Category Archives: Tools

The “Creative Mindset” – Part 1

One of the key characteristics of the creative personality is boredom.

Creatives simply grow tired of current trends faster than the typical consumer. And they likely work harder than the typical consumer to stay on the cutting edge of that question-“Yes, but what is next?”

It never ceases to amaze me how many people suddenly realize their interest in a specific look, color, or pattern- after years of hard work in the industry to make that trend “stick.” (Remember that Cerulean Sweater scene in Devil Wears Prada?) It is no accident every baby nursery in the U.S. is currently painted in Grey and Yellow/Turquoise Chevron.

The real curiosity is that every mother thinks they have landed on this look entirely of their own creative ingenuity. (More on this later)

Obviously, there are trends to art and fashion just as there are in current tech.

This is the key- Understanding where the Creatives are heading gives you a major advantage in scouting out the appropriate gear, before the rush begins. This was the case several years ago with the adaptation of Nikon/Canon, and then Leica lenses to the EPIC, and other camera systems. (Several lenses I had purchased for under 200 now sell for 3-5x that on Ebay.)

A good example of this type of trend? Anamorphic lenses.

J.J. Abrams gets a LOT of flak about his lens flares.  And just look at that production quality:)

But he started a trend. One that was visibly different than any other Director/Producer, and one that built Bad Robot into a major player in Hollywood- eventually leading to his placement on Star Trek, and now Star Wars.

Studio Executives saw something “different” in his films, and likely could not put their finger on what made his stuff look so unique. Now- everyone knows, and is has almost become a joke. Flares are mimicked everywhere. And to the creative, that equals boredom.

Fortunately, trends in film also move somewhat slowly. This is especially the case as the Development/Production cycle for a film may take a year or two.

Here are a few more recent trends worth mentioning:

1. Teal/Orange.

The “strongest” visual color contrast pairing available on film, the dynamic look lent itself primarily to action films- and the trend was so overplayed it became visually nauseating, at least in my estimation. See Tron, Iron Man, Transformers. (and more examples) Fortunately, it may also be close to played out in 2015.

 

2. Tilt/Shift Photography.

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Though more commonly used in photography, the technique certainly gained prominence with the ability to adapt Nikon/Canon lenses to digital cinema cameras. The significant change to the depth of field caused such a drastic visual difference, it was jarring, but also quickly became a sort of Youtube novelty. And a little bit does go a LONG way.

See it used (correctly) in Social Network’s Boating Scene:

 

3. POV shooting. GoPro has made it’s mark.

As headache inducing as they may be on a large screen; 1st person video games, handheld “Prosumer” cameras, and the extreme sports world have all done their part in ingraining this singularly unique perspective of the world into our consciousness. (I will cover much more on DRONES later.)

Action shots are more intense, immediate, and personal, even if at the sacrifice of picture quality and resolution. And GoPro is always hard at work making significant advances in higher resolution cameras for this type of application.

I cannot say enough about the standard of quality and price point for such a compact camera: 4K 30 FPS, WIRELESS Audio/Video output and camera control, stereo onboard mics) Great stuff from such a small camera.

For whatever it is worth, this trend may be just gaining steam on the big screen. Look for much more of this type of footage in 2015, and likely over the next few years. With such intense brand loyalty, it appears GoPro may be just getting started.

(By the way, you HAVE to see this: The Ultimate POV Shootout. This could certainly snap a less extraordinary man’s neck!)

 

There are other trends out there-and we may cover several more next time- But the key is this: Once a trend has been spotted, prices and availability of gear do not tend to go back down.

Anamorphic and Tilt/Shift lenses can be difficult to obtain, and the prices are soaring. They used to be nearly useless, and often sat on Ebay for quite some time- relatively unnoticed. Not the case now.

It all comes down to the following:

1. Know your gear. Be vastly curious about “what else” your camera is capable of; Tech is evolving quickly.

2. Stay on top of what gear is being introduced, and what it allows you to DO that you could not before. (think MOVI!)

3. Specifically seek out challenges: what has not been done yet? Do not be afraid to seek out the especially difficult stuff FIRST. Show even a glimpse of what could be possible, and others will come along to simplify the process. Remember- if it were simple now, everyone would already be doing it.

and finally:

4. Don’t be afraid of a little boredom.

 

My next post will include a few trends I am currently interested in, and links to some of the best methods for staying up to date on gear that can make it all happen. It may just be worth checking it out for yourself.

 

See you soon!

-Stephen

Portrait Lighting Experimentum Infinitum

It seems photographer Pat David found a model patient enough to provide us with unlimited experimentation on Portrait Lighting. Unfortunately, it’s a 3D rendering of a really creepy bald headed dead guy. I think I would have preferred a  hotter female, or maybe an Orange..

Just ignore the cadaver, and adjust the lighting until you achieve the desired effect. Much faster than physical manipulation, and you can combine multiple light sources. It should make pretty good prep work for a shoot where you have a specific look in mind.

Here is the link. The software can be downloaded and manipulated to your heart’s content. (Although you will need to download Blender.)

http://blog.patdavid.net/2012/03/visualize-photography-lighting-setups.html

For simpler reference, it may be good to grab a copy of this portrait lighting Cheat Sheet- also listed in the link:

This is the kind of card that would usually ends up taped to my light boxes.  It looks dumb and hokey, but you’ll be surprised how often you reference it- every time you adjust your lighting.