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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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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 are a bit behind on cutting our blog films (thankfully cuz of a back log of work) but we finally had a day to sit down and start to catch up.

This is a short on the building of our cyc wall here in our new studio.

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.

I hope it goes without saying that we love what we do.  I think if we didn’t, it would be fair to label us as insane.  Perhaps at the very least masochists.  The long hours, the sleepless nights, the early call times, it can truly wear a body down.  The only real way to escape the cold hard reality of the downside, is to be in love with the upside, and that we do.

I think this passion has really manifested itself in this obsession with our on-going series of “Behind the Scenes” films.

At any rate, here is the latest one that was shot in our studio whilst shooting for one of our long term clients Work N’ Gear.  The subject was health care clothing.

A big thanks to all my guys, as well as TEAM, Models Club, and Click.

Here is another film from our last shoot with Work N’ Gear.  The day was for their fall catalog covering the new workwear line.

If your viewing this in and RSS feed and want to watch the video on Vimeo, click HERE:

In July, we shot three days for Work N’ Gear and Sears in our new 4000 sq foot facility in Hingham.  Here is a behind the scenes film from day one.

If your reading this post in an RSS feed and want to see the film, click here:

Spraying the Bunker 5 sign on the loading dock wall

Breath…

We are feeling very fortunate over here with the speed at which the cars are flying down the track.  We have been raging on overdrive for many months now, and there is no signs of slowing.  Thanks to all those involved (you know who you are) for helping us keep it all on the rails.

For us, the end of June marked a huge milestone… We opened the new studio Bunker 5 officially for biz with a large catalogue shoot for Work N’ Gear, Sears, and K Mart.  We had all the same faces from past WNG jobs with us, the girls from TEAM, some new models, some old favorites, Scott the Intern, and Emma, our illustrious caterer.  Very cool indeed.

Geniveve the Rock Star Model

On this day, we were shooting fall health care for Scrubology.  The craziest part of the day was the fact that we shot 98 articles of clothing in ten hours.  (If your not familiar with catalogue shooting, this is considered a lot…) We were cranking.  Insane!!!

Trying to keep track just under 100 items to shoot!

The new space worked out perfectly and we couldn’t be more pleased.  At 18′ x 25′ with one corner, the cyc wall was more than adequate.  We ended up shooting right into the corner which gave a nice gradient to the background.  (It was really a mute point though in the end as the designers were just going to strip the models out of the background… but the images looked awesome)

Some photographers like to try to make lighting seem complicated.  The fact is, it is pretty damn simple to make things look good.  A lot of the times the difference between good and great is just the damn equipment.  For this shoot, we used the Elinchrome Octabank.  It is pricey, but really worth it.  (turns good into great)

For fill on the dark side, we used a 4×8 V-flat gatorboard bounce.  (whats nice about making these is they are white/black.  If you dont want fill, you just flip it around and use the black to deepen the shadows)

To key the background, we just blasted four heads up at the ceiling.   Very simple, yet elegant.

Morning briefing from Art Director Anthony Modano from WNG

As they always do… the day started for my crew at 06:00 with putting the finishing touches on the prep work.  Cleaning, organizing, spraying the Bunker 5 logo on the back wall and floor, etc…

The rest of the crew starting trickling in at 8.  Cloths were steamed, models were sent to make-up and hair, and we built the set.  By 930, we were in it and starting to crank.

Anyone who shot pre-digital can really appreciate where we are these days, and just how easy it is to push as hard as we did.  No Polaroids needed… Just pull the image up on the monitor, get it approved, and move on.  We really are in an amazing golden age.

By 4:30, we were in the home stretch and miraculously finishing up the last few items.

When all was said and done, and the clock struck 05:00, I will have to say that the single best benefit to shooting in our own studio was the fact that we did not have to then (after a crazy day) slam into overdrive to load out before we started to pay overtime for the rental.

We could all slump down into a cozy couch and crack a well deserved beer.

Thanks to my crew as well as Anthony Modano and his crew for a kick ass successful day!  We look forward to the next one…

Day three is done, and we are almost there…

The plasterers spend the day in the studio and did there thing.

I am a pretty stubborn guy, and love (really insist a lot of the time) at doing most of my own work.  I love to do everything.  Framing, windows, sheathing, electrical, plumbing… whatever.  If it involves building, I love to have a hand in it.  The fact is that (in my mind) anything that has to do with building is fair game to me.  I have (a stupid) desire to do it all.

But… The one thing that I learned a long time ago that is worth having a pro do is plaster work.  It is truly an amazing art that takes a special skill.  A good plasterer can work so fast, so efficiently, and do such an amazing job, that it’s not worth ones time to try to do.  Two guys, in one day, did what would have taken me three days.  (and my job would have been just ok.)

At any rate… The job is done, and it looks perfect.  Next step will be to do a light sand, hit the transition from the floor to the start of the swoop with thinset mortor, prime the wall, paint the wall,  and then a last coat of floor paint.

God willing and the creek don’t rise, we will be shooting on the wall next week!

Cyc at the end of day 2

The saga continues…

The cyc wall is really coming together, and it’s pretty exciting to think we will no longer have to travel to shoot in the studio.

Day 2 was all about the swoop, and although a bit frustrating at times, the build was really rewarding.

We first started with the ribs which were all cut out on a CNC machine by Mystic Scenic in Norwood MA.  It really was the right decision to have Mystic (thank you Eric!) design the wall.  Once we started building, it was clear just how much time was saved having the ribs pre-cut.

48 ribs pre-cut from Mystic Scenic

Ribs are painted with a fire-retardant paint

We dry-fit the ribs against the metal studs just to make sure we had enough, as well as ensuring all the mathamatatics were perfect.  Once we knew everything was going to work, we anchored down a 2×4 to the floor so we could key the ribs.

Keying the ribs

Once this was done, it was just a matter of screwing the ribs to the studs, and then doubling up the ribs every eight feet in order to lap the wacky wood.

From here, we inset the stringers 90 degrees to the ribs to give added support to the face of the swoop.

Stringers across the ribs

One interesting thing to look at is how the ribs on the two walls are attached.

The ribs on the long wall were going to sit flush against an existing wall which would cause the wacky wood (for the swoop) to leave a gap the width of the wacky wood (.25″)  Not that big of a deal… This gap will be filled with plaster.

The short wall is easier and is done slightly differently.  For these ribs, I had Mystic add three extra inches to the vertical side.  Since the short wall had no drywall on it yet, the extra material would allow the ribs to go into the open wall and be screwed to the existing studs.  This basically allows the wacky wood to run right up flush to the drywall making for a seamless transition that needs only a small amount of plaster.

Along with having Mystic Scenic design the plans and pre-cut the ribs, I also had them send over one of their master carpenters to lend a hand.   While I was tackling the ribs and stringers, Harold (from Mystic) kicked into high gear and went to town on the hardest part of the wall… The center compound curve.

Harold rockin out with the mesh and his grinder

This is basically done the same way as the straight wall, but with a bit more math and a lot more parts.  In order to get it just perfect, we used mesh stapled to the ribs.    Once it was all secure, we would call in the plasterers and let them hit it.

Center compound curve

Once the corner mesh was set, it was all about the wacky wood.  A bit of glue on the ribs, and then down went the wacky wood.

Plasterers swing by to prep the job for plaster

For the cherry on top, the plasterers stopped by to check out the work and tape the seams in preparation for an early start.  I cant wait till I can start painting!

All in all, it was an insanely productive day.  I was wiped, but satisfied that we did a great job and didnt cut any corners (literally)

Beginnings of cyc wall looking down from upstairs office

It’s been one hell of a crazy week here I have to say…  We got back from the West Coast on the Fri eve red-eye only to continue to get kicked to the curb with too much to do.  (not complaining mind you, just wiped)

Weekend shoots, followed by rush turn-around times for processing jobs quickly turned into This Old House at The Bunker.  I wish we had a bit more time, but we are all at battle stations in prep for three big ad campaigns we are shooting in June and in July, two of which are catalogue jobs and will be shot here in The Bunker.

This week is Cyc week, and I’m beyond pumped.  Our cyc (cyclorama, or infinity wall) won’t be the biggest in the world, but it will be more than big enough for anything that we will shoot.  It’s a two wall cyc with a 3×4 curve to the floor.  The long end is 26′, and the short 17′.

In order to best use space, I built two rooms into the back of the wall.  One will be a make-up room, and the other a changing room for models.

First wall goes up

Because we are in a commercial space, we have to pay particular attention to fire codes, which means we can not use stick framing (wood.)   This is actually very easy and goes up quickly.  I built each wall on the floor ensuring it was plumb, and then raised it to position.  The good thing about the changing room and the make-up room is that it really will give the cyc wall some stability.

Looking thru the changing room to the shoot space

The next step was to start thinking about the ribs for the floor to wall transition.

We are going to use 48 vertical ribs with stringers inset in the face.  The covering will be Wacky Wood and will be screwed to the ribs and stringers.   After that, the face will get a nice coat of plaster to smooth it all out.

Since the long and short wall are a bit different (long is closed, short is open) the ribs will attach in a slightly different manner.  On the long wall, I screwed sister-studs directly to the wall.  The ribs will screw to these.  On the short wall  added a 2″ tongue to the vertical part of the rib.  This will inset into the wall and be screwed to the metal stud directly into the open frame wall.  (I will post photos when I do it.)  The net net is basically a savings on time as well as material.

Installing sister-studs for the cyc ribs on the long wall

Once the walls were up, I started in on the drywall.  They have a really cool new product out called “lightweight” sheet rock.  (very cool) As soon as I saw it, I grabbed it.  Made moving it around much easier.

Make-up and changing rooms

Tomorrow we tackle the swoop….  It should be a long-ass day, but hopefuly we can tackle it in less than 14hrs…  Stay tuned!

Cleaning the floor... Studio middle, looking to the front

This month has been off the hook… Just too much to do indeed.  I looked at the calendar this AM and realized that it’s almost June.  WTF?

At any rate, we have had a really cool spring with lots going on.  We started the month with a new lease for our new diggs… A 4000sq ft studio called “The Bunker.” The first week of May was spent doing prep work.  We power-washed the ENTIRE space, floors, walls, and even the ceiling.  Then we rented a floor Zamboni to clean it, and finally etched it in prep for a new coat of Silver Grey epoxy paint.

We have drawn up plans, and are ready to pull the permit for our build-out.  Very exciting.

More to come…

New space (looking thru the rear loading dock)

Onward and upward…

May 1st we signed a lease for a new space effectively quadrupling our current studio.  DAMN is it big – 4000 square feet big.

The space is actually very very cool and will allow us to do a ton of awesome stuff.  At over 150 feet long, the possibilities are really endless.

Our plan is to divide it up into three main sections, office, motion picture post-production, and still/cinema production space.

The front 50′ will be open architecture offices where the staff will have a place to be comfortable.  The middle 50′ section will be where we have our conference room, two film editing suitescolor correction room, and gear storage.  The rear 50′ is especially suited for production as it has 22′ ceilings and a commercial loading dock.  Here, there will be a dedicated shooting space with a 20′ x 30′ corner cyclorama, green screen wall, light tables, full bath, make-up, and changing room.

We will be able to shoot anything a client wants from models to autos.  We are truly very excited about the move!

Front half of the space. Will house offices, editing suites, conference room, and color room

The real impetus for the expansion has been the increasing demand for the movie making side of the business.  The photography arm has always been strong with healthy growth, but the real surprise has been the movie work.  For the past five or six years the cinema side has been steadily outpacing the still work, with last year being the most amazing surprise slamming past the stills.  Today, it overshadows the still work holding a 65% share.

When I left the movie biz in L.A., I never expected I would be coming back full circle.   Still or motion, we are having a blast.  However we end up, with whatever we end up doing, we are just excited with the ride.

From the front, looking thru the middle towards the loading dock

The space and it’s goings-on will most likely morph into its own entity, taking the form of a full service production facility.  We are still tossing around names, but as of right now, we are calling the space “The Bunker.”  Since its building #5, we are leaning toward “Bunker 5,” or “Bunker 5 Studios.”  We like it enough that we’ve grabbed the domains, as well as the blog addy.

Stay tuned…

Realtor, lawyer, and me...

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