By Stefan Sargent

If you’ve been reading my diary here over the last three years, you might sense a pattern: I get a job, there’s lots of pain and grief — finally, I get the job done and save the day.

Not so with this sorry tale.


I have a production for a client with offices in Cleveland, Portland, Delaware and somewhere else. Against my advice, he insists that I do the primary shoot while his interstate offices hire local crews.

“If you want a consistent look and high production values, fly me. I’ll match the cost of the local crew and the only added expense will be airfare, car hire and hotel.”

No dice. The district offices won. I mean, anyone can shoot video, can’t they?

Don’t get me wrong. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of production companies that shoot great corporate video. Then there’s Max…


Max is a friend of the people in the Delaware office. He does superb architectural photos — still photos, not movies. He has a good Web site; building exteriors and beautifully lit interiors. Now he has a Canon 7D. Whoopee. Anyone can shoot video, can’t they?

He’s booked to take some advertising stills and, yep, he’s the guy who is going to take video for my production.

SS: Hi, Max, Peter has asked me to contact you regarding the shoot next week.Please shoot 1080 60i, not 24p. Go wide, then close up, details, people, etc.. I noticed that the interiors on your Web site have no people. Video thrives on people. People doing things, close-ups of what they are doing. Reverse angles. Video loves movement. A static building needs a moving car passing by. If nothing moves, move the camera, put wheels under your tripod.

Max: I don’t have wheels. There’s not much light. I did some video tests but the video looks noisy. What is the lowest shutter speed I can use?

SS: A shopping trolley or a wheelchair is good for tracking shots. I often drop from a 60th to a 30th to get any extra stop. There’s a slight blur on movement but perfectly acceptable.

Max: Ready to send. What size photo files — TIFF or JPG? What is the best format for video? Be specific.

SS: I don’t need stills. Video: I’d really like ProRes 422 (LT) but otherwise H.264 1920 x 1080 @ 29.97 fps. If you need conversion advice let me know.

Max: You can download the stills and video from my FTP. Here’s the address, username and password…


SS: Got it. Eight 10 MB stills and just one movie shot. The interiors are wide, no people stills. Even the single video shot has no people. NO product shots. I’m really disappointed.

Max: The interiors are for their brochure and needed pin-sharp quality and long exposures. I only had time for one movie. I hope you can take out the noise. I was booked for one day. If you want more, take it up with Peter.

SS: Hi, Peter. I don’t know what’s going on with Max. I tried to be as helpful as possible. After a lengthy series of e-mails, he sent me just one movie shot. It just won’t work for your video. I’ll fly up the night before, spend one day shooting and fly back same day.

Peter: Hi, Stefan. Sorry Max didn’t work out but we have the problem solved. My colleague Dennis has a new iPhone 4. It does HD and is good in low light.

Dennis also has iMovie and would like to try his hand at editing. Thank you for everything you’ve done. Please FedEx your tapes (or is it on disc?). Bill us for the work done so far. Thanks again.

Dennis: Hi, Stefan. Peter has asked me to edit the video. Do you think iMovie ’09 will be up to the job? What’s the difference between Final Cut Express HD and Final Cut Pro?


original article here

This entry was posted in 2010, Production Diary. Bookmark the permalink.