Vincent Laforet is a highly successful and award winning photographer who, back in 2008, managed to get hold of a prototype Canon 5D MKII for a weekend. The result was a visually stunning short film entitled ‘Reverie‘, that spread across the net like wildfire, capturing viewers imaginations and giving birth to the HD DSLR ‘movement’. Last weekend Laforet lead a workshop that, in its own way, was just as unique an experiment as that first short. Why? Because all three days were broadcast live on the net.
Given his background, one might have expected it to be a workshop about gear and technique, but although he covered both, Laforet’s message was ‘content is king’. This might come as news to some, but it is timely given how awash the net is with non narrative 5DMKII bokeh porn…or, as I’ve seen it described, ‘bokakeh’.
Although the multiple DSLRs used in the workshop were made by Canon, the information applied equally to all makes of HD DSLR and to drive home this point, Chase Jarvis, who is to Nikon, what Laforet is to Canon, was on hand to talk about the Technofile award winning D3s.
Aware that many people with an interest in HD DSLRs will be stills photographers looking to follow in his footsteps, Laforet kicked off day one with a look at the difference between still photography and video (which, as I keep pointing out to people, is far greater than one might think). What followed was perhaps best described as a three day film school based around HD DSLRs. Subjects covered included cinematography, lighting, sound recording, equipment and how a film team works.
At the end of the second day, the workshop’s deliberately small number of participants were asked to use what they had learned so far to shoot an interview. Although, on the face of it (and to the amusement of the thousands of people in the very active chatrooms), this seemed to be a bit of a disaster, by the time the exercise had concluded, both the viewers and, more importantly, the participants, felt they had learned some important lessons from their mistakes.
On the third and final day, these mistakes served to demonstrate the importance of a good editor, as professional editor, Ed (sic) McNichol, rescued the previous day’s rushes, turning them into a respectable little package. Then it was onto preproduction for a second shoot, a short film devised by the workshop’s participants, who were given two(ish) hours in which to complete their principal photography, complete with a commentary to camera from Laforet and Jarvis. The difference between the two shoots was day and night, as the eight participants magically transformed into a team, who, though they didn’t complete all of their shots, did achieve a remarkable amount given the amount of time available.
After a look at workflow and how best to convert Canon’s H.264 files into something usable, Ed demonstrated how to edit with Apple’s Final Cut Pro, by completing (with group feedback) a final cut of the group’s short film. Then the day concluded with a look at post production and grading in Apple’s Color.
The workshop (which involved a cast of thousands behind the scenes) was almost as exhausting for viewers as for those involved. Despite its ambitiousness, the event was a big success, attracting, on its first day, an audience of almost fifty thousand, from all over the world, many of whom (including myself) spent the whole weekend watching. If you missed it, you can purchase a download of the full three day event from the Creative Live website, something I would highly recommended doing. While you’re at it, check out their other workshops, which, like The Technofile, span all creative disciplines and which, like Laforet’s excellent workshop, can be watched for free as live streams or downloaded for a fee after the event.
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