Recent Workshop & thoughts

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My buddy Stu Maschwitz made a great comment recently on his blog that while he was passionate about his blog – he wasn’t necessarily running a blog that was out there to review the latest piece of equipment or to do side by side comparisons.  As you all likely know there are a bevy of such sites/blogs out there!  Stu also mentioned that if he didn’t post anything for a bit – it was likely due to the fact that he was busy working on something, and not the fact that he was working on a "secret project." I appreciated his comments given that I always try to find a good balance on this blog for everyone reading it.  

I’ve always very much appreciated the viewership of this blog (we’re nearing 10,000,000 visitors!) and I always try to write about things that I (and I hope you) find of interest in the HDSLR/Cinema/Still world.  I also think it’s important that I continue to keep my main focus on my directing career as opposed to blogging – so that I can share as much "real life" experience with the readers of this blog.

I’m in the middle of an 8 week back-to-back shooting schedule and the shoot schedules can be grueling at times (shooting during the day, and prepping for futures jobs at night or in the morning hours) and very hard to find the time to post on the blog.  I hope you all understand if this blog goes silent for a few days or weeks at a time…  

One of the things I do very little of these days is teach cinema workshops.    I only do 2-3 times a year as it just takes so much effort to get gear in place from so many manufacturers.  Photo workshops are exponentially easier to do for obvious reasons! (One of which is that everyone brings their own gear in one backpack!)  Not so for cinema (although it can definitely be done!)

I’ve always felt it important to introduce students to steadicams, dollies, jibs, cinema lighting and lenses etc. – even if they likely will never get a chance to use them on a regular basis.  I think it’s important to have people try out the gear and get their hands on them – and to learn how each tool has its advantages, and disadvantages.    I especially want students to learn that "just because you can (have x piece of gear) doesn’t mean you should…"   – as more complicated gear is more cumbersome and can take a lot more expertise to use, not to mention logistics, crew, transportation vehicles etc.   Sometimes shooding with a bare 5D MKIII and a nice lens without a single accessory is still the best way to go!  It is after all what startedthe HDSLR revolution:  small, lean and mean (not to mention relatively inexpensive.)

That all changes when you have clients and they want to see a live image of what you are shooting and to use fancy camera moves of course… not to mention keep focus on a moving actor at f 2.8 or less on a full frame sensor…

I try to do my best on focusing on the "why" you need such gear in the first place – and how the students can think of using them on their next films (and more importantly IF they need ANY of it!)  We also tend to find that a good, experienced crew is almost always more important than the fanciest new toy…    A good crew can do wonders with the most basic gear – but the opposite is seldom true: fancy gear can lead to disastrous results (and blown schedules) in the hand of inexperienced crew members.

Here’s a great video of the workshop I just concluded in Konstanz, Germany.   It was organized by Martin Biebel, the editor in chief of the magazine Videoaktiv, and had an incredible level of support from manufacturers such as Canon, Zeiss, Arri, Glidecam, Adobe, Kessler Crane, Chrosziel, Lite Panels, Zacuto, Aibotix, A.F. Marcotec, Vocas – and the list goes on and on…  

It was a wonderful time – many laughs were shared and I think a lot of people came away with having learned at least a few important things.