April 29, 2020

Lessons From Filming (Round One)

By Barry Rudesill

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re in the process of creating Trek 2.0. Now when we decided on the “final” list of classes, we needed to pick a starting point. For us, the place that seemed to make the most sense was to work on the “The Bridge”. This was logical for any number of reasons: it took fewer people, the videos were shorter, it gave us time to learn the video-editing software, etc.

These past few weeks, I’ve been going back through the videos and doing a “final grade”. In other words, I went back through to try to make sure the colors matched, the videos were clear, the timings were the same, and more. As I’ve been doing that, I’ve come to realize something: I am SO grateful for digital recordings!

No, seriously, you can’t even imagine it! For you younger people, when us “old timers” saw the “perfect” moment, we were ready...to check our cameras. You made sure the film was the correct speed; that you had enough lighting; that there was a tripod available (or someone with steady hands); that the flash was attached or charged up; that you had advanced the film to the next one (mine had a dial you had to keep spinning until it clicked); that you had spare rolls of film on hand (because what if a better “perfect” moment came later?); and a few thousand other things.

More often than not, the “perfect” moment was long gone by the time you got done assembling everything! Either that, or you had another blurry photo that almost looked like Aunt Marge and so you held onto it, anyhow. (I have boxes and boxes of pictures that “almost worked”.) In the end, it was expensive, difficult, and hardly worth the effort!

For videos, it was even worse! I used to carry a bag around the size of a small suitcase, filled with stuff that I “might” need! This included about 20-30 video cassettes – I could only film about 30 minutes maximum at one time; a flashlight to illuminate the scene because it was usually too dark; a small tripod because my hands are NOT steady; spare batteries – I could only run the camera for about 20 minutes of the 30 minutes that the film lasted for; and more. I still have a bag of “stuff” in a closet somewhere…

Nowadays, if I want to take a picture, I simply pull out my phone, twist my hand twice, and start pressing the “Take Photo” button. Poor lighting? Who cares! I can delete stuff later. Unsteady hands? I actually have software that can make the image better? Flash? Built in and turned on!

If I want to take video, it’s much the same thing, except the video quality is so much better; the camera stabilizes itself so my shakiness isn’t visible; and the camera adapts to whatever light it has got to work with.

In the past, working with what I had and what I knew, I could sometimes get a glimpse of what I was trying for. The tools that I had were the best that I knew (and could afford). I never was trained to use the tools, either; my job was to figure it out as I went along. (Who knew that you should leave a camera shutter open for a minute in daylight? I didn’t!) If I tried something and it didn’t work, then I just tossed it on a shelf, never looked at it again, and never told anyone about it. “What? No! I didn’t actually try to get a picture of that…”

As I took the time to acquire new and better tools, as I sat down to watch videos (no reading of manuals for me!) to learn how they worked, as I practiced with them more and more, the pictures became sharper, the videos better, and I felt that I could share what I had with others!

If you’re living your life in the past, if you’re stuck with the same old tools that are producing the same half-working products, maybe it’s time you upgrade to something...better! That’s what the goal of The Trek is: to give you better tools and help you to change the outcomes.

Also, if you’re already on the journey with us, we just want to remind you that having new tools that you tucked in your backpack and ignored does NOT mean that things will change. If you’re still loading the same old film in the same old camera and getting the same old results, maybe it’s time to try something new!

We hope you enjoy your journey!

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