Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ad spots, doc series, secret locations and more!

It's been a while since my last post but as any freelancer knows occasionally you get a busy season, and I'm in one right now.

My last post left us in the South China Sea, I haven't signed an NDA but there is an embargo on releasing the location of that shoot until September and I intend on honoring that request.

Six weeks later found me in the South China Sea again in close proximity to the first location. I'll try to approach my shoots in sequential order but for now I'll just say that the second visit was much more physical than the first. It involved water landings by night in the driving rain, falling over algae covered boulders, getting sick, and more water landings- this time over twelve foot swells in a small boat between protruding rock formations...

Here we go:

May 28-29
Beverly Hills, CA

Makers PBS/Aol:
PBS and Aol are working on a docu series called Makers, and I get to shoot the bulk of the West Coast subjects. This is a great project to be involved with on a continuing basis

On this occasion our subject was former Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing. I've always admired Mrs. Lansing and wanted to make sure I did her image justice. She's a beautiful woman and I wanted to go that extra mile to help accentuate those gifts she's been given.

I tried something new for me, I shot an 800watt Joker HMI through a small frame of LEE 129. I like this heavy diffusion because it completely erases the beam pattern from a lamp. My second layer of diff was a roll of LEE 250 rolled out horizontally above the lenses of my two cameras. This spread out about 7 feet wide and created a huge frontal key. I also shot a Kino Flo Diva through the 250 for added exposure. I also added a Diva at lens height (not shown), camera right.

You can just about see the foam core in the frame which was bouncing ambient skylight (filtered through linen sheers) back at the subject. Art Adams who writes for ProVideoCoalition refers to this bounce as "passive fill". Not sure if he coined the expression but it's where I've heard it used a lot, and I learn a lot from Adam's articles so I thought a plug was appropriate.

The above photo hearkens back to the old days of portrait photography, and the sit down interview can be similar. I bounced this tungsten unit with some CTB off of half silk on the floor on the off-camera side (aka "short side") of Mrs. Lansing's face to suggest ambient daylight bouncing back onto her, and added some sculpting to the flat frontal key.

Additional lighting included a Diva side-lighting Mrs. Lansing's chestnut brown hair to accentuate the texture and color.

I used a pair of Aol's Panasonic HPX-2700's with a custom scene file I designed a few years ago. Schneider classic soft filters in 1/4 and 1/2 strength were added in front of the HD Fujinons.


June 2-10
Chester, Philadelphia

"Sons of Ben" is a feature documentary Produced and Directed by Jeff Bell. This is the second full week of shooting which began principal photography last year. This year we revisited Mayors, team CEO's, founding members of the fan based group that brought a major league soccer franchise to Philly, and the mother of a deceased local soccer legend.

Jeff has assembled a great team, and this doc. has got some moments, as well as some dramatic sports footage. It was a feast for a DP, and I enjoyed the partnership forged with long time collaborator Tomi Skarica, a fantastic DP in his own right.

Pictured is my F3 outfitted with Ki Pro mini, and Optitek Nikon adapter with Nikon 70-200 + 2x extender. Field level at PPL Park below the Commodore Barry Bridge, Chester Philadelphia. River's Bend in background, built specifically to accommodate the "Sons of Ben".

June 15
The Brewery Art Colony
 Los Angeles, CA.

You don't get many "firsts" left at my age, and this shoot involved two. It was my first official shoot with the RED Epic, and my first 3-D shoot. We actually had two Epics, working in stereo. Arnaud Paris was the Stereographer, Owner, and Producer of this project. He generously allowed me to DP his pitch to a French arts fund for his feature project. I can't say much other than working with the Epics was very intuitive, having someone like Arnaud control the convergence and stereo functions made life very easy, and the artists at the Brewery are incredibly chill.

Pictured above is Arnaud's incredible 3D Epic rig specifically designed to deliver 3D IMAX.

June 18
Hollywood Center Studios


TVGN- Green screen shoot at Hollywood Center Stages. Can't reveal the project until airdate, but it was a simple set up.

June 24-28
Northridge, CA

GMC "Trade Secrets"
These are short "how-to" set-ups featuring Eric Stromer. Eric shows you how to build a screening room in your back yard, erect a basketball court in your drive way, etc all while utilizing the latest GMC trucks to haul equipment and gear, and generally make use of the product line to assist in his home based projects.

These were actually pretty challenging from a photographic point of view because you have large objects that require careful lighting in daylight exteriors. As we know the sun is always moving, and those trucks require large 20x20 foot silks to spread the light evenly to accentuate their curves, and spread the light over the chrome bumpers.

Essentially I created a soft box with a 20x20 full silk, and (2) 12x12's (Ultra bounce in one, half frost with a double net in the other. I also placed silks and foam core on the ground to clean up the reflections in the chrome bumpers.

We also had a beautiful night ext. shot, that we knocked out in less than an hour, to show off the outdoor screening room. We matched projector frame rate for this shoot.


I wish this screenshot of the 9" Panasonic monitor did the results justice. My Gaffer Jacob Romero and crew did an amazing job with limited hands on deck after a very long, hot day.

July 2-3
Soho House, Sunset Blvd, 
Los Angeles, CA

I camera operated on a TV show called "Living the Life" for Britain's Sky Arts HD.
Guests get to interview each other for a couple hours. Day one was Elliot Gould interviewing Dave Stewart. Day two had Marianne Faithfull interviewing Ian La Frenais.

Pretty frickin' cool.

July 5-16
South China Sea


Prep day on the fifth of July when everyone on Earth was taking the day off at the beach, oh well. The next two days were spent in transit. We had a 2 hour lay over in Narita, Japan which was exciting, I've never been, but for the fact everyone was wearing face masks desperately trying not to catch the latest strain of avian flu.

Day one was a pretty easy day for us.

Day two was intense. 14 hours, missed meal, heat and humidity.

Day three started pre-dawn and wrapped early. With our down time we hiked into the jungle to experience a natural waterfall (pictures to follow). It was beautiful and would have been worth-while had my Merrill's not become covered in slimy algae thus causing me to fall over boulders and jagged rocks...repeatedly.

Day four had me sick with a viral infection that, as it turns out, infected most of the crew, well over 100 people. I got to sleep in and after a visit to the set medic, where I was half-heartedly assured I didn't have dengue fever, was sent off with a shopping bag of pills. One poor soul actually did contract dengue fever. If you Google the symptoms you won't believe this is real, and worse yet, there's no cure. You get it for life like Malaria. And like Malaria it's communicated through mosquitoes. Maybe hiking in the jungle wasn't a great idea after all.

Day five, I felt better, which was good because we made water landings on a 20 foot boat over twelve foot swells. I cannot over emphasize the severity of this. Our small vessel practically went vertical at moments and crashed back into the ocean sending spray over the bow consistently for a half an hour. And we did this between jagged rock formations jutting out of the ocean. I said my prayers.

Day 6, our final shooting day went late into the evening. Not to be outdone by day 5 this day/night consisted of water landings by nightfall in driving rain. Bear in mind, when I graduated college I began life as an analyst who dwelled in a cubicle 40-50 hours a week. There were moments on these night landings in the piercing rain where I wore a shit-eating grin thinking about what it must be like to be a Navy SEAL.

And then the 24 hour journey back home, jet-lag, another visit to the doctor to make sure all is clear (it is) and prepping for...

July 18-20
Comic Con!!!!






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