From still photography to videography…

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Shooting a promo movie for ASK – All Special Kids (Geneva)

Two months ago I was asked to make a promotion video for ASK (All Special Kids) during their Summercamp. ASK All Special Kids is a Geneva based NGO, aimed at helping kids with learning difficulties. Since I have a warm heart for this organization, and because I like technical challenges, I immediately said yes.

I quickly discovered that making videos was a completely different experience than photography. Photography comes intuitively to me; I immediately seem to feel which pictures I want make in terms of angles, light, composition, etc., and I never have to think about the technical aspects (aperture, shutter speed, exposure, iso settings, etc.). Contrary to this, making professional videos almost feels like a scientific process to me.

So far I produced one more or less professional video, but that was only for internal communication purposes for the organization I shot it for. This video would be published on You Tube, and be one of the highlights of the jubilee the organization will have later this year.

In this blog post I will share the different technical difficulties I encountered during my first steps in the field of videography. Perhaps you can learn something from it.

Camera

In order to capture my footage I used my Nikon D750 DSLR. Although it is the perfect camera for shooting stills, it is not ideal for shooting videos. The reason is that shooting video with this (and most other DSLR camera’s) requires focusing with the Live view screen at the back of the camera. This is very slow, and if the subject moves, re-focusing is necessary, which looks awkward if this is done during the same shot.

The workaround I used was to use Autofocus-Single before making the footage and using a small aperture (wherever possible f8 and up) in order to get a fairly large depth of field. The disadvantages were of course the fact that I needed to use a higher iso setting (which created more visual ‘noise’), and I had a less interesting bokeh.

Another disadvantage of the fact that the camera worked in Live View mode all the time, was that it consumed battery power like a young (unsupervised) kid candy bars.

Despite these disadvantages, the technical material was impressive. During the premiere of the movie it was displayed on a huge movie screen and I was impressed with the sharpness and resolution.

Lenses

When I filmed on a Tripod (and did not use Vibration Reduction) I used a Tamron 28-75 2.8 Zoom lens. This was perfect because it has a constant aperture over the whole zoom range.

For handheld footage I used my Tamron 35 1.8 SP Lens due to its Vibration reduction capabilities. The results were impressive, I was surprised at the high quality I could achieve when using this camera for interviews where I held the camera in my hand and used a simple shotgun microphone.

Sound

To record the interviews, I used an external recorder from TASCAM (the DR-05) with a Rode Smartlav+. Getting this to work was not exactly easy. The Rode Smartlav+ needs an adapter to work on the TASCAM, and some settings need to be adjusted on the TASCAM to make the Rode Smartlav+ work. Of course Rode does not explain this anywhere on its website or on its documentation, and neither does TASCAM. All in all I spend more than an hour to make this combination work.

I was also very disappointed in the quality of the Rode; after two days of filming the Smartlav+ did not work anymore. Fortunately Rode has a good & quick return policy, but I was very embarrassed when I discovered that the mike stopped working halfway through the project.

The Rode VideoMic pro I used to record interviews outside worked pretty well, although the background noise was not very effectively filtered by this microphone, despite the special functionality it claims to offer.

Editing

I edited the movie in iMovie 09. This turned out to be a drama. Several times during the editing process iMovie crashed, all in all destroying 10+hours of work. I became so desperate that I seriously considered to switch to Adobe Premiere Elements, and even downloaded the demo version of the package. At the end though I think the crashes occurred when I imported video material made by other filmers, because iMovie stopped crashing when I threw this material out and only used my own.

Synchronizing the video footage and the audio files made with the TASCAM in iMovie took a long time, despite the fact that I used my hands as a clapboard. I also found handling audio in Imovie cumbersome in general.

I was impressed by the user-friendliness of the ‘Picture In Picture’ functionality and the functionality to insert pictures in iMovie. This works incredibly simple. A disadvantage of iMovie is that it will only import pictures that are imported in iPhoto, which was not ideal for me since I keep my pictures in Adobe Lightroom. For this reason I needed to import all the pictures I wanted to use in iPhoto first.

Music

Finding Free Music also proved to be a challenge. Despite the impressive number of hits you see if you type in ‘free music’ in Google, most of this free music requires a payment or comes with other restrictions, especially if you want to upload it to YouTube. In the end I used music from bensound.com, which is very straightforward regarding credits.

The result

You can watch the movie on YouTube. Let me know what you think about it!

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Cool Steve

Last week I was shooting a video for ASK, which stands for ‘All Special Kids’. It is a charity organization that does excellent work. ASK provides resources for parents, schools and specialists, in order to help them to support children with learning differences and special educational needs in Switzerland.

Whilst working on the video I had the opportunity to take take a couple of pictures of Steve, the great guy who was leading the camp.

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Cool Steve

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Cool Steve


Pictures taken with Olympus OMD EM10 camera (Mark I) and Zuiko 14-42 3.5-5.6 mm lens. Recorded in RAW, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

Improv photoshoot of three friends in the Hague

When I was taking pictures in the centre of the Hague, I got talking to a guy about the Olympus OMD EM10 (mark I) camera I was using. He had two friends with him and together we decided to do an improv photoshoot.

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Pictures taken with Olympus OMD EM10 camera (Mark I) and Zuiko 14-42 3.5-5.6 mm lens, Recorded in JPEG, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

A photo shoot with René Bom, the night mayor of The Hague

Today I had the pleasure to meet René Bom. René is colourful person AKA the ‘night mayor’ of The Hague and AKA ‘de Haagse Bom’ (the bomb of the Hague). Being born and raised in the Hague, I was honoured to meet this dignitary and to do a photo shoot with him.

A couple of interesting details about René’s outfit for readers who did not have the privilege to  be born the Hague:

  • Green is one of the prominent colours of the escutcheon of the city of the Hague (the other is yellow)
  • The stork in the letter O on René’s shirt refers to the stork in the escutcheon of the city of the Hague – the same stork can be seen on one of the rings René is wearing
  • The number 070 on René’s shirt refers to the telephone digits identifying the city of the Hague
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René Bom – Night mayor of the Hague (http://www.dehaagsebom.com)

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René Bom – Night mayor of the Hague (http://www.dehaagsebom.com)

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René Bom – Night mayor of the Hague (http://www.dehaagsebom.com)

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René Bom – Night mayor of the Hague (http://www.dehaagsebom.com)

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René Bom – Night mayor of the Hague (http://www.dehaagsebom.com)


Pictures taken with Nikon D750 and Tamron 28-75 mm 2.8 lens. Recorded in Raw, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

Smoking kills … but man, doesn’t it sometimes look cool!

Earlier this week I was doing a photoshoot in Zurich and got talking to someone who was very interested in what I was doing.

In the course of our conversation I asked him if he would be ok if I took a picture of him. He happily obliged and wanted to put out his cigarette. I asked him to keep smoking though, because I always wanted to replicate the fantastic black & white pictures of James Dean and Steve McQueen whilst they were smoking.

I hope you like the result. Let me know!

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Pictures taken with Nikon D750 and Tamron 28-75 mm lens. Recorded in Raw, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

Portrait La Lupa

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Whilst I was doing a photoshoot around Bellevue in Zurich, I more or less literally bumped into La Lupa, a well-known Swiss singer and performer. She was immediately willing to pose for me for a portrait. Check her out! Her website is http://www.la-lupa.ch.


Picture taken with Nikon D750 and Tamron 28-75 mm lens. Recorded in Raw, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

‘Break A Leg’ – Swingmusic at the Rondell Bürkliplatz Zurich

Thursday evening June 22 I attended a wonderful concert of ‘Break a Leg!’. A group of musicians consisting of Ursula Ledergerber, vocals, Urs Keller, guitar and vocals,  Heinz Krapf, bass and Stefan Rüfenacht on saxes, melodica and cornet.

The concert took place at the Rondell the Bürkliplatz in Zurich. The band played a number of classic  jazz-swing songs, including one of my favorites: Lullaby of Birdland.

The audience could not sit still, but immediately enthusiastically started to dance, and kept doing so as long as the musicians kept on playing.

I had a wonderful great evening and am looking forward to seeing them again soon!


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Heinz Krapf

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Stefan Rüfenacht

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Urs Keller

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Ursula Ledergerber

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Pictures taken with a Nikon D750 camera, Nikkor 20-35 2.8 mm and Tamron 28-75 2.8 mm lenses. Recorded in Raw, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.


 

Photoshoot Leonardo Muzii

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to do a photo shoot with Leonardo Muzii. A professional conductor based in Basel, Switzerland. We had a pleasant late afternoon and took a number of great pictures on the roof terrace of Leonardo’s house.


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Pictures taken with Olympus OMD EM10 camera and Zuiko 14-42 3.5-5.6 mm & 90 mm 1.8 mm lenses, Recorded in Raw, post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.