AS HYBRID CAMERAS become ever more affordable and feature-loaded, filmmaking is increasingly becoming a viable option for photographers looking for an extra discipline to cover. For some the option to shoot video can even take over, as was the case for London-based creative Keenan Lam. After starting his journey as a photographer, spending four months travelling around Asia with his cousin, he started to upload regular vlogs to the mix to add a little spice and, over time, motion started to take over.
“My big breakthrough came when I travelled to Iceland with a couple of friends who were also content creators,” says Keenan, “the aim of the trip was to create as many promotional photos and videos for brands out there as we could, ranging from snowmobile rides, food tasting experiences and hotel stays. We did everything for free in return for their services, and it was a great way to build up our portfolios at the expense of having to work like crazy!
“Three days before we were due to leave, my good friend Luke (@watchluke) received a call from one of his clients, Specsavers, asking if he also knew a videographer who could cover the launch of their new glasses collection during London Fashion Week. He recommended me and we booked flights that same night. We both flew straight back to London the next day and headed directly to the show location with our suitcases – we had no time to go home!
“While I captured video Luke shot stills and, after the show was done, I edited my film and sent it over to the client. They loved it and, from then on, I realised I could try and take this full-time. So I delved into the world of freelance, hustling for any job I could find get my hands on, spending countless hours on YouTube and the internet, learning how to create and film videos and improve my editing skills. It was the start of my career and how I came to be working in this business today.”
Being a prolific filmmaker means Keenan gets plenty of time out and about on the fun stuff, planning productions with his team and creating lively and engaging footage, but it also ensures that post-production is a big part of his life as well. While this can be creative and rewarding, it has also entailed lots of tedious hanging around, thanks to the data-heavy nature of video, which traditionally puts pressure on hardware, making rendering and routine software tasks extremely time consuming.
Not surprisingly anything that promises to speed up this side of things is going to be welcomed with open arms, hence the enthusiasm with which Keenan greeted the introduction of Nvidia’s highly anticipated RTX 30 Series of GPUs. Overnight these made a massive difference to his operation, turbo charging his editing and saving huge amounts of time at a stroke. For a busy professional it’s been a big deal and it’s further helped to take a lot of the tedium out of the entire post-processing side of things for good measure.
“I’m currently aiming to produce at least one video per week for my YouTube channel,” Keenan explains, “whether that be tips and tricks for anything related to filmmaking, short films or even documenting my life during that week. YouTube allows me to show more of my personality online and it’s been a great way for me to stay motivated and busy, while at the same time holding myself accountable. That schedule is nice, especially in a freelance world where routine is not so common.
“The post-production side has always been at the back of my mind. Can my computer handle what I want to do? Will it be able to render fast enough? With 4K being the norm, and the recent surge of cameras encoding in H.265, the thought of rendering and editing footage in higher bitrates and tougher codecs has always been a headache. I really dislike proxies because they can take hours. It’s why having a machine powerful enough to make light work of editing footage that would otherwise be frustrating to work with, is a priority for me.”
Right now Keenan is working with a custom-built small form factor PC – he likes the aesthetics – which features an Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, 32GB RAM and a 9700K CPU. He’s been delighted with its performance, and it’s proved to be more than capable of zipping through everything that’s been required of it.
“Since upgrading to the new RTX 30 Series GPU, editing has become significantly smoother, faster and better to work with,” he says. “Rendering times have been noticeably faster, as well as the time it takes to analyse and stabilise shaky footage. I was accustomed to waiting for long periods of time for my timelines to render, but now it moves along quicker and just means there is less time for me to wait around as the computer does its work.
“I was used to working with high quality 4K footage from my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and, with multiple layers stacked on top with colour grading adjustments, I’d previously have to preview my timeline in half, or even quarter, resolution just to make it play back in real time, with no frame skips or frame lag. Sometimes I’d have to pre-render the sequence just to watch it back to see if there were any more changes that needed making.
“Having the Nvidia RTX GPU now means I can play back most of my timelines in full resolution without frame drops, which makes the editing process a whole lot more enjoyable. There’s nothing worse than previewing your work in what appears to be 480p and not being able to read text properly, or even see if your shot was in focus or not.”
For Keenan the arrival of Nvidia’s new graphics card has been an absolute game changer, and it’s greatly added to his efficiency and saved him vast amounts of previously wasted time. “Nvidia has really focused on the creators of this generation, where speed and performance are the ultimate priority,” he says. “It’s something I’d personally been waiting a long time for: faster rendering times, better timeline performance at higher resolutions and stacked clips. These are all things that have proved invaluable.
“It’s just great to know that I can rely totally on my hardware and be confident that it can handle whatever I throw at it. In conjunction with the Nvidia Studio Drivers, performance and usability in the creative programs that I use has become a lot smoother and more powerful, and it’s all helped to move my workflow on to another level.”
More information: youtube.com/keenanlamtv
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