The first thing that came to my mind during the Superbowl XLVII blackout was that this would be the perfect time for a Duracell commercial… Oreo reacted quickly with “You can still dunk in the dark” to the Superbowl power outage.
bloggers post interviews on their sites all the time, but I wanted to do something different and I am planning on doing a series of video interviews instead of the same old, written questionnaire. Having done a little bit of video before, I was confident I could pull it off with the iphone’s HD video, a rigged tripod mount, an external mono lapel microphone and a stereo mp3 recorder.
Shooting went great and everything looked and sounded great, quickly reviewed on the iphone. Back at home, I loaded everything into iMovie and I figured the sound would be ok if I duped the mono into two channels. boy, was I wrong on both accounts. iMovie turned out to be ok up to a certain point, but finessing the video with titles, transitions and photo overlays quickly got me to its limitations and I converted the file to FinalCutPro, which seemed to be the smart choice, as I had experience with FCP from a few years ago (on a G4 Mac, what a painful experience that was).
In the meantime, FCP’s interface has completely changed, but I managed to find my way around pretty quickly doing things ‘on the job’, which I still think is a great way of learning, unless under the gun of a deadline.
During the first few edits I stuck to the duped mono audio, but the difference in the sound levels between interviewer and interviewee was way too much and I had to amplify one of them significantly, which created a lot of noise and artifacts. At some point I decided to switch to the stereo audio from the mp3 recorder, which, brilliantly, I had rolling all the time during the interview. The sound is still a little hissy, but it seems like some ambient noise at my friend’s place, as the recorder does not exhibit this problem anywhere else. strange.
Rule number one – record the best audio you have available and sync the clips before cutting them up… this would have saved me tons of editing time. Looking forward to doing a few more interviews I bought a pair of stereo wireless transmitters, which work absolutely great in conjunction with a stereo microphone.
Then at some point, I decided to get a second camera, so I can switch angles in future interviews. The second camera is a Kodak playtouch and seemed to fit the bill great – HD video up to 1080p, 30 or 60 fps, tripod mount and sound input. Video quality turns out to be comparable to the iPhone 4 and one night I called up a friend to do a test in my office… we set everything up and chatted for about an hour into two cams at the same time, files from each camera coming in at about 1GB.
As I learned from experience, I synced the clips right after importing and checked them out. video quality? check. sound quality? check. audio sync? check. up until 25 minutes in and the audio started echoing… wtf!? Looking at the clips’ info, I noticed that the iphones frame rate dropped to 24fps, instead of 30fps, which, after some digging on the net seems to be the iphones standard of dealing with low light. I’ll be able to doctor this up, but it certainly is a good idea to have two cameras with the same specs. I may just get another playtouch, as its cheap and quality is pretty good for this sort of thing.
Back to the original interview, we got into reviewing the 23 minute edit via youtube, which looks like it is the best service for this kind of thing. free, trusted and tons of viewers, what more to ask for?
pitfall #1 youtube uploads are restricted to 15 minutes, and somehow I received an update from google/youtube that either lifts, or extends that limit (the amount escapes me at the moment). Exporting directly to youtube from FinalCut is restricted to the 15 minute limit, which in turn means, one has to export the file to h264 and then upload to the tubes. fine, exporting the 23 minute thing to SSD takes 10 minutes on my computer and uploading through Chrome about 30 minutes thanks to TimeWarner wideband with 5 MBit upstream. still dog slow, if you ask me.
up until pitfall #2 arises at 4am… all of a sudden the file upload stops because the cable modem decided to reset itself. fine, wait for the restart and go again, no problem at all, one would one suggest, it’s only a one GB file… From here on out the modem decides to reset itself nine times out of ten over the next two days, but I’m getting ahead of myself with my story.
I called up TimeWarner, next thing in the morning, and they run their usual spiel of line tests and disconnecting everything to no avail. A tech has to come out, in two days from now and between failed uploads I decided to do some research on the issue. Turns out, that the Motorola modem we have resets itself constantly under heavy load. So I call TW up again, pretty pissed by now and request a different model modem, they seem to have three in rotation right now, but can’t make any promises what the tech has on the truck and also refuse any other solution to the problem.
and finally #3 – I finished my final version of the interview and am happy as can be… up until my computer screams that the startup disk is full and it wants me to force quit an application to make room. My system disk is a 256GB SSD, sufficient, I thought, up until today… 256MB left!? I deleted a bunch of unused applications and was able to free up about 10GB (4GB of Adobe updates in an invisible folder!!). I still had to kill FinalCut and ran a deep cleaning with LionCacheCleaner and I’m back to a little over 50GB free space on the startup SSD. whew – FinalCut apparently creates huge scratch files.
It was quite a journey for an 18 minute interview, but I learned a lot from this experience and will do more interviews in the future. Did I mention that I ordered an HDSLR since I had so much fun doing this?
commitment looks like a shitty word to begin with… to get the kerning right… anyways, the other day I was watching Jay Maisel’s slide show at the NYC photo salon and he talked about commitment, while showing a bunch of photos of people wearing make-up of their favorite baseball team (I had to look up “Mets” to know it indeed is a baseball team) on their cheeks…
at the end of the show someone from the audience asked what lens/focal length Maisel was using… Jay said he is currently using a a 28-300mm lens on a D3x and he’s never been happier before, never mind the fact that he acquired -and used- a boatload of lenses during his career and sold off the excess by now. one camera, one lens…
I personally prefer to use a 28mm, or a 35mm (full frame equivalent for the hardcore street shooter) on the Leica M9 for street photography… photographers tend to suffer from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), anyone? and I certainly fall into the demographic, but sometimes you need to get the job done, and for assignments a zoom lens and autofocus (gasp!) certainly comes in handy… the final outcome is the photograph, the print, and no one really cares what camera or lens the photographer used to create that vision.
When I was about to present my work, I introduced myself and said that my personality and sense of humor comes through in my photos and during the show people shared a few laughs. now, that’s the ultimate reward!
Afterwards I received congrats from a bunch of visitors, one of them praised the consistency and “print quality” of my work (it was projected on a screen) and that’s really high praise from a master darkroom printer! At the end of the day, they really didn’t care that most of my photos were shot with a Leica and a Summicron lens. I think it’s more important to shoot (pun intended) for a look and a consistent feel within your body of work. find your signature, fingerprint, make your mark, you know what I’m saying.
commitment… where was I going with this? I have FOTOGRAF tattooed on my knuckles, take that for commitment!
btw. Lightroom & printing workshops geared towards black & white street photography in NYC coming soon!
Release date: To be announced.
“A friend of mine once said “You walk around the streets as if you belong here” and that’s what I do… I belong to the streets and the streets belong to me, and no one can take that away from me. “
“I don’t like their heads. I don’t like their faces. I don’t like their feet. I don’t like their conversations. I don’t like their hairdos. I don’t like their automobiles. I don’t like their dogs or their cats or their roses.”
met a friend last night and checked out his Fuji X100.
sweet, I like it. I love the electronic viewfinder overlay… I really like this camera
but switching to manual focus, oh my, I had to turn the focusing ring like a midget bus driver trying to get around Columbus Circle. the Lumix LX-5 does the same thing, one needs to spin the focusing wheel into oblivion, I’m always thinking I may break the damn plastic focusing wheel… camera engineers – please ask photographers, ask designers, do testing and try to think about the application. (spur-of-the-moment-picture-taking that is)
depth-of-field on tiny ass small sensor cameras is crappy as it is, manual focus shooters need quick access to their range. thanks for listening.