I wrapped up the year by doing a little pro bono assignment, through the auspices of the Jonathan Krist Foundation, for a wonderful charter school in Trenton, NJ called the Foundation Academy. They needed a short video piece introducing the work of the school, and I was happy to take a crack at it with my new Nikon D7000 and its great video capabilities.
(Due to more bugginess with the video embed system here–sigh–, to see it, click here and it will take you right to my Vimeo site).
I was mightily impressed with the new camera in video mode…we were up in the high ISO’s regularly and the stuff looked very good. There is a sodium vapor-lit gymnasium that absolutely defied color correction (even by post production experts I consulted )…I haven’t seen lights like those since my corporate-shooting days in the 80s, and I thought they were all but gone, but I guess there are some still kicking.
But other than that, the camera behaved perfectly. To maintain aperture and shutter settings whenever possible, I tried using auto ISO for the first time in my life and it worked like a charm. I’m not sure if this is going to be a valid workflow in varying light for video, but I was emboldened to try it because of the new camera’s great performance at high ISOs. In the end, we also used a few clips that my wife Peggy grabbed with a Kodak Zi 8 (a wonderful point and shoot HD video cam) on a previous visit to the school.
As usual, I stuck to a tripod whenever possible (the tripod is my new best friend in video, I’m all but useless handheld so far), but added the use of a slider, the Glidetrack SD Shooter, whenever it seemed doable. For the tracking shots in the awful yellow gymnasium, son Brian, home for the holidays and assisting, wheeled me around in the school’s wheelchair, which we borrowed from the nurse.
It’s the poor man’s dolly shot, and it works great. But I strongly suggest trying to find an adult-sized wheelchair, especially if you’re 6’2″ and well up in the 240+lbs range! I damn near had to have the thing surgically removed:-).
Since it was a pro bono gig, I didn’t want to go into four figure debt hiring a real editor, so I decided to do a separate soundtrack: using audio-only interviews with the principal and teachers laid over a music bed (the license to which was generously donated by the artist, Olafur Arnalds‘, management company. He’s an Icelandic composer whose stuff I just love.).
This would allow me to edit the piece the way I do my audio slideshows; by creating the soundtrack first and laying the pictures (or in this case, the B-roll clips) in. This freed me from having to worry about dual system audio for on-camera interviews (although, days after I finished the edit, the DualEyes for Mac beta program was released, which will make all of our lives easier).
I think it was easier for the teachers to express themselves in the interviews too….nothing can clam you up faster than worrying about how you look on camera. Once I did the soundtrack edit, laying the B roll over it was straightforward and I was able to do the whole thing in iMovie 11, (still the only NLE that I am comfortable with…hopefully that will change in the New Year!).
It was a fun way to end the year, and hopefully augurs more good things for 2011…
Have a Happy New Year!