A post to store some assets for weddingful.
A post to store some assets for weddingful.
Some b+w white event samples which we have taken. These are representative of our creative philosophy. We believe in capturing genuine emotions, being in the moment with our subjects, and creating images with feeling.
About 9 months ago I started my own company – Picture and Color Media – to challenge my own boundaries with photography and cinematography. I knew very little at the time about either. In fact, I barely knew how to use an SLR camera.
Though a combination of obsessive learning, hard work, and good timing, I’m proud to say that I’ve now done about a dozen cinematography projects, both wedding and commercial. Somewhere along the way, I learned about Patrick Moreau and his team at stillmotion. From watching their various tutorials and reading their blog, I absorbed an enormous amount of knowledge about cameras, audio, lighting, logistics and visual storytelling. These tutorials accelerated my learning process tremendously.
So when they announced their KNOW filmmaking tour and Vancouver appeared on the map, I had to go. In fact, I actually turned down a gig to go attend KNOW instead.
For me, going to a workshop put on by stillmotion is like going to a sold out concert put on by my favorite rockband. Seeing Amina, Ray, Joyce, Evan and Patrick set up that morning, I was a little star struck! Here was Patrick Moreau in the flesh… the most successful events cinematographer in the world. This guy went from shooting weddings to shooting feature length television documentaries and AT&T Olympic commercials. How is that even possible?
The answer became obvious soon enough. Patrick is supremely confident, speaks flawlessly and his content is packed full of knowledge. There is purpose to every word and every demonstration. The impression you get immediately is that this guy knows exactly what the hell he’s talking about and his films only further this impression.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, the most valuable part of the KNOW workshop happened in the first 3 or so hours. This is where they break down their philosophy and their approach and challenge you to rethink what you think you know about cinema.
During the break, I managed to pull Patrick aside for a quick one-on-one. I wanted to know how to distinguish my business from my competition, how to market myself better and how to grow as a filmmaker.
Truth is, I learned more from having that 10-minute conversation with him about this business than I have in 9 months of trying to figure it out on my own. But he spoke so quickly, so intensely and with such passion that it was difficult to absorb anything right away.
The 10 minutes went by in a flash, with me mostly sitting there dumbly answering his questions and waiting for him to challenge me on anything and everything I said. I never had a good answer ready for why I did things or even where I wanted to go with my business and ended up feeling very stupid. This was not a fun conversation!
Patrick will challenge anything and everything you say or do. He’ll ask you a question and you’ll give him an answer. Then he’ll ask you why. Trouble is, I didn’t have any good answers.
It took me until late that evening, lying in bed trying to fall asleep, for a light bulb to go off and I figured out exactly what he was doing. I realized that any time I did or said anything… whether it is the camera I use or the lens I select or the composition of a frame, I need to have a reason for it. This further extends into my business decisions and my marketing ethos. I did not sleep that night… I was furiously writing down new ideas and started the process of rebuilding my entire website from the ground up because I realized it didn’t match what I wanted to accomplish. This frenzy devoured me for an entire week and the result is the website you now see here!
Stillmotion’s entire approach to storytelling is that everything needs to further the story. If it doesn’t, it’s gone. You may not agree with all the choices they make – or even the reasons they give to justify those choices – but the idea is to have a conscious effort for everything. This is the message of KNOW.
Not the cameras, not the gear, none of that.
It is not about Canon or Manfrotto or Steadicam or Profoto. Those are just tools to further your message. But tools change every year and are entirely replaceable. Once you KNOW what you want to do with yourself, KNOW the message you wish to get across, and KNOW how to leverage your tools to help you get there, you as a storyteller become irreplaceable and that’s when you become priceless. The same principle applies whether you are shooting a 1000 dollar project or a 100,000 dollar production.
This – ladies and gentlemen – is how you go from shooting weddings to shooting for the Superbowl.
Here’s some recent work we did for one of the listings at Keith Roy and Associates.
While this is an owner occupied, older home, I highlight this shoot because it illustrates beautifully how our high production value, detailed oriented approach can make the best of any piece of real estate.
Our lens selection, high dynamic range technique (notice all the perfectly exposed details outside the windows?) and creative post processing decisions make listings look their very best. We are not distorting reality — this is an accurate representation of the real estate — just one that shows it at its finest. We were told some of these shots look like they belong in a magazine spread. This makes us very happy!
UBC Camps International is an education and adventure camp for kids. Each participant gets to spend two weeks with UBC-led instructors on a variety of educational and outdoor activities spread out across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
We were invited to provide both photography and cinema for this project. All of July, we were shooting and producing ‘take home’ photo and film packages for the campers to share back home with family and friends. This was super exciting for all of us at Picture and Color Media because it meant telling new stories from a totally new perspective, through the eyes of campers!
Here is us joining the campers on their Deep Cove Kayaking adventure.
This shoot was epic. Not only for the technical results — which I’m extremely pleased with — but also for the way in which we achieved these spectacular stills and footage.
One of the main goals of this project is to obtain photo-journalistic style, action photos capturing 1.) emotions of the campers, 2.) the specific tasks of each adventure and 3.) the beauty of Vancouver and its surroundings. Most of the time, this meant getting in close with our gear and capturing the moments from the perspective of the campers and instructors. This wasn’t always easy to do because things happened extremely quickly, kids never slowed down and it was easy to miss a crucial moment.
On this particular shoot, the only way to do this was to get in close with action shots at eye level with the kayakers. This meant not shooting from above (say from a power boat) and not shooting from a long distance (say from the shore). I knew right away that I had to jump into a kayak.
With my Canon 5D Mark III, my 70-200mm F4L, and my Zacuto striker shoulder rig and Zacuto viewfinder, I had perhaps more than a few reservations about jumping on the front of a tandem Kayak with an unknown driver. After all… salt water does not go nicely with electronic equipment and in the event we tipped over I was all but out of luck. But this is Picture and Color Media, and we never let our apprehensions get in the way of our creativity!
Thankfully, I found my driver in one of the UBC Chaperones. His name is Cooper and he told me he is an expert kayaker. So off we went, excited about the possibilities!
In the end, his driving was awesome. He followed my instructions exactly, getting close and alongside and across the main group, when and where I needed it, giving me ample opportunities to snap away and roll film. I started with AF one shot mode on the 5D Mark III but quickly switched to AI Servo with additional AF points to cover a larger focusable area. Shooting often at full telephoto at 200mm at a moving object and sitting on a moving platform, it took all my energy to stabilize the shots and keep the subject in focus around the AF region. Thankfully, the Mark III delivered everything I needed and I got a lot of spectacular photos!
The Zacuto viewfinder was invaluable to help me both review my still shots and make it possible to shoot video. The LCD is all but invisible under the bright glare of the sun.
In the end, I returned to shore safe and sound and very happy about the footage collected. Here it is below.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget the pair of GoPro HDs which we hastily mounted on to the front of two kayaks to capture the emotions of the kayakers up close and personal. We love getting stories from different perspectives, and this one we were especially happy about taking the time to set up.
2nd stills camera shot by Faye Tong. Images processed by Patrick Lui. Video edited by me.
What an incredible day and what an inspiring project for all of us at Picture and Color.