The best moment for any filmmaker is being there for a subject’s authentic, vulnerable emotional moment. When they speak what they know & their information or opinion carries weight because the full force of their experience and heart is in it, we know we have found what we are looking for.
We were able to experience that while creating this piece for LifeCanada.
Filmed at our studio on a Sony FS-100 & Red Scarlet camera using Canon glass.
I showed up on staff at a Christian summer camp hungover… then, by myself in a riflery range, I really had it out with God and said, ‘either I believe this and I’m in, or I’m not.’
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Part 2 -
Early this year, Camp Qwanoes had us produce the theme music video for their 2012 summer, “Live it Up.” This should also settle any questions regarding what happens when lots of LED lights, one very cold February night of shooting, and mirror suits combine.
Here is a behind-the-scenes that Trevor Stackhouse, our recent intern, cut together for us. If you can’t imagine what it would be like to work with us, this may help you… or it may not.
One of the clients we enjoy working with the most, Apologetics Canada, recently asked us to design a new brand for them.
This design was chosen, as it best reflected their straightforward, no-nonsense, bold approach to their mission of helping believers to think & thinkers to believe. Find out more about them at apologeticscanada.com
We’ve built a pretty robust media management system over the past few years, more of which we’ll share in a future post. For the purposes of this post, it’s sufficient to know that we archive our completed projects to drive sets. An archive set includes a main drive, which stays at our studio, and a backup of that drive, which lives offsite.
All hard drives are programmed to refresh data as the heads skim along the drive. But that only happens when the hard drive is powered up and operational, but these drives stay powered down more often than not. And why would you care? Well, the reason drives refresh data when they’re running is because the magnetic data stored on the drive fades, or loses it charge, over time causing you to lose all the data on that hard disk. This data can start to disappear as early as a year after the hard disk is powered off. Obviously this is, to say the least, undesirable.
The best way to avoid this from happening is to spin up the drive every so often – but, how would you know when all the data has been refreshed? Our solution is a simple command line technique that reads the entire disk. We perform it on each archive disk once a month.
- make sure you are logged in as an Administrator
- open Applications > Utilities > Terminal
- at the terminal prompt, type: sudo cat /dev/rdisk0> /dev/null (note: there is a space AFTER “sudo,” “cat,” and the “>” sign)
- replace ‘rdisk0′ with the number of the drive you wish to refresh. To find out the drive number, go into Disk Utility (in your Applications/Utilities directory). You will see all your mounted disks in the left column. This list is indented. It will say something like “232.9 GB Hitachi” and underneath that will be your volume name indented, like “Macintosh HD”. – Click on the top line (the “232.9 GB Hitachi” line in my example) – Click on the Info button – Read the “Disk Identifier” line. It will say something like “disk0″. Where Disk Utility is saying “disk0″ or “disk1″ or “disk2″, … put an “r” in front. This is the name you use in the command (/dev/rdisk0 in this case)
- hit enter, and there it goes! You can see how fast the read is going by starting Activity Monitor.app (in your Applications/Utilities directory) and select “Disk Activity”. You will see lots of data read but none written.
- “sudo” is a command that says “run the following command with root (administrator) privileges. You need this privilege level to read the disk as if it is one big file (as opposed to reading each individual files).
- “cat” is a command that says copy the following file.
- “/dev/rdisk0” is the name of your primary disk. It is a file name just like a .mov but it happens to represent the entire disk. Since this follows “cat”, this is the file you are copying. (Note the use of the letter “r’ in front of the word “disk”.)
- ” > /dev/null” says to copy the file (/dev/disk0) to the file named /dev/null /dev/null is a special type of device. Anything you write to it will be thrown away. It’s like copying things to a black hole.
- so, essentially, you’re telling your machine to read the entire disk and copy it to nowhere. Simple and effective!
- you can cancel the current read by pressing Control+C
- if you want to time how long it takes to do the read, you can change the command to sudo time cat /dev/rdisk0 > /dev/null When finished, the command will output in seconds how long the read took.
Every so I run through our archive drives to make sure they are in good working condition. While doing that, I found these poster concepts I did for a conference a little while ago and thought I’d share them.
Doing what you love for a living means sometimes you get to do it just for fun. A couple months ago, we asked a friend of ours—the fantastic Jeremey Zimmerman (whom we’ve filmed playing music before)—if he’d be into recording a cover of the song “The Saving One” by Starfield. It turned out early the next morning was most convenient time for all of us to shoot so within 24 hours we had it filmed. After over two months of post-production—mostly because a certain documentary shoot took much of our time—and a bang up editing job by our fearless intern Joanna, we are pleased to present Jeremey Zimmerman singing The Saving One from the rooftops.
In February of this year, myself and a few of my Vancouver friends visited Seattle to enjoy a concert and a weekend away. We stayed at the Coggins’ place, a family that my wife and I are close to and enjoy visiting. Their one daughter, Emily, has played me songs on various occasions that she had written. I’ve always encouraged that in her, because music it is a place that one can speak in such a way that words can’t do justice to. She always struck me as being genuinely authentic in her music, and this is something I enjoy seeing in an artist, sometimes more than the art itself.
While there, we hung out for the majority of the day with her (which included an epic photo adventure at Gasworks park in Seattle), and she played us some more of her music. Throughout that day, I think my buddy Luke, from Truthmedia Films, and I both caught glimpses of Emily’s ‘art.’ By art, I mean not just a cultural artifact that person produces, but I include the nature of that person; the hidden, deeper parts of the person’s soul from where the visible art comes from.
It was fun to encourage her that in day, to tell her that we believed some of the things she dreamed about could actually happen, and that her art is meaningful to another person. Before leaving that evening, Luke and I threw around ideas of filming a performance piece of one of her songs. As it turned out, all of us were pretty excited about the idea, Emily was scheduled to visit us in Vancouver during her spring break, so I decided to make it happen. I have a great friend who had a contact at Armoury Studios near False Creek, and he helped me out securing that location for the shoot; after all, every piece of art deserves a gallery to do it justice. It is a beautiful place, all of which was a part of the gift we wanted to give her.
It was a really fun shoot, but it was a solid bit of work as well. The original concept was just a multi-camera, one-take video. The idea here was that because Emily wasn’t quite skilled at playing to a click track, and we had no playback track, sync between different takes would be problematic. However, on the shoot day, we ended up shooting multiple angles, all of which were beautiful, but of course none of the takes were at all able to be synced. More on that later.
Crew-wise, Nick AD’d it for us and kept us on schedule. Josh operated B-cam on our RED Scarlet and set up lockoff insert shots on our Sony FS-100, and Luke operated A-cam on his RED Epic. I generally produced the day, and made sure Emily was having a good time. Also have to thank Nick’s wife, Laura, and my fantastic wife, Juli, who both came along for the day and hung out with Emily during takes in the control room.
Truthmedia Films provided a lot of equipment – the RED Epic, the Kessler crane system, a number of Kinos, and a set of Zeiss CP.2 lenses with EF mounts that we used on all three cameras.
The studio provided a sound engineer who recorded all the takes, and simply gave me the individual tracks for each take (one vocal, two stereo close mics, and two stereo room mics) on a USB drive.
We clap-synced each take after the control room and all three cameras were rolling to make sure each take was in sync.
Post production took me the better part of the following three days. I was aiming to be done within two days, but the sync problem we created for ourselves made it a more difficult post-production process than I would have hoped!
All editing was done in Premiere Pro CS5.5. The RED footage was edited natively, while I transcoded the FS-100′s native AVCHD files to Prores. Grading was done in Davinci Resolve 8.2, so all footage needed to be prepared ahead of time to be in a format that Resolve could manage. I synced each take individually in their own timelines.
The main difficulty in post was the sync issue that I mentioned previously. Because there was no sync between takes, cutting to another angle proved incredibly difficult. What I ended up doing was cutting in a master timeline along to the best audio take. When I knew I wanted to make a cut, I’d feel out which shot would work best – wide jib, closeup, reverse, etc., and find that take in another sequence. Then, I’d copy that shot to the master sequence and manually sync using an an obvious auditory cue, such as a certain note, or a syllable of a particular word. Most often a short would stay in sync for at least five seconds – long enough to get my use out of it before cutting again!
Once I’d done a couple passes on the edit, I opened up the sequence in Redcine-X using XML. Obviously the Prores files from the FS-100 were offline at that point, but I only needed to copy/paste metadata settings between the Scarlet and the Epic to make sure those shots were exactly the same – might as well make it as easy to move grades around in Resolve between shots as possible. I love me some RAW! I also did a small bit of one-light grading in Redcine. Save the RMD’s and that step is finished.
Because all the footage shot on both RED cameras had movement, the lock-off shots on the FS-100 looked a bit jarring. So, I sent the sequence to After Effects, made compositions out of each FS-100 shot, scaled up the shots ever so slightly (about 105%), and used the Wiggle expression to give the shot a bit of a
smooth handheld look. I rendered out each shot and replaced them with the originals in Premiere.
I sent the sequence to Resolve via XML. I was going for a bit of a warm, cross-process look, and I’m pretty happy with the results I managed. A lot of time was spent in the curves on this one. I also made massive use of Resolve’s shot stabilization – I smoothed out many of the Scarlet handheld shots, and took out any and all bumps from the jib on the Epic shots. Because we finished in 1080p, I had tons of room to punch in a bit after the stabilization, or to tweak the frame a bit. Rendered out, sent an XML back to Premiere, and rendered out.
The project was a lot of fun. Big lesson learned: make a solid decision about how you are going to shoot and what sync solution you’re going to use and stick to it! Other than that, it was a blast giving that as a gift to a young friend of ours. I know she enjoyed the production a lot and had a lot of fun – but more than that, I hope she knows how much she is loved, and how much people can be moved by what she has to give.
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In May of 2012, Storyspark and Transposition Films headed to the northern provinces of India to capture the story of Mia Kumari, a fashion stylist. While Mia’s story is yet to come, this is a peek at a bit of the footage we filmed along the way, edited together by Storyspark. Enjoy!
Filmed on Red Epic & Scarlet
Music by Chris Zabriskie