Every once in a while a project comes along that helps move your own craft forward. Simply put, when this video was done, I was a better filmmaker than when I started.
Clay Kirchenbauer is a Jewelry Designer living in the San Francisco Bay Area who crafts stunning Jewelry by hand. He liquifies his own metal, uses a process he calls “the lost wax technique” to sculpt his creations for client approval, and has a collection of intricate tools for making even the most subtle of details capture your attention. No wonder he was such a fascinating subject.
When I arrived at Clay’s studio, I had little idea what to expect. I enjoy working with artists, but the work was always on a larger scale. Jewelry is so small. Frankly, I was a little intimidated. However, as he showed me around, and I saw all the equipment, I began to realize just how visual this video could be. When he offered to take me through the steps of making an entire ring, I began to get really excited.
The first thing you learn when shooting in High Definition is to pay sharp attention to your focus. In the world of Standard Definition, there is some wiggle room. You can be slightly off focus and everything will still look great. In the world of HD, you are either have a crystal clear image, or a fuzzy one.
The second thing you learn, is that when the focus is spot on, tight close-ups in HD look fantastic. The detail the camera picks up is staggering, and can help transform the ordinary into something magical. If I’m lucky, I can usually include one, maybe two closeups in a finished video, but watching Clay work with his hands, I understood I had a unique shooting situation presented to me. So I shot extreme close-ups of Clay’s fingers as they slowly manipulated a simple piece of metal into a work of masterful craftsmanship.
There was only one problem.
Clay works at a custom-made jeweler’s desk and has a single light source hanging above him, illuminating his process. Even with a white balance done beforehand, the light source saturated the footage with a yellowish tint that signaled that some deep color correction was going to be in order.
I’m a believer that we learn best by doing. Personally, I had never attempted color correction on this scale before, and I spent a lot of time playing around with the 3 Channel Color Corrector in Final Cut Pro. I gained quite a bit of knowledge from the process. Here are some examples:
We filmed Clay’s interview over at Shoey Sindel’s Photography Studio (see Blog Roll) and Clay, also a talented photographer, provided all the stills seen in the finished video.
The result is one of the most satisfying videos I’ve made all year. In three minutes time, you not only get a real feel for the kind of artist Clay is, and the type of work he does, but to get to see him actually crafting a ring is just amazing.
At the end of the day, this project not only improved my ability to shoot tight, close up images well, but also how to properly use color correction to vastly improve not only the overall look, but the very mood of the image.