Stringr Interviews: John Joeb on Natural Lighting

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

Stringr John Joeb shoots real estate marketing videos by day for his production company ClearlyFine, but enjoys the extra cash he can get by being an active Stringr in his free time. Joeb quit the hospitality industry in 2013 in order to pursue his dream of being a full-time filmmaker. He answered an ad for a real estate videographer, and got the job thanks to his associates’ degree in filmmaking. Nowadays, Joeb’s day job involves using drones and glide cams to capture professional footage of beautiful properties in Florida, skills that easily translate to being a great Stringr. Here are his tips for using natural lighting.

Last week, Target announced that it would close 13 stores nationwide, including Joeb’s local store in Florida. Joeb shot fantastic b-roll footage of the store exterior and interior for Stringr.

John Joeb stands in as an interview subject in his Target footage for Stringr.

John Joeb stands in as an interview subject in his Target footage for Stringr.

Stringr: Walk us through the process of the shots you captured at Target.

Joeb: I approached a couple of people and they weren’t willing to talk on camera. So I thought, I need an interview, and I myself shop at this Target, so I’ll just do it. I knew that I wanted to do a rack focus, and that’s where the subject is really crisp, and the background is blurry. I knew the Target logo would be recognizable. I put something on the ground, to mark where I was going to stand, and I recorded for a few moments. Then I went back and looked at the shot, to make sure that I had the focus and the lighting right. I knew the lighting was better near the store, but I liked the dramatic lighting of the logo versus the natural lighting that I had above me. I just used the lighting from the parking lot, and I made sure the shot looked good.

A still of a mailman wading through floodwaters to do his job, from footage Joeb captured for Stringr when Tampa had severe flooding in August.

A diligent mailman wading through floodwaters to do his job: a still from footage Joeb captured for Stringr when Tampa had severe flooding in August 2015. 

Stringr: What are your lighting recommendations for outdoor shoots?

Joeb: Even for the photography that I do, I love natural lighting. The flash, you can tell and it just doesn’t look right.

Stringr: What types of external lighting devices do you use, if ever?

Joeb: In a controlled lighting situation, I use five or six lights, to make sure that everything is lit evenly. I prefer LED versus anything else, because of the heat. I don’t want my talent to sweat during real estate shoots.

Stringr: What are your tips for shooting at night?

You’ve got to know your surroundings. Number one, make sure you have no noise by adjusting the ISO and aperture. I don’t always follow the general rules that we learned in film school, but I just make sure that the shot looks good to me. I say, follow the light. If you know your camera and you know your craft, you can make it work.

Still of a shot of Jeob's Target footage.

Still of a shot of Jeob’s Target footage.

Stringr: How do you plan a shoot?

Joeb: While I was driving to the Target store, I was thinking about the layout of the parking lot, what light sources were around, my kit, how busy it would be. I just wanted to make sure that everything was lit evenly. When I arrive, I look at the scene, get my camera out, and look for something that works.

A still from drone footage captured by Joeb for his production company, ClearlyFine.

A still from drone footage captured by Joeb for his production company, ClearlyFine.

Before You Shoot: A Checklist

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

Hey, Stringr! Yeah, you: If you’re serious about selling video regularly on the Stringr platform, but don’t want to invest in an expensive video camera, you should consider purchasing some attachments for shooting with your smartphone. Here’s your pre-shooting gear checklist, as well as a few tricks of the trade to keep in mind before heading out into the field.

iphoneshot

Prepare your phone

  • Make sure your battery is fully charged, and go into airplane mode to conserve battery. Wifi networks can still be accessed in airplane mode, but being connected to wifi and bluetooth will also drain battery.
  • Clean your lens — the sleeve of your shirt will work in a pinch.
  • Get rid of extra media and apps on your phone. If you need those apps for personal use, get another phone to be used specifically for shooting. So next time you get an upgrade, save your old model for shooting!
  • Test the sound and image before you start shooting the actual event, and play it back to make sure the sound comes through and the image isn’t blurry.
The user interface of the app FiLMiC Pro, available on the app store for $9.99.

The user interface of the app FiLMiC Pro, available on the app store for $9.99.

Lock autofocus and autoexposure

  • If you download See it with Us or FiLMiC Pro, you’ll be able to select an appropriate brightness and camera subject distance. These apps allow AE, AF, and AWB locks.
  • If you’re used to using an actual camera, remember that smartphones control exposure through shutter speed and ISO only. There is no “f:stop” control on your phone.
mobile-gorillapod-0246_600.0000001350315352

The Mobile GorillaPod can be attached to your arm to steady your shot.

Stabilize the camera

  • Use a tripod, rest your phone up against something, or hold your arms as close to your center of gravity as possible to reduce shaky footage. The heavier your phone, the more you reduce the sway. Watch our video blog on handheld shooting here.
  • Newer smartphones have stabilization built in — make sure that it is turned on.
  • Check out our video blog on tripods for more information.
  • Some specific models that have received positive reviews are: GorillaPod Mobile, The Keyprop, and GripTight Mount.
A reporter photographs musician James Taylor using an Apple iPhone as he gives an interview during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A reporter photographs musician James Taylor using an Apple iPhone as he gives an interview during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Shoot for the editors

  • Most cameras cannot keep up with movement, so stay at as wide of an angle as possible.
  • NEVER zoom in and move; in fact, it’s best to avoid zooming all together. Digital zooms degrade the image.
  • Allow subjects to enter and leave the frame. Check out our video blog on framing your shot here.
  • Separate your interview subject from the background whenever you can, and don’t film your subject in front of windows or a bright background (otherwise, you won’t be able to see the subject).
  • Always shoot horizontally!
The Ampridge Mighty Mic.

The Ampridge Mighty Mic.

Get good sound 

  • Smartphones usually don’t allow you to monitor sound levels, so shoot a test and play it back while wearing your earphones to make sure that the video has audio.
  • Get up close and personal with your sound source if possible — this will eliminate extraneous sound.
  • Consider using a second phone for audio (just in case).
  • Wind will ruin your audio: If you have an external mic, put a softie on it. If you’re shooting with only your phone’s mic, try to block the wind with your hand if possible.
  • Consider an external microphone that plugs into a headphone jack. Some reliable models are: The Mighty Mic, Røde Videomic Go, and DXA-SLR Ultra Adapter (this one is advertised to be used with a DSLR camera, but it can be used with iPhones).
  • See our own video blog on getting better audio here.
The OlloClip lens will give your smartphone telephoto abilities.

The OlloClip lens will give your smartphone telephoto abilities.

Fragment your world

The Anamorphic Adapter lens.

The Anamorphic Adapter lens.

How-To: Shoot VIP’s

The key to being a successful one-man video crew is preparation. No matter what type of footage you are capturing, preparation is the key to a job well done.  With the presidential campaigns picking up, capturing VIPs who are swarmed with press can be hectic.

Here are some tips to getting the coverage you need.

When you receive a request or want to shoot a high profile person, do some research before hand and mentally imagine how it will go down. Find out what time it starts. This lets you plan your arrival to get the best location for a clear shot.

The earlier you arrive the less crowded the allotted area will be. Choose your location wisely and anticipate where things might happen. Having a clear shot is vital, so watch out for arms, cameras and mics that could get in your way.

An early arrival is great because you can get shots of the person entering and exiting the building, as well as a variety of broll shots, which is vital for editors.

When shooting the subject, limit yourself to using wide or medium shots. Using these shots will allow you to capture all the necessary moments without the fuss of capturing close ups.  Having a wide shot will give the subject space to move around without you moving the camera.

Finally, do not neglect your audio. Statements or speeches made are a must and can make or break the footage you shoot. In this scenario, use a directional microphone to record clear audio.

These tips can be applied to a variety of different requests and shoots. As long as you always prepare yourself you will have a smoother, less stressful and more successful shoot.