Friday, July 23, 2010 

Chicago Summer Dance Series w/ Chicago Afrobeat Project

Last night, a new pal & myself were shooting HD video for a VERY fun band called Chicago Afrobeat Project.  Including their 4 backup singers, I think they had nearly 14 folks in their band? They were appearing as part of the city affiliated  Chicago Summer Dance Series, and it turned out to be a perfect, sweaty, jumping fun downtown event (Michigan Ave & Harrison). 

From a production standpoint, it was my first time using a monopod (i.e., single pole with camera attached on the end), which is essentially the trailer park version of a jib BUT... there were moments when my sweeping/pan shots would rival anything done with a real crane.

My favorite part of the night (and we got it all on tape): There was a fairly large apron extension attached to the front part of the stage for the performers to use if/when the mood struck. The singer got excited/in the moment, and invited the folks to get onstage & dance with him, which about 25 people did. Apparently, this was a big no-no from the city's POV, and the tiny city employee in charge rushed out and tried PUSHING people offstage, by herself. 

Although I admired her resolve, it was obvious nobody was going anywhere with that approach; after a few more attempts, she finally wised up and got in the ear of the singer, letting him know if he didn't use his microphone to clear the stage, the show was over. And so.... although he created the situation, he also very quickly resolved it, as everyone got offstage toot sweet when he asked them to. 

In the bigger picture... those kinds of moments are what makes music and performances special. Who wants some boring-ass show where everything's safe & by the book? Spontaneity, impromptu, unscripted kernels that you can't experience by staying home & watching it on TV or a computer screen - that's what entertainment should be about, folks. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 

Big Brother HD Style

As part of being a video editor, you pretty much have to look at ALL the footage for a shoot to log and decide the best scenes to use. Looking at some recent HD footage from a concert with approx. 20k people, the razor-sharp clarity of some of the crowd shots gave me a thought: If someone were trying to document someone being at that place, at that time... you can pick out WAY more detail on faces in the audience on the wide shots with HD than with standard def. You can also zoom in much much more before the image starts breaking up. 

Of course, I have no doubt the government has all that technology X 1000, 15 years ago minimum, but witnessing this relatively new tool on a consumer level is mighty interesting indeed.

Friday, July 02, 2010 

Space Hogs

Having recently gotten into the HD video game with my acquisition of a Canon VIXIA HFS 100 (amazing little camera, when you think about everything it can do), I'll say this to everyone making the leap from standard def to HD: get ready for some MASSIVE files to wrangle getting your video online or onto a DVD.

Although I'm no expert who can tell you about "true" HD, (uncompressed vs. compressed formats/ratios, etc.), I know a 16GB memory card filled with footage can turn into 100GB after it's transferred onto a hard drive; and you'd better have an equally generous amount of RAM on your computer if you have any hopes of managing those huge-ass files. EXAMPLE: I did a video shoot for Schaefer's Wines in Skokie, IL a few weeks ago, and foolishly thought I'd be able to smoothly transfer the footage from my camera to the manager's hard drive immediately after the shoot - wrong. Although the footage did indeed look & sound dynamite, my beginner's status with HD video prevented me from letting them know what they were facing with their desire to edit that footage.

Since then - after many conversations with other video editors, looking all over the Internet, etc., I've figured out some things on my own, plus stumbled upon some "trailer park" workarounds you won't find with an online search, all because of one thing: Anyone shooting "serious" video right now who isn't using HD is pretty much producing obsolete content. Although I'm a big believer that it's all about what's happening onscreen - great is great and lame is lame, regardless of the production value - standard def will be looking mighty rough indeed in the coming years, compared to all the HD stuff; Shooting HD now ensures at least a little longevity for that footage to look good.