Showing posts with label Responses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Responses. Show all posts

Jul 3, 2013

How Important Is Camera Equipment?

I tend to receive a lot of random messages about my images, the style I shoot, and various other production and editing quirks - more of my lesson posts can be found here. After another such email about photography, I decided it was time to summarize a few of my thoughts on the importance of the camera equipment you use. Recently I received this message:

Hi Luke! 

First off, I just came across your blog for the first time today and it has been really helpful so far so thank you! Secondly, I was wondering if there is a camera that you use most often when shooting stills? 

I graduated from the film program at Cal State - Northridge last May and since then I have just been pretty lost as to what I want to do career wise. I'm just really overwhelmed with all the routes I could take, and I just don't know what to invest my time in. I've always loved photography and shoot a lot in my free time but all I own is a canon 60d and only have one lens at the moment (50mm, 1.8). 

Anyway, I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to how I could get my hands on more equipment in the cheapest way possible as I am currently unemployed. Also, how crucial is it to own a bunch of equipment (lights, lenses, camera bodies etc) if I decide to become a professional photographer? 

Thanks again! 

I appreciate the message, Emanja. I wanted to respond to you in a blog post seeing as a lot of people can probably relate. I know I've had a lot of the same concerns in carving out my own path. 

There are many who swear by their high-end cameras, fancy software, and arsenal of extras, but at the forefront, it's what you photograph that really matters. In the simplest terms, that's what you should be most concerned about. A keen eye, interesting subjects, a method for sharing your work, the right connections, etc. - these things matter more than whether you're using a $200 point and shoot or a $5000 SLR. Any camera that can shoot a picture in focus is overflowing with potential.  

Don't get me wrong, having nice equipment to work with is a plus, but don't let that be your road block in getting started - people who think expensive equipment will make up for a lack of creativity are fooling themselves. 

To answer your question, I have a range of cameras that I use on a regular basis - the most frequent of which are a Sony point and shoot, a Rebel series Canon, and a 5D Mark II. And before you go thinking that I threw the Sony in to be humble, I really do believe that a decent point and shoot is a must, and I've actually sold a number of images and prints using that little camera.

There are different requirements whether you're doing weddings, or portraits, etc. However, speaking as a corporate photographer I have a basic 3 light set up, a few soft boxes, reflectors, and a light tent that I use in the studio. Outdoors I keep it especially simple, and try to plan shoots for when I know the light will be best. My personal shooting motto is keep it simple and capture a lot. In total though, for the variety of work I've done, my equipment isn't nearly as fancy or elaborate as it probably could be.

In my experience, it's been my editing that's really helped my images stand out. Using just a small collection of programs, none more than photoshop, I've taught myself to build custom filters, play a lot with tinting, and develop a style for my work. Many photographers like to build their shots in camera (which is absolutely fine) but for me I really build my shots in the processing. In my opinion, it's a very easy way of putting a stamp on the work you do - not to mention, if you're photographing familiar things, the editing is like an exclamation mark for the subject matter. 

So here's my advice, if you want to be a professional photographer then simply start working towards that goal. Play with images and take lots of them. Take your 60D and continue to build a portfolio, get your friends to help you with shoots, share your work online, and determine the kind of photographer you want to be. Check out thrift shops, eBay, or even garage sales for props or used equipment on the cheap. Submit your work around, build a simple website to attract attention, and consider applying to places that require photographers - newspapers, magazines, websites, tourism, etc. for added experience - even if you're working contract these are great places to pursue. A few solid shots online with your contact info attached, and the doors will start to open rapidly. Media is always in demand, but to start you have to chase the work to make it pay.

At the end of the day it's your images that speak, and developing a body of work is paramount. The regular messages I receive are often about specific shots and how I achieved a certain look. The cool thing about that is that it's the picture that draws the attention, and people can't tell how much (or how little) money my equipment cost. You can do amazing things just with the basics, and regardless of the type of photographer you want to be, a distinct style and professional aesthetic will come with practice. You already have a camera, so prove what you can do with it.

Focus on creating captivating and unique images first and foremost and the work follows. Talented artists are seldom born because they had the best of the best from the start. Good luck, and happy shooting!

Jul 2, 2013

An Underwater Music Video Project

It's been several years since I last caught up with Alex Lamburini. I interviewed him in 2009 when he was still in high school with big aspirations for pursuing a career in film. He's now doing just that as a film student, and recently he got in touch to drum up some support for his latest project on Indiegogo. Check it out! 

Miami DJ Drops Base... Underwater

New York, NY  Produced by Emerson College student filmmakers, Alex Lamburini and Dylan Greiss, The Mence “Enrapture” music video is sure to mesmerize, entertain and mix-up the very fabric of the typical music video format. This music video seeks to change the music video game by visually showing that music has the power to entrance and affect the mood of its listeners.

The music video will be taking an average and overused concept and putting a major spin on it. In this music video, an entire pool party will be taken into the pool, literally. Lounge chairs, the DJ and his turntables, party-goers, drinks, LED lights, plant-life and just about anything else you can imagine coming across at your typical summer pool party. We’re literally submerging an entire pool party to bring the pool party into the pool.

Mence, the featured artist in the music video, is a talented Miami based DJ who produces progressive house music like his song, “Enrapture”. Mence’s music captures the perfect sound for both an above-water party and an underwater party. The euphoric beats of “Enrapture” highlight the typical party atmosphere that we all know and love, which, in tandem with the visuals, will allow a viewer to feel like he is at the party, traveling through the crowds and going for the underwater party adventure of his or her life.

This ambitious project, being put together by talented Emerson College film students, is no easy task. Not only does the concept require funding, but also immense creativity, problem solving skills and a great deal of marketing and producing work. This group of talented student artists and filmmakers hope to prove the importance and hard work involved in any form of creating artwork. They are dedicated to showing the public that young artists can achieve ideas and concepts never before attempted and because of this, they are donating any money raised above their budget to a charity devoted to funding, supporting and fostering art in schools and in youth communities.  

Check out more information on the Mence “Enrapture” underwater music video project on our official website: http://www.mencemusicvideo.comAlso, be sure to visit our Indiegogo fundraiser:

Mar 13, 2013

Around the Hat Feedback

In creating a now 2000+ image series of my hometown, I'm starting to really think about what I want to do with it when I wrap shooting at the end of 2013. I think a photo book of some kind would be amazing, and I'd love to do an exhibition or find other unique ways of promoting the collection. There are a lot of options, but I'd love to know what you think and what you might like to see!

I've put together a short survey that takes less than 2 minutes to complete and is an easy way for you to share your thoughts on Around the Hat. Your feedback is vital to my project, and your opinions could really shape how this photo series expands and eventually concludes. I can't tell you how much I'd appreciate it if you'd take a couple minutes and answer a few questions here

Thank you for continuing to share this experience with me, and stay tuned for a ton of new photo sets as the year rolls on!

Mar 8, 2013

Meet Ming Loo Photography

There's a tremendous amount of talent around Medicine Hat, and Ming Loo is certainly proof of that. He's an incredible photographer with a keen eye for portraiture. The two of us went to high school at the same time, but it's only been in the last few years that I've reconnected with Ming through his work via Ming Loo Photography.

His varied style with numerous models has really hooked me, and I think I've been further pulled in by the fact that his photography is so different to my own. In wanting to know more about Ming and his approach, I took a moment to ask him some questions. Here's what he had to say.  

Ming Loo - Image by Jolaine Rayner of Epic Photography

1. First off, I'd love to know more about your background and what interested you in photography (and video for that matter)?

At first, it wasn't photography that interested me. It was film and video. Im sure you can remember high school lol! After high school I moved to Vancouver and attended the Art Institute of Vancouver, for the Digital Film and Video program. During my time there I found that lighting and being behind the camera were my main interests. After graduating I stayed out west for another year, grabbing camera jobs wherever I could find them.

I was a camera man for CityTV Vancouver, camera for music videos (two of which airing on MuchMusic), short films, worked on XMen 2, Fantastic 4 and SmallVille. I then joined ATV, a production company based in Vancouver that had several aired TV shows: Wings Over Canada, The New Drivers Seat and The Canadian Rally Championship. This was a great opportunity because I got to travel across Canada.

So by this time, I was tired. I had finished school and I was working, but I was tired. So I returned to Medicine Hat with intentions of saving up for a professional video camera. However, after moving back I started using my Dad's old film slr. 1987 Minolta Maxxumm 7000. 8 years later, I'm still taking photos.

2. How would you describe your style or aesthetic, and what do you look for when trying to create it?

My style...hmmmm. I like to think my style is really clean. Im not much of an editor. I like my images to be accurate right out of the camera without any major post work after.

If I was to label myself, I would say I'm a headshots photographer.

3. Do you have a favorite shoot or one that you found particularly defining?

My favorite shoot was one I did in Vancouver. I was there on a personal vacation and it so happened that my friend Erin from the film industry was doing this event at her school. Her and two of her classmates needed to come up with three different looks and find a photographer, model and shoot all three looks in one day. I had worked with Erin before on photo shoots in the past, awesome MUA. We also got a hold of our friend and actress Tanaya to model. Since all three of us have worked together in the past before the day went smoothly without any problems. So much fun!

4. What are some of the most common questions or requests you get from clients, and how do you balance your own creativity with others direction?

Haha! I think the most common question is, "Can you take out this pimple." "Yes, yes I can."

Really, I don't get direction towards me on how I should shoot. When I'm shooting Im give lots of physical direction. I use my hands a lot to guide movements and poses. If a model strikes a pose, I'll work off of that and tweak their position to compliment the angle I'm shooting.

5. There's a long standing debate about the role of the photographer vs. the equipment they use. From a creative perspective, how much credit do you give the camera?

I love camera gear! Everything to my lenses, my camera body and the lights I use. I use the Nikon D3 and all my lenses are pro Nikkor glass. But because I use top of the line gear, that doesn't mean that it makes me a great photographer. It's how you use them. When I enter a shoot, I see the situation and I'll know what lenses I should use. Robert Rodriguez said; "Technology helps push the art form." The equipment I use helps me achieve the images I want to create. Like a carpenter with all the tools in his belt.

You have to know what lenses and lighting setups to use to benefit the shoot. If you don't, then you just have a bag full of tools to show off.

6. With so many other photographers competing (especially in the portrait business) how do you make yourself standout?

I've always been more concerned about improving my own skill set, rather than standing out. We have a huge photo community in the small city of Medicine Hat, and I have no interest in holding monopoly when it comes to this market.

I am more interested in being involved in our photo community. Seeing the new photogs arise from the many. I don't care if you're just starting or you've been in the game for years. I like posting other's photographers work on my own FB page simply to share. As competing as this industry is, I think we should be helping each other out and making it the best industry it can be.

7. I have a lot of students read my blog. What advice would you give to aspiring photographers or those looking to pursue photography professionally?

1) Don't worry about other photographers, be you and do your own thing. 2)Keep shooting and never stop. The more you shoot the more you learn. That's what will make a better photographer 3) Respect. Respect your models, respect your MUA's and hair stylists. Remember, photo shoots are a group effort. 4)If you are looking to do photography as a business, don't wait for it to fall in your lap. Act now. Make things happen. Pursue it.

8. What are your future ambitions regarding your work?

I want to shoot more. I want to learn more. I want to meet new people in the industry and learn from them. It's about growing as an artist and sharing.

And a huge industrial loft studio would be nice too, heheheh.

Jul 11, 2012

Meet Janaya Hanley

It's a huge pleasure for me to build new relationships with film makers who are just starting out on their careers, especially when it's come as a result of this blog.  Janaya emailed me a few weeks ago with some questions about film, and that got the ball rolling.  Whether I'm able to respond publicly or whether it's just a few words over facebook, I'm humbled by the opportunity to share a few of my experiences in the hopes of spreading inspiration and fostering creativity among those of us who have chosen film, video, and photography as a career path.  In general, I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who have contacted me and who continue to make me realize the value of this journal.  

With that, I'm proud to introduce Janaya Hanley: 

First of all, I want to thank Luke for featuring me on his website!  A few weeks ago I came across his blog by accident, and read a little bit about Luke and his experiences at the University of Regina, and his flourishing career henceforth.  As a current student in the Film Production program at the University of Regina, I was immediately struck by Luke’s story.  As many students in artistic programs do, I was worried about my job prospects, the quality of a university education, and of course, how much it would all cost.  I emailed Luke with my concerns, hoping for a few tidbits about why (and more importantly, how) he did what he did, but instead he responded to my email in a wonderfully thoughtful blog post.  And what’s more, he’s asked me to share my experiences in return.  As someone who considers herself a story-teller, I consider talking about myself an awkward and often difficult experience.  But I’m very excited to do so today, and hopefully many of you will relate to my experiences, and if I’m lucky maybe I’ll be able to give a few words of wisdom.  So here we go!

Ever since I was very small, I’ve always told stories.  When my friends and I had play-dates, we would dress up as princesses and reinact our favorite tales for our parents, and even make up our own.  I remember holding up a set of bed sheets in front of the living room like the curtains in front of a play, and pretending to unveil a dramatic production in the making.  A story could never be too complex, or too detailed, to be told.  Growing up, my artistic aspirations were always encouraged by my parents (one of whom was a professional photographer), who supported my dreams – publish a novel, direct a movie, star in a play – no matter how ambitious.   

By the time I graduated high school, I had already won a provincial drama award and written the first 300 pages of my novel.  I practiced my skills by making fan-videos and fan-fiction under a pen-name, and learned how to take feedback from my peers and from random strangers on the internet.   I also created a few short films with my cheap digital camera, one of which I’ve included;  it was made a few years ago as a high-school adaptation of Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale”.  Although the camera work was grainy and shaky at best, I am still proud of the set design and lighting set ups, as well as my ability to shoot the project in a few hours.  I still had a long way to go, but I was ambitious about my prospects.  By this point I had narrowed down my interests enough to decide that a job writing for television was for me, that it combined all of these elements that I loved so much. And all that was left was to go to University and get a degree.

As most University students will tell you, my first year was an eye-opener.  I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, a small-town girl in a new city, and I was no longer the top of my class.  The other students in my program had already published films, entered festivals, written for the newspaper, and I had some shaky-camera films and an unpublished draft of a fantasy novel rotting on my desk back home.  It was time to pull up my socks and get going.  I wrote more, did more photography, and filmed a few projects that were less shaky than my previous work.  But in the back of my mind there was the uncertainty of what I was doing.  Here I was, spending a lot of money on a university education that might or might not get me a job similar to the one that I wanted.  And this year, the Saskatchewan Provincial government decided to eliminate the film tax credit that would allow film-makers in the province to be able to afford their productions.  Many of my classmates and I wrote to the premier voicing our opinions, and in return he sent us a generic letter saying that there was nothing he could do.  A lot of these same classmates dropped out or switched majors, and those of us who were left continued to take film classes nervously, wondering what sort of future we had once we left the safety of the brick walls on campus.  The intelligent professors, expensive equipment, and pre-arranged assignments would not be there forever. 

As poetic as it would be to say that I had been there and back, I am still not sure where I will end up.  I just haven’t gotten to the end of the tunnel yet.  I surprised myself this year by finding a second love – psychology – which stems from my love of people and their interaction with others.  I imagine myself writing for a tv show with a new and improved understanding of people, thanks to my bright and shiny psychology degree, but on the other hand I worry that it might not be the right road for me. 

Any of you who are interested in film or television, or are already looking into such a career, will understand what I mean when I say that there is no set path. If you want to have your life spelled out for you, to have the certainty of a guaranteed job in a specific amount of time, I recommend becoming a doctor or an engineer.  Because there is no set formula for film-makers.  But for those of you who, like myself, are willing to risk the uncertainty to get a chance to tell a good story, to make people laugh or cry, I highly recommend that you do it.  Everyone will have to get there their own way, be it university, a film festival, an internship, or some other road, but don’t pass up on your dreams simply because it’s scary.  I will continue to pursue film in my own way, no matter what “major” I decide to take, and I will always dream of creating and writing for my own television show.  I will have to decide for myself how to get there, which skills to focus on and what sort of projects are most important to me, but it will happen.

One of Janaya's photographs.

For those of you who are in the same boat, my biggest advice for you is this; If you want to make films, then make films.  As easy as it sounds, you just have to find a way to do what you love. There are so many books and websites that will give you advice on how to format your work, and you can take a class (or get a degree) if you need help.  If you need equipment or software, you can get something for any budget, and there are facilities where you can rent cameras and lighting equipment. Even if you get together with your friends and film a movie with your hand-held camera and make everything yourself, you are still practicing the skills you need to make a bigger project.  You’d be surprised what sort of things – costumes, lighting posts, tripods – you can make around the house.  My classmate once roped a camera to a skateboard to get the appearance of a monster crawling on the ground.  Be personable and make contacts in any industry you are interested in, work on your portfolio, and toot your own horn when you have to.  Look for inspiration everywhere, because help can come from the most unlikely places.  For example, I learned a lot about cinematography from my mother, who has worked in the photography business for over 30 years, my 6th grade teacher taught me a lot about writing, and the post Luke wrote in response to my email was ripe with advice. 

Fall will come before we know it, and onto another school year.  I cannot say how I will make my way yet, but I will continue to work on my skills, expand my contacts, and do what I can to make better and better work.  Although I still get overwhelmed by my future, I know that every young person feels the same way.  I will keep doing what I love, continue to work with my classmates and learn from those who inspire me, and I will figure it out.  If you keep at it, you will too.

A big thanks to Luke, and to all of you who are reading this.

Jun 19, 2012

Life After Film School

Last week I received this message:

Hello, I am a 2nd year film student at the University of Regina. I actually came across your blog by accident, and I'm sure glad that I did! Not only do you propose lots of good insight and ideas into filmmaking and it's various ups and downs, but you do it from a place that I can relate to. I've been having a lot of the same doubts about film school that you've described here, and it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who's felt this way. And it's also great to see someone get out of this program (degree or not) and actually GET a job, which is something that has me quite worried these days. If you have any spare time on your hands, would you mind telling me a little bit about why you decided to drop out of the program, and how you made your way into the industry on your own? I'm very interested to hear the journey of someone who's been in the same boat. You have a great blog, and I'm very eager to hear from you.

As I've done in the past, I received permission from this student to respond publicly to their message. As always, I want to thank everyone who sends me questions and feedback. It not only makes this website feel worthwhile, but it also gives me an excuse to explore what I've learnt as well.

I've written at length about film school in the past, and even recently. This blog was a result of me trying to understand the direction I was heading, to facilitate a transition out of university, and to give me a bit of clout when it came to actually pointing to things that I'd done creatively. As a film student, nothing stressed me out more than the fear of not finding meaningful work when I was done.

For the record, I did enjoy a lot of my time in university and I do think there's a lot of value in a film school education. The practicality of it requires you to fill in some of the blanks however.

To answer your question about why I dropped out, I had overstayed my welcome to the point that it wasn't a choice anymore. I completed all of my core production classes through to 4th year, but had spent six years at the U of R doing so. By the time I left I only had a semester of electives, one language class, and one film theory class keeping me from my degree. I was broke though, and after completing the courses I'd come to university for, I became apathetic about school and spent months simply spinning my wheels. I was forced to realize at that point that the only thing I valued about film school anymore was being able to say that I went.

Thankfully, there was a bright side that came from all of this. My frustration with classes actually motivated me to make more personal projects and finally explore my passion for editing on my own terms. I submitted my work to film festivals, I took part in video contests, and started this website. In the beginning it was just self indulgence (and frankly a lot of it still is), but I can see now how these projects laid the groundwork for the opportunities that followed.

I moved home to Medicine Hat in 2008 with my tail between my legs. I had acquired some nice festival credits and had a little bit of money left from a Sasktel video competition that I'd taken part in, but the best thing I had going for me was that I was hungry for anything that seemed even mildly related to video or photography.

It was on a fluke after hearing about Stream Media that things changed. I soon realized that they'd sponsored the local student film festival that I had been a part of, and actually won a few awards from, a couple years before. I then discovered that I had a loose contact through Julie, one of the owners, who I'd spoken with briefly one of the years that I'd had something in the film festival. With nothing to lose, I wrote her an email explaining exactly what I'd been up to.

This shot in the dark changed everything for me. I was called in to talk, I gave them a reel of some of my shorts, and Julie's insistence got me a job. I was hardly financially independent at that point, but the opportunity I'd been given was amazing. The experience I got with Stream Media became building blocks. Suddenly I was shooting for various corporate projects, editing promos, and most importantly, working with a small team that could show me the ropes.

The film festival had become my foot in the door, and because I'd taken chances with my work as a student, it made an impression when I came knocking several years later. That experience still impacts me now when I think about the value of sharing your work. You never know who could be watching or where the next opportunity might come from.

As the economy cooled towards the end of 2008, I began working contract with Stream and found work in early 2009 with a retail website that had an interest in using video. I started as a copywriter with the potential of moving into video with them. My excitement and their willingness to grow lead to them taking a chance with me. I ended up building their in house media department, and began shooting enough photography and video to the point that I had created a new job for myself as their Web Media Editor.

To date I'm still balancing both jobs, and feel like I've been given an incredible opportunity to build my reputation on what I genuinely enjoy doing. The truth is that there is little to be gained in a creative profession without taking risks. Some of the smartest things I've done (looking back) is latched myself to people who appreciated what I was doing. I've also made a point of not just talking about how I love photography and video, but showing people that I do. Words are cheap, but it's difficult to ignore proof.

Once out of film school you're going to have to make sacrifices to move forward. This means making less money for a job that pays in experience, or putting in extra hours just to prove that you can do something new, or taking someones whim and being the person to interpret a logical first step for making it happen. Neither of my jobs existed when I went looking for them, which just goes to show that sometimes your fear can be an amazing motivator. 

Use your uncertainty to explore just what it is you want to do or where you want to be, and start taking as many steps in that direction as you possibly can. Redefine your film school expectations and realize that degree or not, you're still at square one when you get out there. You can take comfort in the fact that what I initially viewed as a failure in terms of leaving university when I did, actually timed me perfectly with the companies who were ready to take chances at that time too. There are a ton of hidden opportunities, and sometimes it really is as simple as getting in touch with the places you'd like to work with whether they're hiring or not.

I'm 28 now, but I've hardly got it all figured out for myself. I know it's important to stay hungry. Make things that inspire you and use them to inspire others. You'll start to pick up crumbs that will lead to bigger opportunities just based on the number of new people you're reaching. And one other thing, people like people who can tell a good story. You'd be amazed how far that can get you. 

So, to sum up a few of my own thoughts here are a few things to consider.  Share your work in as many ways as you can think of.  Like I said, you never know who could be watching.  Work hard to make meaningful connections with other people who are interested in some of the same career ambitions as you, they can become meaningful allies later on.  Take creative risks on a regular basis to challenge yourself, to grow, and to discover new things.  And don't forget, enjoy yourself.  The stress and fear are healthy, but don't forget how much fun the work can be and how defining the journey becomes.  If you really want to make the most of life after film school, stay hungry.  

Feb 21, 2012

Custom Filters and Video Filter Software

About a week ago I received this message:

Hi Luke,

I have been reading your blog daily as a result of my hobby of photography and video.  I am just a little older than you at 50 years old.  I have been off and on doing photography for a few years... My real question is how do you get that "old time" look to your videos.  When I watch them, I always seem to drift away and think I am watching films or home movies from the 50's or 60's.  I don't know how to explain the look I am seeing.  It is almost like a sepia or 8 mm look without the film scratches, etc.  Do you do post production filtering of some sorts?  I guess a better description would be, the videos remind me of early 50's documentary films with the dude with the tenor voice narrating...."Here we are at the Grand Canyon, Timmy can't seem to get enough of climbing rocks.  Even the donkeys join in"  I am sure you know what I am trying to say.  I use a Canon HF G10 HD camera for videos and love it.  My first video camera was a DVD mini disk, by Sony.  I still use it sometimes.  Anyways, enough of my ramblings.  Thanks for the videos and interesting read from your Blog.  Keep them coming. 


Don N.
St. Charles, Missouri

First things first, thanks for writing me the message, Don!  I always appreciate the feedback, and like I said when I first responded to you, your question seemed like a great topic for me to blog about and answer.

I've always been big on post-production filters and customizing them to create different looks.  As you noticed, vintage looks from the 50's on through the 80's have been a point of interest for me.  I actually wrote a post around a year ago (almost to the day as a matter of fact) about creating vintage filters that highlights some of my past experiments.  It's a good place to start if you want to get an idea of what some of these looks I'm talking about are.

I do all of my filters through either a combination of overlays created in Adobe Photoshop, or more recently, through the Magic Bullet Looks Builder as part of the Pinnacle and Avid Software that I edit with.  There are a wide array of presets to play with, and I've often used them as a jumping off point to create custom filters that best suit the look I'm after.

Another tool I use to build and customize filters is the proDAD VitaScene software (also available through upgraded packages with Pinnacle and Avid Studio).  What I love about this program is that it comes in handy for tinting your footage and it also gives you a lot of useful tools for text - like flares or glowing overlays for instance.

Creating filters that look fresh and professional is tough to achieve with presets though, so I almost never use them as is. Instead, I use the presets as templates to build upon. These programs make it easy to layer various filters, to adjust the aspects of each individual filter, and to manipulate your base footage all within small steps of one another.  It's really not a complicated process to play around with, but achieving the right balance for certain looks does take some fine tuning.

If you look at the edit I did for Backyard Bubbles, where I took some of my home video footage and gave it a vintage upgrade, you can see some of what I'm talking about. With this clip I applied very soft crushed edges to create more darkness in the corners, I upped the saturation, played down the contrast, and added a soft blur to take away some of the digital sharpness.  I remember there was a lot of tweaking to get the lighting correct, because it was easy to wash out or black out large portions of the footage.  And, just in case you're thinking I was using some fancy camera, this was shot on a $100 Flip Cam.

In short, pretty much every tool I use to edit video (both personally and professionally) is very affordable and easy to find.  The difference comes from experimenting and playing with what the options really are, and not just what they're presented as.  Digital video has made having a professional edit suite much simpler, and often professional looking results are possible with a less than professional budget.

I hope this helps - and presents some new challenges too!

Jul 28, 2011

How Do I Get Into Editing?

Yesterday I received this email:

I just found your blog and really admired your story and was wondering if you had any suggestions for someone who really wants to have a career in editing and film making. I love editing and would love to take on projects and create my own reel and get things going, it's just a difficult process to start, I don't know what to show to people to prove I have skills as an editor. I just did an internship with a friends parents acting class and did a short little movie, but have since moved away and am saving up for film school. Thanks for reading my email, have a great day.


First of all, I want to thank you Rob for your email.  I think your question isn't at all uncommon, which is why I asked you if it would be alright to respond to your question publicly.  I won't pretend I have all the answers, but I'm happy to share a few of the things that helped me get going when I was just starting out.

1.  Editing for yourself.

Whether you're shooting your own footage, editing home videos, or using found footage from your favorite movies, the best way to improve your work and make impressions with your editing is to create - and create A LOT.  Challenge yourself with varying styles.  Edit a music video, cut a promo reel, recut an original trailer for a movie you like.  Editing isn't simply about the task of combining clips on a timeline, it's about versatility and your awareness of how others will respond to the visuals and sounds you present before they've even seen them.  

Don't stress yourself out by thinking that everything you create has to be brilliant.  Treat your projects as exercises and use them to get a taste of different strategies.  These editing variations will also go a long way to highlight the way you handle different styles, which is exactly the broad approach that you want to take when you're just beginning.  You'll know you're on the right track if you're able to genuinely surprise yourself with what you come up with.

Others respond to dedication and persistence.  If you want people to know that you're serious about pursuing this as a career you have to be willing to keep at it even when you're not receiving gratification for your efforts.   It's what separates those who are professional editors, and those who just call themselves one.

2.  Sharing your work.

Show friends and family what you've done, upload your work online to be criticized, and find contests and student film festivals to give you new goals and specific feedback.  Everyone doesn't have to like what you do, and my best advice for being in any form of media is that it's best to develop a thick skin early on.  

Sharing your work with those close to you is also a great way to let people know about your film making and editing goals.  As a teenager, the projects I shot with friends translated into some of my first paid gigs filming seminars and weddings.  Don't expect to make big bucks doing this.  You're likely being hired as much because of how cheap you are compared to everyone else, as you are because of how enthusiastic you are to get the opportunity.  But, do take advantage of these early opportunities to diversify and create a reel for yourself.  Feeding on experiences will help shape your path and give you more choices.

Networking with friends and family is as simple as it gets, and you never know when they might know someone who wants a simple web video or someone to capture some footage of their function.  When you're trying to get into something new, the old saying 'beggars can't be choosers' is never more relevant. 

3.  Creating an online business card.

For me, Editing Luke has become a bit of everything.  It's a video portfolio, recap of some of my experience, and a place to share inspiration.  Ultimately, it's a well maintained presentation of who I am (and how I want to be viewed). 

While I haven't used my site as a direct advertisement to attract freelance work, I've used it as backup to prove how dedicated I am to what I do.  On a personal level this site has helped me build connections, has attracted several film festival invites for my work, and has given me a forum to promote projects in competitions.  Getting this to happen has taken a lot of effort on my part, but some of the achievements that have resulted have ended up on my resume and are great talking points when convincing someone to hire you.

When I was looking for work fresh out of film school, the impact of this site also stood out when I asked people to have a look.  It proved I was a real person with some character, because lets be honest, when you're just starting out your potential is probably more exciting than your previous work history.

In short, to work full time as an editor you have to push to make it happen.  The two editing jobs I currently do didn't exist before I came along.  However, their creation also didn't just occur overnight.  The right connections, a series of varying experiences to draw examples from, and a diverse reel to show that I was adaptable to a variety of styles all played a big part.  

When you're starting out you have to latch onto anything even remotely related to what you want to do and excel at it.  You'll be surprised how many people will take chances on you when you can spark their interest with what you're really interested in doing.  For me it's been a long chain of small events and chance meetings that have helped me progress further into what I want to do.  My approach is still evolving (and the work isn't always enriching) but to be able to fully support myself through editing and photography is one dream realized. 

The good news is that there are so many unique ways to get you to where you want to go that you shouldn't feel limited.  The arts are complicated, but those who succeed in a day to day sense (working for themselves that is) are those who learn how to bridge their creative ambitions with practical applications.  The web has transformed the market, and plenty of companies are looking to utilize video.

For more, check out a few of my older posts Advice For Aspiring Filmmakers and Basic Film Portfolio Skills.  Best of luck! 

Jul 22, 2011

Meet Alex Chandler

It's not often that I get the chance to feature other film makers who are just starting out and are going through the motions about how to approach their own career in film.  I got to know Alex through my blog and YouTube channel, and since then I've enjoyed our numerous discussions about film.  He's made me consider a lot of my own choices with some of his questions about film school, and it's been a lot of fun to hear about what he might like to do and how he might want to get there. 

I look forward to seeing how Alex continues to grow as a film maker and am happy to have made another lasting connection via the web - always expanding that network!  So, without further delay, here's Alex to share a bit about himself. 

To start I'd like to thank Luke for letting me voice myself on his blog! 

My name is Alex Chandler, and I'm an aspiring film maker from Washington State. Currently I'm looking into film schools that will help achieve my goal in this career. But at the same time I'm making lots of short films and learning film techniques wherever I can find them.

Alex (left) with friend, Ethan.

One of the bigger projects I've been working on with my team, Filming Humor, is a series of short films. The first one, The Spies; Layer of the Devil was released Christmas day 2010. The other two our going through the process.

With the first video, we learned a lot about story telling, weaving a story together, and realized a lot of our difficulties on location. From this we were able to create "The Directors On Scene Checklist."

This checklist came in very handy during the filming of the sequel, The Spies; James and the Vampire. Because the two directors, myself included, were on location working together and knew the checklist fairly well, helping the footage turn out great. 

Another key bonus put off by using the checklist, was that we were able to run through the script in a much more timely manner. The only reason we were rushed at the end of the day, was due to the battery dying...unfortunately a spare battery is another couple weeks from being owned...just bought it on EBay.

The point here is that with each experience there is a lot of hands on learning that goes on. I mean it's a lot of trial and error, but with a lot of my friends in drama, and myself taking classes related to film in general, we are able to figure things out a lot faster.

One thing that has happened dramatically fast between the last few short films we've made, is improvement to the plot. My friend Mariah is a writer, she has been helping develop the story and plot lately. And because of her insight we have reordered scenes out of chronological order, and grown depth to characters.

Really a strong team helps you grow, which is one thing to look for in colleges. You really want a hands on experience, and once you get out of the college you will want to know a lot of different people, with different sets of expertise. Where as I personally am an editor, I might need to meet up with all sorts of other specialists.

Looking for a college to go to will be quite a difficult task for anyone, and there are tons of options. Luckily for me I have Luke to ask for advice from, and his numerous life experiences.

The first thing I've discovered that I need to do, is decide what I want. In general you will like one part of film making. I enjoy editing the most, but of course everything else is fun too. But the key to choosing what, where and, everything else is really a personal preference.

From my point of view there are multiple options. You can freelance video edit and film, similar to what Luke does with Stream Media. You could also work for a company, and have a steady income; as in the case of Luke, he has Weddingstar. And then the one option I find the most tasteful, is that of a cinematic nature, more of a Hollywood sort of thing.

Personally I couldn't say what I'm planning to do yet, but it will take a lot of time and thought to fully decide.

Thanks for Reading,

Nov 18, 2010

On the University of Regina Blog

It was during my time at the University of Regina that I started this blog and began sharing some of my video work and film school experiences online. So, you can imagine my reaction when I received an email from the U of R blog about sharing some of the campus collage videos that I shot back in 2006 and 2007.

Maybe it shouldn't be surprising that I've become so involved in corporate video now as it seems like when I go out of my way to create content specifically about a place or location I end up getting requests about sharing it (which is awesome by the way!). This has happened several times with my travel edits ending up on vacation booking or related travel sites, or earlier this year when a short article I wrote about Universal Studios Singapore ended up in a Singapore English textbook, or when a video I shot at the Saskatchewan Science Centre ended up on their site.

Moments like this are cool in their own right, but as a collective it means so much more for getting my name out there and interacting with a lot of new people. Writing a brief promo post about myself on something like the University blog or any other site is always an opportunity with unknown results. With so many links and networks and blog posts, etc. I always get excited thinking about who else might find their way to my inbox.

It seems like there's potential to share even more content in the future, which could be a lot of fun. In the meantime you can check out the post and my campus collages by CLICKING HERE. Thanks for the shout out U of R!

Jan 7, 2010

Cinematic Acrobatic Presents: Bhaveek Makan

To feature the talents of other artists and gain their unique perspectives has long been the motivation behind a lot of what is posted on Editing Luke. To encourage interaction, involvement, and feedback is vital, and I can think of no better way to do this than to allow other motivated filmmakers to share their views in their own words.

I first came to know Bhaveek through the Film Contest in early 2009. He had submitted a video project that also became voted through to the semi-finals, and it was there that I got a glimpse of some of his work. Through a series of casual comments on each others videos and over facebook, I came to appreciate his ambition in making himself known to others throughout the contest.

At 18 years old, Bhaveek is just at the beginning of his prospective career in filmmaking and I for one am excited to see where his story will go next. Loyal viewers, Cinematic Acrobatic Presents: Bhaveek Makan.

1. Who is Bhaveek Makan?

I'm a South African born 'brown guy' who loves skateboarding/snowboarding and of course . . . filmmaking.

See Bhaveek and Jashan Makan's YouTube channel for Rendering Glint Films here. View the Rendering Glint Films blog here.

2. What is it about movie-making that interests you most?

Post production like editing is the most interesting part of filmmaking to me. I don't think its as IMPORTANT as the other aspects like scripting/storyboarding(since these elements are vital for editing to even take place) but it is obviously great to see something so simple be put together in the way you imagined the film to be.

3. Passion, Creativity, Drive - choose one.

I pick creativity. Without creativity, there is no passion,
thus no drive. When being creative with something, passion comes automatically.

4. If you had to choose a single project you've done or participated in that best reflects your individual style, which would it be and why?

Probably my film "Eat Ghee" since it really shows a true exaggeration of an Indian boy facing new challenges in a new country. It made me more interested in my own culture as before I made this film. I watched countless amounts of Indian Soap operas and Bollywood movies so I can get a sense of style.

5. Is there a unifying message to the movies you like to make, or is every project a fresh start?

Most my films are never serious. But if they are, there is no "in your face message"...its mostly subtle. SO a fresh start for each project. I like all my films to be insanely different.

6. What is the best piece of advice you've been given or come across?

Best advice would be "avoid shoe leather". Shoe leather meaning if I had to show someone getting from point A to B, I don't show his/hers every move to get there. I found this interesting as most my older films had this which makes things super boring and long.

7. In a utopian world, what would you like to achieve with your work or what would you like it to say about you individually?

I would like to hope that one day, my work is shown to the world. I would want my own Indian community to appreciate my work as well...because most Indians have really the same jobs: Engineer; Doctor; etc. I want to let my people know that there are so many other things out in the world that can be considered as a job. I would want to be known as someone who loves filmmaking.