Hi, remember me?!

Hey, how’s it going? Remember me? I’m the guy that used to post stuff to his blog at least semi-regularly! Man! Sometimes it feels like life has not only caught up with you, but passed you and kinda left you in the dust, doesn’t it?! I’m not gonna bore anyone with my “woe-is-me” stories about how busy life has gotten…instead, I will attempt to dazzle and amaze you with tales of wonder and video production adventures that I have been on since our last encounter. Interested yet? I’m trying!

So, many things have happened since almost 3 weeks ago when I posted last, one of which was the Bowmanville Canadian Tire Grand Opening. This was a big thing because it is a new design and it is very different to the Canadian Tire of times gone by. Now CT sell cell phones (iPhone and Galaxy Tab), has a totally enhanced auto section, large car electronics section and just about every currently existing department has been revamped (to say the least). I shot the video with the help of a team for the unveiling of the new design and was then commissioned again to go back to Bowmanville to shoot the Grand Opening events which was a 4 day extravaganza of sales, Canadian Tire Money Machines, Scott Steckly and his pit crew doing demos in the parking lot and Yada Bluetooth giveaways coupled with auto safety clinics. My good friends on the Retail Events team did an amazing job as usual and the store almost beat the all time sales record for a grand opening. I had a blast hanging with Scott Steckly and the crew as they put the crew into action, changing the tires of Scott’s #22 car in the parking lot and then tearing off down the parking lot leaving smouldering rubber on the pavement. This was probably the only time that I wasn’t thinking about the rest of my team in Vegas for Sema (that convention that I wrote about that I wasn’t going to).

Anyways, I got to spend some quality time in Bowmanville…too close to pack a big bag and get homesick, but too far to travel back and forth every day. Far enough though, to order and expense some East Side Mario’s Seafood Linguine and then chill in the hot tub…and close enough to stream my Slingbox while doing it!

Here is a clip of Scott and his pit crew doing their thing. I’ll post the Grand Opening Sizzler video in a cpl of days, it’s still being edited right now and version 1 is due on Wednesday. Stay tuned, and shoot straight.

Oh yeah, one more thing…I just found out that I’ll be shooting Georges St. Pierre, the UFC champ!!! Stay tuned for sure!

Advertisements

It’s the busy time of year again…again!

So, as I am super busy this past week or two I haven’t really had a chance to be as frequent as I would have liked to be in posting.  So, this post is just a quick updates as to whats going on and a video that I did for Mark’s as a corporate “push” to bring their business in-house, to my department.

So, as SEMA comes near, I am finding myself with more and more projects mounting that need to be done for it.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I am still working on the Walk In Animations and VOG (Voice of God) animation videos with the 5:1 aspect Ratio screen.  These are coming along well and will be done on time (as usual).  I have been cutting some Christmas Strategy videos (yes, CT is thinking of Christmas and it’s mid-October, retail…what can I say), and I was fortunate enough to be asked out to the auto shop again to shoot more Talkin Shot with Cam, Steve and the crew.  In addition to that I have picked up some freelance work for Maritz doing a project for Ford (the edit to my shoot at Ontario Place this summer) and a gig for the Metroland Group that I’ll be doing this week.  All that along-side the regular weekly video announcements that I do for the church…and this is me.  I wont lie, I am TIRED these days, but, it would be way worse if I didn’t like my job, so…no complaints here.

Anyways, export to ProRes422 HQ for the big screen is done, back to work I go.  Check out the 30 and 60 second versions of this Mark’s Dri-Wear spots done earlier this year.  If you don’t know what Dri-Wear is you’ve gotta check out Mark’s…especially if you are an athlete or workout, this stuff is great!

Thanks for reading.  Shoot straight

60 Second Spot

30 Second Spot

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!

Life on Blackberry Apps

I’ve mentioned before, a company that I have worked with in the past called Maritz Canada (see Focus-ing at Ontario Place post).  Anyways, this posting is about another job that I did for them last year.  This job came after I went on an interview for an Art Director position, one that I clearly had no business applying for, but I really wanted to be involved with the company so I went for it.  I was pleasantly surprised to get an interview, but by the time it ended the lady interviewing me said, “you sound way more like a video Producer than an Art Director, why did you apply for this job?”  Well, to make a long story short I then discussed a Producer role and met with the VP of Marketing who between the two of them connected me with a team that was under the gun and in need of someone to produce a spot for one of their accounts…Blackberry.

When I met with the team, Matthew and Dana they told me about a project that they had an idea for but needed someone to pull together.  We discussed the project in detail and they asked me if I could do it.  I told them that I could and immediately jumped into the pre-production with them planning the creative and getting clarity on the messaging.  ~aside… one of the things I really believe is that there is a message in every video, or at least there should be.  Every shot should tell its own little version of a story and contribute to the larger message.  Video without a message is pointless! ~  After our meeting was over I went home feeling really excited to be able to Produce this spot and eager to get started.

The team shortly after sent me a Creative Brief and asked how much it would cost to do so I got started crunching numbers, putting in calls for vendors, gear, locations etc.  when I had all of that info on paper and had done my “Pre-production” I got back to them with a number and they approved it.  Now, this was not a small budget as far as things go.  I had people to hire, equipment to rent, locations to secure, insurance coverage to attain…shoot…I even rented a TTC bus (Toronto Transit for all those non-Torontonians reading).  I didn’t even know that you could rent a TTC until I needed one…then it dawned on me…you can rent anything!

The shoot has 6 locations which included a nice room at the Westin Harbour Castle, A Toronto Raptors game at the ACC, a TTC Bus/ street, a bar, a cafeteria and an office.  I hired 8 actors, a lighting tech, a steadicam operator, a Production Manager, makeup, storyboard artist, voice talent, photographer and I shot Main camera plus edited.  There was food each of the 2 days of shooting and a seriously tight timeline to maintain, and thanks to my good friend Claude (whom I have mentioned before), we stayed on schedule.

This project was executed in 2 days, edited in 6 days and delivered just under budget! (big plus for the client), and the feedback was that it far exceeded their expectations.  Yeah!

This project was a serious test of my skills on the Production front because within 1 day I had to get pricing and logistics basically locked down to commence a daunting timeline and deliver an above average project…I did it, and this is one of the pieces that ended up getting me a lot of work with other companies as a Producer, not just a shooter/ editor.

So here it is, for your consideration…my first production for Maritz Canada…Life on Blackberry apps

The Story – Setting up the framework

So, this section of my blog is going to be (or at least attempt to be) an ongoing story of my journey to get to present day as it concerns my career, my experience, how it all played in with my family life and life in general.  This isn’t going to be technical or about the gear or anything like that, it’s basically my story.

I feel like the place that I’m at now still has room to grow and I have some of moving up to do, but I am currently 11 years in to doing something that I really love and have been able to make a freelance and corporate career out of it. I’m not saying that I’m an authority on anything…well, ok…I’m am pretty savvy behind the camera and in the edit room! 🙂 But seriously, I just want to share my story in the hopes that I can share info, and who knows…maybe someone will get inspired.
If you out there in blog world are reading this and have questions or comments I am more than happy to field any of them, so don’t be afraid to leave comments, share or like.
Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post regularly! At least a couple per week.

I hope you get something out of it!

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!

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