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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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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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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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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!

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.

I have been asked to give another talk at Rule Boston Camera’s Learning Lab and I am totally pumped.  This Sept 19th, I will be giving a presentation about the use of the blog and behind-the-scene videos in the photo/film biz.

To catch my last talk, click here:

If you are in the city then, make sure to stop by.

 

Well the 4th of July vacation is over and it’s time to get back to work.  Today we begin a string of video jobs for a couple of local bio-tech companies with a location video interview.

It goes without saying, but one of the most important things to do is make sure you don’t forget any gear back in the studio.  This is especially true after you have been unplugged for a couple of weeks.

Although it may seem silly, one of the best ways to do this is with a pictogram.  You quickly draw out the set with every piece of equipment you will need.  It’s a good way to double check you have everything you need lined up at the loading dock before you load the truck.

On the black board, I have drawn the cameras, video monitor, matte boxes, rails, batteries, camera cart, 5 stands, two tripods, lights, flags, wireless microphones, shotgun and boom mic, and seamless paper.

Sure, there are some little odds and ends that don’t make it to the board, but it is a good broad brush technique to keep you on track.

We had the Boston Globe in the studio the other day during a catalog shoot with our long time client Work N’ Gear for their Scrubology brand.  They brought a film crew to see what was going on…

Mark K. from the Sloan School for Management called the other day with a cool request.  Can you bring the doorway dolly and help shoot some “B” roll?  Of course!  The doorway dolly is really fun to work with in the right circumstance, and this job was perfect for it!

Hi Hat and the Doorway Dolly

Graeme gets to drive

Sloan already had some stock footage of other parts of the campus, and Mark had just finished up shooting some interviews.  All that was left was some cool “motion,” and that’s where the dolly came in.

Because the floors inside the buildings were exceptionally smooth, the doorway dolly was a perfect fit.  Graeme and I headed in with the Sony FS100, some wide primes, the doorway, the Magliner cart, some sandbags, and got to it.

Hi Hat

One of my favorite ways to use the doorway is with the Hi -Hat.  If you haven’t seen a Hi-Hat, then you should check it out.  In a nutshell, its just a mini platform for the camera that lets you get really low.  I bought a 100mm base at FilmTools in L.A., and then made my own base in the shop.  Keeping the camera low on the doorway and sandbagging the hell out of it gives a nice, steady platform for shooting.  Of course you are not going to want every shot so low, but it is a great place to start when doing some epic movement shots.

The best kind of art director is one who knows what he/she wants, gives good direction, and then eases back and lets you do your thing.  Mark is just this sort of AD, and what makes him particularly cool to work for is that he worked for a long time as a commercial photographer.  When a client really can speak the language, great stuff happens.  Thanks Mark!

 

 

We just delivered the assets for our shoot up at Kestrel Aircraft in Brunswick, ME and I thought this a good chance to talk about how we shot the interview.

Kestrel CEO Alan Klapmeier

First off, I should say that this was a really cool job for me personally as the principle protagonist of this film is Kestrel CEO  Alan Klapmeier.  For those of you aircraft nuts out there, you will recognize that name immediately as the founder of the Cirrus Aircraft Corporation.   Alan was an amazing guy and a pleasure to meet.

But I digress…

Giant hangar doors provide easy load-in

Anytime I begin to light a scene, there is always a bit of head scratching.  I think for some people, the solution to problems come very easy.  For me, there is a bit of noodling about before I get everything just perfect.

As with everything, the best place to start is at the beginning, and the best beginning is to choose a location.  Things to think about here are control, sound, light, power, acoustics, access, etc… You can pick the most beautiful location in the world, but if there is a construction crew on the other side of a wall driving piles, you ain’t gonna hear a word.

 

Chris sits in for testing

 

With Kestrel, even before I got on site and took a tour of the location, I had a feeling that the best place to shoot the interview was going to be right in the hangar with the aircraft in the background.  The big concern with shooting in such a huge space like the Kestrel hangar was would we in fact be able to stop all the other work that was going on in the background?

After a quick meeting with the Kestrel team and a subsequent tour of the facility, it was made clear that we could have carte blanche and shoot anywhere we wished.  Perfect!  The hangar it was.

Door acts like a big soft box

We definitely didn’t bring enough light to fill a space this big, so we closed all the doors save one just enough to use as a background fill.  This worked perfectly and would make any Dutch painter proud!  We angled the plane to take advantage of its lines and catch the light streaming in from the side.  All that was left was to light the interview.

For this, we ended up using two Kino Flo Diva’s and one LED Light Panel.  The Divas we used for a key, and then winked in just enough Light Panel to fill in the dark side.  Below you can see a photo with and without the notes so you can get a better idea.

 

For the audio, we used two lavaliers(one wireless and one wired,) a boom mic (for safety and redundancy.)   We shot with three cameras, the Sony F3 Super 35 as “A” cam, the Sony FS100 for “B,” and the Nikon D4 for a “C” camera.   Both the “A” and “B” were fairly far away from the subject with a Nikon 180mm and 105mm prime.

In the end, it was a great shoot with a great bunch of folks.  Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to pull the day together, especially to Aaron for the opportunity to work on this film!  FYI… if you are a Kestrel fan, make sure to stop by their booth out at Oshkosh this summer.  This new aircraft is really going to be a game changer!

Chris jumps for joy in front of the original Kestrel prototype

 

We have been cranking pretty hard this past quarter, so it was nice to unplug our heads for a bit.

We pointed the “Pipeline Princess” south and headed for Valdez.  If you haven’t been, all I can say is you should go…  Very beautiful.  One night in Valdez, and then back towards Anchorage finding out-of-the way places to try to get the motor coach stuck.  Renting the RV was a brilliant move and was tons of fun.  Besides having a safe place to work out of, it was a riot to camp in… Wherever we went, there we were.  (only exception was fuel was outrageous.  At almost 1000mi of driving for the week, and $5.00/gal gas, we were in deep.)

iPhone pic from the seat of the RV

We got to Anchorage with about 12 hrs to spare, so we decided to head a bit down the Keni and take the train tunnel to Whittier.  Not much there but beer (which was fine.)  In the end, the tunnel drive and the fresh fish were worth it.

View from the bar in Whittier

Back to Anchorage, and onto the flight for home.  It is only May, but there are some long ass days already.  Below is the view from the airplane sitting at the gate at 11:15pm waiting to taxi.  I’m going to miss it!

Near daylight view at 11:15pm

(bit of a delay in posting… but worth it)  Out of the bush and safe and sound!  Thanks to everyone who made the trip successful, especially to Don and our pilot Rick for getting us in and out of the gravel bars w/out getting killed! I must say that I was pretty overwhelmed trying to land on the riverbank.  I will need much more practice before I am comfortable with off-airport landings!  This bush-pilot thing has certainly gotten under my skin… (and I know where this is going to end up)

Anyway,Talkeetna and Denali were a blast, (especially the 3 dollar taco bar and IPA.)  We will have to come back again.  After the Talkeetna, we took some personal time and headed south to Valdez (more later.)

Again, much thanks to Don and Rick.  We had a blast!

Greg, Rick, Don, Chris back at Talkeetna

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Thought I’d take a sec to share a pic of Chris showing off the production van or as we call it, “The Pipeline Princess.”

The best part of this thing, (besides the beer fridge,) is the heat. It was Pretty damn nippy last night!

We are in Talkeetna and a stones throw from Denali. The bar last night was packed with climbers all chomping to get to base camp. Pretty damn cool.

Weather is holding, which means we will be able to do some flying here pretty soon.

Gotta love Alaska!

Well it’s spring again here in Boston, and this usually means the aerial season has begun.  Last Thursday we launched for a late afternoon photo flight over the City of Boston.  If you are familiar with the blog, you will know that it involves some kind of air vehicle, you will have a damn hard time keeping us out of it.

As usual, we flew with Blue Hill Helicopters out of Norwood Airport.  Because the shoot was a fairly simple shoot (just photography and no cinema work) and I did not need to have the client along, I chose to fly the Schweizer 300C.  This is a small two place piston driven helicopter with a great safety record.  Besides being a nice platform for aerial work, the operational cost is very reasonable compared to something like a Bell Jet Ranger, or a Europcopter A Star which is very attractive to clients.  It’s a great way to provide aerial work without breaking the budget.

 

The photo mission took us inbound on the “Quarry” route, around the city counter clock-wise, and then out on the “Fenway” route(click here to see a cool map of the Boston helicopter routes)

Landmarks on the list included the harbor, Fenway Park, the Zakim Bridge, and the Charles River skyline.

Boston Logan was landing on Rwy 4, which made it a bit tricky as we had to stay under 300′ for a bunch of the shooting.  (In a nutshell this means that we had to fly under the commercial airliners that were landing.)

In the end, we spent about 45 min on station and got some great images.

Here is our latest Behind the Scenes film.  The job was to create 10 “How To” films for WMA or Wilderness Medical Associates.  We shot all the footage in a sound studio up in Portland, ME in one very long day.

 

Here is a behind the scenes film we shot whilst on location during the Fullbridge Business Communication Workshop talking about the new Sony PMW-F3 Super 35.

Paul and Andrew of Newtonville Camera

Well, we are off to Europe again for another week of photography.  I’d love to say work sucks and I hate the Man, but I really do love my job.

The very best part of this job I have to say is not the travel though.  The best part of this job is the client.  It’s not  often that a photographer gets to opportunity to work for a client that gives you the freedom to explore as an artist and to really push the boundaries of the relationship.

With that, I say thanks.

Now on to the photo above…  This AM I got a text from Andrew our sales guy at Newtonville Camera (our local and most favorite camera shop.)  He wanted me to know that our new NPS Priority Purchase D800s were in and if we wanted to bring them along to Europe.  Well of course!  The D80o will be replacing the D700 as the “blog camera” as well as being a tertiary back-up body.  Before we headed to Boston Logan, we made a quick detour out to Newton and grabbed the camera.  Like spoiled children we will be testing out the D4 AND the D800 on this trip.

BTW… (shameless plug, but not really)  I like to push Newtonville Camera a lot for no other reason that they have always taken amazing care of me since the beginning of my career.  They are about 35 miles away from my studio and in traffic, a 45 min drive….  I say this cuz I fight the traffic to shop there.   The next time you need any equipment, pick up the phone and try them before you hit the B&H button.  Mention what I said and the posting and I think you will be surprised at what Paul or Andrew can do for you.

Here is a behind the scenes film from a job for we did for Fullbridge.  We were hired to create 20 individual shorts and almost 30 audio programs for use in their Business Communication Workshop.

This project took two months to prepare, and was shot in just two weekends.  This film project was our largest to date with over twenty people in the crew.

Thanks to everyone for working so hard on those long 18 hr days!

If you are reading this in an RSS feed and want to see the film, please click HERE:

All well in Madrid.  First day of shooting (12hrs straight) went great. Great client, great subject matter, great food… What could be better?

Sitting in the hotel room downloading data… just thought I would take a sec and talk a little about some of our films that we were lucky enough to be recognized for in the AVA awards on Friday.

The first film I want to show again was probably my favorite of 2011.  The film, called “PUSH,” was shot on location in Wampatuck State Park with the sole purpose of experimenting with the slow/quick technology in the new Sony F3 Super 35.  The film includes our very own Rabbit, and our summer intern Scott Wesson.  (thanks guys!)

The itteration I submitted to AVA was sans the “behind the scenes” component, however it probably does a bit more good to have the first part of the film included as it talks about what exactly we were doing.

Hope you enjoy!

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I couldn’t believe it when I saw the number 33 in front of this “Behind the Scenes,” but this is our 33rd in the series.  It’s pretty cool and talks about how we shot time lapse footage whiles on location in Madrid.

Enjoy!

Just want to take a second and say goodbye to our fall intern Ryan.  After 4 long and hard 200+hr months, we can surely say we are going to miss him.

Ryan primarily spent his time working the box learning Adobe Premiere, and for the past 5 weeks, has been working on an epic Alaska road film we are cutting (look for it in the spring.)

We wish you the best on your journey!  Thanks for the hard work.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know we love to do our annual holiday film.  This year is no different!  From all of us, to all of you…  We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

 

We have been testing the Atlas 30 from Cinevate.  It has turned out to be a very cool bit of kit and has made it onto the set of most of the film work we have been doing as of late.

Here is a short “Behind the Scenes” on the rig, as well as some of the footage shot whilst on the origional job we used it on.

Here’s the behind the scenes film for a day shooting for Reebok at Exposure Place in Waltham.  Thanks to all my guys, as well as TEAM for perfect hair and make-up.

If you are viewing this in an RSS feed and can not see the video, click here:

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