Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lessons of a One Woman Crew #1 -- The Line

Several weeks ago, I shot this little video for NYPL with a few friends. The goal was to try and create a vague semblance of a story-- a hint of a story-- so that the conceit could honestly be that the whole minute and a half was about the kid at the end, as opposed to the chase in the beginning.

I wrote a script, I got it approved, I wrangled some friends... and I set off.
The one thing I did not do.... was finish my storyboard before the actors got to my apartment.

This, ladies and gentlemen, proved to be a problem. Because regardless of the fact that I've been shooting video since I was 16 years old... I still fall prey to ridiculous mistakes when I have not planned.

I thought I could definitely wing it. I knew what everything wanted to look like in my head. So I just set up the camera, made the colors look pretty-- attempted to get the exposure perfect with the clouds changing every 10 minutes... Should'a all been ok. But-- without that shot list...

Do you know what "the line" is? It's one of those silly thing things that people learn about in Film Production 101 and then make fun of people for screwing up. For all of you lay individuals here is a brief explanation, with LOVELY in-design mock ups by-- yours truely (so i'm not a designer. Sue me).

When two individuals are talking (here, seen from above) "the line" is drawn between the middle of their faces.  Across this line, the camera SHALL NOT cross, for continuity to be correct. Basically-- the reason you keep the camera on one side of the line, is so that the eyes of each person talking look in the correct direction. When you cut-- one person will look to the left and the other to the right- and they will appear spatially accurate in the frame. The audience will know that the characters are talking to each other because, as person two will appear on the right side of the screen looking left, and person 1 will appear on the left side of the screen looking right (see below).

And all is right with the world. 

However-- if you cross the line with the camera-- 

Then you get this:

  And people get confused, and pulled out of the picture... and etc. 

So-- why is this relevant? Because I crossed that line. I was all good and fine up until they turned the corner. But, after the running boy (Carl) turned the corner -- and the evil feet person (Gabe) followed-- the line that had been created between the two changed. And-- as I controlled the color and exposure,  people in the background and actors in the foreground all by my lonesome... without a diagram of where the relationships between the bodies were ... I shot Gabe's close ups on the wrong side, so he was look right, when Carl was on his left.

So- Gabe. I am sorry that we lost your great moment. Because it was really excellent. And Amy's great face-scar makeup.

The lesson learned here-- is that you should ALWAYS prepare. ... Even when you aren't by your lonesome (but especially, especially when you are). 

Since then, I have even diagrammed out the potential movements of the Food52 shoots, which-- actually, has helped editing significantly. 

And that, is my first Lesson from a One Woman Crew. I am SURE this will become a weekly, if not bi-weekly affair. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Itching for Travel

I have spent the last several hours attempting to plan a vacation. Since it's not working out so well... I decided to relive my previous adventures and found some really great pics from when I went to Ecuador in March of 2009.

These are a very very small fraction of the trip-- but it was, sincerely, the greenest place I've ever seen. 

And, at night, the stars actually appeared in relief. In the states, they always seem 2D. Alas- no photo would do those justice. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

All Things Peachy

As some of you may or may not have gathered--

I've been shooting and editing some video for the lovely Amanda and Merrill over at food52.

You can watch lots and lots on their website (and make some serious delicious recipes)... but I was particularly proud of the peach cake video that was posted this afternoon.

I feel like this video shows some really fun jump cuts-- seriously-- the brevity of these are growing on me-- and tight editing -- and my arms were not tired for most of it so my notoriously shaky hand isn't as obvious at it used to be. I've been working very hard to improve my filming- and this video felt like a step up for me. So, enjoy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Morbidity, Humidity, ...

exclusivity? ...

No. There is no third "ity" word that fits my weekend extravaganza--which consisted of a Sunday trek out to Greenwood Cemetery. 

Took some pictures, felt pretty creepy.

But-- really, Greenwood was super beautiful, and I would love to go back with a much better camera and a little less humidity.
Or... as my fellow visitor said, "if you like history, art, and nature..." it's well worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can't we just embrace--

I hate hate hate it when people comment negatively about how affordable digital cameras make everyone claim that they are a "photographer." I say-- yes. Finally-- we're all photographers.

Yes. There are those out there who can't claim to be professionals, who over-aggrandize their own work. But-- truth is-- that, for the first time in history, anyone who wants to can speak in images.

We can all attempt to communicate how we think and feel and what we believe is beautiful in the visual instead of written or spoken word. And we don't have to spend a million dollars to do it.

I say-- it's about damn time.

And, in the spirit of this sentiment-- I'm posting a few photographs from the weekend that I took with a Canon 7D that I rented for $100. Hot damn, I love that it allows me to appear more professional than I actually am.

[I also take much affront to the "not everyone is a photographer" statement because, as someone who went through 12 years of enrichment and AP classes in a public school system and then 4 years of a bloated "liberal arts" education -- I was never, once, taught how to correctly operate a camera. So- as someone who has to do her own teaching, before 9 and after 5... you gotta give some credit to the fact that these cameras make it a little easier for all of us who were denied that art education to practice and learn and improve. I like to think-- I'm not a photographer or a cinematographer... yet. But the 7D and the 5DMarkII and, oh... that XH-A1... they're helping me get there a lot faster than anything would have in the old days.]