Posts tagged ‘Mark 2’
I’m very excited to announce the launch of “Betrayed“, a short thriller co-written and directed by Joshua Grossberg and starring Seth Gilliam (The Wire), PJ Sosko, and Cara Buono (The Sopranos). Betrayed, one of the first narrative works to be shot on the Canon 5D Mark II, follows husband and reporter James Vance (PJ Sosko) who mysteriously disappears, but not before leaving a cryptic video diary leading law enforcement to unravel the crime of his demise.
The making of Betrayed begins about a year ago when I shot my first video (a music video of my younger sister, Etana) with the 5DII. As I was sifting through the raw footage, my friend/filmmaker Josh Grossberg happened to be in my neighborhood and stopped by for a visit. Excited that I’d just finished shooting my first video, I showed Josh some of the footage and he was blown away with the quality produced by the inexpensive DSLR. It was at that point we began to discuss the idea of collaborating to create a film.
Together we reached out to our friends and suddenly we had dozens of talented and eager crew members willing to volunteer their time to make this film. It should be noted that the overall cost was kept quite low, especially for film standards.
As a still-photographer, I certainly learned a great deal from this experience. Making a film is far more complicated than taking a still image and requires far more time, patience, and persistence to get to the end. The ambitious 4-day shoot involved numerous company moves which meant dozens of crew members had to work together to move all gear, props, etc. to multiple sites to shoot additional scenes….at times moving everything/everyone to different Burroughs throughout NYC all in the same day. Needless to say, after four 16-hour days with little sleep and nonstop work, everyone was exhausted by the end.
After the principle photography was wrapped in the Fall of 2009, there were numerous pick-up shots and scenes that still needed recorded. I also led visuals as part of a smaller crew working with the cast to record the remainder of the film over the next few months.
As if shooting the film wasn’t enough, then came another hurdle, post-production. After many revisions, editing of the short was finished in late fall; subsequently the trailer was recently completed. The short itself is being submitted to film festivals worldwide with the goal of raising the financing needed to shoot the feature-length version.
The past year has been full of adventure, learning – and much stress. I’m glad to finally be able to give you all a peek!
Hope you enjoy the trailer!
Normally, following around a 15-year-old boy for an evening wouldn’t be that exciting – unless the young man is the newest overnight pop sensation, Justin Bieber, playing his first concert at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden.
When I got the call to photograph Bieber, I didn’t have a clue who the young man was. My editor told me that he was a star born and discovered through the magic of YouTube and subsequently R&B artist Usher took Bieber under his wing – so began his transformation into a star.
The concert at The Garden was actually a music festival put on by the NYC radio station Z100 called “Jingle Ball 2009” in which numerous artists, mostly those with the fan base of 12-16 year old girls, performed. Artists included Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Usher, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Kris Allen, Jay Sean, The Frey, and Ke$ha.
I was tasked to follow along and document the evening with Bieber and his entourage, which consisted of managers, his mother, another young friend, myself, Usher, and a bodyguard. To my astonishment Justin was one of the biggest stars at the venue, with young girls screaming and squealing at any glimpse they were able to steal.
Because of the number of performers at this concert, there were numerous dressing rooms for the artists. As I walked down the hallway and passed the other artists’ rooms, it was obvious that Justin’s was the one that all the backstage pass holders wanted to be around, clogging the hallway around the door. I even ran into Harvey Weinstein who brought about 5 young girls backstage to meet Bieber and Usher.
I also ran into Trey Anastasio backstage, lead singer and guitarist for Phish. Though he’s played the venue a number of times, this time he was here with his young daughters in order for them to meet their teen idols. Since I’ve been to nearly a dozen Phish shows, I couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with Trey and snap a photo of us together. (Trey actually lives in my neighborhood and I see him walking his big, white dog from time to time.)
As Justin’s set neared, his management cleared the dressing room so that he and Usher could start warming their voices. I, too, was kicked out, but managed to talk my way back inside because he and Usher’s relationship is exactly what I wanted to share with NY Times readers. They first started dueting Usher’s song “U Got It Bad”, which they were going to perform together later on stage.
Afterward they started warming their voices using traditional vocal exercises, which was also pretty fun to witness. I’d never realized the extent in which pro artists had to warm their voices prior to performing. Being there shooting stills, I wanted to capture what I was witnessing, so I took some video mainly as a way to listen back to the audio. But after watching all the clips I took, my editors at the NY Times thought it’d be fun to share the video with readers.
The walk from the dressing room to the stage was a significant trek that had us passing numerous other artists’ dressing rooms, crew, and fans with backstage passes in the hall trying to steal a glimpse of the stars. Moving quickly and flanked by his entourage and security escorts, it was hard to even notice Justin in the middle as we swooped through the winding hallways. But as we passed, everyone – especially the young girls – took notice and swooned for him calling his name and asking for autographs.
Once truly backstage on the floor of The Garden, Justin and his crew met up for a quick pow-wow and before I knew it John Mayer was coming off the main stage and was shaking hands with Bieber.
As Justin went onstage, I ran to the front and shot from the pit (the area between the stage and the first row). With young girls screaming in my ear and clawing at my back to get to Justin, I continued shooting as Usher came out and performed his song, “You Got It Bad”, together with Bieber.
Before I knew it his set was over and I rushed back around and caught my favorite moment of the evening – when Justin and Usher came off stage together. There was a true moment happening in front of me as Justin looked up at his mentor while walking off stage at his first show in Madison Square Garden.
After Justin’s set, I broke off from his crew and decided to watch and photograph Taylor Swift who closed the festival.
It was an unlikely concert for me to attend, but it proved to be quite an experience!
Congrats Justin on your accomplishments!
Last week I received a fun instant message from my pal Vincent Laforet (who until 6 months ago was my neighbor on the UWS of Manhattan) letting me know he was on a plane cross-country back to JFK for one of his infamous helicopter shoots over NYC. He asked if I wanted to fly along. I accepted….it was a no-brainer.
I met Vincent and his right-hand man, Mike Isler, at the 30th St. Heliport on the West side of Manhattan after being told only to dress warm. I had nothing to do other than observe, so I brought along my cameras and documented the fly-along taking mostly video of the shoot with my 5D2‘s.
The photo shoot was to take a portrait – while hovering from the helicopter – of a couple in the crow’s nest of a NYFD fireboat with the Manhattan skyline lingering in the background for New York Magazine’s year-end issue. (This couple met on the flight that crashed into the Hudson River last year.)
I really had no idea the planning and preparation that went into one of these shoots. Vincent and Mike have the aerial photo-shoot down to a science. They work with only a handful of first-class pilots and have all the proper safety and photo gear necessary to get the best possible shot.
I was to the left of the pilot strapped-in with a four-point seatbelt (waist and both shoulders) into the front seat of the AStar AS350 B2 facing forward, which, due to my restraints, made it a bit difficult for me to see all the action that was happening in the backseat behind me.
Vince and Mike worked as a team in the customized rear of the cabin in which the door and backseat was removed in order for Vincent to sit, ass-on-floor, with his hands and legs hanging out the side. Harnessed in with a full body harness, Vince would shoot out the side of the aircraft while behind him Mike would pass forward requested gear and swap lenses. Mike worked out of a secured Think Tank roller bag containing the equipment. Vincent also had an assistant on a chartered NYC Water Taxi vessel with ProFoto strobes firing remotely with Pocket Wizards, so as dusk came he could light the subjects.
On top of that, they had to tune out Air Traffic Control and helicopter-to-helicopter chatter, while communicating not only with each other and BOTH vessels, but also directing the talent in the crow’s nest freezing their butts off!
God knows I certainly enjoyed myself!
Big thanks, as always, to Laia Prats for her help editing the video!
My first ever video shot with a Canon 5DII.
I’ve held out for the past four years because I really felt telling the news, as a video journalist, just wasn’t for me. That was until I found myself with my newest camera upgrade, the Canon 5D Mark II, a still-camera that takes surprisingly high-quality video. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
I’ve always enjoyed playing around with camcorder-style video cameras, though I never had the fortitude to deal with all the headache of post-processing (photo editing is difficult enough), hence my aversion to pursuing the video route in the first place. It wasn’t until this camera upgrade that I was given the opportunity to take such high-quality video using my existing lenses.
After playing with the video function on a few assignments I found the 5DII incredibly simple to use when taking video footage, though with a few feature limitations that I otherwise depend upon while shooting stills.
When my 15 year old sister Etana called to ask if she could come to the city for a visit, the idea of shooting a music video came to mind. She’s a really talented singer/songwriter, especially for her age. It seemed like a prime opportunity to jump right into the video end of the pool Initially I thought of it as a way to bond with her, but after shooting the first scene and looking back at the footage I quickly realized how cool of a video it could be if we all put in the effort.
Etana immediately went directly to a recording studio and recorded a vocal and acoustic track completed to act as the foundation for the video. Not possessing anywhere near the logistical support needed for a real video, we put the Mp3 on my iPhone and played it back over the speaker in all the different locations as she sang the song for the camera.
The production of the video consisted of four people in total:
• Myself as ‘the cameraman’
• Etana, as ‘the talent’
• My Step-Mom as ‘the help’
• My Girlfriend Laia as ‘the producer’
The only gear used was a Gitzo Tripod, the 5DII, and an assortment of very fast prime lenses, as well as a light reflector to bounce the light in one scene. No artificial light was used in the making of the video.
We began filming in my living room, with the idea to open and close the video with Etana answering and ending a phone call. I found that setting up the scenes were a bit more difficult when using a tripod because of the lack of mobility to slightly alter the perspective. This also has a lot to do with the type of head I used, as I didn’t have a video swivel, rather only a ball head that locks into place. A proper video head is definitely now on my wish –list.
As we recorded a couple different takes in the living room we quickly realized it was snowing outside. My apartment is situated on the ground floor of a Manhattan brownstone. I’m fortunate to have a back yard, which was quickly becoming an excellent set in which to stage additional scenes. We filmed one scene of her walking out of the apartment while I followed her with the camera, and it came out all right. I again realized the need for optional gear such as a steady cam. It would be fun to play with some of the fancy gadgetry available in the film industry. (Are you listening, Santa?)
While in the backyard, I set up another shot of her sitting at the snow-covered table and found getting a proper exposure to be difficult because of the bright snow, a definite limitation of the 5DII. I was able to use the +/- compensation to over-expose the scene to accommodate for the lack of manual controls, but found it difficult to maintain proper exposure control when the light changed dynamically.
We then decided to take the shoot on-location to Central Park along the famous Poet’s Walk, a place Etana has a fondness for (she performed on a park bench for tips when she visited last June). It was a far cry from the warmth of the summer; it was a blustery 15-degree, snowy day. Already freezing, I set the camera up on the tripod, framed the scene, pushed play and we took one take from each camera angle.
It was then I realized the logistics that need to go into planning a production. Granted, I was shooting guerilla-style without permits, but it would have really helped to have a trailer or tent to warm up in. I felt badly for Etana when she had to take off her winter coat for the scenes. After taking about 10 minutes of footage, we had to leave because she was beginning to suffer from the cold.
Access to Times Square was difficult due to the main areas in the center still blocked off from the New Years Eve festivities the night before. We were fortunate to find a spot untouched by tourists. There we were able to pull off one take of the song before the blustery cold again overtook Etana.
Sound was another issue I need to think about when planning my next shoot. The noise in Times Square made the iPhone speaker useless, so we were forced to have her hold the phone to her ear as if she was taking a phone call. Proper wiring with a headset or use of a louder speaker will be necessary when I shoot my next music video.
After we finished shooting all the scenes, Laia spliced and cut a very rough version of the video. The quality that came out of the original iMovie ‘take’ really surprised us, but we did find the program to be very limiting. It’s similar to the difference between iPhoto and Photoshop (or Aperture). So we upgraded to Final Cut Pro.
It was time get a little feedback from trusted friends and the feedback I received was very helpful. It was suggested I pick up the pace of the cuts and not linger too long on each scene. I was told I needed more footage in which the camera was off the tripod and in motion. It was critiqued that the video lacked a narrative and those recommendations were 100% right. At that point I decided it would be worthwhile to fly back home to Ohio and get more footage to tell the story – and without the tripod this time.
Along with booking in two days of portrait sessions, I went to the local mall with Etana and several of her friends (including her boyfriend who played a primary role), and followed them around as if they were stars in a reality show. I wanted to show her relationships and how they related to the song she was singing. I think after re-cutting the video, the extra footage really helped break up the repetitiveness of the original cuts. Also, I think it helped show another side of Etana.
The last thing we did while in Ohio was hit the recording studio and add musical accompaniment to help fill out the song. On top of her voice and guitar track; a bass guitar, drums, tambourine, and shakers were added. I really feel the addition to the audio provided a radical and welcome addition to the presentation. We were all very excited to see what was created.
It was just when I thought I was finished that I visited a filmmaker friend’s studio and was introduced to the world of video color correction and fancy filters. At first I didn’t think I needed any, but when he applied them to a few scenes, it really made a difference to the feel of the video as a whole. The 5DII tends to saturate the scenes a bit too much.
What I thought would be a fun-filled few days experimenting with my new camera to pull together a rough music video starring my kid-sister, quickly turned into a month-long production. I know the video has its flaws, all of which were lessons learned during my first-ever attempt, but I’m really excited to now share it with you all. This little brother-sister bonding project truly opened my eyes to the potential of a new visual passion of mine.
I think it’s a good time to embrace the exciting technological advancements. It took me until now to jump on the bandwagon…and I don’t plan to jump off anytime soon!
Here’s the Making-Of “This Time”:
Note this is all raw footage with no color correction or post-production.
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Oh, and here’s my sisters too.