Adelphi University 2018 commencement videos

For the past few years I've been fortunate enough to be asked to produce these really fun student profiles for commencement which highlight some exceptional people. This year we had some great stories to work with. Since the university is in New York and I live in Denver it was a challenge to get 5 profiles shot and editing in time for commencement. I shot them, plus other projects over two trips to NY which only gave me a couple weeks to edit the last two, but we got them in just before the deadline.

First up is Rebecca, the captain of the women's bowling team and cybersecurity expert heading out into the tech field! I learned a bit about the employment possibilities in that field while making this and she will truly have a lot of options open to her!

Here's how we got that straight on shot. Cool angles require a little risk.

Here's how we got that straight on shot. Cool angles require a little risk.

It's been a little over a year since I moved to the Canon c300 Mark II as my primary camera and I really couldn't be happier with the results. I definitely feel like the camera has contributed to upping my game and providing a more finessed execution of my work. It also makes every shot look just that much better by capturing more color information than the Sony a7sII which I still love but have now relegated to the role of B cam.

Charlotte's video is my personal favorite since it is by far the most personally inspiring story. Charlotte suffered two traumatic brain hemorrhages which left her unable to speak and paralyzed. Yet, she fought hard and worked her way back to being able to sing and rap in both french and english. She also works hard with a physical therapist and is now able to walk all over campus completely unaided. And as she says, the doctors told her she would be incapable of taking care of herself for a very long time and now she's graduating college.

Matteo was a great guy to work with. He's an Italian tennis champion and a finance major with a special interest in blockchain technology and bitcoin.

Using my Easyrig Mini and Canon c300 Mark II to shoot b-roll of tennis action shots with Matteo on a 90 degree day. That surface gets hot enough to fry your feet in your shoes.

Using my Easyrig Mini and Canon c300 Mark II to shoot b-roll of tennis action shots with Matteo on a 90 degree day. That surface gets hot enough to fry your feet in your shoes.

Lentz is another inspiring story as he is a former Marine and Wall St. banker who decided to go back to school for medicine to help people. He's recently been working in disaster relief as he moves on to the next chapter in his studies.

Travel light with big results

Like any filmmaker or photographer I want to bring the kitchen sink with me when I go to a job because I want all the flexibility possible. What if we want to do a walking shot, do I need a stabilizer? What if we shoot an interview outside? It's possible to paralyze myself by thinking about all the infinite possibilities, especially when traveling. When traveling we have case size and weight limitations, not to mention I can only handle so much when walking through the airport.

Small cameras are very disarming to many subjects who would otherwise be very shy in front of an intimidating DSLR and large lens.

Small cameras are very disarming to many subjects who would otherwise be very shy in front of an intimidating DSLR and large lens.

Planning, preparation and practice is key. At a certain point you have to call it. You need to just say, "enough is enough" and take what you can fit in your bag and just leave the office knowing that you've practiced with the equipment you have and know how to get the best results with what you have. However, I've made some conscious decisions in the past year to make my kit as travel friendly as possible while still giving me maximum flexibility and output.

First, I tackled my camera system and ditched the heavy and bulky Canon DSLRs for lightweight and thin Sony a7r mark II and a7s mark II. I still have my Canon c100 for when I need it. Additionally I got rid of my heavy f2.8 zoom lenses in favor of the lighter and smaller f4 versions. Yes, I am losing a stop of light but the incredibly clean high ISO performance of the camera bodies easily compensates for that. I can even power the Sony cameras through cheap and readily available USB cell phone chargers so I don't have to worry about the smaller battery capacity. Using the a7s II with internal stabilizer, coupled with Sony's outstanding stabilized lenses and continual auto focus I am able to attach a couple lightweight aluminum handles to my Varavon Zeus cage and with some practice I can deliver very stabilized shots which eliminates the need for a gimbal or steadicam in many situations.

Carrying a small package is valuable in third world countries where you often have long days of shooting and you need to keep your gear on you at all times. First, it's unpredictable and you need to be ready to get the shot. Second, there is no security.

Carrying a small package is valuable in third world countries where you often have long days of shooting and you need to keep your gear on you at all times. First, it's unpredictable and you need to be ready to get the shot. Second, there is no security.

Next I reevaluated my support system and rid myself of the heavy aluminum tripods and sliders and got a Really Right Stuff carbon fiber tripod and Rhino carbon fiber slider. The weight savings here is significant and means I can take my slider with me more often thereby allowing me a higher quality production value on those smaller shoots when I normally wouldn't have brought it with me.

A still frame from the first interview I lit with the Westcott flex panels. There's only two lights being used in this shot at 40% power.

A still frame from the first interview I lit with the Westcott flex panels. There's only two lights being used in this shot at 40% power.

Equally as important as camera or support was my lighting approach as sometimes you just don't have a good source of light on location. Years ago when I switched from tungsten hot lights to LED it was a big step and made shooting on battery power in remote locations a real possibility for filmmakers like me. But now I'm unloading my lightpanels for the next wave which is Westcott's amazing flex panels which way mere ounces and are a 1/4" thick. This lets me pack my lights in my camera case and bring my full studio production on the airplane and in to my client's office.

No, none of this stuff is cheap. In fact it's all very expensive, but that doesn't mean you have to buy it all at once. I am a believer in buying quality items over time to make it more affordable and obtainable and selling the things you don't use. High quality products will make your work better and in the end make you more successful as you continually bring up your production value and deliver better results to your clients.

I don't want to leave people with the impression that it's all about the equipment, because it's not. A great photographer or filmmaker will make something great no matter what they're given because they have the talent to make use of the tools. So the first thing that you need to do is just shoot and edit with a careful eye to study your mistakes. Then study the technology to perfect your craft to make the best of what you have. Then, when you do add something nice to your kit you'll excel even more.