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getting started in nature cinematographuy


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#1 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 11:33 AM

I'm currently working on an MFA in film with emphasis in cinematography. I would really like to get into nature cinematography for documentaries, b-roll, and such.
What is the best way to approach this task? Am I in danger of having too specific a goal?
Thanks,
Rick
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#2 Robert Hughes

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 12:08 PM

Nature cinematography? Consider the connection to Nature photography - you've got color, texture, form, balance, harmony. But with cinematography you've also got ACTION! Frantic, cautious, peaceful, excited, all the ranges of movement inherent in the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. Make a demo roll with as many different types of scenes, as beautiful as you can make them, and remember it's not hanging on a wall of a gallery, it's going on in real time, so get a flow going. Make people want to see next scene, and leave them wanting more.
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#3 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 01:40 PM

Nature cinematography? Consider the connection to Nature photography - you've got color, texture, form, balance, harmony. But with cinematography you've also got ACTION! Frantic, cautious, peaceful, excited, all the ranges of movement inherent in the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms. Make a demo roll with as many different types of scenes, as beautiful as you can make them, and remember it's not hanging on a wall of a gallery, it's going on in real time, so get a flow going. Make people want to see next scene, and leave them wanting more.



Thank you for your eye opening points.
I've done alot of video work in nature just for the fun of it. However, I have always been caught up in composition and didn't think too much about the action.
Thanks, and please wish me luck.
-rick
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#4 Morgan Peline

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 09:42 PM

I would contact your favourite nature cameraman and ask him if you can help him out as an assistant or if you can shadow him on a shoot for a few weeks. Learn from somebody who has been doing it for years...you'll probably learn more stuff in a few weeks by watching a seasoned cameraman do it and asking questions than if you tried to figure it for yourself over a longer period of time.
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#5 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 10:16 PM

I would contact your favourite nature cameraman and ask him if you can help him out as an assistant or if you can shadow him on a shoot for a few weeks. Learn from somebody who has been doing it for years...you'll probably learn more stuff in a few weeks by watching a seasoned cameraman do it and asking questions than if you tried to figure it for yourself over a longer period of time.


Thank you! That is an awesome Idea.
I know that there is a lot to be learned. I'm particularlly concerned about camera movement and focus. I guess that's where the experience comes in.
Thanks again,
-rick
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#6 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 11:41 PM

I really admire the skill of a wildlife cinematographer - especially with regards to keeping rapidly mobile subjects in focus like an animal running across ground or a bird in flight.

Edited by Patrick Cooper, 14 July 2007 - 11:42 PM.

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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:31 PM

The flying insect footage is what gets me. Slo-mo at small apertures and insanely small DOF.
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#8 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:41 PM

The flying insect footage is what gets me. Slo-mo at large apertures and insanely small DOF.
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#9 Logan Schneider

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 02:25 PM

There is a natural history filmmaking MFA in at Montana State University in Bozeman. I read that you are already doing an MFA, but it might be worth getting in touch with one of the professors. Phil Savoie is the cinematography teacher. You might want to get in touch with him and see if he can give you tips. His website is www.philsavoie.com. He also posts occasionally on CML.
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#10 Rick Shepardson

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 04:50 PM

The flying insect footage is what gets me. Slo-mo at large apertures and insanely small DOF.


Totally. A friend and I are going to test out the probe lens on the SDX. I'm hoping to shoot mostly insects and stuff like that. And maybe get some cool shots of the moon, just to do it.
I also want to take the camera down to the park and see if I can follow the squirrels-fast buggers.
-rick
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#11 Phil Savoie

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 03:28 AM

Hi,

Sorry I?m late in seeing this thread ? I?ve been on a shoot chasing Mountain Goats for the BBC. As Logan says we offer an MFA that focuses on Science and nature filmmaking at Montana State ? the link for the program is http://naturefilm.mo...a.edu/index.php

The fun of this specialized work is the constant challenges and problem solving to get subjects and their behaviour on film. Portraits are a breeze; it?s the behavioural sequences that put you to the test. We use every technique, lens and odd optical system out there. At times we invent tools for specific shots. Most successful nature DPs have a scientific background as well as photographic skills. The work keeps you on your toes and you travel to magical places to see, and often film the rare and wonderful. For me it?s a dream job. Contact me directly if you want to chat more about it. To view some of my work you can see clips on my website www.philsavoie.com.

cheers
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