Worked on a fashion video shoot on Friday. Jonathan Denmark approached me the night before the shoot - ostensibly a simple behind-the-scenes for an upcoming fashion line - asking me if I could hunt down a second camera and help him out.
Concept was pretty simple: Begin with the intimate, personal moment of the model experiencing the garment for the first time, and move to the more public, presentational world of the photo shoot. Not a standard point-and-shoot behind the scenes, however, since the close, intimate moments were, in fact, staged.
We began the day with two cameras - 5D Mk II's - one equipped with a Canon 25-70 F 2.8L Zoom, and one with a Rokinon 35mm F 1.4 prime. We didn't like the look of the Rokinon, finding that the best shots we were getting in this environment were from full zoom - 70mm wide open at 2.8 (ISO 2000 yielded some moderate video noise, but we lived with it). So we dropped Camera 2 and stuck with Camera 1.
I haven't been in charge of photography on a project like this before, so I went into it seeing it as a learning opportunity - and based on the finished product, some of the shots look pretty enough to have been shot by a professional.
Not bad for someone who only has a cursory knowledge of cinematography!
Speaking of professionals - the photographer on the actual shoot-shoot was Michael Faye. If you haven't heard of him, you should. Insanely talented (not to mention well-recognized in the photo world), and really interesting guy. Runs an awesome company called Kombucha Dog. They make kombucha while simultaneously sheltering dogs and helping them get adopted.
It was truly amazing to have worked with such a uniquely talented individual.
But back to the shoot: The most helpful tool that we had on set was Final Cut X. There are a lot of haters out there that don't want to hear this, but the software is fast, versatile and incredibly easy-to-use. We were pressed for time, resources, personnel, and had to work around the existing setup of the shoot, so it was touch and go for a while there.
What was helpful about having software like FCPX on set was the ability to dump the cards and immediately start cutting the footage. No foreground transcode required. And the footage played back smooth as butter. Being able to cut immediately meant that we knew what shots worked together, we knew what coverage we were missing, and we knew what we could do to improve the next sequence of shots, which was usually only a few minutes away. It was like instantaneous feedback on a project in progress.
Truly a revolutionary workflow.
To me, learning how to improve is the most exciting part about doing anything new. This was a last minute crash course in something I hadn't done before, and it was one of the most exciting experiences I could have had with less than 12 hours notice.
Here's hoping I get to do something like it again.