Nikon School – My First HD SLR Workshop

I’m on my way back to Tampa this morning after a really cool weekend with the guys from the Nikon School HD-SLR Video Workshop. I had planned on attending one at the end of last year but I couldn’t make it. While talking to a friend at Nikon a few weeks ago, I realized they had one in Santa Monica and it just happened to coincide with a trip I had out west so I jumped at the chance to go. I’ve got to say, these guys put on a fantastic weekend for everyone. The workshop was actually taught by 3 guys from NPS (Nikon Professional Services): Scott Diussa, Mark Suban, and Mark Kettenhofen. This was the first thing that struck me as really well done. It wasn’t some third-party company hired to do the event. These are the guys that, on a normal day, handle multiple accounts for NPS and travel all over the country helping Nikon shooters. They work directly for Nikon and know the cameras inside and out so you’re in good hands. Now, truth be told, I’m not a huge HD-SLR guy. From what I hear from my friends that are, it’s like a bug that many people catch and they get addicted. And you definitely get the feeling that the guys running the workshop have caught the bug and they are passionately into HDSLR and everything around it.

(From Left to Right: Mark Suban, Mark Kettenhofen, Funny-looking guy, Scott Diussa)

Saturday started out with an intro to HDSLR and it’s benefits (and potential drawbacks) over regular video cameras. Mark Suban went over some key things you need to keep in mind like shutter speeds. I always kinda knew what shutter speed to use for video, but I never really understood it – now I do. Then Scott jumped in and went over audio (I never knew that he actually went to school for audio). From the questions in class, this part went over really well because it spawned a lot of discussion since audio is so important. Mark K. finished up the day with the creative aspect of all this. What to shoot, how to shoot, interviews, stability, tips about pre-roll and post-roll which is basically recording just a bit earlier and then after what you think you should record, so you have a more natural transition to work with. Although I liked the whole day, this was my favorite part because as a still photographer, this whole video thing seems daunting. Not for technical reasons, but mostly because of the creative challenges. You’re telling a WAY more involved story then with still photos. Then they set us free with an entire bag of demo gear and instructions on how to use it. We all got to borrow D7000’s, several lenses, 3 different mics, lights, batteries, SD cards, you name it – they thought of everything you could possibly need and then some. Sadly we had to give it back the next day 😉

Sunday started with some talk about editing. Then we jumped into interview techniques and Mark did a live interview for the class so they could see all the little tips and tricks you can use to get a good interview. Finally, we finished things off with hands on editing. Nikon even provided a Macbook Pro (already set up with software) for everyone to use to follow along with.

All in all, if you’re interested in HDSLR this was a fantastic kickstart. I’m a great test candidate because I knew nothing going in. There were constant visuals and demos all weekend to really drive the point home. It’s probably not for pros who’ve been doing it for a while, but as some one who really has no experiences and was starting from scratch I finally feel like I can take the next step. Did I catch the video bug like many of my friends? Hmmmmm, I’m not sure yet. It did get me thinking about all kinds of things I could do with video. Now I feel like I know enough to get out there and be comfortable to start working with it. And I feel like Scott, Mark 1 and Mark 2 (as they became known) shortened my learning curve but a TON so, I’m not making “as many” mistakes as I’d have made if I didn’t attend the workshop.

Here’s the link if you’re interested in learning more. They also have several more workshops coming up in Miami, Seattle, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago if you’re around those areas.