Cinematography: Find The Time To Boost Your Creativity
I remember being creative from the time I was little. Perhaps it was from growing up in the middle of nowhere on a farm in central New York and the fact that I was an only child.
I had to create my own fun. What I clearly recall is being fascinated by the ordinary and thinking of ways to make it extraordinary.
One day I took my banana bike and pretended to be Evil Knievel by trying to jump over a large number of kids with a special ramp that I designed.
The contest was to see if I could top my record with each jump.
Quickly, I discovered that six kids were the maximum without killing myself with that banana seat or destroying them.
Finding a Working Balance
I value creativity because I understand that it is the vital force behind great art.
It is critical to find time to nurture your creative spirit. We can all find excuses that get in our way. My biggest one is guilt at spending more time away from my family.
However, if I skimp and cheat myself out of creative time just for me, everything suffers.
Restoring Your Creative Juices
Travel is my favorite way to boost creativity. I am stimulated and amazed by the visual landscapes around the world.
Each year, I take a few weeks just to reconnect with myself and my creative drive.
It is time that is non-negotiable and is the commitment that I make to decompress and fuel my creative reserves.
I also take time to dream and visualize in my head every evening for 15-20 minutes. I unplug, go into the sauna, and practice dreaming.
About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema as a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.
This is a great idea. I’m always trying to ignore the mundane obligations in life. Living in an urban environment is especially difficult, at least for me. Some thrive on it I guess.
I have always done what a high school creative writing teacher taught me. Turn on some music, put your pen to the paper, and don’t stop writing until the song or album is over. It forces your brain to think ahead and be creative. Even if it doesn’t make sense it can be very beautiful.
Lindsay, I love that. I never heard that before. Everyone needs down time to re-tool, re-boot, zen out, or whatever you want to call it. Music is so powerful.
Peter, I respect that so much and thank you. After Terminator I had 275 people that I was collaborating with in grip electric and camera, I wanted to change it up after that experience, it was been there done that. When this film came along and the Directors approached me with the script, I thought that the 5D was the perfect platform. Earning and learning, and getting kicked in the face on a daily basis, pushed down into the dirt. Each day I picked myself up, brushed myself off and kept going. I never want to get in a creative rut. This has opened my eyes, my creativity, my mind in new out of the box ways. All the best, Shane
Hi there Shane, you have enticed a comment out of me with this topic because unlike all the hardware that we play with that give relatively consistent results, the creativity of the people can be here today and gone tommorrow so easily!
Since I don’t have an existing high pressure ongoing demand for my creativity appart from my own demands to remain alive (creatively speaking), I find getting inspiration from people like yourself and Vincent Laforet vital to reminding me that the newness of our produce is indeed limited only by our creativity and determination becoming dormant!
Thank you so much for sharing! I like the atmosphere in your blog it is personal, keep it up :)
This is an enticing blog! Already posted on another section, but now you got me hooked here too! :)
Something I’ve done for years is to always be working on side projects.
Via the web I’ve had a chance to work with a huge variety of creative individuals, armatures and pros alike, from around the world.
We impose “near zero” budgets but still shoot for a high level of visual quality. That pushes us to think outside the box of conventional, often expensive solutions. When we pull that off it’s a real creative rush that fuels the rest of our lives and our work.
The other bonus is I’ve found many creative friends… some of whom have continued to work together 6+ years running now.
softdistortion, I feel the same way, I always try to keep many irons in the fire. Once I get on a feature it is difficult to keep other things going. I created this website and blog to stay in touch and to create the wave of this new technology. It is so inspiring that it is uniting the world of still photographers with cinematographers. It is so exciting and anything that I can do to embrace out of the box thinking I am in. After Terminator:Salvation I wanted to strip everything away, get back on the camera, make it more personal and be apart of a movement.
It’s great to see more and more pros like yourself stepping onto the web and being cool about collaborating on smaller projects.
If you ever do a 5D project you need a guerrilla CG/VFX sup on, let me know. ;)
softdistortion, I would love to see what you are doing with this camera VFX wise. I love giving back and collaborating with all of you filmmakers. In the past 5 days I have learned so much from all of you. Keep it coming and I will continue to bring you cutting edge imagery.
Great site. I have really enjoyed reading all your posts.
Just 2 quick question.
1.Did you do anything special in the camera setup (picture profile) and i assume your latest project is going to be a filmout.
2.If so, could you already describe the workflow you intend on using.
Adrian, my picture style was Neutral, with -1 on Saturation. I feel that the red channel on HD is so sensitive, this take it down a notch. We tried a raw LUT that I created in the picture style on my computer but when it came to shooting you could not gauge contrast with the LCD screen during the day. I ended up underexposing a lot of footage because it looked so washed out on the LCD. So the Neutral Picture Styles eemed to work the best. I then twixtored all of the 5D footage to convert from 30p to 24p, and then doing a film out with a 2K res at Company 3 in Santa Monica with Stefan Sonnefeld.
Shane…you mention in you newsletter that you get more video noise while using iso 200 vs 160, and 400 vs 320 and so on…
1) Does this mean that iso 100 is noisier than iso 160?
2) Do you use the “highlight tone priority” setting?
3) do you find it a better compromise to hold more detail for sacrificed noise?
Thanks…btw, I didn’t know where to post this subject…perhaps we can start a new thread regarding these issues?
Ken Glasssing, yes 100 ISO will be noiser. Stay at 160 ISO for all your day ext. work and then ND down to achieve your desired f-stop. The highlight tone priority seems to only work with Canon Lenses for some reason. No I do not use it. I think you have to apply it to what you are shooting. If you want to hold more detail in the highlight than I would use the native ISO’s. A new thread is great. Let me work on that.
I just want to thank you for the inspiration i get when i read your stuff
here it boost my creativity,Also working in my little land here in Nazareth planting my tomatoes it dose boost my creativity as well .
Any way if you deside one day to come to Israel/Palestine i love to be your
Ehab Assal, Thank you for your kind words, and you are very welcome. It would be my honor to stay with you if I come to Israel. That is a wonderful place that I have yet to travel to. Keep dreaming!!
I do a lot of landscape and documentary style outdoor promotional shoots. I find being out in the land, experiencing the breathtaking beauty inspires me to communicate it and similarly inspire the viewer.
There are almost no boring landscapes, whether its prairie or the Rocky Mountains. The challenge is getting into it and effectively communicating it to the viewer.
“my biggest one is guilt at spending more time away from my family.”
I hear you there and it’s probably my biggest one too, unfortunately it seems unavoidable at times.