A Christmas Music Video and More Experimentation With Small Cameras

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Last week I wrote about the fact that small cameras are getting better and better, and wondered if I could shoot a decent piece with some of these smaller cameras. The idea is to take a kind of minimalist approach to filmmaking.


As I said before, I grabbed a couple of small cameras based on recommendations from friends, and a couple of small audio recording devices. I ended up with a Sony A6500 with a 35mm lens. I also picked up a Sony RX100V, which has it’s own built in zeiss zoom lens.


For audio recording I picked up the new Zoom H2N handy recorder, which has a great set of internal microphones.








Presently, an opportunity presented itself to try out this new minimalistic approach. I have a musician friend, Bernie, who happened to be putting together a Christmas album with his wife Rachel and a group of singers/musicians that have become known as the Reindeer Tribe. Every year they get together and make a Christmas album for their family and friends, and release it to the world. This year they were recording in Bernie’s studio, and invited me to come down to shoot a little bit of their process. I figured I’d document the recording of one song (they write, perform and record each song in a matter of hours), and create a nice music video for them. I followed up the recording session with a short interview with Bernie.


I found the small cameras to be quite freeing and easy to use, and syncing up the audio from the zoom recorder with the cameras was no problem (although I managed to miss the actual recording of the lead vocal, so there are a couple of sync issues in the video, but that wasn’t the fault of the equipment). The autofocus is getting faster and faster, and with touch screen technology, I can ALMOST make it look like a traditional focus rack. The internal stabilization helps when handholding these cameras. If I had some additional time, I’d experiment with adding some additional stabilization in post. That’s perhaps something I’ll explore next time.


I decided to use a black and white aesthetic, and make it wide screen, and threw in a little time lapse for b−roll. Really, I wanted to see what I could do with a limited shooting schedule (was probably only there for a couple of hours), a quick turnaround (I put the footage in DaVinci resolve to get the contrast ratios I wanted, transcoded the footage and made the widescreen crop in final cut).


Well, you can see the result above. I hope you guys enjoy, and as always, please let me know what you think.