I have had the pleasure to work with Merrill L. Thomas Inc. recently doing more real estate videos for some amazing high end properties! Most are edited to music and are done mostly for social media use and promotion. (All of them live on the website for that properties listing too). Some however are more like mini-documentaries, telling the story of the property from a first person perspective. With my documentary background from working at PBS for 11 years, these are right in my swing zone! Below are some examples of both types that I have made with Nick Politi of Merrill Thomas.
If you have a great connection make sure and watch in 4K resolution!
Had some time this summer to shoot some timelapse cloud formations in the Adirondack Mountains. All the original footage is shot in 4k, but I edited it in an HD timeline so i could add some pans and zooms without losing any quality. I didnt use an intervalometer to do this in still photo mode, (triggering a picture every few seconds) instead I just recorded for 10 minutes or so and then sped it up in post. I like this way as I can control the speed of the clouds better and it looks smoother to me when it’s all edited.
Shot this a few months ago but forgot to post it! Was having fun shooting snow falling at 120 frames per second on the SONY A6300. When played back at 24fps, or normal film speed, you get very smooth 1/4 speed slow motion. This was shot out at Pt AuRoche state park near Plattsburgh, NY.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
I only shoot a couple weddings a year. (UPDATE 1/1/15- I have decided to no longer do any wedding videos, they are just too much work as described below). With my regular work of corporate videos, TV shows, and commercials, I just don’t have the time to do too many of these. Plus to be honest, they are probably the most stressful gigs to do!! There is no second takes. You can’t control the situation like with most shoots. Its purely capturing the events that unfold the best you can. And to do them to the level of what I like to work at, its downright exhausting! Most times its a 12 plus hour day. I shoot mostly with my new C100 camera. But during the actual ceremony, I set up 3 other cameras, one that my wife runs, and two locked off shots. This helps later when you edit to keep the shots cutting around to hold interest. On top of that is the audio to worry about! I use two wireless mics, one on the groom and one on the officiant. The bride is usually close enough to either of those two that I can pick her up audio up from them.
I start shooting around 9am for most weddings, getting the bride getting hair and makeup done. Then go over to the grooms location and get them getting ready, then back to brides place to get dress going on. I also do interviews during these times to use through out the video. I find you need some statements to give some kind of “story” and meaning to the finished video. Once I get that all done, it’s off to set up the four cameras and audio at the event location. I also try to get shots of people arriving, the nervousness of the groom etc…this is by far the most stressful time of the day! The clock is ticking and it can be a challenge to set up everything where you need to, get the camera settings correct for each location, find groom and officiant to put wireless mics on them, test those mics to the camera and still get shots of folks arriving! My wife is great and a big help at schlepping gear, but I need to do all the set ups because she doesn’t know much about cameras!
Once the ceremony is finished, I feel a bit relieved! The receptions have moments you have to capture, but I only use two cameras for most of that stuff. By the end of the night, I have over 80GB of camera footage to then sift through later on for the edit. This equates to about 6-7 hours of footage for an eventual 25-30 minute final video! Within two weeks, usually sooner, I edit one of these “Coming soon” preview trailers for the couple to show all their friends what the day was like. They usually post it on their facebook page. These little 3 minute videos can take up to 8 hours to edit! The actual video takes closer to 40 hours to edit! Now, you can begin to see why wedding videos can be expensive! It’s not your Uncle Louie in the back of the event with his handycam, these are full broadcast quality HD movies that could run on TV!
Sometimes I think “Is it too much that I’m doing for these?” “Do I REALLY need to be so fanatical about it all?” but in the long run, it’s a life event for the couple and it’s my job to make the video a treasured keepsake for them. Even more then photos, the video has the ability to REALLY capture the day. The sights, the locations, the sounds, the atmosphere, peoples voices…one bride lost her grandmother shortly after the video and said she was so thankful I got her talking on the video so she could always remember her voice! It’s these little moments in a video that can truly make all the effort worthwhile!
Maryann and Andrew were a wonderful couple to work with! So full of joy and passion that I knew right away this one would be special! The rainy summer decided to take a day off and the actual wedding day was just glorious! They picked the Whiteface Club and Resort in Lake Placid for their destination wedding (Andrews parents live there) and I can’t think of a prettier place to have an outdoor wedding.
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>
A collection of Winter clips I’ve taken with the DJI Phantom Quadcopter and GoPro Hero 3 Black edition camera since I received it 2 months ago. It takes some effort to get footage this smooth but it IS possible! Start with balancing the props! Many videos online about how to do it and it makes a HUGE difference. I picked up an isolation mount for under the copter, this keeps alot of the vibration from reaching the camera. Then I got an ND filter holder and ND filter for the Hero, this removes the last bit of jello in the footage!
Finally, I post stabilize each clip in Final Cut Pro X. Since I shot the footage in 1080 60p, I conform it in the timeline to slow it down to 50% speed, but because it was shot at 60 fps, it looks silky smooth!
So not quick, but this will get you the results shown below!
Isolation mount was purchased from here:
ND filter holder from here:
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Spring is a wonderful time of year. Birds are chirping and the air is fresh and clean in the mountains! I find it very serene and peaceful. This is a collection of images I have shot in May and June in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York.
It’s my first attempt at presenting a video in a panavison, or cinemascope widescreen format! The 2.35 aspect ratio works well for these shots, especially in HD on a BIG screen. I used my Sony EX1 and also a Canon 7D camera. Lenses used were my Tamron 17-55mm 2.8, and the 28-135mm kit lens.
Enjoy and I hope the wide format is OK with everyone, it really is fun to compose for it! It’s much more epic this way! Let me know what you think.