Posts By Brad Moore

Simplify Your Process To Become A More Efficient Filmmaker

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great subject matters in the field lately. As a filmmaker, my goal is to capture engaging moments and edit them for viewers to enjoy. That seems quite simple, but the road to making a video from top to bottom can be quite daunting.

My goal with this article is to share some recent work, discuss how I approached making them, and the gear I used along the way. I hope that by sharing my experiences, you can learn a new trick, tip or technique for your next video project. It doesn’t matter if you’re dabbling in video or a full-time filmmaker, I believe there is always something more to learn and grow into from sharing and swapping stories from production experiences.

Recently I’ve turned my attention to documentary and commercial work. Much of the time, the demand for certain types of film work will trend toward wanting a certain look or style. You see this by the requests you get and may notice you’re being asked to do similar work more often. These demands usually come from the different sources or platforms viewers commonly watch content.

For YouTube hosted videos, requests are typically aimed for edited content between 3-5 minutes. Viewers are also using platforms that are a bit more limited for video, such as Instagram, and the request for 1-minute or 30-second edited clips are what many clients commonly request.

The final product or edited video times may have changed, but the time it takes to capture the event or moment are typically the same. I find myself feeling very conflicted on set, filming loads of footage for a clip I know is going to be cut to 3-minutes. As a documentarian, I have to keep my final edit in mind when shooting, but I can’t cut the camera when action is happening on day full of magical moments. 

I never really know what clips will make it into the final cut, but I try to give myself or the editor enough footage to put together a proper piece, while trying not to overshoot as well. I do several things to be an efficient filmmaker without gear getting in the way of capturing the perfect moment that’s impossible to recreate. 

Typically I travel with three Mirrorless Nikon Z 6 camera bodies. I dedicate each one to play a different role and to capture a totally different type of look that helps give my edit a wide variety of looks.

Camera “A,” as I like to call it, is set up in a traditional 24fps setting with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with a variable neutral density filter to be able to quickly capture any moment indoors or outside. This camera is on a shoulder rig that is also capturing two sources of audio. One channel is running a wireless lavaliere microphone attached to the main subject. I run a second source of audio on the same camera which is a shotgun mic to capture any ambient or group of people talking. Both mics record simultaneously so that I can use either or both sources of audio depending on what’s needed for the edit.

In order to capture two sources of audio, I run one mic to the Nikon camera body and the other mic to a Atomos Ninja V recorder. This recorder also allows me to record in time lengths longer than the limit in my Mirrorless body, which is typically around 30 continuous minutes. This monitor / recorder will record as long as you have available storage, so I load it with a 500GB hard drive and can film for hours at a time if need be.

The reason for running the audio this way is so that all the captured audio gets attached to the singular video file. This Atomos recorder will record the audio coming from the camera body and also has a mic input on the record, which then all records to the video file, allowing me to have all my necessary audio on one file vs one video file and two separate audio files that need to be sync’d in post. You want to give yourself as many options as possible all while keeping your editing process as quick and efficient as possible. In the past, if I didn’t use this process it would take me the whole first day of my editing process to sync audio to my video. Just by capturing audio straight to my video I can save myself an entire day of sitting in front of the computer.

Once I made this change, I sought out other ways to save myself time in post and on shooting days. Battery life was another challenge for me. If I’m using the Atomos recorder/monitor, that’s two different devices on my rig that require batteries, and they’re not the same. So to free myself from swapping batteries and missing important moments, I use a V-Mount Battery. This is a big brick of power that allows me to film all day and power multiple devices at a time. This sufficiently powers my Nikon camera, my recorder and I have the option to power a third device if need be. A common 3rd device would be a Wireless Video Transmitter. If I need to send my cameras video signal to a client monitor, then I can power all three devices and remain 100% wireless. Moving to V-mount power has been a game changer.

The video below shows this main camera in action for a commercial I produced for Nikon’s announcement to debut a new firmware update that allows the camera to auto-focus on the subject’s eyes. 

Camera “B,” as I’ve labeled it, is dedicated just to slow motion. Since the Nikon Z 6 has beautiful slow motion, I set it to capture 120fps. I make sure to double my shutter speed so it’s set at 1/250sec. This usually darkens my image quite a bit so I tend to use a prime lens such as the 50mm f/1.8 or a 35mm f/1.8. This captures details and beauty shots, giving my final edit a variety of looks to help tell the story and change the mood.

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Cinemagraphs for Photographers: Animate Your Photos Without Learning To Shoot Video with Erik Kuna

Learn how to animate your photographs without shooting video! Join Erik Kuna for an in-depth look at Plotagraph Pro software to explore the possibilities for adding motion to a still photograph that really grabs the viewer’s attention. Cinemagraphs bridge the gap between still photographs and video and provide a unique method for bringing your photos to life.

In this class Erik takes you through the installation and setup of Plotagraph on the desktop and on the iPad, then walks you through a series of demonstrations to show you how to animate water, clouds, smoke, fire, hair, clothing, and more! Erik wraps up the class with a look at key export settings for sharing your animations with the world, and ideas for how to take your cinemagraphs to the next level.



In Case You Missed It: How to Bring your Still Images to Life Using Plotaverse

Join Trey Ratcliff as he teaches you how to add animation to your still photographs with Plotaverse. These dynamic images exist somewhere between a still photo and a movie and are just mesmerizing to watch. Throughout the class Trey teaches you the ins and outs of using the software, inspires you with mind blowing examples, and walks through ideas of where and how to use Plotaverse to get the most impact in your portfolio.

This class is perfect for any photographer looking to start using Plotaverse or wants to add dynamic impact to their portfolio.

What Does A Food Shoot Cost?

Do you ever get questions like that? How do you answer, “What does a food shoot cost?” When I have a potential client ask me this, I jokingly tell them “It costs about the same amount as a car.”

You can see their wheels turning as they calculate their ideas of what a car might cost. We then engage in some conversation about if they want a $30,000 luxury car or a $1,200 beater like my 17-year-old drives. Maybe it’s somewhere in between.

Out Of Pocket

The real question, and more important for us to understand is, what does a food shoot cost me? Before I can give the client a number, I need to know what my costs are. Most of the out-of-pocket costs associated with a shoot are easy to calculate (generally)…

  • First assistant: $500/day
  • Digital tech: $500/day
  • Food stylist: $950/day
  • Food stylist assistant: $450/day
  • Groceries: $250
  • Production assistant: $350/day
  • Prop stylist: $650/day
  • Catering and craft services: $500/day
  • Retouching: $150/image
  • etc, etc…

But what about my time? What about my value? (More on “value” in a future post.) What about my utilities? My insurance? My marketing and advertising, business license and taxes…the list of expenses goes on and on. Needless to say, there are many expenses/costs I need to be aware of, and then calculate into my estimates. But how?

I think we photographers have conveniently forgotten about all these other costs in an effort to try and compete on price. (More on “competing on price” in a future post.) These costs of doing business are substantial and are definitely part of the cost of a shoot. So, how do we account for these costs in our estimates?

Overhead

Consider overhead. These are our monthly expenses we incur regardless of how many days we’re shooting (or not shooting). Overhead is monthly bills and expenses. Rent, utilities, insurance, etc.

To help me figure out how much to calculate (and charge) for these expenses, I look at the annual total and divide by the number of shoot days—either actual from previous years or a goal for the current year. Let’s say my annual overhead is $100,000 (using round numbers to avoid long division). If I figure I’m going to shoot 100 days this year, then each shoot needs to clear $1,000 to cover my overhead.

Notice I said “clear”, as in, it’s above or more than the other costs of the shoot. This is income that stays in my bank account after I pay my crew and other out-of-pocket expenses in the list above. 

Salary

What about our salary? Did I say “salary?” Why yes, I did. We need to be paid. (More on paying ourself a salary in a future post.) Do we need to make $75,000 this year? Then we better make sure we’re adding $750 per day of shooting into our estimates. (I don’t have time or space to talk about “make” vs “take home” salary. We can discuss in greater detail in a future post.)

Equipment

But wait, we’re not done yet. Yes, there’s more. More for us to consider. Have you thought about your investment in all your equipment? That’s a lot of money. This is not overhead. Equipment purchases are capital expenditures. You know all too well.

$3,000 for a camera body. $1,900 for a lens. $2,400 for a computer. $4,500 for lighting. You might end up with $30,000 or $55,000 invested in equipment. Then a year or two goes by and it’s time to upgrade a few things here and there. These costs are big and they come at us at different intervals, sometimes without warning. 

Where does the money for all our equipment come from? These big capital expenditures need to be covered by our business’s cash reserves. But how? Imagine for a moment that we didn’t own any equipment, how would we get by?

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Convert 2D Art Into 3D Objects with Corey Barker

Join Corey Barker for a fun project that creates a 3D scene from a flat 2D piece of art while exploring a certain part of movie history. Corey provides the original 2D art so you can follow along as he explains and demonstrates each step in the process. By the end of the class you’ll have your own version of the 3D scene and a new set of Photoshop 3D techniques that you can use in your own creative projects.



In Case You Missed It: Outrageous 3D with Photoshop

Corey Barker is going to dig into Photoshop’s 3D features from a creative designer’s perspective and create some outrageous eye-popping 3D graphics all right inside Photoshop CS4. While a basic understanding of 3D is helpful, you don’t need to be a 3D expert to take full advantage of these features. So strap in, this is going to be one heck of a ride!

David Ziser is teaching at Photoshop World Las Vegas, taking place this week, August 21-23. Register now to come see him in person!

My Top 5 Tips for Safari Photography

Good Morning Everybody,

I have to say, I was thrilled when I received a note from Brad inviting me to do a Guest Blog Post for Scott’s blog as a run-up to Photoshop World Las Vegas just a few days from now. It’s been a while and I’m happy to be back in the “blogging” saddle again.

As many of you know, my wife LaDawn and I have ramped up our world travels these last several years. To put that in perspective, we now travel worldwide about 7 months of the year – last year we crossed the Atlantic Ocean 8 times, the Equator twice, and the Arctic Circle twice covering about 65,000 miles in the process, whew!!!

That’s a lot of time in the air but the adventures are worth every minute!

Now all that travel does not mean I’m slowing things down photography-wise, not at all! Each year, I’m shooting about 60,000 – 70,000 images. In fact, Canon’s Service Department just told me I wore out the shutter on my Canon 7D Mark II. Happily, I just received it back from their repair department. But now the subject matter isn’t brides and grooms. Up until last year most of my images have been travel and landscape related – I’m still inspired by the culture, history, beauty, and people of all the countries we visit. It’s just a thrill to photograph everything we encounter in our travels. 

Then last year, I co-hosted two photo safaris in South Africa shooting over 45,000 images in just five weeks. You’re right, that was quite an edit job. And just recently, we returned from nearly 6 weeks in South America climbing up to Machu Picchu and dancing with the Blue Footed Boobies in the Galapagos Islands shooting a grand total of 31,000 images. The Africa and Galapagos experiences have really energized my wildlife photography aspirations.

Watching the Blue Footed Boobies almost gives you “Dancin’ Feet.”

That being said, I hope you’ll join me at Photoshop World where I will be presenting two completely new programs: Landscape Photography Between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Because I’m too darn lazy to wake up earlier than that and I usually have an adult beverage in my hand after 5 p.m.) and my second program – How I Became a World Famous (OK, reasonably decent) Wildlife Photographer in Only Three Weeks. 

Ok, I know my program titles are a little “tongue-in-cheek,” but the cool thing is that I really did learn a lot of new photography techniques and tips from all our world travels and experiences these last several years. I want to share some of that info, particularly Safari info, in this blog post and then more thoroughly in my two programs I’ll be presenting at Photoshop World in the next few days. 

BTW, I’m leading two safaris again to Africa next year and a third to India to photograph Bengal tigers, but more on that at the end of this post.

In this post I’m going to hit on a few tips and tricks that I think could really help any aspiring wildlife photographers out there. So, let’s get to it…

We drove nearly 3 hours in the drizzling rain to get this photo. The cheetah brothers where still hiding when the first safari vehicle passed. We were in the second vehicle passing about 5 minutes later – perfect timing!

Tip #1: Gear Considerations:

Just like anyone going on their first Safari, I was worried about want kind of gear to pack. I wanted to pack lean and mean but still be adequately equipped to capture great images. Here was my first pass at the gear list:

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Hollywood Style Compositing Tricks with Corey Barker

Take your Photoshop creativity to new levels by exploring Hollywood style compositing tricks with Corey Barker! In this class Corey teaches you how to create amazing effects using layers, brushes, masks, selections, and other Photoshop tools while building a movie poster. This project will expose you to a variety of techniques and give you a lot of ideas that you can use in other projects. Corey steps through the project from the base image to the background, and all of the cool atmospheric effects and textures that bind the final image into a masterpiece!



In Case You Missed It: Advanced Compositing in Adobe Photoshop

Get ready to take your compositing skills to the next level! Join Corey Barker as steps you through the creation of a fantasy composite image, from extracting the subject though the final touches. Whether you are using an older version of Photoshop or the latest, you’ll learn how to cleanly extract your subject from the source image, how to build a background environment around your subject, and how to blend all of the elements together using lighting and atmospheric effects to create a believable composite image with impact. Corey will show you ways to use Photoshop that you’ve never thought of before, and he wraps up the class with cool tips for adding text and blending non-human objects into your composite.

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