The Blacksmith

For the past year, Tedwood Strong has been sharing pictures of bottle openers, spoons, forks and knives, things that he's been forging in his garage. He said, "I've only been doing this for a very short period of time, but I know that I'll be doing it for the rest of my life." And he's gotten good at it. In my micro documentary, I ask Tedwood why he picked up blacksmithing as a skill and why he loves it so much.

Two months, two minutes: The Blacksmith micro doc

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About two months ago, I started filming my first micro documentary. Now I'm just about finished editing all two minutes of it (that's a long time for me), making tweaks here and there until I'm satisfied. Mixing the audio and video may be the best part, because that's when the story comes together. I've got the clips spread out before me, scrubbing through them and trimming the fat, like meat on a cutting board.

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by  Candra Umunna

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by Candra Umunna

I made General Tso chicken last weekend for the first time. I don't do much cooking, but it is very similar to editing a film. It's all about knowing how much is enough. My girlfriend and I added a lot of spices to the chicken. We coughed, sniffled, gasped for air. I thought it may been ruined, but it tasted really good. Cooking is a little more forgiving than editing; we all have to eat. And if it's pizza, you're golden because even bad pizza is still good.

So I guess I'm saying I hope the documentary turns out just as well as the chicken. Or at least pizza.  

The Blacksmith: filming my first short doc

For the past year, Tedwood has been sharing pictures of bottle openers, spoons, forks and knives, things that he's been forging in his garage. He said, "I've only been doing this for a very short period of time, but I know that I'll be doing it for the rest of my life." And he's gotten good at it. It's an interesting hobby. I don't know anyone else who does it and I was curious to learn why someone would want to.

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One light and a practical: another test shoot

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All right, so really two lights. But I only used one to light my face for this test. I wanted to see what I could accomplish with one bright light. On camera-left, I used a Stella 2000 diffused by a white umbrella, and on camera-right, a white reflector to fill the shadows. Originally, the reflector was hanging from a light stand at a 90 degree angle. It wasn't doing much to fill in the shadows on camera-right, so I had to get creative. I MacGyvered gaffer tape and an extendable flashlight to the light stand to push the reflector up to a 75 degree angle. I used the practical light in the hallway to separate myself from the background. The two different color temperatures work well and give a nice contrast. 

 

 

Film noir inspiration

500 ISO,  f/4

500 ISO, f/4

I read an article on black and white filmmaking a couple weeks ago and felt inspired to try it. I've been practicing lighting, color correction and grading for video because I'm fixing to get out and film more often. This time I wanted to try something different.

For this test, I used a spot light as key and shot between two flags made of black cardboard paper for a narrow spread of light. Cardboard paper is inexpensive (and in my case, free, because they came with a portfolio case) but flimsy. A clamp wasn't enough to keep them from folding. I'm considering ripping apart cardboard boxes and spray painting them black. I placed a small LED behind me and bounced the light off a reflector for the rim light around my ear and neck. In my first test, which isn't pictured, I didn't use two lights, but happy I did for the final shot.