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Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Intro to HDSLR Cinema with Vincent Laforet

Just saw my first seminar this morning at the Photoplus Expo here in warm and sunny (i think although I am in the ominous Javitts Center) NYC!!

"An Intro to HDSLR Cinema" with Vincent Laforet.
First of all, he's not only a talented visual person but first and foremost an educator. Take a peek at his blog when you have a chance. So, this seminar covered basically all you need to know to shoot your HD DSLR films, shorts, commercials, music videos, you name it.

We started out watching his short called "Reverie" which is his first short with the Canon 5D Mark 2 and also his first short video that he made himself. Or at least that's the impression that I got, as he never went to film school. At the time that he shot Reverie, the 5D had only auto-exposure for video and a lot of the kinks of the camera had not been worked out.

Key Points about Reverie
1. Was shot with a very small crew
2. Used a number of lens, 45 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, 200 mm, 400 mm, Fisheye and the Canon Mark 2
3. He used Profoto 7B's to light the film (what!!)
4. A lot of the more "Hollywood effects" were done in very simple lo-fi ways. For example, there is a scene where a guy has a flickering Tv light look to him and that was done by plugging in his laptop to the Tv screen and changing the hue/saturation level up and down in photoshop. Go to the behind the scenes look on Reverie on his site and you can see how it was done in more details. There is a great scene where the driver is filmed by suctioning a manfrotto suction cup mount to the side of the car.
5. The budget was $5000. Most of which was spent on the helicopter rental
6. That film led him within 72 hours of being released online to a very high paying job from SmugMug shooting surfers in Hawaii! Much better use of $5K than sending out a promotional mailer campaign right!

Vincent touched upon the explosion of HDDSLR onto the scene for the photo industry and how there hasn't been a revolution like this since the time when Auto-focus was introduced. I can attest to this at the Expo just by walking around the showroom for 15 minutes. There are so many vendors here geared towards HDDSLR and handheld lighting rigues etc.

From there, we discussed the nuts and bolts of work-flow with HDDSLR. Here's some highlights.

1. Shoot on Mark 2 (or whatever HDDSLR camera you have)
2. Copy into folders on external harddrive
3. Load into Final Cut (or Premier or Avid)
4. Convert footage using ProRes 422HQ or LT or Proxy. You don't need to use the super high res 4.44. Not worth it unless it's going to the silver screen :) This makes the footage much easier to work with in Final Cut.
5. Use application Pluraleyes to sync audio (i have used this and it's incredible, no more slate boards- especially helpful if you are only one person shooting)
6. Start editing!

But still most important according to Vincent is the following below. You can have all the gear in the world but no one will want to watch your film because you don't have a clear message. He really has some cool shorts he has made testing cameras for Canon.
Here's the skinny to a great short or film:
1. Concept
2. Story
3. Emotion
4. Sound
5. Motion
6. Editing

Lastly...glad I stayed till the end because he brought out his rique which is impressive but not over the top. Which is his thing, to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid)

Also some take-home knowledge that I found valuable below to do before you start shooting with the 5D:

1. Set the Canon 5D at ASA 100 at 1/50 sec
2. Turn off all Sharpening and Contrast and keep your color tone to Neutral
3. Get a couple of pieces of equipment (i.e. tripod with fluid head or some sort of steadying device to make your work move up to a pro level)
4. Pick up a decent Microphone and shoot with a Dual System. You can buy an inexpensive Zoom recorder even for $500.
5. Pick up an ND filter

More to come from me! Stay tuned.

-Andrea Fischman
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