I love grips. You tell them what you need to do and then they fancy up some contraption that may look like “the ultimate in low-budget ghetto rigging” (as my key grip, Tom, described it) but totally works and gets the shot. This piece of work, pictured above, was a great solution for one shot we had to get over a conference table setup on the floor below. The ledge was really thick so we couldn’t just bring the sticks right up to it and lean it over, nor did we have a jib or whatnot. So Tom came up with this thing. A ladder, two full apples, a rolling cart, sandbags and some ratchet straps that suspended our camera and Ronin over the edge. We controlled the camera with the remote and there you have it! It was awesome. The rest of the shoot was wonderful as well. We got some great shots for an [name withheld for now] commercial. We shot most of it on a Red Epic Dragon with a couple of shots done with a GH4/Ronin rig and a Phantom 3 Professional drone. Here are some frame grabs from the dailies and some behind the scenes …
What do you do when your only key light is non-functional and you only have a few minutes to set up? You think fast. I had a shoot a few months ago where we were interviewing the president of fairly large bank conglomerate. He was visiting the area and had very limited time to give us on camera. We had to wait around for a while to figure out if he would even agree to doing the interview that day, and we also had to wait to see where we would be able to shoot his interview. He had some doubts about doing the interview that day. For us, it was imperative that the interview happen. After convincing him that today would be a fine day for the interview, and then deciding on a spot do it, we started to set up. We had two 1×1 LED panels and a SkyLux + RapidBox soft light. Pulling out the equipment, I noticed the ballast for the SkyLux unit was not in the case where it should have been. *Assume nothing. Trust no one.*
I had the great opportunity to shoot the second season of a web series called, “Pretty Darn Funny” which follows Gracie Moore, a mom who gets more than she bargains for when she forms an all-female comedy troupe in efforts to clean up the local comedy scene. Season 2 launched with this [really, really] silly parody of “Footloose” from the point of view of under-appreciated moms.
Back in March, I had the chilling opportunity to shoot a documentary in Alaska. It was cold (understatement). If you missed my post about it, click here to read about it. We went back for a follow up shoot in September and it wasn’t as cold. Daytime highs were in the low 30s, so technically, it was still freezing. But it was a welcome cold compared to the -30s I was in last time. I had to trade one discomfort for another, though. If you haven’t gathered this about me already, I’m not the outdoor/woodsy guy. Camping? Hunting? No. But on this trip, I got to be involved with both. I can’t say it necessarily grew on me, but it became tolerable. LOL Most of my fears about moose hunting and being eaten or mauled by bears melted away after a day. Sticking close to the guys with the rifles helped.
Over the weekend, I shot a short film with a good friend from film school, Michael Sokey. The last time we shot a short was 15 years ago in school. It was great working together again and it was also really interesting to note the differences in the shooting style of the previous shoot to this one. We shot the last film on Super 16mm black and white film with a crew of maybe a dozen; this time, we shot on a DSLR with just him and me for crew. It’s amazing how technology has changed—allowing us to capture infinitely better photography 15 years later. Maybe 15 more years of experience had some part in it that, as well ;) I was intending to shoot this project on my 5D but it got damaged earlier in the week so I had to send it to get repaired. There was zero budget so renting another 5D was out of the question. Michael did have a T2i, though, so we shot it on that instead. I was a bit saddened by that because I love the images I get from my 5D and the idea of shooting it on a Rebel was …
This week I’ve been in St. Petersburg, Russia because this is the home of Rembrandt’s paiting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. We have been shooting a documentary about Henri Nouwen and his very interesting relationship with this painting. We were granted the rare opportunity to shoot the actual painting as it hangs in the Hermitage Museum. It’s really amazing to stand in front of it, even more so to work “with” it. As with many of my projects recently, we shot it with the Canon 5D Mark II. It was a very overcast day so we didn’t have much light coming from the windows, nor are the gallery lights very bright. We brought in a small light kit to supplement the exposure a little, but I found myself having to have to use a higher ISO than I wanted. At 1250 ISO, the images were a bit noisy, but not too bad. For some shots that didn’t require much movement, I went down to 640 ISO and dragged my shutter a bit down to 1/30th of a sec.
A couple of weeks ago I got to shoot a music video for a super talented up-and-coming artist, Nik Day. My friend, Tucker Dansie, directed. I had agreed (insisted) to shoot the video for him and then looked up Nik Day online and became an instant fan of his music. I became really excited to work with them on this project after that.
Last week I had an opportunity to shoot an infomercial for a good friend of mine who I’d never been able to collaborate with before until now. We were shooting some scenes in a domestic environment where the product could be used. About halfway through the first day of the shoot he said to me, “Does this whole thing look too… cinematic?” I retorted, “Is that a problem?” (playful sarcasm runs deeply in our relationship). I suppose I could’ve made it look like an infomercial, but where’s the fun in that? We decided to keep going with it.
It’s always interesting to look at a photograph or a scene in a movie and then look beyond the frame that’s been given. What you see is usually surrounded by a bunch of junk—equipment needed to make the image look the way it does. Take a look at these two shots from today, followed by a corresponding image taken from my camera phone while I was shooting. Yeah, yeah, I know.
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