Dear younger Matthew, here are ten tips I wish I could give you ten years ago.
1. START SHOOTING RAW
You're probably not even aware yet of the power of RAW photographs. Or maybe you thought JPEG was just easier and you'd get it right in camera. Or maybe you didn't have enough storage to house all the RAW photos.
Regardless of your excuse, I wish you would just listen to me right now and start shooting RAW files straight away. I tried to revisit some of your footage because my editing style has changed over the years and sadly there's just not much editing to do on a JPEG!
2. ORGANISE YOUR DATA EFFICIENTLY
I've gone through some of your hard drives and mate, I have to say, it was incredibly frustrating to go through a bunch of randomly named folders looking for a certain timelapse sequence.
Luckily, not too far into the future, you will develop a folder structure template that you'll be using for every single one of your projects. This means that when you get an email inquiry about licensing some footage it only takes you about a minute to find the exact folder on a specific hard drive.
The Ultimate Timelapse Guide comes with said template and instructions on how to use it.
3. BACK UP YOUR DATA
For Christmas 2011 you're going on a skiing holiday in Meribel, France with your family. You'll capture some amazing footage of fog, clouds and stars from a chalet overlooking the valley beneath you. You'll edit a little timelapse film full of errors that still gets over 100000 views (on Vimeo nonetheless!). Years later you want to revisit this footage and re-cut it to sadly discover that you have lost the only hard drive that this footage was stored on..
If you had had a backup of this hard drive or this project folder you would have been able to remaster your very first short timelapse film.
Dear reader: if your footage only exists on one hard drive, it might as well be lost. Every single hard drive in the world will fail, at some point in time. Storage is cheap these days, use it.
4. SHOOT MORE VIDEO
Don't wait with trying to get better at video. It won't happen magically, you just need to start putting in the time and effort.
You're the only person that will make things happen for you, so get to it!
5. FILM YOUR FAMILY
Family is the most important thing in the world, at least for me. Babies grow up, kids change, parents age and grandparents pass away.
Film works like a time machine. You get to revisit memories, places and people.
6. LEARN ABOUT THE BUSINESS SIDE
Learn about how business, pricing and sales work. If you want to make a living being a creative or a creator you better know how to make it work. Here are a few books I highly recommend you read: The art of closing the sale, The laptop millionaire, 80/20 Sales and marketing.
7. START SHOOTING IN MANUAL MODE
Because only then will your camera turn into an extension of your eyes. The less time you have to think about settings the faster you will be at translating how you interpret a scene in front of you.
Initially it will slow you down, but you'll be incredibly grateful for this skill later on and it will save you so much time!
8. NEVER STOP LEARNING
There’s a period where you stopped learning. Don’t do that. Keep pushing yourself to innovate and come up with new techniques, workflows and edits.
That being said, be mindful of burnout and be sure to take a break on time. You won't get any work done at all if you've pushed yourself into a burnout!
9. DON'T SKIMP ON IMPORTANT GEAR
Don't try and save a few dollars by buying a cheap aftermarket battery or memory card. Both of these items are crucial and when they fail, they fail hard.
I've felt the pain of a corrupted memory card or a broken battery and I'll tell you what: I wish I had spent the $20 more!
In case you're wondering, here's a list of the gear I use on all of my commercial timelapse projects these days.
10. DON'T USE NON LICENSABLE MUSIC
Because in 2013 you will post a video on youtube and go viral, globally. Your video will get over a quarter of a million views in less than a day and hit almost a million in a week. Sadly, you won't see a single penny from Youtube's AdSense program because you used a music track that doesn't belong to you. You'll miss out on literally thousands of dollars, bummer!
These days I use Epidemic Sound for all of my Youtube videos, it's a subscription based website which is incredibly affordable and has 30000 music tracks and 60000 sound effects for you to use.
If you use this link here will get one month of free music and sound effects. (yes, you can use as much as you want and cancel your subscription before you get charged and keep using the music and sound effects!)
And that's about it Matt, I might give you some more tips in the future if I come up with any extra ones.
Dear reader, you can buy both of my timelapse books at a discount below or buy them separately from my new online store here.