What I’ve been doing this past month..an update

Just a quick update on what’s been happening in the Video Production life of yours truly this past Month or so.

So, I continue to forge ahead with the freelance hustle and have had a very interesting past couple of weeks with some of the projects I’ve been on.  As always, weddings prove to be a great way to keep the run n’ gun skills sharp and to pull out new toys to experiment with.  I shot 2 weddings for The Photo Studio over the past short while and was able to use my quadcopter to get some really cool aerial video of the bridal parties and some great establishing shots of the different venues.  So…the new toy has a place in professional work, nice!

I have been working on 2 projects for Maritz Canada, both Post-Production projects…one is a Destination Reveal for a contest Rogers is having for their employees and the other is a Motion Graphic video for a convention of some sort.  This one is especially cool because I got to break the routine of me using Apple Motion so much and I dove right back into Adobe After Effects…what a great app!

I also shot a quick internal video for Publicis which was for their client Home Depot for the “Fallidays” (you may have seen commercials about this).  I loved this one too because it was mostly Glidecam based and I happen to be pretty good with a Glidecam (if I do say so myself).   🙂

The last project I worked on was for Virgin Mobile and as I have for the past couple of years, they had me at TIFF shooting red carpets and events with the goal of creating  branded content that captured their presence at TIFF and all of the excitement that is synonymous with the awesome 10 day event and Virgin.

So, now I get ready to try out some GH3s from Panasonic as I prepare to ship off to Niagara Falls with them for my next video production adventure.  Next week, more editing, shooting for Humber College and continuing to try to make the freelance life all it can be. Thanks for reading.

Rushfit shoot at GSP autograph session…thanks Canadian Tire! huh?

Yep, you read it correctly!  The Canadian Tire Retail Events team (Erin in particular.  She worked on the Mark’s Fashion show, Grand Openings, Cesar Millan event and so on) alongside some peeps from my team produced the The UFC Welter weight champion of the world, Georges “Rush” ST-Pierre autograph session at Sportchek (I put the whole nick-name/ title thing in there because I happen to be a HUGE fan)!

Now, I’m sure I mentioned it before, but if not…Canadian Tire recently acquired Forzani Group out of Calgary, AB.  They own Sport Check, Atmosphere, Sports Experts, Nevada Bobs etc.  Upon doing this, my VP became a VP in FGL (Forzani) as well as CT and  Corporate Affairs (my department) assumed the responsibilities that we currently carry out for CT for FGL as well.  This is very exciting for me because everything that I’ve been doing for Canadian Tire, I am now going to be doing for FGL as well.  It also means growth in the company, the department, my team and potentially my role and position (maybe pay too!  Oh I could only be so lucky!).  But one way or another it’ll be great to see my team add a few people and see where we can take what we are doing now.

Any-who, talk about getting side-tracked, back to the GSP part of the story!  So, it was a standard type of autograph session…GSP arrived under heavy anticipation (or maybe that was just me), and when he did everyone tried to act cool, or at least I did.   But let’s not kid ourselves here.  Meeting GSP today is like meeting Tyson in his prime, but better.  So, as Georges was in the tiny back room signing the GSP paraphernalia that was left with sticky notes of the owners names on it, that’s when I did it.  I briefly came out of character and requested a photo, to which he obliged as any great champion would.  I had given Charles my iPhone and Brad had his 60D that he was shooting with, so I called them for the shot, and by the time GSP had finished his oatmeal I had already Tweeted the pic and uploaded it to my Facebook account (iPhones rule!).

Back into character.

GSP was here to promote his new DVD set, Rushfit.  It is a p90x type of video and it looks pretty hardcore.  There were 150 posters of GSP that he was signing to the first 150 people in line; a line that started at 6:30pm the night before.  There were a number (not sure of the actual number, so we’ll just say “a number”), there were a number of these posters with a sticker on the back of it.  If you ended up getting one of those posters you got a free Rushfit DVD set.  I must have watched 20 people win one of those.  No such luck for me.  So after interviewing the early arrivers, taking photos of the crowd, the setup, me with GSP and the autographed apparel it was time to go to the front of the store to meet the fans.

Armed with my perfectly balanced Glidecam HD 2000 (balanced the night before using 394 plate system for speed and consistency), my 7D with a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 (aperture at 5.0 for larger Depth of Field)  and an understanding of the path we’d take through the store, backrooms and isles…we were off.  As we walked down this one long corridor with racks of shoes 30 feet high on both sides of us, me in front of Georges, walking backwards as the Champ marched forward, you could hear the fans lined up waiting for their hero, cheering, chanting…”GSP! GSP!  And as I looked through the LCD screen on my camera at the Champ, GSP…on my camera, I felt like the steadycam operator at the UFC events that gives us that famous shot of the fighters walking to the Octagon from the changing room to start the fight.  I was in heaven!  My 2 favorite things had finally come together, a legitimate intersection of  MMA and video production!  Scratch one more thing off my bucket list!

GSP ended up staying at Sportchek for about 2 hours and I got to meet some pretty devout fans.  I’m also really glad to be doing some of the Forzani stuff now as well.  Keeps things changin up…like they haven’t been already.  This wasn’t a difficult shoot at all.  Nothing unexpected happened, it was just a smooth sailing day of work.  We had our plan, we executed and lived to do it again another day.

Shoot straight! And if you have to get a picture with a celebrity when you’re working…make sure whoever holds your iPhone does.

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!

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!

Back to the super-widescreen drawing board…again.

So it’s convention time again at Canadian Tire and since we are so accustomed to “going big”, we are headed to Vegas this time.  Last year we were at the Toronto Convention Center and it was a really huge, really cool, 5 day convention for all of the Canadian Tire Dealers (the guys that own the stores) and their managers, auto guys, seasonal people etc.  There were business sessions, a huge product exhibition, parties, galas, awards banquets and a show featuring Randy Bachman!   There were celeb athletes and personalities there like Cesar Millan, Ron Fellows, Scott Steckly and Lanny MacDonald and of course I can’t forget the cameo appearances by the Stanley Cup and the Nascar Sprint Cup. It was great!  Our main hall for seminars etc. had 3 screens in it, 1 super-wide screen for the “Spyder System” projection and 2 regular 16:9 screens flanking it.  The main screen was the backdrop for the stage which had either a Nascar or Ferrari on it depending on the day that it was.  I got the distinct honor and pleasure of being the designer for the main graphics that were used on that super wide screen!  (see pic below). In designing for it, I had a bunch of considerations; Designing in the 16:9 center portion of the screen so that the video could be projected on the “regular” screens as well as the center screen without cutting off content, design resolution and the ability to update and change screen info on the fly were some of the biggies.

This year the screen resolution is even wider than last years was…a 5:1 aspect ratio with a full resolution of 3840×768!  HUGE!  And again, I am having concerns about the design resolution because it is so big.  Not just the size that’s concerning me though, I am dealing with motion graphics, so I want the best quality that I can get, so I am creating in a “draft mode”, but will be exporting at full res, 16bit, Field Rendering, Motion Blurring, Depth of Field on my flying camera and Frame Blending…and I have to create 30 of these things.  “Hey Joe…what in the world did you just say?” (you might ask)…  In a nutshell, you need a pretty beefy comp to export this size and quality (I might respond).  Lucky I have one, but it’s always a concern.  I just have to be extra technical when designing this to ensure efficiency with my data rates. “NERD” (you might say…)I guess so, I might respond. 🙂

Like last years animation, I have had to go back to the drawing board after showing preliminary drafts to the team and managers but unlike last year, I didn’t find going back to the drawing board as hard.  I was trained and taught that a lot of the time I am the outlet through which people (clients) fulfill their thoughts and ideas about video and messaging.  All I can do is advise, suggest and do…and this is sometimes way harder than you’d think, trust me!  Last year, when I had to reign back on the creative, I felt like my vision wasn’t being appreciated, like the company was playing it too safe, like we could do so much more but at the same time I understood why we had to take a step back.  This year, when the same thing was happening…”let’s reel it in a bit and play it safe“, I found myself thinking, “Joe, have thick skin and don’t take offense“. And I didn’t!  I really didn’t have any emotional feelings attached to the work at all.  Even though I had just spent the last day working on the animation, it didn’t bother me to return to the animation and start to change things up.  Imaging how much easier it is starting over with no bad feelings…FREEDOM!  And, growth.  I definitely didn’t start off this way almost 12 years ago.

Why are you telling me this” (you might ask)… “Because… (I would say back to you), in this line of work you rarely work for yourself”.  That being the case, the logical other side of the coin is that we work for others.  Others ideas, others messaging, others visions and sometimes even others mistakes…but it is “others”.  All I can do is suggest, advise and recommend based on my experience; creative and technical and then do what the client asks.  It used to kill me to think someone wanted me to change hours or days worth of work that I had put it.  “How dare they ask me to change that, don’t they know that was my favorite part of the video?!” Now, I try to let it roll off the shoulder.  Sometimes it is harder than others, but I guess it’s like practicing anything else in life, it gets easier and we learn how to do it better.

Shoot Straight.

Last Years Animation BEFORE the revamp

Last Years Animation AFTER the revamp

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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