I have a friend who develops LED lighting solutions. One of his new products has a number of separate components and he asked me if I could do a video showing a “fly-by” of the components, and then a voice-over could be added describing each as it passes by.
My answer was “probably not”, because I have never shot video and have no equipment with which to capture a fly-by. But I promised to give it a go.
A first attempt involved just moving the camera over the components; a complete mess in every direction. Then I tried a swinging arm on a tripod, and that was a dismal failure too.
Next, there was this:
Two pieces of white card on the table, covered with some white fabric which I ironed to remove at least 20% of the creases. Stretched out the legs of a tripod and rested two of them on side rails. Placed the components on the table and then the photographer’s assistant (me) lifted the other leg to a horizontal position so that the photographer (me) could get manual focus on a component on the table. Then the dolly grip (me) moves the tripod down the rails, videoing the components along the way. Then he does it again because the useless photographer (me) forgot to set the video running.
After an initial few runs the director (me) decided that the camera was too far away from the table and the lighting was crap. In addition, the tripod/metal sliding surface was sticky as hell and smooth moving was impossible.
So then we moved to a refined design:
Two lights, with gorillapods, were borrowed from neighbour Nik, but these were not sufficient; so the lighting technician (me) had to follow the camera down the track with a hand-held light as the dolly grip (me) pulled the contraption along. The sliding friction was partially solved by the assistant grip grease monkey (me) who covered both rails (and one of the cats by mistake) with white grease.
Finally, there were problems in lining up the final position such that the camera stopped exactly over the main LED light. This was solved with stop bolts in the rack and another tripod which was set up such that the moving arm could finish resting upon it and ensure an aligned shot.
A couple of hours of fucking about and I had something I could put in Lightroom. And the result? Not great. Even greased rails do not make for a smooth slide and the trip is noticeably jerky. Plus the camera steadfastly refused to expose to the level of brightness I required. At least I could do something about the latter.
Lightroom 4 has a weird way of handling video. You can look at it, crop it and make some basic processing adjustments. But if you want to something more elegant, you have to do something not at all elegant. You make a frame capture from your video, and then open that in the develop module. Then you play with the settings (in my case boosting exposure and blacks and adding some clarity); and then you synchronise the settings between the still and the video; and the video is updated to reflect the changes. Easy once you know how.
I can’t show you the final video because the detail of the components are a closely guarded secret (maybe); but if I did show it to you I pretty much guarantee you would suggest I had wasted an afternoon.
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