Journey into the world of a professional videographer, decisions, work and experiences

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Finding the right soundtrack?

For me one of the biggest tasks in creating video is finding the perfect sound track. A sound track is responsible for controlling the emotion of the audience for a specific scene or video. The right one will convey exactly what you want whilst the wrong one will not compliment your images and detract from what you are trying to communicate.

When I first started making videos I just picked my favourite songs, fortunately I liked very cinematic, sound track style music. Stuff that had big instrumental breaks and a decent beat that worked well with editing.

Unfortunately you can’t just go and use your favourite tunes otherwise it won’t be long before you have a copyright lawsuit banged in your lap (or get banned from youtube). Either way not an ideal situation especially if you are working with a client that could be assuming liability over the production.

It’s a constant battle trying to find

- music that I like

- the budget from clients

- rights free music

- composers that are able to communicate what you want

- good music

One of my tasks at the moment is trying to find a sustainable, reliable source of music that suits my style. There are websites that offer blanket licenses on a pay monthly basis but the libraries are extensive and finding quality is a marathon task in itself.

I’m a very impulsive and picky person, If I hear a track that I like I fall in love with it straight away and find it difficult to imagine my film with out it. So when I find something I can actually use that I love I get a bit over excited. More so than is probably acceptable.

Dealing with clients expectations is always complicated, I’ve had clients that didn’t care what audio was on their video as long as it didn’t cost anything. This is so backwards as your audio makes up such a big part of the audience experience but you have to pick your battles. You’ll always get clients that want a charting track in their video, some understand the expense, most adopt a look like you just farted in their mouth. Diplomacy is king here, I never even enter into discussions about chart music because it is unrealistic for the kinds of budgets I typically deal with. That being said there are artists that will do sound a like tracks that resemble the original for not much money.

Good rights free music is hard to come by, there are sites that offer it but most of the time you will need to contact that artist to get permission to use it. Quality is so varied but you do find a gem it makes it worthwhile. Best to spend a day contacting people in advance as they don’t get back to you right away and if you are on a deadline it will be time wasted. Preparation is always good practice anyway.

Programmes that are part of the final cut pro studio like sound track pro do offer sound beds and sound effects as well as other programmes which can often get you out of a bind but best avoided if you want something original.

I’m just embarking on a round of research at the moment so i’ll post up my findings when I get some more conclusive results.

So I did it, on contingency plan F? G? I lose track… Sony Production Awards 2014 Voting Open

So folks, I managed to complete it. A 5 minute documentary in 3 days, I went with a small part of Julian Smiths story. He’s a professional drifter and master mechanic, he had me bamboozled in seconds when he started talking about the magic turbo on one of the cars sitting beside us but it’s this attention to detail that sets him apart. An inspiring figure within the drift scene, a man that truly loves what he does. So please go and check it out and if you dig it then give me a little vote.

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CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE LINK

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A week to shoot a documentary sounded like a long time…

So here we are and it’s Wednesday, at the beginning of this week I set out to shoot a 5 minute short film (in this case a documentary). I decided to go with a subject that is already close to me personally. 

As a documentary was the plan I started looking at things that were the most straightforward for me to shoot and also find a compelling story within. My initial thoughts started stirring around people I know and what they are up to. I had actually already briefly outlined a little feature I wanted to do on a guy called Dan Chapman, he’s been a personal inspiration to me since I first started drifting. He’s driving ability is right up there with the best and I was and continue to be a massive fan of his aggressive style of driving. He was also very much there from the beginning in my attempts to learn how to drift which for the most part he found amusing, I think he was stunned at how I’d managed to drive myself to the track let alone try and get the car sideways. 

I digress, Dan is all set to make a come back to competitive drifting this year so it seemed fitting to make a little film about it, so naturally when the opportunity came up to enter a film into the sony production awards it seemed like a good fit. My only problem was that by itself the idea didn’t stand out as compelling enough to stand a good chance of winning. The video I wanted to make already assumed a lot about the subject, it was going to be a segment of his life rather than the full story. 

So I went back to the drawing board and whilst researching some contingency in case Dan was for what ever reason unavailable I remembered my good friend Joe Osborne. Joe is a British GT driver and every bit the professional racing driver and he has just been inducted into the BRDC super stars proving not only his talent but also providing him with assistance in continuing his career. In this case the documentary would be a brief snippet of the reality of what it is to be a professional racing driver. Aside from what a great deal of people would think about being a racing driver it’s extremely hard work to just have a career at all let alone a successful one.

Joe would also be testing pre season very soon and a quick catch up confirmed his availability so game on.

Then my thought process went along the lines of combining the two drivers, what if I could shoot both people and focus on their differences as people, the contrast of both of their lives but ultimately focussing on their underlying similarity which in this case is a passion for motor sport and competition. Highlighting what it is they both love about driving and what it is that compels them to pursue it as more than just a hobby, the want to succeed and the dedication required in both disciplines (drifting and racing) required to do so. 

The stage was set and my idea (as far as I could muster) was a solid one. No idea if it was capable of winning but a solid idea none the less that would also provide me with some great footage and something I was proud to produce regardless of victory.

BUT then after attempting to contact Mr Chapman his availability seems scarce, he doesn’t answer a few e-mails despite otherwise showing his interest and willingness. This isn’t going to destroy the plan so I go to plan B, Joe was a solid back up.

A few attempts to get hold of Joe on Tuesday fall on deaf ears. 

Tuesday night and the phone goes, it’s Joe, one of his team mates has crashed the Aston Martin the day before we are due to shoot. 

In my attempts to salvage something from the endeavour despite having lost an opportunity to get a ton of great footage I suggest we film the interview portion at his home but he’s already taken work at another race track. There is no plan C at this stage.

So Thursday morning and I’ve got three days to come up with another original idea, shoot, edit and upload in order to make the Sony Production Awards deadline and stand a chance at winning the camera. 

It can be done.

A week to shoot a short for Sony PROduction Awards 2014

The good people at Sony have decided to hold a competition for film makers to show off their talents in the hope of winning some new Sony gear. 

This was a very appealing concept to me not only because I’d love to get my hands on some new Sony gear but more importantly because I’ve had a few things I’ve wanted to shoot recently and this has given me the kick I needed to just get them done. You have to earn a living but sometimes you need to stop putting off that passion project and just crack on. 

I’ve been looking into competitions a lot recently, they give people an outlet for their own creativity. To shoot something that you want to shoot (not what a client is paying you for) in what ever way you want, whatever shots, sound track and subject matter.

I love making things that are close to me personally, they keep my enthusiasm for the industry alive and they give me an opportunity to get creative with my shots and do things that perhaps I don’t have the time to do on other shoots. More importantly they suit my personal style, I’m in charge of the cut, what goes in and what doesn’t. Although I can be too picky with shots and waste time messing around with things that aren’t ultimately made any better but it’s a learning process.

One of the things that I want to do this year that I didn’t do enough of last year is really explore what I can do with my equipment, learn and develop as much as possible so I can make awesome content for myself and for my clients. 

Deadline is 10th March for submissions so we’ll see how we get on.

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(the prize on offer, Sony fs700 super slow motion goodness)

A little bit of retrospect goes a long way to helping you move forward

In the advent of a new year and bringing with it a lot of decision making, I find myself at a turning point in my career. Retrospect is a wonderful thing and also a terrible thing.

Up to now I’d be dividing my time (sometimes successfully others not) between drifting and video production.  Drifting as in the motor sport, not as in literally wandering from place to place. Not much of a career in that or interest for that matter.

Whilst it’s tricky to earn money out of drifting I was able to go from complete amateur to working as a racing instructor for palmersport (most authentic motor sport experience on earth so I’m told) in just 5 years. Whilst working there doesn’t directly fuel my love for drifting there are occasions where you get to show off, be around cars and more importantly for me constantly learn how to be a better driver whilst sitting in the passenger seat of some pretty impressive machinery.

2011 Fleet Photo v2

(I’m in the middle somewhere)

My video production life has been slightly longer, albeit not by very much. I went the runner route rather than university/film school route.

Bought some kit and went out into the big wide world of video production. Since then I have worked for some incredible organisations and some awful ones. I’ve gone unpaid for months, been paid handsomely and some times not been paid at all.

ex3

(Trusty Ex3, might be time to make a change. Fantastic all rounder with great native Prores codec for ease of use with Final cut pro workflows and if you have a macbook pro with a express port the SXS media slots right in the side. Downsides: small sensor by todays standards and 35mb/s recording) (I currently shoot on this and a Canon 7D)

Life as freelancer is not easy. That being said it’s taken me to places I might never have been and taught me lessons that I might never have learnt. I’m constantly learning and it’s been an interesting journey working out what direction to pursue in the industry being a predominantly one-man band. Finding it more or less a necessity to be able to have a vast skill set from camera work to editing and grading the list goes on.

Time for a change though instead of focusing my attention towards both my passions after finally realising that to really achieve the things I wanted I needed to hone my focus.

This started with setting some goals and making some plans!

Step 1 (new clients) First stop AGENCIES

As I already have my own equipment painstakingly acquired over the past 5 years I got to skip the quite costly set up step.

But because of my two careers I hadn’t been very pro active in attracting a) new business and b) consistent clients.

I had taken for granted being in demand during my busy summer period, winter hit and the calls stopped coming. Initially I thought oh a week off fantastic I’ve been working so hard this year that it’s nice to have a bit of time to myself.

Because of my lack of attention (complacency) I need to find some new people to work with. Existing clients are great but if they don’t need to make a video right now you can’t force them.

And so begins my search, I’ll update when I have worked out some results.

This post also marks the beginning of a new era in the function of this blog, from now on i’ll be sharing my research into acquiring new equipment to keep me moving forward. How to and not to talk to agencies and potential clients. How I learned and am still learning what hard work really is. How to run a video production company, my mistakes and how I learn from them. Most importantly hopefully how to make a success of it through determination, passion and hard graft.

 

Video

Growl and Grandeur – Autumn/Winter Photoshoot 2013

I had the pleasure of accompanying photographer Rick Nunn on shooting the delightful Alysha Nett and Cervena Fox for Growl&Grandeur’s autumn/winter 2013 photoshoot. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hope you do.

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Josh Jakins goes drifting with the Daily Express

Josh and Kirsty discuss Josh Jakins and the Driftlimits M3 M3 chasing camera car Burnout

Just a snippet of what went on when the daily express came to play. To promote the DVD release of Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise does his own stunts, why can’t you?

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