Retail city…kinda like The Trueman Show for Canadian Tire

Retail City, the Truman Show set of Canadian Tire Corp.  In this warehouse in East York (Toronto) you will find the most incredible find ever found…if you can find it.  Retail City.  The first time that I went to Retail City I was blown away!  Imagine this…you walk into the building, a normal looking warehouse building just like any other and after being buzzed in by the receptionist you proceed to walk down a lengthy hallway.  The hallway is like any other hallway that you might have walked down before, walls, ceiling, well-lit, you know…pretty hallway-ish.  As you walk down this hall, on the right-hand side wall you see this “thing”, and as you draw nearer to the end of the hallway you realize that the “thing” is a large square button.  A sign beside the button reads “Press the Magic Button”, and as any naturally curious human being would, you push the button.  The large double door slides open when you press it and the parting of the wood and metal with a sound that can only be described as the Magic Button sound reveals…a Canadian Tire store.  I’m talking about a full sized front of a store.. inside this warehouse.  And that’s not all!  As you walk through the front doors of this inside-the-warehouse Canadian Tire you emerge into a fully stocked, current flyer offerings and sale items displayed, up to date with seasonal stock Canadian Tire store.  There are cash registers, displays, isles, auto dept, sports, housewares…everything that you’d find in a regular CT store, except the people.  It’s a “lab” or testing environment for CT to set up displays for dealers to see how they are supposed to dress their store, for Executives to come by to see how the latest CT products will be displayed and sold, to train, to experiment and the best part…to shoot video!  Imagine a CT store with no people, looks just like a CT store, and is current with seasonal offerings as my set for shooting video.

I was introduced to Retail City in my first month at CT and have had the opportunity to shoot there many, many times.  You’ve probably seen CT commercials that have been shot there and not even known it.  I had that opportunity again last week as Brad, Charles and I set out to shoot a Christmas Strategy video for one of the top Executive at CT to kick off the Christmas season.

We scouted the location the week before and decided that we were going to do a 3 camera shoot (the Sony PWM-350 and two Canon 7D) and we hired our regular audio guy, Brian, to help us out with the 2 person audio recording.  We had Brian send audio to the Sony camera since it doesn’t suffer from the 12 minute recording limit that the Canon 7D’s do, and we also recorded separate audio to an Olympus recorder (not sure of the model but it is a device similar to the Zoom h4n).  It was a simple enough shoot…until the entire script was changed last-minute.  I wanted to make sure that this thing was easy to edit so I quickly jumped in with a couple of suggestions on how to make this an easy process.  The key thing for me this day was to ensure that each scene consisted of 1 question and the answer to that question only, allowing us to do retakes easily as well as making it easy to log good takes.  Being that I needed to edit this the next day (today), I really wanted it to be easy in the edit room, and sice it was a 3 camera shoot, cutting to another camera to fake that everthing was one seamless conversation wouldn’t be hard at all.  Another thing that we did to ensure ease in post-production was using the slate or the clapper.  By using a slate (to indicate the scene number and take) and actually clapping it (to create a visual and audible sync point that all cameras can see and hear) I was able to very easily use the Multicam feature of FCP7 (this feature does not yet exist in FCPX…but hopefully it will soon).

The shoot was a 2 person interview with a nice Christmas display for the backdrop.  The main cam (Sony PMW-350) was the 2 shot and each of the Canon DSLRs shot a single of each person, giving me plenty of footage to be able to cut between.  We lit the set with two large softboxes with 650watt tungsten bulbs and used two 500watt Tota bulbs as backlights.  As usual, I was equipped with my Zacuto EVF which proved to be very valuable on this shoot because I had to man 2 cameras and viewing them both at the same time would have been very difficult without the EVF, so thanks again Zacuto!  Brad was styling out with a Jag35 Field Runner kitted out with the D|Focus from D|Focus Systems (Good look Brad), and we were both outfitted with a medium range zoom lens on our cams.

So, the interview was smooth, b-roll was shot, the set was striked and we left to head back to CT in the Community Events Vehicle to backup and start to transcode the footage (turn it into a format that my editing system likes…not necessarily what the camera spits out).  I love shooting with this team (Charles, Brad and Myself), we work like a well oiled machine from packing, to setup, to communicating our thoughts on shooting right through to the actual shoot, striking (teardown), backing up footage and getting ready for post-production. So, all-in-all, a great shoot day, great team, a fake/ real CT store to shoot in and the talent did it all in about 45 minutes…maybe this really is CT’s version of the Trueman Show.

Shoot Straight!

Music Video Shoot – Mick Swagga

A good friend of mine who is also a shooter/ editor called me up and asked me if I wanted to work on this music video with him, so I said yes.  We had done a couple of music videos and some corporate stuff together before so I was eager to do another project with Quammie.  Quammie was the Director and content editor for this shoot and he asked me to come on as a camera operator and to work on the edit and Motion stuff with him…my favorite stuff!  The artist was Jaydahman from Tdot, Toronto, GTA and the track was called Mick Swagga both of which I had heard before and was really happy to be working on a song that I really liked.  My kids really liked the song too and would ask me to play it on my ipod every time we got into the car.

We shot this video with 3 Canon 7Ds in a warehouse against a backdrop setup that consisted of 2 backdrop stands side by side supporting 2 12ft rolls of backdrop paper taped together (talk about shooting on a budget!).  We had a setup with the black paper backdrop and a setup with white.  By blasting a lot of light at the white background we were able to over expose the white and the tapped seam where we attached the 2 backdrop rolls was eliminated.  By lighting up the talent well and stopping down on the cameras aperture we did the same thing for the black background.  An additional thing that we did to allow us the most control over exposure and dynamic range was that all of the cameras used a Super Flat Colour Profile.  It works great for allowing the most amount of control in post production when dealing with bumping up or down brightness while maintaining detail in light sensitive areas of the frame.  Check out this link from Prolost and check out this video on increasing the 7Ds dynamic range. We also had the talent bring a wardrobe change so that when we shot on the black, they wore white clothes and vice-verse…nice contrast.  For each scene we rolled 3 cameras, 1 recording at 60 frames for slow-mo and the other 2 at varying focal lengths so that we had 3 versions of every take…worked well for the final edit!

So we got the video shot after 1 LONG day, but 1 day never-the-less and if you fast-forward about 4 weeks we arrive at edit time.  Quammie had made his selects and put stuff on the timeline in the sequence that he wanted it and then passed it off to me to “sprinkle some niceness” on it.  It was a nice way of editing; having someone else select all the clips and arrange them , leaving only the “creative” part of the edit to do.  Anyways, the artist is Jaydahman, the song is Mick Swagga, the Director is Claude Quammie…enjoy

Back-to-back weddings

So, this weekend I have 2 weddings to shoot and despite the wedding schedule norm, both of these weddings are short and sweet.  Typically a wedding shoot lasts from around 7 or 8 in the morning at the Bride and Groom’s places while they get ready, until around 11:00pm after the garter is thrown and the cake is cut and the party has begun.  This weekend I am starting at 4:00pm and going til 11:00pm on Friday and 2:30-8:30 on Saturday.  Cool!  I am especially excited about tomorrow (Saturday) because I will be home in time to watch UFC 134!  I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but I am a huge UFC fan…so, tomorrow works out perfectly!

Today I am shooting with a friend of mine who has a friend that’s getting married and tomorrow I am shooting with The Photo Studio out of Toronto Ontario.  I’ve been shooting with The Photo Studio for many years now and have met some really top notch photographers through this company.  Check out their blog!

Anyways, more later.  Don’t forget to watch UFC tomorrow on PPV!  I will be.

 

Til then, shoot straight…and stay focused.

Jumpstart

So I’m back at work today for a short work week,( holiday yesterday and I leave for Montreal on Friday to shoot Nascar for Canadian Tire).  My schedule has me editing a Canadian Tire Jumpstart video that I shot footage for last week called Fun in the Sun.  It was a day long event with 600 kids playing at different activity centers, making friends, eating food and basically just having an all out play-day.  They are, for the most, all kids from high risk environments and cannot afford to be involved in sports and activities.  I think it’s one of the coolest charitable foundations and am always happy to support them.

I shot with my two Canon 7Ds using 3 lenses…Canon 24-70mm f2.8, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II, and Tokina 11-16mm f2.8.  In addition I also had a GoPro Hero cam, Glidecam 4000, my Manfrotto support gear, Rode Video Mic Pro and my Zacuto EVF and Z-Finder.  This is my arsenal for gigs like this and they always do me well!  I spent the day running around after kids, getting soaked at the water play stations, mounting my GoPro in the bbq’s and having a blast doing it.  I always love shooting Jumpstart events, they’re always a load of fun and I always get to be as creative and use whatever gear I want when out.

So, this edit started with me reading over the Creative Brief to refresh myself on the edit parameters and clients direction, as well as a brief phone meeting.  Shortly after that I had another meeting with some of the stakeholder on this video and it was determined that i would be using the “Jumpstart song“…again… This is the 3rd time (in a row) that a Jumpstart edit by me is going to use the Jumpstart song.   Big exhale…Oh well, it’s all about the client right?!  A Prof that I had in College once told me that doing this kind of work isn’t a “Joe-ego trip”, it’s about the clients requests.  All we can do as professionals is offer our advice, look past our feelings and emotion and at the end of the day we just have to do what the client wants.  Words to live by I’d say, just get it all in writing!  (Especially the choice that go against every creative and technical fiber in your body).  And smile while doing it.

Anywho, here are the 1st two Jumpstart videos for your consideration.

This one is the SDE (Same Day Edit) done on Canadian Tire Jumpstart Day.  This was shot and edited by yours truly and played at the Canadian Tire Financial Services and Jumpstart Gala at Brock University in May 2011.

For the most part all this video was shot by someone else (not sure who).  I did most of the photography and I did the edit

July 30th wedding…now it’s July 31st…barely

So the day is done.  I’m home after leaving the house before everyone was up and getting and everyone is sleeping except the dog who greats me like Dino used to greet Fred at the beginning of the Flintstones.  No…seriously…he does!  My dog is a 135 pound Mastweiler and when he gets excited he can knock a grown man down just by pushing up against you and wagging his hind quarter and non-existent tail (clipped at birth).

Anyways, the SDE (same day edit) played, the dancing started and true to form at weddings, the countdown to departure was on and we hadn’t thrown the garter and bouquet, the sweet table hadn’t opened, Groom and Mom hadn’t danced yet and there were 4 or 5 family shots that needed to be done.

A good rule of thumb that Sean (who is one of the photogs, a colleague, a new dad and friend), and I were discussing tonight had to do with deciding how long after the discussed quitting time do you start charging OT if things go late.  We said 30 minutes, then you’re into overtime hours, payable at the end of the night. So here’s the thought process:  We wake up early…really early to start shooting, go on minimal food most of the day, are on our feet most of the day, are hot, sweaty, always happy (even if we don’t want to be), our minds are on full-tilt all day and I’m away from the family for the entire day.  So, that being said, don’t do this job unless you love it!  smirk!  Just kidding, the real point is that you can’t just walk up to the B&G and say, “yeah, contract says 11:30, it’s 12:01 that’s $100/hr/person”, not cool and probably won’t go over well.  But at the beginning of the night what I like to do is go over the flow of the night and let everyone that needs to know, understand what time I’m contracted to, this way we can all work towards having things run to time.  Also, it gives me a chance to say (as it did tonight) at 10:00, “hey Mr. DJ, any idea when we might be able to get the parent dances out of the way?  Don’t want it to get too late on us”…or something like that.  Giving the B&G a heads up on timing early on makes the onset of the conversation about overtime not seem like a cash grab.  In actuality that conversation about overtime is a great catalyst in moving things forward and sometimes they actually keep you around…at $100/hr/person.  One could only be so lucky.  So, to summarize what Sean and I were saying…30 mins past contractual end time (with multiple previous reminders to B&G as well a the DJ) is when you should start billing the overtime.

Anyways, Jeremy edited the SDE today that Pierre and and I shot the footage for and it was a hit (I’ll post it as soon as I get my hands on the edit).  SDE’s are always a big crowd pleaser. After all the formalities were done, I headed home.  Til next time…

Shoot straight!

Don't mind the shiny bald dome...it's all about the rig!

 

Same Day Edit

Introducing…me!

This is my first blog posting of what will hopefully be a regular thing.  My name is Joseph and I am a freelance video producer/ editor/ shooter turned corporate.  In other words… I got a Full Time job.

I graduated from the Digital Media Technical Production at Seneca College in Toronto back in 2001 and immediately started freelancing to supplement income.  I was lucky because I started getting gigs right away, have worked basically non-stop and have been on tons of really cool and unique projects. I’ve done things like teach at the post-secondary level, edited 3 seasons of 2 TV shows, done tons of corporate video, shot over 300 high end weddings, beta tested software for Adobe, become certified as an Apple Pro, done video sales and done quite a bit of traveling, meeting up with “famous peeps” while running my own business and having a ball doing it!

So why the change to full time corporate video?  Lots of reasons…hope you keep checking back; I’ll talk more about that stuff.

I also love to blab about new video gear and other things video related,  You know, the conversations that make the dinner company’s eyes gloss over…yeah, that’s me. I shoot DSLR and edit FCP.

I guess, to start off, you can check out this short video;  My Demo Reel.

Till next time, shoot straight!