I'm going to Las Vegas this weekend for NAB 2018!
If you don't know what NAB is, its the National Association of Broadcasters convention, and its held annually in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Its basically a big convention where all the newest toys in film and television are shown off, as well as serving as a major networking event where you can talk with the sales and tech people from different companies. You can get questions answered and put hands on some really awesome gear. (and there's a fair number of parties too!) All that aside, it also has a significant educational aspect to it.
One more project off the list! I've finally finished my edit of the Titus Andronicus production at Clear Creek Community Theatre from summer 2017.
It took a littler longer than expected, partially because it kept getting put on hold to work on other things, but I finished it the other day, and I'm glad to be moving on to the next project. Unfortunately I can't post the full show here, because of some rights issues with music. (The theatre has different rights/rules for stage than video), but they will be posting a few different scenes in the near future. However, I've got a sneak peak here for you all who follow the blog - check it out:
The Sony FS5 is a camera I've had my eye on since they announced it. For the type of projects I generally gravitate to, its just about perfect (at least on paper), and as I've been saying for a while now - if I had a project that justified it, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Well, I haven't bought it, but a couple weeks ago we (TPC) rented a couple FS5s for a project we were shooting for Bloomberg. Of course I also took the time to learn the camera a little ahead of time and shot some test footage down in Galveston.
Disclaimer: these are my thoughts after having my hands on the camera for about 3 and a half days of shooting, and then quickly running my test footage through post. While it gave me a good idea of the camera's capabilities, its by no means completely comprehensive. I always tell anyone who asks, never just buy a camera you've never used - find an excuse to rent it for a few days and shoot some tests. LensProToGo has them available to rent at a great price.
That out of the way, here's what I've learned - we'll start with the how it performed in the setting we rented the cameras for, and move on to the fun stuff in a minute, so if you came here for slow-motion and beachfront off-roading, just scroll on down past the news gathering.
Along with the crazy couple weeks I've had at work, I've also had a few fun, but quick projects I did for Clear Creek Community Theatre that I thought I'd talk about a little bit:
First of all, there's the early publicity stills I shot for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] last week, which is the next show on the CCCT stage. The director, Steve Sarp, had an idea for publicity to put the Groucho Marx glasses prop on Shakespeare, I then suggested actually photographing the image on the Shakespeare bust that sits on the piano in the lobby at CCCT.
The pictures turned out better than I had hoped:
UPDATE - 3/8/18, 12:50PM: So the last week totally got away from me, so much so that along with not having what I'd planned on sharing this week anywhere near presentable, I also totally forgot to actually share this post more than once on either Facebook or Twitter. So lets try this again, and I'll have some cool stuff to share next week, I promise!
In my last blog post, I dug into the photo capabilities of my new iPhone X - this week we'll look at the other new "mobile" photo solution I've got my hands on - the Insta 360 One - a GoPro sized 4K 360 camera that I got for Christmas. Now my primary reason for wanting it was to experiment with 360 video, which I have dabbled in a little since getting it, but not to enough of an extent to really talk on it. However, I have been using the still photo mode a lot recently. A couple weeks ago I took some 360's for the office and we'll look at a couple of them today, as well as one I shot as a test.
In my last blog post I went through a bunch of pictures I took with the A7s and the 70-200mm lens. This week I'll be going through some of the photos I've taken on my new phone.
A couple weeks ago I went ahead and bit the bullet and upgraded to the iPhone X - my iPhone 6+'s screen was acting up, and it was struggling to run apps I need to use on a day-to-day basis. And of course with Apple's upgrade program it just made good sense. Granted, the iPhone X is a lot more than just a good "point-and-shoot" camera that happens to be a phone. It responds significantly faster across the board, the camera processes images better, the augmented reality improvements that Apple keeps advertising are fun, the battery lasts longer, the screen looks amazing - I could go on. And of course the 256GB of storage gives me more than enough room for photos and video, especially important now that the phone has the ability to shoot RAW pictures and 4K video.
But for today's post I'm going to focus on what I've learned playing with some of the still photo features (mostly since I haven't had any time to play with the video yet). So lets dig in:
Let's change things up a bit this week - I've spent the last few posts talking about videos I've been working on, but today I'm going to go over a piece of gear I rented from LensPro ToGo back in October, the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 FE GM OSS G-Master Lens. This post will be a little longer than the last few, but there's so much to talk about here.
A few months back my a couple of my friends, Brian & Kristina, asked if I would photograph their wedding for them. Well, as many of you know, my "job" is video production/filmmaking, and while I shoot 90% of my own projects, I really do view my "photography" as more of a hobby. I've been asked by friends about shooting weddings before (both stills and video), and most of the time I'll refer them to other friends/colleges of mine who do that sort of thing more professionally, primarily because if I'm there for a friend's wedding, I'd rather be there for them as part of the moment rather than looking for the perfect shot through a viewfinder and focusing on the craft.
This was an exception though for many reasons, one of the main ones being that it was a small semi-formal/informal ceremony at CCCT, a space I know how to shoot in well, and there was no pressure to turn out a significant number of really good photos, she just wanted a few nice ones for memories.
Anyway, the wedding. To shoot it I knew I would need a longer and faster lens than what what I've normally got as part of my kit, so I rented the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 FE GM OSS G-Master to shoot the wedding and we also did a little post-wedding photoshoot later that weekend. (And while I had it for the weekend I grabbed some other test shots in Galveston).
The lens is - in a word, "wow".
Its sharp, the stabilization is awesome and it feels really solid to use. Not to mention the depth of field - its amazing what happens to the background of a subject at any "near" distance when shooting at 200mm and wide open to f2.8.
It took me a little longer than expected to find the time to go through the raw photos and pull the good ones. (Which is why this blog entry is so late - I had originally planned on posting this in November!) I was so excited to dig into the photoshop work after looking at the preview on the camera though - many of the pictures looked great with very minimal, if any, work in Photoshop. Most of what I ended up doing was using the RAW images to pull up shadows that would have otherwise faded to nothing.
Between the speed and sharpness of this lens, plus the sensitivity of my A7s, I was able to shoot at a fairly high shutter speed and effectively eliminate any jitter from me hand-holding the camera, even in the darker setting. None of these were shot from a tripod or any other support gear, and all of this was with available light, I didn't use any strobes or other production lights.
Lets take a look at some of my favorites from those shoots. Please note that I've gotten permission from my friend to post these on my site, however for all intents and purposes they own this photos and they are not to be downloaded or posted elsewhere without their permission. That said, lets dig in:
Okay - the teaser's out now, and since I promised we would, this week we're going to take a look behind the curtain at this one:
It turned out better than I expected. My mother, the director of CCCT's production of Black Coffee, came up with the concept and I shot this with only about half of a plan and no idea of how the pieces were going to come together. Not to say the concept was bad - but while I was shooting it I was having a little trouble seeing the final edit - unlike the Christmas Carol or the Titus teasers where Robert and I had some pretty detailed discussions far in advance (we even storyboarded Titus to the music track we ended up using) or even compared to the last Agatha Christie Trailer I shot, Towards Zero, which I also planned out and scripted in advance, this one was very much "shot from the hip".
Okay, so it’s been a little while - Christmas was crazy and I gave myself a bit of a break where I could, but now we’re into 2018 and it’s time to buckle down again. I've got a lot to cover, so let’s just jump in.
My original plan for this post was to have a new vlog ready to accompany it and talk about some of the newer projects I've got in mind and the new progress on the old ones. However, between helping Robert on Christmas Carol and then helping my mother with her show, Black Coffee, I've had little time to work on my own projects. (Let alone get my office cleaned up enough to be "camera ready")
That said, working promotional for both shows has given me some new little projects to work on - you’ve all seen the Christmas Carol teaser I shot, and now I’ve got a teaser for Black Coffee that I’m editing (and hope to have out in the next couple days) I'll probably go into more detail on the behind-the-scenes for that trailer next week.
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX