Monday, May 9, 2011


I've been enjoying going through the other videos submitted to the Saatchi and Saatchi Hello Future video competition As of this posting there are over 200 videos posted. The deadline is today so I'm not sure how many more will be submitted but they do seem to be coming pretty fast and furiously.

It is utterly fascinating to me to see what different people do with the same inspiration. I've looked at most of the videos but of course I'm particularly interested in those that used After, the same song as I. That is still the least popular choice but it's interesting that those videos seem to be the ones now coming in right at deadline. Could be because it's such a damn long ass song. It is, in fact, the longest song by a good two minutes or so.

A few things came to mind as I watch all these videos. Firstly that for these skilled and dedicated amateur film makers, the overwhelmingly most popular weapon of choice is the digital SLR, primarily some version of a Canon SLR that records HD video.

I can see why these cameras are popular. The image quality is outstanding due to a combination of huge image sensors and superb optics. Using a DSLR gives you access to a large range of lenses and it gives you the advantages; focus control, depth of field, exposure, etc. It is also a relatively light piece of gear. Also most of the have the option to record video at 24 fps (frames per second) which mimics the "film look" so often sought

That film look is not something I actively seek. I love the look of video. For most of the projects I work on, I don't need them to look as though they've been shot on film. I am not a movie maker, I'm a video maker. Even if I make a fictional video expressing abstract ideas I like the look of video and it's possibilities

I still love the look I achieve with my Canon XL1. It is a standard def mini DV camera but it has a superior lens and 3 good sized image sensors. It is definitely old school, all the buttons I need to operate on it are within the reach of my fingers as I hold it, no annoying menu's to scroll through as I have on my Sony

Now, I am very impressed with my Sony. I bought it to replace my old Samsung standard def tape based handycam; its image quality was fairly low but it was small and portable and I liked to carry it in my pocket and mostly used it to take video of the girls and when Collette and I are out and about. These videos end up on this blog and I wasn't terribly concerned with the quality.

When I went looking at a replacement cam I would have been happy with another mini DV cam but those simply are no longer made. And I admit to the advantages of a cam that records on to a hard drive; you eliminate some of the physical issues you encounter with tape and if your hard drive is large enough, you can record a lot of footage. I liked the Sony because its small and I can record about 60 hrs of high quality footage on to its hard drive. The fact that it records in HD was not immediately important to me but I have to say, I'm very impressed with the quality of the footage. It doesn't record to 24 fps but the optics are pretty impressive.

Still, most of the videos for the Hello Future competition wanted that "film" look and most of them got that, with a deeper contrast ration than 30 fps and greater control over the colour temperature.

Let's leave the technical aside. I want to concentrate on the creative aspect. This competition featured video makers from all over the world, at all different quality levels. The film school kids were out in force and a lot of their work was quite impressive. The little film production companies are well represented and not surprisingly a lot of that work is of really high quality. And the artists ... the computer artists, the digital artists, the photographers even the musical artists all came to play and I really enjoyed watching their videos. They offered perspectives that never would have occurred to me.

What surprised me was how many common elements we chose to include in these videos. My submission features speed altered images of traffic, subway trains, the city at night. Turns out a lot of other people felt that same inspiration not just with my song but with the others as well.

I made a video that tried to portray emptiness and lonliness surrounded by millions of people. I knew that this was not the most original of concepts and a lot of others shared this idea.

The overall theme of the competition was Hello Future. Some folks tackled this in a very literal fashion: Robots, post apocalypse, cyborgs, plague, evolution .. all on display. I think my take was a bit less literal but fairly obvious and I'm in good company. Some approached the theme of the future on a very personal level, illustrating it through the degradation of personal relationships for instance.

Some chose to ignore the theme or perhaps tackled in a way that just escaped me. Power to them. My original concept for my video had nothing to do with Hello Future. When I reread the brief and understood that this theme needed to be an element in the video I at first thought "I don't really care, I'm making the video I want" But as I thought about it and began to figure out how I could introduce the future into my video it actually helped solidify my theme. And it gave me a clearly defined ending which had eluded me up to that point.

Vimeo is a website that is intended and designed to be a community for video makers. Mostly I use it as by far the best option to host videos, videos I generally create to show on The Hairy Edge but it is kind of nice to dog paddle in the shallow end of the movie making pool

My other blog is often about inspiration. This competition was all about inspiration, for myself and hundreds of others. As disparate as our videos may be, we all shared that same inspiration.

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