Video/TV Production for almost 30 years!

Uncategorized

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!

 

 

Boquet Pano 2 Spring Boquet Pano Spring Smaller Meecham Outlet 2 WM Meecham Outlet WM Split Rock Crop WM


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!!  🙂

 

 


Finally…a new camera!!

It’s been several years since I picked up a new camera.  My last one was the Canon 7D, a DSLR that shoots video.  It was all the craze about 3 years ago.  DSLRs gave nice soft, out of focus backgrounds, the cameras were small and the lenses were plentiful.  Along with those benefits were many “problems” that you had to deal with.  There was no audio on the camera, you had to record the sound separately for an interview and sync them up later in editing. Fine lines tended to “bead” or shimmer.  A nasty artifact called aliasing.  If you needed to shoot a brick building or a shingled roof from a distance, look out!  My 7D served me well, but I’ve been looking for another option for a while.  It seemed a new camera was being released every month if not sooner so I waited until I could find one to suit all my needs.

blog-canon-c100-main-back Canon_C100_fullside-670x439

The Canon C100 came out late last year and it fit almost every category of what I was looking for.  It doesn’t shoot 4k resolution, but that is far off before it becomes a standard and everything else is just right on!  I’ve only had it a few days but so far it is the hands down the best camera I have owed.  The low light shooting abilities is simply mind blowing.  It can capture images in such low light that you can barely make things out to the naked eye.  Not only capture them, as many cameras can get you an image, but this one does it without falling into major grain and noise.

We went on a short camping trip this past weekend.  It ended up raining for 3 straight days!  But it did give me a chance to try out the camera and all it’s settings.  I posted the clips in a short video below.  Notice all the interior shots were done with available light!  And the inside of that cabin was very dark.  I’m still learning about the settings but this footage is very promising and I especially love how tack sharp it is when you want it to be.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/67032306″>Let it Rain-A Canon EOS C100 test video</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user434753″>Paul Frederick</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Plants are cool, too! Episode 3

Our latest episode of “Plants are cool, too!”  is now online!  This one was shot right up here in Upstate New York and features a plant called “Skunk Cabbage”.  Our host Chris Martine visits Rachel Schultz to learn all about this amazing plant that can generate it’s own heat and smells like a “Zombie”!  Find out how and why by clicking below.

 


Getting better with the DJI Phantom!

Here is some footage from the DJI Phantom quadcopter.  If you check the earlier post, I crashed it on my second flight!  Now I’m getting better flying it, and also learning how to get the smoothest video from it.  Still a little way to go before I’m REALLY happy with it but it’s getting there.  For those who are interested in the technical details here is what I’m doing:

1) Balance Props! Basically you put prop on a rod, and see what side is heaviest, then you sand that side down or add tape to the other one.  Continue until they are perfectly balanced and can stay in a horizontal position on the rod.
2) I’m using a GoPro Hero 3 Black-1080 60p medium view with Protune mode on. (This uses a higher bit rate for less blocky footage).
3) In FCPX, import footage to a 30p timeline and slow clip to 50%.
4) Use FCPX stabilization feature (I forgot to on the one clip at 1:05-for an idea of what a non-stabilized shot looks like).
5) Fly in as straight a line as possible in ATTI mode.

I’m only looking for short smooth shots to use in my video productions. Not in capturing complete flights.

Still some warble, mostly in the sunny clips, I think it’s the GoPro3 making an adjustment to battle the brighter light. Either cranking up shutter speed internally or lowering ISO? Not sure but on a bright day some kind of ND would help.

It’s getting there!


My new DJI Phantom remote controlled quadcopter

I’ve been wanting to try out shooting video from a remote controlled quadcopter.  The small cameras like the GoPro 3 Hero can now shoot HD video that rivals the bigger cameras in quality.  I got my GoPro Hero 3 Black edition in December and have been reading about the new DJI Phantom helicopter online.  Its made for beginners to fly and is designed to fly a GoPro for video!  Plus, it is one of the cheaper ones out there.  It arrived in the mail yesterday, I did a short, low flight near my house (deep in the woods), it went pretty well so I ran in, attached my GoPro to it and took off for my second flight!  Eager to see how video from it will look.

Well, it didn’t go so well that second flight!  These things are quite a challenge to control.  I ended up crashing it 40 feet up in a tree!  At least the camera was rolling and it makes for a pretty funny video to watch!

Luckily, the copter seems to be fine and still flies.  I’m now taking shorter, lower flights until I get better at it!

 


Divine Discontent: Charles Proteus Steinmetz

This a teaser for a public television documentary on Charles Steinmetz. I’m Producing it with Bruce Carlin. Steinmetz was one of the greatest minds of the early twentieth century. He worked for GE and was considered the wizard of electricity! When you throw a light switch on, it’s largely due to him that you get power. He was a hunchback dwarf that barely made it into America. He was the one Einstein and Edison went to when they were stuck on problems, however he has been largely forgotten.
He was also an avid photographer, socialist, philosopher, and his story is quite simply amazing!

We are currently in the pre-production and fundraising stage.


Epic soccer action!!

I made this video as a recruitment tool for the SUNY Plattsburgh Men’s Cardinal Soccer team.  It’s my third year doing one for them and was struggling to find a “new” way to do it.  While researching I found the speech “I am a champion” and with that it just came together.  I shot this at  just two of their games during the Cardinal Classic weekend.  Luckily they scored alot of goals!  It’s really tough to make a highlight video without scores.  Having shot alot of sports highlights over the years, I’ve learned to move around the field alot and get different angles.  It’s also hard to make a dynamic video when all the shots are from the same angle and framing.  Finally I shot some of this at 60 fps, called “overcranking” so when it’s played back at the regular speed of 30 fps, it will have very smooth slo-motion!

Crank this one up!

 

 


Nature Weeps

I have relatives who live about 20 miles from Newtown, CT.  They have three children who are in elementary school, and when I heard there was shooting in CT at a school my heart stopped.  While I was glad they were OK I’m still sick to my stomach, as is most of America, at what happened.  I started putting this together a few days later.  It’s dedicated to all those we lost in Newtown, CT on December 14th, 2012. This video uses a haunting song written by Hans Zimmer called “Aurora” that he created for the victims of the shooting at a movie theater in Colorado this past summer.

When will it all end?

 


Plants are cool, too! Episode 2: Fossilized Forests!

This episode of Plants are cool, too! brings us all the way out to Idaho in the summer of 2012.  We were visiting the Clarkia Fossil Bowl, one of the most unique and rare fossil deposits in the world.  In 1972, the land owner was expanding his dirt bike race track when he uncovered some fossils, a fish and some plant/leaf ones.  The Professors at the University of Idaho thought the fish was “Ok”, but the leaf ones were what really amazed them.  They weren’t compression fossils like you normally see, they were the actual leaves, preserved in the mud, from 15 million years ago!

It was the perfect place for the next episode of our internet show!  We worked with Dr. David Tank and his grad students Hannah Marx and Simon Uribe-Convers of the University of Idaho for 4 great days of shooting.  While there we met some remarkable people such as Dr. Bill Rember who showed how he can actually “lift” the leaf off the rock and hold it in his hands.  I shot it and co-produced along with Tim Kramer and Host Chris Martine.  Tim helped rough in the edit and I did the graphics and added all the b-roll footage.  It was a real team effort and one I’m real proud of!

An amazing story like this couldn’t be told in 3 minutes so block out 15 minutes sometime and check it out!  Its further proof that, well….Plants ARE cool, too!


Hannah’s Hope Fund 2012

Hannah’s Hope Fund is an organization some very dear friends of mine started when they discovered their daughter Hannah had a very rare, neurological disorder.  I made a video for them right after they learned of it and this is the follow up four years after.  What they have done is nothing short of a miracle.  I really wanted to accomplish two things with this video, first, let people know what these ordinary people were able to achieve in just four years and two, help them raise awareness and ultimately…money.

I’ve often times wondered if I could have managed what they have done if put in the same circumstances.  We all say we will do anything for our kids, but to actually go out and not only raise 3 million dollars, but sit on the doorsteps of finding a cure in such a short time, is well…mind boggling!

Please take some time to watch this incredible success story!

 


My Demo Reel 2012

Check out my Demo Reel for 2012!  Its just a collection of some of my work from all areas of what I do.  A little bit of everything thrown in with some cool music.  If you are thinking of hiring me, this is a good place to start checking out what I do!  Then click a category across the top of the page that is more in line of the type of video you are looking for and give me a call to discuss rates.  Asking what a video costs is like saying “What does a car cost?”  It all depends on the options!  Are looking for a KIA, a basic model to get you where you need to go, or do you want a Lamborghini, something very high end that makes people say “Wow!”?  Either way, call me and we can discuss it and figure out the best way forward.  With over 20 years of doing this, from National TV shows to Weddings, I am confident I can help you get your project started on the right track!

 

 


Return to Moose Pond

UPDATE June 2012:  This was chosen as one of the five short films to be shown at the Lake Placid Film Forum!!

 

I usually do non-narrative short films. This one is different! My wife, son and I love to go wilderness camping. Where you canoe in with a tent, food and all you need to a remote site. The last several years we have not found the time to go, however our son is getting older and soon won’t be able to go with us, so we made sure to get away the summer of 2011.

It was a special trip and one that I felt needed some narration to explain how I was feeling about it all. Most of the music is by a friend of mine, Scott B. Adams from the CD “Listening to the Adirondacks”. Check him out on iTunes!

I hope you enjoy what is surely my most personal film to date.

On the technical side, I used a SONY EX1 and a Canon 7D along with a Konova slider. Only had room in the canoe for a real junky tripod, hence not much panning or tilting! I shot the 7D footage with the Technicolor cinestyle preset and graded with Magic Bullet Looks.

Let me know what you think of this departure from my normal videos!