2 Minute Nature – Episode 1

I’d like my YouTube channel to grow. Instagram is fine, I kind of like what they did with IGTV.
Yet I believe YouTube, more than Vimeo, is still the place to be when you want to showcase your video work.
Until now I’ve been posting occasionally and not with a clear path in mind.

While making my first documentary I came up with the idea of creating a “2 Minute Nature” kind of series with a weekly new post.

The advantages are that I must go out more often with an idea or project in mind. A week should be enough to edit and make the music for each episode. Posting regularly should also help to increase my subscribers.

So, I made Episode 1 and I like it.

Then came Covid-19 and the quarantine.

I made episode 2 using footage I shot 2 years ago while paddling on Lake Vere. At that time the lake was infested with jellyfish.

Episode 3 was also made using footage I didn’t use for my nature documentary.

Episode 4 will be an elaborate slideshow using the photographs of my exhibition that is now temporarily closed.

I’ve also been investing in some audio gear like an XLR semiprofessional condenser microphone and the works. YouTube helped me getting the most out of my new gear and I’m getting acquainted with Audacity, the free and open-source audio software.

Albeit my English isn’t that bad I still feel uncomfortable to add voice-over on my video let alone to talk in the camera.

In the next few days I will be posting the episodes I already made.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell for further notifications. 😉

 

 

 

Dandelion time-lapse experiment

Hope you all are well.

Confined at home, working at home, well, in a way it suits me. But then again, I am a loner.
I miss being able to go to the woods in different places though. I miss the filming, making images.
Nowadays I do a lot of reading, watch like a zillion movies like “Nouvelle Vague” of the real old classics.
Then there is YouTube, an ideal learning platform. I picked up quite a lot about editing in DaVinci Resolve.

In Belgium we can go for a walk or a short bicycle trip. Sitting on a bench or grass in a park is forbidden. Even alone except if you are pregnant or disabled. I am neither.
Going out for a hobby is a not essential trip.

Justly restrictions in these Covid-19 times and I am not complaining.  One cannot be too careful.

There is this dandelion on my terrace. In the morning it is closed but the moment the sun hits my terrace it opens.
Why not trying a time-lapse?

I used my trusty and old Nikon D2h. It has a 4-megapixel JFET-LBCAST manufactured by Nikon and is very IR sensitive. I like the kind of creamy images this sensor produces.
It can also operate on AC-power for very long time-lapses.

I asked Google for some advice about what would be a good interval but didn’t find much information. Well, maybe I didn’t search good enough.

I did some calculations as I knew how long it took for the flower to open and finally decided on a 20” interval. I choose for manual exposure. I choose for JPG because I considered this to be more a learning experiment.

I took 240 images, good for 10 seconds of footage. Reviewing the images, I noticed the Nikon D2h exposure and/or white balance isn’t consistent (anymore).

I used Lightroom for some minor tweaks and for cropping the images to 9:16 so I could use them as an Instagram story if I was happy with the result.

I transferred everything to DaVinci Resolve on a 24-fps timeline. Added deflicker and slapped some music on the footage.

Albeit far from perfect I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Next time I’ll use a 10” interval, or, if I find a Compact Flash memory card with enough space, even 5” interval just to be able to play with the footage in post, like a speeding up effect.

Stay safe!

The documentary and the photos

I finished my nature documentary. It was a self-imposed assignment as I want to use my photo exhibition in the visitor’s center of De Averegten as a starting point for a new direction in documentary filmmaking.

The exhibition started on March 2 and runs till May 5.
Past Monday, March 9, a full-page interview with yours truly appeared in one of our bigger newspapers.

Two days later I delivered my almost 7’ film at the visitor’s center.
“Use this moment, old man”, my youngest (20) daughter told me. “This is a great opportunity for you, pops, to build on.”
The last night the Belgian Government decided, finally and in fact they should have done this at least a week ago, to shut down a lot of happenings and other stuff to prevent Covid-19 to do further damage. A very correct decision.

My photo exhibition

So my photo exhibition will be closed until at least Easter.
Fortunately, we live in an era of social networks, so I set up a site with the photos and my film is on YouTube, IGTV, and Vimeo.
Links at the end of this article.
So why the documentary?
At the end of the seventies, I graduated with a photography degree. Then I did an entrance exam for the RITCS, a well-known art school where I wanted to study cinematography. They accepted me. I dropped out of school 8 or 9 months later and went to work in a photography finishing center. For my mother, a widow, the cost was too high.

At that time I was also a member of our local film club and the only young man midst, in my eyes at that time, elderly men. I did some Super 8 but got frustrated because I didn’t have much money to spend. And the company where I was working was struggling and I made long hours.

Looking back it seems like quite a list of lame excuses. Maybe they were. Most of all, certainly in that period of my life, I missed my father, his support and approbation. He passed away a few years earlier, in 1972. I was 13, my father 64.

Now that I am nearing the end of my professional career, I’m looking for ways to use the sea of time I’ll have in a few years from now in a productive, creative, and meaningful way.
So, a year or two ago I picked up filming again.
We live in a time where so much is possible. Technology, social platforms, etc…

The few people whose opinion is important to me told me they love my photography but think I’m doing a better job filming. I like to believe them and yes, I do enjoy the narrative of film more than the narrative of (a) photograph(s).

What did I learn about making my nature documentary?
First I feel very comfortable filming and I have the impression the way I tell the story comes naturally. I didn’t really think about establishing shots for example, but almost every new important chunk of the documentary has the necessary establishing shots.
Albeit I understand how the combination of shutter speed (shutter angle in film lingo) and frame rate affects motion blur I don’t master this technique well enough yet.

In order to get a normal, filmic looking motion blur, the shutter angle should be 180°. This means that the shutter speed should be double the frame rate. When one films at 24 frames per second, the shutter speed should be 1/48th for that natural-looking motion blur.
I use a variable ND-filer to achieve this, but I is something I don’t master yet. Also, I’m pretty sure the ND-filter I own leaves a color shade when closed too much.

Working with the gimbal, the slider, and the fluid head on my tripod works well. No issues there.
With my Lumix GX-80/85 ,I use the Cinelike-D flat profile. The GoPro is set to Protune and my Xiaomi Pocophone f1 uses Log v2 in Filmic Pro.

Editing is done with Davinci Resolve 16.x and over time I’ve become familiar with the software.

I kind of make my own music using Magix Music Maker.
What I really overlooked was the quantity of footage that is needed to make something interesting.

My documentary is a little over 6’ long. When you take into account that one scene takes about 4 seconds one needs, technically, 90 perfect clips. To tell the story, to keep people interested, I was glad I had about 240 clips available to play with.

I love problem-solving. Like filming the isopods or the underwater scenes. A terrarium and an aquarium made this possible. But isopods don’t show up when you are ready to film them. Then thinking how to shoot footage in the field leading to the “studio” scenes, was also fun.
My daughter didn’t like the idea of having this aquarium or terrarium in the house.

I am quite happy with the result. Maybe the music is a little too dramatic. The film to fast, to slow. I have no idea how viewers perceive the documentary.
I am open to your thoughts, tips, and constructive criticism.

My Photography Exposition 2020

I have a new photography exposition in my home town.
The exposition is situated in the visitor’s center of De Averegten, a provincial nature domain.

The exposition is open between March 2nd and May 5th on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 13:00 and 16:00. As I don’t work on Wednesdays I’m available on request for a meeting at the location.
The second and fourth weekend of April the exposition is also open, from 13:00 – 16:00

My first nature documentary “De Averegten” will be shown there starting March 11.

I understand most of you won’t be able to visit my exposition so I have created a website just for that purpose. I’ll be sharing the link at the start of the exposition.

My Photo Exhibition
The expo is open between March 2nd and May 5th on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 13:00 and 16:00. As I don’t work on Wednesdays I’m available by request for a meeting at the location.