Everyone's a wannabe in the world of digital video. Particularly if you're 15 and your dad's got a a DSLR. Being a stalwart of the "buying equipment is a substitute for actual filming" school of thought, I often find myself browsing for gear I don't need and can't afford. Towards the beginning of such searches, I invariably sit through some kid either unboxing, reviewing or just generally talking shit about some cheap Chinese knock off. My personal favourite is when our presenter breaks said product and proudly exclaims, "well it is only [insert going rate for a weeks pocket money these days]". But perhaps just as entertaining are their top tips (no doubt garnered through all those years of experience), whilst demonstrating a complete lack of the basic fundamentals in their own video.
I remember a distant past when people knew their shit rather than just talking shit. That time when people read books and paid for workshops. Those crazy fools. There was even a brief time when you could pick up some pearls of wisdom from old hands on the Internet. Unfortunately their voice is lost in a sea of badly considered, poorly researched, ego bolstering YouTube talks to camera.
It's unsporting to put the blame on our teenage tribe of YouTube reviewers. Whilst they spread the message, they're merely repeating our ambitious blogging hipster "filmmakers". There's a mine of budget filming tips out there from some fantastic resources, but this information quickly becomes distorted. And I'm guilty of sucking some of this in. A great example is the continued insistence that a flat picture style is an absolute must for DSLR shooters. And there's sound logic to this. In the real world it's critical that you get everything else right, and in particular lighting, or you end up with a complete mess. There's a reason the manufacturer bake in picture presets, and this amateur takes full advantage of this from bitter experience.
I suppose they have their uses. They invariably demonstrate why the good gear is out of my budget, and that a good video is directly related to time, effort, planning and experience. Most of the tips aim to emulate something costing 20x as much and it's no surprise they're often next to useless unless in the hands of a genius. I'm not saying they don't work, more that they compliment the natural talents of those gifted few.
So, a plea to amateurs, budget filmmakers and hipsters. It's the right hands and not the gear that works the magic. It's ok to just use a camera. Any camera. If you really must buy gear, get a tripod. And an oath from this amateur: I will not assume that I am better than my camera.