7.29.2017

A video interview with Dave Steakley, Artistic Director of Zach Theatre.


Dave Steakley interview from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

I've been working on my "One Man Movie" video chops for a while now and I'm getting comfortable doing spur of the moment interviews. A week or so ago I was at Zach Theatre shooting some photographs of the cast in rehearsal for Million Dollar Quartet, and I thought it would be a great idea to tape and interview with the director of the play, Dave Steakley. (Actually, I had planned the interview in advance and brought along the gear I might need if his schedule permitted...).

When the cast and crew went on their dinner break I set up a couple of lights, and a microphone on a boom, and asked Dave to step in and give me ten minutes of his time. We shot in the main theater and I knew I wouldn't have time to find electrical boxes, run extension cables, etc. so I lit him with two of the Aputure Amaran 672W lights, since they are battery powered; one through a 50 inch, circular diffuser and the other used directly (a stop or two down from the main light). I used the Samson C02 cardioid microphone that I've been writing about recently, running it into the Saramonic pre-amplifier/phantom power unit I've also mentioned.

My camera of choice was the Panasonic fz2500 since I'd used it as my main camera on the previous four Zach actor interviews and feel so comfortable with it. I use it set to manual in every mode. Manual focus, manual exposure, custom white balance, etc. I love touching the focus ring and having the camera punch in for fine focusing. I love the ease of setting the white balance. I love getting home and finding nothing has changed or shifted from clip to clip....

In retrospect I wish I had dropped the stage further out of focus. I'm so used to shooting and post processing still images, I guess I had in mind that I could easily select Dave and use a gaussian blur on the background area but it's not quite so easy to do in video. Better to do things like focus control while you are shooting.

I am fairly happy with the audio. If I remove the music bed and listen just to the dialogue with headphones, I am not really able to hear much noise. Also, with a less focused microphone (when compared to traditional shotgun microphones) placement is not as critical.

Since the interview will only be seen on social media I didn't feel compelled to shoot in 4K, archive in 4K and spend extra time in the edit, so I shot in 1080p, selecting a setting that gave me 100 mbs of information.

I'm getting faster and faster at editing and I believe that part of the credit needs to go to the amount of still photography I had at my fingertips. It makes very effective b-roll, though at one point in the edit process Ben dropped by the studio to see what I was working on. He looked at the piece twice and asked me if I had any other video footage to stick in as b-roll. I asked him why the stills weren't enough and he said, "We millenials really like it if everything is moving all the time." He was kidding about the association with millennials but serious that he feels audiences want more and more kinetic visual structures.

I'll keep practicing but at least I feel like I'm making decent progress...

Just wanted to share the culmination of yesterday's work with you.

On another note, it's too hot here now. It was into the 90s by 10 a.m. this morning. It hit 100 by noon and the thermometer is working its way up toward 108 degrees today. I swam in the early workout to avoid the extra sun exposure but now, after lunch, it feels smart to just stay still in the air conditioning and read something. Not a day to shoot exteriors. Not a day to go for an afternoon run. Not a day to park in a vast and tree-less parking lot. These are essentially our dog days of Summer. 

I can hardly wait until Monday morning; early. That's when I swim in Barton Springs Pool where the water is a constant 68 degrees. It'll keep your core temperature in the safety zone. 

Hope you are staying cool. Now I think I'll start on the next edit.


11 comments:

Virginia McLaren said...

Gotta disagree on the need for more soft focus on the stage background -- this setup is perfect. Thanks to the lighting and the crisp focus on the man speaking there is no competition between the subject and background. In fact, if the background in the wider shot were soft the combined impact would be less rather than more. That 1-inch sensor is amazing. Given the opportunity and the ability to light the subject that well who needs a GH5? Oh, the ability is constant but the opportunity to control the light is variable? Never mind.

Anders C. Madsen said...

Really nice interview, but man - that shirt is ALIVE! Is this a result of the compression done by Vimeo, or is it how the camera records it? It's really distracting, and that is a shame.

I also noticed that the shadow areas in the set behind Dave is pretty noisy, while the same dark areas are noise free in the video from the actual play - different cameras or different settings? Or different post production?

And no disrespect intended - just trying to get an understanding of why things are like they are.

Ted Phillips said...

Very nice video! I actually like the stills as they give your eye a moment to take in detail & study the musicians & the set.

Victor Bloomfield said...

Speaking of insensitivities around feminist issues, there's a woman shown singing with the four men. Even though the point of the play and the video is the assemblage of the four legends, wouldn't it be suitable to at least identify the woman who was performing with them?

Kirk Tuck said...

Anders, not seeing it on my monitor but are you referring to noise in his shirt? As to different noise .... the camera on Dave is the fz2500 under much lower light while the stage camera was the g85 with noise reduction set at default. Probably sums up right there why I like the files from the GH5 and G85 a bit better.

Victor, noted.

In the actual event that is referenced here I'm not sure that Elvis's love interest was actually identified but since the other actors were named we should have also identified her role and first name.

Michael Matthews said...

I also have to disagree with my own comment above. After three days of struggling to set up YouTube TV's family group function...signing in and out, deleting and re-inviting, signing in again, etc....I'm now apparently commenting under my wife's name, Virginia McLaren. For readers living in one of the fifteen (?) markets served by YouTube TV Live it's worth a try. Combined with Hulu and Amazon Prime (if already a member) it looks like the cord-cutter's answer: live network TV plus MSNBC and Fox, depending upon your bias, and another 40 or so cable TV channels. Setting up the "family group" to enable six shared accounts can get hairy, but the help desk staff appears to have infinite patience or an endless supply of Xanax.

Also, to weigh in on the noise question -- none visible that calls attention to itself on my iPad or iPod Touch. Small screens are where most viewing takes place these days, or so I've read. They may be more forgiving.

mikepeters said...

Hey Kirk,

Great job!

As I am also a one man production company, I know what it takes to be able to pull this off. And it's not easy or simple. We don't have budgets or crews, and we make do with what we have on hand that we purchase with our own cash dollars.

Really everyone can nitpick to the end of days. But until they put up, they can, well, be quiet.

Well done my friend.

Mike

Kirk Tuck said...

I think each facet of critique is valid. There is noise in the shadows. I wish I'd used the G85 instead, just for the lower noise (didn't have the GH5 at the time). The actor credit is certainly a valid point.

I will say that Michael Matthews's perspective is what I hear in feedback from the target market: theater goers and patrons. Most are focused on Dave's message and the majority of viewers, outside the VSL communities, are using mobile devices to view. In that respect what really matters most are the marketing images (the musicians) and the audio.

In defense of the project I had no time to do pre-production, no script, no crew, just an impromptu opportunity. I saw an opportunity to continue to connect with our target audience in an ongoing dialogue on social media and we took it.

If we had half a day to light, a styling team to primp Dave, a scriptwriter to more effectively cover our cogent points, a Panasonic Vari-Cam for clean high ISO, several other cameras with operators for complementary angles, and so on I think we could have done a much better job. At least as far as production value goes.

But in the age of Anthony Scaramucci as WH press secretary I think we're definitely hitting above the bar..... At the very least in terms of content....

Ted Phillips said...

I need to add the most important thing to the comment I made earlier. The video made me want to see the performance. That to me matters more than all the technical specifics because that is the purpose of the video.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that everyone take a look at this clip at Vimeo. The link is at the start of the post. The local contrast is better. The color transitions are smoother and the color itself doesn't have grey tinge. blogger really does stomp on color. Had no idea.

Jay

Mike Rosiak said...

I think your skill with lighting is what makes the video pop. After reading prior comments, then looking for the flaws, I found that the background was just soft enough, and the subject's lighting made him stand out and away from his background. Probably, at least to my taste, a softer background might have been -more- distracting. Having been a teen when all these guys were hitting the airwaves, it was fun for me to see the stage representation of the recording studio. It kind of reminded me of the AFRS radio station studio in remote Labrador, where I DJ'd a 2-hour show each evening.