Tag Archives: laforet

Cool Kit If You Are a Video Person

I shall start by pointing you at a blog that is far better written and far more informative than this one. Not a huge challenge of course. However, the author of this blog is a fantastic photographer and now also a director – Vincent Laforet. Vincent’s blog can be found at blog.vincentlaforet.com and he posts quite frequently on the subject of film making, techniques and equipment. Vincent started out as a photographer and a very good one at that. He has won a Pulitzer Prize and is a Canon Explorer of Light. I first saw him at an ISAP event where he talked about his aerial photography as well as a very moving description of his experiences after Hurricane Katrina.

His life changed dramatically when Canon released the 5D Mk II. Vincent had early access to the camera and made a short called Reverie to demonstrate the video capabilities. This short went viral and suddenly making motion pictures with SLRs was a big deal. Now he has moved geographically and professionally and works in the film business. (As an aside, if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, do go as he has some fascinating experiences to share and may well move you in the process.)

Recently, on his blog, Vincent talked of some new device that he considered a game-changer that he would be announcing. The anticipation got quite a few people interested and, when the announcement came, it did not disappoint. The device is called the MOVI (there is a cool stylized way in which MOVI is written that this blog is not going to do justice to I’m afraid) and it is made by Freefly. It is a stabilized mount that is handheld and provides the ability to get smooth shots with a single hand allowing some very creative approaches to moving the camera.

I am not much of a video guy. However, when I had my first SLR with video capability, I started experimenting with shooting video and this has progressively become more important on the projects I am working on. Video provides a very different way of presenting some subjects and it complements the stills well. My video shooting and editing skills might not complement my stills quite as well but we have to keep learning.

Since I am not investing in a significant amount of video equipment but, instead, I shoot video as part of my stills efforts, I have to be limited in how adventurous I can be. Steady handheld shots without a rig are a challenge but can be achieved. Moving is out of the question without making the viewer feel very uneasy. I recently shot some cockpit video from a jump seat during the takeoff roll and during refueling and the vibration made the majority of the footage unusable. A few small excerpts showed the experience but not long enough to make people uncomfortable.

Getting a stable platform in difficult situations is a great step forward. The MOVI is a very cool piece of gear. It is not cheap but, compared to other pieces of equipment, I think it is very affordable. More importantly, it is the start of something new. People will take this concept and run with it and we are likely to end up with many types and levels of complexity of stabilization that will suit different pockets. This could mean something that works for me. This is why I am so excited. The MOVI is great and I would love one. I don’t have the justification for one for my projects but I feel confident I will see something come from this that will make my work easier in due course.

An Evening with Vincent Laforet

Okay, maybe not a full evening but an hour and a half so close enough.  A damp Monday evening in early November is not the sort of time that you are planning a trip out.  However, Vincent Laforet was giving a talk at one of the local Apple stores and I was keen to be there.

I saw Vincent once before at my first ISAP symposium in Pensacola FL.  He was still predominantly a still photographer in those days.  He gave a talk about his aerial photography in New York and an unbelievably moving account of his time in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina which was accompanied by some equally moving imagery.

When Canon released the 5D MkII, Vincent filmed a short called Reverie to demonstrate the capabilities of the camera and it went viral.  I don’t know whether this was the start of his move to film or whether he was already on the way there beforehand but he is now a director and a bit of a go to guy on the techie issues with HDSLR video.

His talk was a combination of some of his history – a fair bit of stills work since his audience included a lot of photographers – along with some of the video work he has been doing.  I follow his blog so the video material was stuff I had already seen but that was not a problem.  He talked a bit about what the newer technology is bringing to the video world and how different the workflow is.

The real interest came at the end of the evening though when he had a Q&A session.  This really got to the heart of the issues people were interested in and he was very frank in his answers.  He challenged people to think about what they were doing and who was going to be coming after their work environment (and what that environment would even be).  He answered technical questions and gave thoughts on how to self-teach some of the things associated with film making.

He was a very approachable guy and willing to talk to everyone who wanted to get a moment with him afterwards.  If you get a chance to see him at any event, I would certainly recommend it.  In the mean time, his blog is well worth a look.  He doesn’t always blog regularly but, when he does, it is good stuff.  He also has a great gear page if you want some insight into the stuff he uses himself.  Check it out at blog.vincentlaforet.com if you are interested.