Bob Caniglia, Senior Regional Manager, Eastern North America, Blackmagic Design
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Red Shark News, Ned Soltz Inc.
Yvonne Russo, Producer/Director, vivaverdithefilm.com
Tama Berkeljon, Managing Director, Outsight
Jourdan Aldredge, Creative Content Coordinator, Premium Beat
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we are looking at lights, cameras and action. We start with Bob Caniglia, a regional manager with Blackmagic Design, talking about their latest cameras and how to pick the right camera for your next project.
Larry Jordan: Producer/director Yvonne Russo takes us behind the scenes of her documentary Viva Verdi, and explains the pre-production work that went into her shoot in Milan, Italy.
Larry Jordan: Tama Berkeljon is the managing director of Outsight, an LED lighting manufacturer. Tom explains how they into LED lighting, and how to choose the right lights for your next project.
Larry Jordan: Jourdan Aldredge, creative content coordinator for Premiumbeat, has a series of production tips for shooting your next film that will improve quality without breaking your budget.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz, contributing editor for Red Shark News, has specific suggestions on what to consider when choosing your next camera, including whether to rent or to buy.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing, around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. I’m on the road this week so we recorded tonight’s show this last Monday. We decided to focus on production this week. We’re calling the show ‘Lights, Cameras, and Action.’ It’s the process of turning an idea into a video, and some of the gear we need to make that happen. We’ll be talking with guests from Australia to Italy, and lots of points in between. It’s a fun subject with lots of stories along the way.
Larry Jordan: By the way I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue, every week, gives you an inside look at the Buzz, quick links to the different segments on the show, and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all every issue is free and comes out on Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what’s the news?
James DeRuvo: The news this week is all about virtual reality again. It just never seems to want to settle down. We’ve got two new software applications out that’ll make your virtual reality post production workflow a lot easier to manage. The first one comes out from a company called Mettle, and they’ve got a new plug in called Skybox 360 VR Transitions 2 which offers a set of drag and drop transitions that can link up clips within your Premiere Pro timeline so you don’t need to use a separate 360 VR app so you can do all your 360 VR editing within Premiere Pro. It has fully customizable support from mono 2:1, stereo 1:1,over/under and equirectangular formats, and it joins other tools in the Skybox Studio suite including Skybox Post Effects, which is the After Effects for virtual reality, Skybox Studio V2 which creates VR content within After Effects, and Skybox VR 360 Tools which can add text, logos, 2D footage and the like right directly into your 360 workflow.
Larry Jordan: Very cool. What else we got?
James DeRuvo: Boris FX is releasing their own virtual reality set of tools. They claim to be the first plug in to bring native 360 motion tracking, masking, object removal and horizon stabilization tools to your non-linear editor like Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud, After Effects, Avid Media Composer and even Blackmagic Fusion. It offers efficient time saving post stitch workflow for editors and compositors, and can fix problems like removing the camera from the image, and stabilizing aerial footage.
James DeRuvo: So we’ve got a lot of VR stuff going on in the news today, as well as this weekend was the Science and Technical Awards for the Oscars. ARRI, RED and Sony were all honored for their work in pushing the digital revolution. ARRI got an honor for engineering the Super 35 format for the ARRI ALEXA digital camera system. RED got something of a lifetime achievement nod for their pioneering design of the RED digital camera lines, and for how they manufacture the process that pushed the digital revolution. So they got honored for their line of cameras, and how they actually went about building them and how it’s completely changed the way they make cameras these days. Sony was awarded for the F65 CineAlta camera, and its pioneering high res imaging sensor, as well as being honored, along with Panavision, for the development of the Genesis digital motion picture camera. And there were plenty of other artists who were honored for their contributions to the technical realm this year, and it looks like the future is bright technically, as far as the digital revolution goes.
Larry Jordan: They picked some good camera companies with ARRI and RED and Sony. All of those awards I think are fully justified.
James DeRuvo: Absolutely. RED are trailblazers, and they’re proud of it. While everybody’s just starting to get into 6K and 5K, RED is already into 8K. So they’re really pushing the edge of the envelope, and so this Oscar is well deserved.
Larry Jordan: James, I should mention that we’re recording this session on Monday, and the industry refuses to stop creating news, so for people that want the latest information on the industry, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these and other stories can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for Doddlenews.com and returns every week with our DoddleNEWS update. James, thanks for joining us today.
James DeRuvo: OK Larry, have a good week.
Larry Jordan: I want to introduce you to a new website, Thalo.com. Thalo is an artist community and networking site for creative people to connect, be inspired and showcase their creativity. Thalo.com features content from around the world with a global perspective on all things creative. Thalo is the place for creative folks to learn, collaborate, market and sell their works. Thalo is a part of the Thalo Arts, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers, and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Visit Thalo.com and discover how their community can help you connect, learn and succeed. That’s Thalo.com.
Larry Jordan: Bob Caniglia began working in the film and television industry in 1985 as a part time cameraman and editor. Then he was an editor for the Disney Channel, and 525 Post Production working on music videos for Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson. Then Bob came to Blackmagic Design when the company purchased DaVinci in 2009 where he is now the senior regional manager for eastern North America and I’m delighted to say, hello Bob. Welcome back.
Bob Caniglia: Hello Larry, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: Last week, Dan May told us about the new streaming products from Blackmagic Design. This week, I want to talk with you about the latest Blackmagic cameras. Now obviously a camera is crucial in a shoot, but what makes the Blackmagic cameras worth considering?
Bob Caniglia: At this point, Blackmagic has quite a range of cameras from very small, micro cinema, micro studio cameras, all the way up to the new URSA mini. The other thing that we’ve tried to do is enter into price points that currently don’t offer the same sort of feature set as our cameras, so getting into things with 15 stops of dynamic range, and with the URSA mini we can use either as a field camera for shooting film style, or with a B4 mount, turn it into an ENG style camera, or add the studio viewfinder and hook it to an ATEM and now you’re using it as a studio camera. So that flexibility to be able to turn some of the models into multiple use, really gives somebody a good bang for their buck.
Larry Jordan: One of the questions that I get asked a lot is, “I’m in the market for a new camera, what’s the best camera?” How do you answer that question?
Bob Caniglia: Well, it’s funny because oftentimes we’ll get that at a show. Someone comes and says, “So what camera should I buy?” Most of the time I’ll say, “Well what is it that you’re trying to do?” Sometimes they’ll say, “Well, I want to do everything.” I say, “Well that’s ambiguous.” But I try to narrow it down to “Are you looking to shoot commercials? Are you looking for a more film cinematic camera, or are you looking for something to shoot ENG style or live or studio cameras?” Things like that. A lot of schools will ask, “What can we buy that we can get the most use out of?” meaning, “Can we buy a camera that we could use in the studio but also go out and shoot in the field?” So, when I can get a little bit better detail on what their intended use is, then we can start to narrow it down. Of course price comes into play often, but for the most part, with our range, we can usually get somebody into an area. One of the things that I find most interesting is that many people who have bought some of our cameras over time, tend to have more than one which is a great asset if you can purchase more than one. Obviously the ability to shoot with more than one camera on location is always beneficial, but one of the things that people do like about our range of cameras is that we’re able to, with DaVinci Resolve in the workflow, you’re able to match those two cameras, regardless of which ones they are, which obviously makes a big deal in post.
Larry Jordan: Let’s come back to the idea of, what’s the best camera? You clearly answered, and I totally agree with the answer, which is, it depends. But what are the most important questions people need to ask? What do they need to know before they go camera shopping? What’s the top three questions that can really narrow in on a camera?
Bob Caniglia: I think you need to figure out functionally what you’re looking for. Do you need it to be so portable that it’s small and has to fit inside a car and things like that, that really can push you into one direction. Whether or not you intend to shoot hand held, often, because then that can turn you into a different direction. So, that intended use really means something because, if I think back on when I first started, ENG style cameras on our shoulders all the time, so those parfocal lenses that ENG style lenses were the only way you could go. Today people, especially those that got into this in the DSLR boom, are used to using, even if they’re photo lenses which are basically just a series of prime lenses, are not really that great at doing ENG style work. You try and hone in where they’re looking to go, and then dynamic range comes into play especially if you’re talking about doing cinematic work, but oftentimes, depending on the type of work they’re doing, that may not be quite as important as the portability of it.
Larry Jordan: You bring up a really good point. HDR is incredibly hot right now. High dynamic range, and being able to shoot a broader latitude in brightness than we get with standard HD Rec 709 images. What does Blackmagic offer that supports HDR quality video?
Bob Caniglia: The URSA Mini 4.6K has 15 stops of dynamic range. So that’s really going to give you the broadest latitude. When you shoot raw at 4.6K RAW, you get 15 stops of dynamic range, and that’s a full 15 stops. I think at that point you’re really into an area where you’re going to get the complete range. We’ve done some shoot outs where we’ve gone into a conference room and shot people in the conference room, and then shot through the window, and we’re able to get images in both locations in a blink of an eye and that really shows the range that you’re getting in real life as opposed to just on paper.
Larry Jordan: Another thing Dan talked about last week was the rising interest in live streaming and the products that Blackmagic offer to support it. Why is live streaming so hot right now?
Bob Caniglia: What we’re seeing now is that so many people are doing live broadcasts, whether they’re podcasts, or just interviews. Whether it’s Facebook Live or YouTube, it’s amazing because those avenues are there, and some of them are free, more and more people are broadcasting and it’s interesting that the traditional broadcasting sense is not really the same as it used to be where you’d need a studio and whatever. Now you need a cell phone and an internet connection. But like anything, the better quality you can get into those then the more interested people are in watching them. I listen to a lot of satellite radio and oftentimes now they’re trying to simulcast over the internet at the same time, and so we’re seeing a lot more of that.
Larry Jordan: Is a camera for live streaming different from other cameras?
Bob Caniglia: A camera for live streaming isn’t necessarily that different. It’s more studio based. It’s more about how you set it up in terms of putting a Rec 709 look on it. Many of these live streams are using multiple cameras, so running it through a switcher, and then getting it out to the web, that’s where some of the products we introduced last week fit very nicely in that where we can plug in cameras through a switcher, and then ultimately to the web so that you’re not just getting one camera out, you’re getting multiple cameras, but it looks like a single camera to the portal, to the online. For instance, today, we’re talking over Skype and because I have the new box, I plugged in one of the URSA Minis as my Skype cam as opposed to what’s on the laptop.
Larry Jordan: You are just a technical maven, really. That’s just amazing. How are studio cameras different from cinema cameras?
Bob Caniglia: Studio cameras, generally you shoot for the US 59,94 mostly. They’re set up, not with a film look, you don’t want to shoot them flat, you want to put a Rec 709 usually on them right away. Do a little camera shading. In the case of our studio cameras, none of them have internal recording because they’re not designed to be recorded in the field. They’re just designed to have output. So, when we talk about even in the micro, we have micro cinema, and a micro studio camera, people often ask what the difference is between them. One records and one doesn’t. That’s at a basic level. So, those cameras are just designed differently. They’re set up to look good straight out of the output rather than doing any real high end post production later.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had a number of problems with Blackmagic studio cameras, especially regarding sensitivity. They take a ton of light. How have they been improved over the last few years?
Bob Caniglia: One of the big problems that we’ve had that is being addressed as we speak, is that the settings in the ATEM versus the settings on the camera, aren’t quite in the right relation. What I mean by that is, when you fire it up and you put it at zero gain, it’s not really zero. It should on the 4K cameras, they should be at at least plus six. Now most people think you’re adding gain but it’s really just the scale is not quite right. So what happens is, people often say, “Well I got to go to plus six or plus 12 to get it to look good.” I say, “Yes, but that’s actually where you’re only really at 400 to 800 ISO which is about where the peak of the camera is.” We’ve discussed this over the years that we really need to adjust that scale. In my days, we used to have plus and minus gain basically which you could go down and up over zero. So we need to change that scale, because I think that leads to a lot of confusion. People thinking gain, back in the analog days, where if you increase it you’re just increasing noise, but that’s not true with these cameras.
Larry Jordan: With the wealth of media that’s available today, I look at YouTube and Vimeo and Facebook and Instagram, and Pinterest, how does a person make their media stand out?
Bob Caniglia: Well content is king I suppose. You want to make it look good so it doesn’t look like you’re shooting it from your basement, but at the same time it’s got to be content that somebody wants to actually watch. People ask all the time, “Which camera should I get?” Or, “What should I do here?” and technically, and all these things, and I say, “At the end of the day, if you tell a better story, that’s probably going to do the most good for you.” People spend lots of money on visual effects and whatever, but sometimes the best story is actually what’s going to win, not the fanciest looking. In the old days, when I started, you either shot film or you shot it on video, and if you shot it on video everyone knew it, and they wouldn’t even look at your program. Today you can buy a camera for $1,000 and if you shoot it correctly, it’s going to look just as good as things that are shot on much more expensive cameras. So then you’re going to be judged for your story and not necessarily what products are used. And I think that’s exciting.
Larry Jordan: I think when it comes to products you’re right, Blackmagic has a huge range of products available, and it’s impossible for me to keep them all in my mind at one time. Where can we go on the web to learn more about the products that Blackmagic offers?
Bob Caniglia: You can visit us at blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, blackmagicdesign.com and Bob Coniglia is the senior regional manager for eastern North America and Bob, as always, this has been fun, thank you for your time.
Bob Caniglia: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Yvonne Russo is an award winning producer, director and writer who’s currently working on a documentary named Viva Verdi, a documentary about life inside the retirement home that Guiseppe Verdi built in Milan, Italy in 1896 for musicians. Hello Yvonne, welcome back.
Yvonne Russo: Hi Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was looking up in my records and realized the last time we chatted was 2014. Where do we stand with the documentary now?
Yvonne Russo: Oh my gosh, 2014. Well, after that, we had another phase of production which actually took place in late December of 2014. We had raised money from Indiegogo and also through a private investor, to shoot in Milan for about ten days. While we were there we were conducting key interviews with some of the legendary talent at Casa Verdi and we were able to hire a local associate producer and sound man and B camera unit in Milan. Then, in July 2016, that was our third and final stage of production. We were able to travel back to Milan to shoot for 11 days, and we completed the project then on the ground. So it was really an amazing process, and now fast forward to now, we’re raising funding for post.
Larry Jordan: On today’s show, we’re talking about lights, camera and action, so I want to have you cast your mind back to pre-production. What did it take to get ready to film in Milan?
Yvonne Russo: When we first started in 2013 development, I was really going for the first time to observe and be a fly on the wall, watching as the house functions and observing the guests that were there. Since then, we’ve established these relationships with various artists who’ve grown to trust us and open up their personal lives to us, sharing their unique history about being opera singers and composers and dancers during their time. So when it was time to shoot in 2016, I had to follow the progression of those residents to see where their lives are now, what has happened over the last couple of years, and look at the story arcs in terms of how they’ve changed. In some cases, some of the residents became ill, others have gotten married in their old age, some are performing all over again and travelling the world. I mean, there’s just various things. So we have to see where they are in their current stage, and then just follow them accordingly.
Larry Jordan: Is the story the facility, because it was built by Verdi? Or is the story the people in the facility?
Yvonne Russo: It’s three aspects. The house itself is a character, so audiences are going to learn about the house itself, the way Giuseppe Verdi built it. Just the characteristics about it with itself as a character. Secondly, you have the residents. The residents are extremely different, they’re international residents from all over the world so we’re following their lives. We have Claudio [GIONBI] who’s a 79 year old baritone, and a voice energy teacher, who is actually teaching how to transmit energy to younger students. We have Leonello Bionda who’s 79, who’s a jazz drummer and used to play with Chet Baker and he still performs all the time in concerts all around Italy. We have Chitose Matsumoto who’s a pianist, and she’s from Japan and tells a story of leaving Japan during a time when opera was banned there. So we learn about these histories of these residents and basically follow their lives now at the home. It’s very interesting, so we’re threading all of this together.
Larry Jordan: How much of your film did you discover during production, and how much were you able to plan ahead of time?
Yvonne Russo: You discover it all during production, because what you think is going to happen when you get out there and you’re producing and directing a documentary, it all changes on the fly. So I thought originally we were going to shoot the story about the house, and about some of the residents, because there was one gentleman who worked on ‘The Godfather,’ and he helped compose one of the famous opera scenes. One of his dreams was to have one last opera, so we thought it would be really great to follow him as he produced this final opera and worked with all of the residents within the house, and we thought how fascinating to watch that all unfold. But he had Parkinson’s Disease and it just really accelerated, and so he couldn’t do that. So that storyline was out. You just always have to be ready for change, I’ll just say that.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about you and your film, where can they go on the web?
Yvonne Russo: They can go to vivaverdithefilm.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, vivaverdithefilm.com. Yvonne Russo is the producer and director for Viva Verdi, and Yvonne, thanks for joining us today.
Yvonne Russo: Thank you very much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Tama Berkeljon wanted to build robots. Instead, he got involved in feature films working on ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Happy Feet,’ ‘Fury Road,’ and many others. Now he’s the managing director of Outsight, an Australian company that makes LED lighting gear. Hello Tama, and welcome.
Tama Berkeljon: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in creating lighting gear?
Tama Berkeljon: Initially it was the technology that drove me because I saw that there was new technology which wasn’t being applied in the film industry, and I started to ask the question as to why?
Larry Jordan: There are lots of lighting companies in the world. What is it that Outsight does that’s unique?
Tama Berkeljon: We have a unique design philosophy. We don’t come from a place of being gaffers or cinematographers that have decided to build something that fills a need. We’ve come at it more from the perspective of engineers and designers.
Larry Jordan: From the outside looking in, a light is a light is a light. Give me an example of what you mean.
Tama Berkeljon: When I started thinking about building the Sky, which is our most recent product launch, I began to hear in the industry a lot of people talking about the requirement for an LED space light, or a sack light, and not knowing any better, I started asking more questions about what it would need to be. From our perspective it was build really from this market feedback and seeing the way people apply these kind of tools.
Larry Jordan: LEDs are notorious for poor color quality. What are you doing to make sure that your instruments are color accurate?
Tama Berkeljon: One of the things that we’ve been challenged with ever since I built these rigs, first in 2003, and when I built this big rig of LEDs for ‘Happy Feet,’ back at that time for the motion capture stage, for motion capture it didn’t matter because we’re just capturing dots. But I remember there were some gaffers who came through and looked up at the lights, and commented on just how, how very … From that moment, I started researching what it was that made all the LEDs so very different, and how to firstly seek LEDs that were of the same color and nature and then secondly, we started researching different ways to mix them and blend them so that we could get more precise control and then calibrate them across a range of different fixtures to get calibrated color between units. So we did very careful color binning and voltage binning, and then after that, we’d load the LEDs onto the boards, and then we’d calibrate them.
Larry Jordan: With all the lights on the market, and all the different types of lights, what should a customer keep in mind when they’re deciding what instrument to buy and what criteria should they use that makes your instruments preferable?
Tama Berkeljon: When you’re seeking to buy a new fixture or upgrade your existing fixtures, first look at your need. What is it you’re trying to achieve with a fixture? Are you trying to have a fixture which is going to do many things? Do you need it for interview work? Do you need to mix at other sources? That will tell you how closely you need to look at color quality. You need to consider how much abuse your fixture’s going to get. CRI for example is a very popular term that gets bandied around, but CRI can be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily tell you about gaps in the spectrum, so there’s not really a single metric that you can use to determine the color quality of a fixture. It’s best if you can test the kind of fixtures that you’re looking at, and get an understanding of how they’re going to respond with the particular camera that you’re using. Ultimately, no matter how good the bells and whistles are, how well the product is finished, at the end it’s all about producing light.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information about your products, where can they go on the web?
Tama Berkeljon: You can visit us at HYPERLINK “http://www.outsight.com.au” www.outsight.com.au.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, outsight.com.au. Tama Berkeljon is the managing director of Outsight, and Tama, thank you for joining us today.
Tama Berkeljon: Thank you so much Larry. It’s been a real pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Jourdan Aldredge is a filmmaker and writer for Premiumbeat.com. He’s worked professionally with clients such as AT&T, Pepsi, and Beats by Dre as well as being a video journalist with the Dallas Observer. Hello Jourdan, welcome.
Jourdan Aldredge: Hi Larry, how are you?
Larry Jordan: I am doing great. Recently, you wrote an article entitled The Lazy Filmmaker’s Guide to Efficient Video Production. What do you mean by lazy? I haven’t been on a film set yet where lazy actually applies.
Jourdan Aldredge: It’s meant to be a little tongue in cheek. Lazy isn’t meant to imply not bringing the effort. It’s meant to mean putting in the effort in the right places, and maybe change the opinion of some people that cutting corners isn’t always the wrong thing if you’re trying to do it with a practical outcome in mind.
Larry Jordan: You had eight tips in your article. Let’s talk about some of them. What’s one of the key tips to keep in mind?
Jourdan Aldredge: These are all examples, just from my career. I come from a journalism background, so a lot of the video production I’ve been put into, there’s quick turnarounds, small budget, very run and gun. You have a camera, you have a microphone, you need to get interviews, B roll, get it quick and efficiently, and you need to turn it around before your competitors do. One off the bat is the Zoom H1 being probably, I think the greatest invention in the art of video recording out there. Are you familiar with it?
Larry Jordan: Oh yes, very much so.
Jourdan Aldredge: Most people are probably more familiar with the Zoom H4 which is the full industry standard body of recording option. The H1’s a little bit smaller and it’s built for the smaller gigs, but I love it because unlike the H4, it has the auto leveling feature which allows you, if you’re done one man band shooting, you can turn it onto auto level. You can get your over the counter, best buy lapel mike, mike someone up, and you can put it on auto and you can put it on your subject, and they can put it in their pocket, and then they’re miked for at least 90 minutes. I’ll back it up if I’m shooting on a DSLR, or a small mirrorless camera, I’ll put in an external shotgun mike on my camera so you have a backup, but especially if you’re just doing web videos and stuff that’s going to be downgraded and retrograded on social or Facebook or something. I’ll put it dollars to donuts it sounds pretty much almost the same as if you did a real wireless lapel mike through an H4.
Larry Jordan: Cool. What’s another tip?
Jourdan Aldredge: Let’s try using your iphone for slow motion for smaller budget projects when you’re using your own gear, and you’re not looking to pass along a lot of cost to your client. An example is a shoot I was doing with some buddies on a beer festival. I was shooting on a Canon 7B so I could do 60 frames per second at most. He had the idea of getting some cool slow motion shots of the taps when it pours out, and it would look really cool in slow motion. He said, “I just got this new iphone 7, I love the slow mo on it. I’m just going to go around and shoot it and see what I get.” I took it back to edit and it looks amazing, and even the client, they asked “How did you get these?”
Larry Jordan: We’ve talked about audio, and slow mo, what about lighting?
Jourdan Aldredge: I don’t want to ever discourage the importance of three point lighting and understanding how it works, but when you’re doing those quick shoots and you need to get someone lit, a lot of times people either do all of it or none of it. I think if you’re intentional with understanding of your setup and where you’re at, if you have a small set up, you can move the subjects to a spot where you know you have a little control and minimal use of reflectors and just understanding how light bounces off of white walls, and ceilings. That’s just a huge step in lazy filmmaking, but also just intentional filmmaking and being efficient.
Larry Jordan: Well the article is the Lazy Filmmaker’s Guide to Efficient Video Production, and you can find it on Premiumbeat.com. Jourdan, where can we go to keep track of what you’re writing and what you’re doing?
Jourdan Aldredge: You can keep track of everything I write as well as the other contributors, and writers, at our blog, premiumbeat.com/blog and it’s called The Beat.
Larry Jordan: The Beat. Jourdan Aldredge, filmmaker and writer for Premiumbeat.com, thanks for joining us today.
Jourdan Aldredge: Thanks for having me Larry.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, editor, educator and consultant on all things related to digital video. He’s also a contributing editor for Creative Planet and Red Shark News, and best of all, he’s a regular here on The Buzz. Hello Ned, welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Hi Larry, it’s great to be back tonight.
Larry Jordan: Ned, most of the time, when we talk, we’re looking at specific features in specific cameras. But this time, I want to take a step back and look at the process of selecting a camera. It reminds me several years ago I made this exact same phone call to you asking “What camera should I buy?” What criteria should we use in picking a camera?
Ned Soltz: I’d say the criteria are pretty much the same, but the choices are far more difficult right now.
Larry Jordan: How so?
Ned Soltz: First of all, what not to do which is just listen to hype and go along with whatever trend you think might be the trend. Or go along with, “Well, if I get this camera, I’ll be able to do this particular business, I’ll be able to get new clients” and that often is the wrong approach. I think the proper approach is first of all, an honest assessment of what is the purpose of this camera? What are you requiring? What are you shooting? What might you want to go into, and what direction might you want to go, and will this particular device allow you to go in that direction should your professional artistic creative or business situations allow you to go in that direction? So you really have to look very carefully at “What is this for?” If you are really shooting for the web only, that may be very different than if you’re saying, “Well I want something that will shoot for the web, and that will be able to shoot feature films, and my budget is $999.”
Ned Soltz: Which brings me to the next question which is, “Within the constraints of what you want to achieve with a camera, how much money do you have to spend?” Here again, budget becomes not just the camera, and that’s a big mistake people make. Particularly now because with so many cameras, and so many rigging options, and so many add on options, you have to look at the total package of what it’s going to cost you and what that workflow is going to cost you. A case in point, you may find a very wonderful camera which seems to be at a very reasonable price point, and then you discover it requires a CFast 2.0 media. All of a sudden you’re blindsided that, as an example, SanDisk 256 gig, CFast 2.0 media can set you back $600 a card and you thought you were having such a bargain in a camera. Then there’s support, then glass, so you have to look at a total budget of what it is that you want to spend relative to what benefits you’re going to derive to achieve that purpose.
Ned Soltz: In that line you then have to decide what camera works for you. What kind of form factor? We’ve had a lot of discussions about DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, versus more conventional video cameras, and for many people and many scenarios, that DSLR mirrorless form factor can work very well. I was just looking at some Super Bowl footage the other day and just looking at people shooting everything from huge ENG cameras, to smaller form factor cameras, to DSLRs, all gathered around the players on the field after the game. So it just depends on what form factor you like and how much rigging you want to put into it.
Ned Soltz: Another factor is often prior experience with a camera or a brand. If you’ve been loyal to a particular brand, and used a particular brand and want a new camera, and that camera does what you need it to do, you’re going to be more familiar with it at the outset in terms of its shooting capacities, of its menu structure, of that kind of familiarity. So you have to look at that prior experience. Or if you want to go in a totally different way, then you really have to assess what kind of learning curve you might have with that new device. And in that regard, you’re going to look at a couple of things. You’re going to look at other people’s experiences and unfortunately, the web is full of advice. A lot of it’s good, and a lot of it isn’t good and it’s very hard to vet. Even those of us who spend our lives trying to give advice, sometimes make mistakes. I admit to a certain amount of fallibility. Or I’m looking at something from a very different way than somebody else might be looking at it. So you have to look at user experience and get an overall of it.
Ned Soltz: But I think the best thing is, try to get hands on with that camera. If you’re dealing with a reputable camera dealer, they’re going to have cameras that you can play with and test. You may be able to rent that camera for a bit, and really put it through its paces in a similar kind of shooting scenario. So when you put all of that together, that’s all the decision matrix, but the good news on this is it’s probably very difficult to make a bad decision because virtually everything you see out there in the professional world is good. And it works. Some have relative strengths, some have relative weaknesses, and the other thing is that cameras aren’t forever. You can sell them, you can trade it, you can put it out for rent and buy something else. You may take a bit of a loss, but hopefully if you’ve been making money on that camera, and then depreciating it and you find it’s not exactly what you want, get rid of it and get something else. So these aren’t permanent decisions, but they’re significant investments and it’s the basic tool of your trade if you’re a shooter.
Ned Soltz: So to summarize, I talked about your purpose, your overall total budget, camera, accessories and workflow. The form factor that works for you, and prior experience with a particular brand or manufacturer. The experiences of others, and finally your first hand experience that you’re able to get before you actually plonk down the credit card for that camera.
Larry Jordan: Ned, I just want to reinforce that it’s really helpful to rent a camera and play with it in real life before you spend the money to buy it because there’s nothing that beats personal experience and deciding if that camera works the way that you want it to work.
Ned Soltz: I would agree, and particularly if you’re both a shooter and an editor. You want to take that footage all the way through the process. Or even if you’re not a shooter and an editor, but you have a regular editor and or colorist you work with, you may want to rent that camera, and then turn some of that footage over to your editor colorist, and see what they think of it as well and what suggestions they might make based on the footage that they’ve seen you shoot with that rental camera. I think it’s a very important point.
Larry Jordan: Ned, these are some extremely helpful points. Thank you so very much. For people that want to keep track of what you’re writing, where can they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: Well the best place these days is redsharknews.com as well as creativeplanetnetworks.com. Both of those will have little snippets of things that I write and do, and from those links, you can always send me a message and I am more than glad to email back and forth with folks.
Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, an editor, an educator and a contributing editor for both Red Shark News and Creative Planet. Ned, thanks for joining us today.
Ned Soltz: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we were looking at lights, cameras and action. The process of creating our projects. As always, there was plenty to talk about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank my guests this week, Bob Caniglia of Blackmagic Design, Yvonne Russo, the producer director of Viva Verdi, Tama Berkeljon of Outsight, Jourdan Aldredge of Premiumbeat, Ned Soltz and James DeRuvo of DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online, and available to you today. And remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com.
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