Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shooting Stock Video on Oahu

Video shoot in Hawaii

David Fischer, an old friend and fellow photographer, and I just finished our first joint video shoot in Hawaii. We wanted to add to our stock video collection and test out a gyro device used to stabilize video (and still) cameras. Our thinking is that the gyro might be something we could use instead of a steady cam. Each has its place; the gyro tends to make the camera steadier while the steady cam is better at keeping the camera level. David and I are both enjoying the collaboration process. David is more experienced with motion having directed commercial productions.

We are staying at the Ko Olina resort. We first arranged to get permission to shoot on the property (a property release). The resort, actually a condominium complex, is located right on the beach on the island of Oahu. The grounds include a meandering stream filled with Koi, several pools and hot tubs, and assorted gardens.

Shooting with a Panasonic HVX-200

We mounted the gyro on my Panasonic HVX-200 video camera. We were also shooting with an FS-100 hard drive. The Panasonic records directly to the drive. It takes a bit of figuring out, but enables us to shoot over an hour of 720p 24 HD video at a time. This camera is the one that was recommended to me by Getty when I first talked to them about getting into stock footage. They felt, at that time, it was one of the best entry-level cameras. I also purchased a Manfrotto tripod and a Manfrotto 501 fluid head. This system has been working well for me. The next purchase may be a higher capacity P2 card. I have heard you can now buy 64 gig cards. I bet they cost a fortune though!

Getting our feet wet with Koi

We started off filming the Koi. For any of you who are not familiar with them, Koi are actually a member of the Carp family. Koi have been documented to live up to 226 years and in Japan are actually passed down from generation to generation. In Japan they are known as “living jewels’, but are also known as water pigs because they will eat just about anything. Koi grow up to three feet long and can weigh fifty pounds. They can be expensive, and championship Koi have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars! Watching them undulate lazily through the clear water with their brilliant colors of reds, oranges and yellows was almost a meditative experience. I am anxious to see how the video looks.

After filming the Koi we moved on to the pool. There we had a model (my girl friend’s daughter, Anabelle) dipping her feet into the water. We panned across the rippling water, up her feet, and then continued panning on up the palm trees and into the sky. Finally we headed to the beach and shot her walking along the edge of the surf as we followed behind, a few inches above the sand. We shot variations of this for about fifteen minutes until a security guard informed us that we could not shoot on that beach without written permission. Oh well….

The gyro makes it smooth…and jerky!

As far as the gyro goes, it has both benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand it can make the camera movements more steady, but if one moves a little too quickly the gyro can make the camera jerk. As with anything, practice helps! The gyro also adds more weight. After the shoot I was starting to feel like Popeye! I am not yet sold on the device and need to give it more of a work out. Stay tuned on that.

Hitting the road

From there we hit the road. David and I drove North up to Turtle Bay and spent some time shooting 10 to 15 foot high waves, and surfers, on various beaches. I managed to shoot some stills too. I know it sounds really cornball, but I think if I replace one of the surfers with a businessman in a suit it will sell. Stay tuned for that too. I do intend to make the image, corny or not, and will share the sales results. Expect to hear more on that in about six months. Stock is a long, slow process and it will take that amount of time for me to make the image, get it accepted and up online, and start seeing income from it. I will say, though, Getty’s upload portal works very well and has considerably shortened the time-to-market.

To sum it up, our first little shoot was fun and productive, and while we haven’t made a final decision on whether we should purchase the gyro, it definitely makes for smoother hand-held operation. Adding video to my stock efforts not only increases my earning potential, but also is helping keep my working experience fresh and fun. Not a bad combination!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report, John. The gyo sounds interesting. Love to see the results. I imagine the weight is formidable!

I finally got the Canon 5D M2 balanced on the Merlin Steadicam, and it works well, once you get the hang of it. However, in the final analysis, I feel that the quality of the Panasonic's 720p beats the Canon 1080p. Surprising, but true.

I look forward to seeing the images (moving and still) that you create in Hawaii!