Thursday, 26 April 2012

Shooting the shifty lookin'

Now you know me well enough by now to know that a great deal of my time is spent hanging around street corners, recording newsworthy detritus and talking hairdo's for the news junky masses of the South of England. Most of the pictures i take roll past my lens in an evenly flow of death, accidents, politics and animals. Stories to inform, educate and entertain the good people whilst they push fish fingers and chips down their throat at teatime.

Occasionally though, i'm given a challenge by my shiny suited journalist to capture the image of certain people that are of upmost importance to a story that is forming in his mind. However, when that particular person does all they can to evade digital capture of their likeness, i dig deep into my resources of the cameraman technique handbook, under 'S' for stalker.

The look of a Sniper.

I make it a personal challenge to film the person involved like a sniper waits for his quarry. We are both waiting to shoot. Me, to turn the likeness of a person into a digital stream of 0's and 1's, the sniper, to turn his head into a slushy mush. The people i tend to film outside the County Courtrooms of this fair nation sometimes make me wish that we were interchangeable, but alas, i make do with shooting from afar with my long lens and the intake of light.

I often find though that the types of people who appear at court are not the brightest of people. When they know the press are outside and that they are the target, they often cannot resist peeking their piggy little eyes out from a window, or from around the door frame to see if i am still there. I am. Or better yet, be possessed by an addiction to the filthy weed that is the cigarette, forcing them out into the open where they attempt to hide themselves in a cloud of smoke, in amongst the trees.

Avoidance is futile...

Too late my friend, i haven't stood here in the pissing rain and cold wind to miss out on you revealing yourself to the news watching public when the urge to dose up on nicotine overtakes you. Like the sniper who has watched his wind gauge, double checked the distance and squeezed the initial trigger pressure, i have flipped the lens doubler, adjusted the iris and focus and waited with my finger on the record button. And even though you try to hide in the foliage of a nearby tree, i will find you. Job done.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Camera..? DSLR..? Smartphone..? Just tell me a story...

OK, i have had enough. Those of you that know me realise that i spend a lot of time on social media sites. I follow a great many people who are in the same industry as me, via Twitter and Facebook, as well as a few other places. We are story tellers, finders of the facts, and of the truth. Tellers of news and factual information. We show off to the world via the medium of video.

The tools of our trade.

I really don't care how that story gets to me, TV, Internet or Mobile, and more importantly, what it is filmed with. If i see one more tweet or status update which declares:

@Dipshitfilms "So And So Film... filmed entirely on a SonyCanikon D5f300 Mkiii/v6. Amazing shallow D.O.F...!!"

I could fucking scream. I do not give a rats arse what the fuck you filmed it on. The 'net is awash with DOP's, Filmmakers, Directors, and other video shooters, extolling the virtues of this, that and the other newest camera, DSLR, or smartphone.

I entirely agree that video quality matters. Technology is advancing in our industry at a rapid rate, meaning that a new camera or DSLR is released every 6 or 7 months. But i cringe every time i follow a link to a film captured with this newest of tech, to find i have wasted 5 minutes of my life watching a total pile of steaming cack, because the shooter / DOP / Director has no idea of how to tell me a story with a beginning, middle or end.

You can have the most up to date, latest released, shiniest of video recording equipment. You can call yourself a Director Of Photography, a filmmaker or what the hell you like, but if any of you halfwits out there direct me to a video link on Vimeo or Youtube, that shows me a very high quality film, but with a story that is a steaming pile of shit, i shall personally come round to your place and fuck you up... big style.

Stop it... Stop it now.

And whilst i'm on the subject of all this new found tech and gadgetry, have you seen some the the rigs that people are attaching to these small, lightweight, unobtrusive cameras...? For the love of all that is holy. I have seen some shooters turn up like they have just been operated on by a spinal surgeon that has attached a multitude of rods, handles, wires and monitors just so he can keep his neck in an upright position. I once witnessed a shooter take half an hour to set up, rig and test his equipment before filming a news piece quite recently, by which time i had filmed my piece and had packed up and left.

I have embedded a film here by DSLR News Shooter, a fine website by Dan Chung. I have done so not to snigger, but to show you what is going on out there in the world of camera geekery and technology.

Now unless you are on a film set, i would say that day to day work with these contraptions are wholly impractical. I wouldn't want to be in a press scrum or shooting any type of news or documentary film with one of these... They seem to want to turn a small useful mobile camera into a shoulder mounted monstrosity that snags on everything you walk past.

So here is my two pennies worth. If you want to film documentary films or the news in particular, buy the best piece of equipment you can afford. Make sure it works for you and your style of shooting. Just be ready to roll as soon as you brake and park your car...

And for the sake of my sanity, please... please just tell me a story, and i promise you, if you inform, educate or entertain me, i will be forever grateful...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter