Hip-op, Drones and Work Experience Students
Just over three weeks ago a Hungarian masked man drugged me and then handed me over to another masked member of Indian origin, who proceeded to knife me in the side and I was completely defenceless. They were seasoned professionals and went on to replace my arthritic hip with a new prosthetic one. The following day, as I got out of bed, my blood pressure plummeted and I collapsed. I came round to see the charismatic female South African ward doctor of mixed raced, marshalling her team around me with the cool composure and assurance you would hope to see. We have an amazing NHS and I went on to Lawrence Reed’s BBC Radio Cornwall phone in programme on my return home and sang the praises of St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle and our multi-cultural Cornwall.
Fast forward and I am now into the fourth week of my recovery programme and making good progress. On Friday last I had to complete a commercial video project for Churches Together that would be shown in the churches yesterday in preparation for a public meeting to be held on Thursday. Very tight deadlines. Preparation is key and I was able to have in place an excellent script that was narrated onto an audio file just before I went into hospital. I had also filmed a friend walking her dog on agricultural land at the heart of the video that is ripe for a major, massive development on the west side of Truro. That was all I had apart from some miscellaneous video footage of Truro on my Drobo 5N raid drives.
Fortunately I had already scheduled a work experience student in for last week and was banking on him doing the donkey work. Callum was the 5th student that has spent time at Piran Films. Some of the students have been at university, others at schools or FE colleges. I always hope to learn almost as much from them as they do from me. I have never been disappointed. They always bring something innovative to the (editing) table. Callum was no exception and he had a tough challenge because of the paucity of B roll I had to offer. There were to be no talking heads on this short informational video.
I have always said that editing is 20 per cent technique and 80 per cent creativity. The students are invariably strong on the former but often struggle telling a story through strong primary and secondary associations between the narrative and the images. You have to invest a lot of time just watching hours of B roll if you are going to make the best associations. When I completed Paddy Bird’s excellent “Inside the Edit” course, I ended up watching 30 hours of raw footage that Paddy had filmed of photographer Anthony Epes capturing the dawn in London, Paris and Venice. I learned a lot about being a shooter from that experience. Any of you reading this and contemplating video / broadcasting related courses at university that will lead you into a £50k + debt ought to do this “Inside the Edit” course during your summer holidays. It could save you a fortune.
By the end of day one, my work experience student had found clips that would just about do the job but there were some big gaps on the timeline and and a number of weak primary and secondary associations. A reluctance to meticulously go through all the B roll footage meant that some of Callum’s selections were second best. But we have all done that. I was able to step in and rectify that. Such is the advantage for the editor doubling up as the original shooter on location. I personally don’t like editing another person’s work if I can avoid it.
Callum was able to capture some footage with his parents on day two of the project whilst I went off with a mate who owned a drone and had all the training and requisite hours and certificates in place. I have never used a drone or drone footage before for two very good reasons:
1) because I do not own a drone and
2) because they are ubiquitous and, in my view over the top. Just like sliders, action cameras and gimbals, drones are generally overused. It was amazing to see shots of Cornwall from the air but now they are boring after 10 seconds. Like a set of golf clubs, the slider, gimbal, GoPro camera and drone each have their usage and important part to play alongside the main A and B video cameras but must not be overused. The drone shot should act like the crane shot of old at the start or end of a feature film. Well that is how I would use a drone if I owned one. I love the perspective that drones bring, which is why I felt the need for such aerial footage in the Churches Together video.
We also had to rely on animated images and rip off some footage from a You Tube video produced by the Cornish Pirates. As the Truro City FC videographer last season, I hated it when people ripped off my footage, especially if they didn’t politely request it. It really makes my blood boil, especially when I discover that it is used for commercial purposes. I have been on to YouTube about this, but have they got back to me? Needless to say I sought and duly received permission from the Pirates. It probably helped that the chairman or some other high ranking official at the club is a member of Churches Together in Penzance.
So here’s the final video put together by my student with a bit of additional help and finessing on my part: