4K video production!
I’ve been waiting to get into 4K video for a little while now. Not that my clients were asking for it, but that I LOVE technology and always try and stay on the front line of it. I shoot and sell nature stock footage as well as make scenic shows that run on PBS. It was a natural fit to start shooting nature in 4K. The price to get into it was always quite steep. However leave it to SONY to bring the price of entry down. Their mirrorless cameras have been all the rage and the Sony A6300 has some of if not THE best 4K video out there. And it is under $1k!
Did I mention it is downright TINY!! This is a camera that can easily be popped into a backpack and hiked around without causing any back issues. I have added a few accessories to it but overall, this little baby can sure shoot some amazing 4K video!
This video also features the Edelkrone Slider Plus with Action and Target modules. (all seen below) I’ll do a full blog post on that soon as it truly is amazing at what it can do!
Check out this video out in 4k if you have the connection speed. (Click play, then where it shows a little wheel with HD in lower right corner, click that and select Quality then 2160p, then zoom it up by clicking the square in the far right corner).
Interviewed on TV for “Heart’s Delight”!
I was fortunate enough to be asked by Thom Hallock to appear on the program “Mountain Lake Journal” and discuss my documentary “Heart’s Delight: The Story of William H. Miner”.
I got my start working at this station in 1990. Its the PBS affiliate in Plattsburgh, NY and started as “WCFE” then became “Mountain Lake PBS”.
We taped for about 35-40 minutes and it was cut down to about 13 minutes. I am clearly better behind the camera but was happy to be able to discuss the program and William Miners life and legacy. The segment below starts with the program trailer, if you have seen that already, you can skip to around the 3 minute mark.
An interesting behind the scenes note, I was just diagnosed with a herniated C6-C7 disc in my neck and was in a lot of back pain. It really hurt to just sit still so that’s why I am moving my arms so much! That, and I am of French-Canadian decent! Enjoy.
Cumberland 12 Cinemas
I made some spots for Cumberland 12 Cinemas recently. Three that will play on local cable TV and one that is a policy spot for playing before the movie about cell phone use. They were a lot of fun to make. As the budget was tight, we had to get people to be in it in exchange for a few movie passes. My friend Todd Brunner and his wife Jodi and daughter Tia were the perfect family to be featured in the policy spot. Todd has done some acting for TV shows like NYPD Blue when he lived in NYC and he ad libbed most of his “annoying chatter”. One thing I really wanted to do was an homage to GOODFELLAS, when they freeze Ray Liota laughing and continue the voice over. It worked out well here too!
Other spots included this one for their birthday parties they offer at the cinema. My neighbors were perfect candidates for this one and they helped secure other family and friends to be in the “party” as well. The challenge here was to shoot it all while the theater was open, thus we had to do the red carpet scenes inside the same room where the birthday parties take place. I changed the lighting for the red carpet shots to look more dramatic, like at a movie premiere, even having the back light appear in the scene. In reality it’s the same room as the other party scenes. Finally using 120 frames per second as a shooting rate made it all look more glamorous when played back in slow-motion.
The theater does 10am shows on Wednesday for just $5! Not second run films but whatever is currently playing at the time. I thought a clever way to promote this was with a 1980’s theme as that is what a premium ticket used to cost back in the 80s! Again, the talent was some friends and neighbors. They really embrassed the theme and went all in with the look of the 80’s including big hair, spandex and a fanny pack and mullet!
Finally we wanted to do a spot that promotes the C12 “Experience” of their large curved screen, surround sound and 3D!
Overall, we all had a blast making these and it’s fun to go to the movies now and see them up on the big screen!
William H. Miner documentary preview
I’m happy to present a “coming soon” preview trailer for my next documentary called “Heart’s Delight: The William H. Miner Story”. I’ve been working on this off and on for almost 3 years now! It’s a passion project of mine and I’m finally done with all the interviews and am entering the writing/editing phase. It’s a massive undertaking as William Miner had a very complicated and “rich” life!
More to come for sure but for now, please check out this short clip. Narration by my friend Greg O’Brien.
Merrill L. Thomas Inc. – Company video
This is a video I worked on for adworkshop in Lake Placid (an advertising and marketing agency). They did all the concept and producing and directing, I was the videographer and editor. It’s nice to be a part of a team for projects like this one. It allows me to really focus on the shooting, and what is the best way to tell this story visually. I used a variety of cameras on it, my main camera the Canon C100 for the majority of it, but also set up a second camera for the interviews, the Canon 7D DSLR camera. I used the GoPro on a handheld gimble and the Inspire 1 for some aerial shots.
Editing is always a hidden craft, but it’s really driven by finding the right music. I usually piece the narrative together first (on this project from a script supplied by adworkshop), then find the right music to give it energy and convey the mood. That then drives all the edits of the cut away footage or Broll as we call it in the industry.
Check it out! Merrill L. Thomas Inc. is a great company and I am happy to get to know them better working on their video.
Adirondack Autumn (2015)
It’s been a slow to start but quite spectacular autumn here in upstate New York. I love this time of year and try to get out to shoot as much scenic footage as possible. Many years I have big projects and hard deadlines that keep me from driving around the mountains during the roughly one to two week period when the leaves are at peak color. To me peak color is when there is still some green trees mixed in as well. Enjoy this short video of the footage I collected this year.
DJI Inspire 1 – New quad copter!!
I recently acquired the DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter for shooting aerial video and stills.
It’s an awesome platform to shoot from. As you can see the camera is built in and sends a full HD signal down to the remote so you can monitor the shot from an iPad. It can shoot 12MP stills and 4k video! It is also bigger and heavier than the Phantom model I was using before and that means more stability in the air. The camera is gimbal stabilized too so the footage is rock solid. The range is also very impressive! In the video below, the last shot is of a train and I was over 3000 feet away at the furthest point. This video is all made with shots from the first day I flew it and is more of a test video than anything.
Jumping the K120 – Lake Placid, NY
What’s it like to fly through the air at 80 miles an hour off a 120m tower on a pair of skis? It’s something I always wanted to know! The ski jumps in Lake Placid have always dominated the landscape since they were built for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. I’ve been up to the top a few times covering corporate events up there, but was never fortunate enough to see it being used. The smaller 90m is used year around, but the 120m takes a lot of effort to get up and running and just one 45 degree day can melt the ramp surface. With the warming temperatures of the last decade or so of winter, it hasn’t been open…..until this year!
A friend of mine is a ski jumper and mentioned I should come get some shots of it in use. Luckily the technology of video has come so far so fast that there are now some new tools to show this sport in a way that wasnt possible just a couple years ago.
I just received my new DJI Inspire 1 aerial drone and its the perfect flying platform to get super stable shots! Couple that with the incredible GoPro action cameras and we were in business! I hope you enjoy the video, its the closest many of us will ever want to get to going off a massive ski hump like this!
“Divine Discontent: Charles Proteus Steinmetz” documentary EMMY nominated!
This is a documentary I produced with Bruce Carlin. We tried for 7 years to get funding and finally managed to secure a grant to get it made. Our good friends at wmht, the PBS affiliate in the Albany area was the presenting station for it to the PBS system. It is now airing across the country! We decided (and at the suggestion of Dan Swinton of wmht) to put it in for a NY regional EMMY award. That’s a tough market as it includes all of NY City and NJ! So we are up against MSG, Yankeeograpy docs etc… It was announced last week that it has been nominated in the BEST DOCUMENTARY category! Winners will be announced on May 2nd.
Here is the promo for it:
And here is the open to the show and a round table discussion we shot at Mt. Lake PBS with Thom Hallock for Mountain Lake Journal. The narrator is none other than Kate Mulgrew who is best known as Captain Janeway on STAR TREK VOYAGER and as Red in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. She was a delight to work with and added so much to the finished production.
The entire documentary can be viewed here:
“Songs to Keep” PBS documentary wins EMMY award!
“Songs to Keep” is a Public Television documentary about the life of Marjorie Lansing Porter. She was a collector of Adirondack folk music in the early 1900’s. Marjorie would go around and actually record musicians singing to preserve the songs which were handed down from generation to generation. The program won a regional Emmy, and I had the pleasure to be the videographer on it along with Daniel McCollum. It was produced by Paul Larson at Mountain Lake PBS.
One of the highlights was getting to videotape Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael perform “My Adirondack Home” at their studio in NYC.
I’ve worked with quite a few well known celebrities over the years and these guys were a couple of the nicest! Very generous with their time and cooperative to give us “one more take” for the music video portion of the shoot. The song is super catchy, just click the link below to see this section of the show. (The scenic shots from this section were also mostly mine -except the aerial- including the misty road shot which is actually my driveway)!
Schrader & Co. Construction Services TV Campaign
I was contacted to do some TV commercials for Schrader & Co. recently. They had seen my work for the Parade of Homes tour I shoot in the Capital Region and liked my style. They wanted to have a classy looking ad that represented what their company is all about. We discussed it and decided on doing some testimonial spots for them. Getting actual customers to talk about their experiences working with them. I live over two hours away from the locations for these shoots, so we decided to do them all in one marathon day of shooting! While busy, everything went off without a hitch and the interviews resulted in some great comments. It can be tricky to edit down a 10 minute or so interview to just :30! You have to have the company name in there, then tell the “story” of dealing with Schrader & Co. and have it all fit into a 30 second TV commercial.
Here are the three different spots, keeping the logo and theme music the same in each helps make them part of a campaign, instead of just three separate commercials.
Bear’s Den TV Commercial
It’s refreshing when you can work on a commercial that is intended to be “silly”. This commercial was produced by adworkshop. I did the shooting and the editing for it. They had the bear costume shipped in from China! We shot it out of sequence, doing the store shots first when they were less busy in the morning and then the river shot last in case the costume got ruined (which it didnt, but did take a day or two to dry out)! There are several of these, each one has a humorous end tagline after the logo.
We went camping recently at a very secluded 18,000 acre hunting camp in the upper Adirondack Mountains. I always get up for the sunrise when we go camping. 80-90% of the time, it’s either cloudy or just not much color. Well this time it did not disappoint! The color and clouds were spectacular. I was shooting both video and still pictures so there was flurry of activity for about 8-10 minutes during the peak color. This is a panorama I stitched together in Photoshop from 3 different shots (I then cropped it slightly for better drama):
CLICK IMAGES TO SEE LARGER!
This is one that is closer and a single shot.
Shooting in RAW is definitely the way to go so it can be dialed in afterwards in post! I also used a tripod and set it to a 2 sec. timer shot so there is no shake in the camera from triggering it.
This is one from the next morning, again a panorama stitched together from 3 shots:
…and a few more!
Short film “The Country Life”
This is a collection of clips for a documentary I am making on William Miner of Chazy, NY. He was a philanthropist from the turn of the century who made his fortune in the railroad industry. He developed a state of the art farm in the early 1900’s that still is functioning today. It will be a historical documentary on his life that should be completed in late 2015. These clips were shot with the Canon C100 and recorded on a Ninja 2 recorder. Shot mostly with the Tamron 70-200 F2.8 IS lens. I love that lens for getting telephoto shots! It’s tack sharp and very fast and clear at f2.8.
This is a slower paced short, to match the feeling of a lovely country farm in the heat of summer. Pour a glass of cold iced tea and enjoy!
“A Simple Beauty” Scenic nature film
This is a collection of some recent scenics I shot for stock footage sales. I recently got the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 IS lens. Its $1000 cheaper then Canon’s 70-200 and the quality is excellent! I’ve used both and I cant tell a difference in the video! Plus…its black and looks like it’s a part of the camera better then the white model of Canons. That white can reflect more in glass when you are shooting and just looks….weird! Almost all the shots are with this new lens, with a few Tokina 11-16mm F.2.8 shots in there as well.
Anyway, all this was shot on the C100 and recorded on a Atomos Ninja 2 at 24p. The overcranked shots of the water was shot at 60i (Shutter speed of 120) and retimed in FCPX 10.1.
Nothing ground breaking here, just wanted to test the lens in the field and figured I’d make a little film instead of a “test clip” reel.
Focusing on…Nature Photography!
I’ve been shooting more and more stills with my DSLR Canon 7D lately. It started with getting Lightroom and Photoshop leased for $10 a month. I really needed Photoshop for the Charles Steinmetz documentary I was editing to clean up all the old archive photos. Once I had the programs, I started watching online tutorials (can never stop learning) and was intrigued by what these two programs could do. I never shot much in the RAW format, I found the files too big and the workflow too cumbersome, but with the new software, the image possibilities were to enticing not to give it a try! What RAW does is basically record on your CF card the exact data that is hitting your cameras sensor. This allows you to change almost any setting after the fact! You can adjust color balance, exposure, sharpness, bring back detail in the white parts, pull up detail in the shadows etc… It basically allows near complete tweak-ability after you get back from shooting.
In the past you had to expose for the highlights and let the rest go into darkness, or expose for the shadow areas and the highlights would get blown out, but now you can get both to be properly exposed by shooting in RAW and tweaking in Lightroom and Photoshop after the fact. Is it “cheating”? I guess in a way…however it allows me to present the image closer to how I saw it in the filed, which before was always a compromise. Some times I do “paint” the image up with some added highlights and shadow areas to give it interest that werent really like that in the original scene, but to me it’s almost a blend between painting with paints and photography. It’s an artistic interpretation that is opening up a whole new level of “fun” for me! Here are a few examples: Click on them for larger views!
“Drawings” TV Commercial
This is a TV commercial I shot and edited for adworkshop. They wrote and produced the spot for North Country Savings Bank. Like all their work, it’s very clever and fresh! It can be a challenge to work with kids but I must say this all went down without a hitch. I shot it with my C100 which I mounted on a jib arm to get it directly over their heads looking down on their drawings. Anne Rast and Kari Hoffman were the Producers and Directors on the commercial and lined up the kids, the location (LP Elementary School) and created the “drawings” in various stages of completion for the kids to color in!
Plants are cool, too! Episode 5
Sorry for the long delay in updating the website. I just get so busy and forget to add new stuff! Here is the next episode of PLANTS ARE COOL, TOO! We shot this the same time as we did Episode 4 in New Mexico. This is a different location and a different subject. We trekked into one of the most remote sections in all of the continental US to search for species of plants that have not been discovered yet! It was also incredibly hot! True desert heat of around 110 degrees + and NO SHADE!! The camera kept on ticking though. Check it out when you get 15 minutes to spare.
Their Last Days- A Canon C100 Nature Film
I love shooting fall scenics in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York! This year was a great one for color. I was only able to get out a couple times, but when I did the light was fantastic. This was all shot with my Canon C100 and recorded to a NINJA 2 external recorder. I sell stock footage online at Shutterstock.com so having all the clips already in ProRes is worth the hassle of setting up the external recorder. It also helps give better image quality for very highly detailed shots or shots with lots of motion. These are the ones where the AVCHD codec runs out of bits.
Specifics: Shot using a picture profile I cooked up that is a combination of some I found online and tweaked to my liking. Mostly based on the Wide DR setting. Color turned up some and adjusted for more red and contrast increased some, (black level and gamma adjustments). Further post color correction was done to get the most out of each shot.
Lenses: Canon 24-105 F4, Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, and most shots were with my Tamron 18-270 super zoom! I love that lens and while it isnt as sharp as the Canon, it gets you an incredible range.
Thanks for watching!
Plants are cool, too! Episode 4-New Mexico
Doing this show is one of the highlights of my year! We have such a great time making them and it’s always fun to “get the band back together” to do so. You see, the host Chris Martine and my co-producer Tim Kramer both used to live near me in Upstate New York, but have since moved to different parts of the country. This was the first episode where we all arrived from different parts of the country. It’s always “interesting” flying with TV gear, and this time I had to go it alone. Luckily, it all arrived along with me (not always the case when you have to check some of it). Soon we were on a journey across the deserts of New Mexico to shoot not just one, but TWO episodes of Plants are cool, too!
This episode involves giant hawk moths that fly for miles each night in search of flower nectar — and are thus critically important as pollinators of desert wildflowers. We met up with Krissa Skogen (Chicago Botanic Garden) in New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument and found plant romance happening by the light of the full moon!
Shooting in the desert heat (105-110 F during the day) really was a challenge! The camera got so hot, being black, that it sometimes overheated, giving a temperature warning in the viewfinder! Luckily, a few minutes of down time in the shade gets it back running again. I used the SONY EX1 for this, as doing this kind of run and gun shooting (all handheld) is best with that camera instead of the Canon C100. Its always important to use the right tool for the job!
Oh yeah, did I mention we had to look out for scorpions and rattle snakes all the while we were working as well! That’s a new experience for this country boy from Northern New York!
This episode was the first one that Tim and I did a collaborative edit on and it worked out great! We are both using FCPX and once the file structures are the same on our hard drives, then its just a matter of swapping the project file over the internet to see the edit the other guy was working on! I been so busy lately that Tim did most of the editorial cutting on this one, getting the story down and I did the clean-up/polishing to it. Which included audio sweetening, color correction, graphic creation etc…
Its a long video, so grab a beverage and prepare to get edu-ma-cated!! 🙂
“Sentences” TV spot for adworkshop
I do alot of work for adworkshop in Lake Placid. They are simply a great group of people to work for! Their ideas for client spots and advertisements are always creative and very well planned. This is a commercial for Canton Potsdam Hospital who is their client. Anne Rast and Kari Hoffman did the storyboards, hired actors, and found the locations for each shot in this one. Our goal was to make a “national” quality spot for the client at a fraction of the cost of a big national ad! I’ve been told the client was very happy with the results of everyone’s hard efforts! For those who want to know the technical details, this was shot on the Canon C100 and I used a variety of lights for different scenes. The first shot was an arri incandescent kit, then it was mostly F&V LED Ring lights and reflectors for the outside shots. All footage was recorded to an ATOMOS NINJA 2 external recorder that records in ProRes format (a much higher bit rate then the internal codec of the C100).
Ronald McDonald House Charities-Burlington VT
This is a video that I worked on with Tim Kramer of Northway Productions. We actually did two videos for the Ronald McDonald House in Vermont. One was a volunteer training video and this one which is more of an image piece they could use to show people what they are all about. They (and we!) were very pleased with how it came out. I wanted to post it on my blog as an example of a company image video.
Whiteface Lake Placid – Summer Passport video
I shot and edited this video for adworkshop in Lake Placid. It’s a fun video showcasing the Summer Passport from whiteface.com. It was all shot in one day. Kudos to Kari Hoffman for putting together the tight schedule and lining up the “actors”. The song is very catchy and it’s licensed from audiojungle.net. I’ve been using them for a while now because you can license music for @$17 a song. Very reasonable and it’s quite good! I had heard this song on there and was waiting for the right project to use it on, I was excited to hear Kari say she thought it would work perfectly for this video.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to jump off an Olympic size ski jump. Luckily, Kari’s husband Taylor is a ski jumper, so he and his buds took the gopro helmet strap up and did a few runs with it! Pretty cool stuff so make sure you make it to the 1:45 mark!
This video is a good example of using the right camera for the right job. Most was shot with my Canon C100, however, the GoPro 3 was used on the POV car shots, stuck to the outside of the Gondola and on the ski jumpers and luge/bobsled riders. I also used my Sony EX1 for the overcranked shots of the ski jumpers going slo-mo into the water. Each camera has it’s strengths, and you need them all to get the job done sometimes!