Monday, November 30, 2009

First Impressions of the 7D!

Well, I did it. I made the jump to DSLR's. It's about time. The first I even heard of DSLR's was probably just six months ago, which is way too late considering my good friend Sebastian Burke and I consider ourselves pretty up to date with current camera technology. Somehow we overlooked the whole DSLR wave; and boy were we missing out.

For those who read my blog and aren't involved in the filmmaking industry... A DSLR is essentially a camera. However, recently Canon, Nikon and Panasonic have added into some of their cameras the ability to shoot HD video through their still cameras. Now, the still images the camera produces are still vastly superior to a still from the HD video; but, with a DSLR I can now use beautiful 35mm film lenses. There were adapters for video cameras that existed before these particular DSLR's but they were expensive and when combined with lenses and a video camera, quite cumbersome.
I've been using video cameras/camcorders to shoot every moving image I have ever shot. I'm used to having motorized zoom, real time auto-focusing, and decent quality built in sound. Needless to say this is quite a switch. Here is the first test video I have shot with the 7d. My kit list is at the bottom.

Thanksgiving 7D Camera Test from Jesse Tarnoff on Vimeo.

Here are my first impressions.

The Good
35mm Lenses - I can now use lenses that give me beautiful bokeh without having to back up 10 miles away from my subject and zoom in. Plus, with the added bonus of my Macro lens, I am able to achieve close ups of incredible detail.

Low Light Shooting - By adding ISO to the function of my camera, I have one more variable that changes how my camera takes in light. ISO in reference to film is how sensitive the film stock is to light. A higher ISO means it's more sensitive to light. As far as how good the 7D is in low light, consider this. I would normally shoot an outdoor daylight scene at around 200 ISO. With the 7D I can go all the way up to 6400 ISO. Now this isn't night vision of course and there is plenty of film grain when dealing with 2000+ ISO. However, being able to shoot with very little light on my subject is going to be a major plus.

Weight - Being a DSLR, it is incredibly light, even with my heaviest lens mounted.

The Bad
Image Stabilization - coming from years and years of experience with built in optical stabilization, making this switch is hard. I only have one lens with stabilization and a problem with it is that I can hear the motor running in the lens. Not only that, the stabilizing isn't up to par with what I have seen on the Sony Z7U or HVX200. For the most part, hand held without any kind of support system is almost not usable. I will be looking into a Zacuto gunstock and a very good monopod when I can free up the funds.

Focus - Not having a follow focus is a problem. That is also on my list of upcoming investments. I was having trouble because I'm not usually an auto focus guy, especially with these DSLRs. But when I switch into manual, I had problems judging where the focus ring was on my lenses. Of course, with time this problem will go away as I will become more familiar with my equipment. The Zacuto Z-Finder that is on it's way should also help with my snap focusing because I will be able to tell what I have in focus and what isn't with a little more ease.

General Thoughts
I love it. I am so excited. I've recommended to both my friend Sebastian Burke and Ben Tuller to sell their HVX/HPX kits and invest in a DSLR. On the other hand, I think that the HVX teamed with a 7D or 5DmkII would be a great team. Feeding audio into the HVX using the XLR inputs while shooting a wide shot teamed with a 7d CU or medium really could be perfect.

My upcoming investments to my kit are going to be an intervalometer for the 7d, a monopod, a Glidecam 4000HD, and a 77mm polarizing filter. After that I'll be adding to my glass kit.

Here is what my new camera kit consists of:

Camera: Canon 7d
Lenses: Canon 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Sigma 105mm f/ Macro
Canon 52mm f/1.8
Sigma 10-20mm
Support: Bogen Tripod, 501 Fluid Head
1 meter Glidetrack SD (to be reviewed)
Misc: Zacuto Z-Finder (to be reviewed)

I also added in a few 32gb Compact Flash cards, extra batteries, and the AC adaptor (over priced).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Staff Blaster

If you prefer to think of me as a classy guy, do not watch this video.
If you prefer to think of me as a wedding filmmaker, do not watch this video.
If you prefer to think of me as a normal human being, do not watch this video.

Still curious? If you would like to think of me as a crazy kid who loves making movies, then hit play...

Staff Blaster from Jesse Tarnoff on Vimeo.

So... what IS this? Well, it began as a 100 hour film race. We got the prompt on Thursday night at 5pm. Ben and Liza came over to do some brainstorming and we decided we'd take it easy and brainstorm Friday and write later that night. Well Friday night my good friend Terren was back in town and we had a night out at the bars.

At the bar we toyed around with doing an over the top action movie. The next day, we got together, hydrated, and decided that we'd just make a movie as we went along. We piled a bunch of guns, costumes, and camera equipment into the back of our cars and headed out to film.

Saturday night was a drag. After getting most of our shooting done, I imported the footage and took a look. You can't imagine how terrible and how bad this footage looked. Not only that, we didn't even have a story.

Then I brought the movie into the editing room. It started to pick up steam when I paced it out. It started to come together even more when I did some coloring samples. I spent hours cutting, tweaking, searching through footage, timing music, adding sound effects, and laughing at the ridiculous movie before me.

We showed the movie to the crew Monday night. We were all pleasantly surprised at the final product. I mean, if there has ever been a case of turning garbage into anything more, this is it. Don't get me wrong, I know this movie is still a piece of, well... whatever it is. But damn it's perfect.

Also, this was the most fun I've had filming a movie. Possibly ever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yosemite Love Story

At last! After a week of exporting, compressing and uploading... Jared and Christy's Love Story is finally online. Take a look here...

Jared + Christy Love Story from MetMedia Video on Vimeo.

To edit it, I went for a very composed and thoughtful feel. To achieve this I tried to only use soundbites where Jared or Christy had a special conviction in their voice, aside from all the funny bits. I then put in a music track that also had a very cool and collected feel to it, with different movements that builds and builds into an explosion of feeling.

When I talked to Jared about the piece, he told me he wanted Christy to get the last word in all of their playful bantering. This speaks to Jared's character so well in that as cool as he is, he wants Christy to shine even brighter. I also used mostly video elements rather than pack it with photos because I wanted to have movement that progressed forward.

Again, I need to credit Jeffrey Neal from JNP Studios for his fantastic photo work. I'd also like to thank Jared and Christy for the fantastic opportunity to make a special piece that really hits the type of film I am most passionate about. Please leave any comments you have. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jeffrey Neal Photography Demo

Well. The first video of the Yosemite engagement shoot is here! This is a video I made for Jeffrey Neal of JNP Studios. Enjoy it. My approach to editing it is below.

Jeffrey Neal Yosemite Shoot / Demo from MetMedia Video on Vimeo.

In editing the video, I asked Jeffrey what kind of vibe he wanted the viewer to leave with. I had two ideas in mind. The first mood would be an excited, upbeat, energetic call to action. The second treatment would be more inspiring, airy, and insightful, leaving the viewer with a pensive/hopeful mindset.

Of course, Jeffrey wanted to do a mix. I actually secretly wanted to do a mix also, so I was ready for it. To create the inspired mood I picked a song that felt "cool" with some electronic elements. I then paced it out so that the video builds momentum in an energetic way. Using fast cuts and flashy transitions, I wanted to give it a modern feel. Jeffrey is a very hip, modern guy so getting this across in the video was essential.

The video is about how he runs his shoots. How does Jeffrey act on location? How does he interact with his clients? As you can see, he does everything in a fun way which makes for better photographs.

Stay tuned for the cut I created for Jared and Christy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Creative Circle

In the crazy intertwined world of wedding photographers and filmmakers, everybody knows everybody. For instance, Jonathan Metcalf of Metmedia went down to LA this last summer to shoot the union of Scott and Laura Holmes. Photographing this beautiful event was Jeffrey Neal of JNP Studios. Jonathan and Jeffrey (why do all the creative people I know have names that start with J?) developed a great relationship while on the shoot.

So, when Jeffrey said he was going to shoot an engagement session up in Yosemite, I urged Jonathan to accompany Jeffrey. A few days before the shoot, I found out that my friend Jared Cotton (again with the J's) is the groom in the engaged couple. I knew Jared from back at Chapman when we used to work on film sets together and hang in the same crowd. So when I found this out, I was amped. Time to edit a kickass piece for Jeffrey and a killer love story for Jared.

Another cool thing is that Jared himself is a stellar photographer. Back in college, I used to shake my head in amazement whenever I saw his work. He had an incredible ability to see interesting angles in ordinary things. There was one shot I remember vividly of an A shaped rooftop. I'll try to link it below.

And on top of that Jared runs a Redtail Media in LA that does video and photography. So as you can see, the world of creative professionals is wrapped around and around. I wouldn't have it any other way.

So here is a nostalgic shout out to the early days of college. Carl Lammi, Alex Rock, Brandon Ballard, Pierce Templeton, Adam Hein, Nick Markham and Jared Cotton. The dream team that never took full form; but kicked ass anyway.