Focus-ing at Ontario Place: The Self Parking Cars

This weekend I did some freelance work for Maritz Canada, one of my favorite accounts from “back in the freelance days” (like I mentioned before…I still work with some of my cooler accounts even though I’ve turned Full Time). Anyways, this shoot was at Ontario Place in Toronto and it happened on one of the 3 days of the Air Show, so in addition to shooting video, I got to check out the low and very fast flying planes!
This shoot was of a couple of different “activations” where the new Ford Focus features were being showcased in an interactive environment. The 1st was the MyFordTouch competition where you race through a series of technology related requirements using the new voice activated system in the 2012 Focus. This focused on the ease of finding food, getting directions, and basically having your own version of K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. The 2nd was the self parking feature which is really nice. This car will park itself, all you have to do is worry about the accelerator and brakes, all of the steering is done by the car…and it’s extremely accurate. 6 inches from the curb every time. One of my main objectives for the shoot was to capture the expressions and reactions of participants when they were behind the wheel of the self parking car. I figured the best way to do this was to buy a GoPro and mount it in various ways in the car and of course, on the dashboard and just in front of the speedometer were ideal places. Finally, the 3rd was the synchro-park or the “Stunt” as it has been called. This was where they had 3 cars all parallel park themselves, synchronized! All of this to engage the customer and educate them about the new features of this upcoming years model of the Focus, Edge and Explorer.
I shot this whole thing with the Canon 7D, GoPro, 11-16mm f2.8 Tokiina and 24-70 Canon f2.8. Circular Polarizing filters on all my lenses allowed me to shoot through the windshields with no reflections (great for the shot of the guy lying down, seat reclined while parallel parking, and also let me get those really nice deep blue shies while maintaining the saturation of colour in the cars and peoples faces. A great tool for outdoor shooting. I also used my Glidecam HD2000 and Zacuto EVF. The EVF is amazing! Not just the build and design of it, but the ability to see even in direct sunlight is unsurpassed. I have rigged a mount up to my Glidecam that allows me to attach the EVF to it, giving me more flexibility in how I use the Glidecam and makes me look more high-tec as well!
I realized when I got home that one of my favorite shots (the guy lying down while parking taken with the GoPro) had me with my glidecam shooting from the opposite angle (Whoops), so I returned the next day to reshoot that single shot. That’s right! All the way back for one shot…well, ok…maybe not just for that one shot. As coincidence would have it, I was going to the CNE on Sunday, which for those of you who don’t know, is right across the street from Ontario Place…so it wasn’t a big deal at all. And the bonus…I got free parking! Perks of the job.

Shoot em straight!

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The Grand Openings Sizzle video

So, this year has held a lot of travel for me…way more than I had anticipated!  It started with a 1 week stint in Calgary for the NHL Heritage Classic (the outdoor hockey game).  Canadian Tire was a sponsor for this amazing event and I was commissioned to go along and shoot.  More on that story later, this story is about the second project that included lots of traveling for the year…the Grand Openings Tour.  This tour would find me traveling around in the Canadian Tire Community Events vehicle as well as flying around courtesy of WestJet to a number of Canadian Tire Grand Openings and Grand Re-Openings.

Now, when I first started my corporate gig I was told that there would be about 15% travel…well, I hit 15% really early in the year, let me tell you!  The purpose of me traveling and shooting was to gather footage (video and photo) to create a Sizzle Reel that showed the excitement of the Grand Openings, what the Retail Events Team is capable of doing and how the involvement of this team, when a store is having an opening (or re-opening) does things like increase sales, improve customer awareness, etc…basically, the benefit to having the team do their thing.  So, my mission began in March and ended in May 2011.

Cool highlights of my multi-location project:

  • I got to hang out with NHL greats like Curtis Joseph, Darryl Sittler, Johnny Bower, Lanny MacDonald and Matt Carkner.  Drivers extraordinaire such as Scott Steckly and Ron Fellows, and chilled with TV personalities including Chef Corbin and Cesar Millan, not to mention city Mayors, and the cool Canadian Tire Executives that showed up to the various events.
  • I was shooting soooo much, both photo and video, and was really able to expand my creativity in both the photo and video realm.  Also got to play with all of my videography toys including the GoPro (see this link for my 1st GoPro video).
  • I rolled with dual 7Ds everywhere I went. (maybe not “cool” to the non-shooter but dual cam is big time in my world! ;))
  • Got to know the inside of hotel rooms and rental cars really fast…what I really mean is that I got to do a lot of traveling to places that I never knew existed…like Kemptville Ontario.
  • And I got to hang with a really cool team…The Retail Events folks.

Quick side-story: When we arrived in Kemptville, we pulled into the motel around 11pm and believe me when I say we were skeptical about the place.  However, we decided that since this was the only hotel in the city of 14000 that we would check in.  When we all got to the front desk and started checking in and being put into our rooms we thought he was joking when the owner said to one of the girls, “you’re room is the one on the left but there might be someone in it”.  We realized that he wasn’t kidding when he called in and said, “Hey (whatever the guys name was), you have to come out now, the guests are here”, and then someone emerged. What?!  We couldn’t believe it…then to top it all off, there was a floater in the toilet!  Yeah, that’s right! You all know what a floater is!  Glad that wasn’t my room!  Anyways, that aside, it did turn out to be a good 6 days in Kempville. And the owner of the motel ended up being really cool and even took us out for an evening on his boat.   It was probably the hardest one for me being away from my family for that much time but all the overtime was enough for Lex and I to take off to the Mayan Riviera for a week, so the payoff was good.

This week I have a meeting scheduled to discuss the schedule for this years Grand Opening Tour and as much work and travel as it was, I am looking forward to this years.  I really do love the run-n-gun style, guerrilla videography type of shooting…and the overtime isn’t bad either!  I’m already thinking about next years vacation! ;).  Some people may say, “Kemptville?!  That’s not a cool place to go!”, but I say that anything is what you make it.  That’s why I think that I am able to shoot anything and be excited about it…I’m shooting, and doing what I really love to do.  When asked “what’s up?”, some people answer back sarcastically, “living the dream bro”, but I truly believe that I am.  Living the dream and loving it! and I got lots more to talk about…ttyl!

Here’s the video, I’d love your opinions.

Shoot straight

My 1st Go Pro video

So, here’s a supplemental posting about my Go Pro Hero Cam.  I got this in February of 2011 and on day 1 of having it I obviously had to test it out and here’s what I did.  For those of you who don’t know what a Go Pro is check this link out.

I have since done quite a bit of shooting with my Go Pro and used the footage in many corporate videos that I have done.  As much as I loved it when I got it, it was made even better when Go Pro released the Backpack LCD for the camera.  That’s right, originally and out of the box the camera doesn’t have a preview screen.  What this new Backpack release meant was that instead of hoping that the shot turned out right (especially after a lengthy time lapse), you can preview the shot just like any other camera.  You also can use the LCD to operate the menu on the cam instead of the small, 3 character, monochromatic LCD on the front of the camera.

If you check the link and do some browsing, you’ll realize that the lens on this waterproof, shockproof, miniature HD camera is very wide…170 degrees to be exact…that’s wide!  But that is also very distorted and is so evident when shooting things with straight lines or edges (like a building)…so the Backpack was also a huge help in ensuring that the framing and distance to subject in my shots were esthetically pleasing.

At the same time that I got this camera, I also picked up a bunch of accessories for it.  It came with a helmet mount and a waterproof case etc., but I grabbed some more stuff

  • Chesty – Chest Mount
  • Tripod Mounting kit
  • Grab Bag – bag of misc Go Pro mounting pieces
  • Fat Gecko – suction cup mounting rig
  • Skeleton case – allows access to ports on camera for things like AV Out, continuous power supply

There are a million and one ways to use this camera!  Here are some cool features that might get your creative juices flowing.

  • super small
  • waterproof
  • shockproof
  • mountable (on anything)
  • 170 degree field of view
  • superfast adjustment to light changes (check the “under the car shot” in my video)
  • does time laps photography
  • 1080p video
  • sound recording

the biggest drawback to this camera in my opinion is how it lacks low-light capabilities.  Even in a semi-well lit room this camera still suffers and is very noisy (grainy).  I don’t suggest any indoor use with this camera if you want useable footage.  I even shot in the Air Canada Center with it and it was just ok.  But outdoors…it’s amazing!

Anyways, since this snowy February day, the Go Pro has accompanied me on many, many shoots and it a great part of my “anytime, anywhere” kit!  I recommend it, but watch out for new competitors on the horizon… this one looks promising! And check out the iphone preview feature

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