Hello fellow filmmakers, sorry for the silence over the past year… I just got so busy with filming and traveling, but that’s no excuse as that’s what I should have been blogging about.
Anyway apologies over, I’m back with a plan to write more frequent, but shorter blogs.
The last 3 months have been a very interesting & exciting time.
I got asked by a good friend Director Nat Sharman to come onboard and shoot a Docu Drama on ‘Unexplained’ Mysteries. Nat and I have a long history of shooting Docu Dramas together so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with him.
For me Docu Dramas are a great genre of programme as you get the best of both worlds. Firstly, to shoot off the cuff, relatively unplanned footage in new locations all whilst meeting world experts and sometimes eccentric characters . Then with the drama getting to step properly into being a DP, collaborating with other departments and having the resources to really push the craft of Cinematography.
Hello DOP Blog readers. Just wanted to inform you all about the B&H Canon Deal that’s going on!
There doing a Double Super Saver with Rebates! What? Yes! Finally a SALE!
I love using the Canon 45mm & 90mm Tilt Shift lenses and now am finally going to buy them instead of hiring!
They are such quality lenses and with the Scarlet and C300 having an option of Canon mount you know you will get some serious use out of them.
Well ‘The Turtles’ are registered as an official team in the 48hour film project. Yep you have 48 hours to make a short film that’s the premise.
The organisers give you a line of dialogue, a prop, a character and a genera then you have 48hours to write, shoot, edit, score and deliver your film – I’ve always liked a challenge!
It’s the first time in the history of the competition that Dubai is in the mix and Director Nizar Sfair and I are reuniting to make something special – I hope – maybe even intriguing, interesting and at least a visual feast! We’re all sharing and expanding our usual roles in this ZERO budget project.
With the help of all the highly talented volunteers already signed up to the ‘The Turtles’ including acting coach Miranda Davidson from Miranda Davidson Studios it should have some depth of character, at the very least the actors WILL have a backstory! I almost shed a tear just sitting in one of her classes the other evening… Acting really is a dark art…
Who knows what we’ll come up with, but it should be fun and as soon as I get the nod i’ll post it up here.
Thanks in advance to everyone who’s helping out including Alchemy Films who are providing some equipment, Bareface with additional cast and Optix for the use of their post production facility. Now I better blow the dust off that 5D that helped me out so well with the Life in a Day project.
If you want to learn how to shoot professionally here’s your ANSWER!
I have been escaping the Dubai Sumer heat and spending the past few weeks in the USA, UK and India. It’s been fun continuing the 3x 1 hour documentaries with Darwinist Richard Dawkins on SEX/ MORALITY, DEATH and THE MEANING OF LIFE! What subjects! It’s certainly been an eye opener learning about life with the differing religious points of view from Christians and Catholics to Hindus and Buddhists, oh yeah and of course a good amount of Atheism from Richard thrown in, the chat about life with and without a Supreme Being/ God has been interesting to say the least…
On a safer front, but still a little risky, Richard met up with fellow Atheist Ricky Gervais, yep the comedian famed for The Office and hero from the Golden Globes! I cannot believe how he got away with hosting the awards with that speech – it was a little shocking, but defo wet your pants funny!
Whenever you film with a ‘star’ the Producers and often Directors get nervous, not because they are intimidated by them so much, but because of how the manager has painted their client. I have heard so many times that the ‘star’ is only going to stay 5-10 minuets, you can’t do this or that, they will want to change the lighting or possibly the set up… However way more often than not they turn out to be Kool (with a K) and stay well beyond their time slot and I can count Ricky G in that category too! He was a pleasure to film with, fair enough he had a few dodgy jokes before the cameras rolled, but maybe Richard Dawkins made him a little nervous…
As well as filming for the documentary, I have managed to fit in a few extra days on other productions. Including a graphics/ title shoot for Jamie Oliver’s new 1 hour programme Jamie Cooks Summer, Produced and Directed by my very good friend Chris Faith. I also filmed a festival called the Big Chill with X Factor contestant and I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here winner Stacy Soloman and a days filming on the hit show Made in Chelsea which is a similar format to the Hills or The Only way is Essex.
I have noticed some similarities within the UK television industry since I left the shores in 2008 and some changes too.
The Big Chill was for an ITV This Morning feature about fashion and festivals. I was so surprised when the Director and top lad Sam informed me of the required camera format – Digi Beta! What Digi Beta? Are you serious! I used to love Digi Beta, it used to be the dream format. If you were shooting on Digi you knew you were doing something right.
But even to a nostalgic DP in 2011 it does seem a little dated but not one to complain I hired a 970, sadly not my favourite 790 as that camera seems to be no longer in existence and headed off to watch Kanye West play. Easy Taught me!
The Digi is what an old school Cameraman would call a real camera, it’s made for filming. True it is heavy, but in all the right places, it’s so well balanced that it is a dream to use. I was back to pulling off 180’s and my signature 360 spin (that MTV used to lap up) in no time.
Now for the change, Sony F3. On both Jamie Oliver’s shoot and Made in Chelsea it was the camera of choice, well actually it seems to be the camera of choice for most of the UK.
So what’s my verdict:
First and foremost it gives beautiful images, that cannot be denied and it has a PL mount which means it can take 35mm film lenses, something I always dreamed about as a nipper. They are the pros, and sadly there are pay offs. Like a lot of cameras in the current market it is a little bit of a pig to work with. With cards directly inserted in the camera it only records 30mbps, so to get higher res 5ombps you need to use a Nano Flash or ‘Nano Gash‘ as they seem to be referred to. It’s a bit of a pain as you have to record on the Nano Flash separately, plus the viewfinder isn’t great for focus and to get the Nano Flash on the camera + additional battery you have to add more bars, which means actually getting your eye to the viewfinder is quite tricky. So on both programmes I used an additional Cineroid viewfinder which is another iteam of kit to add onto the camera, which makes it more bulky and cumbersome and just not balanced and to be honest isn’t that good either.
I love how technology is changing and I believe we are right in the middle of it, with all these new amazing digital cameras and advancements in post being released.
I just read this on Stalk Book ‘He who wants the world to remain as it is, doesn’t want to remain at all’.
You can not keep the world from changing, and regardless of what camera format you are filming on filming on Location remains the same so here’s 7 Top Tips to help you:
1) Before leaving for location check your kit as it will be used, don’t skip any stage of this as the one thing you don’t check will more often than not work. Take spares
2) Make a detailed list of the amount of kit you have including number of boxes and bags
3) If you think you might need it take it. Even if you doubt you will use it, still take it and I guarntee more often than not you will be thankful you took it
4) Take an multi plug adaptor and 4way power extension. This way you will always be able to charge your batteries, phone, laptop without having to sacrifice other appliences in your hotel room i.e. the TV
5) Always take the business card of the hotel your staying at with the address on it and put safely in your wallet
6) If abroad learn some very basic words, ‘hello, thank you, yes please, excuse me’
7) Be aware of your location and potential hazards
It is a really exciting time at the moment, so enjoy whatever it is you are filming and if you want over 50 more Top Location Filming Tips then you know where to get them plus find out the key to becoming a highly successful and in-demand Cameraman/ DOP www.howtobecomeacameraman.com
NYC, Philly, Joplin, Kansas City, San Fran, Vegas and now LA. It’s been a busy 10 days to say the least as I have started filming 3x 1 hour documentaries with the Evoloutionist and famous Atheist Richard Dawkins.
I like to do one big landmark doco every year so when long term collabroator Producer/ Director Molly Milton asked me to DOP the series, how could I refuse? Especially, when the subjects are… wait for it… SEX, DEATH and THE MEANING OF LIFE, with the theme of a life without God, I was like ‘What is this..? This will be nuts, it’s essentially the core of our existence, I need to do this project’.
We found ourselves in some strange situations, from an Orgasm cult in San Fran, to witnessing the devastation of Joplin, Missouri. At times, it was sad, others fun and often just plain strange… but that’s what life can be and listening to Dawkins and the contributors views has been an eye opener… That’s not to say I agree with him on every point, but I can see how and why science plays a very important role in humanity and sometimes it’s easy to find meaning in everything or be ‘deluded’… I like the science argument, but being an old romantic I still like the idea of fate and believe in belief; whatever that belief may be is completely up to the individual and that should be respected. Dawkins gets a lot of bad press (especially recently), but he’s actually surprisingly cool… I’m not here to defend him, just film him. So I will tell you about the experience.
With the amount of locations and minimal crew the shoot has been a little hetic and quite a tough few days! Our days have included pack kit, drive, film, drive, film, film, film, lunch, film, drive, film, pack kit, fly, dinner, sleep!
The production company Clear Story (owned by Molly and Russell Barnes) where keen to shoot on XD Cam. So we choose the Sony PDW 800 that shoots MPEG HD422, 50 Mbps 1920×1080 25P (as for UK PAL region). It was my first time using this specific camera and I have to say it’s decent. Over the past couple of years I have mainly been filming on RED, 35mm or HDSLR and it’s rare that I use a traditional camcorder so to speak. The shape and weight reminds me of my days filming for Nat Geo and Discovery.
To funk up the imagery I decided to use prime lenses. Tradittionally, I would have gone for a PS Technic Pro 35mm Adaptor and set of primes either Cooke or Zeiss. This time however I bypassed the adaptor and went for a set of Zeiss Digi Primes. The depth of field isn’t as shallow, but the lenses are beautiful and make such a great difference to the image. To take the edge off the sharpness I used an 1/8 Black Promist on many shots especially when Richard was in frame. It helps blow the highlights a little and give a slightly softer & more forgiving image, which helps as many of the contributors have been a little older… One was 108 – yep 108 and he still works in financial industry in NYC… Good genes!
It has to be said that using primes on a doco is not the most practical option, but I decided to do it after shooting Virtual Revolution with Molly last year (Digital Emmy, Bafta). On that series we used primes and it increased the production value so much. VR was a little more set up and formatted, so there was time to change lens. On this project quite a lot of the encounters like with Father Justin in Joplin were on the fly, so hand held was the obvious choice. I probably shot 90% hand held so far, physically moving to change the frame size from 2 shot to single. I think you get better images this way instead of just sitting on the zoom, but your director has to be aware that you can not just quickly pick up a close up of something three meters away when you are on a 12mm.
There’s always pro and cons and with primes – you just don’t get the quantity of shots in the same time period as you would with a zoom, but I am a big fan of quality over quantity – as long as you have enough coverage, that’s the main thing.
We left Richard in Vegas battling with some people about life, science and how he views the world and I took the beautiful drive to LA and now chilling with an old mate, an extremely talented old mate Timmy Qualtrough. We have known each other since I used to rip down snowy mountains with a VX2000 and ultrawide fish-eye for MTV back in 1999. Just seeing him and checking out his work is so inspiring. Tim has Directed videos for Muse, Oasis (which I shot a little on) and recently Pendulum. Here’s a music video Tim directed and I shot way back circa 2004. Try and guess what it was shot on! The first person to guess correct will win all 4x my How To Become a Cameraman books, including Filming on Location, How To Beat The Competition and Lighting for Film & TV. They are all full of Top Tips and invaluable info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCDOnGhmNM 576 338]
Here’s some of his recent work. Pendulum – Propane Nightmares. Shot by Denzil Armour-Brown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2KC1P9s6-Q 576 338]
Hello and Welcome to the Director of Photography Blog aka DOPBLOG.COM
After a few weeks of sweat, not only from behind the camera, but from a laptop, here is the first official DOP BLOG post, wooohoo, I hear you yelp! Yep it’s a little exciting, well if your anything like me and love the art of Cinematography it is!
DOP Blog, is written by a DOP, me Harvey Glen for both DOP’s and aspiring DOP’s alike! If you work in the Film and TV industry or want to this could be a cool place to stop by… I’m making it sound like a cafe..? but I guess in this digital world people literally do stop by sites and call in…
Here on DOP Blog, we aim to give some top tips, details and anecdotes from behind the scenes, conduct interviews with some big dog famous DOP’s as well as those who are more underground or have simply shot something cool!
DOP Blog aims to provide some good interesting content for all of us who have a passion for framing and lighting. Of course there will be opportunities for YOU to contribute too… If you want to!
As the globe has Football Fever, here’s a Promo that I shot for football show that broadcasts on MBC in the Middle East. It was shot in a stadium in Abu Dhabi from 9.30pm – 2.00am. I used the SONY 900R, a great Steady Cam operator called Dave Capon and a Crane!
Take a look at the football promo: