War Stories: Part 3
That's another good one and this goes back to your thing about your moving the camera during the interview it's really hard to like be monitoring cameras here this is me sitting in pakistan, right where fourteen thousand feet of the base camp and it's it's me running the interview and I have two cameras set up, I think d eight hundred and maybe a d six hundred and so I've run my microphone cord out david llamas thie athlete that I'm interviewing you could see my slate right there sitting in the dirt next to david, and he slating it himself right each time I restart the camera, I said, david, grab the slate, your races that he put scene too, and so here's the deal. This is a very important interview we spent three reach in pakistan, I was responsible for producing twenty four minute television show or at least providing the content for the twenty four minute television show responsible for a short film festival at it and print campaign. So this is really like a one man band. I can't say...
one man band because I had an assistant in base camp and we had an rc helicopter pilot that came on the trip, but like all the pressure is on my shoulders if we didn't get our sea footage, so be it that's okay? The assistant wasn't shouldering the load of actually capturing this content so here's a great example I need to be like oprah here and ask intelligent questions this was probably a two hour interview so that I could make sure I could tell the back story with david and you make a decision you say like my going to focus on making sure the cameras are perfect and like there totally sharp every time and you can imagine when david sitting on iraq he's like moving and he's rocking back and forth and I hate to admit this but this camera with the three hundred millimeter lens that sticking up the entire interview is out of focus like I shot the entire interview on one lens out of focus and the other one thankfully with sharp seventy two hundred but I got a great interview him and he said great stuff and and it's just this is like reality when you're the one man band you will laugh stuff up and the more you screw around with your equipment the more you're going to either screw up the interview in terms of you're not gonna ask intelligent questions and your subject won't be engaged or you're going to do what I did in pakistan I was focused on the interview I got great answers except I've won cameras out of focus so it's you've really got to decide how are you going to approach your interview and ideally men and this is ideally, I would have someone helping me here just make sure that that long lenses and focus and and and I think shawn, is a great example of this. We've done a lot of chutes now where, you know, sean is there to fly the helicopter, run the gimbal, you know, he's also acting is an assistant, and he'll step in as that camera operator and shawn as this natural gift, he can nail it like it's super impressive that he can stay on a three hundred millimeter lens and he doesn't complain and he nails it and it's, like we're confident than that, that second angle, we have a great shot because dane is, you know, I'm running audio, I'm asking questions, danes running the other camera, you know, three guys doing a lot of things all at once, so you got to make that decision consciously, and, you know, I've made this mistake a lot as the interviewer are you often miking yourself come through as well to read the questions or you mostly just letting the interview talk? Yeah, I mean, very rarely would you hear my voice on camera? So one of the things always say always say to the person I'm interviewing before we start is no one's going to hear my question so if I ask you what you had for lunch started by for lunch I had so that you're doing a set up it doesn't have to be that obvious but at least bring it back to that's why you're telling us what you ate for lunch why did you decide to have two straight on him instead of one off to the side? Was it more just redundancy? This is right so one is one is tight and one is kind of wider so it's much easier to monitor that this is kind of my standard deals too right next to each other and then if I have more cameras will start moving them out to the side or you know kind of you know unique crafty angles that break the rules and it saved you yeah, but if I if I only had one it would have been really bad wouldn't shop no theo the funny thing about this this shoot I mean now I can laugh about it but I came back from pakistan and shipped hard got two different production companies the tv show is getting edited in england and the movie or the film festival at it short film was getting at it in switzerland so I shipped this would drive to switzerland in you know, I see an addict come back and I'm really a little disappointed because they never used my second interview angle and I had no idea by the way that I shot the whole interview out of focus and so I was really kind of perplexed because I thought that shot looked so beautiful dis real tight on david and I e mailed them about it, but the swiss are just such nice people they never actually responded with why they didn't they just said the footage looks great love the english guys on the other hand, they just slapped together a tv show yep, front and center there's my out of focus interview, they just lose it like they didn't even notice it was out of focus and not until I saw the television show and it did I realize, oh, the swiss folks just to have a better aesthetic they were just too embarrassed to tell me I have, so can I ask one more technical question pro photographer asked if you're shooting by herself how far in general do you place the shotgun mike away from the subject and still get good sound just out of friends as close as you can get it teo to the subject and then you see it even in a big feature productions and hollywood every once in a while like you'll see a microphone dip into the shot and the reason that's happening is because they're right on the edge of the frame and you know that you're gonna get the best audio that close to the mic is and you're really pointing it right at their nose that's kind of your target the old dirty sensor that's a good one to think about this's you know it's still photographers I just never used to really worry about the sensor figured at doesn't take that long to go into photo shop and remove that desks back I in fact photojournalists like almost pride themselves on having dirty cameras dirty lenses but that just doesn't work in the commercial world and also in the video world it actually is a massive problem like if you have what what didn't we shoot something that oh, I know I shot I think it was like a little camera launch for a nikon coolpix and the opening what was that video? Oh is that marin heavy as seventy seven thousand when the g seven thousand came out I did a how to video for nikon like have really kind of like fast and like production how do you shoot video on a dslr? And to my credit it wasn't even my camera it was nigh cons camera and they gave me a camera that if steve heiner is watching this he's probably gonna punch me the next time I see him but they gave me a camera that of this big like spot right in the middle of the sensor and so a couple of the scenes one really key scene there was this huge floating despot in the sky but we really needed that shot so we actually like everybody dropped what they were doing in my office and we ended up like by hand removing every single despot and like, you know, two hundred fifty frames or something, so if you have budget it's no problem, but if you don't have budget, you're going to do a lot of mouse clicking I think I'll give a forward teo on all like on actually address this one I mean, I think I set the stage before we went out and shot this morning when we talked about their storyboards yesterday that rc helicopters and not perfect pack neither are regular helicopters I've been on chutes were regular help really helicopters crash and it's like you know, the consequences big no one died, but it was a three million dollar helicopter that crashed right in front of us in moab, utah with the senate flex mounted to the bottom of it this is a much smaller device it's an rc helicopter, they go down a lot more frequently than big helicopters and thankfully the consequences a lot smaller rarely does it killed people you know, usually rarely has there been a death for marci? Heller comes not from an aerial cinematography. Okay, okay, a single rotor, I believe, just a hobbyist. So all of that is the forward to you know what? Any time you add layers of complexity, start using devices like rc helicopters, you saw that gimbal there's, a lot of wires and all kinds of mechanics and little motors stuff just breaks, and then it's just stuff goes wrong. I mean, we were, you know, all that shawn give you his explanation of what he thinks happened out there, but the reality is we're under timeline pressure. We're trying to move really fast. You know? We have cell phones on, we have a bunch of people with walkie talkies. We have all kinds of signals from microphones going through the sky, you know, it's humid outside, it just stopped raining an hour there's a bunch of variables, there's a bunch of stuff that's happening, and thankfully, it didn't crash in the water. I would say that that's like, you know, the big upside is we didn't lose the entire helicopter and we didn't lose a camera. But the bummer for the production is we didn't get that shot. And what we're prepared for that and so we instantly switched into okay, well, how do we capitalize on the situation and we make the most of this situation given that the helicopter went down and the final thing I'll say is a forward before sean answers questions is this isn't shawn's first rodeo in sean shot for the biggest companies in the world from apple to red ball teo yes pm and they got, you know, he's flying the things for rio and some of the most intense situations going you know, we're on a lawn beaver lake something went wrong and then it just happens so tell us when after yeah, I wish I could tell you that it was staged the whole thing certainly wasn't and actually I wish I could give an explanation as to what happened that's what I'm calling spend most of my night doing this is trying to figure out the why? Because if you don't if you don't learn from your mistakes uh it's not a very viable business those helicopters are not cheap to operate, so keeping them in there really important hard from you know it could be a mistake is a simple is being in a flight mode that I didn't think I was in and it caught me off guard or it could be the radio environment that you know unless you're a super nerd with some type of race you're in and you're able to analyze you know uh the radio environment which means the frequencies at which all the devices are operating it we're broadcasting a live show right now um it's hard to say uh if that played a role so I'm gonna spend most of my night trying to sort that out maybe asking the guys downstairs if they can pull up the feed so I could watch it again and see if I can get any indications of what went on that's a really good call actually yeah yeah I already spoke to him you know buckingham now but yeah, just more to talk about the conversation we had down there far as you know, I asked you how often this happens all right? You know, maybe one percent of the time that it wouldn't be a viable business yeah yeah I would say much less than one percent of the time is that happening? I mean if you go out on a day to test fly and you you know, do eight or ten flights and you do that, you know, three to five times a week and you're going on these jobs I mean you're going to fly several hundreds if not thousands of flight um before something like that can happen you know, um and if it's happening more frequently than it's not good it's not professional it's not safe and it's also expenses. So not a viable business. No can be challenging. I just wanted people know that because I think people have the impression that maybe it happens half the time or something like that. Not even close even makes you even more depressing. Sorry. Eun seo was always this dress, huh? Yeah, a lot of times, corey and I asking the helly pilots to due to go into situations that are very diff pickle like we're putting them that's always weighed environment, so, you know, weigh up their stress level quite a bit. But the reward when it does pull off is it works really well. One of my favorite shots we shot this past year was in that polartec alfa ad cory showed where it's like on a ridge line in in argentina and you reveal a couple skiers, you know, climbing to a peak. The reality of that shot is, you know, two seconds after that that it is over the hell he went down and just about karim down a slope two thousand feet, it's only because it had these, you know, funny little arms on the bottom and it caught on the side of the cliff that we had a healthy still and we were able to keep shooting, I think that's everything dane makes such a great point it's never come when we're about to use the helicopter we're trying to get a bunch of stuff done it's freezing cold it's right on the edge of too windy we're under huge time constraints it's almost raining it's been human we're trying to get someone to fly through like a slot canyon and so it's I think she hunts point is a really good one and seven so as danes in a controlled environment like you just don't crash I mean it's one in a thousand or one five thousand but when you start adding all of the stress levels and all of those kind of environmental challenges then the odds go way up and that tends to be what makes the moon beautiful shots you know I'm thinking about we crashed in mexico pigs a superhuman and actually don't I'm not sure we know why actually but we're pushing him like he was mike hagrid one was getting pushed way did a shooting in lake tahoe early on when the first times we used an rc helicopter and it just is like perfect conditions and it just fell out of the sky this wasn't sean by the way just fell out of the sky and the only thing that guy could figure out was that he thinks his battery died but he had a bad one a little servo batter you something and I destroyed it like it was done it was history that helicopter um where else? Oh, yeah, and argentina fell out of the sky. We think the batteries were too cold. I feel like I'm leaving out some crashes, but it's and I'm not saying that it's just it's, always in super high stress situations were pushing the limits of what helicopter khun d'oh and usually, like, talk to the pilot into going beyond their comfort. Yeah, and it's stressful in the sense that, um, people that might not realize you actually dismantle the helicopter as little as possible, but as much as is needed to get it inside the pelican cases to travel, you know, we got we arrived to the house and, uh, put it together, me and bill, I went to the nearest elementary school, put it in the air and everything was fine, and then you come to the house and maybe, you know, you didn't do all the proper steps are there was some other variable I couldn't control so that's a little big into now? Yeah, I'm glad you guys explain that. Sorry, I'm well, you guys explain that because people on the chow are saying corey was saying was half the time they're people were saying, what is cory doing? But you know, I just I think that's funny because you talk about someone climbing, climbing but then you add if you're climbing everest and you your hat that low oxygen level it add so many more difficult components onto just climb in general so adding all those components I think is corey and I might be exaggerating when I say half the time it might be darn close to a third of the time we've really brought helicopters into serious situations you just you have some problems and I would say court in cory's productions you're probably going to be on a higher rate no, no, I'm minutes and that's not it has nothing to do with chorus production has to do with the environmental factors you know, I'm sure everybody here who takes a lot of photos aside cameras not work in cold temperatures so the same thing can happen with with batteries and I'm sure that's what mike had experienced on one of their shoots so being in those types of environments can be very challenging on their rebecca shoot we even had some pretty severe winds and that it's a sandstone environment and that was getting in the camera gear and on the hell easy so versus like taking off from a parking lot or football field or, you know, much more controlled environment or a live tv show, but I mean it's worth it to get those amazing shots absolutely yeah, when it works there's nothing like it I'm really not even a real helicopter can create the shots an rc helicopter can capture all right, unrealistic delivery dates, I think this is really what you were touching on in regards to post production takes a long time. This photo actually has nothing to do with delivery dates, but I didn't have anything else to throw in there, but but the point is, when you're budgeting, pretend that's a calendar when you're actually budgeting time for how long it's going to take you to grab those all of those raw assets audio, video stills, animations and music and build something that's compelling unless you can talk mike into doing it, you're really talking about him and it takes a long time it's actually like a really at a process and you know, if it's your first time doing it, no, I mean, I would allow three times the amount of time, and I think when you get to the level of danes editing, I think he has a really good feel for what it take without putting words in his mouth. I think he's even surprised sometimes how long it takes and being willing to, you know, you get a cut, you you like being willing to be critical of the cut and now taking another day on it and cutting it down so there's always you know, you get that first that first edit out, you're really not finished, you know, there's more to it, beyond even that, you know, the other thing I would say around the edit, you know, I've worked with a lot of editors now, and the difference between a good editor and a mediocre editor is the guy that's happy with the edit when it just had I got something like it's working versus the editor that doing exactly what danes describing it's it's, all right, now I'm going to get good, and then I'm going to try to make it great, and if that takes three times as long, that's the difference between actually really shining and being just another mediocre editor, you know, I said about still photography, I said about video, you've got to be your harshest critic, and every time you do a project, you push yourself to the limit to make really great stuff like you don't give up because it's good enough, because then you build this muscle memory for just kind of doing an adequate job instead of a great job. Um, I'm glad, you know, after we crashed the hell a I thought, now I'm gonna dunk the cameron flooded, and that would be like the ultimate show. But luckily, we didn't have that happen. Don't take for granted how vulnerable cameras really are, whether they're in the housing or not. Just be really careful once those cameras start getting wet. If it's pouring rain, I don't have that attitude of like, oh, these cameras can handle rain. No lenses can't handle rain like water gets in those lenses, and they're toast pretty quickly. It doesn't take a lot of water to short out a camera that's like that. Your biggest enemy is dust and water, with cameras that just be super critical of trying to keep that gear dry whenever possible.