In celebration of their 20th year in biz, we produced a short film to for KOR’s “KOR Turns 20″ micro-site.

Film was shot on location in their studio during one day and cut together with an original score.  The majority of the film was shot on the Sony F3 Super 35

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We got lots of cool holiday cards this year, but I thought I’d share of of the cooler ones.

KOR here in Boston has always sent out fun stuff around the holidays, but this year they are celebrating their 20th year in biz, and on that theme, sent a “time” oriented card.   The card was sent flat, and when unfolded turned into a funky desk clock.  Even had a battery!

Matt Duclos (creator of our favorite wide angle cine lens) put a post up this AM that I thought important to pass around.  Keep an eye out!

Stolen Equip

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Annual report time again….

Chris and I shot out in Upstate NY all last week for Corning and had a blast.  I cant resist sharing this quick pic shot whilst setting up for one of the Annual Report shots.

Over the past 15 years we have worked in all kinds of areas.  Big pharma, defense, bio-tech, aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, the list is pretty broad.   When I look back and try to tie it all together, reflect on what keeps me still interested, the thing that always jumps up first is cutting edge science.

Since 1999, I have been very fortunate to have an on-going relationship with MIT as well as professional relationships with many of the Institutions Principle Investigators.  It is a relationship that I hold very dear, and one that has allowed me to grow personally as well as artistically.

Last week, an old friend, Prof. Vladamir Bulovic, Dir. of MTL.  reached out with a particularly interesting proposition.  Could we help some of his group members produce, shoot, and edit a short film explaining their new technology… Oh, and can you do it in 5 days???

Of course the answer was yes, and we dove in head first.

Because there was such a short turn-around time, the production had to be very concise.  Pre-production, research, discovery and scripting was not an option… Too much fancy production value (big cameras, dollies, fancy lighting) would cause delays on set and translate into lack of time….  Multiple cameras and too much footage would cause extended logging and editing time… You get the picture.  This had to go quick, but still maintain the high level of quality that our customers have come to rely on.

Fortunately for us, (and as so many today know,) we are living in the golden age of film production.  With the new generation of cameras, the things that are possible today constantly blow my mind.  It has really changed the landscape, and allowed us to move in ways that even five years ago could not be possible.

I wouldn’t normally do so, but in order to meet our mandate, I chose to shoot all the location footage with the Nikon D4.  The interviews were still shot on the Sony F3 Super35, but using the Nikon in the labs allowed us a freedom of movement that translated into a much higher volume of footage.

  • First time saver:  All interviews were shot daylight exterior in one general location.  Yes there would be ambient noise to deal with, but since we could only afford to use a third of the shoot day doing interviews, compromises had to be made.  I also believe that when an interview is outside, the viewer gives much more leeway  as the reality is, life can be noisy!
  • Second time saver:  All footage shot in labs would also be with available light.  We always move pretty quickly, but without having to move lights around on set, you can get way more done in the shoot day.  Yes it might not look as good as if you took the time to light it, but with careful cinematography, you can still shoot pretty damn good images.  The lack of lights also eliminates a case or two along with a heavy stand bag.  This means mush less to carry and much less time setting up/tearing down.  Its amazing how you can still create beautiful imagery just by paying attention to camera placement in relation to an ambient light source.
  • Third time saver: Shoot hand held.  Obviously the interviews were shot on stix (tripod,) but almost this entire film was shot hand held.  I did bring the small Cinevate rails for one shot I wanted to get, but I primarily stayed off the crutch all day.  Again, this allows for a very fast shooting style.
  • Fourth time saver:  Stock music.  Normally we like to write our own music, but at the onset, we made the decision to go for stock.  Not only is this a big time saver, but is about half the cost to the client.
  • Fifth time saver:  No snazzy graphics or Motion work.  Traditionally in our MIT work, we have been know for some pretty cool funk.  This stuff looks great, but it translates into TONS of post production work.  By keeping a simple edit, we could move thru the process much faster.

After an 8hr day of shooting, we had what we needed and it was back to the studio to hit the edit bay.  With the close collaboration of the client, and a couple of wee hours editing sessions, we were able to finish and deliver the 4 min film with a day to spare.  The net net is a great short film that conveys the clients message, but yet was economically produced in record time.  Special thanks to Farnaz Niroui.  Couldn’t have done it without your collaboration!If your interested in viewing the Investigator Profile we did for Prof. Bulovic, you can view here:

 

For our other Investigator Profile series for MIT or any other work, click here:

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This is always a special time of the year with the summer waning and fall right around the corner.  I never want it to end, but I guess we cant stop time.  The tell tale sign for me is when the July doldrums subside and morph into fall catalouge work.

Although it’s been a busy summer with lots of travel, I have to admit it was nice to be back in the studio for some old school cyc wall shooting.

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It was quite a production with 20 people in the studio all buzzing around.  Since there were so many cloths and wardrobe changes, we had four stylists cranking.  One on set, and three on the racks steaming and prepping.

 

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One of the nice things to do when shooting is to tether the camera to the network.  Now I know that photographers have  been doing this for a long time now, but I never get over how cool it is to shoot the photo, and have it wirelessly appear onto the server.  Too cool.

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With all the usual suspects present, we cranked thru the day shooting 80 wardrobe changes.  Special thanks to our three models, Maggie (model agency,) Michelle, Colleen, our AD Rob (and his crew,) and last bu not least, our intern Ben!

Great shoot guys!

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Processing the rushes from the OmniGuide shoot the other day.  Kudos to Chris for yet again stepping up and being an extra in one of our shots.

As he says… “It’s better to look like a doctor, than be a doctor!”

Colbert

F’d up times for photographers.  Stephen Colbert comments on the Chicago Sun Times choice to lay off its entire photographer staff.

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With so much location and travel work going on these days, it was nice to have a change and be back in the studio for a day of shooting on the cyc wall.

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The AM was spent shooting the talent with the clients machines and equipment, and the afternoon was spent shooting hands holding medical tools on the light table.  Of course thanks to Michelle from TEAM for fantastic makeup work, and to Chis for the long day.

The highlight of the day was the chance to work with JC, a great model we brought up from NYC.

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OG_2

Here is a film we shot for Blue Cross.

Client: Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. Agency: PARTNERS+simons.  The film was shot on location in MI using the Sony F3 Super 35 and FS100.

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I want to thank the judges deeply for including my work in this years Communication Arts Photography Annual.  It’s certainly a huge honor and I am flattered to be included.   I cant show the image yet, but stay tuned for CA’s announcement!

I didn’t submit last year, but here is the image that won the year before.  You can read the blog post on that image and watch the behind the scenes film here:

Chris with Profoto Portable Strobes

Chris with Profoto Portable Strobes

Spring is here and its the season for Higher Ed Photography.  Now that the weather is booming, Chris and I have been flat out shooting as much as possible before the students leave for the summer.  April alone has had us out to five campuses!   Shooting higher ed is particularly fun because of the diversity of images.  Much like an annual report shoot, higher ed photography runs the gamut and encompasses every kind of genera including portraits, macro work, science/technology, sports/action, product photography, and general lifestyle.

To cover as much ground in a day, we try to move light.   Typically we can shoot everything we need with:  Profoto Acute B (battery strobes,) One large stand, Profoto Octa, (2) D4’s, 14mm, 16mm, 17-35mm, 24-70mm, 60mm macro (w/ extension tubes)  70-200mm,  300mm 2.8, Gitzo carbon Fiber tripod, and plenty of cards.  This kit condenses down to two pelican cases and is perfect for Chris and I to get in and out with a small footprint.

Chris, Heather and I

Chris, Heather and I

We have been working on a cool job where we are shooting 360 degree photographs for a BioMed client at some of their facilities.   Chris, Heather and I headed down to Baltimore to shoot the lab.

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In a nutshell… Travel, shoot all the rooms with the 360 robot, head back to the studio to stitch em together.  After that, my web programmer puts the modules together for a micro-site we are building.

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Its kind of cool.  Once its finished, I will try to write a review of the Gigapan Epic Pro.  So far it seems to work pretty cool.

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Osh

 

For those other aircraft nuts out there… EAA opened the media registration for the 2013 Airventure event AKA Oshkosh!  We will be out again this summer shooting for a couple of clients.  If you’ve never been, its insane!

 

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There are all sorts of wonderful sounds in this world… But none I think more exciting that the shrill horn and clackity diesel engine of the UPS truck at the loading dock.

Today, our driver “Pouch” dropped of some new goodies.  I love shooting with long glass, and the Nikkor 600mm f4 is right up there with the coolest of Nikon lenses.  A bit nuttier than the 300mm f2.8, this lens is over the top, and with the Silent Wave motor and VRII (vibration resistance) is totally over the top.

All I can say is… “preposterous.”

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CA

As one of my early mentors once said, “CA is the best advertising money can’t buy.”

Just a friendly reminder that the CA photo annual competition deadline is tomorrow March 15th.  If your entering, good luck!

sonyF5

Just got sent this link from one of our viewers… Say it ain’t so!  Bummer news for Sony.

This really just pisses me off.  Almost three years ago, I few out to CA for a visit at RED.   We were all set and ready to buy a body, but wanted to just ask some questions in person and get the real skinny on things like their post production workflow.  The story’s now old hat and water under the bridge, but the long and the short of it was that I felt they weren’t very pleasant to us and pretty much wasted our time out there treating us like small potatoes.

After that wasted airline ticket, I vowed not to shoot RED and was tickled pink when Sony came out with the F3.  We bought one right away, and have felt the same way when Sony announced the F5.

In my opinion, RED made the choice to forgo consumers like us.  Sony saw the need, and worked hard to fill the space.  Shame on RED for crying to the courts.  For us, the Sony platform has been so easy.  We consider them a partner in our film work and are oh so glad we never bought a RED.

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Years ago, when I first got into this game, lots of the photographers I used to assist for were in the stock photo biz.  I remember one in particular who used to talk about $100k years in stock sales alone.  It was a really good gig, and those who knew how to play it certainly benefited.

Alas, like everything, times changed.  The onslaught of the internet and the digital revolution quickly torpedoed how stock was handled.  An image that used to sell for $10,000, soon was selling for $100.  The cheapening of the image is something that all older photographers lament, and have come to grips with the understanding that the “good old days” are gone forever.

That said, I am starting to see a respect and proper valuation of the image slowly returning to the landscape.  It will still take a couple of years to fully resolve, but the market is beginning to come to grips with the fact that regardless of how images are captured, (digital or not) there still needs to be good photographer behind the camera.

Even though I have been shooting for twenty years, it is still a secret thrill to see my images in print.  I thought I’d share one of my favorite images that was purchased by Boat U.S. for one of their campaigns.

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Ironic to be posting after such a long hiatus.  One of the last blog post I did was the day before I gave a lecture at Rule Boston on the importance of blogging…  I had a good stretch at 1 post every four days for almost 4 years.  Guess we all need a break.

Lots has been going on in between the cracks and silence.  Some E.U. travel, lots of West Coast trips, and some new faces in the Studio.

We got slammed with the blizzard with a 6′ drift against the studio door.  I wish I could have shot a photo from inside looking at the snow pack, but alas the door opens to the outside…

Just before the blizzard hit, we got into the city to start on the latest film project.  For this one, we are excited to be working again with Eric Norman of Hopewell.  These interviews were relatively easy from a technical standpoint as they were shot with available light.  I really do love shooting with that Sony F3.  Such a fun camera, gonna miss it when our new Sony F5 arrives.

Every year as the dog days of summer begin to give up their ghosts, I always look forward to the aerial season.  Year after year as the red and yellow leaves pop around New England, we take to the skies to shoot industrial complexes, quads, and campuses.

After some real crappy weather, we finally got a chance to get up in the air and shoot in earnest.  Right on the cusp and almost missing the peak, last week we finished up some really nice flying and put some gorgeous aerial work in the can.

Even as the chill wears off from door-off heli flying, I look forward to perhaps one last late December “first snow” flight.  As always, thanks to Stephen at Blue Hill Helicopters for getting us back on the ground safe and sound!

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I just landed at LAX for a quick job. 6am outbound, 4hr drive to San Luis Obiz, work tomorrow and redeye home.

I know better, but in a moment of weakness I didn’t follow my personal rule and rented a car from Dollar rather than Hertz.

After a six hour spam-can cross country cattle ride with some dude aromatizing the cabin with his G.I. fragrance, we are now stuck in the endless line at the rental counter.

Companies that cater to the business traveler have it all figured out. It’s painless and even semi-enjoyable.

In life, you get what you pay for, and on the road, this is key. Net net is after a long farty flight, it ain’t worth the $30.

Use the Hertz Gold!

Just a quick reminder that we will be speaking at Rule Boston this Wed at the learning Lab.  The lecture will be about Behind the Scenes films and a bit of how we use the blog and social media.

See you there!

New Kestrel website

Earlier this summer we got the fantastic opportunity to work with Kestrel Aircraft and LEAP on the creation of some film assets for the launch of a new website and 2012 EAA Airventure Airshow.

Our component was the interview with Alan Klapmeier as well as associated “B” roll up at their new facility at the Brunswick Executive Airport in Brunswick Maine.  As I mentioned in a prior post, Alan Klapmeirer was one of the founders of the Cirrus Aircraft, and a tremendous innovator in the aviation industry.

To see how we shot Alan’s interview, click here:

Alan Klapmeier, CEO Kestrel Aircraft

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Chris and I headed down to Washington D.C. Today for the day.

Since we just have one film interview, we are traving light and carrying only the bare essentials. This includes the pre-built camera (hand carry,) lens case (also stuffed with batteries and audio gear,) and a tripod bag.

On tap for today: 3am call at the studio, 6am flight to BWI, 4pm interview, 9pm return, and a whole lot of Smithsonian in between…

Shooting video interviews via Skype

This month we have been engaged in an interesting film project.

One of our legacy clients approached us to produce a film that will celebrate the achievements of one of their founders.  The time frame was incredibly short, the subject matter spanned four decades, and there were almost twenty individuals that wanted to provide testimony.  We were able to work most of the travel into the short time schedule, however there were three individuals (one in Georgia, and two in Palo Alto) that would just be impossible to get to within the time frame.

The question was how to get the interview without getting on another airplane?

To solve this problem, we set up a SKYPE video chat.  I knew that if we tried to capture the screen grab it would look crappy.  We had to create some context that would put the lesser quality Skype chat in context and make it “believable” to the viewer.

 

To do this, we set up a scene in the studio whereby we could shoot both the screen and the entire scene.  The “A” camera was set back and captured the entire scene, and the “B” camera focused in close on the subject.  I would sit just off camera with a web cam positioned such that it would shoot my face for the interview, but I could look right past and watch the subjects face.

It took some jiggering, but a 1/8″ mini cable was run out of the laptop into a splitter and then converted to XLR  to feed both cameras.  The subject would be fed my audio via the web cam and since the “A” and “B” cameras were getting their audio from the line source, any studio background noise would not be picked up.

I felt that we needed to show some audio source in the wide shot to give the illusion of sound, so we added some studio monitors (speakers) into the scene.  This  gave a concrete voice to go with the visual.  By breaking the fourth wall and showing the cameras, laptop, speakers and wires in the shot, we would be able to give a bit more legitimacy to the gimmick.

It took a bit of getting used to with respect to conducting the interview, but once we were rolling, we seemed to settle in and get some great stuff.  Stay tuned for the finished film to see what you think.

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