Tag Archives for " film "

Editing, a quick primer: Cut it short!

Pascal loved editing his letters

Shakespeare must have been thinking about video editing when he penned the words “Brevity is the soul of wit“. There’s a reason it’s called the “cutting room floor” and not the “‘let’s cram some more content into this video’ room floor”. When you’re editing, you’re trimming individual clips, cutting out whole scenes, shortening, condensing and although it seems counterintuitive, the shorter the piece is that you are working on, the longer it’s going to take to edit it. 

Short takes time. Long goes quick.

Blaise Pascal wrote it in 1657 “I have made this (letter) longer than usual, because I have not had time to make it shorter.” If you’re new to editing, you’ll quickly find that cutting together a video will take much more time, than shooting the footage. Our experience in still photography is often quite the opposite. I just finished a 6 day catalog photo shoot and finished editing, i.E. picking the final images by the next morning. A week later I was shooting 3 days of a multi-month motion project and editing that footage will take me much longer than 3 days. 

2 suggestions when you get started editing

Even though editing has a pretty steep learning curve, I strongly recommend that you edit your own work, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better cinematographer. Fast.

On the other hand I strongly recommend that you work with an experienced video editor, especially when you’re just getting into creating video projects. It’s going to make you a better editor. Fast.

Edit your own footage – it’ll make you a better cinematographer

Editing On Wings of Hope made me a better cinematographer. Collaborating with professional editors made me a better editor.

I remember coming back from filming my first corporate documentary film in Afghanistan in 2012. I shoot for 2 and a half weeks and had planned on spending a week to edit the movie. Just for the record, it ended up taking me a longer. Much longer. However editing the footage myself, really helped me understand which shots I had missed or screwed up, where I had to abandon ideas, because of a non-existent camera angles or bad takes I had not retaken in the field. Those realizations are painful, but I won’t be making the same mistakes again. 

Collaborate with professional editors – it’ll make you a better editor

I also send pieces of the short film to friends of mine–experienced film industry pros–and the feedback I got from them was sometimes painful, but I learned a lot in a very short time. 

One email was especially painful. It came from a seasoned Hollywood director friend of mine and begins with the words: “Ok. If you’ll notice the time you may give some thought to how much you’re loved and appreciated. For both expediency and brevity’s sake I’m not going to perfume my words…

Then it goes into 3 pages of non-perfumed words, ripping apart every scene I’d lovingly cut together. Telling me (in no uncertain terms) where there was significant room for improvement. Honestly I did not feel happy when I read that email for the first time. Or the second time. But when I finally re-edited the film following his suggestions, they made the movie a million times better. A printout of his email sits on my desk and I reread it from time to time.

In case you’re still not clear about this: Editing is cutting.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Edit your video. Then cut out half of the footage. Once you’ve done that, congratulate yourself and cut it again by half. Now you’re in the ballpark of how long your motion piece should be. Brevity is the soul of wit, especially when it comes to editing.

Where to go from here

If you’re looking for a great book on editing, check out “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, by Walter Murch” its basically the Film Editors bible. Brand new to video? Check out Pascals talk at WordCamp Miami How to step up your video” and learn about story, sound, visuals and edit.

[This post was originally published on the American Society of Media Photographers ‘Strictly Business’ blog.]

The philosophy behind riveting story telling: ASMP SB Story telling in Motion

Story is the most important element of good video

Story trumps everything

Story is the most important part of any video. Great story trumps great visuals, amazing audio or an intricate edit every time. As a photographer you’ve been a visual storyteller for as long as you’ve captured still images, so I’m not gonna waste your time on how to craft visual content that tells a compelling story designed to change the viewers mind.

(If you want to learn more about that kind of story telling check out Alex Buono’s Visual Story Telling Tour that’s running through September 20th – don’t forget yourASMP member discount – or check out the How to Step Up Your Video talk I gave at WordCamp Miami this past May.)

3 ingredients necessary to create a powerful story

I believe the philosophy behind creating a powerful visual story is simple. It consists of three basic steps that, when followed, make your story irresistible. These three ingredients are simple to learn, yet difficult to execute. I discovered them when creating my first documentary in Afghanistan, shared them in my TEDx talk called The Art of Changing Minds and try to incorporate them into all of my video productions:

Step#1: Vision

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others – Jonathan Swift

Without vision you have no story. Without vision you are literally flying blind. How are you going to tell a story, if you don’t know how it ends, where it begins and what twists and turns there will be along the way? By the way, it was Aristotle who wrote that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Your vision is imperative to transform your viewer. Without vision it’s the blind leading the blind. True vision can not be manufactured, it has to transform you first.

(As an aside, if all you have is vision – you’re a just dreamer. Someone with a great idea, who’s afraid of going out on a limb with his or her idea. You need the next step to get the driving force to help you get your dream off the ground.)

Step#2: Passion

If you don’t have a passion for what you do, any rational person is going to give up – Steve Jobs

Without passion your story is dull, boring, uninteresting and lame. Without passion your story is a carbon copy of someone else’s at best–a counterfeit clone at worst. How are you going to excite your audience, if you’re not sharing something that you deeply believe in? More importantly, where are you gonna get the strength to deal with the people who will discourage you from telling your story without having that fire in your belly? It’s easy to give up if all you hear is “No!” – unless you have passion driving your vision.

Your passion is vital to inspire your audience. Without passion you’re producing a story that’s gonna put everyone to sleep. True passion can not be faked. Passion has to inspire you first, before it inspires your audience.

(As an aside, if you have passion, without vision – you’re like a bull in a china shop. There’s a lot of noise, but nothing good is gonna come out of it. Shoot first and ask questions later does not work.)

Action

Your aspirations are in heaven, but your brains are in your feet – Afghan proverb

Without action your story is going to die. I don’t care how transforming your vision is and how inspirational your passion is; without taking action, you will fail. It’s as simple as that. Without action your story never gets told and an untold story is worth as much as an unprocessed piece of film.

Your action inspires, or breathes life into, your story. Without action your story remains lifeless and dead. It stays buried inside your head or entombed in some dusty screenplay or faded storyboard, that’s never gonna get shared. Great stories need you to get your head out of the clouds and get going.

The philosophy behind riveting storytelling

  • Be a true visionary and create a transformative story, by staying true to your vision.
  • Become a person of passion, who shares an inspirational story fueled by the burning passion in your gut.
  • Take action! Produce an inspiring story that follows your vision, and combine it with passion to let it rip …

5 Tips for Making a Killer Video From Your Phone

today's phones produce stunning videos

The August 7 deadline for sharing a 90-second (or less) video about your business as part of our ongoing Small Business Big Game contest is right around the corner — and it’s an amazing opportunity to showcase who you are and why you love running the show as a small business owner or self-employed professional. 

But what if you’re not sure where to start? 

We tapped OWN IT member and professional cinematographer Pascal Depuhl to share with us his top tips for creating a video you can be proud of — even if you only have a smartphone on hand.

Read on for Pascal’s great tips…

 

You’ve worked with a range of different small businesses to tell their stories in video. What are your go-to ideas or themes that work best?

The #1 thing you want to express in your video is the *why.* Why is your product the best? Why is your service better? Why is your small business the right choice for a potential customer or client?Once you nail the “why,” everything else will fall into place.
The story that comes out of the answers to these questions is the backbone of your video. That story is always simple:
  • Identify a problem your customer has
  • Show why your business offers the best solution
  • Finish with a call to action
I always start by putting myself in my audience’s shoes: What do they need that I can offer? Or, do I need to explain something new to them? If it’s necessary, how can I change their mind?
Do they want to hear from another customer? Make a testimonial video featuring one of your star customers.
Do they need to hear from an expert? Shoot an interview.
Do they need to experience your location? Take them behind the scenes with a guided video tour.
Do they want to learn how your service works? Film a short tutorial.
Remember, a good story will keep customers watching. A bad one (or worse, no story at all) and your viewers will drop like flies.
 

I know I want to tell a compelling story with my video, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance. What is the quickest way for me to create a script before I start filming?

Good luck on not leaving anything to chance! Actually, you want chance — unless you’re filming a movie with professional actors. Your video should be real. If you script what a client says in a testimonial, it’s gonna sound canned.
That being said, it is important — scratch that, it is *vital* — to plan. The good news is you’ve already started. You’ve figured out the problem your customer has, why your small business offers the best solution and how to convince the potential client to take action. You also know if you’re creating a testimonial, a behind-the-scenes tour or a tutorial.
Write out interview questions that you think will give you the answers you need for your story. Sketch out the order in which you want to walk through a behind-the-scenes tour, or lay out the steps you are going to cover in your tutorial.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few notes jotted down or a few stick figures in a story board will go a long way in keeping you on track. Don’t forget to also consider the location where you’ll be filming.

I only have a smartphone that can record video. Is that good enough for creating my video, or do I need to invest in expensive equipment first?

a couple of years ago

Marketing Hack #11:Promote your clients – like a champ

Launch your business with a BIG bang!

Promote your clients and let them tell your brands story

There is a God and He loves me.” That’s what I’m thinking when I hang up the phone. I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself. I had just finished editing my first documentary film, that had been produced as a pro bono piece for a humanitarian organization. I made the movie to tell their story. A distant second reason was to learn how to shot a documentary film and even further down the list, I’m thinking it’s a great piece to launch the video portion of my photography business, if I could put the story about my client front and center. The organization had covered the costs of the production and I was happy to not charge my for my filming and editing, but we had never even considered to include any money to promote their story.

However, in my mind, their story deserves to be premiered in a bigger way, than just setting up a screen in my backyard with some friends – I’m thinking a lot bigger than that–in german we have a word for that Größenwahn (loosely translated it means megalomania = the delusion about one’s importance) or in my case the delusion about how important the story is that the film is telling–but it looks like in reality it is gonna be the garden party with a couple of friends, after all it’s my first documentary film and I’ve only been doing video for 6 months when I filmed it. Before that day, I had almost given up the hope for something big and almost accepted the fact of an intimate launch party with some friends. Almost. Until I get off the phone.

Watch for opportunities to promote your client, where noone is looking

I’m gonna be in Florida, can I come visit?” Daniel had asked me. We’ve know each other for decades and love hanging out together, although we usually live on opposite sides of the globe–we actually were in Cape Town at the same time once, but didn’t find out until weeks later – c’est la vie. Anyway, I was excited to get a chance to spend some time with my college buddy. At the same time I was curious, since he’s usually not in Florida when he comes to the States. When I inquired about the reason for the unexpected, but very welcome visit, his answer stopped me dead in my tracks: “I’m gonna be picking up the plane.

Wait! What plane?The plane on the tarmac in Florida that made it possible to promote my client

Turns out the plane he’s talking about, is the very one that I had flown in and filmed, while I was in Afghanistan. It’s now sitting at an airport 20 minutes from my house, waiting for a new set of engines and an avionics upgrade. “Can we do something with the plane and the movie?” was my first question to him. I’m envisioning something grandiose, like the plane parked next to a big screen that’s playing their story, like my friend Mary always says “Go big, or go home.” I like dreaming big. Remember Größenwahn? But since there’s no budget, the chances of anything happening are remote to say the least. I mean I have to find a place that’s big enough to actually pull this off and I need to be able to get the airplane to that place, if I find one. What are the chances of that happening? Slim to none.

Expect ‘No’ to be the standard answer

I call the company that’s working on the plane. They should to have the hangar, right? So I call them up and get a very nice secretary on the phone, who does a great job of not letting me even speak to her boss. Don’t get me wrong. She’s doing exactly what she is hired to do–get rid of all the crazy people. So how do you handle a polite “No“? Do (a) give up, (b) look for another location, (c) curl up in a corner and cry or (d) none of the above.

Don’t take No for the final answer

I send a nice email thanking her for her time and include a trailer for the movie. 20 minutes later my phone rings.

a couple of years ago

Visuals are great to step up your video

Visuals are the glue that keep your viewers stuck to your video

Visuals can communicate so much in video

Visuals are what we all think about when we think about video. As photographers we already know how to create them–I’ve been in the visual content creation business since high school. We need to learn to work some new tools and understand that visuals in video are not a split second in time, but we now need to create the whole moment. Learn how to step up your video from the talk I gave at WordCamp Miami a few weeks ago.

Next weeks video is all about editing

Next week we’ll dive into the last step of “How to step up your video: Edit“. Editing is were the story, the sound and the visuals all come together. This is the final piece in creating your video.

I spoke at #WCMIA as part of a MarketingHack#6: Speak to influencers that your target market trusts.

a couple of years ago

Move2Motion video class coming to Miami again this October as part of PPA’s Super 1 day!

Video class PPA Super 1 Day Miami

Announcing the second Move2Motion workshop

Video class for photographers I’m excited to announce, that I’ll be teaching a second Move2Motion workshop for photographers on October 17, 2015 as part of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) educational event called: Super 1 Day

Video is becoming more and more prevalent online and you’re clients are looking to share the products and services of their businesses and personal events with their clients and friends in motion productions and no longer just stills.

Video is becoming more and more prevalent online and you’re clients are looking to share their businesses and events with their clients and friends in motion productions and no longer just stills.

Learn the basics of video for photographers

This Move2Motion workshops will give you a comprehensive foundation of video and film production. We’ll look at …

  • What makes compelling story and why you should care
  • Why audio is more important than video and how to record it
  • How great visuals can make your story shine and why video is not like shooting stills
  • Why you should edit your own footage and some basic tips on how to make it all work together

Who’s teaching me this course?

Pascal Depuhl video workshop with PPAPascal Depuhl is a photographer who’s added cinematography to his repertoire a few years ago.

He teaches a workshop series called Move2Motion, designed for professional photographers, who want to add video and motion capabilities to the services they offer to their clients. Pascal has taught about video at WordCamp Miami and local universities. He’s given a TEDx talk based on the short documentary he filmed in Afghanistan and spoken about video at a few online conferences.

Pascal’s short films have won international marketing and photo industry awards, they’ve been screened in film festivals and National Geographic, the BBC and PBS have bought his footage. Pascal has also helped Philip Bloom, Nino Leitner and others teach at their Filmmaking workshops.

If you haven’t made the switch to adding motion to your photography yet, don’t worry. He’s been in your shoes and remembers what it felt like, when he dipped his toe into video.

 

_____

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3 years ago

The Art of changing minds – my TEDx Boca Raton talk – I bet I can change your mind!

The art of changing minds #TEDxBocaRaton talk as a wordle

You’re a TED talk!

You’re a TED talk” is what the lady tells me. I just sat down at Panera 5 minutes ago and am meeting Becky for the first time in my life. Someone had told me that we needed to meet – and I just started telling her how I got to make ‘On Wings of Hope‘ – my award winning documentary in Afghanistan. She interrupts me after a few minutes “You’re a TED talk” and I think to myself “Yeah. Sure I am.

For those of you who don’t know, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) given by thought leaders and top influencers in their field; people like Steven Hawkins, Tony Robbins, Al Gore, …  So you can see how I fit right into that line-up. NOT!

Strangely enough about a year later I find myself on the stage of FAU in Boca Raton, talking about ‘The Art of Changing minds” at Becky’s #TEDxBocaRaton event. Here is my TEDx talk as a wordleContinue reading