BVE is always a great event, with the chance to see the latest gear, hear from leading industry professionals and of course do some memorable networking. Two talks that stood out for me this year were, BAFTA nominated Jonathan Harrison’s – Creative lighting on the run and BBC’s Planet Earth II camera operator, Rob Drewett.
Rob was on first thing, and as you can imagine, his talk was packed out with waves of knowledge-hungry camera operators, swarming towards the theatre like the locusts he famously captured so successfully on location for the BBC. Rob’s stories about his time in Madagascar were extremely interesting, but something that he mentioned almost as a passing comment stuck with me.
Rob mentioned his past-life as an underwater camera operator and when he swapped to “topside” filming he didn’t want to be restricted by the heavy and slow camera grip equipment that was currently available. He was one of the first to come across the Movi rig. The fluid movement offered by the rig was exactly what Rob had been looking for and as he said “I was one of the first to order one”. This initial investment into the new technology at the time paid off. As the BBC were looking for ways to improve their already awe-inspiring nature programmes, what Rob could offer by simply moving the camera without a large jib or set of tracks was just what the BBC was looking for.
This brings me onto Jonathan Harrison’s – Creative lighting on the run seminar. He gave the crowd a tutorial on basic lighting setups. Although this was nothing new to the trained camera operator / video producer, what peaked my interest was the way in which he demonstrated the importance of each individual light, by showing how the image looked before and after. Jonathan showed the audience how a simple kicker light on 10% cast onto someone’s shoulder gave the image another layer of depth and also how valuable a well-placed backlight really is.
Although both talks were very different, I think they both carried the same message. They both explained how one small action or detail can make all the difference. Whether that’s a change to a single shot or to an overall sequence, it’s all about “marginal gain”.
They say an artist is never happy with his or her work, and I can somewhat agree with that. How often do you look back on a project and feel as though you could have done better and let the little details get you down?
I think in everything you do it’s important to push yourself and always strive for a better result. Marginal gain is a small yet extremely effective way to do this. Whatever your area of interest may be, always think of effective ways you can make your next project even better than your last. It doesn’t have to be the newest kit or an expensive light, it could simply be finding a new angle, trying a new post production technique you found online or powdering an interviewee’s face to get rid of the shine.