OT - Florida Cowboys On YouTube

randy-stewart wrote on 7/3/2007, 11:54 AM
If you get a chance, go to YouTube and search for Florida Cowboys. What should come up is a short vid from Victor Milt on his "now full length" documentary that's in work about the disappearing Florida Cowboys and, along with it, many other things. It's a wonderful piece! He is using equipment that many of us use in our own productions, including Vegas, to put this together. Really excited about seeing the full length feature. Take a few minutes to check it out.
Oops! Saw this was posted on last week. Appologize for not searching first.


vicmilt wrote on 7/3/2007, 9:14 PM
Actually, the YouTube is new and looks great.

Here's the link for those of you that are interested.

or you can search for "Cowboys of Florida" (gotta use those quote marks or you will get a grillion cowboys videos).

Shot with PD170 and (now) Z1.
Edited (still rough - this ain't "It") totally in Vegas and stabilized with DeShaker (thanks John)

Notwithstanding a lifetime of 35mm production, I am thrilled with the results that we are achieving. Gotta LOVE the new technology. And remember, even the short that is playing on YouTube would have cost over $50,000 if shot in film (way more actually, but who's counting).

Please pass on the video to your friends, etc. and give us a good comment or two - we can use all the support available.

Now get out there and start shooting your own project. We all want to help you succeed!!

farss wrote on 7/3/2007, 10:39 PM
Kind of funny in a way as Cowboys has got me inspired to shoot a piece about something quite different that's vanishing just as fast without much attention. The small, family run manufacturing business in our inner city. One such place I had do some work for me has been running in the same building since 1952, passed on from father to son.
The light and textures in this old building, the gnarled features of the workers from working around vats of acid, just wish I had a way to capture the aroma as well.
My only quandry is what to shoot it with. I want to keep the natural light but it's too dark for a Z1 I think. I don't want to light it, I really don't have the skills to add more light without loosing the original look nor would I want a crew stomping all over the place ruining the atmosphere. A PD170 would be ideal but I also want to capture the wonderful glean of the anodised aluminium that they produce. The V1 might just be an option except for the low light, sure wish I could afford 16mm to do it justice.

Either way, it does show there's plenty of material out there waiting to be saved for posterity. I'd guess most of the cities in the USA and elsewhere have also got these sorts of places still hanging in there. Those old buildings with their bespoke bootmakers, book binders and metalworkers are just so much more interesting to the camera than most modern buildings.


Serena wrote on 7/3/2007, 10:57 PM
Sounds like a good project, Bob. Don't think film would do it without additional lighting. If you analyze the character of the lighting (take a set of stills?) you can probably bring up the level whilst maintaining the character. You'll have a lot of MCU/CU shots and in those you just need to light for highlights (I'm presuming the ambient lighting is low key). For real advice email the stills to Vic!
farss wrote on 7/4/2007, 1:05 AM
Some good input there Serena, thanks. I'll take my digital camera next time I go there.
I think you know what I'm worried about with lighting. What to my eye looks like a wonderously interesting old work place can become just grot and grime when light another way. Probably the atmosphere of the place has a lot to do with the light coming through dirty old skylights. I'm certain there's a way to just up the lumens without changing anything but...

Serena wrote on 7/4/2007, 5:53 AM
That was the sort of scene that your words suggested. Bit of smokiness in the air, narrow spot (s) hitting faces and metal, low key fill, a few small lights lifting background details, foreground silhouettes. Maybe that sort of thing. You might just need to add to the light coming through dirty old skylights.
apit34356 wrote on 7/4/2007, 1:47 PM
Farss, Like Serena, I'm a big believer in using digital stills to analyze the scenes. I have seen some interest work integrating digital stills (shot at 15 fps) scenes with HD footage. Even 12 -13 fps can be powerful. Of course, the blending of footage depends on ...... you know the drill... "vision".
vicmilt wrote on 7/4/2007, 5:03 PM
Farss (Bob) -

In my latest video, Director/Cameraman, I show a lot of work done at night and in less than perfect (i.e. very low light) situations.

My solution is the same that you would automatically choose in still work - lower the shutter speed! And don't be afraid of using higher gain settings either -

there is a "religious stigma" against high gain and slow shutters that I mean to break, right here, right now. You're shooting in a FACTORY for gosh sakes, not beauty shots of a young girls face. So what if it gets grainy - use that effect to add to the feel of the place.

My suggestion is easy - take your Z1 (my current favorite camera) and a set of legs (ALWAYS USE LEGS WHEN YOU CAN - but you knew that!) and shoot some stuff. Voice slate your takes and try different gain and shutter speed settings. (even try - gasp - 1/8th and 1/4 of a second - that'll be bright in a dark closet!)

Don't do anything "real" - just tests.

Give us your report -
Bobby... don't be afraid of failure - go shoot those factory guys - you will LOVE what you get.

farss wrote on 7/4/2007, 9:13 PM
Victor, thanks for the extra ideas and inspiration (as always).
Should be back at the place next week.
First step is getting these guys to agree to me turning up with a camera.
Must get a copy of your latest DVD, so much to assimilate, so little time.

jrazz wrote on 7/4/2007, 9:54 PM

At 3 minutes in, did you green screen that shot (the guy that says he is older than everybody else)? He looks like he has an outline kind of. Just curious.

j razz
Serena wrote on 7/5/2007, 12:52 AM
>>>>Must get a copy of your latest DVD, so much to assimilate, so little time. <<<

Bob, I recommend it highly. Watching it isn't a chore in any way. Often found myself smiling "well, look at that". Vic makes it all look so easy because everything he shows is simple, effective, and well within reach of everybody. I smile in recognition that I thought some of that stuff difficult. I agree that you can use the Z1 with 18dB gain, the noise being no worse than film grain (and greatly better than B&W Kodak 500 ISO used to be). Something Vic showed was using the camera very effectively with slow shutter speeds, which I'd done previously only for special effects and astronomy. If you use 1/25th sec instead of 1/50th you gain a stop without problems and in Vic's trailer on YouTube you'll see some night shots done with much slower shutter.

EDIT: I should have added that more than anything else Vic shows that the imagination is far more important than the gear. Experience -- that is the result of practice and tackling new problems.
farss wrote on 7/5/2007, 3:41 AM
I have used slow shutter speeds when forced to, I don't have a problem with the concept. I'm (for once) trying to set aside all the technical issues and start with an artistic desire.

The big challenge will be capturing the glean of the metal, somehow I think noise or grain will ruin the look. It was the blues, gold and silver of the product in the almost monochrome factory and workers that caught me eye, that's what I really want the image to capture.

Grazie wrote on 7/5/2007, 4:08 AM
Hello Bob!

At last we ARE getting somewhere - and that IS your critical-eye to WHAT you want. This whole process is exactly what ANY artist/designer/creator does: Desconstruct that which IS wanted.

How different this is from the original gloomy workshop spaces? Or how to light? Or appropriate this or that would be. What you ARE doing in words is starting to SKETCH just what it sis that is itching/scrabbling/irritating your WANT to express something.

This can take 4 days 4 months 4 years or just 4 seconds. It can be the look of a man or woman or =bend on the road or the way the skies over London are set into contrast by a gloomy backdrop against a low opposing setting Sun.

Whatever it is that "makes" a difference for your expression - here in video - is what IS gonna float your artistic boat.

You want the blue/green gleam of the steel in the workshop? Now THAT sounds fabo!! And this in contrast to the dull shabby dusty workshop is all it is gonna take for me to have hairs ion the back of my neck.

Go spend time just analysing just how this IS done by the great artists and study photographers and the like. Start seeing and just how they deconstruct the image.

The OTHER thing you/I/we need to realise and that IS that our Eye&Brain work far FAR better than any camera and any CG effect can do. Yeah blasphemous I know, but what you/I/we do is have the ability to emotionally focus our attention on THAT which we want to?

Crudely? Maybe some judicious use of opposing ND Grads with a Pola could give a "slice" into what you want? We have spoken of this before, but I still think there is, exactly on this occasion, for a type of Circular GRAD - and ND with a HOLE in it? Now na=maybe THAT would PUNCH attention to the Steel?

Another thing would be to develop an approach that would set the steel view against a contrasty background.

So, what we ARE doing here is "deconstructing" the IDEA applying this to reality and "reconstructing" the look we want. This is exactly what the impressionists and modernists and post modernists have/did and are still doing. OK, I'll give you the post-modernists!!

And by the way - why =IS it you want to depict the steel against the monochrome of the workers? Give that some thought and you may, just may now apply all your immense tech knowledge on kit! Once I know the WHY mostly everything else falls into place.

C'mon Bob! Over to you now!!


vicmilt wrote on 7/5/2007, 4:28 AM
One last thing...

this is something I say to all my assistants, protoge's and students -

DON'T THINK! Try it...

by "thinking" you limit yourself to what you know.

I have nothing but the HIGHEST respect for Farss. His knowlege of equipment and technique is encyclopedic - amazing!

But he has demonstrated exactly what I mean - he has limited his success by using that enormous intelligence to "think" about what the steel will look like and thereby automatically eliminating the process of "trying it out".

Art is an emotional experience. Yes - technique and execution are important - but they are simply tools [ more tools ] to be utilized in the production of the final project, whether that be photographed, painted, sung or whatever.

So - don't think -
just pick up that camera and try it out. There's no excuse not to. And you will be amazed at what the technology will offer to you. I Promise!

Grazie wrote on 7/5/2007, 4:51 AM
Art is an emotional experience.

I agree.

My comments were based on exactly what you just said, Vic. Yah have to sketch . . and sketchy MEANS getting out there and experimenting.

I ain't arguing for "thunking-out" a/the emotion.

by "thinking" you limit yourself to what you know.

I disagree: I can quite often limit what I know by NOT thinking. Also, by not being aware of OTHER emotions I might also LIMIT my range of emotions. And for THAT to happen I need to think about it.

Also, can't I be emotional AND think at the same time? I can be angry and still be thinking. I can be sad and still think. I can be happy and still think. I can have an emotional experience and appreciate just WHY I am being emotional. But that is me. I guess we ain't all the same - Vic?

Great thread!

Serena wrote on 7/5/2007, 5:48 AM
I well understand Victor's point. Often I think back to when as a teenager I'd grab the camera and try things out, and this was in the days of film when we had to wait for stuff to be processed. You had an idea, you shot some film, you considered the results and we learned. Hamlet spoke well on the problems of thinking too much, as I reflect each time I have a good idea and work through all the things that will cause it not to work, or how much effort will be required, or how many people will have to be organised, and so put the idea aside for more thinking. Obviously it's different when somebody wants a job done, but we're talking about unfunded creation. Our own "Cowboys of Florida". Our old and dusty factory. So here Vic is telling Bob to put aside thinking of the ways the project can fail, and just take the camera and shoot a bit to see how it looks. It could look great and all the worries about lights and crew will evaporate because in reality those problems never existed. And, of course, the look is just the image while the story is actually the project; a still will capture the image.
farss wrote on 7/5/2007, 6:20 AM
This is great, we're all getting it.
I've been away thinking about this. Grazie, the bend in the road, wow, there's a story.

Many years ago I found myself driving along a road in central Australia, just outside Alice Spings. My brain has one of those deja vu moments so I stop the car and look around. The place looks so familiar yet I've never been within 1000s of KMs of the place. I check the map and find I'm on Namatjira Drive. Yes I'd seen this place, only very briefly, long, long ago, in a painting by Albert Namatjira. Never liked his landscapes much because I didn't believe anything in this country looked like what he'd painted and yet he'd done it, he'd put on canvas not just what it looked like (the hills are blue and red) but what the place felt like.

Victor is right of course, one can ponder things way too much, better to try and fail than not try at all. However I also like to know why I failed, in what direction should I move to get closer to success and what would makes the shot a success, what are the key elements. I was thinking more about this, why do some mundane things come alive in some images. And I think the answer is the juxtaposition of textures and light. Polished gold can be nothing unusual but put it against weathered wood and it comes alive.
Another example. There was this luscious looking Nokia TVC down here. The reds were just edible. How did they do this, video and red is a mess. I think the answer was they did nothing to the reds, they just ever so slightly muted ever other colour. So in some way images are like music, it's not just what in them as much as what's not in them. We need to create a space for the things we want the eye to see.


Grazie wrote on 7/5/2007, 8:08 AM
The last commission I had - and Vic knows this - I was given the faintest smell of a storyboard. But the IMAGES when I was on site just flooded up at me. zillions of them.

I just switched on and moved and moved and moved. 10 secs here . .10 secs there . . and so on. Fingers and tripod flying. Up ladders and through walls. Dust and rubble all over the place. Sparks and hammering. Masses of material.

Did I THINK or ponder on it? Didn't have time. BUT, but, but, I had my last 5 years of using this camera and using my thoughts to bring to the process.

Did I re-shoot stuff? You bectha! Why? 'cos I got back home saw the dailies and thought . . . . Do others d the same? Do others "think" about their dallies and re-shoot?

Do I think that technologies get in the way of the creative spirit? Only if one lets them!

Tell you what, Bob-ola, if I was with you now, I'd be dragging your backside out to that workshop - NOW!!!



farss wrote on 7/10/2007, 9:46 PM
I dragged me butt out there today as I had to pickup some work, I find asking for favours usually goes down better after you've handed over money.
Sadly no go, no photography, no video permitted.
Seems someone sometime ago took some images and the guys competition got hold of them and started copying some of his processes. Thinking through the 'rights' angle of this, it is a problem. I'd be not only taking images of his work but his clients as well, that'd make for a real can of worms unless we carefully staged the whole thing and then even if I could swing permission.
I shall not give up!
Next time I'll gently broach the subject but with provisions that the work remains under seal until the business closes.

Serena wrote on 7/11/2007, 12:25 AM
If the business might close then putting the proposition in the context of "industrial history" might be well received. Clearly the recording needs to be done over time and cannot be completed until the final scenes are in the can. Maybe they will sponsor the project (or contribute) -- that would give them a say in the production.
vicmilt wrote on 7/11/2007, 4:12 AM
You want to do an "arty" piece detailing the beauty of manufacturing processes from an era that is rapidly disappearing.

The property owner is afraid of having his workflow "ripped off" by competition.

How about changing your approach from [ let's say ] a half hour documentary ( a lot of work )- to a three minute "music video" (one or two days of shooting).

This movie would still serve you very well in the festival circuit.

To reassure your facility owner that all is "ok", he could supervise the shooting (which he will tire of in about 10 minutes) and have a "final review" of the completed piece before he signs a property release.

A bit of a pain, but not an insurmountable problem. Of course, I realize you may very well be in a flat, "NO!" situation. They have been burned once.

Now the question is, "Is it worth the hassle?"
(Oh... the beauty of those steaming vats of acid - the knarly handed workers - the light glinting off of the polished metal... how can you resist one last try?)

Good luck,
farss wrote on 7/11/2007, 5:41 AM
No intention of letting this pass without more effort.
But part of the problem is that what most of us here see as something wonderful to be recorded for posterity is to those who work there, well just a dump, despite the obvious pride in their product. So first I have to convince the owner of the value of what he does from a visual and historic point of view. Then convince him that it should be recorded and finally that I'm worthy of the task.
Perhaps a better approach might be to ferret out some other remaining enterprises and see if I can get them on board first. Once I've got something under my belt to show what I'm on about it might help open the mind to the idea.
Just for the record I've also been inspired by one of my Vegas 'students' who spent 12 years compiling a wonderful two DVD production of the History of Steam in Australia. Not edited in Vegas though, I think over the years it passed through many different edit systems and was shot on a wide variety of cameras.

apit34356 wrote on 7/11/2007, 8:17 AM
Farss, a quick point, many small manufacturing companies are really concern about being sue, as well as "processes" being stolen. With acid baths there are a large number of air quality issues, re-cycling of the baths, storage of toxin byproducts.....etc..
the list is almost endless. With machining, hot issues now are micro by-particles. Are safety procedures clearly display, is there a "materials safety - handling" book,...etc..
Is there a shower station near the acid bath... so- on- so- on.......

Many of the old businesses try but not all have every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. The owner is probably concerned about creating a public record that could be used against him\her.