The new face of the Tire

I can’t remember the last time that I had such a lack of free time…oh yeah I can, it was coming up to the last CT convention, which is what I am a couple of days away from right now.  It’s been a couple weeks of long days at work, working weekends and nights on some freelance gigs that I have been fortunate enough to have picked up and late nights editing either CT stuff that needs to meet deadlines or the freelance stuff that I shot earlier.  All this and I still found time to do a double night of movies with Lex.  The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3 were the flicks for the weekend…late show too! Well, one thing I know for sure, I haven’t been “corporatized” as many hardcore freelancers turned full-timer have in the past.  I can still pull the ridiculous hours while delivering a really high caliber of work all while juggling 5 or 6 projects at once and being a functional father/ husband.  Aside from the great work ethic displayed to me by my dad in his freelance career, I attest this attribute to the Digital Media Technical production program at Seneca College (more on that another time).

So, as my team gets ready to go to Las Vegas for the convention, I am preparing to go to Bowemanville Ontario with the Retail Events team for the grand opening of the new concept Canadian Tire store.  Now, I won’t spend the rest of the time talking about the differences between Bowemanville Ontario and Las Vegas, Nevada… if you place this city beside Las Vegas…pretty obvious that ANYONE would rather be in Vegas.  That’s a given, so I’ll move on (no, I’m not resentful…lol).  Anyways, Bowemanville has called, and I have answered…camera in hand.

In Bowemanville there is the newly built CT concept store with enhancements in every area.  I’m talking huge changes!  I visited there earlier this week to work with a crew to shoot the place (interviews, store tour, media, b-roll and cool crane footage) for a video needed for Vegas (like that isn’t a kick in the side…shoot a video in Bowemanville for Vegas, then stay in Bowemanville while the team goes south…nice).  …where was I…oh yeah, Bowemanville video…so, Steve Lindsay (the guy from the Talkin Shop shoots) brought his 30 foot jib and just blanketed the whole store with these really beautiful soaring shots that seem almost impossible…even with the crazy gear that he uses.  Cam (Talkin Shop Producer) was producing this video as well, I was the b-roll collector on this gig, armed with a slider, a glidecam and of course my dslr and the interviews were done with the Sony PMW-350, sound was recorded coutesy of our Sound Engineer, Brian.  I am now 3 days into this edit and I have just finished the 1st colour correction pass on the video.  Looks sweet! (not to be confused with Looks Suite by Magic Bullet…although that looks sweet too!)

So, the madness will end sometime over the weekend, hopefully with me watching UFC 137 and kicking my feet up at Blizz’s place…but who knows what’ll come up…I am after all, the non-corporatized freelancer turned full-time that still acts like a freelancer…so I’m ready for anything.  Video to follow.

Shoot straight!

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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!

My lens kit, the must haves for this versatile shooter

I would like to take this time to introduce (to those that are interested), what I have put together as my “all around” kit of lenses that allows me to shoot 100% of the work that I do with my DSLR.

  1. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens
  2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
  3. TokinaAF 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX Canon Wide Angle Zoom Lens. 

These lenses cover the entire range of my event and corp videography requirements with exceptional performance, image quality, sharpness and colour.  Yes, the lenses are pretty pricey, but they are worth every penny in my optinion.  Here’s the rundown…

The Tokina 11-16mm is a super wide-angle lens that allows you to get tons of people in your shot, work at very close distances to subjects, minimize the obviousness of camera shake because of its width, is amazing to create the look of movement when on Glidecams or sliders and has hard stops in manual focus mode which is great when using a follow focus system like my D|Focus (Check out the D|Focus System Blog and website for info.  GREAT product!!!).

The Canon 24-70mm is great for interviews and speeches, but also covers a range that is suitable for what I would call “typical” event shooting.  This lens provides a natural feeling focal range…more like the feeling of looking around or seeing through a typical human perspective.  Now, obviously this depends on the distance between you and subject, but in an event world I think you’ll find this to be a “natural”feeling range.  Oh yeah…it’s a macro lens too.

Canon 70-200mm, AMAZING!  The ISII (image stabilization, 2nd generation) on the new version is great!  2 levels allow for pan type shooting (back and forth) and vertical stabilization (more for photographers as vertical shake is more common when trying to hold the cam still for  a photo).  The stabilization is a very welcomed feature, especially when on the telephoto end because you’ve zoomed in so close. Not having stabilization on a lens like this (for anyone that doesn’t get the why you need stabilization), well it’s kinda the same as trying to shine a flashlight across a dark football field at a person’s eye…and holding it still.  Wouldn’t be easy.  In addition, the depth of field on the tight end (how blurry you can make the background) is amazing and just looks so…uummph!  Beautiful!

So, here’s the summary.

  • 11-16mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm (the entire range from wide-angle to telephoto is covered…including macro)
  • All of them are f2.8.  This means great Depth of Field and good low light capabilities.  Also pretty darn sharp focus too
  • They give you versatility in the gigs that you can do and versatility in what you can do while there
  • They are all good quality lenses that can outlast your camera and go from cam to cam
  • you look like a pro (and yes, that matters)
  • Can cover anything from interviews to concerts, weddings to corporate video, super close-ups of things right in front of you and zoom-ability to things a football field away.

So for me, there have been and will be gigs that come up that a different lens or set of lenses will be needed.  I mean, let’s not forget that Prime lenses are the sharpest images you can get.  There are situations where if you can get your hands on Prime lenses either for a project or maybe even to own yourself then you would want to do it.  But generally I let the project pay for the rental of some really good Primes and this is two fold.

  1.  They are not as versatile for run-and-gun and event situations as zoom lenses are and with the huge number of corporate shooting that I’m involved in, the need to be versatile is even greater.
  2.  As expensive as the Canon Zoom lenses are, to cover the focal range with Primes that I have covered by using my 3 zoom lenses…let’s just say that in a lot of cases it makes sense for the client to rent the lenses on their budget!

Anyways, thanks for listening to my opinion!  Please feel free to comment or let me know what’s in your lens kit, I’d love to hear!

Shoot straight…and in focus!