October 10, 2016 at 8:19AM

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A huge list of questions from a budding film maker (numbered and categorized)

Dear members of Nofilmschool,

First and foremost I would like to apologize for such a long thread, I didn't know if I should make one thread or multiple threads on each topic, if you would prefer individual topics please let me know so that I may recreate them. To make things easier I am categorizing my questions and numbering them so you can answer those you feel are relevant to you. Thank you for taking the time to read, consider and answering my naive and ignorant questions. Sample photographs are will be shared.

Some context:
I am primarily a documentary and portrait photographer based in India. My aim is to use the creative art forms of photography and film making as a way to support various social causes and the people who work for such causes.

Currently my main work is to document an intervention project in schools for low SES children and disabled children (currently 10 schools in total). I intend to expand into product videos and documentary/short films (again for various causes). I am not, for the moment, aiming for Hollywood-esque quality but I do wish to learn and do as much as I can.

I will be shortly creating a video for an NGO for fundraising purposes. They make affordable CNC machines for low income communities (the central tool for a workshop concept that they have) and as such this (product) is the focus of the video. Apart from this I aim to work with an NGO that offers education to cancer patients (children), this I hope with be more of a documentary. These are just examples for what I would like to do in the near future.

The questions:

A. Technical (camera gear related):

1. What is the relationship between 35mm sensors and APS-C sensors in film making? I know the relationship (DOF/low light performance etc) from a photographer’s point of view but is there anything else?
2. What is the ISO range that a film maker would use when shooting in ‘low light’? For my stills I shoot between 400-3200 ISO on an average, but the ISO I seem to use when shooting videos is different (200-2000 ISO), why is that?
3. Other than the recording format (including bit rate/depth/compression etc) and the tools (can be read as features) is there any reason to go with a camera such as the Sony FS5/Canon C100 over my current Nikon D750? Time limit per clip excluded of course.

B. Lighting:

4. Still photographers seem to have few ‘types’ of lights but more modifiers where are the reverse seems to be true for filmmakers. What is the difference between HMIs/PARs, when and why would you use them?
5. Do the same lighting principles apply for film making as the ones used by photographers? I ask this because video lights are often hard light sources rather than the diffused light commonly used in stills work.
6. What are the other types of lights that one can use? Other than LED/florescent banks.
7. Are there any books/resources which talk of lighting specifically with relationship to film making rather than a generalized approach?

C. Preproduction:

8. If you had to shoot as a one man crew, what is the most versatile (basic) lighting kit you can get? Assuming that the aim is for a nice 3 light set up.
9. My long term project is to document the happening in the schools where an intervention program is underway. The videos are taken with the intent of record reality without any ‘creative’ outlook. Is there a way to make a story out of ‘every day’ footage and how would you approach such a thing?
10. In the above scenario, I would like to start shooting with an end goal in mind, say a documentary/short film. Is it possible to do something like this on such a long term project (this is year 2)? What are the (kind of) steps I would need to take to plan for this?
11. Shot list, does it apply in the above scenario? If yes how does one plan and execute such a list? Since this is journalistic in approach and scenes are not enacted.
12. Shooting to edit, how do I learn to do this? In future projects I will need to learn to plan a specific outcome (a product video or an interview etc). This would mean I need to plan ahead the kind of shots I will need not just for the primary content but also B roll and transitions/camera movement etc. Are there any principles/guidelines on doing this?

D. Shooting/Production:

13. Nikon does not offer any Log profiles. I currently just set my contrast and saturation to its minimum. Is there any point in shooting in this manner when dealing with high contrast scenes? The places I shoot are often poorly and unevenly lit.
14. Having some camera movement adds a bit of life to the video, if you had to pick one piece of kit to use what would you choose? Assuming that you are focusing on things like interviews/product videos with a relatively stationary subject.
15. Does it make sense to have a follow focus system with photography lenses? I use the 50 f/1.8 and a 90mm f/2.8 Macro.
16. Given the contrasting scenarios of run and gun work (in the schools for example) and more controlled conditions (on location interviews/product videos), would it be better to record high quality audio track to sync in post or is it better to just get a (hot shoe) mic and record internally?
17. How do I deal with very high contrast, back lit working spaces? Assuming that you can’t modify/flag the light. Would an ND filter help?

E. Funding/learning:

18. How does one raise capital for non-commercial work? The working expenses I can charge but the target organizations I want to work with are the ones who need the service but cannot pay the commercial rate.
19. Are there people/organizations that would help with this? I will be a registered Not for Profit as of the end of this week (15th Oct).
20. Given that I shoot on a regular basis there is no point in renting gear out. What is the best way of building up a comprehensive set up? My current gear list is at the end of the post.
21. Are there good (online) sources of learning? I neither have the time nor the funds to enroll in a full fledged course. The so called good courses are also not based in my city.
22. Are there any good books? Are there any films/works that would serve as good case studies etc.?

Current gear:

Nikon D750: Shoots 8-Bit; 4:2:0 video. Clean HDMI out. Mic and headphone jacks.
• Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G: My primary, go-to lens.
• Tamron 90mm f/2.8 VC Macro: Multipurpose lens and the only one with VC/VR.
Zoom H5 audio recorder: 2x XLR jacks, line out and headphone ports, with the X-Y capsule.
• Local brand lav mics: These are rather old, wired lav mics that I am free to use as needed.
Other gear:
• Nikon D5200 with 18-5mm kit lens
• Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G DX
• Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 (no VR/VC)
• Elinchrom Dlite 400 w/s strobes
• Local brand 250w/s strobe
• Local brand hot shoe flash (with optical trigger built in)
• 150x30 cm Strip, 40x40cm (I think) kit soft boxes that came with the strobes, 2x White umbrellas.
• 3 Standard light stands
• 1x Background stand
• 1x White background cloth and 1x Dark Grey background cloth.
• 1x 42 inch 5 in 1 reflector
I once again thank you for any response/advice/guidance that you may give me. I also apologize for the huge list of questions. I seek to learn so please do not hesitate me towards resources instead of merely answering my questions. I hope that I have no offended anyone with this post.
Regards,
Socialprotog
Samples:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B79y5eFglgZcLXAyLVJaZWZJd1U?usp=...

15 Comments

You've got a pretty good gear list, so I think your equipment needs are covered. ( other than a wider angle lens for your D750 )

I took a look at your photo samples, and I am wondering if you are shooting everything in RAW format ?

Shooting in RAW and using a image processing tool like Adobe Lightroom, allows you to use a lot more of the 14+ F-stops of dynamic range that a Nikon D750 camera can capture.

To improve your technique ( with both photos and video ), I recommend finding some images that you really like ( the style, the composition, the lighting, ect... ) and to try and duplicate these shots. In the process of duplicating the shot, you will learn a lot about composition and lighting, and you will know if you were successful because you have the original image for inspiration. Normally it takes a lot of attempts to get close to the quality of the original image, but in the end you learn what works and what does not.

A Few Answers...

1- Larger format sensors require more light ( or a higher ISO setting ) to match the DOF of a smaller format. So something shot at f/4.0 on a Micro 4/3 camera would require f/8.0 with a Full Frame camera.

2- You might have to use noise-reduction software to clean up your video image to make it usable when shooting at higher ISO settings. Sometimes adding a small portable light allows you to shoot at higher ISO ratings with less noise, and produces a better shot.

3- The Sony FS5 or Canon C100 are easier to work with because they are designed only for video work. That said the Nikon D750 shoots great looking video, and there is no reason why you could not produce good work with it. The American TV show "Wilfred" was entirely shot using Nikon D800 cameras : https://goo.gl/LFjhGF

4- Depends on the film-maker. Some of the new LED video lights like the Aputure COB 120 light can use Bowens S mount light modifiers : https://goo.gl/B6Znj8

Also, Profoto and Bron both make video lights that will fit all of their strobe light modifiers, so you can get exactly the SAME look when shooting video.

HMI and PAR lights are most often used for larger productions where you want to light up a large set. For smaller productions, LED lights are often bright enough to light your projects.

5- Yes, except that you cannot use any lights that make noise on a film set. So strobe lights with loud cooling fans would be a bad idea.

Video productions use lots of diffusers and bounce reflectors to soften the hard light that a fresnel light outputs. It's really a lot like photography, except that lights are have to be out of the shot while your camera pans or moves, which sometimes means mounting your light to the ceiling or on a boom to keep it out of your shot.

6- HMI, Tungsen, LED, Fluorescent, Remote Phosphor

7- As I stated previously, practice is the best way to learn how to light. So start by trying to duplicate some shots that you like, to see if you can match the lighting and the look.

8- I hate the 3-point lighting setup because it looks too artificial to me. If I am traveling light, all I want is my main key light which sets the mood of my shot, and some fill lights to open up sections of the room and to reduce contrast. I always try and work with the natural light that is already there, so that I won't have to bring much equipment.

9- I would get to know your subjects as well as you can, so that you reach a point where they trust you and will eventually ignore your camera while you shoot.

13- There are several low-contrast camera profiles available for Nikon cameras. You might want to start with Samuel Hurtado's free "FLAAT" profiles for nikon cameras and learn to shoot and grade using his profiles. Also recording with an external HDMI recorder like the Blackmagic Video Assist monitor/recorder will produce a better image than the internal video your Nikon camera records.

Good luck with your project. It sounds like you have a lot of testing and practice ahead of you.

October 10, 2016 at 1:49PM, Edited October 10, 1:51PM

3
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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32644

Dear Guy McLoughlin,

Thank you for taking the time to read through my post and for checking the samples given. I'd also like to thank you for your response.

Yes I shoot RAW. The samples shown are for showing the contrasting nature of the light in the schools and not the best of my work.

My biggest sources for inspiration (either for their work itself or for what their work meant/implied) would be Jacob Riis and Henri Cartier Bresson. Others like Jane Bown, who's book of portraits I had an opportunity to see, power my desire for portraiture.

I would like to learn more about the process behind film making hence my request for books/videos talking about such things.

The children are often not bothered by me and continue to work as usual, I want to try to take this daily 'goalless' footage and use extracts to create a logical progression. This sadly has been harder than I thought haha!

I have downloaded FLAAT and will be trying it out today. Thank you for pointing me towards that, I had once before searched for good flat (nikon) profiles but failed to find anything.

My desire for advice regarding the first set of lights is because I feel that controlled lighting allows for more consistent results. It allows one to work irrespective of ambient light (to an extent) and also allows for more 'creative' use of light. Excluding my studio strobes (which I do not use when doing my documentary work) I pretty much only shoot in natural light.

Thanking you,
Socialprotog

October 11, 2016 at 3:33AM, Edited October 11, 3:33AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

Saying thanks in a post is nice, but in these forums actions speak louder than words. If you think a question or an answer is worthy, give it an upvote. If you already upvoted Guy's answer and some hater downvoted it, then good for you and shame on them.

October 11, 2016 at 8:10AM

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>>>Yes I shoot RAW. The samples shown are for showing the contrasting nature of the light in the schools and not the best of my work.

I find that dynamic-range often separates professional photography work from amateur work, and shooting in RAW with good photo-editing software lets you bring out that dynamic range, even in fairly contrasty shots. The pro shot usually looks "richer" in it's color and lighting range.

>>>My biggest sources for inspiration

I would not try and duplicate a famous photographer's style, but it's definitely worth trying to duplicate a single shot, to see if you understand both the technical and aesthetic challenges that went into to making a great shot. ( it's always much harder than you think it is )

>>>I would like to learn more about the process behind film making hence my request for books/videos talking about such things.

For lighting the book "Matters of Light & Depth" by Ross Lowell ( the inventor of Lowell lights ) is one of the best books.

Otherwise I really believe that you learn the most by actually trying things yourself, as long as you know exactly what you are trying to do, and are willing to keep trying until you come very close to the original shot that you are trying to duplicate. By doing this you are training your brain to think of creative solutions, and through trial and error you will figure out technically what works and what does not. So if you master how to simulate a sun lit breakfast table in a kitchen, that is actually just a set in a studio, you will be able to instantly create this kind of shot anywhere because you know exactly what is required to make this happen. ( you don't have to work in a studio, but the principles you learn can be applied anywhere, including a studio set )

>>>I want to try to take this daily 'goalless' footage and use extracts to create a logical progression. This sadly has been harder than I thought haha!

You end up with tons of footage and very little of it tells a story. So just like plotting a fictional script, you have to plan your shots, because it's your story to tell, and not a "found" story that just happened naturally while you happened to be there. ( look at any of the behind the scenes footage to any documentary to see what I mean )

>>>I have downloaded FLAAT and will be trying it out today.

It's a pretty good profile for video work, especially FLAAT 11.

>>>My desire for advice regarding the first set of lights is because I feel that controlled lighting allows for more consistent results.

I would look at buying some AutoPoles, which are adjustable clamping poles that you can instantly set up anywhere in a room that has a ceiling 15 feet tall or lower. They are easy to position right against a wall, and you can attach a "Wall Boom" that will allow you to position your lights 6+ feet out from the pole from the floor to the top of the ceiling and they swing 180 degrees to position them. This will allow you to have any kind of lighting you like, while keeping them out of your shots. I like to use shoot-through white umbrellas or large diffusers to open up the shadows in a room, while still allowing the natural light to set the mood. The trick is to figure out how to blend your "fill" lights with the natural light so that it does not look lit.

October 11, 2016 at 9:29PM, Edited October 11, 9:32PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32644

Dear Guy McLoughlin,

Thank you for your response! By inspire I do not mean to imitate the style or work of these photographers but more along the lines of how they/their work inspires me towards a more journalistic approach to storytelling. These are also people whose achievements/work (explicit or implicit) I respect and would like to consider as 'role model' material.

I have always been drawn to contrast. That is why even at the age of 12 I stuck stubbornly to shading with graphite pencils over coloured mediums. I came to learn later the term 'chiaroscuro'. To show dimension you need both light and shadow after all.

My work in this school was started as merely a 'what is going on in class' gig. In other words it was for internal uses such as research and occasionally for promotional use with specific target audience.

It is my desire to create a story out of this because there are things that happen in these schools which never happen in traditional schools. This might be the way teachers handle the overcrowding of their schools or it might be the interaction of the children themselves. There is work going on daily in these schools and every now and then there is something amazing that happens, I document and record those moments. In this way it is, kind of, a story whose significant content is happened upon rather than planned, but the rest of it I believe can be planned.

This could be adding context to the school's environs/community. It could be a look at the various stakeholders (again for context) such as the funding organization or the intervening NGO. It can be other things too and is only limited by my creativity.

http://www.canaralighting.com/category.php?link_id=1

I would like to approach the lighting manufacturer mentioned above. Would you mind suggesting what can be considered basic lights from their catalog? I am leaning towards LEDs for their portability and the ability to run them off batteries. I apologize for such a selfish request.

If the autopoles are similar to the ones used to hang backgrounds from the ceiling I can ask a friend on where to get them. The ones I saw on BHPhotovideo seem to be very affordable and I hope that it is the same here haha! Will standard light stands not work? Once again mainly for interviews and product videos as a starting point.

As always thank you for your valuable insight!
Socialprotog

October 12, 2016 at 2:36AM, Edited October 12, 2:36AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

>>> Will standard light stands not work?

The problem with standard light-stands are the legs that stick out on all sides, where an auto-pole can be put right against the wall so that it sticks out only 4 inches from the wall. You can even mount auto-poles horizontally between two walls so that nothing sticks out below the pole itself, leaving everything below the pole available for shooting.

October 12, 2016 at 7:55PM

1
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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32644

Dear guy McLoughlin,

True, that is a handy way to mount lights, I will explore it further and see if local stores stock auto-poles.

Regards,
Socialprotog

PS I'm sorry about the late response. I have been tied up with forming my charitable organization, which is now recognized by the Indian Govt. I hope to next look at generating some financial support so I can increase the scale of my work. Initially I will work with the expectation of a small audience (my client and interested/vested parties) and as my skills grow I will look at reaching a more general audience. Hope this way of thinking makes sense haha!

October 14, 2016 at 2:47AM, Edited October 14, 2:57AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

It's great to see a post on NFS from somebody who has really done their homework! Guy knows a lot more about Nikons than I do. I do have some other perspectives that may be helpful...

A: Camera gear

A1. What is the relationship between 35mm sensors and APS-C sensors in film making? I know the relationship (DOF/low light performance etc) from a photographer’s point of view but is there anything else?

The real considerations are DOF, FOV, and lens size and weight. FF35 will have shallower depth of field for a given focal length and aperture and a wider field of view. For equivalent fields of view and similar apertures (which still means shallower DOF for FF35), a FF35 lens will be larger, heavier, and more expensive. In the Canon world, a 24-70 f2.8L lens is larger, heavier, and more expensive than the APS-C equivalent of a 15-55 f2.8 lens.

As for low-light performance, larger photosites generally have better low-light performance, but the new RED Helium sensor (previewed since August and officially announced later today) has a 3.65 micrometer pitch, smaller than the RED Dragon sensor's 5 micrometer pitch, and has much less noise and one stop higher light sensitivity. Pixel "quality" determines sensitivity and noise specs, not size alone.

A2. What is the ISO range that a film maker would use when shooting in ‘low light’? For my stills I shoot between 400-3200 ISO on an average, but the ISO I seem to use when shooting videos is different (200-2000 ISO), why is that?

A lot of noise in still photographs just becomes part of the "texture". When that noise is animated at 24 fps, that texture becomes a distraction. To avoid this problem, video noise has to be pushed down below the level that it competes with details in the image you want people to actually look at.

If your "low-light" scene is well lit, meaning that you have at most 10 stops of difference between your brightest reflected white and your darkest black shadow, then you are only fighting the problems of noise in a light-starved sensor. If you also don't really have a properly lit scene, then you are fighting a battle on two fronts, and are likely to get footage that looks like you lost the battle.

A3. Other than the recording format (including bit rate/depth/compression etc) and the tools (can be read as features) is there any reason to go with a camera such as the Sony FS5/Canon C100 over my current Nikon D750? Time limit per clip excluded of course.

Again, I know nothing about Nikon cameras, but it is invaluable to have a waveform monitor to check contrast levels across the image. Purpose-built video cameras have built-in ND filters, which can be extremely handy. If you are shooting with multiple cameras, it can be very helpful to sync them to a common clock, so that your cuts back and forth don't have an intrinsic time skew. At 24 fps, two cameras can be as much as 1/48th of a second apart from each other which can look funny if you cut during a subject's fast movement.

B. Lighting:

B4. Still photographers seem to have few ‘types’ of lights but more modifiers where are the reverse seems to be true for filmmakers. What is the difference between HMIs/PARs, when and why would you use them?

HMI provides a powerful daylight source. A Joker Bug 800 puts out as much daylight-balanced light as a 4K tungsten source while drawing only 11amps (see http://k5600.com/products/jb800/index.html). It is a game-changer when you need to bring light into a room that has a brightly lit window. But nowadays, LED light sources are also great alternatives in the lower wattage realm.

PAR lights are basically variable floods that create somewhat crisp shadows over a wide range.

Also consider fresnel lights. The ARRI L5, L7, L10 are LED replacements for 1K, 2K, and 4K tungsten fresnels gelled to daylight. And they use much, much less energy. Fresnel lights don't throw as wide a beam as do PARs, and fresnel shadows can be even more crisp than PAR shadows.

B5. Do the same lighting principles apply for film making as the ones used by photographers? I ask this because video lights are often hard light sources rather than the diffused light commonly used in stills work.

LED matrix lights and fluorescent tube lights (such as KinoFlo) are soft sources to begin with. But generally high-output tungsten and HMI sources do start off as point sources and become diffuse when modified. Soft boxes are one way to modify these lights. Bounce boards or reflective walls/ceilings are another.

B6. What are the other types of lights that one can use? Other than LED/florescent banks.

Adding to Guy's list: Plasma. See http://hivelighting.com/
But...not all LEDs, not all Tungsten, not all HMI, not all fluorescent, and (presumably) not all plasma lights are created equal. It is very important to look at how the head shapes and throws the initial light (which is why Home Depot work lights are terrible sources), the color quality of the light (all Tungstens are created equal, but others have wildly different CRI (color rendering index), the mechanical integrity and mechanical interoperability with lighting modifiers, etc. Generally, a high-quality lamp should be a thing of beauty, both in terms of the light it throws and in terms of aiming, focusing, modifying, etc.

B7. Are there any books/resources which talk of lighting specifically with relationship to film making rather than a generalized approach?

Google "lighting master class"

C. Preproduction:

C8. If you had to shoot as a one man crew, what is the most versatile (basic) lighting kit you can get? Assuming that the aim is for a nice 3 light set up.

Unlike Guy, I like 3-point lighting. It does greatly restrict the relationship between camera and subject, which can be a problem if you want to roam around a room shooting doc footage. However, you can create a symmetric 3-point setup with a wide PAR in the middle (providing the key), diffuse light coming from the walls/sides, and rim lighting high and center.

C9. My long term project is to document the happening in the schools where an intervention program is underway. The videos are taken with the intent of record reality without any ‘creative’ outlook. Is there a way to make a story out of ‘every day’ footage and how would you approach such a thing?

Remember how H Cartier Bresson would choose a location because he knew that something great would happen? He didn't necessarily know exactly what it would be, but he greatly increased his odds of a decisive moment by selecting a scene that framed potentially decisive moments. In the same way, if you just blindly shoot footage and then try to mine it for meaning, you will drive yourself crazy. Before you press RECORD, you should have some idea what this footage is potentially contributing to the story, and you should shoot accordingly. I think I can tell the difference between footage shot intentionally vs. incidentally, and I think others can, too. Always have a plan. Always have a reason to shoot (other than "I need 1,000 hours to find one hour of story").

C10. In the above scenario, I would like to start shooting with an end goal in mind, say a documentary/short film. Is it possible to do something like this on such a long term project (this is year 2)? What are the (kind of) steps I would need to take to plan for this?

You should absolutely make such a plan before shooting. It is very much a waste of time to just randomly shoot and hope for a story to emerge from the footage. Yes, it could happen. But you could also win the lottery the very first time you buy a ticket. It is possible.

11. Shot list, does it apply in the above scenario? If yes how does one plan and execute such a list? Since this is journalistic in approach and scenes are not enacted.

Talk to any journalist and you will discover that they never go somewhere and talk to people without first having an idea about the story they are trying to tell. They may discover a more interesting story, or they may discover the story is the opposite of what they expected. But they don't go in as a complete blank slate. There is a reason they go where they go. Just like H Cartier Bresson had a reason to pick his locations.

12. Shooting to edit, how do I learn to do this? In future projects I will need to learn to plan a specific outcome (a product video or an interview etc). This would mean I need to plan ahead the kind of shots I will need not just for the primary content but also B roll and transitions/camera movement etc. Are there any principles/guidelines on doing this?

Start with a timeline. Is it 10 minutes? 90 minutes? 12 60-minute episodes? Lay some semblance of a story arc across the timeline. Fill in details until you have enough self-guidance to start filling in details with actual footage.

Pick a documentary you really like (that is of a similar length). Grab a pad of paper and a stopwatch. Created a timeline/shot list for that documentary. Overlay the larger story arcs across it. Compare to your version.

D. Shooting/Production:

D13. Nikon does not offer any Log profiles. I currently just set my contrast and saturation to its minimum. Is there any point in shooting in this manner when dealing with high contrast scenes? The places I shoot are often poorly and unevenly lit.

Bring in lighting! This will be very disruptive for the first day or three. After a few days, you literally disappear. That was what happened when they filmed a bunch of high-school students who were either undocumented themselves, or children of undocumented workers in rural North Carolina:

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/in-a-new-tv-documentary-a-latino-soccer...

As you can imagine, these at-risk kids were quite nervous about lights and cameras at first. After a week, they didn't even notice.

D14. Having some camera movement adds a bit of life to the video, if you had to pick one piece of kit to use what would you choose? Assuming that you are focusing on things like interviews/product videos with a relatively stationary subject.

Gimbals are awesome.

D15. Does it make sense to have a follow focus system with photography lenses? I use the 50 f/1.8 and a 90mm f/2.8 Macro.

I would say no, but I don't know the specifics of those lenses. If they are electronic focused lenses (llke Canon) then definitely no.

D16. Given the contrasting scenarios of run and gun work (in the schools for example) and more controlled conditions (on location interviews/product videos), would it be better to record high quality audio track to sync in post or is it better to just get a (hot shoe) mic and record internally?

Hotshoe mics are usually terrible, because the camera location is almost always not the best place for audio pickup. Even though you are one-man-banding it, you have to take care of audio or your production is going to suck. Put the mic where the mic belongs. Put the camera where the camera belongs. Marry in post.

D17. How do I deal with very high contrast, back lit working spaces? Assuming that you can’t modify/flag the light. Would an ND filter help?

ND filters don't reduce contrast, they reduce light. A diffuse mirror located in front of your camera and aimed at your subject might help.

I don't have great advice for E: fundraising except to say that you are trying to do too much by raising money for a non-profit and doing the documentary. Find a non-profit that wants to fund your work. A great video goes a long way in terms of advocacy and outreach, which presumably the non-profit also wants.

Hope that helps.

October 11, 2016 at 7:03AM

2
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/The Google Drive link has been updated with a few more photographs/
/Most commercial lighting brands are unavailable in India. I have located a local lighting manufacturer here:
http://www.canaralighting.com/category.php?link_id=1
If you have any advice regarding what are the most basic tools I can get from their list I would much appreciate it/

Dear Michael,

Thank you very much for such a detailed response, I will do my best to follow your advice. I have, as you suggested, up voted the responses due to their helpful and insightful nature. I did not share much in my initial post since it was long enough as is. I hope that you will not mind me sharing now.

Firstly, thank you for the compliment! Yes I do a lot of homework, then I normally get thoughts and opinions on what I gleaned from my homework to make sure I have a full, or as close as is possible, understanding on the subject matter. I spent 3 months researching DSLRs before getting my first camera the Nikon D5200 and I spent 6 months more doing research before getting the D750 a year later.

Again I will start with some context, if I may;

My first initiation into the creative arts was at the age of 8 when I started to draw. I also started learning music (albeit on and off) at age 10. I continued to draw till age 17 when I took up 2D animation, this sadly was not a field that offered much employment in my country. It was during this time I started to learn of CG. I explored software such as GIMP, Blender, Photoshop, Max, Maya and further down the line a little bit of ZBrush.

Being some one with a rather strong logical and analytical bend, and with a family with a similar disposition, I never owned a camera for most of my life. The question raised was always "why do you need a camera?" and I did not have a response.

Till about 1 year and 11 months ago I knew little to nothing about photography or film making. The only camera I had was the one on my phone, the Sony Xperia Z1 I bought in 2014, which I actually bought for the camera. Up to this point when I did take photographs (mostly during vacation) it was with my uncle's Sony F717, which is still in working condition and is used now and then.

My foray into photography started with a joke, I used to edit photographs for my mother's work, they would often be taken with a point and shoot camera or a phone, and I would be expected to work miracles on them being the resident 'Photoshoper'. The response to my jest was a suggestion to take the photographs myself. And so I did and continue to do so.

I was already involved in the project in another aspect and the documentary work with the first time I got to see my own handiwork. During the course of the year I saw the uphill battle the children face as well as the results of my work and those around me. Having lost my own education due to various reasons I saw an opportunity to contribute using what skills I had.

Towards the end of 2015 I decided that, after much research, there was a need for the skills that I could offer and for skills that I could, relatively easily, learn (I don't pretend expecting to master the crafts). Whether as a photographer or film maker I could offer a service that many of these organizations lack internally but sorely need. For this reason I am registering a trust for myself such that I may work formally and raise funds formally.

There were some obstacles to surpass though. The first is the high capital for this kind of work. This I had expected and hoped that there was some way of raising the funds, other than commercial work. I attempted for photography grants, CSR projects, fellowships etc. These didn't work out well but I learned quickly that there is work to be done before I am good enough to win such funding.

The second aspect was figuring out a way to make it financially viable, as you pointed out. The going rate for any visual story teller is exorbitant, the organizations themselves have little to no chance of paying such prices. While I understand and accept that the price is based on the skill of the creative artist and the purpose of the end product, these organizations will never be able to pay such prices. There is a point when morality should win over pure financial gain and often these organizations fit that criteria.

What ever my flaws, naivete is probably not one of them. Moral high ground will, likely, not put food on the table. For this reason I will also have to do some commercial work to make ends meet. This has always been part of plan and will continue to do so. The value of my work is determined by my commercial activities and this skill is offered at a subsidized and affordable rate (not fore free) to these NGOs. The focus, nonetheless, will be the social work over commercial work.

A couple of short stories and a fact or two:

#01:

One of the schools I go to had, last year, 3 classrooms which held about 25 children each and around 80-90 students. This year they have of those classrooms and about 120 children to squeeze in. These children work next to foot ware and the toilet in the corridor due to the lack of space. On one of the visits the teacher was dealing with a new student's enrollment (Govt schools are not allowed to turn children away) and a child at the far end needed help with an activity (Color tablets used in the Montessori Method). The teacher of course could not help, so one of the children who was waiting nearby started teaching this girl the activity.

#02:

One of the Government schools we added this year is inside a slum area. The Government teachers who are supposed to come to this school refuse because of its locale. 100 children are left out in the cold for no other reason than being born to a low income family.

The other school in this area is private. The 'wealthy' parents of the community send their children here paying a nominal fee. The classrooms are the parking space of what should have been an apartment. Another 100 or so children who are scraping by.

#03 (fact):

India hosts the largest (20% of the world's) population of the visually impaired. Yet the only thing teachers are taught during their Degree courses are 'mobility with a cane' and 'reading writing braille'. The work I do here aims to develop a method of delivering/teaching content to these children. Again we use the Montessori method which is Multi-sensorial and thus advantageous in this situation.

The children here are girls who come from rural backgrounds. There are stories where this children are tied up at home so that they don't wander. They eat, sleep and defecate right there till the parent return in the evening.

Conclusion (TLDR):

If I don't tell, or find a way to tell, these stories the plight of such children will for ever go unheard and unseen. Is it going to be easy? No. Will it make me a lot of money? No. Is it still worth doing? Hell Yes. And can something be gained as a professional and as a person? Yes!

I don't intend to work for free, free work has, or is given, little value. I will charge as per the project's requirements. I will charge less for those people and organizations who need the service but can't pay the commercial rates and I will balance things out by doing some commercial work.

My only hope is that there will be some one who will give me a lucky break so that I can get the 2-3 tools I feel I need to better tell the stories. I will, as I have been doing so far, continue to improve my abilities.

My current (software) skill set (a minimum functional ability to a comprehensive knowledge of):

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Lightroom
Adobe InDesign
Adobe Premiere Pro
Da Vinci Resolve 21.5 (since it is free I am learning this to cut the cost of PPro granted that it may not be as good at editing)
CorelDraw

And I am also working on my photography skills and am exploring the world of film making. The gear I would like to get are the following:

Any fast 35mm lens (I compared Indian price for the Samyang with US price: 992 USD in India Vs 436 in US)
A 135mm prime to round out my lens set up (the Samyang is not even available)
A good Microphone (ideally one which can work on top of the camera as well as a boom pole. I was considering the ATR 6550 unless some how I can get any of the NTG series)
A luxury (but would help) is an external video recorder.

Hope this makes things a little clearer. Again I must apologize for the long long wall of text! I have shared some photographs so that the above stories make more sense.

Regards,
Socialprotog

October 11, 2016 at 11:12AM, Edited October 11, 11:16AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

You said:

"#01:
[...] On one of the visits the teacher was dealing with a new student's enrollment (Govt schools are not allowed to turn children away) and a child at the far end needed help with an activity (Color tablets used in the Montessori Method). The teacher of course could not help, so one of the children who was waiting nearby started teaching this girl the activity."

That is the sign of a good Montessori environment, not a bad one! Read "The Science Behind The Genius" by Angeline Stoll-Lillard: http://www.montessori-science.org/Montessori-Genius/Lillard_Montessori_S...

#02: Yes...that is India, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.

#03: Agree 100% that Montessori method applies. And 100% horrified by the idea of tying up children in this situation.

I don't know much about how the hierarchy of charitable funding works in India, but if you attend some conferences where people talk about rural advancement and/or education and you properly highlight the benefits/opportunities of a more humane (and also scientific) way of educating people rather than literally tying them down, you might find the interest you need to tell the story.

October 11, 2016 at 12:00PM, Edited October 11, 12:00PM

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Dear Michael,

Thank you once again for your response. Yes it is a good environment because given the lack of space the teachers work together to manage so many children.

To the story #03:

Just to clarify, the parents are the ones who tied up the child. Also I interviewed the teachers, asking them if the parents would be interested in knowing about an alternative education system or if they would come to see their children work. The response was that 90% of the parents wouldn't care, they had given up on these girls. The school is residential and I was told maybe 3-4 students live with their parents.

The beauty of the school is that some of the teachers themselves are visually handicapped. Among these are former students who decided to stay and teach. The teachers see the problem the children face on a daily basis and are among the most enthusiastic I have ever seen.

I recently attended a meeting of an local NGO collective. About 75 organizations are represented there and most if not all asked me if I would be willing to make documentaries. I had a similar response when I met with about 15-20 organizations from around the country earlier this year.

Opportunities to show my work can be made. There are a lot of yearly education expos that I can try presenting my work in. In fact I have an 'outreach' cum 'fundraising' idea playing in my head the past few months but the time is not yet ripe.

My limitation is primarily in knowledge and skill and a little bit more on the gear side. I often work in tight spaces and as such need a wider lens and using the on board camera microphones results in rather poor quality audio.

I wonder if using the shotgun capsule for my Zoom H5 when mounted on the hot shoe will be better. I can send a feed to the camera as well as record a copy on the H5.

Regards,
Socialprotog

October 11, 2016 at 12:28PM, Edited October 11, 12:28PM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

1) Like said before: sensor size affects Depth of Field, just like in photography. But there is also the crop factor, just like with photography. The same lense will look wider on S35 thaqn on APC-S, but not as wide as on fullframe. (The same lense on a 5D or 7D shows this best.)

2) Depends on camera. Some look horrible at ISO 1600, other perform great at 6400.

3) NDs, XLR, ergonomics

4) Long story: light temperature, power usage, size and cost play a factor in all this differentiation.

5) Light = light. :-p

6) Plasma

17) An ND filter will not change the contrast. It only darkens the light going into the lens: this can help preventing over exposure when the iris can't. Or it will allow you to open the iris more to create a smaller Depth of Field (DOF).

October 12, 2016 at 9:04PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9008

Dear WalterBrokx,

Thank you for your response! I guess the biggest question is, from an IQ perspective is if there is any advantage of moving away from my 35mm DSLR (Nikon D750). I don't expect to be working in 4k anytime soon though I have heard about its use in the world of editing.

As you stated the ergonomics, recording codecs and general features/tools in the camera like the C100/300 or the FS5/7 make them better over all for video shooting (after all they were design for that). My biggest concern is if an APS-C sensor can handle cases where lighting may not be ideal. After all this is why I switched from my D5200 (APS-C) to the D750 (FF).

Regards,
Socialprotog

PS I'm sorry about the late response. I have been tied up with forming my charitable organization, which is now recognized by the Indian Govt. I hope to next look at generating some financial support so I can increase the scale of my work. Initially I will work with the expectation of a small audience (my client and interested/vested parties) and as my skills grow I will look at reaching a more general audience. Hope this way of thinking makes sense haha!

October 14, 2016 at 2:57AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

Hey Socialprotog,

We answered some of your questions on this week's Indie Film Weekly podcast!
http://nofilmschool.com/2016/10/indie-film-weekly-102016-podcast

And thanks, Walter, Michael and others for adding so much to this discussion thread!

Liz

October 20, 2016 at 12:13PM, Edited October 20, 12:13PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Dear Liz,

Thank you, I will check out the link you shared!

Regards,
(Formerly) Socialprotog

Update:

Thank you for the honor of sharing my questions on your podcast. I would also like to thank you for your answers! It is amazing how perception seems to change, with regards to noise, when compared to stills photography.

October 21, 2016 at 8:48AM, Edited October 21, 9:21AM

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Arjun Prakash
Founder of Parikkara, Documentary and Portrait photographer
86

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