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when we are first starting out its often easy to shoot with the same lens over and over again. that could be because we only have one lens, it’s your favorite lens or because you aren’t sure what to use when, but there are a ton of options and just knowing what’s available out there can help you in a particular scene or project you are working on.

we always stress to put story first and uses lenses that best fit the scene. while we typically carry our faithful Canon prime kit with us we are always looking to tailor our gear to each shoot so that we are able to make the most out of it. that may mean taking advantage of a specific lens property or the size/weight of a lens and more often than not we find ourselves bringing specific gear that could really makes a difference.

sometimes you know exactly what lens fits your needs and other times you’re not sure so we find that renting is a great alternative to buying when you just want to try something out. we’ve been renting from our friends at LensProToGo for years and they’ve helped us discover new tools that help further the story and/or streamline production and

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to us, education is distilling a concept or idea down to it’s simplest form, and then bringing it back up to a point where we as filmmakers can make relevant and meaningful decisions to the stories we’re telling.

for instance, if someone asks us what specific light modifier should they be using for a particular shot? before we can truly answer that, they need to understand what each modifier is going to do. before we can teach that, they need to understand the qualities of light, and before we can teach that, they need to know what a stop of light actually is and how it’s measured.  only after all that can we truly answer the first question in a way that’s relevant to the story they’re trying to tell.

we take that concept and apply it to all of our education.  start what, move to how, and end with why. the idea is quite simple, but in order to make educated decisions as a filmmaker, you have to know what you’re going to be saying if you make a certain decision, and only then can you determine if that’s the right decision to make.

just providing the solution but not explaining all of the other aspects of the question will not provide a solid foundation to make the next educated decision on your own.  whether we’re teaching about lenses, light, camera movement, storytelling or editing, every decision you make along the way matters and it’s our goal with education to empower you to make educated decisions at every step of your production.  it’s going to mean more powerful stories, with each frame saying exactly what you want it to say.

while we’re educating, we carry this concept over in a number of ways. the first being live demonstration (either demos by us or hands on training with you) – the what’s and hows – the concept of light and what a stop of light is can be rather difficult to understand by reading a bunch of text. but set up a light, bring in a model in, and pull out a light meter and all of a sudden the concept becomes much easier to understand. in addition, while we’re there we can also talk about the inverse square law and just how it applies to light loss or gain depending on how you move your light – again, a concept that’s difficult to understand, unless you see it happening right in front of you.  the same goes with the physics of a steadicam – we can talk all we want about how to properly operate a steadicam, but it’s all very moot until you’re physically in on and we’re teaching you the ins and outs while you’re flying a rig.

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instead of answering just one question this week we’ll answer a handful of questions that we have either received multiple times from different people or are just perfect for short form answers here on the blog. from the feedback we’ve received this seems like something you guys enjoy once in a while so we’ll do a mix of single & multiple question of the week responses throughout the month.

Q1. Hey guys, my question is how much footage is too much footage? I recently shot a wedding and it great, but I took a heap of footage, and it just was a nightmare to edit later on…Do you sort your footage in a particular way? Especially if you have 3 or 4 cameras as you must do, how is your workflow in a SDE?

ah yes the age old question of how much is too much. for us its much less about a number of gigabytes as it is going into a shoot knowing what the storylines are, what you’re looking to get out of it and being aware of things that may or may not relate. in short, we try to cover things that are relevant to the story and if it’s not, then your time is probably better spent looking for things that are relevant rather than to shoot everything. not only will you have less footage to go through later, but you will also have more meaningful footage to work with too.

we typically have 2-3 cinematographers at each wedding and the footage is sorted the same way with or without a SDE. the folder structure is setup such that it’s super easy to find what you need during an edit. individual EOS folders are renamed per the formula below, telling us where the footage has been downloaded to, what folders are missing and what footage is on which folder.

[first_initial_of_the_location_of_footage][# of download] (description of footage)

in the example here, you can see the first 3 folders were download by Joyce (j1, j2, j3…) and there is a short description of the contents of the footage in each of those (hockey, signs, farm scenics). notice that this is what is downloaded onto my laptop, but not necessarily what i shot – i.e. j3 (pwl photo session) is the 3rd folder i downloaded, with footage from the photo session shot by Paul.

if you have more questions check out a full tutorial on SDE workflow here

Q2. How to light an interview and without getting reflections in the talent’s glasses?

well there are a couple ways to go about this. one is to try to raise the light so that it’s slightly higher than eye level on your subject.

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it’s been a big week at With Etiquette – among other site updates, we birthed The Wizard, a friendly chap that wants to help you find perfect songs for your projects.

he has a great philosophy that the more you share with him, the better can be. we can all learn from that. simply select any of the available options to get him fired up.

to celebrate his kick off, we launched a contest: The Wizard Suggests Knowledge, and we’ve got some killer prizes.

the grand prize is two (2) tickets to a KNOW by stillmotion tour stop, a one hour 1 on 1 mentorship by stillmotion at your KNOW by stillmotion tour stop, and a $199 USD With Etiquette credit

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we’ve got news, and the good stuff at that. it’s been a challenge in getting the last 10% of SMAPP but we remain just as excited as ever, perhaps even more so as we move ahead and make SMAPP even stronger. what was holding us back was how SMAPP was performing and how quick it would respond in the field, away from any cell service or wifi. we’ve always envisioned SMAPP to be most valuable in the field, but in order to make that a practical option, it needed to be just as snappy anywhere you wanted to use it. aside from some small glitches, this was our major road block. until now, that is. just this past week we hit a major breakthrough in what was missing. it means a couple portions will need to be redeveloped on a different platform, but we have a very aggressive schedule in place and we are taking this extra time to take SMAPP three steps further.