When I'm not doing photography, I also do visual effects and animation. Here is a little project I put together in my spare time over the past couple months. It was an excuse to try some new things, make a new logo, and just generally make something that looked neat.
My friend Ryan Edwardson (check out his work, hes a great photographer!) asked if I would like to work with him on his wedding of Heidi and Eric, as they wanted videography as well as photography. It was my first time videoing a full wedding day, and it was quite a change from shooting photos as I'm used to doing. It's pretty stressful as there are no redo's as with normal video work when there are unlimited chances to do it again and again until its perfect. Still, Im quite happy with the footage I captured, and how the final video came together.
At long last, this video is finally done. Off the top, I need to thank a few people. First, Ryan Edwardson for operating the camera, since I couldn't be in front of it AND behind it at the same time. We always work well together and I always enjoy the eye he brings to composition and framing. I also need to thank my couple, Courtney and Chauncey, for putting up with us as we wandered around Toronto setting up locations to shoot here and there. I don't think we released them until close to 2am! Finally, thanks to my buddy Andrew for coming along to help hold and move gear, generally support, and helping me get some of the 3D rendering completed.
Ill write more below, because I definitely have a lot to say about this project, but before I bury the player window under all that text, here is the final product...
When I started this project, I wanted to make a promo video that was different from all the other ones I'd seen. As I said right in the beginning, I've never been one to follow. I wanted something that reflected me. I had a script written up within a few days of coming up with this whole idea (back in June), but a few weeks ago when I was so close to finishing, I decided to rewrite and rerecord it to be more about myself, my family (my dad), and how we grew up. I wanted a different approach than what I was hearing on other photographers videos, about how much they love working with people, sharing in their special moments, and making new friends. This is not to say I DON'T value those aspects of the job, but I wanted to try and get across how being an artist and photographer has become important to me, and why. This fact has really be driven home to me lately in a very personal way. As I say in the video, thanks to my dad, we have thousands and thousands of photos from when we were kids. This is now especially important for us as he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The memories he captured as we grew, not only for us as we are now adults, but for him as well, are all that much more important to him because of his condition. It's so hard to see a loved on start to fade away, and cease to be the person they once were, but when we look through all those old photos of his, or watch some of his videos, he remembers, and he's happy. All his effort all those years ago has literally given him the ability to hold his now-fading memories in his hands one more time.
Aside from the personal aspect of what I wanted to say with this piece, there was the boat-load of effort it took to get it done. I don't think I've ever put so much work into one single project before this, and my wife can probably attest to that fact very easily. It was a mix of having to learn new things, being very very picky (probably 90% of it is pickiness), having to create a lot of content from scratch, having to do it in my spare time between other work, and of course spending time with Nash. It's amazing how easily a day could get eaten up by a handful of miscellaneous things, and all of a sudden the day is basically done, and I'd barely made any progress.
Every day was another set of things to learn. So much time spent reading, experimenting, learning the best way to do things given what I had to work with. I could have easily done things 10x easier, with some quick drag and drop editing, and generic titles, but again, I wanted to try and go above and beyond. I probably spent over a month alone on the part where we fly thru the camera lens, and see the image captured on the camera sensor. I probably spent a week or more doing just developing the text and titles. As my dad always used to say, "... if you're going to do it, do it right".
Once I had the video edited and started color correcting, I probably started over 3 times again. On one hand I had a look I was going for that I had in mind, and on the other hand I began to realize that even though I was making this video as much for myself as for other people, it had to look somewhat normal. My initial coloring choices were very extreme. In the end, I'm happy with where it ended up. It's a bit on the dark side, but that was part of the mood I was shooting for.
Eventually I got to the point where I realized I just needed to take my hands off the wheel and let it loose. I was getting so hung up on absolute quality, perfect colors, trying to squeeze every pixel of detail and sharpness out of the footage that I could. I finally had the finished version, it looked great, and then came the crushing realization that, no matter how hard I tried, most of my effort is instantly destroyed when uploading it to Youtube for public viewing. So I decided to purchase a Vimeo Plus account, which lets you upload in a less compressed HD format, and looks much truer to the original compared to YouTube.
The other thing I needed to get over (though I'm not quite there yet) is the fact that despite all the effort I put into the coloring of the footage, no one will ever see it the same way I do. Every screen is different. Almost no one, aside from professional artists, has a calibrated screen, and even if they do, moving your head an inch or 2 one way or the other can completely change how the image looks (this is not the case on phones and tablets, but on computer monitors viewing angle still matters). Not only that, but when you start throwing computer color space vs. tv color space into the mix, some encoders just assume you want TV colors, and again, you're left with a video that looks completely washed out from how it's supposed to look. More hurdles to figure out and get over.
In the end, video work is a battle. You fight the tools, you fight software, and you fight yourself. Its a lot of fun and its very rewarding, but to do it right is a lot of work. Most people will watch this and not give any thought about the work that went into it, and that's fine. I wouldn't be able to release it if I wasn't satisfied. So, if you're reading this, now you know some behind-the-scenes details. Hopefully you enjoyed it either way!