The Mark’s Fashion show at Yonge and Dundas Square

So, today I did some work for an arm of the company that I don’t get to do a lot of work for (but that’s about to change), Mark’s (formerly Mark’s Work Wearhouse).  That’s right folks…Canadian Tire owns Mark’s.  And here’s some more interesting news that you might not all know, but Mark’s is a very fashion forward, men and women’s retail store with really nice clothes.  For real!  In fact, Mark’s just held a fashion show at Yong and Dundas Square in the heart of Downtown Toronto and I was there to capture the event for a Sizzler Video that I’ll be editing mid October.

Call time was 6:00am…I live in Brampton, which meant wake up time was 4:45…yeah…A.M!  So, I got out of bed and grabbed my PRE-packed (from the night before) video essentials and hit the road.  With me today…a single Canon 7D with the customary lens kit, Zacuto support, Tripod with Indislider Mini Delux and my Zoom h4n with Sennheizer audio kit.  I was given a Creative Brief for this shoot and was supposed to shoot video that would visually support some key metrics that are supposed to be used onscreen and as the direction of the messaging.  The fashion show as a whole presentation was being shot by Frishkorn (whom we also worked beside for the staging of this event), so I really could concentrate on getting good planned shots of the people attending, the Mark’s reps interacting with the general crowd as they gave out free socks (I’m wearing mine now), umbrellas, t-shirts and scan to win coupons as well as  behind the scenes stuff and my interviews.

So, let’s talk interviews for a sec…I have been playing with the Beachtek DXA-SLR, the Rode Video Mic Pro and the Zoomh4n for some time now and have finally come to a decision…here it is.

I like the Beachtek because it allows me to line xlr based audio devices into it and then out to my camera, allowing me to record “good” audio directly to the CF card with the video…cool!  It also has Auto Gain Override, which is important when dealing with the 7D, but, the monitoring capabilities suck!  All you have is a little light that blinks green when you are in a good range and receiving a signal, and blinks red when the auio is hot or too loud.  The Rode video mic is cool, the size is great and it is super light, but even when the input level is set to 0db (flat) it is too loud and noisy.  I always find myself shooting at -10db.  I almost had to forfeit an interview because of that.  Also, when u use that directly into the camera there is no monitoring option for you.  My fav now is the Zoomh4n.  Proper monitoring, multiple inputs (xlr, 1/4in and onboard mic). it is mountable like a shotgun mic with very nice mics built onto it and I can record ambient audio as well as directly into the recorder onto an SD card.  The only downfall is that I cannot go directly to the camera with it…ok, I can but I still have the Auto Gain issue with the 7D.  So…my point: Interviews are to be done with the Zoom h4n along some type of wireless mic’ing set up for optimal audio…and that’s just what I did here.

The host of the event was Lisa Rogers from City Line and she walked and talked us through 3 sessions of the runway show where models showed off clothes from Mark’s from underwear right through to jackets and accessories.  We owned the whole square for this event and it really was put together well.  I have attached a few pics of event…ok, me working at the event (lol), and I’ll upload the video as soon as it’s edited.  Make sure you check out Mark’s though, you’ll be surprised!

Shoot Straight

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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!

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.

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