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!

Shooting Canadian Tire Nascar in Kawartha

It feels like for ever since I last wrote for my blog…actually it has been about a week and a half or so and no, it’s not because I’ve been getting lazy :).  Actually I have been really busy with shooting and editing, so I have quite a bit more stuff to blab about over the next couple of days.  Today’s “blab” is about my exciting shoot on Saturday at the Kawartha Speedway where Scott Steckly took home the cup as this years Canadian Tire Nascar Series Champion driving the Canadian Tire #22 car.  Shooting Nascar is really cool…I should know, I’m on my 2nd one (I know, I’m just a Nascar rookie), but some of my camera carrying cohorts aren’t and I was fortunate enough to meet up with a couple guys that I shot my last Nascar event with out in St. Thomas earlier this year.  These guys know Nascar like I know weddings…inside and out!  So hanging around them got me the drop on when certain things were gonna happen and on which turn the most recent crash was so I could try to boogie over there as quickly as possible.

I brought my new Indislider Mini Delux with me to field test for the 1st time and it was pretty good I must say.  This slider is an inexpensive, small and lightweight slider that comes with a pistol grip mount.  It is a great slider for the price and the size is right for run-n-gun stuff but there were some issues with it and am starting to see where this is and isn’t a the tool for certain gigs, but all-in-all I liked it a lot.  I’ll write up about the slider in a bit after I’ve had a chance to use it a little more.  So, I started off my day with it as my tool of choice, slid in with some nice establishing shots of the track with a reveal from a CT Nascar sign…u know, standard stuff.  My plan was to travel light (1 camera today) and to really prove to Charles (my boss) why we need to invest in a slider for our production team’s ensemble of gear.  I also rolled with my 3 lenses of choice, the 11-16mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm (see my posting on my lenses of choice). and my Zacuto EVF Flip to get that sharp focus and to battle (and win) against bright daylight.

Being the Canadian Tire Corp camera operator, I was granted VIP and Pit access, so decked in my latest CT swag I was able to saunter anywhere I pleased and saunter I did!  Having track access allows such unique videography opportunities like drivers suiting up, getting their helmets on, doing up their racing gloves, the look in their eye before they shut the visor on their helmet to start the race and really nice shots with the slider.  And there is nothing more exciting than a media scrum when your guy (Steckly) wins the season.  What an awesome experience and what a great opportunity to shoot some really great footage.

Another cool thing about this event was that I got to bring my family along and the kids had a ball watching the race from VIP, eating junk til their hearts were content, getting autographs and seeing their dad in action…ok, maybe not the last part, but they still had a blast.  The day ended with a spray of champagne for Steckly, a bottle cork in my lens (see the clip below) and home in time to catch the UFC Pay-per-view.  I love this gig!

Til next time…if you see em, shoot em!

Busy times and a good find, slide on in!

So, I’ve been editing a Christmas in July video for Canadian Tire that features Debbie Travis, another on of Canadian Tires affiliate superstars!  It feels so weird to be listening to Christmas music in September and then seeing Christmas trees with the background being a brightly lit Toronto summer day…talk about throwing a guy off!  This one is a bit more top secret than some of the other CT stuff that I’ve done so I can’t show this one to you, but basically it is her hosting an open house in a penthouse in the SOHO Metropolitan Hotel for the press and magazine people.  Throughout the place, the decor is Christmas and it’s her line and other new innovative products that Canadian Tire will be featuring this year.  Believe me, CT has some pretty style forward and very classy stuff this year!

During my crazy edit week, I came across a Craigslist posting for an Indieslider Mini Delux.  I called the guy up and i was really happy  to hear that he still had it.  I had an old Tota Light that I was only using occasionally and he was willing to do a swap, so I landed a very nice, short, compact slider.  My 1st concern with it was the pistol grip sytle head on it and how it wasn’t going to fit my Manfrotto 394 mounting system that I use with EVERYTHING.  I still haven’t found a perfect way to incorporate the 394 system into the Indie Slider use, but the QR that it comes with isn’t totally bad and the Pistol Grip actual works quite nicely.  I really love the length though, it is so small and short, that if you’re using the right lens you can get what looks like BIG movement out of this ol boy.  And because of the lengthe (24″), it had 0, I said Zero bending when you get to the end of the slider.  The feet are also very small compared to some larger sliders, so again…another big plus.  I will be breaking it in this weekend at Kawartha Speedway for Nascar when Scott Steckley wins the final race putting him in !st place for this tour (fingers crossed), and again on Tuesday I’ll be using it at a Mark’s Work Warehouse Fashion Show at Yonge and Dundas in the Square.  If anyone is interested, Mark’s will be giving away 10-25% off coupons for sales starting at $20…that’s pretty good (the 25% one anyways).

I wanted to leave you with a video to watch that has examples of what a slider does (for those of you that don’t know what a Slider is).  This is a Same Day Edit (SDE) from a wedding that I shot last year with Anthony.  There are quite a few slider shots in this one, watch and see if you can pick them out.  Here is Pam and Dave…enjoy

Oh yeah, before I sign out, I want to wish my good friend Claude good luck with the music video shoot that he’s about to do today.  Break a leg my brother…and shoot straight!

Til the next one

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!

Let the travelling begin…again

So I have got the travel itinerary for the Grand Openings and Hockey Camp circuit for the Fall yesterday and let’s just say that my future has a lot of shooting in it. Looks like my potential destinations are Uxbridge, Bowemanville, Prince Albert, Montreal, Halifax or course the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and there has been talk about Vegas, but we’ll see. This all to happen between September and December this year, so, I am excited! I get to shoot video, travel and bank lieu time! What else can a guy ask for. Also, while doing the camps and Grand Openings I’ll get to interview celebrity personalities and hang with the press and be the master of my domain:) . Oh yeah, and did I mention that I’ll be attending NHL All-Star weekend?! The Canadian Tire Hockey Schools are being set up as Skills Camps this year with the most “skilled” at each camp advancing with the possibility of competing in a Jr. All Star/ Skills competition in Ottawa during the NHL’s weekend.

Perks of the job!