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Video Production and Learning the Hard Way

Video production and the technology it relies on are constantly evolving. Currently, we are at a very exciting, yet very frustrating stage in that evolution.

Continuous additions to the technological marketplace require equally continuous learning, upgrading, and trial and error. There is a LOT of what I like to call “learning the hard way,” making mistakes with new equipment in order to become proficient. Whether it’s a new camera, audio equipment, lighting, or editing software, it’s a constant battle to stay current.

Of all the recent additions and upgrades, some have been hugely successful and adopted immediately, while have been slow to take hold. Others still have been abject failures. As always, those of us working in the industry have had to do our best to decide if, when, and how we’re going to incorporate these new additions into our productions.

For me, the biggest transition of the year was switch from video cameras to DSLRs, specifically the Canon 5D Mark II. Now I am by no means ahead of the curve here. DSLRs have been shooting video for a few years now, but I’m rarely the first to go out and purchase the next big thing. At the very least, I prefer to read a few months of reviews first. But this year, after much research and consultation with DSLR owners, I finally pulled the trigger.

For the most part, it’s been a very positive experience. I can’t say enough about the image quality and the depth of field options as a result of the interchangeable lenses. The ability to snap a few photos when I need to is great as well. Yes, becoming fluent in the language of the still photographer was a process. Yes, I made mistakes along the way. However, for the most part the final product was so far superior to my previous work that I’ve stayed with it and now have a newfound passion for photography to boot.

Still, I can’t help but be reminded of the way I used to feel before the arrival of the iPhone. Those days when I’d leave the house I’d have to load my pockets with my phone, a PDA, an iPod, and a camera. Carting around all those devices weighed me down and drove me crazy. I longed for something to come along that would allow me to trade in all those devices for one that did it all. Then along came the iPhone and my wish was granted.

These days, when I go to a shoot with my DSLR, I also need my various lenses, my shoulder mount rig with a separate focus ring, my intervalometer in case I need to do a timelapse, my external audio recorder because the camera lacks XLR inputs for professional microphones, and my video slate to help me sync audio and video. Then when I get into the edit, I have the extra step of syncing the audio and video back together. That’s a whole lot of extra stuff I now have to consider.

I keep waiting to hear that the all-in-one DSLR camera has finally arrived – a camera with XLR inputs and manual audio control, with interval shooting capabilities and more stability, with focus assist and better zoom capabilities (I know, I know, zoom with your feet). Some cameras are getting close, like the Panasonic AG-AF100, but the camera body costs twice that of the Canon 5D and it’s not a DSLR, so all of those great features like the ability to take photos go away.

I’m sure the answer to my prayers will arrive soon enough. Camera technology moves fast and all you have to do is read video blogs or camera reviews to see that that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I just hope that day comes soon!

 

 

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