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10 November, 2010

Velvet Noir

Here's another Kinetic Fin video I shot.  It's the release of Gevalia Coffee's newest flavor, Velvet Noir, and the finale to a great social media campaign helmed by the guys at Kinetic Fin.

Producer: Bradley Farrell
Cameras: Me, Gene Sanchez, Brian Durand, Bradley Farrell
Sound: Rob Albrecht
Editor: Gene Sanchez
Decorator: Deirdre Farrell
Production Company: Kinetic Fin

The release party was originally supposed to take place in the naming contest winner's home, but for a couple of reasons, that changed and we were relocated to this dim restaurant.  I was able to throw up a couple of lights for the step and repeat (1 diffused 300w fresnel key and 1 more diffused and scrimmed for back), but even that was tough considering I needed to keep things out of the way of the working wait staff.  For the areas around the tables, I wasn't permitted to light (which I understand - hey, it's a party!).  I was allowed to light a little in the area where the brand manager does her talking to.  All I used for that was a couple of cleverly-hidden 12" chinese lanterns with 100w household bulbs.  We shot this with 2 5Ds, my 550D, and an HVX200.  The incredible sensitivity of the DSLRs was key for this location.  It allowed me to light with smaller fixtures and in some cases, not light at all (beyond adjusting the locations built in lighting).

More to come...

30 October, 2010

And Many Happy Returns...

Over the last few months, I've been shooting a piece for Philip Dolin of Particle Productions for former Manhattan Borough President and humanitarian, Ruth Messinger's 70th birthday.  The video was commissioned by the organization she currently runs, AJWS (American Jewish World Service).  Though there is some nice archival material throughout, the piece rests solidly on interviews with an impressive roster of names including Mia Farrow, Elie Wiesel, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, and NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

I shot all of the interviews (except for the Bill Clinton one, which was provided by his own office's media people).  The A-cam (close coverage) was a Sony EX-1 and the B-cam (locked-off wide) was my trusty 550D.  Just to note - the last interview was shot last Monday and the piece was completed and screened to an audience of around 1000 people on Thursday night.  It's already a great piece, but even moreso considering the rapid turnaround.  Take a look...

Produced, Directed, & edited by Philip Dolin & Molly Bernstein
Cameraman: Me
Sound recordist: Bret Scheinfeld
Production Assistant: Alex McBean
Production Company: Particle Productions

For the lighting geeks... for most of these interviews, we were very limited in terms of time and space, so our setups and gear needed to be versatile but compact and quick.  My lighting package for this whole piece consisted of my trusty 4bank fluorescent, 2 Lowel Pro Lights (250w), a 5-in-1 reflector, my faithful unbleached muslin reflector, and a small soft gold/white flexfill.  Philip and I decided that the look was to be naturalistic but not boring.  Whether motivated or not, every key was an inside key.  If there was a window in the right spot, I could force in an edge.  Without motivation, I would try to sneak one past if I needed the separation.  This package was the perfect compromise of versatility and compactness.

On the camera end, the 550D was almost always fitted with my 28-50mm Contax/Yashica Zoom.  In general, I (and many others) find it to be good practice to have zooms on hand in most doc situations (though on a recent Gevalia shoot, I shot for a solid hour on just a 50mm prime).  Especially when time is so tight, being able to nudge a few mm tighter or wider is so valuable.  In the Joy Levitt interview, however, I decided to go with my 24mm Pentax, because I wanted a wider field of view than the C/Y could give me.

One of the more difficult things about this shoot was crippling the DSLR to match the EX as best as possible.  The standard picture styles and some of my favorite non-standard ones are incredibly beautiful in how they handle contrast and skin tones.  However, the A-cam EX1 has a much flatter image.  I didn't have the prep time to go in and match everything as well as I'd have liked.  It would have required days of testing as the settings are vastly different.  The EX has gamma and knee adjustments as well as a dozen other things that make a difference, while in-camera, the DSLR has contrast, saturation, sharpness and a couple of others.  On most of these shoots, I opted for a more flat setup on the 550D to match the lower contrast EX but it's funny - even held back like that, I much prefer how the DSLR shots look.  With a reasonable amount of time, Particle Productions could have matched the two perfectly but to be honest, I'm glad the finish was so quick - it's really nice to see the two cams side-by-side in the same lighting environments.

Here are some of my setups.  In some situations, I used everything I brought and in some I didn't.  Mia Farrow's interview, for instance, was shot using just the flexfills.
The only time I used a diff frame.  Joy Levitt's interview.

Sound guy Bret sitting in for Elie Wiesel.

Setup for Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi.

15 October, 2010

Follow Up: A Greenscreen in Harlem

UnemployedWorkers.org has launched and features the material I blogged about last.  I shot the interview with Christine Owens (bright office) and Roger Grange & I shared the duties of shooting all of the interviews against black.  Those particular interviews were shot on greenscreen (see "A Greenscreen in Harlem") - the decision to go black background was done late in the game.  Otherwise, we'd have shot it on black for real.

And... segue...  Here's another video I worked on recently that features interviews against black.

Producer/director Larry Locke shot the b-roll, while I lensed and lit the interviews (against actual black).  There are a lot of digital effects over the video, diffusion, color stuff FX, etc., but the solid work is there.  I'm happy with how the interviews came out.

The setup (forgive the Blackberry photo quality):

Simple duvetyne backdrop (velvety side towards camera), 4bank flo for key,  Lowel Pro Light for edge, and an unbleached muslin reflector for fill.  A lot of blackwrap and black foam core for control (which, along with a good amount of distance between subject and BG, is essential for good interviews against black).

Soon to come - a big post on interview lighting (and shooting).  Stay tuned!

21 September, 2010

A Greenscreen in Harlem.

Here's a shot of my setup for a recent day of interviews against greenscreen.  It's for two pieces, a short promo for the National Employment Law Project and a feature documentary in progress.  There was another day of interviews done prior to this one, shot by Roger Grange, so I based the subject lighting on his footage (but added a number of personal touches).

The producer arranged to use a friend's loft in East Harlem, so we had a nice amount of space to work with.  An aside, with greenscreen work, depth is crucial.  If you don't have a good amount of space between the interviewee and the background and the camera and interviewee, your day will be a nightmare.  (There are expensive options like the chromatte from Reflectmedia which produces a completely even greenscreen only visible to camera).  So we positioned the camera about 8 feet from the subject and the greenscreen 10 feet behind that.

3 brand new blown 600w bulbs
I originally intended to light the greenscreen with 2 Redheads (lamped to 600w) but one side of the loft kept surging and blowing my bulbs in one of the lights.  After the last one, I put the light elsewhere to cool and temporarily ran a small 300w fresnel (flooded and diffused) to even out whatever the working Redhead didn't get.  It worked well enough to just leave, so I did.  Both lights on the screen were also gelled a light green.

For the interview subject, my key consisted of a booklite setup for the key.  I bounced a Lowel DP (one of my favorite workhorse lights - this time lamped to 750w) into a 42" flexfill and then back through light opal diffusion.  For half the subjects, I used black foamcore for some negative fill, for the other half, I bounced some of the key back to bring their fill sides up ever so slightly.  I also employed a warm edge when necessary.  You can see this in the picture on top - it's a 300w fresnel bounced into an off-white bounce board (something I picked up recently in an art store and wanted to play with).  Then, in the interest of giving the producer the easiest key, I had a 300w fresnel rigged behind the screen for a shoulder/rim light, and a 250w Pro Light in a small softbox for a hair light.  And that's it (the large chinese lantern that's peeking into the frame above is not mine - it's a ceiling fixture in the apartment).

Just a note, the producer was unsure of what would replace the screen, so the subject lighting was a little more general that I'd have normally done (I don't usually do a helluvalot of rim/backlighting).  Usually, it's good to know ahead of time what will be back there so you can light to match. If they're going to be in a dark room, you light for that... a bright beach, you light for that.  You get the idea.

There was some great material - sad stories, uplifting stories.  I'm looking forward to seeing the final piece (link in "Follow Up...").  All in all it was a good day.

09 September, 2010

"One Night Only" Goes Platinum

"One Night Only," the Barbra Streisand concert DVD I operated on, has gone platinum.  Pretty awesome.  Kudos to Babs of course, but also to director Scott Floyd Lochmus and D.P. Roger Grange.

Here's the promo video/trailer.  You can also buy a copy through my Amazon store. Enjoy!

26 August, 2010

Current, recent and upcoming projects.

"AJWS" (doc short) in production
lighting cameraman
Dir/Prod - Philip Dolin, Particle Productions
     A short interview-based video celebrating 25 years of the AJWS.

"UB Ideal" (promo) in post-production
lighting cameraman
Dir/Prod - Larry Locke, Larry Locke Films
     Video about the Ideal program of the University of Bridgeport.

"NELP" (promo) in production
lighting cameraman
Dir/Prod - Immy Humes, The Doc Tank
     Video for the National Employment Law Project

"Velvet Noir" (commercial/promo) in pre-production
director of photography
Dir/Prod - Bradley Farrell, Kinetic Fin/Gevalia
     A choose-your-own-adventure style video for the release of Gevalia Coffee's new flavor.

"Columbia Business School" (promos) in post-production
cameraman, 2nd Unit
Dir/Prod - Philip Dolin, Particle Productions
     A series of documentary promos for the Columbia University Business School internship program.

30 July, 2010

Versatility (a quickie)

Part of what I love about DSLR for video is the versatility of the cameras.  They can be built up to the size of a full-size cinema camera or used in a very simple, compact configuration.

A Cinvate rig
My 550D mini setup
Case in point, my normal bag (below, left) comes with me with all my lenses, the Hoodloupe, battery grip, charger, cards, cables and more.  Today, however, I'm heading out to shoot some Second Unit stuff for a feature (getting NYC establishing shots and more) and I want to stay very light, so I packed a tiny camera case with just the camera body, 24mm, 58mm, and 100mm lenses, cards and 3 charged batteries.  This package is less than half the size of the usual kit and will work perfectly for my needs today.  Love it :)


15 July, 2010

29 June, 2010

The DSLR Arsenal

I'd like to introduce my DSLR kit.

The Canon EOS 550D/T2i built with a Yashica 28-50mm f/3.5 and Hoodman loupe

The wides.  (L to R) Pentax 24mm f/2.8, Nikon 35mm f/2.5

The 50's.  (L to R) Rikkenon 50mm f/2, Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8, Helios 58mm f/2

The lone tele, Nikon 100mm f/2.8

The slow, but awesome 80-300mm f/5

27 April, 2010


Just to get it out of the way, the title is somewhat of a pun.  This post covers improvisation in filmmaking and lenses (and adapters).

One of the most taught lessons in film school is about preparation.  Preproduction sets the pace for everything else.  For our various projects, we had to submit tons of prep material for approval - scripts, script breakdowns, shot lists, storyboards and so on.  Typically by the time we got around to shooting, the film was already made on paper.  For college kids who were new to the process, this was totally valuable work but teaching it like it was the unbreakable law was a bit much.

I've learned in my years working predominantly in documentary, that forethought is great but unexpected things always happen.  In doc, you don't have the time to worry about the last minute changes or complain.  You have to adapt or you don't make your day.  So you go into these shoots with ideas of sequences, shots you want to get and other hopefuls but you always remain open to change, even looking out for it.  Surprisingly, in my own recent fiction endeavors, this way of thinking has come in handy and produced some good results.

This recently came up in a discussion with a good friend and colleague of mine, Bret the Sound Guy.  He had recently worked on a short with another D.P. and we were talking about the project.  The director and D.P. had come up with the idea that as the film progressed, they would shoot with wider and wider lenses (to support the themes of the film).  I made a joke about over-thinking the process and Bret and I got into a bit of a debate.  The thing I kept coming back to was the idea of organic filmmaking.  I've discovered a real joy in improvising on set and going with the flow.  Using mistakes to your advantage, finding little gems in what, at first, appears to be a problem.

Beyond the storytelling aspect, I've found that I like to carry these ideas over into the technical aspects of production like lighting and composition.  In a lot of documentary work - particularly in verité work - the camera is a part of the story.  The perspective and movement of the camera become character traits and there is no pretending that the camera isn't there.  Contrary to the modern belief that in doc the cameraman just gets whatever it can, there's a method to good doc shooting and this depends on the part the camera plays in the story.  I often like to carry that over into narrative work (when applicable).  This often shows itself in subtle punctuated reframing (à la "Boston Legal" - though not quite as frequent).  Today I saw rough cuts of scenes we shot Sunday for "Director's Cut."  Whether by accident or necessity, two shots where I had employed this sort of camera technique made it into the rough cut and they worked quite well.  Another sequence where three characters start arguing was completely shot this way and it really helped the tension.  Having seen the cuts so far, I can anticipate a lot of upcoming scenes where this style of shooting will really work.  And though it's not exactly how Elana first pictured the style, she's very open to the idea and willing to adapt her vision.

Now that was a good segue.  So I recently bought a Canon 550D to test the waters on the DSLR filmmaking revolution.  I knew early on I wanted to go with an APS-C sized sensor instead of full-frame because the former is almost identical to motion picture 35mm film.  Full-frame 35mm is wider and therefore has a much shallower DoF.  That sort of razor-thin focal plane can be problematic with my style of shooting and the fact that I don't often have the luxury of a focus-puller or setting marks or measuring at all.  In the recent Gevalia shoots that really turned me on to DSLRs for video, I had a great time but man, I wish I had more wiggle room than the full-frame 5D allowed.  I was constantly pulling focus because the slightest moves (like sitting up straight or an even smaller forward/backward motion) would have made the subject go completely soft.  So knowing APS-C was my choice, I had a decision to make between the 7D and the 550D.  As far as video goes, the two are basically identical.  The differences that allow for the almost double price tag of the 7D are all about the stills capabilities.  So, knowing that I would rarely be doing stills work, I went with the 550D.  So I tracked one down (one of the last in stock in the greater NY area) and picked it up.  Nobody, and I mean nobody had the body-only kits so for $100 more I got a kit with a very crappy zoom lens.  Piece of junk.  I decided to pick up a Nikon to Canon lens adapter and see how my old 70s Nikkors would fare mounted on this modern digicam.  And the verdict was... wow...  I haven't used the kit lens since.  I went and picked up more adapters (one for each lens) and began a search for other vintage lenses with character.  Got a couple of leads on some Russian primes that, from stills and footage I've seen online, seem to be very interesting.  Cool bokeh, nice contrast and consistency throughout all the stops.  Sharp enough, but subtly soft when it should be.  I'll be posting stills very soon with the Nikkors and whatever else I'm able to pick up.

Also to come are screen grabs from "Director's Cut."  Day 5 is Thursday and we're basically shooting every day (weekends off) through May 21st.  Reports and stills from the set to come...

09 April, 2010


Many art forms are the result of an individual's painstaking commitment to his or her craft; countless hours toiling over the piece, funneling their own emotions and experiences into this very personal expression.  In these such cases, like poetry and other forms of writing, music, and visual mediums like sculpture, painting, sketching, etc., it is always clear who is responsible for this work.

Film, however, is in a gray area.  Occasionally you have a movie where one person conceived and produced a work in its entirety - including shooting, editing and other parts of the process.  More frequently, however, the final movie is the result of many individuals' hard work and expression.  And yet, so often there is a certain credit that reads "A Film by [director's name]" at the beginning and end of the movie.  This brings up the question of true authorship.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately after a friend asked me who's responsible for the shots of a movie, the director or the cinematographer.  Is the D.P. just a technician that does what the director tells him to?  I've been lucky enough so far that all of the directors I've worked under have really allowed the process to be collaborative - thorough discussions of look and feel before shooting and then come time to roll camera, I am entrusted with the image.  A lot of this may be due to the fact that in documentary, there really isn't an opportunity for the director to nitpick my shots.  On "Director's Cut," the narrative feature I'm currently working on, my relationship with the director is similar to my doc work.  She has put so much trust in me that the process of shooting is stress-free and fast.  Prior to shooting, Elana and I figured out our style for the film and from then on, we just do it.  Elana does her director thing with the cast as my crew and I set up the shot.  Then she comes around to her monitor, smiles, and calls action.  So for "Director's Cut" the direction of the film is Elana but the compositions and a lot of other visual elements are very much mine.  As I understand it, the process is very different with other filmmakers.  James Cameron, I hear, is meticulous with his planning and shooting.  I think he even operates the camera.  While he doesn't set up the lights himself, I'm sure he has a heavy hand in that stuff as well.  AND he edits.  So perhaps "A Film by James Cameron" is appropriate.

I guess there is no single answer for my friend.  Different films have different hierarchies and different degrees of trust between crew members.  Sometimes, the singular authorship of a movie is valid.  More often than not, though, these "A Film by" credits ignore the crucial creative contributions of many key crewmembers.  I've found that also more often than not, I tend to think the more collaborative movies are better anyway.

A post by Dave Dodds.

19 March, 2010

I'm sold...

My recent work with Kinetic Fin has really turned me around on the whole DSLR for video thing, especially the Canon models.  The first two shoots I did with them, I saw the 5D, tweaked and tinkered with it and lit for it as the A cam, but ultimately the camera was confined to sticks or operated by the director (while I operated C cam - my trusty DVX).  I knew that the cam was getting really good results, but the experience was far from hands-on.  However, on the Gevalia shoot two weeks ago and another one yesterday for parent company, Kraft, I actually got the chance to operate a 5D in a doc setting.  This was something I had many reservations about - mainly form-factor and stability.  I had seen videos online of handheld DSLR video and it's not too great on it's own.  The shape and size just do not allow for smooth handheld work and stuff gets jittery very easily.  So, knowing about this issue, I brought my Tiffen Steadystick aboard both of these recent DSLR shoots.  (Just as a side note, I picked up that contraption so that I could operate hanheld cameras like the DVX and others in a way similar to shoulder-mount cameras.)  The stability it affords is fantastic.  And based on my recent experiences, it really helps DSLR shooting.  I was able to get really nice handheld stuff on the 5D and I am told by Kinetic Fin editor and shooter extraordinaire, Gene, that the footage from the 5D I operated was smooth, stable, and looked great.  With the setup I used, I was able to operate in a very familiar way and get really great results.

So that's that.  DSLR video can be really great.  And especially for Kinetic Fin's very intimate and honest style of filmmaking, shooting with a DSLR is the perfect combination of small, unobtrusive form and unbelievable cinematic quality.  As there appears to be a lot more work with them in the very near future, and since I now know I can operate the way I like to, I will be investing in a DSLR for video very soon.  Until then, though, here's a pic from the Gevalia 5D shoot.  You can tell even in just a picture of the screen of the cam, it takes some great video.  (And yes, those are my hands on there).
photo by Michael Lussos

16 March, 2010

A discussion of "format-agnostic"

In my last post, I referred to myself as format-agnostic when discussing the choice of camera for one of the projects I'm currently working on.  For a variety of reasons, lately, I've been thinking a lot about the multitude of cameras and video formats and film stocks available for motion-picture production.  As a note I enjoy shooting both film and video, though the breadth of my recent work has been exclusively some form or another of digital capture.  I am not, however, pro-digital.

So what is "the right format?"  I think every filmmaker has an idea of what is the best format for their project.  To some it's just whatever is the best quality, highest definition they can afford.  To others, it's what looks the most appropriate - a gritty, grainy stock for a post-apocalyptic drama?  Maybe a slick, clean, noise-free format for a romantic comedy?  All these requirements they have are certainly valid, but ultimately for me, the right format is neither of the above.  If I'm hired to shoot a project, I am responsible for delivering the image.  If the production has no money and I insist on shooting 35mm and we run out of money before we're done, I've failed in my job.  If the production blows their money on a RED package I wanted and then skimps on lighting, production design and other stuff that goes in front of the lens, all I'll be able to deliver is high definition crap.  See, there are so many more important look-related elements than just the format we shoot on.  With right stuff in front of the camera, it almost doesn't matter what's inside.  Good lighting, good composition, good production design, and good talent can help even the cheapest camera look great.  That's not to say that a Flip cam is the next wave of filmmaking gear.  But if there's a story to tell and the talent is all there, maybe a handycam could work if that's all the filmmakers can afford.  That said, there is one basic requirement I do have for the format I work with; control - the camera must not be Full AUTO.  I must be able to control iris, focus, shutter speed (at least to lock one down) and whitebalance.  With that, anything can deliver a good look for your film.

In the last 6 months, I have gladly shot the following formats and delivered results that very much pleased my clients with their respected release and exhibition types:

  • Panasonic DVX100 (mini DV, 480/24p).  Webisodes, feature documentary, TV segment.
  • Sony EX1 (XDCam EX, 1080/24p).  Feature documentary, TV segment.
  • Sony EX3 (XDCam EX, 1080/24p).  Wide-release DVD/Blue Ray concert, music video, live multi-cam concert (big screen projection)
  • Sony Z1U (HDV, 1080/24f).  TV segment.
  • Canon 5D MkII (1080/30p).  TV spot, webisodes.
  • Panasonic HMC150 (AVC-HD, 1080/24p).  Feature film.
  • Panasonic HVX200 (DVCPro HD, 720/24p).  TV spot.
  • Sony V1U (HDV, 1080/24p).  Webisodes.
  • Panasonic HDX900 (DVCPro HD, 1080/24p).  TV segment, feature documentary.
  • Samsung Piece-of-Crap-Quicktime-Camcorder.  Viral video for the web.
Again, as a final note, I must reiterate that every format needs good lighting and appropriate visual design like sets, costumes and such.  A cheap handycam with no (or bad) lighting will look terrible.  But the same thing goes with a pro HD cam.  But that very same handycam shooting a well lit scene and exposed right can look really nice - and if that handycam is the only thing you have that will shoot your story, it's the "right" format for you.

02 March, 2010


So in my last post I mentioned something on the horizon that would be very exciting.  That something was a trip to Sweden for the Gevalia work.  Well, unfortunately, that trip fell through about a month ago.  It's still happening but for a variety of reasons, the director has to now do it on his own.  So I was a little bummed for a bit.  Then, less than a month after Sweden went away, I got an opportunity to go to Budapest, Hungary for a shoot with a different client.  I was reminded of the "even steven" episode of Seinfeld - it all tends to work itself out.

So Budapest was last week and it was cool.  It was a very brief stay, arriving Wednesday afternoon and leaving for home very early Saturday morning.  Thursday and Friday were shoot days and we did a lot of shooting.  It was an industrial for an ad agency, Wunderman, involving one of their big clients, Nokia.  Same sort of idea as my Texas trip last November.  Anyway, all in all, it went well but it was definitely an eye opener.  Early Thursday, about 40 minutes before we were due to roll, some of the producer's gear began acting up - a wireless mic that was do be on a key player in this shoot.  Needless to say, this was a serious problem.  Luckily, we had a great P.A. on board (a local) and within minutes, she was on the phone to a rental house arranging to rent a replacement wireless system.  By the end of her conversation, we figured out the problem with the producer's gear and the P.A. arranged to have a replacement part also sent over.  Within 20 minutes, the gear was there and we were rolling.  The next day, we were presented with another issue - as it turned out, there would be two key players in that day's shoot (which was not the original plan).  Luckily our system was working again and we had the rental on hand so yet again, things worked themselves out.  Had we not had the unexpected and somewhat stressful mic failure occurred the day before, we wouldn't have had the second wireless system.

All in all, it was nice.  With the work schedule, I didn't get to do much touristy stuff but I had some fantastic local food every day, saw a great gypsy band and stayed in a very nice, historic hotel (the Hotel Gellart).

Anyway, the weekend before Budapest, shooting commenced on a feature film I'm working on, "Director's Cut."  It's a low-budget film with a rather small crew and the weekend was a great icebreaker.  My frequent cohort, Bret Scheinfeld, is aboard as sound mixer and I've got a pretty nice support crew.  Marcus, my gaffer, is cool, and I've got a couple of G&E-dedicated P.A.s that are really into it and very quick learners.  I think the Spring shoot will go pretty smoothly.

So the most important rule we've got to follow for this shoot is the K.I.S.S. principal ("keep it simple, stupid").  There's just so much to get done on such a short schedule, so the setups need to be versatile and quick to change.  So we're lighting things in broader strokes and keeping things relatively high key.  It's a comedy, anyway, and the director definitely wants a brighter feeling for most of the film.  Below is a still from one of our scenes.

A 4bank fluorescent for the key and a large diffused window for fill and ambiance.  Behind the actor, a small HMI for edge.

We're shooting on the director's camera, a Panasonic HMC150.  It's a prosumer model that shoots 1080/24p video to SDHC cards.  If time and money allowed, I'd shoot 35mm for this - or at the very least Super16 or RED.  But the budget is what it is and the schedule is tight so the best format available to us is what we've got so that's that.  Besides, I'm a pretty format-agnostic cameraman.  I really believe that with the right lighting, composition and settings (including digital tweaks and optical filtration), you can make great images no matter the format.

Coming up later this week is another shoot for Gevalia with director, Bradley Farrell (again with Bret on board for sound).  It's a tasting party for a new blend and apparently there will be some "celebrities" there.  3 camera shoot at Gevalia's corporate kitchen with a Canon 5D and two HVX200.  With the amount of coverage and the fact that at any one time a camera could be shooting in any direction, the lighting approach has to be pretty simple (and of course, good).  The available light is pretty nice there - high ceilings with warm fluorescents for an overall base level.  Accent lights under the cabinets and these small frosted pendant lights positioned over the granite islands.  I'm thinking I'm going to fly a couple of 250w fresnels (flooded) crossing as back/edge lights (they'll be attached to the drop ceiling).  I'm hoping that'll be enough but I'm prepared to bounce something into the ceiling from the front of the space if necessary.

So that's all for now.  Pictures from Gevalia to come.


01 February, 2010

2010, huh?

This year has some potential...

Spent more time with director, Bradley Farrell of Kinetic Fin on a follow-up to December's Gevalia shoot.  There will definitely be more stuff to come with Gevalia (including one very exciting bit that I don't want to jinx so I won't say any more).  You can check out the previous spots here.  I was D.P. for the product shots (with  Bradley operating) and some pretty great guys shot the rest of the piece (the party, interviews and such).  I can see some pretty cool stuff in the future with Kinetic Fin - will keep you posted.

I've done some more cool stuff with Philip Dolin of Particle Productions recently.  He's the chap I went to Dallas with and have done some other pretty cool things with.  One recent piece with him was a video on author, Barry Lynn, discussing his new book Cornered.  Most recently, we shot author and professor, Bill Duggan of the Columbia [University] Business School.  It was a follow-up to a class he had given (that we also covered), titled Strategic Intuition.  Over the years, Philip has produced a number of videos for the Business School and I've had the pleasure of working on all of them.  It's been very informative as we've essentially audited all of these great programs for free - the client has even joked occasionally about giving us honorary degrees.  Anyway, just further reinforces my appreciate for the wide variety of things I get to learn working in documentary.

And totally opposite that, it is now confirmed that in the Spring I'll be shooting an independent feature film, "Director's Cut."  There are some pretty great talents signed on and the crew is shaping up to be very nice (including my frequent collaborator, sound recordist, Bret Scheinfeld).  There are two days in late February and then the bulk of principal photography resumes in May.

That's about all there is worth reporting for now.  Future stuff may include my own feature, festival follow-up stuff for "Johnny B" and hopefully a lot more.

Until then...