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.
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!
Parade of Homes-Real Estate Video
I’ve been working with the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association in Albany, NY for a few years now. Mostly producing a TV commercial for them to highlight their PARADE OF HOMES tour each June. Visitors can tour a dozen or so homes over two weekends. This year they wanted me to shoot each home and produce a compilation tour video as well as break out each home/builder for their own separate video. The compilation one is below and I wanted to post it here as a sample of a home/real estate sales video. Nothing shows off a home better then moving video! My very wide angle lens (Tokina 11-16mm F-2.8) was used for the vast majority of this. It just covers more of the spaces in a single shots because it’s so wide! There is some barrel distortion with that wide a lens, but the benefits more then make up for it. Most of this is also shot with my Canon C100. The steadycam shots were done with a a Canon 7D on a Glidecam 200.
Rediscovering the Light: Restoring New York’s Capitol
Here is the TV promo I made to promote the Public Television special I’ve been working on with Joanne Durfee at WMHT in Troy/Albany NY. She’s been the Producer/Writer and I’ve been the shooter/editor. We hope to have the show ready to air by late June 2013. It will probably air on all the PBS stations in NYS. This half hour show will highlight the completion of phase four on the restoration project to bring the Capitol back to it’s original splendor. It really is an AMAZING building that one should visit if in the Albany NY area.
An Italian Affair TV Commercial
I do some local commercials for Time Warner cable from time to time. Usually it’s for the smaller establishments that want to get their message out but on a limited budget. This commercial for An Italian Affair in Massena, NY is a prime example of that. The owner Aaron clearly loves everything about his restaurant and wanted to promote it. I came up with the idea of the tired Mom, just getting home from work, and being met by the kids looking for dinner! To keep the costs down, I managed to talk my wife into being in it along with my son and his girlfriend. I also did the voice over for the rest of the commercial!
I utilized my new GoPro Hero 3 camera to get some unique angles. Its a small, 2×2 inch camera that you see snowboarders using strapped to their helmets as they fly down the mountain. Here I attached it to the pizza peel as it removes the pizza from the oven and into a box and also on the order the waitress is bringing to a table.
The food was all shot on a rotating table my Dad built a few years back for me using a chicken rotisserie motor! Food always looks better when it’s rotating.
We wanted to give off the vibe of a fun place to eat with great food. I think it worked with the help of all the great staff, great food and oh yeah….my understanding family!
Bluff Point Golf Resort 2013
Bluff Point Golf Resort is one of the oldest golf courses in America. It’s located on the shores of Lake Champlain, NY, near Plattsburgh. Last year the owner contacted me about shooting some footage to highlight some of the unique features they offer. Probably the main one is the lodging rentals right on the course. They have great “cabins” which may sound rustic to some but are actually quite cozy. There is also access to a private sand beach, horseshoe pits and more! This is an example of a video a client can put on their website by embedding it from YouTube at no cost. People love to watch video on websites now and there’s no better way to really get your message across then with video, narration and music all cut together into a 2-3 minute message!
TV Commercial-Alice Hyde Medical Center: Walk-In Clinic
This TV ad features the wonderfully talented Aengus Andrew! He was in a spot we did last year called “Boo Boo” and did such a great job that we wanted to use him again. He has no formal acting training but really loves doing it and comes across very natural on camera. I Co-Produced, shot and edited the spot, Tim Kramer Co-Produced and ran audio and Alice Hyde’s Cathlyn Lamitie was also Co-Producer. We shot this all on the Canon 7D with separate audio recorded on a Zoom H4N and synced in post on FCP-X.
Quest for the Magic Light
It’s all about the light! Photography and videography are, by their very nature, dependent on light hitting the sensor of the camera. That light can be soft and muted or bold and vibrant. I found both kinds while out shooting this years autumn colors in Northern New York. It was a spectacular year (2012), with many bold reds mixed in among the yellow and orange hues. Most of these clips are again from the Adirondack Mountain region of far upstate New York.
While I think you can’t beat bright blue skies and sunshine for the best Autumn shooting, I did go out on some misty, rainy days and found the light to be quite spectacular as well, but just in a different sort of way.
I’ve included both in this video, which features the music of Tim McMorris (“Translation”). His work can be found on AudioJungle.net. I just recently learned of this site and find the licensing fees to be priced right and plan to use more from there in the near future.
FInally I used the Canon 7D and my Sony XDCAM EX1 for the cameras, and my cobracrane jib and Konova slider for the moves.
How to shoot from a boat!
This is a short video that shows how I shoot video from a boat including some sample shots! I like a flat bottom boat for minimal clearance under it (you can go to REAL shallow water), and also for setting a full size tripod on it, being able to smoothly pan is a big plus. I also shoot from a canoe but a flat bottom “John” boat works better as it’s less tippy. Use an electric motor driven off a deep cycle marine battery, this will add minimal vibration to the boat. Setting the bubble (keeping horizon straight) for the tripod is important and tricky as a slight shift in your body will change the horizontal level in the boat. You need to put your one arm back on the motor like you are running it, then adjust the bubble of the tripod to keep it level when you are shooting. If your arm isn’t back like you are steering it, then the level will be off when you DO move your arm back!
Pick a very calm day (no wind or waves) and use an external monitor.
TV Commercial-Bluff Point Golf Resort
This a TV spot I made for Bluff Point Golf Resort in Plattsburgh, NY. They are one of the oldest golf courses in the country! It’s very scenic being located right on the waters of Lake Champlain. It was a pleasure to work with the owner Paul Dame and his staff, as well as my niece Emily and her friend CJ who are seen in the cabin section! We are going to putting out an extended video for Youtube soon that explains the cottage rentals and golf course in more detail!
Summoning of the Muse
Here’s a spot I put together to show some new clips. I recently went to Vermont and shot a bunch of covered bridges, old barns etc., most are for my stock footage company www.shutterstock.com, but I thought I would put a bunch of them together in their own video and post it to Vimeo. Believe it or not, by posting videos on there, I get quite a few requests for footage from people searching there for clips now. I always liked this song by DEAD CAN DANCE and thought it might work with some of these clips. The lead singer Lisa Gerard has such a haunting voice…I’ve been hooked on her since hearing her sing “Host of Seraphim” in Baraka.
TV spot I shot for adworkshop
Here is another TV spot I shot and edited for adworkshop in Lake Placid. They are the marketing agency for North Country Savings Bank. Its a humorous ad based on the bank’s “We Get the Whole Story” Mortgage/Lending campaign. The spot highlights how NCSB loan originators look at more than just the credit scores when evaluating a loan applicant. I lit it with 3 LCD dimmable lights and 1 of my ARRI 350’s. There was some nice ambient lighting already in the restaurant, and believe it or not, it was during a bright winter day with banks of windows behind the camera and to the left of camera! Using the LCD’s with daylight color temperature as the outside light helped make it all match. I then set the camera for shooting at 5600k and it then it was a matter of augmenting what was there with the 4 lights I used.
As always, adworkshop did a great job of finding the actors and dressing the set to look perfect! And of course they came up with this funny way to show off a service the bank offers.
TV commercial I shot for adworkshop
Here is a spot I shot (DP- Director of Photography) for adworkshop. They are the marketing agency for Canton Potsdam Hospital. Its a great concept that was a fun time to shoot. Kari Hoffman was Producer and Anne Rast was the Director/Art Director. They did a great job of finding all the 1950’s props and also in hiring the 2 kid actors. Anne also made those cool looking baseball cards of regular people to look like 1950’s baseball cards!
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!
WARNING: This is a post for those who like to know the technical side of things!!! If you are not interested in that, just scroll down and hit “play”!!
This is a video I made to test the Technicolor Cinestyle preset for my Canon 7D. It basically is a free download for Canon DSLRs that greatly opens up the shadow areas of the image. The picture as shot will look very washed out, (MANY examples of uncorrected technicolor cine footage on VIMEO) so it needs to be color corrected in post production to dial in the correct black and white and color saturation settings. But once you do…..WOW! It adds more dynamic range to the image, and it doesn’t have that DSLR, super contrasted look as much. I also feel the moire is reduced quite a bit!
To really test things out, I shot what I consider a contrast range torture test! A mountain stream on a bright sunny day, with lots of dappled light. Bright, bright highlights and deep, dark shadows!
I then transcoded all the footage into ProRes LT, imported and edited in Final Cut Pro and then used Magic Bullet Looks to color grade all the shots. Basically I used lift/gamma/gain and then color saturation. I did not use curves as I found it crushed the blacks and blew out the whites a bit too much. Actually I had issues getting the LUT (Look up table) Technicolor supplies to load into Magic Bullet Look Up Buddy (I think my system- a G5 PPC-is too old to properly use it!). I felt using Lift/gamma/gain gave me the best tonal gradations anyway, especially for nature subjects where a real cine tone isn’t as needed.
I mostly used my Tamron lenses. My trusty 17-55 F2.8 and the super zoom 18-270 F3.5-6.3. Kept shutter speed at 60 at all times, using ND filters when needed to expose properly.
Remember, this is shot using Technicolor cinestyle, but then color corrected in post. Your footage MUST be worked on after you shoot it, it does not look like this out of the camera. It amounts to alot more work in post production, is it worth it? I think so! I found this to make the 7D footage look quite stunning, especially considering what I usually get shooting such a contrasty subject.
Music is from Stock20.com, an excellent source for buyout music.
Arrival of Winter
Here is a short video of some new clips I got with the Canon 7D in the fall and early winter of 2009. Shot in the Adirondack Mountain region of far upstate New York. I missed the peak fall season because of some projects I just couldn’t get away from, but I also like the end of the season and the transition into winter. That is what this video represents.
Hope you enjoy it! The music is “Rock Island, 1931” by Thomas Newman from the “Road to Perdition” soundtrack.
Another short that I shot with the Canon 7D. November is a dreary time of year here in Upstate New York. Not much light or color. Very short days. I went to a waterfall not too far from my house that has an old abandoned mill next to it.
I used the indiSlider in a lot of these shots to add some interest. I call this piece NOVEMBER GRAY, though in reality, the 7D captured alot of color in these scenes! It continues to amaze me. I shot this one at 1080 24p. I also used the stock lens that came in the kit for some of the closeups of the waterfall. Its the 28-135 f.3.5-5.8 IS Canon Lens. Its tack sharp and the depth of field is quite nice when you are zoomed in, even though it’s only a f5.8 lens at that point.
I did some color correction, mainly to adjust white balance, I was shooting so early after sun up that the color temperature was changing quite rapidly.
The music is from Digital Juice. Vol. 50 the song is called MOVING FORWARD.
Last Days of Autumn
Probably my most viewed film online! Posted this over at VIMEO a couple years ago when I first started using the Canon 7D camera. It now has over 44,000 views and is a big demo video on that cameras abilities, being embedded and reposted about on many, many sites!
I shot everything in it in just a few hours one late October day in 2009. It edited together quite quickly too. Not having endless amounts of video makes an edit go quick as your choices on what shots to use are limited!