A few thoughts about style in video.

The latest 6K Nikon HD video camera? Naw. Super8 film...

I had some interesting correspondence with my recent video collaborator, James W. We shot video footage together at Cantine Restaurant earlier this Summer and our other individual projects have just given us a convenient bit of a gap in schedules that allows for the final editing of the project. While I spearheaded the initial part of the video process James is doing the clip selections and the editing.

We shot the project on two different days. On the first day we discussed a laundry list of possible shots which mostly revolved around shooting food preparation with some attention paid to food presentation and the documentation of fun activities at the bar.  We both worked with Olympus OMD EM5.2 cameras, complete with the battery grip for a second battery and to provide a headphone jack if we felt we needed one. We had a case of lenses for the two cameras that included a number of modern primes and zooms from Olympus and Panasonic as well as a collection of my old, esoteric Pen FT lenses (from the days of half frame film).

If you are familiar with the world of journalism then imagine that the two of us of have been let loose on a restaurant with the assignment of enterprise. Of looking around for fun mini-stories to shoot. Like the willowy girl at the pasta making machine, pulling strands of fettucini through the grid, or the pizza chef putting together a great
pie and sliding it into the oven. We didn't play zones we just made sure we stayed out of each other's shots. I think we were both interested to see how differently we might approach the same subject matter and the same scenes.

While I have looked through the footage a few times the task of selecting clips fell to James and he had some insightful observations for me today. Our shooting styles are very different. He shot tighter while I shot wider. I shot more faces and he shot more details. His shots were shorter and had more movement and energy while I tended to stay on a subject longer. I chose to slide into shots (temporally) and wait for something to happen while he tended to catch action in the moment.

The use of the same cameras and same families of lenses went a long way toward applying the overlay of a single, unified look when it came to things like color, tonality and handling of depth of field.

While our styles of actually shooting, and of making certain decisions while shooting, were quite different the important thing is that they are complimentary. My slower takes provide a restive backbone while is quicker takes provide more energy to the time line. It's critical, really, to have both so that the edit doesn't have to depend on the same cadence and treatment all the way through.

After looking at the footage from the cameras and being reminded of the looser, handheld style of physical camera work we initially agreed upon, the Olympus cameras turned out to be a really good choice. The value mostly boiled down to the almost magical ability of the cameras' I.S. systems to allow a fluid and floating way of moving the camera and being able to engage a scene with an immediacy that would not have been possible if we'd be relegated to shooting with tripods.

We shot at higher ISOs (640-1600) and the files looked very good. Occasionally we had issues with moire on exterior achitecture or neon signage but the bulk of the footage didn't really have any off-putting artifacts.

We're aiming to have a sharable edit some time in the coming week and we'll be happy to share it here with VSL readers. We both learned different ways of looking at subject matter but we both held up our ends of the production quite well. It's been a good collaboration.

Here's a little taste of the video. Just one clip. It plays here at 800 pixels wide but if you click through to Vimeo you'll see the HD version. There's only scratch audio, nothing fancy....

An edited clip from our Cantine Restaurant shoot. from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.
Shooting in a new restaurant called, Cantine, here in Austin, Texas. We were using multiple Olympus OMD EM5.2 cameras and a collection of different lenses. I saw this dish on the burners and wanted to see how the Olympus camera and the fast, 40mm f1.4 lens I was using would handle the lower light the deeper blacks and the flames all at once. The video is handheld as a test for the image stabilization. It passed with flying colors.

Style in still photography is about handling color, composition and angles of view. 
Style in video is all that added to movement with action unfolding in front of you. 

A different style of shooting is a "locked down" interview set up with our camera on the 
main subject. A much different look and much different approach.

I love using my tripod because I am still timid about handholding video but working in a busy restaurant kitchen made tripod technique pretty much impossible. 

Another difference in our styles is lighting. I love to control every square inch of the lighting while James really likes to leverage the existing light on a practical location. He was right, there was no way we could light an industrial kitchen for the kind of video we had in mind. Also, we were working while the restaurant was open for business. Where in the world would I have stuck all these lightstands?

No audio for this project. But I had the audio kit in the Pelican case. Just in case....
You never know when an interview might present itself...


William Beebe said...

I had one of those once... Great little super 8 camera. Unfortunately I never filmed any aliens... Super 8 movie. BTW, the model used in the movie is a Eumig 65XL

Anonymous said...

I've had to learn how to incorporate movement into my style as well. And then of course there is the audio, which I find often forms the cornerstone of the project. Lot's to think of and a great deal of work, but when it all comes together it's pretty cool.