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!
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!! 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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!
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!
My son and nieces and nephews wanted to make an action movie a few summers ago. We even had a few extra kids from the neighborhood join in. This is what resulted from nearly 2 months of on again, off again shooting (tough to get everyone back together!). It is all in good fun and I hope everyone can see the “violence” is tongue and cheek!
Its a little long, (8 Minutes) but the bloopers during the credits show how challenging this actually was to shoot! Its quite a departure from the usual videos that I post!
Shot in 720 24p with my Sony EX1 and Letus Extreme. Most is overcranked to 60fps for the slo-motion. Color graded with Magic Bullet Looks. Enjoy!
My mentor who taught me so much about TV production back in the early 90’s passed away in 2008. I hadn’t seen him in a few years but still think of his lessons nearly everyday. Many of these locations we shot together nearly 20 years ago. I will always remember him and I offer this video up as my way of saying thanks to an old friend. This was one of the most popular videos I ever did, it was featured on the VIMEO HD Channel.
Technically speaking, this was shot with an EX1 in 1080 30p. Some shots use the Letus Extreme, some do not. A few also use the indislider, but mostly it’s just the stock lens. Cut in FCP and lightly color graded in FCP as well.