Jump to content



Photo

First Reel of Test Footage


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Matt Silton

Matt Silton

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 18 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

I've been getting to know my Zephyr for a few weeks now and have just put together my first reel of Steadicam footage. Everything in here has been unpaid test footage I've shot with friends, but I think I'm ready to take on some paying gigs that involve the simpler end of operating. I've been referring to the Operator's Handbook for all my instruction so far, but have yet to attend a workshop (mostly because they're on the coasts and I'm in the middle of the country). There is only one speed distortion, and it's an obvious one. Oh and I stabilized 2 clips. Besides that, everything is native 24 fps straight off the 60D. I'd love to hear any thoughts you guys have! Thanks!


  • 0

#2 Mark Schlicher

Mark Schlicher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 776 posts
  • Nashville, TN

Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:16 PM

Matt,

Not bad for a first reel. If you want a critique as a demo reel to get you work, here's my two cents-

Lose shots that are obviously "test shots" particularly the following the kid with the toy gun.
The stairs shot is weak (too dark and you're following instead of leading) Stage another one with more production value if you want a stairs shot. This one does not showcase anything.
Edit out most the skateboard guy...a little goes a long way and some of your horizons were off. Also chasing skateboarders around seems to be a cliche, but that might just be me.
The first shot was one of the best, partly because of the production value of the graffiti and because it looked credibly like it could have come from a paid shoot.
The music was fine, except I found the vocals toward the end distracting. I'd edit the track to eliminate vocals.
Shorter is better until you get more variety of shots and productions on your reel. Every shot should tell us something new about your capabilities.
As you add to the reel, consider designing very specific shots with production value and storytelling value. Shots that start somewhere specific and lead the viewer through space to a specific destination.
Also consider the kind of work you want to do and try to come up with a test shot that replicates it (ie., dramatic, or music video performance)

Good start. Keep at it and good luck, enjoy your new rig.
  • 0

#3 Matt Silton

Matt Silton

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:39 PM

Mark,

 

Thanks so much for your well thought-out reply.  There is a lot of good advice in there that I will work to implement immediately.  A few quick questions that arose:

 

- Is using a stabilizer effect (like Warp Stabilizer in Premier) in post frowned-upon, or is it an accepted part of a production and a useful tool in our trade?  I'm guessing that it's used occasionally, but can't be relied on to fix shaky footage because of the distorting effect it sometimes causes.  Is it considered "cheating" or anything like that?

 

- You mentioned that I was following and not leading in my stairs shot - while I agree that the shot was weak, I feel like I've seen Steadicam shots where the camera is behind the subjects before.  Is this a rarity, and most shots are leading the subjects, or are they both used to achieve different effects?

 

Thanks again for your critique and encouraging words.  I'll be back with more in the near future!

 

-Matt


  • 0

#4 Victor Lazaro

Victor Lazaro

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1231 posts
  • Sunnyside Queens, NY

Posted 19 February 2013 - 03:58 PM

Even if wrap stabilization is used in production, you should not use it in your demo. Let the people see what you can really and let them decide what effects to use on their projects. As for the stairs shot I agree that this shot could appear in a film without problem, but what has been suggested is that a shot leading will be more interesting for a demo reel as it is harder to execute. Also the mood is very dark (I like the back light but still dark) V.
  • 0

#5 Alan Rencher

Alan Rencher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1091 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:49 PM

First and foremost, a Steadicam operator is an operator first. You should learn how to be a great operator before you learn how to be a great Steadicam operator. Judging by your responses and your footage, you need to learn the fundamentals of operating, technique, and composition. That's a lot more to learn than we can provide on a forum. As for your question about warp stabilize, that is used to fix mistakes. You should try to limit your mistakes, and never misrepresent your abilities on a reel. A DP will consider you a liar, and rightly so.
  • 0

#6 Matt Silton

Matt Silton

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:04 PM

Thanks, Alan.  You've been a huge help.


  • 0

#7 Mark Schlicher

Mark Schlicher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 776 posts
  • Nashville, TN

Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:35 PM

Matt,

 

About the stairs shot, basically what Victor said. Since you agree that it's weak, my advice is don't use any shots in a demo that you know are weak. If you want a stairs shot, design and shoot a well-lit, well-blocked shot. This particular shot feels too much like a "test shot" and not enough like a shot from a film or commercial. It's not just that it's a following shot. Following shots that are thoughtfully designed can be effective. For instance, a couple of cops with guns drawn, warily creeping up stairs. Or an amorous couple charging up to their bedroom. Shots that tell a story with body language, wardrobe, etc.

 

Also agree that post-stabilizing demo reel shots should not be done.


  • 0

#8 Elliot Gabor

Elliot Gabor

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 70 posts

Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

First and foremost, a Steadicam operator is an operator first. You should learn how to be a great operator before you learn how to be a great Steadicam operator. Judging by your responses and your footage, you need to learn the fundamentals of operating, technique, and composition. That's a lot more to learn than we can provide on a forum. As for your question about warp stabilize, that is used to fix mistakes. You should try to limit your mistakes, and never misrepresent your abilities on a reel. A DP will consider you a liar, and rightly so.

 

Alan, I don't think we can Judge the OP on his general camera operating, technique and composition experience by his responses and footage.  He reel isn't perfect as far as lighting, WB, etc. but its probably more due to the fact that he is just starting out with steadicam and doesn't have that much footage to work with.

 

As far as the liar comment, I agree that you shouldn't misrepresent yourself but if all you are showing a DP is a reel of great shots then you are misrepresenting yourself.  An impressive reel has more to do with your editing abilities and really good small snippets of work than actual skill as an operator.  Most operators can pull off simple enough shots but the question is how many times did it take to get it right.  Reels are to get your foot in the door since you need to give people something short to watch at first, however, showing full bodies of work is the most truthful way I know of to showcase your abilities.  In my opinion, I would make my reel look as good as I can even if that means using post stabilization and then show the client/DP some actual examples of your work if you get that far.       


Edited by Elliot Gabor, 22 February 2013 - 12:48 PM.

  • 0

#9 Alan Rencher

Alan Rencher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1091 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:10 PM

Elliott, I disagree with you wholeheartedly. I can tell his level of operating experience by the shots in question and by the questions that he asks. An operator reel is on no way about the editing... An editing reel would be judged on that. A trained eye can pick out great shots amongst the editing trickery, and if they have to look past the editing in the first place, you should think about revising your reel.
  • 0

#10 Elliot Gabor

Elliot Gabor

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 70 posts

Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:23 PM

You have good points but I it comes down to who the reel is intended for.  You can't have it both ways.  Either the reel is meant for someone that is looking to hire a steadicam operator in which case exposure, WB or even the composition of the shot is irrelevant, and as you say the viewer should be looking past it (good or bad.),  or the reel is intended for a producer/ client that doesn't know what to look for when it comes to steadicam in which case you should be trying to wow them since you will be competing with others not on not just your steadicam skills but on your skills as a whole (editing, steadicam, camera op, etc.). 

 

 If the reel is to get hired by the producer/client type then you should have steadicam shots of course but you should make those shots look as good as possible by impressive editing, stabilization and general production value.  If the reel is about steadicam operation then you should use your best steadicam work wether it was shot on an Alexa or whether you were flying
a brick. 

 

I'm just saying to take a marketing approach to your reel and decide what your viewers are really looking for.  Know your audience and you can't go wrong.   
 


  • 1

#11 Mark Schlicher

Mark Schlicher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 776 posts
  • Nashville, TN

Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:09 PM

Elliot,

 

I submit that the composition of the shot is always relevant, because it reflects on the operator's compositional skills, which is a critical skill of a Steadicam operator. Also, well-lit, well-composed shots imply that the operator works on "legit" productions...or at least knows how to compose a good test shot. Why is that important? Because a Steadicam operator often is called on to collaborate on shot design.

 

Your reel may be seen by both DP's and producer-types, regardless of who it is "intended" for. Good production value is a plus no matter what. I wouldn't use a bad shot just because it had good production values, but I also would avoid a badly designed shot, or one that was so badly lit that it was distracting. It tends to say to the people who would hire you (fairly or unfairly--does it matter?) either "this guy either doesn't know a good shot from a bad one" or "this guy doesn't have enough experience to be able to fill a reel with watchable shots".

 

Sometimes you don't have control over the lighting or the shot design. But Matt has complete control, and it wouldn't take a lot of time or effort to shoot a much better stairs shot. The lighting isn't the only issue, nor is leading vs. following. The horizons, headroom, and composition (letting one actor completely block the other) could also be improved. That's why I encouraged him to dig a little deeper.

 

My philosophy of editing of a Steadicam reel is that it should be crisp, well-paced, but never intrusive or call attention away from the shots. A Steadicam reel is not the place to attempt to promote editing, camera op or your skills as a whole. That is the function of other reels (which may include Steadicam work but are not a Steadicam reel per se.)

 

Of course you want to fill your reel with your best shots. Why would you knowingly show less than your best? A reel full of "only great shots" is only "lying" if you can't reasonably deliver what the reel promises. In that case, you are not ready to show anyone your reel. Post-stabilizing your shots, however, is always cheating in my book.


  • 1

#12 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2922 posts
  • LA, Ca

Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:08 AM

Some interesting comments there Mark, in the first 30 seconds of your steadicam reel you block actors have some headroom and horizon issues and hide other issues with slow motion.

 

Just saying...


  • 0

#13 Mark Schlicher

Mark Schlicher

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 776 posts
  • Nashville, TN

Posted 25 February 2013 - 02:48 AM

Thanks, Eric. You're always a ray of sunshine.

 

By the way, I didn't "hide" issues with slow motion. Those shots were blocked and designed for slow motion by the director and I opted to show them as intended.

 

PS: 22awg according to Tiffen.


  • 0

#14 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2922 posts
  • LA, Ca

Posted 25 February 2013 - 02:56 AM

Thanks, Eric. You're always a ray of sunshine.
 
PS: 22awg according to Tiffen.

Mark,

Just saying if you're going to call out the don'ts in a reel then your reel better not have them. As for Being a ray of sunshine, consider me the ray of experience and reality

As or te wiring, you might want to actually measure it... I did
  • 0




Betz Tools for Stabilizers

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

SkyDreams

Paralinx LLC

Varizoom Follow Focus

Omnishot Systems

Wireless Video Systems

IDX

Boland Communications

Ritter Battery

Teradek

rebotnix Technologies

BOXX

Engineered Cinema Solutions

GPI Pro Systems

PLC - Bartech

PLC Electronics Solutions