Making Cinema Reel is not only a fun way to showcase all your favorite footage, it's also a great way to step back and analyze your shooting.
Last year's Cinema Reel essentially documents how 2016 was The Year of Handheld for me, which was a direct result of purchasing a Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k. Because of the camera's weight and ergonomics, as opposed to a DSLR, I finally felt extremely confident shooting handheld, which was a look that I loved.
I also didn't have a gimbal big enough for the Ursa Mini, and since I swore off of using my Nikon D750 for video anymore, that meant I wasn't going to be doing gimbal shots for a while. The ease of shooting handheld also meant that I didn't want to drag a tripod around, either, so I got a little lazy in that respect.
For 2016 I only had two EF lenses for the Ursa Mini, a 50mm and a 16mm cine lens, and I must have favored the 50 because I think almost all my shots that I picked for the reel were shot on the 50mm.
The last thing that last year's reel shows is how I also became slightly obsessed with slow-mo. That's because it looked so good coming out of this camera, and the 120fps option was a bit mesmerizing for a while. But while slow-mo can be super effective for some emotions, what it's not good at is creating energy or realism. And I wanted to get better at both of those things. I started heading that way at the end of the year when I shot Matt Bays' music video, and I knew that was a direction I wanted to go as I moved forward.
So my pure shooting goals for 2017 were basically to diversify my shots significantly from just being handheld 50mm slow-mo shots.
That meant I was going to have to work harder, because wide shots take more work, tripod shots take more work, and gimbal shots take more work. And 24fps shots require a different mindset than slow-mo shots, and I wanted to learn more about what I needed to do to create energy.
I was largely spurred on by a friend and colleague named Isaac Smith, who has his own video company called Ethos Films. I watched one of his videos for Beloit College about a baseball player and loved the energy that came out of the footage, and it really stretched me to start being more intentional about experimenting with new techniques for 24fps footage. Essentially that mean being more energetic with the camera movement itself, even, whipping quickly and tracking with fast-moving subjects, combining the responsiveness of a documentary with the gorgeous filming qualities of the Ursa Mini footage.
So 2017 was, shooting-wise, a year of me trying to learn when to shoot in 24fps and when to shoot slow-mo, and how to discern between the two options when I'm not really sure what to do. Sometimes it's the difference between gritty and glamorous, immersive and reflective, energetic and emotional...it's a great way to reflect the emotional/mental state of your subject. And, of course, as with many things for me...sometimes I'm just over-thinking it.
I got a lot of new and exciting opportunities in 2017, and shooting with Major Cook on top of the unfinished Riverview Health building for the City of Westfield was definitely a highlight. I also loved shooting the Westfield High School football game for the same project.
I did end up getting a few gimbal shots, purchasing a Zhiyun Crane v2 and using it with a Sony a7s2 that I tried out but returned. I borrowed a Ronin for a shoot with Valley of Grace and the resulting amazing footage is what sold me on the idea that I have to get a gimbal for the Ursa Mini Pro, so that's one of my purchase goals for 2018.
2017 was my first year of doing videography full-time, and I really only did it full-time for the second half of 2017, so I'm looking forward to seeing how much more I can grow and expand my skills and my business in 2018.