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March 6th, 2014

PDN Video Pick: Making an Award-Winning Story of One Woman’s Resilience

Sensei from ora on Vimeo.

Ora DeKornfeld, a communications major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, won first prize for her video “Sensei” in the Multimedia Feature category of the 2014 Pictures of the Year International competition. Brilliantly shot and edited, DeKornfeld’s video tells the powerful story of a rape victim’s survival, resilience and determination. DeKornfeld explains how she won her subject’s trust, found a way to portray events in the past through evocative imagery, and produced a tight, dramatic narrative.

PDN: What was this project was for? How did it get started?
Ora DeKornfeld: That project was made as a final documentary piece for a journalism class. The assignment was to make a vérité documentary. It was a challenge for us to [record] something actually happening, instead of fully relying on B-roll over interview audio. My professor [Chad Stevens] assigned the project knowing that was unrealistic, so this project deviated greatly from that initial assignment, but that’s how it started.

PDN: How did you find this subject, and how get her to open up?
OD: I went to this neighborhood in Durham (North Carolina)–a pretty dynamic low-income neighborhood, and I saw a flyer for self-defense classes and that’s something I have always been personally interested in, and I wanted to do a piece that touched on women’s issues. So I called the number and ended up talking to Brenda, the subject, and she was immediately open. She told me that the reason she got into martial arts was because she was a victim of a violent crime. I didn’t push that at the time, but it was an immediate indicator that she had a real deep experience that motivated her. So I said, would it be OK if I made a documentary about you? She was really open to it.
I went to her karate class on Tuesday and Saturday for two weeks, then I asked if I could come to her house, meet her family and start hanging out with her there. And I kind of just stayed until she said, “OK, Ora, you need to get out of my house.” But through that experience we bonded. (more…)

February 26th, 2014

Cinetics Intros Axis360 Motorized Camera Slider and Quickly Hits Kickstarter Goal

Axis360-1Cinetics is a company we’ve been following since its deceptively simple CineSkates camera dolly system caused a splash back in 2011. That product, which was introduced on Kickstarter and quickly made its funding goal, was followed by CineMoco, a more sophisticated motorized camera dolly that also easily hit its Kickstarter pledge mark.

So what does Cinetics do for another encore? It introduces the Axis360, a compact, motorized tripod head and slider system which — you guessed it — made its Kickstarter goal of $75,000 yesterday, less than 24 hours after it was launched.

The Axis360 slider, which is designed to help photographers and cinematographers create dynamic panning, tilting and sliding video along with timelapse photography, has collected nearly $110,000 in pledges from 150 backers at the time of this writing.

Here’s how Cinetics describes its new motorized slider in a press release about the product:

“Axis360 is an automated motion control system that rotates and slides a camera. Designed specifically for small production crews and extreme portability, the system is compact and lightweight, sets up quickly and easily, and is extremely versatile. Compatible with most DSLR, mirrorless, and cinema cameras weighing less than 11 pounds, Axis360 can move at a wide range of speeds, fluidly or incrementally, and the number of system combinations to suit specific shooting needs is virtually endless. Axis360 is controlled by the CineMoco motor controller, which is compatible with most video cameras and can synch moves and timelapse photos on most Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras with cables included with the system. Many other cameras support timelapse photography with built-in timers (intervalometers) and do not require a camera cable.”

Axis360-with-Rail-Low-Res-2

The Axis360 will sell in three kit configurations: Basic, Plus and Pro. The Basic Kit ($450) including the CineMoco controller, tripod, and ballhead. Tripods with ¼”-20 or 3/8”-16 attachments can also be used.

The Axis360 Plus ($550) includes the components of the Basic Kit plus a Tilt Kit for balanced, motorized tilting moves. The Axis360 Pro ($900) adds a slider rail for automated horizontal and vertical camera moves.

You can get more information about the Axis360 at its Kickstarter page. Also, check out the demo video below.

November 27th, 2013

PDN Video: Is Your Photo Project a Contender for Lens Blog?

Jim Estrin: How Lens Blog Selects Photo Projects from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Jim Estrin, founder and co-editor of Lens, the popular New York Times photography blog, recently sat down with PDN to talk about what he looks for in photo projects, what distinguishes the projects that Lens blog publishes, and why Lens editors reject many other stories. For photographers trying to get his attention, he offers insight and tips about work ethic, story choice, and representation of subjects. He also discusses two projects that exemplify Lens Blog’s standards and esthetic.

 

November 20th, 2013

PDN Video: Bil Zelman on Shooting Portraits of Difficult Celebrity Subjects

Photographer Bil Zelman: How to Shoot Portraits of Challenging Celebrities from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Celebrities can be skittish and uncooperative in front of a camera, so photographer Bil Zelman sometimes uses psychology to elicit a particular reaction for a compelling portrait. In this video, he describes how he calmed author Isabel Allende, who was self-conscious in front of the camera, and how he got himself out of trouble on a shoot with film director Werner Herzog. “He was just staring at me,” Zelman says. “It was a blank stare. I was getting nothing.”

In addition to shooting portraits, Zelman specializes in shooting lifestyle advertising for top brands such as Coke, Apple and Budweiser that looks real, not staged. In previous videos, he shared tips and tricks he uses to coax natural performances from the non-professional talent he uses on most of his shoots.

Related:
PDN Video: Portrait Master Gregory Heisler on How to Relate to Portrait Subjects
How Top Photographers Shoot Great Portraits
PDN Video: Bil Zelman on How to Shoot Ads that Look Real (Not Staged)
PDN Video: Bil Zelman’s Tips for Directing Kids on Advertising Shoots
PPE 2013: Tips for Shooting Ads That Viewers Believe and Clients Like
A Hands-Off Approach to Real People Shoots

November 19th, 2013

PDN Video: Tips for Directing Kids on Advertising Shoots

Photographer Bil Zelman on How to Photograph Kids for Advertising Campaigns from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Photographer Bil Zelman explains how he used psychology (and magic) to get emotionally genuine performances from kids for two recent advertising shoots. Zelman specializes in shooting lifestyle advertising for top brands such as Coke, Apple and Budweiser that looks real, not staged. In a previous video, he shared tips and tricks he uses to coax natural performances from adults. He also explained why he prefers non-professional talent, and how he scouts that talent for his shoots. (Check back tomorrow for another video featuring Zelman explaining how he handled two difficult celebrity portrait shoots.)

Related:
PDN Video: Bil Zelman on How to Shoot Ads that Look Real (Not Staged)
PPE 2013: Tips for Shooting Ads That Viewers Believe and Clients Like
A Hands-Off Approach to Real People Shoots

October 23rd, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Gregory Heisler’s Tips on Lighting Portraits

Photographer Gregory Heisler’s new book, 50 Portraits, is a tutorial in the art and craft of portraiture, as well as a retrospective of Heisler’s career. An excerpt of the book appears in this month’s issue of PDN, and Heisler sat down for a video interview about his techniques, his approach to subjects, and his thoughts on working with clients. In this clip, he talks about the pitfalls of lighting subjects using formulaic lighting set-ups, and explains how he customizes the lighting for every shoot to create a mood that the subject or situation calls for.

Heisler will hold a seminar called The Evocative Portrait at Photo Plus Expo this Friday, October 25, from 8:45 to 11:45 a.m.

Lighting Tips from Portrait Master Gregory Heisler from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Related:
Gregory Heisler Shares the Techniques That Go Into His Portraiture
PDN Video: Gregory Heisler on His New Book and Best Portraits
How Top Photographers Shoot Great Portraits

October 2nd, 2013

Video Pick: “He Doesn’t Love You Any More”

When the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University announced the winner of the 2013 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize last week, the selection committee also awarded a “special recognition” to Bianca Giaever. The committee recognized her innovative approach to using images and words to tell a funny, touching and very personal story in her video “Holy Cow Lisa,” which she produced for a college class.

The video is based on an actual conversation she had with her college advisor—he provides the voice over for the video—during what was evidently not an easy time in Giaever’s college career. She seems to have a hard time confronting those tough words, “He doesn’t love you anymore.” Her advisor encourages her to “revel in these emotions,” and shares his own story of a sad break-up. In fact, he shares a lot about it.

If you’ve been to college, broken up with someone, or marveled at grown-ups and the advice they give, you’ll probably find something to like in “Holy Cow Lisa.” It’s on view on Vimeo at vimeo.com/54700919

Holy Cow Lisa from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

Related Article
Lange-Taylor Prize of $10K Given For Photo Project On Tiny Alaska Town

October 1st, 2013

GoPro Hero Line Updated with Smaller, Faster Cameras

pdp_image_HERO3Plus_silver_45GoPro’s Black and Silver edition cameras have just been given Hero 3+ status. Both models are smaller and faster. They also  now offer longer battery life and better low light performance.

That’s just an overview of some of the improvements you’ll find in these updated models. For more details and a quick look at some new mount options, check out our sister site Rangefinder for today’s  Tech Tuesday blog or find additional information at GoPro.com. The cameras are priced at $400 and $300, respectively.

 

 

 

August 19th, 2013

RED Founder Jim Jannard Steps Down, Says He’s Tired of Criticism

In a “final post” in the REDUSER forum for RED Digital Cinema cameras, Jim Jannard announced today that he is stepping down as “the face” of RED Digital Cinema, the company he founded in 2005.

“I read on CML and other idiotic forums, that I an [sic] a hypester, a scam artist,” Jannard writes in reference to Cinematography Mailing List, the mailing list for professional cinematographers founded in 1996 by cinematographer Geoff Boyle. “I just have to wonder what these guys are smoking. But I have to say… they have gotten to me. I don’t need this. I don’t deserve this. Life is short and I am tired.”

In the post Jannard singles out critics, in particular Boyle and director of photography Art Adams, as well as other members of “CML and other idiotic forums.”

He also outlines his reasons for founding RED, and delineates what he believes are the company’s accomplishments. “My thought was to create a film alternative that actually was the equal or better to film in every aspect,” he writes.

According to Jannard, RED president Jarred Land will take over as the public face of the company. “I will now sink into the background, I hope with my reputation intact,” Jannard concludes. “I will work on the future of digital cinema… behind the scenes.”

Jannard previously founded apparel and eyewear company Oakley, Inc., which he sold in 2007 for more than $2 billion.