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.


Two things I saw on my walk around downtown Austin this morning....

This one is just... funny. 

This one made me stop and consider the painful irony. 
This shop creates marketing that celebrates the differences in 
women's bodies. They are proud to offer fashions for 
both petite and "plus" size women. 

The goal being to avoid shaming people with different body types.

Why then is the dress on the right, clearly intended for a larger sized person,
styled with a giant ice cream cone attached? 

Was someone sending a subconscious message?

Seems odd to me. 

Maybe next time put the ice cream cone right in the middle. 

Retail marketing is certainly replete with social minefields.

Panasonic GH5+Olympus 12-100mm f4. A seriously good match.

Preliminary analysis from use tests indicates that the Olympus 10-100mm f4.0 lens is an excellent lens. When coupled with the GH5 camera from Panasonic I was able to get highly detailed images up to the resolution limits of the sensor. The combination is a heavy package that is not much different from the mass of a typical full frame DSLR with a (shorter zoom range) 24-70mm lens. It should be noted that our reasons for the acquisition of this equipment were strictly for the image performance in video from the combination of the specific camera and lens and were in no way motivated by a need or desire to obtain a "low mass" or "low weight" system.

The images shown here were taken early this morning and are all handheld and taken at the maximum aperture of the lens, or one stop down from maximum aperture. I shot the images as raw files and converted them to Jpegs with Adobe Lightroom. The default sharpening in Lightroom seems a tad high but is easily corrected by reducing the slider setting from +25 to +12. 

As I shot the photographs I used white balance settings which were a match for each scene. If I shot objects in full sun I set the WB to the pictogram of the sun. If I shot in open shade I shot using the WB as indicated by the icon of shade falling from a wall. I used aperture priority but used the 100% zebra setting to protect highlights. If the zebras showed in a light area or a white area with detail I used the exposure compensation control to lower the exposure until the zebras disappeared. I was careful though to ignore zebras nested in specular highlight areas. 

My overall impression of the lens is that it is very sharp and capable of convincing sharpness across the frame. The zoom ring turns in the opposite direction from what I expected it would but I'm reasonable sure I will get used to it in short order. Since the zoom ring is mechanical the direction of rotation cannot be reversed via software. The lens has a push-pull clutch which engages or disengages a true, mechanical manual focus setting. The allows for hard stops at the close focus distance as well as the infinity setting. It offers repeatable settings which makes manual focusing with this lens usable for video work. 

The camera and lens are both heavier and larger than most of the lenses designed for micro four thirds. With that being said the fact that both are bigger and heavier means, at least to me, that they are well matched, ergonomically, and feel very good in my hands. The lens makes the combination a bit front heavy but that's to be expected from a very high quality lens with such a long range of focal lengths. 

I have no idea if the camera's I.S. and the lens I.S. work in tandem but the results with I.S. engaged in both are very satisfactory. I was able to shoot down to 1/8th of a second with good results, even at the longer end of the lens.

As my own testing continues I look forward to setting up typical video interview situations and testing how well the lens renders skin tones. When I finish with that I'll share the results here. 

My last note is just an observation about exposure. I'm very pleased to find that the Panasonic GH5 does a very, very good job at setting exposure automatically. While I made "course corrections" from time to time with the exposure compensation control these we're always in situations that are widely known to fool most camera meters. I would trust the exposure control of the camera for just about any situation that falls into the realm of normal scene tonal structure. 

The combination of lens and camera cost approximately $3300 and provide exceptional value for anyone transitioning from shooting only stills to shooting a combination of stills and videos. A full frame, state of the art camera such as the Sony A7Rii will easily outperform the GH5 for still photography where sheer resolution and dynamic range are concerned. The GH5 will outperform the A7Rii in video, both in overall handling and also the quality of the video captured. While the Sony has advantages in still photography meant to be printed large the Panasonic has an equal advantage with its 10 bit video files. It also provides a more able combination of features for video with niceties such as a full sized HDMI connector, much longer battery life and a much bigger selection of file types/codecs. 

A well equipped visual content creation business would benefit from having both choices in their inventory to deliver optimum results across a wide use spectrum.

Additional blog note: The camera and lens were both purchased from a local retailer. 
I paid the prevailing retail price for both and received no special consideration or discount for 
my purchases other than a free, promotional water bottle. 

The water bottle is good and we'll have one of our "no nonsense" reviews of it up as soon as we put it through it's paces in its hydration implementation configuration. 

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