It was back on the road this summer to shoot a couple more episodes of our plant show! This time we went to the central part of Pennsylvania. These are always so much fun to make. It’s a chance for myself, fellow producer Tim Kramer and host/producer Chris Martine to get back together. We all used to live in the same area when we started this series, but now Chris and Tim have moved away. Getting to see them and make these programs is like getting the “band” back together again!
Here is Chris’s explanation of what this video is about from YouTube:
“Many off-roaders think conservationists are all “tree-huggers”… and many conservationists think off-roaders are all “tree-killers.” But somewhere in between there is a sweet spot where forests are appreciated and cared for. In the case of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), that sweet spot might even help to reinvigorate a local economy.”
We met some fantastic people making this one including a kindred spirit in Lance Schwartz who makes his own videos for ATV Rider magazine! He is in the video and was loads of help, and fast became a good friend!
Animals may get all the love on TV but……Plants are cool, too!
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.
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.
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>.</p>
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!
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!
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.
This is a commercial I shot and edited for adworkshop. The client was Canton Potsdam Hospital. It was a fun one to work on. I was going to be shooting it and doing the editing. There was some special effects for this one, beyond what we normally do, so I did some test shots in my yard with my son to figure out how to do it. We wanted a jogger to be jogging in slow motion while everyone else was running full speed. At first we thought having him run against a green screen would work, then we could composite him in and then slow down the footage, but then the realities of painting a treadmill chroma key green and how realistic it would look began to sink in! Plus the shot he was to go against would have to moving at his slo mo speed, meaning a dolly or truck shot. To avoid this he needed to be coming directly at the camera.
After some test shots, I figured out that if the camera is stationary, then you can shoot multiple passes and then just mask out certain things (the guy jogging) and it would all look seamless. With the camera locked off on the ground level shot, we had the guy jog towards us, I shot this in overcrank mode (60 FPS instead of the usual 30FPS), so the slo mo would look better/smoother after when played back at 30FPS. Then once he ran by, we positioned the other runners to run on each side of where he was, when it came time to edit, I masked out a box around him and put it over the background runners shot! Since the camera didn’t move, it looked seamless! For the next shot to freeze him, I took a freeze frame, cut out around him (And his shadow!) and put that over the same composition of others running by, again, don’t move the camera and it’ll work! What really sells it is the foreground runners, which I shot over a chromakey on location. Just frame up the chroma key in bright sun, then have some runners run through the shot! The blur is perfect, and all you need to do is composite them on top of the other two layers!
Check it out below!
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.