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Drone, Shmone.

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Mark Suszko
Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 7, 2016 at 8:21:31 pm

I'm showing a little bit of my cranky/acerbic side, I guess. But it is the hot part of the year and what news editors call "silly season", so it might be the right time to put on a fresh Onion Belt and yell at clouds. And I say: "Drones, Shmones: tell me a STORY".

Drones have indeed revolutionized cinema, etc. blah, blah, blah. We'll stipulate to all of that, Your Honor.

My impression though, is that, fueled by massive industry and marketing hype, people are at the stage now with drones where we were just a couple of years ago with jib sliders, stereoscopic field acquisition, and before that, steadi-cam-type devices.

That is, the photography and story-telling may in some case be altered to suit the tool, even when it isn't the best use of the tool. Everybody buys one so as to not feel left behind, then they start looking for a way to use the thing... when it really should be the other way around, don't you think?


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Todd Terry
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:21:44 pm
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:22:58 pm

[Mark Suszko] "...they start looking for a way to use the thing... when it really should be the other way around, don't you think?"

Sure, but that happens all the time, like in the examples you cited. Not much you can do about it, I suppose.

Almost 20 years ago when I started my present company, I had crane shots like crazy in virtually everything we did... simply because we were the only people anywhere around here that had a jib. I'm sure I used it plenty of times when I didn't need it. Now, I never use it unless a shot really calls for it (and largely because I'm older now and don't want to schlep a bunch of heavy barbell weights unless it's for a shot I really want).

We also have a full-size (and "real" branded) Steadicam rig that hasn't been out of it's case in, oh, I literally can't remember the last time. It was used like crazy when new, but now only when needed. All the cloned rigs ruined the novelty and "specialness" of Steadicam shots. I really should sell it, but with tiny cameras these days few people have the need to fly a big and heavy one anymore.

I'm probably the same way with sliders today, I use them all the time... both straight and curved ones. But I'm trying to be judicious about them and only use them when they add to what I'm trying to do... not just for the sake of using them.

It's hard though.... when you have new toys there's an irresistible urge to play with them. I think that will always be the case.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:51:51 pm

I wish there was a toll charge for "unmotivated" crane, slider, and now aerial shots. The money would fund real film school tuition:-)


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 8, 2016 at 7:26:21 pm

There is a toll charge, Mark. The production house which doesn't know how to tell a good story, and instead relies on the hottest new FX/Techniques, doesn't get results and thus, doesn't get the client back for a second project.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Gary Huff
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 10, 2016 at 4:25:44 am
Last Edited By Gary Huff on Jul 10, 2016 at 4:25:56 am

[Joseph W. Bourke] "The production house which doesn't know how to tell a good story, and instead relies on the hottest new FX/Techniques, doesn't get results and thus, doesn't get the client back for a second project."

Nonsense. If the shots look good, that's what the client cares about. You can smirk at everyone else all you want, but in the end, clients are not dropping "production houses" because they use the latest FX or techniques but failing at some generic definition of "story" that you've concocted in your head. I bet you don't even have a single actual example of this to bring up. You can go ahead and break your own arm patting yourself on the back, but maybe you should instead focus on how to increase your skill set and creatively think up ways to make these kinds of shots actually matter?

As for the OP, clients are continuously asking for drone footage acquisition or wanting to incorporate third-party drone footage into their pieces. You can argue with them all you want, or you can figure out a way to do something that reflects your own creativity and sensibilities.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 11, 2016 at 2:43:30 pm

In fact, I have a couple very specific examples to cite.

I worked (DoP) on a documentary some years back, got lots of PBS air around the middle of the US, where the director demanded we use his jib for two shots it was incredibly ill-suited to. One was a lengthy walk-and-talk with a non-pro talent who needed at least 17 takes to get an incredibly lengthy (several minutes) discourse even close to what had been scripted, and burned hours on it. Several of us, me included, pleaded with Mr. Director to change the approach, at least break up the soliloquy to make it manageable, to no avail. By the time we got a usable take, on a 90+ degree humid day, everyone was well-frayed, and dripping with sweat.

The second was on an inclined surface where an antique car was supposed to drive up. His jib tripod leg could not carry the weight of the setup and kept falling off level, not to mention it was very difficult to control because of that. Finally, I simply refused to use the jib, got my trusty Vinten out, and we just had the car drive up. No one watching the finished show was the wiser and it just worked.

Overall I am quite proud of the show, it was even an award-winner, there were just a few decisions made beforehand that locked us into some unmotivated "shiny things" that we'd have been better off without.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 11, 2016 at 3:43:54 pm

You can ask any experienced pro editor who's worked in Broadcast or feature film, and they will have a story or two of shots that were really gorgeous, but ultimately had to be cut. And yes, you sometimes have to tell a client the flashy thing they are asking for isn't appropriate, and of course, you have to make a reasonable argument for the specific situation.

But drone shots are not magic. Just as jibs, cranes, sliders, steadicam, shaky-cam, gerbil-cam, whatever the gimmick of the week is not magic. They won't save a crap script or bad acting or direction.


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Gary Huff
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 13, 2016 at 2:49:22 pm

[Mark Suszko] "They won't save a crap script or bad acting or direction."

But that's a highly subjective view on what is a bad script, bad acting, and bad direction. What you think is, your client might not agree, or even care. You can't solely rely on that.


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Gary Huff
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 13, 2016 at 2:44:25 pm

[Alan Lloyd] "In fact, I have a couple very specific examples to cite."

And in both of these examples. the directors were never asked back for further work? Because that was the point being made.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 13, 2016 at 8:22:11 pm

You might have noticed that it was a (regional) public TV project, not a recurring gig.

Both examples were also from the same show.

I did very little other work with the aforementioned director after that, and he's since passed.

My point was that it was two absolutely useless incorporations of something he had and thus felt was necessary. We'd have been better off if the jib had stayed home while we were out on the road for the two weeks production took.


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Gary Huff
Re: Drone, Shmone.
on Jul 14, 2016 at 1:39:57 pm

[Alan Lloyd] "You might have noticed that it was a (regional) public TV project, not a recurring gig."

I did notice, which was why I was confused as to why you thought it an appropriate rebuttal to my point.

[Alan Lloyd] "We'd have been better off if the jib had stayed home while we were out on the road for the two weeks production took."

Unless you came across an opportunity where a jib shot would have added an amazing moment, yet it was left at home. If you cannot think of any potential way to utilize a jib shot within a shoot, then perhaps it's not the jib itself that's the problem.


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