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28 September, 2009

Village Vanguard recap.

The day started at the ungodly hour of 8AM. It was brisk - I was a little chilled in a fleece jumper - but the crafty frying pans were sizzling hit. I heard the "ssssssss" as I rounded the corner and my mouth began to water. I was one of the first to arrive.
Soon after, Roger, the Director of Photography, strolled around the corner. He smiled, shook my hand and proceeded towards the omelet station. Pleasantries and good, hot eats took a half hour or so.

The morning was camera setup. I set up the bazookas (adjustable pole-like camera platforms) and gave the video technicians a hand running cables. And oh, was there a lot of cable. Once all of the cable was set, I took to breaking out the cameras. We were using heavily modified Sony EX3's. The camera, a solid-state HD camera, is, in its stock form, sortof small. Perhaps 18" front to back. Ours were modified to be ideal for multi-camera live switching. The longest, were perhaps a foot longer than stock. The three main cameras were fitted with larger-than-stock lenses. 2/3" 21X and 22X HD zoom lenses from Canon and Fujinon. The left and right side cameras had 1/2" wide-angle zoom lenses. At the back of each camera was a metal plate supporting a control unit that allowed each camera to send and receive lens data, camera settings, and all sorts of other fun stuff. This also facilitate careful matching between cameras by JM, our faithful video engineer. By about 2pm, all cameras were set, matched and ready to go. So we took lunch.

Upon our return from our meal, Barbra's band began filing in. There was a soundcheck for the sound department and a Babs stand-in for all of us on the visual side. The G&E crew made lighting adjustments and the camera's ran more tests. The director informed the camera and lighting crew where exactly the Clinton family would be sitting. Yes, those Clintons.

By 4pm, Barbra had arrived (with James Brolin in tow), and we were ready to do a rehearsal and test edit so Babs and her people could take a look at what we had done. Up until this point, I had been assigned to the wide master. Once Babs got a look, though, she expressed a preference for how she looked in my camera position's closer framings. So Camera 1, my camera, became the medium to close. Can't say I was disappointed at all.

Come shoot time, it was understood that while I would dwell in the mid to close range, Roger (who was operating two feet to my right) and I would ping pong our framings. So if the director called for a slow zoom from Roger's wide into a song, I would reframe while he was live so they'd have still have a wide frame to cut back to if need be. That said, I was medium and close a lot of the time so needless to say, many of my shots made the cut.

I have to say, while I'm talking about the shoot itself, I really enjoy shooting live. I couldn't tell you how long it's been since I'd done it last and I had forgotten how fun it is. Mind you, it's a lot different than regular doc shooting. With this setup, you don't have to worry about camera setting or exposure or anything like that - there's a guy in the truck with scopes for that. It's just you, the camera and the subject. Just frame it up, focus, and stay alert. The director and the TD in your ear, talking to you, talking to someone else, talking to each other. There's an amazing energy when your offline, getting something good they can switch to. And then when they do, when that tally light in your eyepiece comes on and you are live. Hold your shot, make any moves count. It's like a performance in itself. Babs is up there, singing, and everyone is right there with her - but you're there too, catching the beats like her band, playing off the crowd.

After all was done, all of us camera ops just remained perched above the crowd as they filed past us, towards Babs, towards the exits, towards each other. Bill, Hilary and Chelsea, hovered a bit in front of me. SJP and Nicole Kidman greeted each other and caught up some ways away from me. James Brolin spoke to some fans who seemed to love him as much as they loved his wife. Donna Karan was lost in the crowd - to me, at least. For all I knew, she was the woman who smiled at me as she left - probably not, though. Not sure I know what she (or her famous daughter) looks like. I've got a belt of hers, I think. Actually, no. Mine says "CK." Just goes to show you, maybe that nice woman was her.

When the club was empty, the crew wrapped. Took down the cameras and handed them off to the video techs. Broke down the jib and packed it up outside in the rain. Camera was wrapped a good hour - at least - before G&E, so I said my goodbyes. Wished everyone well, and grabbed a tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich on Ciabatta from crafty. Ate it on the way to the subway, and got flower from the bread all over my black shirt.

Spent the train ride home with a bit of a high - exhausted but feeling accomplished. I smiled to myself knowing what the other passengers around me did not know - that just an hour or so earlier, I had been in the presence of Yentl, Slick Willy, the Secretary of State, DKNY herself, SJP, and the glamorous Nicole Kidman. When they all went online the following day to watch highlights, or when they eventually would see the broadcast or DVD of the show, they would see my work. And they would never know that it was me, that young guy on the train, in the powder-coated black dress shirt with the tired eyes and stupid grin on his face, who executed that smooth, steady, felt-but-not-noticed, 60 second push in on Barbra Streisand.

What a night!


The Babs show was great. Check out highlights online at http://music.aol.com/sessions/ or http://www.barbrastreisand.com

Oh, and if anyone wants to play spot Dave's shots, the head-on shots where you can see the piano stick and its shadow are me :)

23 September, 2009

Upcoming Projects

This Saturday, I'll be shooting Barbra Streisand Live from The Village Vanguard.
Director - Scott Floyd Lochmus
Director of Photography - Roger Grange
Camera Operator - ME (and others)

Also in development is Gloomy Sunday, a short drama.
Writer and Director - April Bennett
Director of Photography - ME

Current Projects

Alfa Garcia - Live from The Bitter End, a series of concert videos I directed and am editing.
Camera operators - Jorge Abreu, Jr., Bret Scheinfeld

Past Projects

Johnny B, a short film I shot and directed (among other things), is currently making the festival rounds.

Joshua Bell - At Home With Friends, a music video I worked on is just about finished (I'm told). It will be released with the release of violinist Joshua Bell's new album of the same name.
Director - Scott Floyd Lochmus
Director of Photography - Roger Grange
Camera Operator - ME (and others)

Dream Builders, a documentary about the legendary Lehrer/McGovern construction management company, is nearing completion.
Director - Larry Locke
Director of Photography - Ben Wolf
Gaffer - ME

Deceptive Practices: Ricky Jay's Personal History of Magic, a feature documentary about the world famous magician, Ricky Jay, is nearing completion.
Director - Molly Bernstein
Director of Photography - various
Camera Operator - ME (and others)


Hello, I'm Dave. I'm a freelance cameraman and director.

I decided to start this blog because I really enjoy talking/writing about what I do. If you've got any interest in film and video production, lighting, photography, camera technology and anything like that, check back often for videos, screenshots, lighting breakdowns, and all sorts of fun, nerdy things.

See you soon!