Developing Skills: Don’t Listen to Yourself, Kinda

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Filmmaking and working with video is one area that I really want to grow in. That’s part of the reason I started this blog: to document my journey and the things I learn along the way. But I want to talk about one of the things that keeps me back.

I suffer from what I call negative self-talk. It manifests itself in different ways, but most often it’s me telling myself “You’re not good enough. You aren’t going to be able to get to the level you want.” And Mr. Negative came out this weekend.

Magic Lantern for T2i Will Save You $60

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When I got my Canon T2i/550D, I was really happy with it. Being my first DSLR, I really didn’t know there was anything I was missing. After several projects and a lot of time on the internet, I realized there were a few things that I wasn’t getting with the T2i. First, I wasn’t able to manually dial in the white balance (kinda a big deal). Second, I wasn’t able to select the camera sensor’s native ISO (which has it’s pros & cons).

About a year ago, I read about the Magic Lantern firmware for Canon’s DSLRs. Originally, it was to add functionality to the 5D that Canon left out, like controlling audio levels. Recently, they’ve ported Magic Lantern to the T2i/550D.

I decided to install it and now I can’t imagine not having Magic Lantern. It let’s me dial in my white balance & select whatever ISO I want; it gives me a histogram, false color, peaking, and gain controls in video mode. I LOVE IT! You need to download it and give it a try.

Another feature that I didn’t expect to see was an intervalometer (they let you setup the camera to take photos every X seconds). It’s perfect for doing creating timelapse videos. Anyway, I thought I would have to pay $60 for a remote control for the Canon T2i/550D to do this.

I tested the intervalometer yesterday and this is the product that I came up with.

Glidetrack Shooter HD: First Impressions

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Glidetrack Shooter HD
Yesterday, I received my Glidetrack Shooter HD. The Glidetrack is a simple, portable dolly that you use for camera movements when shooting video. There are quite a few options out there for these slide-type dollies, but I choose Glidetrack because of it’s price point, it’s size (perfect for DSLRs), and from what I had read, their customer service.

First: I ordered this on a Tuesday at 4:00 PM (PST) and the package arrived less than 48 hours later. From the UK. That’s stinking awesome!

Second: I now understand why a lot of people online were saying that you only really need about two feet of length. I ordered the 0.5 meter version and it’s more than long enough for nice, slow moves. Also, if you mount your Glidetrack to a tripod, the shorter version maintains it’s stability better as you go end to end.

Third: It’s going to take a bit of practice to learn how to best use this tool. Below is some test footage I shot last night with my Canon T2i/550D. You’ll have to forgive me for shooting at a higher ISO, but my house just isn’t lit well.

UPDATE: After using the Glidetrack for a bit, I’d recommend getting the plain Glidetrack HD instead of the shooter. I’ve never actually used it in the shooter configuration.

52 Weeks of Sophia

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Since we had Sophia we’ve been doing a little project. Every week from the day she was born, we take a picture to show how much she is growing. We put Sophia in a plain white onesie and place her on a different fabric each week. After we get our shot, we photoshop the week onto her onesie.

It’s been a blast to do and fun to really watch her growth. I gotta give a shout out to Young House Love for inspiring this awesome project.

Week 22
Week 21

FilmFellas: Wisdom from the Pros

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Zacuto FilmFellasPart of my philosophy of learning is to seek out those who have lots of experience and wisdom on a topic and learn all you can from them. Study their work and listen to their every word.

This week, I’ve been doing just that. Zacuto—a filmmaking accessories company—produces a web series called FilmFellas. The series concept is a dinner table conversation with professionals in the filmmaking industry. The conversations range from business to passions to education. Each episode is somewhere around 10-15 minutes long.

I watched all of cast 4 & 5 this week and started cast 6. And the first episode of cast 6 (episode 25) is a must see. I was inspired by the candid advice about what is important from seasoned professionals. If you have 11 minutes, you gotta stop and watch it.

iTunes Link: FilmFellas Episode 25: Living Your Passions

Working With Green Screen – Part 3

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So, I never intended to write a third part on the lessons I learned working with green screen. But last week I was tasked with shooting some interviews and trying to create a couple products to be used on Sunday.

I had 5 days to pull it all together, which included one whole day of planning, writing, and setting up for the interviews. That left me 4 days to shoot and produce something that would look good (and hopefully have meaningful content). Since I had a couple week window the last time (a.k.a. my first time) working with green screen, I had to crank this out quick.

Green Screen Lighting Diagram
A quick diagram of my setup I worked with.

I shot this with my Canon T2i/550D using the Magic Lantern firmware hack. Magic Lantern is awesome. You’ve got to check it out if you’ve got a Canon DSLR (except the 7D). Since I lit both the screen and the subject better this time, I was able having a way easier time getting a decent key. This made it possible to key the project in Final Cut Pro—largely because I didn’t have as many lighting/shooting mistakes to fix—allowing me to save a ton of time. And since I learned last time that the order of my filters/effects make a difference, I used that to my advantage.