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. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sunscreen + Bugspray

Two things you cannot live without in Florida when working outdoors are sunscreen and bugspray. Every work bag has some in it, and we wear floppy hats and long sleeves and wrap cool towels around our necks to fend off heat exhaustion. I've been on a very physical and hot shoot the past 2 days which has tested me but also made me appreciate the days I get to work aerial jobs in a small hanger. I also shot a piece for a friend of a friend who does pottery and will be editing it next week on my way to Nevada. There is something mesmerizing about the way clay spins on the wheel and i'm really excited to start reviewing my footage. I'll be bringing some film cameras to the desert because it's been more than a week since I shot any and they are calling to me!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Boston, Augusta and lots of layovers

The company which employs me for my aerial technician jobs, Active Camera Systems, recently received a new camera setup. It's made by a small company called Gyro Stabilized Systems, or GSS. It's more configurable than our other system, the Cineflex, but also much larger and takes longer to set up. I recently went to Boston to help out on it's first job and learn the ropes, which was great fun for a nerd such as myself. After that was over, I went to Augusta, Georgia to work on a commercial for a medical company at their HQ. Now i'm home in Miami and will be here without leaving all week for the first time in over a month. Luckily I have some cool jobs lined up and then next week I head to Nevada for a really fun shoot. The summer of 2014 continues to amaze!