5 camera shoot then Nas and Lauryn Hill. What a day!

I work with a guy named Cam who is one of the biggest advocates of DSLR’ing that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  From time-to-time we get an opportunity to work with each other on some of the series that he produces for Canadian Tire and I had such an opportunity a couple of days ago…I’m gonna tell you all about it!

So, Cam tells me that we are gonna be doing a 5 camera shoot for a show called Talkin Shop and we were going to shoot 8, 10 minute segments, and of course I was game.  It was a forum type of  setup that consisted of 5-6 panel members sitting around a round table.  The table was custom designed with a colour balanced, white finish that acts as a bounce for the 3k of diffused light  coming  down on an angle from over them.  This created a massive Clam Shell lighting setup that encompassed anyone that was at the table.  Clam Shell lighting involves using a top light or a light in front of your talent above their head level and a reflector or a bounce card underneath your talent to reflect the toplight under the chin, nose, eyes etc.  filling in all of the dark spots that the toplight doesn’t reach.  Let me just say, the talent glowed! It is very flattering lighting.

Those lights up top (the ones lighting the talent), were on a grid that Steve Lindsay built.  Steve is another amazingly talent guy that it is always a serious honor to work with.  Steve is a Camera Operator, a lighting guru and a Jib/ Crane master.  He does such amazing work and I learn from him every single time we work together.  It’s really an amazing experience.  Anyways, Steve created this lighting grid that hung from the ceiling of the garage that we were shooting in.  Attached to it were 3x 1k Fresnels, 4x 300w Arri Fresnels and 2x spot lights for the vehicles on set.  There were various other lights used as background and accent lights in addition, he used 2 Diva lights and other strategically placed Arri 300s.  And yes, I DID say the Steve made this lighting grid.   It is a temporary fixture.  Great what you can build out of necessity and with a small budget, huh?

Steve also did some cool accent lighting on the walls with floor LEDs and the entire back wall which was windows was covered with diffusion sheets to make the light coming in more useable.

This setup allowed the background to be quite a bit darker than the people at the table and really gave a polished look.  Amazing job!

Here’s the list of gear other thank lights that we used on set:

4 nikon d7000 (3x 70-200, 1x)
1 7d (70-200)
5 zacuto z-finders
1 zacuto evf
4 zacuto rail setups
1 Small hd monitor
1 cinivate pegasus
6 arri 300
2 divas
6 wireless sennheiser lavs
Zoom H4N
D|Focus Follow Focus System w/ D|Mount
Audio Mixer

I got to borrow a bunch of rigging by Zacuto on this shoot and I loved it.  Although expensive, the Zacuto line is very well thought out in design and functionality, is great quality and looks amazing.  I’ve been a Zacuto supporter for some time now, owning a Z-Finder Pro and EVF Flip myself, but it was great first hand experience using some of the rails and other mounting accessories.  I will definitely be investing in more Zacuto gear in the future.  I also really liked the Small HD monitor on our main safety camera.  So sharp and accurate.  Over lunch I was to comparing it to my EVF and there were some pros and cons for both.  For instance, my EVF has a smaller screen size.  This may be a problem in some studio environments where a larger on camera monitor can be used, however the EVF does have an HDMI loop-through to go out to larger monitors and the EVF is equally as sharp as the Small HD monitor.  In addition, the EVF Flip allows quick flip adaption of my Z-Finder so I can really get in there and focus well.  Another cool thing that I found was that there was no problems at all meshing my D|Focus gear with the Zacuto gear, like they were made for each other.  Good to know if you want to purchase the far less expensive D|Focus sytem to go with you 15mm Zacuto rails.

The view from Cams cam.

So, the shoot starts with an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hasbrowns, fruit, toast, juice and coffee…I know!  I couldn’t believe it either!  Needless to say, that’s how you start a day off!  We had 8 segments to do that were each supposed to be 10 minutes each…yeah right.  Do you think any of them went to time?  Cam was calling cut for people sometime after they had gone  on talking for 22 minutes or so.  Now with DSLRs this is a problem because Canon has the 12 minute recording time limit and Nikon has a 20 minute limit.  To remedy this for post-production we just kept all the cameras rolling at the end of the segments and did a “Tail Slate“.  A Tail Slate is an upside down slate with a clap so that you can sync footage using that common shot of video (the tail slate) as the syncing point, just as you would with it at the beginning of the take.  Because cameras had to stop rolling part way through, the tail slate is the common marker for all cameras after the 12 or 20 minute recording limit has been reached and the recording has been resumed. Anyways, this obviously put us a bit behind schedule but the segments were good, so we went with it.  I was getting a bit nervous when I first realized this trend of the panel going over the time alotment because I was really hoping to leave the shoot on time.  That night was the night of the Rock The Bells concert featuring Nas and Lauryn Hill and I was hooking up with Claude (I’ve mentioned him in other postings) to go to the Molsen Amphitheater.  It was no surprise to me that we ended about an hour behind the planned wrap time but I still made it out in time to stick to my plan for the Rock the Bells concert!  Great day! Big thanks to Cam Jenkins, Steve Lindsay and the crew, Nas and Lauryn Hill for making this a great day.

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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.

Late night gear check – Jumpstarts JumpBall Tournament in the morning

Today I counted down the hours to my 1 week vacation…that’s right, I said vacation!  Imagine coming from the world of a freelancer where the word vacation doesn’t really exist.  Yeah, yeah, being my own “boss” lets me make my own hours and all of that good stuff, but if you don’t work you don’t get paid.  I remember this time last year I had my quote-unquote vacation with the family and because of a gig that I took last minute for an account that I just couldn’t say “No” to, I ended up working on the first 2 days of my time off.  It was worth doing since it basically funded the vacation, but I spent 2 days of that trip behind a computer (a very nice MBP I must say, but a computer none-the-less).  Now that I am with “The Corp”, I have paid vacation time so when I go away, I still get a pay cheque!  I’m loving it! (like McDonald’s).

So, like I started saying, I was counting down the hours of the work week while finishing the edit of the Gas+ video that I shot with Mark on Monday (See the posting called “Shooting at the Gas Station”), and got things ready for my last shoot of the week, the Jumpstart JumpBall Tournament.  This is an early morning shoot that I am doing with Brad (The Media Technician and occasional cameraman/ editor).  Because I’m gonna be on vacation next week, Brad’ll be editing this one with both of us on the cams.  For this shoot we have a pretty detailed shooting strategy that includes a series of interview questions for kids and separate ones for the adults, timelapse sequences shot with the dslrs as well as the GoPro and lots of other dynamic shots of the day.   We designed the questions to provide some powerful story driving soundbites; at least that’s how we hope  designed them, and we have a cool audio recording strategy as well.  We are going to use the Rode Video Mic Pro on my 7D for the 1st angle and on the 2nd 7D we are going to mount the Zoom h4n like a shotgun mic and use the 4Ch recording feature which will also let me put a wireless handheld into one of the inputs on the Zoom and the mic in the interviewees hand if need be.  Now I have 3 audio sources (2x shotguns and the handheld), it’s quick (grab an executive team member for 2 minutes and start asking questions…no lav’ing anyone up), and I also have proper audio monitoring on the Zoom, which I’ve been finding is a major shortcoming of my Beachtek DSA-XLR.

I’m bringing my son’s skateboard with me to do some nice dolly shots (I’ll post some if I don’t kill myself) and Brad is bringing his 60D so we are probably gonna have a chance to do lots of timelapse stuff.  I bought a remote on eBay for 20 bucks and Brad just bought one on Amazon yesterday for 30 bucks…and get this…hey got the delivery today!  Superfast!

Anyways, same lenses as usual (see this link for lens run-down), 1 Flo-light (LED light that runs off of AC or D-Tap type battery which makes it very, very convenient. The only thing is that the construction of this light is kinda crappy.  Not super bad, and the light that it throws is good (a bit blue with a slight magenta spike), but the double-priced Lite-Pannel is better and worth the money in my opinion.

Well, that’s it for tonight.  I’ll put up the video from tomorrow as soon as I can.

 

Late night gear check for wedding tomorrow

So, it’s just past midnight, I am gonna go walk the dog but before I do I am getting my gear in check for tomorrow’s wedding with Frame of Mind.  I have an 8:45am start time, so I have already gassed up the van, loaded the real big stuff (my lights, stands, tripod, weights etc), and am putting together my camera gear.  So let’s run down the list:

Canon 7D

24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 11-16 f2.8

Zacuto EVF (AMAZING!!!) w/ z-finder

Rode Video mic pro

4x 32GB CF Cards

Matte box w/ 4×4 filters

Beachtek audio adapter

D|Focus follow focus system

Glidecam 2000

Uno Slider (tell you about this later)

tripod, lights (some arris, totas and no-namers)

 

in addition to this I’m packing extra shirt for the evening and shaving kit w/ all the “make yourself smell good after a long day of shooting” stuff (for the reception).

There are some other small yet key items in my arsenal like the light remotes that are often taken for granted but missed when not used.  My kit really has been tailored over the years and I’ll let you in on what’s in it sometime.

I’ll post about the day sometime over the weekend and hopefully some clips.  We’re doing a SDE tomorrow.  I’m not editing, that’ll be Jeremy, but I am shooting video to be used in it, so stay tuned!