An Interview with Video Pioneer Vincent LaForet

Vincent LaForet is well known as a pioneer of professional HDSLR video, so we were super excited when we got the chance to sponsor his Directing Motion 2014 Tour’s stop in Columbus on May 13. (Check out the complete tour schedule to register.) We asked Vincent a few questions about the DSLR video advantage, what you can expect from his tour, and the difference in his mindset when producing videos compared to his (also incredible) stills.

MPEX: The Directing Motion Tour focuses on “the most important aspects on how, when, and why we move the camera and to what effect.” Can you give us a sneak peek and tell us briefly why camera movement is so crucial to video, especially commercial videos like the ones you make?

We all share a common cinema language – filmmakers learn it, and viewers are bombarded by these techniques every time they watch a film, TV or their iPads. Films have evolved so much over the past few decades and notably into how much the camera is moved these days… you simply can’t get away with a static camera these days unless you’re doing so for a reason (such as a dialogue scene or an important moment). For the most part, the camera is always in motion in modern motion pictures.

You are at the forefront of DSLR videography and are widely known as the first person to shoot video with a Canon 5D Mark II. Now Hollywood and commercial filmmakers regularly use DSLRs during their shoots. Why do you think DSLR videography took off as a means for actual productions to capture their footage? How have you seen DSLR videography change over the years?

It has to do with: small size, light weight, large sensor, low cost and high ISO performance. With size, weight and price being the leading factors. These HDSLRs rendered videos that some $30K-$250K cameras couldn’t back then without compromising  seriously on one or many of the factors mentioned above.

The ability to use DSLRs to create cinema-quality videos has caused an influx of videographers all wanting to make their mark. Video production is much less exclusive now and much more open. You travel the country educating people who want to be videographers. How important is education to this new, more open video industry?

Incredibly important. People need to understand that there are quite a few complex layers of techniques to filmmaking: one of them is motion, and it’s one of the most important actually. If you don’t know why your films don’t “feel” as engaging as what you’re seeing the “pros” do – chances are it has to do with motion – or lack thereof. And motion isn’t just about moving the camera by the way: it involves studying the movement within your frame, as well as rhythm, continuous movement over different shots, shot size progression and many more techniques that we’ll cover.

With new cameras like the BlackMagic URSA and other 4K cameras, what does the conversation about 4K mean to you?

It’s a waste of time until I can buy 4K BluRays and get 4K on my DVR. Filmmaking is about finding and telling strong stories – not the resolution of your monitor. If you don’t study your craft, you’ll have very sharp but unwatchable films.

Obviously video and stills are completely different mediums. But you are accomplished in both. I love your aerials and miniaturizations. How is your process and mindset different from video to stills?

I build on my visual background but have always been careful not to rely on it as a primary focus. If you have beautiful images without a strong narrative – the film won’t make it – no matter how strong the visuals are. If you have a terrible looking film with a great story, people will still flock towards content any day. That’s the main difference between a still photograph and motion in fact, besides the fact that a still image has no set duration for the viewer, whereas motion does have a set length that you are fighting to keep your audience watching for.

Midwest Photo

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