Random Tests to Practice Using Your Gear

Yesterday was a really muggy day here in New Jersey and my partner and I both had off. We came downstairs to the office and worked on a few things when I realized we should be going out in this crappy weather and making something of it. We thought of a few ideas together and one stuck with us over the others, that was to shoot a car video using our Sony a7s ii and DJI Ronin M. 


Our plan was to take an ordinary car and create a video that shows the car and the driver. We did not want this to be a long video, but rather a video where we could test the stability of our gimbal and get some good, fun practice with it. We picked a location nearby to film which was the Sandy Hook State Park in New Jersey. The location was ideal because the road going down felt perfect for a driving scene. We also had the idea of adding a sense of mystery to the video by having our character appear almost out of nowhere and get into his car which was parked in the middle of a lot on its own.

From here, my business partner Vin threw some nicer clothes on because we couldn’t find anyone else to be the lead character. This worked out even better due to the fact that Vin has some prior knowledge shooting some car videos which helped me direct him better in the drivers seat. We then called up a buddy to drive another car so one of us could film out back of his car next to the car we were using in the video.

Before heading to our location we made up a shot list so everything would run smooth on the shoot and we can cross out everything we did and know we got it. Though we didn’t show every shot in the actual video itself, we still made sure to capture what we wrote down so we would have everything.



Considering we just got the Ronin M this week, we hadn’t had much time to use it, or actually put it to the test filming wise until this video. We figured the walking and running clips would come out smooth, while the driving shots would be even smoother. On the cold and windy day we had, we were very impressed with this guy shot after shot, walking, running, in the trunk of a car, you name it; and that gimbal did exactly what we needed it to do. 

We spent about two hours filming on location, shooting in 4k, slow-mo, and getting the shot again and again until it was right. In the end, we came back with about 80 clips that converted to 20gb worth of footage.


Post Production:

One of the longest parts of video production is this step here, actually creating the video. From picking out the clips you will be using, to naming them. Then finding music and audio you are going to use. Then actually laying out the clips and cutting them to work together. Then color grading all the clips to make sure they all fit the color scheme. Then finally, you are just about done editing and are maybe left with a few revisions here and there that you didn’t catch before. For this video Vin and I split things up and worked together  to create something we were both happy with.

Side note - none of the driving or walking clips are stabilized in post.



After all this planning, shooting and editing, we must have spent around eight hours total on this short little video. The importance of making this video was specifically to practice using the gear that we currently own because the more we use it, the better we will get. With a full day off and everything else taken care of, this was actually a lot of fun to go out and shoot. When it all comes together, it isn’t the best car video I have ever seen, but it sure does look nice!

As a photographer or videographer, we should always be thinking about what we can do to get better at our craft and take it a step further by acting on ways to improve our work. Next time you have a little time off, go out and put your gear through some tests that you wouldn’t normally do on the job. If anything, you may learn something new or just get better at doing something you’re already good at!

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Jim Hofman's picture

I totally agree about practicing with new gear. I just drank the Fuji Koolaid and bought that system after shooting with Nikon for years. I shoot street photography in China, but wanted to get comfortable with the gear before I got on the plane. I go shoot "indoor street photography" in Minneapolis for practice because of the weather. Being familiar with your new gear is critical and can only be learned by practice.

Ty Poland's picture

It's fun and very helpful, I think it would be silly not to go out and get used to the gear before using it in a real situation.