The Flip Video That Launched a Giant

“Avedon sucked.” ~ Zack Arias (note: please watch the video and get the full quote in context. I purposefully pulled it out of context for a reason).

With all the talk about Canon’s EOS C300, RED’s Scarlet, Sony’s F3 and other expensive cameras, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re really attempting to do with your work. That is: move people. Whether it’s to move them to tears, laughter, thought, what have you, you goal should be to stir something up in the viewer. If you have the resources to get one of these cameras, go for it. I would if I could. But, don’t let that stop you. Speaking of the Flip, let me remind you that a giant in the world of professional photography got his career seriously boosted by a video he shot on a Flip for a guest post on I’m speaking of my good friend and commercial and music photographer Zack Arias. I have no doubt that many of you reading this blog have already seen his video Edit:Transform. Maybe even numerous times. But it bares sharing again since it’s February 2009 review. It’s a great example of how to use what you have and make it go further than you might have thought it could. Here are some important take-aways from this film when working with a project that is handicapped in some way:

  • Hide the drawbacks. This film primarily in black and white. That hides the poor color of the Flip (notice all my Flip Side vids are also black and white).
  • Simplicity never goes out of style. This film is all straight cuts and transitions. No fancy-shmancy effects. No bells and whistles in the editing what so ever.
  • Composition counts. The composition and framing are beautiful. The use of angles. Placement of subjects. How he uses (and sometimes breaks) the rule of thirds. All of this adds to the power of the film.
  • Good writing works. I don’t know if Zack wrote this ahead of time or just ad libbed the voice over. But it’s powerful. It has meaning. The film wouldn’t be the same without it.
  • Music sets the mood. The haunting music and lyrics of Zack’s uber-talented musician wife Meghan adds significantly to why this film works.

FilmRiot host/producer Ryan Connolly said it great in a Flip Side video a couple of weeks ago. Learn what you can on what you’ve got. Then, when you graduate to the bigger and better cameras, you won’t suck. (Because, as Zack so insightfully puts in the video below, we ALL sucked at some point. So why spend a fortune just to suck?)

Be sure to check out this funny spoof made by Zack’s assistant, Erik Dixon.

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9 thoughts on “The Flip Video That Launched a Giant

  1. Thanks for this Ron!

    As I move forward in the world of video and try to find my place in it I keep going back to transform. I’ve gotten the 5d since then along with sliders, and a jib, and a video tripod head, etc. etc. etc. I’ve shot the “OMG BOKEH!!!” shots at 1.4. All that…. and I’m bored to tears with it because that’s what we are all doing. We’re all sliding. We’re all jibbing. We’re all shooting for razor thin DoF.

    Nothing I have ever created has seen more attention than that little B&W video shot on a Flip. As you stated I found the issues with the Flip, hid them, and had to rely on narrative and audio to bring it together. That video came from my gut. I shot it however I wanted to shoot it. Lately I’m shooting video how I think I’m supposed to shoot it. The last video project I shot I have not shared with anyone because it isn’t “me”. It slides. It cranes. It has rack focusing. It has shallow DoF. It has no soul. Not my soul at least.

    As I move forward in video I’m going back to what I was doing in Transform. I may do it with better gear but I’m not looking for the visual masturbation shots as I call them just because I can do them. Jib shots were always so amazing because they were the shots only Hollywood could pull off. Now everyone can do it and over do it and do it some more and they are losing their awe factor.

    So yeah. Use what you have. Do the best you can with it. Don’t get all caught up in the “I can do this now because I have this gear” when maybe something simple will do the job much better.

    Note – Within 10 days of releasing that video I had three major book publishers calling me wanting me to write for them. I’ve kept a relationship with one of them and I’ll be putting out a book… when I’m ready to put out a book. Just because someone will publish the shit I have to say doesn’t mean it’s the right time to do so. That video… it changed my life.


    1. Thanks my friend for always being so open, vulnerable and giving. I never tire of Transform. 🙂

      Looking forward to seeing your other video work too. 🙂

  2. Wow, that video…so powerful. It’s the simplicity, the music and the heartfelt voice over by Zack that make this work so well. I’ve always been in the boat of, the message is far more important that how it’s conveyed. Just powerful, powerful stuff. It doesn’t happen often, but this legitimately moved me emotionally. I’ll probably never forget the part about Zack’s dad…

  3. Cheers to you!
    I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but never wrote about it. To shoot from your gut, there is nothing more powerful. I too been caught in the new technology, but I can never give up the old school of film. When I shoot film, it comes from who I am, from love at what I do. When I shoot video it comes from a job, a profession.

  4. Cheers to Erik Dixon. I hadn’t seen that one. Well done! When I originally saw Zack’s video on the Kelby blog, I thought it was the best of all the guest entries, and it still is.

  5. I just seen the video and I have to say, I was on the verge of never picking up a camera again, and closing my biz totally. Zach’s video just took tons of pressure off me and freed me in a way I didn’t expect. Thank you Zach and Thank you Ron, for exposing me to it. Right now all I can say is WOW, after watching it 5 times. Love to you both.

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