Jump to content


Photo

Stills to Moving


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 24 January 2006 - 11:06 AM

Hi everybody,

I am a stills advertising photographer of 20+ years experience, film and digital.

Quite often some of my clients book my studio for a stills shoot, and then hire it straight away for a video shoot of the set we have just shot. On several occasions I have been asked to direct the lighting for the video and advise generally about light. Now all this is becoming very interesting. What are your'e thoughts on crossing over from a stills background to moving images, is it possible, what am I going to find the biggest hurdles. Or am I barking. Many thanks for your'e indulgence if you've read this far.

PS: I will try and post a couple of my stills if that is of any interest!
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 January 2006 - 11:51 AM

I've heard of advertizing photographers moving into shooting commercials before, but I wouldn't know how one would go about that, not being in the commercial world, plus you'd have to brush up on your cinematography knowledge.
  • 0

#3 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:01 PM

Hi David,

Thanks for a swift reply, I guess commercials would be a much more natural progression for me, having been around advertising all my working life. I guess that I'm hoping, maybe sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks.
  • 0

#4 Charlie Gruet

Charlie Gruet

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:10 PM

Mr. Mullen is correct about brushing up on your cinematography skills, the transition requires a depth of knowledge specific to the tools required for motion picture. I first worked as an AC then moved over to the still world, first as an assistant - then a shooter. I am now back working as a cinematographer (but not turning down still jobs either!). The trick is having an understanding of the various tools required for each job. While composition and lighting are essential for both skill sets, they are executed quite differently dependant upon whether you are shooting stills or motion. I would suggest contacting a motion picture camera rental house and asking if you could observe an AC prepping a camera(s). Learn your tools for the craft. Contact a lab, many of them have free seminars on various processing techniques. Also, with the advent of new technology, you're gonna have to learn those tools too!! Film hadn't really changed much, the chemistry got better, but the frame has been pulled in front of the gate the same way for decades - now, there is a new world of equipment and techniques. It's a wonderful time to join in the fun.
Charlie Gruet
DP
LA-DC
  • 0

#5 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:31 PM

It's a wonderful time to join in the fun.


Hah.. Thanks Charlie, great insight there, I consider myself blessed that I have gone through stills from the age of Dev trays and 10"x8" plate cameras to digital backs and histograms.

Boys and toys eh...Willwe ever learn!!!!
  • 0

#6 tomasito

tomasito

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 24 January 2006 - 04:36 PM

Go for it!.. Many today's top cinematographers were involved with still photography or journalistic photography... at the beginning of their carrier... so, I say don't hesitate :)
  • 0

#7 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 25 January 2006 - 03:16 AM

Thanks for the positive feedback chaps.

Your'e a chirpy lot, which is refreshing, sometimes stills can be a little insular, but you guys seem to have a real nice team spirit about you.

Lots to think about etc, so I will listen and learn, hope you are OK with a stills man haunting the forums a bit. I still feel like a bit of an interloper here, as I am off of my normal territory, so bear with me if I ask something dumb!

Many Thanks
  • 0

#8 Greg Gross

Greg Gross
  • Sustaining Members
  • 869 posts
  • Harrisburg,PA

Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:17 AM

I'm just in the process of doing it myself and there is a lot to learn about cinematography,
digital cinematography,video. I believe a good solid foundation is required in basic photog-
raphy though. My photography business is centered around portraiture,weddings,some com-
mercial. My commercial work usually involves being directed by an ad agency rep.,they re-
quire a shoot exactly as they specify. I still will do shoots for models(portfolios) but my time
for that is somewhat limited. I also do corporate annual report photography and this often in-
volves(enviromental portraits)on location. I do my own digital photography(digital darkroom)
and b&w in the darkroom,all my color work is sent out to labs now. I have done my own color
darkroom but now I do not have enough time to do color darkroom. So here I am at 8am EST
studying cinematography and doing research on forum. I am leaning more towards the indep-
endent aspect of filmmaking, I will actually write,produce,direct,photograph my own productions.
I 'll be in NYC monday,tuesday taking orientation from rental facility on cine lenses and cameras.
My girlfriend is a film school graduate and when she's not shooting and I'm not shooting we go to
the movies,go out to eat,and study some more together. At 58 years old I tell myself that I should
just stick to stills,not work so hard. I can't do it,I just keep on,I can't let go because I simply love
it all too much. So if I can do it,you can do it! My favorite stills work is that of on location doing en-
vironmental portraits. I still use 4X5 camera for commercial work and would love to have a digital
back for my Linhof but cannot justify cost right now. To add to all this I'm also a medical professional.

Greg Gross
  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11943 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:40 AM

Hi,

I once saw an HD production which had been shot by a stills guy which looked like absolute dross, but that's just one example.

By the way, "It's a wonderful time to join in the fun" is either sarcasm or insanity. The film industry in the UK has, quite literally, never been in a worse position. Government tax initiatives have just been cut and several long-running imports (which you would not be working on anyway) have wound up. Even the next Bond isn't being shot here. It may not seem like this has any impact on what you're looking at, but it does - there's an unmistakable hierarchy from features down to industrials, and when there's no features, the feature crews drop down to high end ads and promos and it is not possible to compete with them. Start posting on Shooting People tomorrow and you'll be lucky to do three quality freebies a year, let alone call it a job. I am not joking.

The reason that the people on this forum as chirpy is that they're mainly Americans, where slipping into a position on a film crew is comparatively - and I stress comparatively - effortless. Filmmaking in the US is a business, whereas here it's a fringe artform and it's funded, or rather more usually not funded, to match. Although again it may not seem important to your aspirations, that strata of employment is near-unbreakable. You will not, except in the most exceptional circumstances, find yourself suddenly invited to work with the established crews; there are about three sets of really serious feature crews in the UK and they are each a unit more integral than any union could enforce. The non-insularity you see is a purely American phenomenon; everyone in the UK is more than aware that the only reason they've got a job is that nobody else has taken it from them.

I'm not trying to tell you not to try, but whatever you do, don't burn any bridges regarding your stills career because it will take a sea change in the way the UK film "industry" works for it to be a practical career choice. Beware of the advice of Americans; anyone in the US will have a very different impression of the workability of this career than anyone in the UK. They certainly won't tell you it's easy, but there seems to be a sort of assumption that it's possible in the US, which simply does not apply here. Most of the best film and TV people in London, as I've said before, are waiting tables in Hoxton Square.

Do it as a sideline when you can get it, but it's not really a way to make a living.

Phil
  • 0

#10 Greg Gross

Greg Gross
  • Sustaining Members
  • 869 posts
  • Harrisburg,PA

Posted 25 January 2006 - 09:36 AM

Okay Phil,
Your point is well taken sir. I understand exactly what you are saying. I wish it was a better
situation for you guys in U.K.. I think with filmmaking you either give up,quit,or just keep on
keeping on. The only possibility for me is that of being an independent filmmaker, I could never
put up with producers,directors,assistant directors. I would end up kicking their asses off the set
and we both know where that would lead. My grandmother once told me "Now Greg no matter
what Ed tells you,you stay away from that god awful film business." I would say "okay grammy"
and run out the door to skip another day of school and play with my Kodak cameras. I could be
perfectly happy making my own films and viewing on my own projector, and even re-editing them
once a week; every week until the day I die. I definitely have Cassavetes's blood in me. Phil, how
many times in this business though do you hear about the guy that against all odds makes it? By
god young man you know,it still happens every once and a while. It would only take once for an
assistant director to treat one of my crew badly and bam...bam...bam, I'd be out of a job. This is
really a heartbreaking business,this business of filmmaking,and lots of hard,hard work,always sol-
ving problems that to some are not important. Maybe fifteen minutes of fame comes along,one thing
for sure,the bills will arrive in the mail. "CUT" Hey Phil if you get a chance look in AC on page 37,
picture bottom of page. Do you know who that director is behind the viewfinder(director's finder)?
Now there is a guy who just kept keeping on! What do they call them things directors look through?

Greg Gross
  • 0

#11 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11943 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 January 2006 - 09:55 AM

Hi,

> how many times in this business though do you hear about the guy that against all odds makes it

By definition, everyone who's involved made it against all the odds, so it's not terrbly surprising, really.

And I don't take AC.

Phil
  • 0

#12 Charlie Gruet

Charlie Gruet

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 25 January 2006 - 10:35 AM

Phil,
I was the one who wrote "it's a wonderful time to join in the fun." Perhaps there is a bit of insanity laced within that statement. Cold calling and mailing out reels isn't necessarily fun. I must admit it was not until I read your reply that I realized that our photographer friend was from the UK. I know nothing of the business over there, so, yes everything I said was in reference to cinematography work in the US. Are you fortunate to have worked in both the UK and the US? Because I would love hear more about the differences.

In regards to my first post, the "fun" part is that anyone can be a filmmaker now. Granted, 90% of the films made may be awful but you can still have fun while doing it. Things are changing - technology and programming - and no matter where you are from, and what your profession is, you can be involved. There are film festivals in practically every city throughout the world, and, also a multitude of websites for the exhibition of your project.

Positive encouragement, in this situation, was to take away the fear that some people exhibit when they try something new. Especially when it involves something as important as your career.
  • 0

#13 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 25 January 2006 - 10:55 AM

Hi Phil,

Many thanks for telling it how it is, it's very much appreciated.

The line "It's a wonderful time to join in the fun" was merely directed at technology. I would not have missed the digital revolution in stills for anything! and technology wise it is interesting times in the world of moving images as well.

I wasn't thinking of ditching my stills, I havn't spent the last ten years building up my current studio and client base to throw it away.

I was thinking more of the possibilities of branching out into some form of moving imagery. I am fortunate enough to have a 2k square foot drive in studio, 24ft infinety cove, 20ft floating cieling, £50k+ of lighting, and all the usual paraphenalia that comes with it. Unfortunately with all this comes big overheads, so I'm always looking for ways to diversify.

The big problem I have is that I am a self confessed "Light Junkie", if I was sensible I would fill my unit with workers stamping out widgets and earn some real money. But I don't think I would be very happy, so my best shot is to keep fiddling with my lights and thinking of ways to keep me keeping on, if you get my drift.

Again many thanks for your informative post, speaking to someone on the inside of these things is invaluable.

I have invested my whole life in playing with light, and the scary thing is I don't know how to do anything else so I'm kind of stuck with it!

Take Care, and let's hope for a renaisance in the value of Imagery.
  • 0

#14 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11943 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 January 2006 - 11:49 AM

Hi,

Well, you should at least look into renting out your space. I was looking for a reasonably-priced infinity cove at the end of last year.

Dry earnings, but it helps the bottom line.

Phil
  • 0

#15 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:20 PM

Hi Phil,

Technically we are not a hire studio, but more and more I seem to fit someone in if we're quiet, like you say "Dry Earnings" but equally so if your'e not busy, The Clock Still Keeps On Ticking!

We only tend to hire to video people, for simple stuff that isn't going to mess up the studio too much. I always seem to end up doing the lighting rig though, in some ways that's what sparked my question here in the first place.

Although my partner and I are both Londoners born and bred we prefer the quiet life of the countryside. For the UK'ers out there we are just outside the city of Bath.

Take Care
  • 0

#16 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11943 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 January 2006 - 01:51 PM

There are a lot more UK residents on here than there used to be. We should probably organise a get together or something.

Phil
  • 0

#17 Matt Wicker

Matt Wicker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Other
  • UK

Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:06 PM

I think there is a lot of talent on this little island of ours, problem is we just don't seem to embrace it like our friends across the pond do! it can be very frustrating. I mean at one time surely we were players: Ealing Studios, Shepperton Studios, Pinewood Studios...... What Happened?

We have talent here, so what gives! Point in question my younger brother is an extreme Talent, and I mean world class, "Mill Film" closes down and he gets snapped up by "Industrial Light and Magic" he should be here working in the UK!!!

Oh god , now look youv'e got me rambling, sorry folks I'll shut up now

Thanks for listening
  • 0

#18 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:10 PM

There are a lot more UK residents on here than there used to be. We should probably organise a get together or something.

Phil


Phil,

I was thinking of returning to the UK later this year!

Stephen
  • 0

#19 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11943 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:28 PM

Hi,

Someone said:

> I was thinking of returning to the UK later this year!

That would be a bit silly, wouldn't it?

Someone else said:

> I think there is a lot of talent on this little island of ours

Maybe once there was, but abilities like that have to be trained, and we haven't been seriously training feature filmmakers for more than twenty years.

> it can be very frustrating.

You don't say.

> I mean at one time surely we were players: Ealing Studios, Shepperton Studios, Pinewood Studios......
> What Happened?

Cessation of the Eady Levy, big changes to cinema ownership and distribution deals, progressive Americanisation of world culture, massive increase in the quality of American filmmaking.

> Oh god , now look youv'e got me rambling,

Great, can I join in?

Oh bugger, I already have.

- Phil
  • 0

#20 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:50 PM

Hi,

Someone said:

> I was thinking of returning to the UK later this year!

That would be a bit silly, wouldn't it?

- Phil


Phil,

I like a challange!

Stephen
  • 0


The Slider

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Technodolly

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Tai Audio

The Slider

Glidecam

CineLab

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Opal

Willys Widgets