I wanted to make this a "Two Cents" article. It's an update more than an actual work of effort. In this case, it's more like ten cents. I suppose, if you're following along on my travels of becoming a media force, this might be an article after all.
I spend years (decades) pursuing an income in music. Not a "living". Just an income; enough to pay for the gear and software I put into it and maybe have a little left over. Of course, there's always that hope of gong "viral" but that was unlikely and wasn't in the plan. I spent countless time and, perhaps, thousands of dollars. I do still get the occasional royalty but it's about enough to buy dinner for two every year or so, as long as we don't go somewhere vaguely expensive. At some point, I threw in the towel and decided that, if I play music, it’ll be because I want to and I’m not listening to any of those voices that whisper, “You know.. you could…”.
Being a creative type, I couldn’t just not create. And I turned my focus to photography and writing. But, this time, I changed the rules. As a side career, this had a deadline. If I don’t real a measurable goal within a measurable time, I’m going back to being a hobbyist. And.. I wasn’t going to just throw money at it. I was going to create with what I had and, when that took off, I’d upgrade gear.
YouTube was originally a means to build a name. A brand. And I also wanted to learn video. But I never really had any income plans from YouTube. There was a vague idea that maybe I could work it into sponsorships and such. Maybe get some free stuff once I got big enough. But, mostly, I wanted to learn how to shoot that great video and combine that with motorcycles and travel and such. I’m still learning.
I said all that to explain why dropping a bunch of cash isn’t an option for me. I’m not afraid to spend some but I’m constantly checking myself. It’s too easy to spend thousands and make nothing.
I have several DSLRs, most of which are older and not good for video. I have a couple of GoPro Hero6 cameras that are good but don’t pull a lot of epic shot duty. They just aren’t _that_ good. One of the best tools I have is my iPHone6s. When I found out it could shoot 120 frames per second at 1080p, I was so happy. Slow that down and you get some nice, buttery slow motion. So I dropped $100 on a gimbal. Then I dropped another $100 on the same gimbal after I left the first one on the bench outside of a Harley dealership as we rode off. I ran into some issues with the built-in camera app so I dropped $15 on FilmIC Pro. It’s good software that gives me very manual control over the camera. But I’ve had some problems bringing that audio into Premiere Pro. I _finally_ got that figured out. On the last shoot I went on, I couldn’t pull the video off the phone until I got home for technical reasons I won’t delve into. And.. I have a hard time using the focus. Finally, the color tones are a little off. I can adjust pretty well in Premiere but it’s just a lot of extra work.
I recently went out shooting a bunch of video at an event I had planned for a little while. My goals for the entire weekend were simple..
1. Get a handful of GREAT photos. Two would be terrific. Five would be the motherlode.
2. Get a bunch of clips to put together a video.
I got my pictures. Much of my video, on the other hand, came out blurry. I tried to specifically pay attention to the focus when I was shooting. I put a LOT of effort into it and failed pretty significantly. It wasn’t all one scene or group of scenes. About half my clips were blurry scattered through the whole. It wasn’t all wasted. I got my video. But I _barely_ pulled it off. Going through the video, I decided I’d had enough. I can’t shoot like this anymore. I have to find a better, more reliable way to shoot video. Admittedly, my DSLR has a much bigger sensor and wider choice of lenses. Or.. do I consider another camera? Mirrorless? The DSLRs are bigger. My “good” lenses are all fast glass, which means they’re all quite heavy. I’d want to use my kit lenses. Not the best lenses but it has to be a better video than the tiny iPhone. Since I’d like to do more handheld vlogging, keeping it small and light is enticing. But I have to keep that zero budget in mind. What’s the minimum I can spend and still get the job done?
No matter what I decide, it’s going to involve getting a DSLR gimbal, at the very least. At this time, I’m looking hard at the DJI Ronin-S and the Zhiyun Crane v2. Luckily, I can rent one and try it out. With a DSLR gimbal, I really could start shooing video on the camera right away. I suppose I’m going to have to bite some sort of bullet here. Or get more practice with the iPhone and figure out what I’m doing wrong. Maybe I’ll put together an epic movie tonight of panning shots around the house. That sounds like fun. But, if I can figure it out, it saves me $400-$800.
I’ll let you know how it works out.