My First Slow Motion Test

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I recently watched the video above, shot by Diego Contreras, and it really lit a fire under my ass. Contreras shot this with a Canon 7D, a couple non-Canon lenses, and edited/colored it using Final Cut Pro X. In other words, the total cost of the software AND hardware for this video was probably under $2500. That is insane. There is no longer any real obstacle preventing someone from creating something beautiful. All you need is a little bit of cash, the will, and the skill.

I've had difficulties making slow motion look good in the past, but decided to give it another try. I borrowed my friend's Nikon D600 (my Canon 5D Mark II can't shoot in 60 fps) which had an 85mm f/1.8 lens. Then I went to Seattle's historic Pike Place Market and shot a bunch of footage over the course of an hour. I shot the footage at 60fps (720p), then slowed it down to 24fps in post.



I'm pretty pleased with the results, but here are a few lessons I learned while shooting this, and how I plan on doing things differently the next time around:

For a video such as this, the music is critically important - I tried to find something I could use legitimately, but it's a huge challenge to find something great and cheap. I have literally spent hours browsing the Vimeo Music Store in search of some hidden gems, and it is tough to find something that will work.

Instead, I opted to use a track off of an album by AnnaLivia, a music group I did some photography for back in Boston. They graciously gave me permission to do this. In the future, I'll probably try and secure permission from other local groups to use their music in my videos - it's free publicity for them and allows me the option to use some great-sounding stuff. I also may try Premiumbeat.com, whose music I tend to find pretty decent but pricey.

Faster cuts - While I liked a lot of the motion and faces I was able to capture, I do think this video moves a bit too slowly if you're not as enamored with the composition as I was. Next time around I think the cuts will have to come a bit faster. More shots, more edits would probably give this video some better energy.

More time spent on color correction - This being a quick test. I threw together a couple of quick presets and applied to all my clips at an attempt at doing a "vintage-y" look. Next time, I will try to massage each clip until it pops just right, and make a better attempt at matching all the clips together.

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I'm also open to hearing your thoughts. Let me know what you think!

My First "Music Video"

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A friend of mine in Seattle recently released a new EP and asked me to shoot a simple music video for one of his songs. I use quotation marks in the title of this blog post because while this is technically a "video," and there is technically "music" played during it, I didn't really do any editing and the video doesn't tell a story, as conventional music videos do.

On that note: not to sound all sour grapes-like, but I do think that the new world of music we find ourselves in demands a different set of aesthetics when shooting music videos. Giant record companies can still spend millions making music videos for their big-name stars, but that's a brand-building exercise and not necessarily something they hope to recoup their costs on. Nowadays, you have a a musical landscape that consist of thousands of DIY-ers, such as myself and yespser, the person in the video above. I think trying to play the same game as the big boys will only result in something that looks like a cheap also-ran. Instead, my goal is to figure out what looks good using the camera equipment I have and play to those strengths, rather than adhering to an outdated format.

All that being said, I was quite pleased with how this video (the first of four we already shot and that are already "in the can"). The video was shot using a handheld Canon 5D Mark II (50mm f/1.4 lens). Sound was recorded live separately using a digital recorder that is just off screen, then synced up later in post.

I've decided that 2013 is the year I'm going to learn some of the basics of videography and non-linear editing. Keep an eye on this space for more details as I undertake this journey.

Six Months In

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It's been awhile since my last update, and I definitely feel the impact of my absence from the blogging world. I love writing, but these days I'm just so exhausted from all that life demands that I can't really muster the energy to write something intelligent on a regular basis. But I'm grateful that the recent break has allowed me to recharge and rethink what's important to me.

One thing I have kept up is my 1 Second Everyday project, which recently passed the six month mark. I thought I'd update the video to celebrate the occasion. It was also cool to see this video mentioned in a Fast Company post about the 1 Second Everyday idea.

The one thing I'll re-iterate about the continuation of this project is how simultaneously challenging and yet gratifying it continues to be. It is challenging because it has become quite difficult to continually try and find new and interesting things to shoot, especially if my routine has been pretty similar for many days in a row. Conversely, many of my friends now "get" what the project is, and so are much more forgiving these days when I whip out the camera and ask, "Can you be my second for today?"

At the same time, I actually have fond memories of browsing through all my previous seconds, remembering many of the key moments of this crazy year of my life. I wouldn't trade that memory preservation for anything, even though this project is getting more and more difficult for me to muster the will for every day.

I should also note that I'm glad to witness the rise of Cesar Kuriyama, who's helped me with my own project and who's single-handedly pushed the 1 Second Everyday idea into popular culture. His Kickstarter for a 1 Second Everyday app recently succeeded with flying colors and I can't wait to see the final product!