Oy, This Stuff is Hard!

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Articles | No Comments

My brain is about to explode! And no, it is not because my NY Giants are actually in the Super Bowl with a half-way decent chance to win. It is something even harder to fully comprehend- video! Not the simple amateurish-looking video you see on U-Tube but the lush, almost cinematic video with deep rich sound and wonderfully storytelling you see…well, you hardly see at all. The place I always see it is on Bob Krist’s website and that is why right now I am at Bob’s house trying to get my cognitive arms around this completely different and confounding animal called video.

Turns out, there is very little overlap between shooting stills and shooting video. At their most basic both remain being about capturing light- the prettier the light the prettier the still and video. Both can also be done these days with digital cameras, even inexpensive digital camera, and get great results. In fact, one of the best Nikon cameras for video is the D5100, a $750 camera. When shot next to my D3s, a $5000 camera, the D5100 produces far superior video. Bob also showed us the little SONY HV9X, a point and shoot camera that he has used to take beautiful video clips. The BBC even uses it for some of their news footage. Just like with still photography, you don’t have to spend loads of money to get great images.

That’s where the similarities end as far as I can tell. When shooting video, it is all about the passage of time, something still shooters never think about. Every video you have ever seen starts at the beginning of something and goes to an end of that something. You haven’t noticed it before because when done right the passage of time is seamless and invisible. For me, so far, capturing the passage of time is as seamless as a patchwork quilt and as invisible as the Empire State building. Oy, this stuff is hard.

So after 30 years of photographing stills I am adding video to my repertoire and trying to learn to think completely differently about telling a story. Rather than 100 images to tell the story about a farm or a lobsterman or whatever in a book or a presentation with video you get 3 to 4 minutes. With 15 – 20 clips per minute that’s 45 to 120 three to four second clips. A clip is a single action or scene. 100 of them! Oy, this stuff is hard.

Oops, class is about to start again. We are going to a local gas station to try a video about filling up a car with gas. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It no longer does to me! I’ll give you a complete report on my next blog.

 

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