Geeky Corner: Techie aspects of our work to wake the geek in you

I am really excited to be able to share with you what we do in wedding photo & video as techno-artistic-geeks.
We are devoted to using all this technology to express our art.
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts for anything tech related
This section is here since I noticed there are so many geeks among you who really are passionate and interested in the subject.

The industry of wedding photography and videography is an industry where trends change and evolve constantly. 

Included are the trends in technology.
A lot of technology come up and in spite of their promising look, they fail to be reliable and cannot add that edge wedding photos and videos desperately need. They eventually become obsolete.

I can’t tell you how much gadgetry I have sitting in my studio collecting dust: 

  • Pico dollies,
  • gorillapods,
  • tiny cameras,
  • a couple of previous generations of aerial with BAD gimbals and sensitivity to light,
  • some very promising but BAD lens adapters,
  • portable cranes,
  • mini sliders,
  • fast strobes,
  • spinning tables,
  • steadicam gear … 

the list can go on.

On the other hand tech becomes more and more affordable and thus more and more challenging to excite with.

Today’s reality is that portable devices and mobile technology not only took over our daily lives but also changed the landscape of photo and videography for weddings.
People this days carry with them selfie sticks, small GoPro like cameras sometimes attempting to hide them inside bridal bouquets.
The possibilities are endless these days.
Everyone is now a potential storyteller.

I was amazed when I saw the level of stabilization of the iPhone 6 when it first came out. At that time I had just purchased a new steadicam for 2500 USD, and I must admit the iPhone 6 gave matching high-quality results for stabilization in full HD - 1920x1080 quality.

Good storytelling overrides tech

I am sure many wedding videographers are getting frustrated with the fact that tech is empowering people, seemingly making videographer’s actual work less and less needed. In my case, I am actually very happy with the technological progress we are experiencing as I truly believe it’s not the tech itself that carries a crucial role. It is the ability to tell a compelling story
This ability is a very valuable skill to master, and it takes years of experience to perfect it and truly understand it.
Nowadays, there are different tools that can help you build a good compelling story.
You can read more about them on my GLG Star Media Productions HERE

Here at LA V Cinema we encourage our clients to send us good video clips or photos taken by their guests and relatives. We will figure out ways to add this valuable content to their feature film or albums. We become collaborators. With the uprising of mobile tech we embrace this collaboration.

It takes a village to have a good story to tell.”

Questions we ask Ourselves

Regardless of any new tech that pops up on the market, the main questions we should be asking ourselves are: How can this new technology help us better deliver an emotional impact and true cinematic experience?

How can this new tech enhance the actual emotion we need to see?
Why do you think I have all those gadgets mentioned above sitting and collecting dust?​
Some devices weren’t even that good. Those that were actually good, involved so many difficult aspects to implement that it wasn’t effective at all.

For these reasons, I stopped using them, abandoning them entirely.
With this let’s dive right into some very cool tech stuff.

HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT THE TECH WE USE...

The most favorite technology for our geeky future spouses are by far the Aerial shots and our equipment we use to shoot moving vehicles.
Here I will reveal a lot of information about what we bring on your wedding day that is related to the technology we use and how we use them.

Drone technology: 4K Aerial Photo & Video

There is no doubt how much ‘’air’’ drone shots, overlaid with music will bring to your album or your wedding video. (pun intended)

3 Axis Brushless Camera Stabilizer

The video gimbal in this new era of stabilizers acts like a mini-computer balancing the overall system.

5axis 4k stabilized cameras

If it sounds too cryptic for you I assure you it is not! And you will understand why I jumped on this piece of technology as soon as it hit the market.

Advanced computerized tracking sliders

Sliders became a huge hit in wedding video a long time ago.
Motorized dollies, as once they used to be called before the DSLR revolution, were bulky and expensive. 

Advanced sound technologies

Sound is everything for a movie.
You could give me a crappy camera yet hand me state-of-the-art sound and I will be able to shoot and develop a great movie for you.

4K Aerial Photo and Video

We were the first ones in Montreal to add aerial shots to wedding videos.
We have been flying since winter 2013 much before others did.
It was an easy add-on of our skills since our RC experiences started in the 80’s.
Take a look at our Demo Reel if you haven’t already on our front page and it is guaranteed that the geek in you be blown away.

Back in 2013 and 2014, drones were not as stable as they are today. We crashed one at the Saint Joseph Love Story shooting. Here it is. The collapse of the drone is not there, but the quality of the early difficult aerial work is. 
Check it out HERE.
We changed our drones twice since that time.

Aerial photography and videography unlocked shots used to be impossible. Before aerial we used to have to hack locations by mounting a camera on a very long wire. We had to figure out ways to hook this wire to walls or trees in order to obtain aerial-like shots.
The availability of good drones changed all that. Today’s aerial technology is much more advanced !
With a three axis camera stabilization, a 5 kilometer wireless range, HD remote view, Dual GPS networks, advanced safety features, aerial cameras are able to create an amazingly stable footage, today’s drone videos look like they were shot from tripods hanging in midair. It is so stable that we can even take night time multi-second long exposure photographs, something that was unheard of before.
Aerials allowed us to get stunning views of Montreal’s famous landmark places, architecture and churches in ways that were unimaginable in the past.

Click video above to see just how much it is stable...
Please note that this is the actual original footage, no post-production work or alteration has been done to the content. This is what is possible with pure drone wedding videography today!

Plus, we can live stream the footage now.

Amazing, isn’t it?

3 Axis Brushless Camera Stabilizer

To really appreciate what a 3-axis Brushless Camera Stabilizer can do, I need to tell you about the first steadicam we purchased in 2008 - the famous Steadicam Merlin with arm and vest.
See my pic above wearing Merlin with Arm & Vest.

At the time it was a great piece of machinery: fast, reliable, and easy to balance (after a really steep learning curve ;-). It worked great with my Sony XD CAM EX1, which at the time was still regarded as a camera of the future ;-)
Using a Merlin required developing a feel for what is called “the sweet spot”. That’s when the lower and forward weights, the side-to-side and the for-and-aft trim rollers as well as the controlled upper/lower spar angle come to a harmonic balanced state! This took me months to practice and master ;-) AND once I mastered the balancing to the ‘’sweet spot’’ the shooting with Marlin became fast and enjoyable…
However, the system was totally mechanical and manually controlled. We could not shoot in windy weather or from the moving car and that limited what we wanted to achieve dramatically. Up and down shots (also known as boom shots) were not coming out as great as well.
I was not satisfied with all that .

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.”

- Douglas Adams

G.G

Himself

This was the precise description of  my feeling at the moment I was watching how DJI Phantom Drone was hovering over in the mid air for the first time in my life!   

So we tried glidecams, a few DIY steady solutions. Then the brushless solutions started to hit the street!! That tech was revolutionary. Our first one was a DIY glidecam. Then we switched to the larger model of the Ronin-m and then switched mostly to using the Zhiyun for a while and finally stuck to the DJI Ronin-S.
The 3-axis brushless camera stabilizers are amazing pieces of technology. We use them regardless of the wind situation, we hang them out of cars, we follow carriages/limos, we do boom shots, spinning shots of building tops as we are driving by in a carriage in the old port. The possibilities come up to interesting shots became really endless!

The video gimbal in this new era of stabilizers acts like a mini-computer balancing the overall system.

The 3-axis brushless camera stabilizer allows us to create some crazy shots unheard of before. Play video below to see all these spinning shots we can do now + the quality of the gliding shots.
The interesting perk is also that now I can start the shoot and in the middle of it hang the camera over to my partner, and he will continue shooting and none of these moves will be seen in the actual video footage.

"Shockingly amazing!"

What Others Say

"

Really professional!!! Great videos!!! Best of best!!!


Nguyen Thi Ngoc 

 

"

Gleb's work is exceptional and you can see that he has passion towards the films he makes. You will not be disappointed and he is easy to work with. Since we have received our film a few weeks ago, I've watched it hundreds times. His work is just amazing! Ask him for some sample film and you will know what I mean 


Mandy Ting

"

Gleb is an artistic genius. There's no other way for me to describe him. My wedding video is better than I could have ever imagined. Best experience, best quality, best value. If you chose anyone else to cover your special occasion, you're missing out!


Nathalie Macrae

5-axis 4k stabilized cameras

Now if “5axis 4k stabilized cameras” sounds too cryptic for you I assure you it is not! And you will understand why I jumped on this piece as soon as it hit the market.
In short, a 5-axis stabilization allows to attain stable shots while you are holding your camera with your shaky hands. ;-)
Here is why I wanted this to the core!
Earlier during my wedding shooting career I realized I really loved capturing moments. You know that moment where your eyes gazed at your beautiful niece being your flower girl, that moment where you became emotional after your failed attempts to hide your tears while reading a letter from your better half, the moment your dog gave you ‘’that’’ look - these are all moments, good and memorable moments!

These authentic moments are something ephemerous, they disappear really fast without any chance to get them back. I can ask you to reenact certain moments, like a ring exchange, for example. That could work, but nothing can replace true laughter, smiles, tears, true warmest hugs from mom or dad seeing you in your dress/wedding tux for the first time - none of this can be redone. It will look and feel fake. To my sensitive eyes, for the least!
So now you understand the dilemma I was facing: On one end I have to deal with capturing these fast fleeing moments as fast as possible, and on the other end I had to make sure the video is stable. In different genres, like action movies or thrillers, you can have as much of the shake as you want. It can even be used as a storytelling method or technique, but in wedding movies it simply does not work. For wedding photography and videos everything has to be as smooth and flowing as it can.
Most of the videographers who are making the same attempt of capturing moments
Use some kind of a stabilization technology: a steadicam, a monopod, a tripod, sliders, different dollies and other types of support.

"

Shooting videos for weddings or events in general has to be really fast paced.

Stabilization problems can slow you down quite a bit.


G.G.

The problem with stabilizers is that it takes time to use them and it takes time to readjust them . So most of the time if you are trying to capture the moment, By the time you are done readjusting your stabilization, those precious moments are long gone!
Countless different things I’ve tried throughout the years. I even came up with an idea of building my own monopod, patent it and sell it as my own product. I tried to talk about this idea to a couple of people who were very skeptical at first, and discouraged me and told me it will be unlikely a good piece of technology… then a small company called Neo-Tec actually created it, which felt almost like I was stabbed in the back for sharing my ideas to a few people - isn’t strange? Great minds think alike :P
Neo-Tec was bought by Manfrotto a few years ago, but you will rarely see anyone using this monopod - however I do think it is the most convenient one for weddings
Things get even a bit more complicated once you understand that in order to deliver a moment on video, you will need at least three shots from three different angles, or just three different but related shots. Otherwise we will not be able to deliver the cinematic moment to the viewer.
In pictures, you can get away with just one single shot.


At one point the 5 axis stabilization for lens and 4k cameras became decent and affordable so I switched almost entirely to shooting hand-held
Handheld filming requires a good amount of brute physical force, but the beautiful results are totally worth it. The amount of beautiful and timeless moments that I can shoot this way is outstanding for weddings. I came to the point that today I am happy with both styles and outcome.

Advanced computerized tracking sliders

Sliders became a huge hit in wedding video a long time ago.
Motorized dollies, as once they used to be called before the DSLR revolution, were bulky and expensive.
Their size and the logistics behind them was the main stopper for me at the time.

Imagine working with a slider that is so heavy that you can not achieve any stable solution while placing it on just one large tripod. I had to have and carry at least two tripods, otherwise the slider will just lean on one side as soon as the camera moves off-center for more than 10 centimeters or so.
I had this problem shooting with rented equipment in Los Angeles. They simply did not have small DSLR geared solutions to rent me at the time. I had to take the big and bulky one. I honestly don’t have fond memories of those days.

Over the years I have tried plenty of manual and motorized solutions before this technology actually upgraded itself.

Now there are advanced computerized tracking sliders controlled through a smartphone app and allows not only for the regular, smooth micro slides that I am so much in love with, but also parallax, macro slides, vertical slides, time-lapse slide, stop motion and some additional special effects with multiple characters.

Advanced sound technologies

Sound is everything for a movie.
You could give me a crappy camera yet hand me state-of-the-art sound and I will be able to shoot and develop a great movie for you.
This is why we pay an enormous amount of attention to sound.
We cannot afford to have bad sound for any speeches and vows, or for the letters that you just read to each other in the morning, or for the first look if we decide to shoot it.
All these moments in a fast paced environment during your wedding day require different sound solutions, technically speaking. One setting for sound in one environment cannot cover the whole feature film. I wish there would be a one-size-fits-all solution.
We spent hours in churches learning how to tap(or more like hack) into their sound systems. Considering the amount of years shooting weddings we know pretty much all the popular ones in Montreal, and in the surrounding areas. We don’t have to scout for the sound solution in advance as we used to many years before.

For the first look and other important moments when we really need super portable sound solutions, we literally custom-ordered our HD microphones. They were as small as a match’s head and that allowed us to get high quality audio almost unseen to the naked eye. You can guess how many times I was called the ‘’Russian KGB guy”...
The small HD microphones had really unreliable jacks. We still wanted to use them, yet still needed to hide them somewhere on the bride’s or groom’s body. We would have to leave the mics there unmonitored but we had to make sure that those microphones would deliver a good job!
So we contacted the manufacturer and asked them to custom build 5 microphones for us, to use jacks from another product line they held and switch them to our microphones - to our great surprise they actually did it and for a reasonable price for us. Lesson learned : sometimes all you need is to ask for what you need!

Future Tech that we will

really be amazed to see and have

One of the technologies that I have been observing since 2010 is the notoriously known as the

Light-field or Plenoptics cameras

"

These cameras allow us to be able to change the focal distance and depth of field after a photo is taken. And we can switch between the near-focus, far-focus, full depth of field where everything will look in focus, during post production. This is often useful for large group portraits on the wedding day, and during some portion of the dances part.
The image below demonstrates the capability of changing the focal distance and depth of field after a photo is taken - Near focus (top), Far focus (middle), Full depth of field (bottom) - using the Lytro Illum light field camera software.


G.G.

Some of these experimental cameras like this hit the market a few years ago, but only for photography and were not particularly useful for weddings. I tried them but not invested in them.
As far as I know there is still no viable commercial video solutions in this technical direction yet, but one day I am sure we will be enjoying this technology in weddings as well. I can’t wait!

SHOOTING WEDDINGS IS A HUGE ADVENTURE FOR ME...

Adventure that is constantly unfolding. I am absolutely sure you will have a blast with us on your wedding day and watching and re-watching your wedding movie, along with you wedding photo album will allow you to relive your day as many times as you wish!


Gleb Galkin

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