April 15, 2013
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February 21, 2013
Three Makes A Set
I succumbed and bought myself an early birthday present, the Zeiss ZF.2 F2 35mm prime lens!
This brings my total prime set to a 35mm F2, 50mm F1.4, and 85mm F1.4, and yes, that is a set.  Though not a complete one.  Over the next year or so I plan to add a 21mm F2.8, a 28mm F2 and a 100mm F2.8.  The reason for these specific lenses is both for need and for performance, the 21mm and 100mm are considered top of their lens classes and fill a need for wide and more telephoto lenses.  In comparison the 18mm F3.5 is generally considered to have some flaws, so losing a little bit of width for a higher quality image makes sense.
That also came into play with my 35mm lens.  There are two versions, the F2 and F1.4.  The F1.4 is nearly twice the cost (which was a factor), but also the tests done indicate that the lens has issues wide open at F1.4, and overall the F2 was reviewed of having a superior image.  Though reviews and real world experience are two different experiences.
Anyway, excited about the new lens, hoping to try it out soon!

Three Makes A Set

I succumbed and bought myself an early birthday present, the Zeiss ZF.2 F2 35mm prime lens!

This brings my total prime set to a 35mm F2, 50mm F1.4, and 85mm F1.4, and yes, that is a set.  Though not a complete one.  Over the next year or so I plan to add a 21mm F2.8, a 28mm F2 and a 100mm F2.8.  The reason for these specific lenses is both for need and for performance, the 21mm and 100mm are considered top of their lens classes and fill a need for wide and more telephoto lenses.  In comparison the 18mm F3.5 is generally considered to have some flaws, so losing a little bit of width for a higher quality image makes sense.

That also came into play with my 35mm lens.  There are two versions, the F2 and F1.4.  The F1.4 is nearly twice the cost (which was a factor), but also the tests done indicate that the lens has issues wide open at F1.4, and overall the F2 was reviewed of having a superior image.  Though reviews and real world experience are two different experiences.

Anyway, excited about the new lens, hoping to try it out soon!

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January 11, 2013
The Zeiss ZF.2 lenses.  They’re sexy, they’re sharp and a few of them are now mine.
I recently bought the Zeiss ZF.2 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.4 and I just love them.  Let me run down the reasons:
They’re super sharp.  I’ve been burned by glass in the past that never feels sharp enough, but this is the same glass as used in the Zeiss CP.2 series and the look is amazing.
The focus ring has a cine-like rotation.  So many of the still lenses have tiny rotations which means a slight bump could drastically change the focal plane, not these lenses.
The iris is manual.  It means that they can (and will) be declicked, so the exposure isn’t locked into stops and half stops, instead it can be dialed in to that perfect look or can be changed smoothly on the fly.
They feel like real lenses.  None of those plastic exterior, these are metal and just feel like quality manufacturing.
They’re color matched.  That means as I buy more they’ll all have the same look, so no troublesome color correcting in post
And truth be told, I will be buying more.  Next up is probably the 35mm, then a few more wide lenses and perhaps eventually a 100mm.  By next year at this time I hope to have a set of 5 in a nice case.  The hardest part is resisting the urge to buy more right now.

The Zeiss ZF.2 lenses.  They’re sexy, they’re sharp and a few of them are now mine.

I recently bought the Zeiss ZF.2 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.4 and I just love them.  Let me run down the reasons:

  • They’re super sharp.  I’ve been burned by glass in the past that never feels sharp enough, but this is the same glass as used in the Zeiss CP.2 series and the look is amazing.
  • The focus ring has a cine-like rotation.  So many of the still lenses have tiny rotations which means a slight bump could drastically change the focal plane, not these lenses.
  • The iris is manual.  It means that they can (and will) be declicked, so the exposure isn’t locked into stops and half stops, instead it can be dialed in to that perfect look or can be changed smoothly on the fly.
  • They feel like real lenses.  None of those plastic exterior, these are metal and just feel like quality manufacturing.
  • They’re color matched.  That means as I buy more they’ll all have the same look, so no troublesome color correcting in post

And truth be told, I will be buying more.  Next up is probably the 35mm, then a few more wide lenses and perhaps eventually a 100mm.  By next year at this time I hope to have a set of 5 in a nice case.  The hardest part is resisting the urge to buy more right now.

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January 7, 2013

Here’s a video I DP’d a while back.  Perhaps the biggest challenge was all the location moves.  We wanted to keep them varied enough in frame size and look so the cuts felt natural while still telling a cohesive story.  I think we achieved that, and the visuals were targeting a less-dramatic more flattering look that fits the content being delivered.

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May 19, 2012

SIFF 2012

The Seattle International Film Festival (or SIFF) is a pretty cool festival and one of the highest profile fests in the Pacific Northwest.  So I’m happy to say that two films I worked on are screening at this year’s event.

First, the short film “Out” (formerly “Lost in Transgression”) that I was Cinematographer on way back last May, will be showing on May 26th at 4 PM at the Uptown Theatre.  It’s a cool flick with some Hollywood stuntmen involved in an intense fight.

Second, the SIFF Fly Film “C.B.” that I helped out on as a grip will be showing on May 28th at 4pm at the Uptown Theatre.  I posted about the Fly films previously, but they were fun shoots where a lot of the Seattle crew came and contributed their time.

If you get a chance, check both of these out!

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May 4, 2012

Update Splurge

Well, I haven’t updated in months.  Part of that was because I moved to a new place that’s twice the size, and it’s been a process to get the furniture to fill it.  But that’s an excuse, and excuses have no value.  So instead here’s a quick update as penance:

  • The High Bar is doing great.  We’re airing on PBS now and will start airing on UW on May 12th.  We’re also gearing up to shoot a ton of new episodes at SIFF this year and already have had a great mixture of compelling guests.  Check it out at www.thehighbar.tv.  One interesting fact, since we’ve been on TV our access to “name” guests has increased greatly.  So, if you want name people on your show, just get on TV… almost a Catch-22, I know.
  • Speaking of SIFF, I worked on the SIFF Fly Film “C.B.” earlier this year.  The Fly Films were a great meetup of what seemed like every crew member in Seattle.  We descended on the Pacific Science Center to shoot several short films over a couple days.  If you get a chance to go to SIFF, check it out.
  • I worked as a camera operator for a Travel Channel show called “The Dead Files”.  They go to haunted places with a detective and a psychic medium and investigate what happened there.  We shot at Starvation Heights which was quite spooky.  The entire process of shooting this show was fascinating, especially as I love a good haunted house story.  But really I can’t go into it on here.  If you see me on set ask me about it.  One of the more fun shoots I’ve had recently.
  • Another surprisingly fascinating shoot I worked on was a documentary about hand clapping games among children.  They’re more popular among young girls, but it registered in my mind when the director mentioned it.  When the director started going into detail though, it was really fascinating, about how we’re the only animal able to keep synced rhythm externally with other beings of our species, and how as insignificant as that may seem, it’s actually part of what allowed us to progress.  Without it we couldn’t have manned massive boats (with synchronized rowing) or built the pyramids (1-2-3 heave!).  There’s a lot more to it, and I’ll post a link when it comes up.
  • It seems like I’ve become the jib operator for Chase Jarvis Live.  They use a 12 ft. Kessler jib with a remote head, and honestly, it’s a blast to play with.  I dig their style and they get some amazing guests on the show.  The key to using the jib and remote head seems to be a mixture of touch and confidence.  I can’t help but think my years of video game playing helped somehow.
  • I’ve been working a lot for creativeLIVE as a camera operator.  It’s an amazing crew and some really useful classes.  The hardest challenge about these shoots is standing for 8 hour days with a monopod and trying to keep the shots fresh, but I feel like my body has grown stronger and my mind more inventive from these days of shooting.
  • I work with the non-profit Social Venture Partners quite often, and I’m in the process of shooting two videos for groups they support called Explorations In Math and Friends of the Children.  They’re amazing causes, and honestly I feel honored to help tell their stories.  I’ll comment more on that when I post the videos.
  • Commercials!  I was a cinematographer on a bunch of them.  If/when I get sent the links I’ll post them on here.
  • I finished two feature lengths scripts.  One was sent off to festivals, the other is out for it’s first rewrite.  I’m very proud of these works and will report more on the process once they develop further.
  • And much more! But this post is long enough!

I’ll try to update more regularly and will hopefully have some footage to show soon!

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February 7, 2012

Millions of Potatoes, Potatoes for Me

I shot a documentary at a potato packaging factory the other day as part of a larger piece about farming, and during filming I was presented with a unique challenge.  It seems that the millions of potatoes running along conveyor belts cause the floors of the factory to vibrate.

My initial plan for b-roll in the factory was to shoot on my slider with my DSLR.  However, this caused a weird jello effect on certain shots due to the rapid small vibrations.  To combat this I decided to go handheld and keep on a wide lens.  This worked amazingly well at eliminating the vibrations, and with a steady hand I was also able to keep my shots moving as if shooting on a slider.

Just a reminder, that even though you may have a ton of gear, sometimes a good handheld shot will accomplish the job just as well.

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February 3, 2012

Epic Can Do Stills Too

In Seattle we don’t just have hobos under our bridges.  No, we also have Mountain Bike parks under there.  Yes, our hobos are that athletic.

But anyway, I spent today hanging out with the crew from Chase Jarvis and shooting video with the Red Epic.  We wanted to see if still images could be pulled from the video in a high enough quality to pass for professional photo work.  Since a lot of the work at Chase Jarvis is active sports stuff, we needed to test active people to see if the motion blurred.

To do this you have to shoot at a high shutter speed, and a huge advantage of video for creating stills is also to shoot at high frame rates (we went up to 96fps) which is amazingly useful for capturing that perfect still moment on camera.  Unfortunately, we also didn’t want to go past an 800 ISO as that lead to a little too much noise in the shot.  To accomplish this high shutter, low ISO, high frame rate shooting style, we ended up using a generator with some 800W & 400W PAR HMIs.  And I primarily handled the lighting aspect of the shoot.

There will be a post over at Chase Jarvis in the next week or so, and I’ll link to it then so you can see the final results.  But l think the Epic handled the stills from high motion video challenge very well.  It’d be difficult to do in a low light situation, or without powerful lights to boost the image, but it’s just another function of a pretty powerful tool.

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January 8, 2012

Gary Oldman Interview

We’re gearing up for the third season of The High Bar (the show I’m Director and Technical Director for) and we managed to get a few minutes alone with Gary Oldman while he was promoting “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” to discuss his career and process.

And by a few minutes, I do mean a few minutes.  He was on a crazy schedule and we got into the room 30 minutes before he showed up and then had exactly 15 minutes of his time.  Obviously in this type of schedule you can’t go over on setup time, yet we still had to get three cameras set up as well as audio and lighting.  Oh, and we only had three crew members.

So what we ended up doing was keeping it simple.  Content is king on a shoot like this and we needed to make sure we got it all.  We devoted two crew members to setting up camera and audio (and double checking that it worked) and then one other crew member set up the lights.  We had a minor gear issues with the lights (of course), and had to roll with just two kino divas.  Fortunately we could boom them out on c-stands and use them both as hair lights/keys.  The look isn’t quite as polished as I would have liked, but at least there’s some shape.

Another issue, Gary came in and decided to favor his left shoulder early in the interview, which unfortunately killed our OTS shots.  We couldn’t stop mid-shoot and ask him to shift sides, so we rolled with it.

At the end of the day we got our interview with an A-list actor, and we managed to keep him on schedule, which in turn made the publicist happy.  For an up and coming show like ours it’s incredibly important to keep these relationships working and to show we can follow the rules.  But we also got a really great interview out of it!

Enjoy!

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December 19, 2011

The High Bar Is In Your Home

Awesome news that we’re finally allowed to announce.  The High Bar will begin airing on your TV (assuming you live in the greater Seattle area) starting in 2012.  We’ll be carried both on local PBS affiliate KBTC and the UW channel starting in early February.

Not only is this a great validation on the work we’ve already done, but being associated with a television channel should allow us to get even bigger guests for the new year.

Happy Holidays!

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