Meeting With John Morrison #1

I met with John Morrison yesterday to chat about the photography element of my project. I am a pretty bad note taker so I recorded out conversation with my trusty Zoom H2. So trusty in fact, that it stopped recording after 50 minutes. Though it’s more down to the fact that the SD card was full. Plus the meeting was pretty much over by then anyway.

John started by showing me some amazing footage shot on a Canon 7D and then slowed down in After Effects using a neat little plug-in called Twixtor. Essentially what it does is takes the 60fps footage and intelligently speeds up or slows down the rate of the image sequences. The results are impressive and this may be useful down the line. We also looked at the making of an advertising campaign for the Canon Pixma brand. It features small droplets of paint being vibrated by sound to stunning displays of colour and movement. We were hoping the making of would show the lighting set-up which might be pertinent to my project but unfortunately they didn’t. The actual title of the campaign is ‘Bringing Colour To Life’ which is quite similar to mine and may be a good reference when discussing anthropomorphising inanimate objects.

I had my camera and lenses with me and showed them to John along with some photos I had taken of the tape machine. He explained that the 18-55mm kit lens would be better suited than the Tamron 55-200mm as that’s more suited to long-range shooting. I wondered if macro might be the way to go but he said it really depends on the shots and that as the subject was relatively large then it might not be necessary.

We then discussed Depth Of Field. John said that the uni has a wide angle lens I could borrow if I wanted to experiment with different DOF. The difference would be greatly different in terms of f-number and this lens would be capable of f2.8. We looked at some slides which visually explained aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and the relationship between them and how they affect depth of field. The following are a few of those slides…

I explained that I was looking into the possibility of trying to construct a cheap method of tracking the DSLR for shots that involve the camera moving. I have been looking into using model railway tracks as an alternative to specialised camera dollies. John said that the university has ordered a glide track but that it’s more for cinematography rather than stills but that it could be useful to try and get a hold of to test it out.

John then gave me a crash course in the manual settings of my Canon 450D. This will be the only way to shoot my stop motion film as I can have full control over the settings which in turn will lend to a consistency in my shots. He showed me how to set the white balance on the camera, something I had not considered. Also I learned that the camera has a nice feature called Focus Assist which lets you know when and where you are in focus when you are not in auto-focus mode.

We talked about the lighting and I now know that the more light that’s being pumped out the lower the ISO will need to be and also the larger the light source, or the further away it is, the more diffused it looks. John suggested that I could put a sheet above the set and shine the light through it, or bouncing the light off the white walls would produce a diffused effect.

Finally we looked at Adobe Bridge. I was oblivious to the capabilities of this program and now realise the potential it may have for my post production. As a test, we loaded in the sequence of images I shot for the Tape Spin Proof Of Concept. They were in JPEG format but there is still access to Camera RAW. John dramatically altered the picture in the first frame as an example, giving it a more antique feel. It actually really suited the picture and has given me an idea about maybe making the the film older to match the age of the subject. Those settings were then applied across the entire selection to affect the other shots in the sequence. It’s this batch processing and quick manipulation feature that could make Bridge a powerful and time-saving program later on.

I left the meeting feeling much more confident about using my DSLR. Consistency will be the key and now I know what areas I need to look at. I got some great advice about hard drives as well. A project like this will require a serious around of storage space and I have been looking at some cheap options online. In the back of my head I know it’s foolish to trust a cheapo hard drive with my honours project, and John confirmed this. One option I will now be considering will be making use of the SATA port on my MacBook Pro and investing in a sturdy, and more reliable option.

Also I think I should produce some control tests to show the effects of aspects like depth of field, white balance, daylight vs. artificial light, etc.

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  1. October 11th, 2010

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