Nobody Cares About What Camera You Use (Mostly True)

I constantly read the video production forums, from to nofilmschool. Sometimes I learn things, but mostly, lately, it seems, I’m learning not about technical things as much as I’m learning about human nature. In particular, there’s an overwhelming number of posts by newbies and (usually new) pros alike, talking about which camera they should buy for their movie/short film/commercial work/corporate work.

I used to be that way. I used to think the camera mattered more than anything- and it hurt my work. I’ve since come around. I think once you get to a certain level of technical/production values level with your work, what clients hire you for isn’t that expensive camera. It’s your creativity. It’s your work. It’s how can you solve their problems, and do that on budget and on schedule. And I’ve noticed that, at a certain level of success with your career/business, if your client is asking about your camera package, then, well, they’re not a very good client.

For me, I’ve found that the process of getting hired by a brand or agency goes like this: they somehow find out about you, and then they check out your work. If they like your work, they’ll contact you. And then it’s up to you to do the dance of “are we compatible”. If it turns out that you are both compatible, and you’re in-line with budget expectations, and the job is real to begin with (a whole other article), you get the gig.

In the past two years, I have had exactly one potential client ask me about camera packages. And they were a very green iOS app developer in Hollywood who didn’t know what they were doing, and the job wasn’t real after all, and they went out of business two weeks after I figured that out. All the real clients I’ve worked with? They don’t care what camera I use, as long as I kick butt on their videos.

I think a lot about why creative people care so much about this stuff. I think part of it is an insecurity, a worry that they are not enough somehow. Part of it’s probably also wanting to give your clients “the best”. But it’s important to remember: they already want to work with you, from your work. You are enough. And that very expensive camera? If your project really needs it, maybe consider renting the thing, unless you can pay it off with the profits from your work in the next 18 months.

Now for the “Mostly True” part of this, the disclaimer: Of course I don’t think you should shoot on a crappy camera. Use the right tool for the job.

Apple’s El Capitan Update Bricked our LG 4K Cinema Displays- UPDATED FIX

UPDATE: After many hours of trying many different things, it came down to this: by first downgrading the MacPro’s software to Yosemite and then re-upgrading to El Capitan (both as clean installs), the display was again detected, and is now working fine. I think the trick is, as much of a pain as it is, when you’re running higher-end pro apps and odd displays with the MacPro, do a clean install every time you upgrade. Or risk a brick.

It’s true. I took it upon myself to install El Capitan on our 2nd edit bay this weekend, and our 4K LG Cinema display immediately stopped working with the edit machine (MacPro). The display works great with our 1st edit bay (still running Yosemite OS). And with my laptop (same).

After quite a lot of head-scratching, I’m down to this: it’s possible- not for sure- that the LG display shipped with non-VESA-compliant display port cables. So, after spending time on the VESA website, I ordered a third-party cable that IS certified.

I’ll update this as I learn more- this is a big deal for anyone who edits with these gorgeous monitors on a Mac.

Amazing Customer Service

Today I want to spotlight two recent customer service interactions we’ve had that have been amazing.

First, Tiffen- the makers of the famous Steadicam system you’ve seen in hundreds of movies and commercials. I was in New York, and TSA thrashed my luggage. They broke the top stage of my Steadicam. So, when I was back in Los Angeles, I brought it to Tiffen to see what they could do. Tiffen inspected it on the spot, and said they’d be back in touch. A week later, I was surprised by a package on my doorstep- it was my fixed Steadicam! They did the repair for free. Amazing.

Next, Kessler Crane. I use their products a lot. Kessler makes good stuff. But I was on a shoot in Los Angeles, where their Second Shooter system wasn’t working properly for our motion control shots. It was very embarrassing, as I was not able to get the shots I needed for the project. Until I called Kessler in a panic. They dropped everything, on their lunch hour, and walked us through solutions until one took. This saved my shoot. Also amazing.

I think about companies that deliver this kind of amazing customer service, and they inspire me to make sure my video production company also amazes our clients.