FAQs

Q?

What Cameras Do You Use?

A.

Well, at a certain point a camera person realizes that pretty much any camera with manual controls and a decent lens can do the job. That was more true in the days of film than it is now that video, and all the different video recording formats, have come to be.

I started shooting video on a Canon 5D Mk II. It is a wonderful still camera and with it's full frame sensor, capable of very limited depth of field which is a nice look. When I realized I wanted an actual video camera with a more hand-holdable format, a good zoom lens, low light capability and higher grade audio capability I got a Sony NX-70. Also a good camera and with its very small sensor capable of pulling sharpness over a great range.

But neither of those cameras captured the 4:2:2 color depth. I found that color correction, something I should be pretty good at since I have a degree in color technology, was only getting close. When trying to achieve a particular look, like reality instead of some dark and dreary style, I found the file incapable of really fine separation of tones. Sharpness was fantastic but color, not so much.

So I did some research and found that the Canon XF300 had a better lens, better audio, better connectivity and ... 4:2:2 color. Doing a bit more research I learned that BBC uses these cameras as their standard issue for location shoots.

That all said, I have shot with several different professional cameras - Sonys and Black Magic are both nice and have their own quirks and capabilities. So it does come back to the original thought that pretty much any camera can be worked with, some are just better at particular looks and situations than others.

Q?

How Much Lighting Do You Use?

A.

As little as possible, but I carry a bunch of lights whenever possible. I had one mentor teach that no more than a single light should be used in environmental portrait situations. I've had another that could put up a half dozen or more lights and make it look fabulous, with all sorts of highlights on the background walls, perfectly lit hair and key lights perfectly on the nose of two people facing each other.

I tend to do simpler setups for a couple of reasons - time and preference. Most of my projects are not the sort of thing that allow an hour or so to set up lighting, and most of the subject matter I cover is reality intensive and wants to look that way. Most of the time I can find a location within the area of the shoot that provides either completely good light or enough that a single light or fill card can make it good.

Much of what I show on this site is completely natural light. Yes, it takes more time in post production, but it does allow for a very casual, "Hey, can you come over here for a moment, I would like to interview you about ... " and it just an easy natural moment from the start.

Q?

Post Production?

A.

Ah, post. After. What goes on after the cards are pulled from the cameras and those files are put onto hard drives, and backup hard drives, that is post production. This ain't iMovie!

Post production can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. Much has to do with the way you design the project, how familiar you are with the footage, and the look that is desired. As I shoot and edit my own work the coming together of things is somewhat easier, especially if I get to it within a couple of days of shooting.

I am an Adobe Creative Suite licensee and capable with most of the production tools there. Premiere Pro, PhotoShop, Media Encoder, Prelude and Audition are all on my desktop and in fairly regular use.

Q?

Music?

A.

Music is incredibly important for most videos. Sometimes just a bit up front and a bit more at the end, a reprise so to speak, can do it, but more often an underlayment throughout adds to the visual and spoken content.

There are many sources of quality music, but a CD out of your car isn't one of them. Music must be licensed for the given use. Without a license it is very difficult to post a video anywhere on the internet, and only asking for lawsuits if you do. The good news is that good music isn't terribly expensive. In fact it is often more expensive in time to search for the ideal piece than it is to purchase the license.

When budget allows, having music scored for a project is another possibility. I have several friends that do this for a living. They charge based upon their experience, awards and the complexity of the request.

Q?

How Much Do You Charge?

A.

There is no single answer to this question because there is no single item that goes into a production. I have several rates for me, depending on the nature of the project i.e., commercial, not for profit, or favor. Editorial days cost more than travel days but less than shoot days. Equipment has associated costs as does crew.

The best way to calculate the cost of a production is to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss what you think you need, what you expect, and what your budget is. Usually I can find a way to fit all of that together.