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Would You Film Wedding Videos in Super 8?

Would You Film Wedding Videos in Super 8?

The Super 8 motion picture film format came out in 1965, and obviously, technology has advanced quite a bit since then. Still, though, there is something to be said for nostalgia, particularly when capturing emotional moments like a wedding. So, should you add it to your services list? This interesting video discusses the idea. 

Coming to you from Matt WhoisMatt Johnson, this great video discusses the idea of adding Super 8 to your wedding filmmaking services. It might seem strange to use a filmmaking standard that is over a half-century old, but on the other hand, there is absolutely demand for the use of film in wedding photography, as many couples love the nostalgia the style evokes, so extending that to video isn’t that unreasonable a proposition. As Johnson mentions, just like film, this should not be used as some sort of shortcut past developing technique and a creative style. Perhaps even more so than film photography, working with a format like Super 8 takes careful technique and planning, and unlike film photography, it really is not conceivable that you would be able to shoot an entire wedding with it except under the rarest of circumstances. Rather, it is an interesting add-on for couples looking for that extra creative touch. Check out the video above for Johnson’s full thoughts. 

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How One Photographer Paraglided a 4,700 Ft Mountain to Create Breathtaking Autumn Photos and Videos

How One Photographer Paraglided a 4,700 Ft Mountain to Create Breathtaking Autumn Photos and Videos

While most photographers use a drone to create aerial images, sometimes, that isn’t enough. Sometimes, you want to soar like an eagle, going 50 mph over the sheer face of a mountaintop as you photograph. If that sounds like you, then let me share with you the story of Bernard Chen, paraglider and photographer extraordinaire.

Bernard Chen was born in Vietnam during the height of the war, the youngest of two brothers and a sister. When his father died in the war, it was difficult for his mother to care for the family alone. Chen’s uncle, a captain in the South Vietnamese army, asked her to send the children to America. So, at the age of five, in 1975, Bernard Chen and his siblings were aboard the baby airlift out of Saigon. They were brought to America and adopted by a new family in California. Unfortunately, this is not where the story gets a happy restart in the land of the free. Chen’s new family moved to a farm in Arkansas. Speaking openly to us all, Chen bravely shared that it was an abusive household at the farm. His adoptive mother was an alcoholic. He describes how he doesn’t think that his siblings ever forgave her. For himself, he found it in his heart to let it go.

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Both of my adopted parents were in the war, so I think we can’t judge others because their experiences might be so much worse than we would ever know. Both of them have since passed away, but having two kids of my own now, I could never find myself ever wanting to hurt my kids or any child for that matter.  

Life in Arkansas was not evil all the time. My parents introduced us to the beautiful lakes and mountains, and while growing up on the farm, it taught me how to work hard and never give up. I believe all my love of the outdoors came from this natural state.

Chen left home at seventeen. While at college, he met his wife, and they were married in 1997. Since she had family in Northern Virginia, they decided to move to Virginia in 2000. With that fresh start, Chen also switched his degree to information technology. Not long after, he got a job working at the National Institutes of Health in 2001 in the Section of Cancer Genomics Laboratory.

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I remember the day my boss asked me to make adjustments to an image in Photoshop. I was like, ‘what is Photoshop?’ So from that moment, I dove into Photoshop, learning as much as can. After working eight years with the application, I became very proficient with PS. In 2004, we hosted a couple (Patrick Hoermann and Sandra Becker) from Germany working on their post-doctoral thesis. Patrick Hoermann had a digital camera and liked to take pictures of my kids. There was this one picture that he took of my daughter that just amazed me. At that moment, I started to think about buying my first camera. Ironically, I went to Germany in 2011 and photographed the wedding of Patrick and Sandra.

In March of 2009, I bought my first camera, the Nikon D700. When I received it and held the camera, I was shocked! It was so huge, and my first reaction was to send it back. It was very overwhelming holding that piece of technology in my hands. So, I called B&H Photo trying to get an RMA number, and the kind gentleman said: ‘why don’t you keep it for 30 days and return it if you still felt the same?’ Well, you can say that person started my path into photography because I never sent the camera back.

Once he had his first camera, Chen was completely hooked on photography. He describes, in the beginning, photographing everything, as many do, just figuring things out. He would seek out landscapes, portraits, and even got into weddings. At first, he just photographed the weddings on his own, but eventually, he got picked up by Clay Blackmore. Chen describes those weddings being the epitome of luxury — $250k-plus events mostly in downtown DC. Eventually, however, the weddings burned him out. He reached a point of feeling like he did many things well but not one thing very well. He had lost his passion or was maybe still searching for it all along.

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So, while still working for the National Institutes of Health, Bernard Chen went back to his roots with his photography. His true calling was always nature. Landscape photography became his serious hobby. Eventually, he even started a Meetup group to teach workshops to other photographers. He has since moved the workshops to his website, although he says that with the pandemic, he has no trips for now.

The full circle of what brought Bernard Chen to be a landscape photographer, his rough childhood twice over and zigzag through the genres of photography, are what led him to be who he is today and are important to understanding his art. Rather than being defined by those adversities, they have shaped him and his outlook and insights on life and photography.

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How has the camera changed me? In many ways, it was able to reveal the many layers of who I was. Photography has opened me up as a person and brought me out of that quiet, shy mode that came from an abusive family. I didn’t know how to communicate, let alone deal with people’s emotions. Sometimes, I find myself closing up when I don’t know how to deal with issues. People would think I was upset, but the reality is I was reverting from a trauma that I subconsciously held inside. I believe I have a passion for nature because it’s peaceful, soft, and I can be myself without anyone next to me. Over the years, photography helped me mature as a person and gave me opportunities I never thought I would have. I never thought I could stand in front of 100 people and share my work verbally. Presenting seminars was a life-changing event for me. I became confident in myself, which I never had when I was growing up. Before I held a camera, I could count on one hand of all the places I’ve been. Now, I feel very blessed to have witnessed many beautiful places on this planet, and along the way, I met so many good people and some who have become good friends.

So, now that you know and understand where Bernard Chen came from, let me share with you where he is now, his latest achievement. I have been friends on social media with him for so long that I cannot even remember adding him, but we have never met and only chatted photography maybe five years ago. So, this week, while teaching my photo workshops, I laid down at night to rest and check social media. I immediately came across photos and videos from Bernard Chen in my newsfeed that blew my mind. This man, this literal eagle, flew himself over the iconic Dolly Sods operating a paragliding contraption with one hand and his mirrorless camera with the other to fulfill his dream of seeing the place from the air. The resulting footage is beautiful and captivating. It is also unbelievably dangerous.

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If you haven’t heard of it, Dolly Sods is a formal U.S. Wilderness Area in the Allegheny Mountains. Located in West Virginia, this is a high-altitude plateau, with parts reaching 4,700 ft in elevation. It is a harsh place of tranquil beauty, mainly huge flat boulders, and brush, with some bonsai-esque trees. For a very brief time each autumn, the plateau of the Sods comes alight with color. The usually stunted flora, in particular, the stubby blueberry bushes, have a Cinderella transformation to light the land aglow like wildlife. The reds and oranges are a draw for photographers in the know who are willing to brave the dangerous heights and back roads up there. It happens quickly, though, and the fleeting moment is what Bernard Chen calls heaven. He feels an emotional attachment and fondness for the Dolly Sods area. A quiet place, he visits it often and describes the way that the winds flow west to east due to its positioning on the Continental Divide. You can tell Dolly Sods has a piece of his heart.

As a photographer, we like to challenge ourselves to find and create new compositions. If that means getting low or high, that’s what I tried. That creative challenge pushed me to buy my first drone in 2012. I was amazed when I saw my first aerial view from a drone. Since then, I have always wanted to have that experience from the air.

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I love making videos! I like writing and adding narration and music to create a story. I got into videos because when I got home with my still images, I felt it didn’t bring the motion or emotion of the moment to people’s brains. I’ve had many people thank me for giving them a chance to see a beautiful landscape that they could never see with their own eyes. It inspires me to keep capturing moving images and bring them to life. Also, at the same time, I know my kids might not appreciate the videos now, but later in life, when I’m gone, they will always be able to see their father live life to the fullest.

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One of the positives about photography is it brings all activities together. It’s like the bridge that connects the active adrenaline junkies to people with cameras. My photography path took a turn when I met an expert climber at Seneca Rocks, Justin Simpson, and he was looking for someone to take pictures of his climbing. I have always dreamed of being on top of Seneca Rocks, so this was my lifetime chance. I have never climbed with ropes before in my life, and here I was carrying a pack full of camera gear and two tripods up the face of a cliff 250 ft tall. I would be lying to say I wasn’t scared, but it was the incredible view from the top, and the feeling of accomplishment was indescribable. Two weekends later, I was ascending down a cave that was 300 ft deep. I swore it would be too dark to get any good images, but when I was halfway down, I was in tears, not because I was scared, but the beauty I saw looking up made me cry. A year later, I was climbing 300 ft redwood trees for a week with my camera. How could I be so blessed to witness such a beautiful landscape? My eyes were changing. My photography was changing. Along the way, a good friend encouraged me to fly paramotors. The dream of flying above Dolly Sods took a step closer to reality.

With the dream of flying over Dolly Sods, Bernard Chen took flight training at Almost Heaven Powered Paragliding, Ona, WV, in November 2020. “After training, with the help of my instructor, I purchased the PAP paramotor due to one reason. It can break down in 10 minutes and fit into the back seat of my truck. I didn’t learn to fly to stay local; I want to see the world uniquely. My other large purchase is my wing, which is a Mac Para Colorado 21m. It’s more of an advanced wing and allows me to travel ground speed between 20-50 mph.”

Over winter, spring, and summer, Chen trained, gaining both hours and experience. He wanted to be proficient as the Dolly Sods flight would be dangerous and technical. He described to me how launchings and landings were the most complex parts to master. It took him many hours to learn how to fly by reaction rather than by thinking. He had to build muscle memory. After about 20 hours of flight training, he finally felt comfortable to start using camera gear in the air. Or course, I asked him about his gear.

Sony for its weight and size. The Sony a7R IV is ideal for my flying, along with the Sony 24-105mm f/4 lens. That light combo easily connects to my Cotton Carrier in front of my chest. I found that most of my shots are at 24mm, so the next lens I would like to try would be the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8, giving me a little more speed.

My favorite view is actually from what I call ‘flying camera.’ The chase cam looks like a cone with a GoPro in front. The cam connects from a string to the wing, and it just flies behind as a follow camera. Most people see this video, and they assume it was a drone capture. I utilize three more GoPros around my motor, an Insta360 ONE X2 camera, and another GoPro underneath the wing to shoot down onto the landscape.

Having the right gear isn’t enough though. He did have to master muscle memory and flying first.

I am constantly moving: my left hand controls the throttle, my right is holding my camera, and I’m looking at my camera while flying level. The combination can be pretty daunting and challenging. After 10 months of flying, I have over 135 hours of flight time. But, one can never relax or become comfortable. This sport demands your full attention every time you fly, and the minute you relax, something will happen that wakes you up again.

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The night of the planned flight for Dolly Sods Bernard Chen couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned, his mind going a mile a minute. Everything had to be perfect. He had no idea how his images would turn out and knew that he couldn’t review them while in flight. It was one chance. The weather worried him most of all; wind especially can be not only dangerous but fatal. The forecast looked good, though, and so, he made the drive up. In the predawn light, after 10 months of planning and training, Bernard Chen flew into Dolly Sods at 5,000 feet.

I was lucky, and it ended up being a perfect day for flying. I had fog, sun, mountains, blue skies, and no wind, and I was in high heaven.

I had my shutter speed at 1/200 per second, aperture at f/4, auto ISO, and I was hoping this was fast enough to be sharp. I was using both my viewfinder and the back screen for composition, and it just depended on if I could see my back screen. Any adjustment that I had to make, I did it with one hand. I was confident that my Sony offered enough dynamic range to pull out the shadows or bring down the highlights.

When I was flying over Dolly Sods, knowing that my dream finally was being realized in real-time, it was almost like a spiritual awakening. I’m having this surreal experience happen right in front of me, and all I could think about was how much Dolly Sods has given to me the past 11 years, and she continues to provide me with beautiful imagery. Words can’t describe how I felt covering the vast distances of the red carpet of vegetation or when I was skimming on the top of the fog. It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment when the plans you worked so hard to achieve becomes a reality.

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I hope that Bernard Chen’s dream achieved helps inspire you to pursue even a small dream of your own. Chen next plans to fly in Iceland. Once one goal is accomplished, keep climbing higher. With patience, determination, and hard work, a great many things are possible.

If you would like to see more of Bernard Chen’s work you can find him online on his website, Vimeo, Instagram, and Facebook

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Instagram to Allow 60-Minute Videos in Main Feeds, Rebrands IGTV

Instagram to Allow 60-Minute Videos in Main Feeds, Rebrands IGTV

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Facebook is merging the long-form video format of IGTV with regular videos in feeds and increasing how long they are allowed to be to 60-minutes. IGTV will be rebranded Instagram TV as the main app focuses on a more seamless video experience.

Today the company announced that it would be getting rid of the exclusive IGTV video format and that videos posted in the main Instagram feed can run up to 60-minutes long, the old length of IGTV videos. Additionally, viewers won’t have to leave the main app in order to watch these videos. That said, IGTV isn’t going away — at least not yet — as it’s just being rebranded and will remain a standalone, separate app experience called Instagram TV.

The move is one that is likely long overdue. IGTV, Instagram’s first foray into longer-form video content that was introduced in 2018, has been largely viewed as a flop. As The Verge points out, two months after Instagram brought IGTV to its app, TikTok launched in the United States. Three years later, and it’s one of the most popular social networks and Instagram has been scrambling to adjust its platform to better compete.

The shift from the IGTV format to a more integrated video experience is therefore likely driven by a desire to keep TikTok from growing and further eating into its user base. But taking on TikTok might mean changing the core experience of Instagram, which is likely why the company admitted that it was no longer a photo-sharing app earlier this year. Engadget writes that the switch to a more seamless video experience might encourage creators to share more videos on Instagram and as a result, help it compete better.

Instagram has never had to be first at any of its features since it was acquired by Facebook and has been pretty successful in migrating features from competitors to its platform and winning in the space. Instagram successfully took the Stories concept from Snapchat and integrated it into its app experience, which largely relegated Snapchat to niche appeal — at least compared to Instagram’s gigantic user base. However, TikTok might be the first to buck that trend. Instagram’s hard pivot to video after supporting photography for years likely feels like a natural evolution for a company that has thrived on taking the ideas of others and squishing them into its experience. While photographers might not like it, there are few reasons to believe it won’t work again.


Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

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Video Lighting and Background Basics: How to Improve Your Space for Videos and Conference Calls

Video Lighting and Background Basics: How to Improve Your Space for Videos and Conference Calls

How can you turn a corner of your home into a pleasant video background? Here are the basics of creating a better background and lighting setup for your videos, vlogs, and calls.

Not a lot of people would have thought of designating space at home for shooting videos, much less invested in equipment to keep it well lit. However, with more and more people staying at home and working from home, it became a more common home improvement project for many various reasons. Some people just like looking good and pleasant when taking video calls for work, while a lot of people have also found opportunities in creating video content whether to teach certain skills, or to simply entertain.

In this video from Justin Espejo, he talks about and demonstrates how you can transform even the most dull-looking space in your home into a pleasant video backdrop. To understand how to achieve an attractive background that complements your talking videos without being distracting, he illustrates how to achieve depth, background separation, and how to use different kinds of light sources to make a balanced frame. With the use of both entry-level video lights and common household light sources, this video can help you kick start your home improvement project for better-looking visuals whether simply for conferencing or creating your own video content. 

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How to Give Your Videos a Filmic Look With Color Grading

How to Give Your Videos a Filmic Look With Color Grading

There are many ways to edit your videos and images, but one lasting method is in fact just to mimic the past. In this video, watch how one videographer color grades his work to get that vintage feel without sacrificing quality.

It’s funny how circular anything to do with taste is. Something becomes popular through whim or necessity until the masses grow tired of it, then typically, a trend rises in direct opposition of it, rinse and repeat. My girlfriend is a fashion designer, so I see a lot of trend boards and get some second-hand knowledge of the industry. It has prompted the realization of how trends just spawn out of opposition for previous trends. For example, tight-fitting, skinny clothes were the go-to garments for the best part of a decade or more, now we’re back to the looser fits of the 90s like baggier jeans, which the skinny jeans set themselves in opposition to in the first place.

Photography and videography are rarely different to this cyclical nature, particularly when it comes to post-processing, but more trends are born of necessity. Many of the popular characteristics of film — grain, contrast, color-casts — were seen as unwanted and unfortunate. Now, we have such incredible accuracy of color and clarity of picture, we yearn for the character of old, and so we add it back in post.

Vuhlandes is one of my favorite content creators and his love of film and its aesthetic give his videos a lot of character. In this video, he breaks down how he adds that.

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Camera Robots Help Artists Capture Action-Filled Photos and Videos

Camera Robots Help Artists Capture Action-Filled Photos and Videos

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Intelligent robot technology has expanded beyond cinematography and has found its place in photography now, too, as shared by a photo and video production company that has started to use one to achieve shots and angles that would be hard to replicate manually.

Although cinema robots are still out of reach for many creators due to the high cost that accompanies such technology, they are becoming more approachable and devices of this kind have slowly begun to enter the workflows of smaller production companies that don’t have multi-million dollar Hollywood studio budgets.

Designed to cut production times and to increase efficiency, cinema robots — such as the ones designed by SISU Cinema Robotics — have also become more user-friendly and require minimal technical knowledge so photographers and filmmakers can get started right away after their product training.

The line between photography and videography is also blending, as many cinema cameras can capture RAW still frames that work just as well as a traditional still camera but allow a photographer to capture video at the same time. For example, photojournalist Tom Palmaers captures photos and videos simultaneously thanks to RAW video. The stills featured in this story are another example of this: RAW frames extracted from clips captured using a RED Ranger Gemini camera.

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Paul Lanterman, Creative Technical Specialist at OMS Photography, an imaging and production company, tells PetaPixel that the company he works for has embraced a SISU cinema robot and now uses it as part of its photo and video projects. OMS Photography was in the market for a motion control system for its commercial videography project, and while its photography team had extensive experience crafting still imagery, the company wanted to find a system that would blend those talents with added opportunities of moving the camera on set.

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Previously, the team used several slider-based systems but felt they lacked flexibility, and changing sets and editing paths took too much time out of the shooting schedule and often left them with disappointing end results.

After they tested out the SISU robot, they found the appeal in its ease of use where “if you can move your arm, you can program a camera move in movements.” The robot utilizes a wand’s trigger and joystick which allow users to position the camera with a wave of their hand and it can be easily programmed to perform accurate movements.

Lanterman explains that after they unboxed the system, they plugged it in — using standard AC power — and one hour later, they had “clients on set, directing flybys of products.” The device is now used for 75% to 80% of the team’s video work because the system helps them get a higher volume of completed shots without needing more equipment or more people on set, which offsets the higher cost of renting or purchasing it.

An added benefit is the ability to extract stills, should the client want exact frames captured in any video clips. The repeatability of the robotics means the same shot can be used for multiple takes of different products:

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For OMS Photography, the robot allows the team to treat video shots with the same attention to detail that they can on still shots. For example, after they design a camera move, the system lets them go to any point on the path and see exactly what they’ll capture. This level of precision and repeatability allows the production team to tweak everything throughout the entire shot, such as reflections, background, lens flares, subtle lighting, and so forth.

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Each programmed move also makes it very clear what the result will be with no surprises along the way, which helps instill visual confidence in clients.

“It’s like working with live stills,” says Lanterman. “It eliminates bad takes, which then saves time on set, space on the media, and time spent copying files that nobody will want to use.”

Although cinema robots such as these are capable of performing complex moves and angles, they can also perform simple slider moves, zolly shots, and others. Lanterman notes that “the ease of setting up a simple move and saving it to get the same shot on 24 different product/combo shots is really powerful.”

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The cinema robot opens up creative and technical possibilities that may not be possible when shot manually — precise repeatability is one such factor that is simply impossible without one. However, Lanterman explains, that for that reason, the set might need to be more detailed and robot users need to pay more attention to ensure background areas are camera-ready. This is because the more dynamic camera moves can reveal angles that are not typically visible.

Similarly, extra preparation is needed for high-speed and slow-motion projects to ensure that everything is where it needs to be and in focus. For this, shooters need to think it through ahead of time and be good at visual analysis to figure out where things might not be lining up before the shot has begun.

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These types of motion control systems aren’t new but are slowly coming down in cost and becoming more accessible to smaller and medium-sized production companies. Although this particular SISU system is more suited for commercial projects and would still land somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000 in rental fees per day — plus an operator — or from $109,000 to $169,00 as an outright cost, Lanterman explains that the OMS Photography has seven photographers and this technology is now well within the company’s reach.

For individuals with smaller budgets, a DIY motion kit setup would be more suitable, however, the technology has advanced and continues to do so, eventually bridging the gap and providing smart device accessibility to more individuals and companies.

More information about SISU robots can be found on the SISU Cinema Robotics website and the OMS Photography portfolio can be viewed on the company’s website and Instagram.


Image credits: All images provided by OMS Photography and used with permission.

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How To Capture Great Travel Videos With Your Camera

How To Capture Great Travel Videos With Your Camera

Here are 3 top tips on how you can shoot and edit your own travel videos so they stand out from the crown on social media channels.

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Canon camera capturing footage on holiday

 

It’s good fun to watch travel videos again with your travel companions and reminisce, so many years down the line. But if you plan to share your videos online, chances are you want to show your travel videos to other (more critical) people, too. YouTube is rife with boring travel videos that do nothing more than waste the viewer’s time. A few editing tips go a long way to stand out from that crowd. So here goes.

 

Diversify Your Shots

Too many travel videos consist of identical shots of the videographer’s partner’s back as they walk around the landmarks of their travel destination. If you’re lucky, they’ll throw in a pan of a wide-angle landscape for good measure. Don’t be that guy. Have fun and be creative by diversifying your shots. Try the following:

  • Don’t always shoot wide. Use the tele side of your lens, too. It will help you come up with detailed shots, too, and not just wide vistas.
  • Play with camera movement. Take some shots from a tripod, take pan shots in all directions, walk through your scene (use a gimbal!)
  • Shoot landscapes, people, objects, buildings, movement, impressions, … from close and afar. Your partner (or yourself) doesn’t need to be in every single shot. Make it more about your destination.

Tip: shoot a lot of different things. That way, you’ll have plenty of options to diversify your shots in your edit.

 

Create Motion

Many amateur videographers capture a landscape or a building from a tripod and include a standard 10 seconds of it in their final video. That’s a recipe for a boring video. Video is all about motion, so make sure every single shot contains motion. In the case of an immobile landscape or building, make sure to include a passing animal or a person. You can also create movement with your camera, by panning, sliding, walking, or creating a time-lapse.

Tip: You can also create movement in the edit. Especially if you used 4K video quality. Try using a Ken Burns effect (slow in-edit zoom effect) or zoom into your footage and fake a pan from side to side. You can also add motion with titles or special effects.

 

Create Story

Creating story in any video editing software doesn’t necessarily mean following a script with dialogues and action. Rather, it means creating a narrative through visuals. For example, rather than just showing a random shot of a street vendor grilling fish in a food stall, you can start with a shot of someone catching fish in a local port. The next shot establishes the wider city scene in which the street vendor works. Then you alternate shots of the vendor, his stall, his hands, the ingredients, and the patrons around the stall waiting for their food. Finish with a shot of the vendor handing you your food with a smile. That’s story.

Tip: You’ll need to shoot a lot and diversify your shots as much as possible, so you’ll have enough footage to identify and create story in your edit.

 

These three tips constitute a state of mind and an approach rather than technique, so it will take a few trials to internalize this way of working. But don’t give up. Your travel videos will benefit a lot from these tips!

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An Interview With Mayeul Akpovi: Incredible Time-Lapse Videos of African Cities

An Interview With Mayeul Akpovi: Incredible Time-Lapse Videos of African Cities

It is incredibly important for stories to be told by people who have a lived experience of the situation. Mayeul Akpovi does just this with his incredible time-lapse videos of African cities.

Mayeul, who is based in Cotonou (Benin), saw an evolving, yet underrepresented, African landscape before him. There is no shortage of imagery of wild African safaris in media. What is lacking are images of Africa which include the growing cityscapes, seamlessly melding into majestic mountains and sweeping plains. Mayeul wanted to show this near unknown urban Africa.

The feedback on the works has been encouraging and has even garnered Mayeul some funding to explore other African cities, such as Johannesburg, Kigali, and Lagos. He hopes to expand the project even further to include cities such as Accra, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Luanda, Dar es Salaam, Cairo, Algiers, Rabat, Kinshasa or Gaborone (to name a few). It sounds ambitious, but also very needed, and I personally can’t wait to see the project develop further!

Previously colonized countries viewed from a post-colonial lens often get a very specific treatment in media. Often, all that is shown are the effects of war or famine. For Mayeul, this project is a means to change that narrative and show that there are multiple layers of beauty and humanity.

Photography has traditionally been a craft reserved strictly for a very specific group of people. However, recently, we are seeing shifts in social structures, which are allowing for more democratic creative industries.

In plainer terms, the reality is that professional camera equipment has always been expensive and inaccessible for people without the means to buy it. Travel photography, again, was expensive unless you had the right connections with the right magazines who could help fund your travel. Showing your work was, again, only really possible unless you had the right connections with magazines or museums.

Instead, we are now in a time where you can get decent camera kit relatively cheaply. You can create an image and instantly put it online via Instagram, Twitter, or even a personal website. The barrier to entry is lower, which in turn means that standing out is harder because more people are creating more and more images daily.

This means it’s even more important for creatives to create more localized narratives. I know I’m loving some of the things video-streaming services are doing; one minute I’m watching a slow-burn drama from Iceland and the next, a reality tv competition from Spain. We’re more connected than ever, and that’s brilliant!

I digress, though. Africa isn’t a singular country but rather a continent of many countries. Mayeul acknowledges that he isn’t able to speak for an entire continent; the project isn’t about that. There have been struggles with gaining access to some of the cities, whereas others have been very welcoming and supportive of his endeavor.

Continuing with this project, Mayeul hopes to create imagery that shows a uniquely African landscape that integrates progress and tradition. His vision is to eventually collaborate with local creatives so that the spirit of the project continues to show this beauty, but in a way where creatives from a place are the ones telling their own stories and sharing the parts of their countries they themselves have grown with.  

Videos and Images provided by Mayeul Akpovi. Used with Permission.
Interview translated between English and French using Google Translate.

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10 reasons to use the Rode Wireless GO II for your videos

10 reasons to use the Rode Wireless GO II for your videos

Whether you’re new to video or an experienced shooter looking to upgrade your kit, the new Rode Wireless GO II should be your go-to mic for great audio [Sponsored]

Stills photographers making the move into video often make the mistake of forgetting that literally 50% of a movie is the sound, and it’s arguably the most important half. While you can get away with shaky visuals as a style choice as long as the audio is good, the same can’t be said the other way around: poor sound will let down even the slickest camera work.

So a decent microphone is one of the first and most important investments that any budding videographer should make, but deciding which type to buy can be confusing. Fortunately the new Rode Wireless GO II makes that decision easy, offering great quality while being versatile enough to be used in a wide variety of applications. Here are 10 reasons why the Rode Wireless GO II should be your go-to microphone.

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The Rode Wireless GO II transmitter with clip-on furry windshield attached

1. Two transmitters, one receiver

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Rode Wireless GO II kit

The Rode Wireless GO II comes with two transmitters, both feeding into a single receiver. This is perfect if you’re recording an interview between two people. Of course, you can use just one of the transmitters if you want to. The transmitters come auto-paired to the receiver right out of the box and remember which channel they have been assigned to, so you don’t have to worry about pairing them again – which takes the stress out of connecting the devices to each other.

2. Small but perfectly formed

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Rode Wireless GO transmitters shown with coins for scale

With each unit weighing around 30g the Rode Wireless GO II is, along with the original GO,  the world’s smallest wireless microphone system. This makes it easy to attach discreetly to clothing. Each transmitter features a discreet built-in omni-directional condenser mic and Rode also supplies optional furry windshields in the kit that can be quickly attached using a simple twist-and-lock bayonet mount. Alternatively, use the 3.5mm TRS port to connect a lapel mic such as the optional Lavalier GO and use the transmitter as a tiny and easily concealed belt-pack.

3. Attach to your camera’s hot-shoe and connect via the 3.5mm TRS cable or USB

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Rode Wireless GO II connection to camera via 3.5mm TRS

The Rode Wireless GO attaches to any hot-shoe or cold-shoe and features both a 3.5mm TRS and USB-C interface, which means that you can connect it to your camera using either method.

4. Connects direct with your smartphone or mobile device

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Hands Free Mobile Setup – Rode Wireless Go II used together with a Rode Vlogger kit

For mobile film-makers the Rode Wireless GO can be connected to your Android or Apple mobile devices using the SC15 or SC16 Accessory Cable, and is MFi certified, which means it will work seamlessly with iOS devices. For a completely mobile, hands free vlogging setup, Rode also offer a selection of Vlogger Kits which include the Rode Tripod 2, Micro LED, Smartgrip and a VideoMic Me with either a universal 3.5mm minijack, Lightning or USB C connectivity. The Smartgrip contains a built-in cold shoe mount which can be used to mount the Wireless Go II receiver to the top of the phone.

5. Connect it to your computer for streaming, podcasting or video calls

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Rode Wireless GO II connection to laptop via USB

You can plug the Rode Wireless Go receiver in to a laptop and record from your transmitters directly into your computer – ideal for podcasting and interviews in a studio set up. Or connect a transmitter to your laptop for live broadcasting, video calls and voiceovers.

6. Huge 200 metre range

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The Rode Wireless GO II transmitter can work up to 200 metres away from the receiver

The Rode Wireless GO II has an impressive 200m range between the transmitter and receiver, which can be attached to the camera via the hot-shoe. The receiver’s comprehensive LED display indicated the signal strength of the transmitters, along with battery strength, input level, stereo or mono channels and whether the transmitters are recording internally.

7. On-board recording

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Rode Wireless Go II with Lavalier GO attachment

The Rode Wireless GO II offers internal recording to each transmitter, allowing up to 7 hours of uncompressed audio (or 24 hours of compressed audio) recorded direct to each unit, without the need for an SD card, providing a worry-free insurance policy should the transmission to the camera or audio source cut out for any reason. You can choose between recording the two audio channels separately, or combining them into a single stereo channel.  There’s also the option to use one channel as a safety channel, recording at 20 decibels lower than the main channel to prevent distorted recordings in the event of unpredictably loud sounds. These modes can be selected via the Rode central app.

8. Long battery life

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The Rode Wireless Go II features a comprehensive display

The built-in Li-Ion batteries last 6-7 hours and can be fully re-charged, via the USB-C port, in around two hours, so you won’t have to be constantly checking the battery level.

9. Customisable with accessories

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The Interview GO accessory

The Rode Wireless GO II can be customised for a variety of applications. In addition to the Lavalier GO lapel mic the Interview GO turns the transmitter into a lightweight wireless hand-held mic for reporting on location or on-the-fly interviews and vox-pops.

 10. Extra features with the Rode Central app

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The Rode Central interface

Download the app for extra functionality, including the ability to set the gain control in ten steps or three, turn the safety channel on, toggle the backlight on/off as well as download the audio recordings from the transmitters.

For more information on the Wireless GO II visit Rode.com

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The Rode Wireless GO II Receiver

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What Camera Gear Do Successful YouTubers Use to Shoot Their Videos?

What Camera Gear Do Successful YouTubers Use to Shoot Their Videos?

You might already have an idea of what your favorite YouTuber is using to film their videos, but what about everyone else? Here are insights into the gear of 40 successful channels.

Gerald Undone has gathered a huge array of YouTubers together to list the gear that they use for shooting A-roll: the combination of camera, lens, mic, and lighting equipment that creates their talking-head shots.

Perhaps the stand-out camera on this list is, perhaps inevitably, the Sony a7S III. Released last year, the a7S III seemed set to become the YouTuber’s camera of choice, offering excellent flexibility, quality, and relative affordability in a compact package. Several YouTubers on this massive list own more than one.

There’s one other slightly under-the-radar piece of equipment that seems to be a popular choice: a filter that adds a touch of halation to the highlights to give a slightly less digital feel to the resulting footage. As well as blooming highlights, they soften hard edges and can even out skin tones, potentially reducing wrinkles. Popular choices include the Cinebloom filters from Moment, and the Black Pro-Mist filters from Tiffen.

What’s your ideal setup? And did you spot the Dirtfoot Easter egg? Let us know in the comments below.

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