A Family Video

I wasn’t going to share this public at first, but just watched it recently and thought I would for an interesting reason.

I follow a lot of video groups on FB and Linked in.

One thing that comes up a lot–and I do understand it–is requests for what is the best stabiliser. Frankly, there are some new fantastic ones out there, and one day I might even buy one. But it’s low on my list and may never happen.

The most recent request asked if the expensive ones were better. My reply was along the lines…”yes”.

That said, back in my day of using a Steadicam, they cost something around $30,000. Maybe they still do. A cheaper alternative at the time (the 90s) was the Glidecam. I used that too. The Steadicam was way better.

So even though prices are down, you get what you pay for.

But do you really need one?

Depends what you do, of course, but my view is that technology isn’t there to correct bad camerawork. And that seems to be the inspiration behind some of these posts. “What’s the best stabiliser?” “What’s the best post stabilisation program that’s free?”

Nothing beats good camera work to begin with. That takes time and practice. In this age of technology, some people seem to think it’s there to solve their inadequacies. I beg to differ.

Anyway, if you’ve read my book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Loner Shooter’s Survival Guide, you’ll know that I follow the ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to equipment.

I have 3 small cameras. All Sony. The NX30, X70 and RX10ii.

In this video I had the NX30 along, the oldest of the three.

I bought it because of it’s stabilisation technology. I didn’t want another bag with more kit requiring more time to set up. I wanted a camera that was a wingman for run and gun work. Something that would let me keep my attention on the job, not on the equipment.

I never use tripods, except for sit down interview. Never. And for the same reason.

So, it follows, everything in this video is hand-held.

Would anyone notice?

Beyond that, it may have no interest for most viewers. It’s a family video that only means something to those involved. My wife is French (she’s the one trying to get the others to dance at the end of the video), and what you are seeing here is the beginning of the move from the last family home in Saint Saens, France. All the others are long gone. This is the last one, and this is the last walk through the garden by father and daughter, a father who inherited the house decades past and spent all those years carrying on the stewardship of a house that was in the family for 300 years.

I only started shooting clips over the last two days there, so had little to choose from. The song was played on our last evening there (in the scene where they are all drinking calvados), so copyright issues aside, that was obviously the one to use. Made for an easy edit too.

Most of the shots were candid, except where they obviously knew I was there.

Yea, one shot is through a dirty window, but what I captured there was priceless.

The girls cried and cried. Watched it several more times and cried even more. (That’s a good thing).

Moral of the story: Quit worrying about your equipment and get your attention out there capturing things that matter to people and clients.

(as a note, the one weakness of the NX30 is lack of ND filters, and thus some difficulty in rendering details in bright exteriors)

 

 

Free Book Offer: Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide

Run 'n Gun Videography

I’ve decided to enrol in KDP Select which gives me some promotional options including making the book available for FREE for 5 days.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m doing it for two reasons.

  1. I’m locked into KDP select for 90 days during which period the book can only be available on Kindle. So that gives me a sort of deadline for making the book available in soft cover and putting it on other platforms. I can’t promise it, but it’s a good target for me because I’m going to be pretty busy before then anyway. Plan is to update it and make it available in hardcover next fall.
  2. Though the book has sold a few hundreds copies, it’s only gotten about a little over 30 reviews between the UK and US markets. They’re all good reviews, but I’d like to see a lot more reviews.

The Free Download Offer is NOW LIVE on Amazon and runs through Sunday.

I hope that most of my subscribers here who don’t have it yet will take the opportunity to download it.

In exchange I have a humble request: Please review it on the Amazon page once you’ve read it.

US Amazon Link

UK Amazon Link

Available world wide.

Making a Murderer–A Compelling Netflix Documentary

Making a Murderer

Making a Murder is a Netflix documentary that was filmed over 10 years following the case of a wrongly accused man who spent 18 years in prison, and who shortly after his release (when DNA tests exonerated him), was arrested for murder–apparently framed by the police.

This is the most compelling documentary I have ever seen. I watched most of series 1 in one sitting because I simply couldn’t stop watching it (but finally had to stop because I could no longer stay awake).

Way better than ‘reality tv’. Way better than professionally produced crime dramas. The twists and turns never stop–and yet this is real life, real people, real court proceedings.

It chronicles a corrupt justice system and police department in addition to the influence of media. At least that’s how it rolls off so far. I don’t now how many times my jaw dropped watching this. It appears to be a frame job, but despite all evidence submitted in that regard up to the point I’ve watched it, I’m guessing he’ll be convicted again regardless.

Now what’s all this to do with this blog?

In the book Run and Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide, I talked a lot about message being the overriding fundamental in any artistic production, film and video included. I also talked about the subject of technical perfection being junior in importance to getting the message across. So much so that in deciding as an editor if a flawed shot should be used or not, the answer to the question is whether or not it will detract from the message and throw the audience out of the story.

Early on in this series I noticed how rocky some of the hand-held camerawork was. This was not any kind of deliberate ‘technique’. It’s just that these cameramen were shooting everything hand-held with big Sony Betacam cameras, even from inside cars bouncing around on dirt roads. There was some pretty rough stuff.  BUT, the story was so compelling that it didn’t matter one bit. Furthermore, it was so well put together in terms of editing and the message was so loud and clear (and compelling), that there wasn’t any technical flaw that was going to throw me out of that story.

Some of the close-ups of people were simply jaw-dropping in terms of raw emotion. These weren’t actors. These were real people caught up in a horrible situation–guilty and not guilty alike.

Highly recommended as a study of run and gun camerawork–because that’s exactly what it was.

 

Coming soon: Run and Gun camerawork

DSC03597

Alibaba heaven. If you know what Alibaba is (Chinese merchandise website), this is Alibaba heaven. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you can possibly want available in one market. Hundreds if not thousands of shops lining the streets for a square mile or more filled with people like this. One of many such markets in the Chongqing Provence. This is a still taken with the NX30, but plenty of video footage to share coming soon.

 

I’m still in Chongqing China and have been shooting a lot of fascinating footage–mainly with my trusty little Sony HXR NX30 because it’s so small and light to carry around.

I’ve decided that what I’ll do with the footage is a new video which is part travelogue and part commentary on run and gun camerawork since everything I’m doing is hand-held.

I’m often asked about how I do camerwork, so I thought a lot of interesting footage–often in difficult circumstances (such as small streets and alleys filled with thousands of jostling people) would be a good way to talk about run and gun camerwork.

If we get the time, Laury will take my X70 and shoot me shooting with the NX30. That should be interesting.

The main reason I’m here, though, is to document my wife’s production of a number of bronze commissions and particularly the in-progress Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown statue for which we will produce a new fundraising video to raise the balance of funds needed to cast it in bronze and ship it back to England—so that may have to come first.

In any case, I think I’ll get to this new video sometime in the next 3 weeks. I really looking forward to it.

‘Run ‘n Gun Videography’ — Amazon reviews

Run 'n Gun Videography

 

Some newsy stuff.

The video review of the Sony PXW X70 completed its journey from page 26 on a Google search to the number 1 video spot in just under 2 1/2 months. Still annoyed by the couple of sound faults in that video but strangely in just under 17,000 views to date, no one has complained. That’s good because that was a 26 hour upload on a tenuous internet connection.

Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide has now been out 5 weeks, with 125 copies sold. New territory for me. Not sure how that rates. Here are the reviews so far:

 

This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems 5 Feb. 2015

By WisePurchaserPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book is an amazing find! It is one of those rare gems that occasionally crosses one’s path, if at all. I say this because the author has distilled a wide assortment of complex issues related to videography into one easy-to-understand source. The author, Joe Caneen, is a veteran videographer with years of industry experience – 30 years and counting, in fact. Yet, unlike many seasoned authorities of this caliber who usually get locked into trade convention or spout out-of-reach techno jargon, Mr. Caneen is refreshingly unpretentious and accessible. So, if you are a beginner videographer who values a didactic approach that fuses intellect with common-sense, that balances artistic technique with practicality, then the good spirits of fate have led you to the right place. Read this text! Learn the many nuggets of wisdom contained within! And you will most assuredly thank me later.

By Kenneth Mullinge

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I’ve just finished reading Joe’s book and I have to say I found it very enjoyable and easy to read. He points out a number of things that I found very useful, the single main point which he makes (and I will not describe here) was more than worth the cost of the book alone. Definitely buy this book if you are interested in becoming a better videographer.

Kenny M

5.0 out of 5 stars

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips 16 Jan. 2015

By J. J. Robertson

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A no-nonsense book stuffed full of very good advice and tips. Joe Caneen really knows his trade and gets straight to the point with his writing. I wish I’d read this book years ago instead of learning the hard way by making lots of mistakes!

5.0 out of 5 stars

The most inspiring video teacher I have found! 6 Jan. 2015

By Justin OpinionPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I have waited patiently… oh who am I kidding, I’ve never been patient about anything! But I’ve waited for this book to be finished because – well, because I had no choice. But Joe (The Video Whisperer) was kind enough to share snippets of the text on his blog site during the process, and that helped.

Let me preface (what, preface has to be at the top?), okay then let me just say that I have not read the full finished work as yet and am reviewing it anyway. I don’t normally do that – but want to give full disclosure to it. I do feel qualified to offer you my opinion now because I have read so much of it already, and am familiar with the work of this expert craftsman. Joe, from what I’ve learned over time, has spent a career behind the camera in many types of productions. The kind of work where you get one chance to get it right, and that’s it. And even if you can take a second try at it – it comes at a high cost. You don’t have a long and rewarding career if you don’t excel at meeting those objectives.

Good quality cameras are readily available now on nearly every budget level. But if you want to get beyond “point it that way and hit the red button” skill level, you need advice and insight. And The Video Whisperer is the best I’ve found. In part, I freely admit, because I just like him. His personality and easy communication style are very relaxing and familiar. And I find that with that relaxed feeling, my mind is much more receptive to the information being given.

I make videos on YouTube – mostly about the shooting sports and guns in general, so I was not only not offended by the many gun references, I enjoy them. If you are of a different opinion on that topic, don’t fret – the book really is about cameras and how to use them. The analogies are just too easy, and I think quite entertaining. I mention that I make videos because my point is that I fumble at it, and I struggle with it. The improvements I have made have come largely from the inspiration and information from The Video Whisperer – whom I discovered accidentally by watching his review of a Sony camera (that I ultimately purchased and use). The quality of his work in that review left my jaw on the table, and I’ve been hooked since.

If you have a passion, just an interest, or simply a need to learn more and improve your skills with video cameras, I can’t recommend this book enough. What I think you will receive from it above all is INSPIRATION!

5.0 out of 5 stars

This Should be a Required Text for Video and Film Students!! 18 Jan. 2015

By M. RajaPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am not a videographer or a photographer, but do need some help in taking nice pictures of my orchids. Years ago, Joe had given me some basic suggestions about photography and, having internalized them, I have often found myself using those basic techniques even when taking pictures with my iPhone camera. This book, thus, provides a whole wealth of practical and conceptual explanations that would be useful for all those who enjoy filming or hope to launch a professional career as cameramen/women or as film-makers.

I found it especially refreshing that the author first provides the fundamental and core concepts about larger practices (Read Chapter 2 as a great example of this) and then builds on that: this is what we do in our literary studies classes, where we encourage our students to learn the basics first and after that performing complex tasks becomes easier. It seems Joe has given his audience a kind of how-to-book that explains, beyond technique, the how and why aspects of the craft of videography!

This book will be highly useful to all those studying film or film production at college level and I, for one, am certainly going to recommend it as a possible text to the film department at my university!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Concrete advice for solo videographers 22 Jan. 2015

By MatthewPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Great read on fundamentals and advanced techniques of a solo videographer’s world. Easy to read and filled with practical info on lots of topics: gear choice, marketing yourself and your videos, interview tips, editing, what to charge for your services…. Written very conversational and witty, this book kinda feels like sitting down with a trusted mentor sharing his wisdom.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Brilliant book from an authentic working professional explaining the concepts and mechanics of invisible camerawork 11 Jan. 2015

By Miklos NemethPublished on Amazon.com

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Absolutely worth every penny. The book has general “life philosophy/wisdom” as well as videography/cinematography/photography (concepts) sections, and specific detailed technical chapters, too. The main advantage of reading a book like this is that it comes from the pen of an authentic/original source, a professional videographer who has been earning his family’s bread for decades on videography. On a couple of videography forums I found a number of excellent comments, but I wanted a book that you can read from page one to the end covering practically every aspects of videography.

4.0 out of 5 stars

Good honest book about videography with tips earnt with experience. 12 Jan. 2015

By cheekysaffer

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I am one of those people who watched the Sony NX30 camera reviews on YouTube a while ago looking for a new camera.

The first thing I noticed when watching the video was that Joe seems very sincere and it was obvious that he has years of experience in the video and film industry. I am just starting up my video production company and it was very assuring to hear that you don’t need to have a really expensive camera to be professional. Although I did spend £4k on a second hand one which I wanted….

I visit thevideowhisperer YouTube channel from time to time and this is how I learned that Joe has now written a book on the subject of videography.

I just bought this today and finished it tonight. Its a good honest book that really strips down the whole professional videography subject into core chapters. Its filled with really good advice that you can tell was earned in the field.

As I don’t have any professional paid experience yet, I was looking for this kind of book. Anything that can help me produce better quality videos for my future clients and possibly help to prevent me making silly mistakes is worth the asking price of this book.

As someone who is about to leave an engineering career to do what I always wanted to do, its good to find that extra little inspiration from a real professional in the game.

A good easy read, highly recommended for people who are thinking of going pro.

 

Sony HXR NX30 as an Internal Car Mount

For anyone interested, I did a short, crude test for my step-daughter who is planning on doing a short film that takes place wholly inside a car.

As it is a low budget film and even though she has access to a Red camera, I pointed out that due to the profile (length) of the Red, it wouldn’t be possible to do internal frontal mounting of the camera–or if so, due to its lens proximity to the actor, would require a wide angle lens.

I did a short test using the NX30 in full-auto using its Active mode stabilisation (which uses image processing in addition to its gyro stabilised lens).

Normally car scenes are shot with speed rail mounted cameras outside the car. (or they are shot static with green screen backgrounds). Because of the open window, car scenes are post-lip-synced which is quite an art and not all actors can do easily–especially children as would be in this case.

So I put the NX30 to the challenge.

I shot it in my Landrover 300tdi Discovery (1997) and recorded the audio with a Sony wireless lapel.

I wasn’t expecting great results on the sound (it would be better with direction microphones hand-held on booms from the back seat, but as mentioned in the video, even the lapel would have worked pretty good in a quiet car like the high-end Range Rovers or equivalent.

The camera was mounted on the dash on a guerrilla tripod and wired down. Nothing fancy. A suction mount to the windshield would have been better but I didn’t have one. (could get one for about £40 to do the job).

Turns out it did ok.

So here’s a low budget solution to shooting interior car scenes.

Note: While shot in full HD, this is a 720p upload. Try to watch it in at least that. This is the raw camera footage, untreated in post. (the filter tests at the end were done because my step-daughter wanted a ‘filmic look’, so I tried a couple of filters toward that end)

Run ‘N Gun Videography, sneak preview

Almost done with the ebook “Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide”.  Looks like it will be about 42,000 words in about 25 chapters. A few weeks ago I published the introduction here.

I won’t publish all the chapters on the blog, but here’s Chapter 1 (first draft) for your perusal:

 

Chapter 1   Run ’N Gun

What does that mean anyway?

Funny enough, if you look this up you’ll find it’s a term used in the video gaming industry. As the name implies, it’s a rather brash and unconsidered approach to winning—sort of an AK47 approach to getting somewhere.

Speaking of guns, I’ve shot the AK47 and I must say it’s a gun that’s meant to be shot on full automatic in a spraying motion because it’s not very useful in single shot mode for hitting a target. The bloody thing is so nasty in its kickback that once you’ve fired it, you have no idea where the bullet just went–and you don’t care either because your ears are ringing so bad. (The US AR15 is much better on that score).

But I digress.

I doubt any of this is what anyone in the field of videography means when using the term.

For the purposes of this book, however, I thought I’d better define what I mean by the term, lest anyone start off with the wrong idea.

Since I have a gun theme going (for a bit of fun), it’s not an AK47 or AR15 approach either. More like a 38 police special (short barreled pistol) and you have to be pretty good to hit anything with that.

Let me couch it this way:

After years of working in the regimented, scripted approach to film and video production with production crews (nothing wrong with that), I became a video documentary director/cameraman. That meant I traveled around with a small team—usually one other person and sometimes two—to shoot short documentaries of people or events around the world. Because there was little time allotted for each production, and each production had a looming, unalterable deadline, it was necessary to develop a shooting style that was very direct and economical without compromising on quality. This also extended to kit, which I’ll detail in a later chapter. In short, I had to be quick on my feet and quick of wit while being as thorough as possible.

Despite the fact that these productions had scripted narration to be added later, my job was to produce material that would stand on its own without the need for narration. What dictated the content for me was the material obtained in the interviews I did with key people on the ground.

I learned some very important things early on about interviews. While this will also be the subject of a detailed chapter, it bears mentioning now that the most important thing I learned was that everyone has a story. Getting them to tell it is the trick. Part of the trick is to be willing to find out what the story is. And to do that you pretty much have to knock out of your head whatever you think the story might be (forget about the stupid interview questions) and just start engaging in normal human conversation.

Once you’ve go the story you have some idea of the B roll (relevant and related shots) you need to shoot so that the interview and/or greater story can be edited.

And that’s all there is to it basically.

It applies to documentaries, biographies and corporate videos alike.

Knowing what to shoot, how to see it and doing it quickly, professionally and thoroughly is “run ’n gun”.

By definition, “run ’n gun” will never be perfect. You’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to get home and find a shot out-of-focus or with any of an almost infinite number of potential technical flaws. But if you “shoot the hell out of it” in the process, and to the best of your ability, you will walk away with editable video footage that will achieve whatever its intended purpose was.

I always make the time to light important interviews and obtain the best sound possible. That doesn’t mean one could necessarily tell that the shots were lit because, in my case, I tend to employ “atmospheric lighting” which appears to be natural. But it looks a hell of a lot better than the “real world” looked.

On the other hand, it’s not always possible to light an interview, particularly “vox pox” (latin for “voice of the people” and meaning the “man-on the-street type interview). But in these cases one still tries to get the best possible lighting and camera angle possible.

Sound recording is another vital element. Using an on-camera mic (and the resultant high ambient sound levels) is the mark of an amateur. Close, present-sounding audio recording for any type of interview is vital – a fact which apparently many videographers do not give adequate importance to.

That said, there are unexpected circumstances when something is happening that simply can’t be stopped to allow proper microphone placement, so you’d be daft to not record it anyway with your on-camera mic. If the content turns out to be precious, the value of the content will over-ride the technical flaws.

And so it goes. It’s a constant exercise of judgment while seeking to obtain the best technical quality in the process under varying circumstances.

It takes practice.

It takes experience.

You have to be willing to learn from your mistakes.

You have to be pretty good to pull it off.

And that’s what I mean by “run ’n gun”

 

 

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