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Liam_Booth

Been working on a biotech film the past two weeks or so… Just finishing up some ANR work in the sound booth today to wrap it all up.  Thanks Liam!

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 12.32.40 PM

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[vimeo http://vimeo.com/84244337 w=500]

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

KOR_20

Kor_20_1

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:

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.

EricNorman_Mvision

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.

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.

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.

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

 

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.

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:

Here is a film we really had a blast making.

The film is promo for Jim Hyde’s RawHyde Adventure.  It is one of the few BMW Off-Road Academies in the world.  We spent three days on the ground shooting at the school and had an insane time.  If you are into motorcycles, this place is a MUST!

I was able to go thru his school, and can not believe how much I learned.  It really changed my riding for ever.

A thousand thanks to the guys out at RawHyde.  It was great working with you on this project!

When I went thru a class... (the goof in yellow)

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!

Just got some good news…

Last night the AVA awards were announced.  When our friend and colleague Tim Llewellyn texted a “congratulations on the award,” I was a bit confused.

We had submitted some of our work on Tim’s urging, but never expected to win anything.

I was totally surprised when I logged on and found that we had won 7 Platinum, and 4 gold awards.  I will try to rep-post some of the films this week.

We are off to Spain today for a week of shooting, so look for some road posts.  Thanks to all those involved with the production of the winning films!  (you know who you are!)

 

Just finished the latest Investigator Profile for MIT RLE.  This film was cut for MIT RLE using interview and “B” roll footage left over from the Carl Zeiss Research Award film we did for a PR firm in Germany in conjunction with the The Carl Zeiss Company.

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.

We were contacted by a PR firm in Germany to help them with a unique event.

The Carl Zeiss Research Award is given every two years for special achievements in the field of glass research.  This award is often the precursor to the Nobel Prize.

As we have a close relationship with the Research Lab of Electronics where Professor Fujimoto (this years recipient) is affiliated, we were a natural partner in order to create a film to be screened at the award ceremony.

This opportunity was a win win for RLE as we would then be able to use any additional footage shot to create an “Investigator Profile” for Jim.

Stay tuned for that film…

We just delivered what I consider to be our best Work N’ Gear film yet!  Sometime last year, Anthony Modano (the AD over at WNG) came to us with this very cool idea.

He wanted to create a series of shorts that featured the Work N’ Gear customer using the theme “Driven.”  We had some prelim meetings, did a proof of concept, and the series was born.

This film, “Driven – Jim Weston,” gives us a quick look into the life and passion of woodworker and drummer Jim Weston.

The film is the first in a series of five that will be completed over the next year.

Work N Gear has been a great client over the years with the work ranging from product and model photography to some really cool film projects.

We are very thankful for the on-going opportunity to push the envelope with them, as well as work with some inspiring Art Directors.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out some of the past “behind the scenes” with Work N’ Gear, here are a few of the films

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Just delivered a new film for the M+Vision project in Madrid.  Pretty cool indeed.

We are scheduled to go back to begin another film next week, and are pumped to be back in Madrid!

If you are viewing this post in an RSS feed and want to watch the film, click HERE:

 

If you have been following our work over the past couple of years, you have seen that we have been up to our asses in elbows trying to keep on track with all the video interviews we have been doing lately.

The dirty little secret of the video interview is that it can pretty much be shot anywhere.  In fact, in a pinch, we have even shot one with the subject sitting in a closet, and the camera in the hall…

Closets aside, the most important factor of all is the audio.  Get stuck with a loud HVAC, an unruly shipping department in the next room, or door slamming looky-loos and you can find yourself up a creek without a boat.

Yesterday, we shot interviews for a bio-tech company here in Boston.  We had gotten the word before arrival that we were scheduled to shoot in the cafeteria.   Ok… sounded good in the eMail, but when we got there and checked out the scene, we quickly realized that on the other side of the wall were the kitchen’s freezers (and compressors.)

Because the compressors were cycling on and off, the room was a no-go for audio.  We quickly punted, and found an office we could strip down and set up our gear.

One of the things you will notice in the photo is that we use the actual color seamless we want (in this case white) as a background and  NOT “green screen.”  Sorry folks… but in my opinion, green screen is LAZY.  Although more difficult to light, and the need for twice as much equipment, having an understanding of lighting and taking the time to properly illuminate the background will net you a much better looking piece of film.

For this shoot, we used 4 tota lights to evenly wash the white seamless in the back, and used a tungsten balanced Diva Lite just above the subject for a beautiful key.

 

Very excited…

Today we went old school and hung an 8 foot chalk board on one of the empty walls so we can use it to flush out all kinds of nutty thoughts.  (looks tiny in the photo against the wall… but its 8′ if you can believe it.  (we still have lots of empty space to fill in the studio)

We also hung a white board in one of the editing bays to use as a “Job Que” in order to keep track of all the on-going movie jobs that are stacked up.  The biggest learning lesson thus far… We need another board.

Seems like we have been shooting and editing non-stop for the past two years.  Just cranking these films out one after another…  We are so fortunate to be able to keep cranking along with this “Investigator Profile” series.

Anyway… here is the latest iteration focusing on Al Oppenheim.  Al is a fellow pilot, and a really interesting guy.  His lab was exclusively theory, which is always a bit difficult to illustrate on film.

If you have been following our posts, you will have read that Final Cut Pro is dead… This film is the first film of ours cut exclusively with Premier.   So far, we are loving it.  I will try to write a post on the experience when I get a free second…

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