Friday, November 7, 2014

Caribbean Cruising

I spent the first five days of November working on a Carnival cruise ship commercial in the Caribbean, which sounds great in theory. In reality, there's nothing romantic about running gear all over a ship full of guests and working 12-14 hours a day. It was just like a normal job, except that the ground was shifting and at the end of the day I went to sleep in a windowless room. Fun, right?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Up to Speed

Its been a REALLY long time since i've updated, I know! There has been so much going on, its been hard to keep up. A quick bulleted recap of the past month:

* We bought a house! It was a long and difficult process but we closed about 2 weeks ago.
* We're renovating a house! Its a long and difficult process that just began. Wish us luck.
* Lots of work! I've gotten really busy and exceeded all of my expectations for what might happen when I move to New York. Its been all different kinds of gigs which is fun and fast paced, but sometimes stressful. I also finished editing the Artisans pilot and sent it off to the network for finishing touches.
* Weddings, events, holidays - filling the gaps between work and house stuff

I haven't shot a roll of film in a month, and that is a tragedy. Here's a collection of iphone photos from various recent gigs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

San Juan del Sur

Earlier this month, I went down to Nicaragua to do some work on a reality show shooting in San Juan del Sur. I've spent a lot of time in Nicaragua (probably almost a year's worth of time) but never made it down to the south because I try to avoid touristy spots. I ended up having a great time and being blown away by the contrast from the north of the country, I may actually have to plan a surf trip there sometime (in the off season). 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Smart phones = Dumb people

I work in a field dominated by technology, and as a freelancer I live and die by emails, phone calls, and texts. That much is not really up for debate. However, I have been making an effort to try to spend less time worrying over the "fear of missing out" (FOMO). The goal is to continue to work, blog, and capture but to spend more of the time in between outdoors, reading, or doing something away from a screen. I've recently been encouraged by some great reads, such as:

"Reboot or die trying"
"Instant gratification"
"Nature connection will be the next big human trend"

This is more personal than what I usually share, but it is in no way a pledge/pact/philosophy, just an attempt to spend more time here:

And less time here:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Laughlin, Nevada

I just got booked today to go back to Laughlin, Nevada for the third time and realized that I never edited these photos from my last trip there. The job is for Ford trucks and we shoot on a beautiful but scorching hot section of highway. I snapped these photos on my Olympus XA2 of the camera car and the surrounding area. 400TX might have been the wrong film for shooting in bright desert sun, but its what was in the camera at the moment and that's just part of shooting film. Unless of course you have a Hasselblad and multiple film backs... one day. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Flyin' Over the City

I think it's safe to say that this was one of my favorite days of work that i've ever had. The job was for channel 7 filming their news helicopter air to air and then recording stock footage around Manhattan. I rigged the camera in Long Island and then we flew over to the city, shooting for the afternoon and evening. Getting to see New York from such an amazing angle for so long (most helicopter tours are 12-15 minute and very expensive!) was mind blowing! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Martha's Vineyard, Part 2

I've recently been dreaming about a shiny new Contax T2 to replace my Olympus XA2 (I know, I move fast sometimes) but this roll reminded me of why I love the XA. Small enough that you hardly know it's there, so easy to pull out and snap candid moments, and occasionally somewhat sharp. I'm taking a short break from film until I have my own apartment again, which is kind of strange but I have a big backlog to keep sharing so stay tuned for more.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ornond Beach Memorial Day

Way back on Memorial Day weekend, Steffy and I road tripped up to our friends' place in Ormond Beach and spent the weekend hanging out at the beach, at a flea market, and on the Daytona boardwalk. These were shot with a Canon A2E and Ektar 100 film. I love my A2E because I have so many EF mount lenses that I instantly had a whole package and its really a breeze to use (and cheap!). This was also the day that I acquired my beloved Olympus XA2, such good memories. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Martha's Vineyard 2014

It has been way too long since i've posted any film photography, but in my defense we did just move to New York and all of my tanks and chemicals are in storage. A few days ago I found time to go to Manhattan and drop off 8 of my rolls at Luster photo. I found them on google, and they did a pretty good job for a reasonable price. I spent most of today scanning them in, here are a couple from our annual trip to Martha's Vineyard that I shot with my Yashica Mat 124G. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Helios 44-2 and Helios 135mm vintage lenses

Using vintage lenses on modern cameras has recently become very popular, not only because of their attractive price but also for the interesting look they can give. There are enough articles about them to fill many books on the internet, so i'll just to share my experience with two particular lenses that I own. A great place to find more info is Vintage Lenses for Video. After the recommendation of a DP friend of mine, I started looking into old lenses that produced what is called the "swirly bokeh" look. I wanted to add some flare to my "artisans" pilot without breaking the bank. I did my research and ordered two lenses on ebay, the Helios 44-2 58mm f/2, and the Helios 135mm f/2.8. I spent about $120 total on both lenses and shipping. 98% of them come from Russia or the Ukraine and the descriptions can be pretty dicey, but using my moderate Ebay intuition I picked some pretty good ones. The only thing you need to adapt it to a canon camera is a $12 M42 to EOS adapter. Check out the photos and read about how to use them below - 

Using these old lenses can be tricky because they don't "talk" to your camera. What that means is that you have to set the aperture manually and your camera has no idea what you set it at, rendering aperture priority and shutter priority modes useless. You also will have no autofocus. For video this obviously isn't a concern which is great, but I have been using these a lot to take photos for Steffy's blog. I start by setting the aperture around 2.8 and then doing trial and error to get a good exposure. To focus, you can set it by eye but it is easier to use a live view preview and zoom in for better accuracy. It's a little more complicated than using my regular Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, but I think the results speak for themselves. The 58mm produces a wild looking swirl when you shoot in front of a busy background, and both lenses flare like crazy. They may not be perfect for every situation but when you have the option to be creative and add some character, I don't think there is a better way to do it on such a budget. Using these lenses has opened up a whole new world for me and actually made me excited to shoot digital again! There are so many out there to choose from an experiment with, I just picked up a 35mm Mir-1B lens for $40 and have my eye on lots of others (but I do need to hold back for now). So if you have the patience and $40 or $50 on hand, get out there and do some experimenting. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Artisans - NYC

We just wrapped up shooting for my new video in New York, and I had a blast. The locations were Acme Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, and Black Seed Bagels in Little Italy. The crew consisted of myself directing and shooting B camera, a producer, a second operator working the A camera, our talent, and a sound guy. Everything went well and I think the decision to use my new vintage lenses paid off. I wanted to give the show a unique look, and after a lot of research I picked up a Helios 44-2 58mm f2 and a Helios 135mm 2.8 lens. From my quick reviewing of the footage i've seen some really fantastic shots, my job now is to edit several hours worth of video into a 6-7 minute episode. Stay tuned for updates on the show's progress!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Long Beach New York (not California)

I had thought about keeping this quiet, but the secret is out - Steffy and I have moved to Long Beach, New York. We just finished driving over 1,300 miles from Miami and spent our first weekend at the beach and in Brooklyn. I'm really looking forward to living here, its the best of both worlds. We live next to the ocean in a small, relatively quiet town but are only 40 minutes from the city. Being a freelancer I will work all over the place so this will let me have a car and also be close to JFK for travel. Here's a picture mid-drive with the crazy Uhaul trailer on my car, and some pictures from Long Beach. My pilot shoots this week, and I have two fantastic old Russian lenses I just bought to review so lots of fun articles coming soon!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Artisans - Shoot Day #1

I just finished the first day shooting for my Fusion pilot with Zak the Baker. It has been in pre production for a few months so I was really excited to get started. I'm planning to share my experiences and workflow throughout the process of producing so that you can see what goes into making it happen. The show is focused on two locations that we are going to film in New York next week, but I needed to have b-roll of Zak at his bakery as well. Since there was no sound, I chose to shoot this part on my own to minimize cost. The two shoot days in NY will have a second camera person and an audio guy, as well as more rental gear so that is where I am choosing to use the majority of my budget. I did rent a Red Scarlet which you can see in the photos, since I was focusing on the baking, mixing, and shaping I wanted to have the ability to shoot slow motion at a high resolution. My C100 was b-camera which I used for some shots walking in the street and on my dinky slider since the Red was too heavy. I didn't use any lights because the bakery has amazing natural light, and because I didn't rent any or have someone to help set them up. The next step is to go through this footage and prepare for the New York shoots. Stay tuned!

red camera, bakery, zak the baker, matt degreff
red camera, scarlet, bakery, zak the baker

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On editing / My new video!

Jeff Rogers Pottery from Matt Degreff on Vimeo.

The last week has been a busy one here at Footlong Films. I drove 1,000 miles in 4 days taking a Cineflex camera to mount on various helicopters around the state, from Apopka to Marathon Key. I have also been finishing the post production on my latest video for Jeff the Potter, as well as wrapping up pre production for my upcoming pilot for Fusion. This has meant only sporadic blogging, and no time to develop any negatives (I have two rolls in two cameras that are almost at the end!). Steffy got this great shot of me in my editing element so I thought I would share a little about what I use to edit and why. I usually edit from home but our power was out so we were at a local coffee shop this day. Read about my setup after the photos. 

1. Computer - 15" Retina Macbook Pro. Most of my videos are shot with my Canon C100 and 7D, so this computer is plenty powerful for editing those relatively small files. It also does a decent job transcoding Red footage, and my pilot will be 50% shot on Red so it is going to be put to the test soon. While I would love to have a killer Mac Pro setup with a 27" Apple monitor for working from home, I cant afford it and need the ability to be mobile. Half of Jeff's video was edited on airplanes or in airports.

2. Software - Final Cut X. This program got a bad rap from the start, since initial versions weren't so powerful and people felt like it was "dumbed down". It's come a long way and now up to version 10.1, and I think the criticism is unfair. I don't come from an editing background, I really picked it up as a necessity so i'm probably the perfect target market. I need a program that can handle all different codecs and has all the basic editing functions in a simple layout. Adobe Premiere and After Effects are overwhelming to me, when it gets to the point where I need more in depth editing I hope to have the budget to hire a professional. 

3. Plugins & additional software - LUT Utility, Magic Bullet Looks, Davinci Resolve 11. I have used Davinci which is an amazing free color grading program, but always had difficulty importing mixed frame rate clips. I'm sure thats just operator error, but it never felt really intuitive to me (again, a non editor). I recently bought the FCX LUT utility, which is an amazing plugin that gives you a great place to start your color correction and has LUTs for Canon log (C100) and cinestyle (7D). The magic bullet looks are cool as well, but I haven't had a project recently that called for such strong visual effects. 

4. Additional things - I keep my backups stored on 2TB USB3 G-Drives, and have a small 500gb bus powered one for editing on the fly. I've found that most of the time I can edit off of the drives pretty speedily. I have various USB3 and Thunderbolt readers for different types of cards, and an Anker USB3 splitter which just died on me after only a few months. I'm thinking about getting a Caldigit Thunderbolt station and upgrading my cheap 23" external monitor before I start editing the pilot. 

That's pretty much it, I know I have a long way to go in improving my editing but I learned everything from google and youtube so I'm proud of my progress so far. Feel free to share your setup or advice!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

No Country for Camera Men

This week I was in the Nevada desert for a truck commercial. Unlike my normal cineflex shoots, this one had me mount it to a car instead of a helicopter. Using a gyro camera system on a car let us get perfectly stable shots while racing along at 100mph. This particular video was promoting the "toughness" of the truck, which is why we shot in the desert in the middle of summer when it was 108 degrees. It was definitely an endurance test, and as you can see from the second picture it got so hot that we had to take the back cover off of the camera to keep it from overheating. That being said, I love the landscapes out west and the incredible sunset almost made you forget the fact that you just impersonated a piece of bacon for 12 hours.