still cameras with large sensors were capable of shooting nice footage and before you could say Jack Robinson DSLR’s became the in-thing for videographers. One of the early adopters/promoters that come over my horizon was the now-famous and ever-charming Philip Bloom. Even before he and Chris Hurd had their first encounter I was very much aware of his work, and let me say I was highly impressed. I eagerly looked for his latest and invariably enjoyed his work and learnt accordingly. While generally Philip’s intent, presumably, was to demonstrate the art of shallow DOF (and get a little richer and more famous in the process, no doubt, which I don’t doubt he did, and continues to do), some of his small productions the style of which have been mimicked holus bolas did that in spades to the point of having no point other than demonstrating shallow DOF with the result that Vimeo is now chocker-block over-loaded with half-baked look-alikes hammered with after effects and like post formulas that kill detail and thrust blue-greens oh so annoyingly in your face.

While I appreciated his teaching regarding shallow DOF and his general approach I must say I admire, yes admire, how he uses music the way he does as a mood management tool. He may not want to hear that because he sort-of sets himself up as a gear-head guru (which he undoubtedly is) and if the soundtrack aspect becomes too important it might risk his credibility in the technical domain. Be that as it may he remains in my mind the master when it comes to music selection and utilization with his short films. If only his followers might pay less attention to shallow DOF and more to his mastery, his artistry, with music.

It is time for a change. Enough with the over-blown filmic thing please. It’s getting in the way and what we see all too often is a series of moves that demonstrate that the small film maker can cram a horrendous number of demonstrations of tricks (not treats) that get in the way rather than enhance the telling of the story.

Do you think I am overly sensitive, perhaps?
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Old February 26th, 2012, 03:46 AM   #2
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Re: A lament

Nice rant. ;)
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Old February 27th, 2012, 02:53 PM   #3
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Re: A lament

Welcome to the commoditization of technology... once tech becomes available to everyone and his or her dog, you get what you get.

Computers have altered the landscape, first with "word processing", then with "photoshopping", and now with "movie maker" (using program names semi generically to express the tech tsunsmis as they flowed over the creative seawalls).

For those who take the time and trouble to learn the proper techniques and approaches to the technology, it's great, and allows "everyman" to put forward their vision... for those that pick up a camera, wave it about wildly and call it art... well, there ya go.

Think of what you see is a visual version of a screaming rant (not like yours, the typical over the top internet RANT is what I'm speaking of...). Give a thousand monkeys a typewriter, still camera, or video camera and see what you get??

All one can do is hone THEIR skills and try to find their "voice" or their vision or a way to make a living with the tools - maybe it'll be the next masterpiece, or maybe just more drek, or just a payday or two...

The worldwide distribution aspect is a new element, but just makes it that much harder to stand out among the mass of marketing, misinformation, skewed ideas, mass insanity and general digital overload. The Web had such promise, and is still useful to find solutions or information IF you're patient, but it's a lot harder than it used to be, as it becomes filled up with the collective mental expulsion of mankind, both good and bad...

Certainly it's time for someone to figure out how to code up a "garbage filter", so we aren't assaulted at every page view with substandard fare... but probably won't ever happen!
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Old February 27th, 2012, 09:53 PM   #4
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Re: A lament

Originally Posted by Mark Wheelan View Post
Nice rant. ;)
Actually yes it certainly is.

There are numerous wrong ways and only one or two right ways to rant on DV Info Net.

John has eloquently demonstrated how to properly get away with it.

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Old February 27th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #5
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Re: A lament

The more times inappropriate and over-used shallow DOF appears in aspiring DP's demo reels, the safer the careers of the genuine and accomplished DP's should be.

However, some industry professionals like Charles Papert, have generously and unselfishly counselled here against such excesses and offered excellent advice.

It might be more to their interests to say instead, "geewhiz and goshdarnit, that razor thin DOF in your clip is the absolute greatest, that missed focus on the talent, so sensitive to the selfconsciousness of the actor who frets about age wrinkles. That bad colour grade is really pure artistry. Have at it lads and give us more." ( and fill up Youtube with rubbish because no one will be able to distill the genuinely talented newcomers out of the clutter who might otherwise emerge to compete for the work. ).

So to Chris and the other wranglers, the likes of Charles Papert, Chris Barcellos and others, thank you for this resource and your generousity of time and knowledge to make my meagre skills better.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 27th, 2012 at 10:23 PM. Reason: error
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Old February 28th, 2012, 03:52 AM   #6
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Re: A lament

Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
Actually yes it certainly is.
I agree Chris, I enjoyed reading it. I'm not always the best with words so I try to keep it simple.

I've been quietly reading DVi for the last ~5 years to learn about my camera, how control it and maximize my abilities. I have great respect for the skill sets I see here. The last two years I've made myself available to a ~40 year retired camera operator from the Bay area, I'm his 2nd camera when he needs one. I get myself there and he houses me, I get a week of one-to-one with a seasoned shooter. What I've learned from him is invaluable. He's been able to put together the finer aspects of knowledge I couldn't quite figure out on my own. -- I am indebted to him, as well as to the thousands of contributors here and elsewhere who have 'schooled me.'

After a decade of being 'that guy' who can't leave the house without a video camera, I think I'm finally ready to go a little better. An early, and smart, retirement plan is how I look at it. Right now the plan is to add a pair FS100's and a few other fixtures, we'll start with a few weddings.

We already have little a niche we've started working on. Once my wife finishes her PhD we'll have a little more to work with in that field (Docu/Ed).

See, now you went and made me participate! I'm a trained observer, I'm not suppose to participate! -- My work has been very dry and clinical, my dry writing reflects that aspect of my life. My camera and editing is where my creativity has been focused for over a decade. The wife is on-board finally, whats not to try, right?

Last edited by Mark Wheelan; February 28th, 2012 at 11:09 AM.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 11:38 AM   #7
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Re: A lament


The conversation I quoted in the above post is true and, I think, illustrative. There are simply those who can't compete and so change the rules or throw out the rules enabling what you describe. Personally I find many of them self centered, foolish, arrogant and full of age bias.

Not all are like that and sooner or later, they will need to pay the rent and put food on the table. Many trends don't go in straight lines.... other forces come into play. Ultimately I hope that this will settle out. IMHO, I think DVinfo is a force and a player in this regard.

Last edited by Les Wilson; February 28th, 2012 at 04:31 PM.
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