Thursday, September 30, 2010
I too have been caught up in the DSLR video wave. I bought a couple of Canon 5Ds (which produce beautiful HD video) and now I want to be Stanley Kubrick.
A few months ago, I applied for and won a grant to the NPPA NewsVideo Workshop. A lot of workshops have been popping up lately for still photographers wanting to expand into motion and audio. But the NewsVideo Workshop has been around for half a century and is geared towards to news videographers, guys who are already good at this stuff and producing short pieces on a daily basis. Among them, I was a fish out of water --- which is an excellent place to be if you are trying to evolve.
The Workshop is held at the University of Oklahoma in Norman during their spring break in March and is like a year of film school crammed into five days. Intense. On the first day the teaching staff of reporters and videographers introduced themselves and showed some of their work. To my surprise, a large percentage of them worked at TV stations in my hometown of Baltimore-- including Darren Durlach, two time NPPA Videographer of the Year and award-winning reporters Mike Schuh and Stan Heist. Go Balmer, hon.
When you hand a video camera to a photographer like myself, they tend to want to make beautiful images and forget about the story. It is a hard habit to break, and at times I felt like a wild horse struggling against the instructions. The conversations during critiques went a lot like this:
Dennis: “Wow, isn’t this shot cool?”
Teacher: “Great kid, but what’s the story?”
Dennis: “Yes, yes, but do you see how I did this cool transition and then,
wow, look at that light!”
Teacher: “STORY!!! STORY!! WHERE’S THE STORY!?!”
Dennis: “Yes, but you see I am going for more of a Koyaanisqatsi thing
Teacher (from Baltimore, looking me straight in the eyes): “Have you ever seen season 1 of The Wire?”
Dennis: “Yes, Sir. Got it. Story.Story.Story.”
But wild horses eventually calm down and I finally got the point. What really brought it home to me was the reaction of the teachers and class to the short films I had to produce every day. My first day’s film had the best looking visuals, but the film I produced on the last day had the best story and elicited a big round of applause -- despite what to me were some glaring technical issues.
Below are a few short pieces I have done since the workshop and, though it is probably very bad marketing to do so, my final student film.