Personal work plays a huge role in improving our skills so that the work we do for our clients continues to excel. Here is one of the latest personal projects I created as an anniversary and birthday gift for my wife. But this piece is also a lesson in how it’s not always about the equipment.
As a professional commercial director, I’ve shot with a wide variety of cameras, including Canon’s digital cinema cameras like the C300 and C100; 4k cameras like Black Magic’s 4k Cinema Production Camera and Panasonic’s GH4; and DSLRs like Canon’s 5D Mark III or Nikon’s D800. All of these are powerful cameras which, when in the right hands, can create stunning imagery.
But as I like to always say “If the story sucks, I don’t care what you shot it with.”
I shot Mar with two relatively inexpensive cameras: a Canon T2i and a Fuji XE2. For all intents and purposes, they are consumer cameras. But shooting with cameras like these often gives me a certain sense of freedom you don’t get from some of their “big brothers.” They’re smaller, so maneuverability is easier.
But beyond that, the features they lack force me to use more creativity and ingenuity in my shooting. So by the time I’m back to shooting with one of the “big boy” cameras, there’s an added level of creativity I’m able to bring to the table.
Three Reasons Personal Work is So Important
I think it’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of people who get into this line of work do so for the love and passion of filmmaking and cinema. As in any creative endeavor, you will only improve if you practice. But the reality of doing this kind of work for a living is that the paid gigs you get don’t always push and challenge you. Therefore, we as professional creatives must make it our responsibility to find ways to improve our craft, even when the proverbial phone is not “ringing.” The best way to do that is via personal projects.
- Keeps us sharp.
- Keeps us excited about what we do.
- Allows us to try new things on our dime, not the client’s.
For this particular project, I not only experimented with the color grading (e.g. how the film looks), but also with the aspect ratio and the use of natural light. I think the result is one that is both moving and memorable.
I look forward to taking what I’ve learned from this and other personal projects, to make your next video just as amazing.
Special “Carte-Blanche” Rates
As a way to improve my skills on the client’s dime, we from time to time offer special “carte-blanche” rates. In essence, you give us complete creative freedom on how we shoot and edit your project (i.e. you get no input), and we’ll give you a special reduced rate for the work we do. If you have a special project coming up where you might want to take some creative risks, and save some money while you’re doing it, this is a great option. Shoot us an email if you’re interested in learning more.