War Stories: Part 1
This next session really is about war stories and I think that's really part of the joy, the joy and it also generates tears in our industry is shit goes wrong, that's just all there is to it, um and that's you saw it today? I mean, this was on one hand, I'm really disappointed that you didn't get to see the helicopter fly. On the other hand, this is production, this is reality, and and I thought in telling the stories, there's great lessons that come out of telling war stories in the production world and it's fun, it's actually it's what we do over drinks at the end of the day and, you know, it's fun to, like, reminisce and relive stories of being on productions together, and we've done a lot of that, so what we thought we would do is kind of highlight a few of the most common things you're going to f up when you're on production, and I really want this to be an exchange ask questions whether it's from the internet you guys throw out questions along the way but really makes him notes ...
here because these air, I promise you these will be things that you f up in the field, we continue to f them up in the fuel that just happens when you're small footprint production, this stuff happens so we kind of made by god on a top twenty list of the things that will go wrong and and hopefully by us sharing some of our blunders in the field, you can you can save yourself from some headache, so this was, by the way, if you haven't had a chance, I wrote an essay leading up to this creative live course titled still in motion one o one why you're goingto f up in the field, why are going f it up? And this is on chase jarvis's blawg, so go to chase's block, I thinkit's news dot chase, jarvis, dot com and, you know, just google chase jarvis belong and it's going to pop up? Chase is one of the brains behind creative live, one of the co founders, but it's a fun article, and I highlight a few, and I think some pretty funny anecdotes and stories around effing stuff up in the field when it comes to shooting video, and really, what I mean is, if you're a still photographer transitioning into the video world, thes air a lot of the problems you're going to have, and we could probably write a pretty similar essay for the guys shooting video that air coming into this still world, you know, occasionally they're going to make mistakes, too, accepting that that's not so so definitely go to chase's blawg have a look at that. Also, we wrote a pretty fun asked leading up to creative live on the photo shelter block and it's, where I actually tell a few of the worst stories from my video shooting experience of my career. We had to change a lot of names to protect identities in that story, but there's some good ones we might touch on a few today, but we might we might skip over to go to chase's blah, go to the photo shelter blogged, read the two essays, and I think it'll put a smile on your face at my expense. Um all right, so number one, I think thing that happens when shooting on dslr xyz you think you're recording, but you're not recording and it's very easy to allow that to happen. I mean, there's just you're trying to do a lot when you're shooting on a dslr camera, and this seems so basic. It just seems so obvious that you want to make sure that that light is flashing and the red record button is in the upper left hand side of your screen. But continue just continue over and over and over again when you're recording video to make sure that you see those lights flashing or you're oftentimes what will happen is you'll get into a reverse record cycle in fact so some great scene is unfolding in front of you you think you're recording the scene unfolds you said you press the button you said now that was great let's do that again and it turns out you just started recording while it's pointed at your foot and you're you know, telling stories and then you pull the camera when you stopped recording as thie actions happening again in front of you and then and then you do that about twelve times until until you realize sort of um you know, when you realized I just don't actually have I have no footage and you need to go back and reshoot that scenario and then you blame it on the athlete, ok? Actually, we're gonna need you to give us a better facial expression. That's that's actually a really good point that dane makes and it's not that you're trying to just blame it on the athlete, but it does help when you don't admit you just screwed up in the field because it really puts like a kink in your workflow. So it's well sometimes jokingly will be on shoots a lot together and we've screwed something up and will kind of make eye contact and sort of a whisper in each other's ear, you know wasn't recording on then and instead of just admitting that out loud, which is of course an option you do exactly that you know I liked that take but let's move the move about a quarter an inch this way and then you just do it again and they have no idea that you actually weren't cording for the last three cycles so it's you know have kind of a go to cover plan and try to stay cool you want to keep that who you're working with confident in your own ability if they start maybe they're going to start stop putting in the effort if they feel like they just wasted you know twenty minutes so it's about playing the game with him and making sure that you get the best performance out of the people and jim's a great example of that jim is I mean really is one of the most famous fisherman out there he has to television shows the guys in front of cameras constantly if he sees us fumbling too much he really does whether he says it out loud or just a few starts burning shorter he's eventually who are these clowns you know why am I working with these guys so it's you know, kind of protecting yourself there is really valuable and that's a good go to you just ask them to do it again you're just working on perfecting the shot even though you know you haven't captured it um you're going to run out of time that is that's another very, very common scenario because you're really just trying to perfect every shot you're trying to create great content you've budgeted to get a lot done and this is a really classic situation here I am I'm shooting sean corrigan is actually helping me pull focus our client from the ad agency standing behind me jason jenkins and this formula burns time once there's someone standing over your shoulder giving you direction and giving you feedback and sharing their opinion the clock just starts burning I mean like the clock continues to tick and you're just not getting the work done as efficiently this was really rare by the way that we were moving pretty quick down there I'm amazed in fact that we were able to go down there and shoot jim in so many different scenarios so quickly but the reason we're able to do it is we weren't really honing each shot we're showing you how we would do it but we weren't perfecting the shots we weren't being totally critical of it was a perfect were the edges clean was an in sharp it in focus you know tomorrow you're going to see some pretty embarrassing shots were not he hunted postproduction but that's okay way really just wanted to illustrate the idea of me being a one man band I'm constantly having somebody over my shoulders saying, well if you shot it this way I think that are working to see how it looks if you try this way, how how is the best way to defuse the situation did not really want to tell mike look, let me do my job first and then critique brushes didn't critiquing before I do it I mean, I always think it's about the approach, the way you say it to the client or or to whomever that person is that wants to see it, I mean, I'm I'm always open minded I mean, that's my take on oftentimes what someone says behind my shoulder, who's just one layer removed, you know, I'm buried in the camera trying to shoot all the time sometimes that person that's, you know, five feet back and they're looking at the bigger picture, you know, they're kind of the ten thousand foot above you, sometimes they've got great ideas and so all I'm super diplomatic all actually say, you know, that actually sounds great. Let me just finish that shot and we'll try unless I'm just definitively confident that it's an awful idea and then I'll actually stop and explain why it's a bad idea if it's faster to explain it, then to actually shoot it but you know, and it's a classic balance of some clients if they wanted their way, you shoot it their way and that's it, you just bite your tongue and you know darn well it's probably never going to end up in the edit or at least you hope it won't but it's about being a diplomat in those situations recording that spirit the amount of time you touch on the post production like the actual editing art because I went from still to incorporating video just lengthened by days at that point right on me we have that in here ok that's in our deck the only other thing I was going to say about this this budgeting for time is actually really trying to sit down and analyze how long will it take you and building out a schedule is pretty valuable I mean we did it with creative life today we know that there's four ninety minute blocks and we're going to be filling those ninety minute blocks and so the reality is if we you know the more you could block out your time I mean will often times fifteen minute increments in terms of blocking time on big productions and josh and my studio he acts is our producer a lot josh is the guy standing there with the stopwatch saying like all right guys, you got it like we got to keep on moving or we're gonna fall behind and I know that if we're really if I'm screwing something up I'm gonna turn the judge and say we just got to keep on shooting we don't have this shot but if it if we've got enough it's like that's, that constant reminder of, you know, you really gotta move on or we're gonna fall way behind and that's the normally fall way behind you never finish early. I can't think of the shoot ever that we finished early, and with the time the more preproduction you, khun d'oh, when you're out there in the field, you are going to be more efficient, so you know the more that you can, you can prepare the faster you'll be in the field, which can save you time and let you get more content. Can I ask a question from online? Sure, this is from deal photo who says one of the hardest things for me to deal with is when clients reject a product that has everything they ask for. How do you do it? I think sometimes clients have a hard time in the field analyzing with you nailed that or not, you know, I think clients remember, while you're being scrutinized by your client, that client goes back to their office and they're being scrutinized by their boss and so it's there's layers of everyone wanting to make sure that each person is nailing their job, getting it done well, and so the reality is if you've got it and make it a challenge for yourself if you feel like you've delivered the goods you've already made that image that's perfect for your client on that video clip that's perfect for your clients but they're still challenging you take that as an opportunity to become opportunistic about an enforced yourself to like see in a new way really push your creativity you know, there's a breaking point where after you've done that seven times and you live with the content then I think you turn it back to them and you say what would you like? And maybe I'm not understanding and try to really systematically break down what they're looking for sometimes what you uncover is there really was a miscommunication what your client wanted is different than what you had in your head and they had a hard time articulating it so communication becomes key but you know what I try to never do is put my foot down until the client like no, I got it I mean, you know, they're the client like they'll tell me when I've got you just keep on working, you know, there's there's a few moments in my career where I can think of, you know, we just got really lucky and we nailed the shot in the first twenty minutes and you're looking at your watch and you're thinking we have like two more hours for this shot and I just keep on shooting I just keep my mind shooting with a big smile on my face because we're outside and we're in a beautiful place and a great group of people around this and I'm having fun and why not then I'd rather be doing that and, uh and most other things in life, so all right, this is really a good one it's above the assistance paygrade you know, it's it's, a natural habit for us and the still photography video world were overwhelmed, you finally bringing us an assistant on an assignment? And so you ask your assistant to do something that's way above their pay grade and usually it's like a high stakes job like, hey, can you manage the audio and it's? You know, the audio is fifty percent of video, right? Assistants are there, they're there to learn and they're there to help, but they're also there to have fun. This is sean corrigan at l a x when we're shooting the wide project be really realistic about what you expect your assistant to do if it's someone that you've traveled a lot with and they really know your systems fantastic, you know what they're they know what to expect and they know what your expectations are but be really realistic don't take the hardest thing you need to accomplish during the shoot and hand it to the guy that you barely know and who has less experience than you do on the job that's a recipe for disaster I'd also say not just assistance but people who it's not their job to be a cameraman but they might be the producer the director on the show and they just want to play with camera they want to get in there I got a ah funny story of we're shooting a feature for one of the big sports networks and you know we've got, you know, the biggest running back in the game right there doing an interview is dad's there stat just have gotten out of prison this is a really emotional time we've got three cameras on the interview and one of them is the sow on the dad the isolation shot because we think the dad's gonna cry and the director he's all about it he loves it needs okay, you want me to just run one of these cameras and he goes and we let him jump on the ice so camera and he doesn't press record dad cries we think we think we got it we're all jazzed up in the attic because he's like where's the shot of the deal and wear all pretty disappointed we couldn't tell the director it was his fault he blamed it on asked me to take that, you know, so you always want to make sure that you're doing your job or at least you're checking to make sure that the job's being done correctly and don't just trust that the other guys getting it if it's not their job you know we did we did a shoot recently for a camera manufacturer who starts with an end and we wear shooting it was for a point and shoot camera and one of the scenes with sky diving so we rented a plane and we had a couple of sky divers and we're out in the sierra foothills and you know we've committed were spending some money we've committed to a plane all days we canoe as many jumps as possible and the first jump I mean it's spectacular light it's like this beautiful day there's snow capped mountains in the famine it's perfect and my assistant is there and it's not bly and just I'm not throwing bly under the bus I'm not going to name his name or initials but so we're on location and we're and we're both were trying to make a point and shoot cameras create great photographs and that's hard I mean it's you know you're trying to really push that camera beyond its real capabilities and so where there's a lot of work to do we're taping the cameras on everyone's wrist and were trying to like make it so that when they jump out of the plan and start free falling they can shoot with the plane behind them is they're like free falling through the air, and then they're gonna pull their parachute and, you know, it takes a while to get a small plane up, tio fifteen thousand feet or wherever they were jumping from and the first jump, they'll come down and I'm thinking, I hope we nailed it and one of their guys close friend of mine, the guys jumping out of the plane, he says, yeah, and you always send guys up with no cards in their cameras, and thankfully, the guy knew enough about photography and video that he was messing around with the camera on their circling up into the air, and he realized it said no card, and so he actually yells up to the pilot like, walks through the plane with no door on it, and he says, hey, do you have, um, sd card? And sure enough, the pilot happened oven sd card in his personal point and shoot camera, so as he's flying the plane with his knees, he liked pulls out an sd card, you know, some card from casket like sticks and inside of his lets the guy borrow it, so we have, like, the guys last three christmases on the card and our, like, six clips. And so you know and the the point there is I should have double or triple checked it's kind of like danes point at the end of the day it doesn't matter who made the mistake dane was responsible for that I would have been responsible for us missing that shot and thankfully that model you know, one of the sky divers actually recognize there was no card in the camera so you're still like it's great that you khun pointed an assistant blame them but you're responsible of the end of the day like it's your job it's your chute corey you know I made those comments people said how great it is how you work with your team but a question came from matt from boulder what are some suggestions you have finding and building a team that worked so well together how do you seek out excellent people that are willing to work under us a dp without seeming like you think you're better than them and is it better to find equals and split creative control amongst them and yourself? Yeah that's a really good question I don't think there's one formula for how you go out and find that team I mean I'm constantly I'm a guy that likes to meet people I mean I love the industry that we work in and I feel like I bridge to industries I'm in the photo and video industry let's call that one in the outdoor industry and so you know one of my favorite things in the world but sitting around telling stories and drinking beers and hanging out with friends and when I meet somebody there's just some it's kind of like meeting your wife for your husband when you meet your partner it's like there's a spark you sort of realize a this a cool person I enjoy spending time with this person and I think I'm constantly I'm really conscientious of that when I meet people that I enjoy and then I see their work of course and you realized wow this guy's talented this person's fun like we see id I can envision spending a lot of time with him because part of his job is you know look we're all staying in this house together you know we spend sometimes two three weeks together on a trip very little sleep we're eating in the same room sitting in the same planes on in the same cars I mean the starting point for me is I want to enjoy being around these people like I'm sitting next to of my good friends here and that's the starting point beyond you know how talented dane is or how talented shawn is behind the camera where they're given skill sets and then if the skill set falls into place below that that's a winning formula um I mean I will so I was thinking about this the other day of all the hires that I've made, the people that work in my office or the people that I work with his continous freelancers, part of this team very rarely do I not have some connection to them through the social network. It means a ton when someone can actually say now I know bill, that was a good guy. I know jane she's a great woman, that that someone really vouching for you within that social network it's huge, those people tend to work out the best. Yeah, I would say it's really important that it is you just find people that you enjoy being with and working, because if you don't, if you can't handle a person when you're outside of the job, when when you're working in a job high stress you just cannot be with those people I've worked with other dp is that I love their work, they're very, very talented, but the type of person they are I just can't get along with and it's, you just get a lot less work done. I also think the ego part from me, it's, you know, I always say that a real hero, our role model it's, they had very little league, they're not trying to prove anything, they just love what they do. The instant there's no ego involved that's kind of what dane is describing I'm I'm kind of not interested it's not fun anymore to work with that person I really mean it when I say and I try to surround myself with people that are more talented than I am smarter than you better looking funny or because that makes for a better experience and you know if we can at the end of the day laugh at each other's mistakes and have a good time and still make the client happy I think a lot of our clients come back not just because we deliver a great product I think they come back they're fun working with us and sometimes when I slip onto a larger production where it's a bunch of people that don't know each other it's not that fun it's actually kind of miserable to be honest so and that's not what I want to do that's not my my world thank you appreciate it um this seems so obvious but this is really important you know this television set here is horizontal and it's so common that someone originally transitioning from still to motion just start shooting in a vertical format you know turns out vertical content doesn't work for video and then it gets real awkward when you have to start cropping your vertical video into a sixteen by nine horizontal frame it seems obvious but but it happens not enough extension cords, that's, another good one. I mean, the beauty of this statement is it starting to to be it less of an issue? You know, these led lights or super impressive, you can put on an time bauer batteries on the back of these light panel ladies and run them for a long time, but I thought this photo did a great example of illustrating exactly that, you know, you want to go and shoot at the best location, and then you get to that location and you scratch your head, anything we can't get power out here, you know, we can't power our lights or we can't power strobes, so it's, you know, power chords or cheap, they're just really have you to fly with. So whether you go to home depot and buy more with the rent, um, if you're going to run power, figure that out in advance, you know, either rent a generator or if you're going to, you know, work down on the dock. I bet we ran two hundred feet of power cord down to that dock so that we could power some led lights today, so just think about that in advance. I did have a funny experience where we bought some power chords. I'm not goingto no initials again. Bought some power chords two or three hundred feet of, you know, big orange, home depot, power cord. And at the end of the shoot, I didn't want to bring them home, so I left them with my assistant, you know? Hey, here's a gift. Then we came back two years later and I saw his invoice and he rented the power cords back to me. That's not cool. You know, if I give you power chords, I should be able to use those next kind of that next time I come down, um, this if for anyone I know you guys sitting in the audience right now, this was probably a shocker, but everybody that was on creative life we all got a little makeup, right? My wrongs. You gonna sit through the makeup this morning? Oh, nevermind way all did way all did because they just they gave us the ugly detector and they said, you guys need makeup. So so in video and high definition video unlike still photography, it's pretty doing hard dione and retouch someone and so make up is part of video, maybe not in the documentary world, but when you get into when you cross that line out of documentary filmmaking when you're doing interviews it's very important to actually have a little makeup on people are often times it iss I mean, guys like shawn and dan, they don't need it, they've got like, the perfect complexion, the same with our host here, but the reality is like, we're sitting in a room right now and I don't know if anyone on the internet can see there's big lights right here m eighteen areas it's hot in here like I'm actually sweating just sitting in this living room, and so the reason you put make up on its two actually diffuse some of that sweat, so we're not shining, and also, if you have imperfections in your skin, it's pretty tough to look at an interview for a long duration of time and actually see, you know, like someone has a pimple right on their cheek, so it's not that you're trying to alter the way that person looks it's just you're trying to create a more pleasing look. If you're going to stare at someone's face on camera for a while, so will carry often times my wife travels with this marina she's, a hair and makeup artist, she'll actually take care of just making sure people look their best, and if she can't travel it's like a super small footprint production sometimes all even carry just a little bit of powder that I can like clean up their face. And I think people are always surprised the first time the make it comes that especially guys whoa you know what you're doing but it really does make a difference and on the other end of that is you know too much makeup or the person doing the makeup doesn't get the right complexion which gives the colors to your edited the hardest time trying to bring back the skin tone to something that looks normal because they've got like over here is one color and the other color so on the other end you just want to make sure that if you are using makeup your matching the complexions should you go to the mac store and chatted up with them and see you know, because I mean I would be totally botched a makeup job but I know it's really important I mean if you're single that good place to pick up women going to the mac store in chatham no no tomorrow morning my wife is going to maybe with our baby in hand she's going to just show you the basic kid of makeup that she brings if you're the one man band, you know what those basic mac products would be to go out and actually do basic makeup so and if for some reason my maybe screaming at that time then she'll hand those products to me and I'll show them to you on dh it's really a simple checklist so we'll go over that tomorrow morning, female talent just to bring their own makeup, do it ironically, usually it's the opposite usually will tell female talent, like don't put on makeup, and we'll do it because, you know, people have different aesthetics in terms of what's a lot or a little makeup, and the worst thing that can happen is, you know, the woman you're about to interview shows up, and they just have caked on makeup, and it looks ridiculous on camera and so it's better, actually, if we, if we have the luxury of having a hair and makeup person on location, I'd rather the pro put make up on them than them to come with their own makeup and usually would I hear, and I'm not paying attention to hair and makeup that often, but would I always hear is, you know, the women that want to come with their own makeup, they show up marina will do their hair and make up, and by the end, I hear them chatting, oh, my god, that was incredible! I want to know exactly what you put on my face, and so always I'd rather have people come without their hair done without makeup on their face, even when we're shooting men like athletic talent that's kind of a standard request is show up with nothing on your face. Show pitches to clean hair, and then we'll deal with it from that. That way, we can really control it. Oh, I forgot to go to the image. So there's marina doing make up? That was about six months ago. Now that belly's gone, we have a little baby. All right, bad or no audio. This is a good one. It's. Very easy to screw up. Audio it's. Probably the easiest thing to screw up in production. You can either not be recording or the audio's bad. You have a bad connection or the levels are too high or the levels. Well, this is one of those things that you don't ask your assistant to dio. I mean, if you have the budget and again, this isn't teo tell you that you have to do this, there's. A lot of one man band production that's going to happen after this course. If you can hire an audio engineer in the field it's the best investment you could make it it's. Really? It takes an enormous amount of pressure off of you. But that's not a luxury that we always have. You know, I would save eighty percent of the time. We're rolling her own audio, and this is the crew it's, the three of us on location or, you know, a very small crew and then it's something that you've really got to pay attention to so that you don't screw it up. Um, I mean, I have an infinite number of stories of not recording audio when I think I'm recording audio. So when you, when you there's a few things you khun dio, you know to help yourself out, you know again, we're not audio. Guys, people make a living doing audio, it's a it's, a real skill. But, you know, being conscious if you know you're peeking your audio levels, if they're hitting into red, you know, really watching that if you are hearing scratching in the mike that's going to be there when it's time to add it, you know, so being be willing to stop and interview down if you're doing an interview, if it's critical audio than it need, you need to be critical about your monitoring on it.