12Jul

Steadicam Interview for College Tour Completed

Shannon Tour


This is a 15 minute high def video I made for Marymount College in California. The idea was to recreate the experience a prospective student has when he/she goes on a campus tour.

These tours are run by student volunteers, so nothing is scripted. Just about all of this footage was single take, and all of it was done with a steadicam- no locked down shots. The client wanted a look that was a lot more “Reality TV” than “Feature Film”, so that worked out well. The idea was to create something that was an honest, unscripted look at the College for students who may not be able to physically travel to Marymount and get a real life tour. And I had a blast, because I got to work with a great long time client on something new, plus I got a lot of much-needed practice with my steadicam and HVX200.

Besides the lack of tripod, dolly, etc I also did this project thinking that I’d only be miking one person- our tour guide. However, as we went from place to place we ran into all kinds of interesting interview subjects. We only had the one lav- so I had to do a lot of audio work in post to bring the interviewee levels up to where they were acceptable.

All that said, I had a lot of fun with this project and it turned out pretty darn good. Shannon, the tour guide, was excellent at her job and I think students watching this will definitely relate. Most importantly, the client loves it. That means I love it, too.

Click to watch on Veoh
Click to watch better quality QuickTime version (big file alert!)

Oh yeah, I did the motion graphics and music on it too. The motion graphics began as a template in Apple’s Motion, and I tweaked that to give the College an appropriate look.

7Jul

New Commercial

screen

This week was a mad dash to finish up a commercial for a client. It was a challenging project- all After Effects, and the only content they had was a product photo. I wrote the spot, did the storyboards, hired and recorded the voiceover artist, recorded the soundtrack, mixed, turned that product shot into part of a convincing 3D environment, and did a ton of multiplane compositing in the new After Effects CS3. And I did it all in glorious 720P High Def. Did I mention that I only got my copy of After Effects on Monday? I love CS3.

Turned out that my little laptop wasn’t up to the task of all this work, so on July 4th I went to the Apple Store and brought home a new Mac Pro and 30 inch display. I call him “Indy”. For a few reasons, natch. More about Indy later, but that machine screams! There’s no way I could have finished the spot in time without him.

I ftp’d HD and SD versions of the spot on Friday at 4pm. By 4:30 PM the client had already screened it in their high def conference room for the company president and head of marketing. I love the immediacy of the Internet.

By 4:45 they’d already given me notes on changes. Oh yeah, and hired me to do several more commercials for them. They loved it! What a great time. And don’t worry- I did get to watch fireworks on the night of the 4th from my roof with the woman I love. Best 4th of July, ever.

18Jun

Aaron Rainwater’s Shots of Me on Set

Patrick Ortman and Vinny Fatato on the set of “The Visit”Here’s a link to some pictures taken by Aaron Rainwater on the set of Erica Gabrielle’s film “The Visit”.

The film is currently being edited by Dave Craig, and should be at festivals near you sometime in the next year or so (there’s usually a pretty hefty lag between shooting a film and seeing it on the screen, so that’s not a dig on Dave for his editing speed).

Dave’s shown us a rough cut, and it looks pretty darn good so far. I used my Panasonic HVX200 with a Brevis 35mm lens adapter to shoot the project. My only complaint with the rig was my lack of P2 cards- I only had 3 at the time, the rentals fell through- so we had to be very careful about what we shot.

Of course, we shot this back in the Spring of this year. I’m on to other projects now. Still, thank you to Aaron for the awesome stills photography- it’s good to see that those late nights did, in fact, exist. Thanks!

18Jun

Aaron Rainwater’s Shots of Me on Set

Patrick Ortman and Vinny Fatato on the set of “The Visit”Here’s a link to some pictures taken by Aaron Rainwater on the set of Erica Gabrielle’s film “The Visit”.

The film is currently being edited by Dave Craig, and should be at festivals near you sometime in the next year or so (there’s usually a pretty hefty lag between shooting a film and seeing it on the screen, so that’s not a dig on Dave for his editing speed).

Dave’s shown us a rough cut, and it looks pretty darn good so far. I used my Panasonic HVX200 with a Brevis 35mm lens adapter to shoot the project. My only complaint with the rig was my lack of P2 cards- I only had 3 at the time, the rentals fell through- so we had to be very careful about what we shot.

Of course, we shot this back in the Spring of this year. I’m on to other projects now. Still, thank you to Aaron for the awesome stills photography- it’s good to see that those late nights did, in fact, exist. Thanks!

2Jun

I’m Busy

final cut studio 2



Looks like I will be busy for a while, Final Cut Studio 2 arrived last week and I’m using it to cut a virtual tour for a client. I shot it all in DVCPROHD, 720p. I have ideas of combining this video tour with an interactive map and even some really cool oldschool QuickTimeVR nodes of key locations- all in Flash, probably. The tour will also be available for the client in DVD format with motion graphics and other stuff.

Maybe it’s a bit crazy to do a paying project with a brand new set of software upgrades, but so far no problems. In fact, some of this project really needs the updated Final Cut software- I’m doing some really nice stabilization in Motion for it, and I’m using Color to do things like make grass greener than it was, etc.

2Jun

I’m Busy

final cut studio 2



Looks like I will be busy for a while, Final Cut Studio 2 arrived last week and I’m using it to cut a virtual tour for a client. I shot it all in DVCPROHD, 720p. I have ideas of combining this video tour with an interactive map and even some really cool oldschool QuickTimeVR nodes of key locations- all in Flash, probably. The tour will also be available for the client in DVD format with motion graphics and other stuff.

Maybe it’s a bit crazy to do a paying project with a brand new set of software upgrades, but so far no problems. In fact, some of this project really needs the updated Final Cut software- I’m doing some really nice stabilization in Motion for it, and I’m using Color to do things like make grass greener than it was, etc.

22May

Changes and Additions

I’ve changed the blog around quite a bit this week, so if you’re now missing something you liked- sorry. And if you look around you may find a whole lot of new stuff you like even better.

I’d also like to mention that the new EmptyStreet website is up and running at www.emptystreet.com. EmptyStreet is my web design/development company, we’ve been around since 1993 and we do all sorts of fun yet corporate projects.

22May

Steadicam Work

steadicamI spent 5 hours yesterday with a camera strapped to me, capturing material for a client.

The steadicam worked out pretty well, even though the day was a bit windy- wind is the bane of steadicams, it throws them off balance.

I’ll post stuff in a few weeks, once the spots are completed. I’m definitely getting a lot better at operating this rig.

19May

FSB Article on Movie Decision Making

FSB (Fortune Small Business) magazine had an article this month about making decisions. Specifically, on making bad decisions. Not surprisingly, they used the movie business as their example of how not to run your business.

They pointed out that in general Hollywood movies get made because of relationships- the studios like to do business with known quantities. They, like all of us, prefer to work with their friends. This goes for actors, writers, directors, etc.

But it seems that these relationships don’t really have much to do with a movie’s success. In fact, the more relationships a movie sports the WORSE is tends to do at the box office.

So why does the movie business insist on dealing with writers, directors, and actors that they have relationships with? Why not put that money towards more truly competitive projects that could reap a lot more cash for the studio?

Easy. FSB got it wrong- success or failure in the movie business is not really about how a particular movie does at the box office. It’s often a lot more about doing favors for your friends and expecting favors back from your friends. It’s about keeping your job. It’s about making a defensible decision, even if it’s completely the wrong decision.

And really, how is that any different from the rest of corporate America?

17May

I Really Like My Panasonic HVX200

hvx200 I’ve had my HVX200 for only a few months, and I’ve used it on a bunch of jobs- mostly small commercials, industrials, a concert film, and a short drama. I love this thing! First of all, I was smart enough to get a few P2 cards (you need P2 cards to record high definition with a HVX200- it records to solid state media, not tape, when doing highdef). And my Apple MacBookPro now has a nifty device by Duel Systems, which plugs into the cardbus slot and allows me to offload the P2 cards extremely quickly into my Mac. The new version of Final Cut Pro (shipped, should be here in a day or two) makes the P2 highdef workflow even easier. It’s also backwards compatible with my DVX100.

On set my HVX200 absolutely kills the other “prosumer” cameras I’ve used- the DVX100, the Canon H1 and XL2, and the Sony Z1:

I love the Z1 in every way except one- it records interlaced and it doesn’t record 24 frames a second. It’s great for video and industrials but for more filmic things it means I need to spend a ton of time in post converting it to progressive frames and a better framerate. That’s what we used for “Headhunting” and “Deliverance By The Slice” and it worked very well. But I don’t always have the time to do all this post work for clients on tight deadlines. Plus, it’s tape based. And that sucks.

The XL2 is nice, but it’s only standard def. And it’s tape based.

The DVX100 is still a cool camera (I used it as Bcamera for the concert video). But it’s getting old, and it’s only standard def. And again, it uses tape.

I hate the Canon H1. Just hate it. It was used on that PSA I helped out on last fall. Plus, it’s tape based.

Going tapeless with the HVX means I don’t have to log tapes and wait for long imports, and I’ve found that for my work 3 P2 cards work just fine. Most importantly, the pictures and sound are absolutely incredible. I do a lot of greenscreen, and the better colorspace of the HVX200 over the (also nice) Sony Z1 is really a godsend.

I don’t normally go on about a product. But this camera has changed how I work, all for the better.

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