Over the weekend, Filmtools hosted another one of their seminars aimed at providing education for the local filmmaking community in the form of a day-long presentation from Paolo Cascio. The importance of shooting cinematic video in today’s marketplace has become more in demand and vital for photographers to learn in order to compete for jobs. “Filmmaking for Photographers” was designed to educate and equip those photographers with everything they needed to learn to become a profitable “hybrid” photographer/filmmaker.
Paolo Cascio is an award winning cinematographer/photographer with over 3 decades experience working on Hollywood productions, including feature films, episodic television, commercials, documentaries and music videos. He is an educator, brand ambassador and influencer, and has been teaching workshops and speaking at conferences for the past 5 years, in addition to being the cinematography professor at Azusa Pacific University for the past 2 years.
Paolo covered everything the photographers needed to know and learn from proper cinema camera settings, media storage, filtration, lighting, sound, and editing in a simple, practical and effective way. As a freelance DP, I always like doing “industrials” (corporate interviews and the like) as a way to make extra money, and often I’m asked to shoot photos as well. As a former concert and event photographer in my youth, that value-add for the client is pretty easy for me as making a film is somewhat more difficult than shooting photos but one could easily see how going the other way would take a bit of effort to wrap your head around, which is why seminars like this are so valuable for folks making the jump. Especially now that stills cameras are so capable of shooting amazing video (such as my personal favorite, the Fujifilm XT3 which I wrote about recently) it’s easier than ever to provide your client with great looking video once you have the know-how. Paolo demonstrated these techniques with a Canon C70, but the principles are applicable to any video camera and any on any budget.
Nestled in the warehouse-end of Filmtools, Paolo was able to go over where the tools of each discipline overlap and what equipment one would need to bridge the gap between them, such as the humble light meter, and continuous lights and audio respectively. While the principles of creating an image are the same, the execution and visual language is different enough that one could get caught creating something that doesn’t quite look right to the client and Paolo was able to identify those potential traps for the class so they’d be able to hit the ground running. For instance, one thing I’ll see often times is photographers not sitting on a 1/48 shutter when filming and using ND filters to handle exposure, instead opting to jack up the shutter speed to bring down a hot image. That might work photographically but the cadence of the image will look amateurish. Not thinking about sound ’til the last minute is another big one. Considered framing, and thinking about how one shot will flow into the next is another thing that might not immediately come to mind for a headshot photographer, for instance, or the importance of getting coverage and b-roll so you have room in post to craft exactly the video that is required. All these things are important aspects of creating a cohesive and professional product for your client.
Paolo was able to demonstrate a few lighting setups for the class, such as the ever-needed interview setup to a more “Noir” cinematic look he found on the spot using a nearby office. Photo strobes are an easy way to get a lot of power and contrast in to your image, especially when you can spend the time to edit your image to your hearts content, but filmmaking requires a little more work on-set to get where you need to be. Luckily, continuous lighting in the form of LED panels and tubes are making that job easier, lighter, and more tunable. For instance, I can’t say I’ve seen an RGBW or Bi-Color strobe! The attendants also learned the difference between photographic lighting and film lighting when it comes to placement of those lights, what kind of exposure you’re looking for, and how one can use photographic modifiers to achieve cinematic results. He also covered filters beyond the humble Polarizer, such as popular diffusions like the Black Pro Mist, which I feel like are less-used in the photography world these days. After every setup, Paolo let the attendees get up and use the equipment to make sure they had a firm grasp on what was being taught, something that sometimes doesn’t even happen in Film School until a later date. It’s nice to learn something and immediate get acquainted with the gear and setups while the information is fresh on your mind and allows you to ask questions right when you think of them.
These days it’s easy to find tons of information on filmmaking online or in books, but for someone just starting out it can potentially be intimidating or confusing. Classes like this one are a great way to be able to get hands-on with the equipment and not be afraid of asking “dumb” questions in an environment of your peers. Even listening to something like the Frame & Reference Podcast here at ProVideo can be a great resource for those of us who are already working DPs, but for someone new it can likely feel like trying to catch a moving train. Luckily, Filmtools is determined to host more of these kinds of seminars, and for free! They won’t all be for beginners, but it’s so much better to spend a day in an academic setting at any skill level than it is trying to chase down information online and trying to figure out how to “know what you don’t know”.
After the day had wrapped, Filmtools gave away some gear and swag from SanDisk Pro, which either kept the classmembers clothed, hydrated, or on their way to a speedy post-production workflow. They’re practically paying you to be there!