[Qs of the Week] : we are always interested in hearing about what you want to know. it helps us in our education efforts as well as fostering a community here that is both informative and interactive. to facilitate that we’ve implemented the Ask a Question submission up top so it’s super easy for you to reach out to us. once a month we’ll be picking several of the best questions and answering them here in short form format. sometimes we get really good questions that require a much more detailed answer and those we’ll save for an in-depth Question of the Week response or produce an entire SMAPP tutorial for it.
so here it is, our take on the first batch of great questions.
Q1. If you are using 7D on merlin, wanting to upgrade from 20mm f2.8 to either 14mm f2.8 or 16-35mm f2.8, which one would you pick? Given that you can’t buy both and will not be buying another lens anytime soon.
it depends on the type of stories you want to tell. both work well on the Merlin, and the 16-35 is definitely more versatile but the 16-35 feels much different than that of the 14mm. the 14mm is rectilinear, which means the distortion will look and feel more natural. the 16-35 has a much more noticeable distortion where bends objects, making them look a little bit more like a fairly tale. this can be usually for wide shots of wedding venues, but for shooting people the 14mm if always our first choice. so, if you want the versatility and don’t mind the look, go for the 16-35mm. if you want something that looks a little more natural than go for the 14mm – that is almost always our first choice. with the crop of factor of the 7D, both are great options to give you a wide moving shot.
Q2. What do you do for low light situation at receptions? I’m an aspiring wedding filmmaker and all of my worst footage is at the wedding reception. My best lens only opens to 2.8 and I have to bring the ISO all the way to 1600 or 3200 and it looks terrible! Is it as simple as using prime lenses that open up to 1.2-2.0? Do you bring your own lights to receptions? Thanks!
using faster lenses certainly help but we always bring our own lights too. the key here is understanding that it’s not just about adding more light, but also improving the quality of light and being able to adjust them as you see fit. bringing your own lights allow you to control the color, direction and intensity – giving you a much better image. so much of cinema is painting with light so finding a way to give yourself more room to work is always a good idea.
Q3. How do you record audio during the reception speeches? Is there a way to…
… “patch-in” to the mic source the DJ might be running from the podium to their speakers, and is that even desirable? Adding our own mics might be an eye-sore and putting wireless lavs on every speaker might be too time-consuming. Thanks, -Eric
we do both so we have a dual system in case one fails. we lav speakers individually but also take the time to hide them so it’s not visible (there will be a SMAPP tutorial with tips on how to do this) and then record the DJ’s feed onto a field recorder via standard XLR or 1/4″ cable. the thing to remember is the DJ’s board feed is not always clean so make sure to do a test and ask before hand so you can tweak and make the most of out it. they say audio is half of what you see so we definitely recommend micing the speakers yourself and always have a backup.
Q4. What does your RED Epic Run-N-gun Monopod Setup look like?
we run the Epic on rails with a Zacuto follow focus and use the smaller RedVolts batteries to keep the weight down. we’ve been able to work with the matte box on as well when we need filter options too. on the Scarlet we run it bare on the monopod with a Shootsac on us that holds the Red bricks plus two Canon lenses. the larger batteries gives you much longer run time if you don’t mind carrying a bag on you. we find that this works quite well in maintaining not only a small footprint but also keeping up with the pace at most live event shoots. this is the setup we used at the Marlin’s opening game last week.
Q5. when is the next workshop and will you be resuming your film challenges soon?
we have some pretty big plans for workshops this year and we’re so excited about them. we’ll be making the first of these announcement within the month so stay tuned for more details very soon. also we’ve been concentrating our efforts into launching SMAPP and we believe there’s a lot more in SMAPP to help push and better filmmakers in other ways. while we don’t have any film challenges planned for the immediate future, we are looking to bring them back later this year.
Q6. Good morning, I’m wedding filmmaker here in Brazil. Here, couples do not have the custom to perform the first look. I would like to know some tips to convince them to do, because I think is pretty much beyond making the film more intimate wedding. A hug – Raphaell
that’s not something we ask couples to do, it comes from them. more than anything we want to tell stories in an authentic and meaningful way so if it’s not something they want to do, we wouldn’t necessarily try to convince them otherwise. instead of that we suggest really getting to know each couple and seeing what storylines and threads you could follow on their wedding day that would add to the film you are creating. you’d be surprised how much there is when you look beyond the things that happen at every wedding and dig deeper into what really matters most to their story.
Q7. I often see pics of Joyce and P shooting together on monopods, in a 35/50 lens combo. How is this done? For eg: how to shoot together, perhaps around a given subject?
generally speaking, we shoot together in three ways. one, we are always aware of what focal lengths other people have so we can do our best to minimize getting in the way. second, usually the person with the wider lens (35mm in your example) would be in closer. this may sound opposite to what you’de expect, but by using the 35mm in close we are pulling people out of the frame (through the exaggeration in the lens) and really making you feel like you are there with the characters. therefore, the person with the longer lens would be a little further back and their tighter focal length would make it easier to avoid the person who is in closer. the third way we do this is trying to have a main shooter, which constantly rotates, and that person takes the lead characters and gets in closer while the second shooter holds back a bit.
Q8. Do you offer Blu-ray to clients? If so, have you found a good authoring program (we love DVD Studio Pro but have yet to find a comparable Blu-ray alternative)? what software and hardware do you guys use to author to blu-ray?
we currently don’t offer Blu-ray. we have done it once or twice, but generally speaking we deliver DVDs, put the films online, and also deliver HD files. the HD files seem to be more future proof and playable on iPads, iPhones, laptops, and media players. this may not work for everybody, but it hasn’t been something that comes up for us. we’ve heard it mentioned maybe a couple times in the past year.
lil’j & P.