Archive for the ‘Your Competitive Advantage’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Just Say No to 8-bits!

That’s a tall order these days. If you’re shooting HDCAM, XDCAM, HDV, AVCHD or, heaven forbid, standard definition DV, you are capturing the world in a mere 8-bits. In all its sophistication and wisdom your camera’s processor outputting 8-bits to the recording medium can only assign one of 256 possible values to each sample; which can severely limit the color fidelity and smoothness of gradients in your images.

Ten-bit recording formats like the pricey HDCAM SR and Panasonic’s more economical AVC-Intra ought to be where we are heading. Manufacturers have leaped full bore on the high resolution sensor bandwagon, but for our bread and butter assignments upon which we depend every day, the 10-bit capture formats offer far better performance with fewer headaches at the end of the post-production rainbow. Our NLEs employing Apple ProRes or Avid DNx are already supporting 10-bit workflows so it simply makes good sense to utilize this greater bit depth and precision from the outset.

Beware of 8-bit cameras like the Sony F100, Panasonic AF100 and even the new Canon C300 that offer high resolution but at a mere 8-bit capture and meager 8-bit output via HD-SDI. This workflow is compromised from the outset, and can very well impair precise color correction and compositing downstream.

PostHeaderIcon Are you a specialist or a generalist?

I’m a firm believer that today’s shooters must possess a wide range of skills. In most markets the resident shooter must also edit, compress for the web, prepare DVDs, and de-noise sound tracks. Today the expectation is that every shooter is proficient in Photoshop, After Effects, and one of the major NLE platforms, like Final Cut Pro.

Students today who are likely to find ready employment after graduation should be able to handle anything that might arise on a modern production, by that I mean, he or she must be able to confidently troubleshoot a range of issues beyond the immediate camera and recording media. Such a person – a problem-solver – will always be valuable and in demand, and so it’s just smart for film and video instructors to adequately prepare their students for this troubleshooter role.

In most markets the era of specialization ended with the advent of DV in 1995, although, admittedly, we still need well-groomed technicians in technologies like 3D. For most folks the setup of a 3ality rig with two Reds converging on a mirror is a process fraught with peril. So yes, a specialist with specific 3D camera setup skills is currently very much in demand. Considering the market as a whole, however, most productions benefit most from a generalist, that man or woman versatile enough to assume a wide range of responsibilities from script to screen.

PostHeaderIcon Your Competitive Advantage

In these challenging times we need to take a close look at ourselves as shooters and digital storytellers. Just like some countries are particularly adept at manufacturing certain things like automobiles, TVs and precision watches, so must you the resourceful multi-talented shooter consider your competitive advantage over other shooters vying for the same assignments. Maybe you are a Final Cut Pro maven or skilled After Effects artist. Maybe you are skilled at designing websites or you’re an accomplished linguist and able to speak multiple languages. For a shooter these are compelling ancillary attributes that can be exploited to the max in order to attract potential clients. I happen to be known as something of a fireman in the business; when things go wrong on a shoot somewhere in the world, I will often get a call to round up my commando-style team and fly off somewhere to shoot an overlooked background scene, establishing shot – or take over shooting an entire project. The trick here is to understand and embrace your clients’ fears: if they’re worried about shooting tapeless to flash memory, become adept at handling this new style workflow. Understand archiving protocols and backups, and how to apply best handling practices even in the heat of battle on a professional set. Exude confidence at all times and perform with absolute reliability and good cheer. You’ll get the work you’ll seeking – even through these tough economic times.