New Release - A Gentlemen's Agreement_ Nobody

First time in a long time that I have shot, edited and produced a clip without any help, aside from that of the band members. The concept was simple, the start of a story in which the band gets kidnapped by a crazed fan turned almost cult leader, plays "For their lives" and then are saved by the star of their album cover Dr Chops. The execution was not so simple.

3 months of planning and many meeting later we had decided a shoot day and a style to follow. As with all bands they wanted their clip to be utterly unique in it's style. We went with a tribal cultist theme for the wardrobe and atmosphere, fire and smoke abound with an ample amount of face paint to match.

Fairly early on in production the issue of budget came up, as it always does. I love music video and I make it not for the money but for the passion, as perusing other work is almost always more profitable for me. However I love the band and I have known one of the members for many many years. I wanted to shoot on an Sony F3 with the RED 18-85 2.8 as the clip was extremely heavy on low light situations. However it simply wasn't in the cards for us.

I ended up shooting it on my own camera instead, mostly to save on cost. Using the Sony a57 at 60p and conforming to 24p for the filmic look. I used the Sigma 50mm 1.4 DG HSM as my closeup and details lens and the Rokinon 14mm 3.5 as my wide. Using only fire and 3 Red Heads to light the scene.

Here's some BTS by the extremely passionate Matthew Johnson


So the shoot went smoothly, wrapping way earlier than expected, although it started earlier than expected too. As far as coverage I did a couple takes of the whole song on the wide on the tripod a couple walk arounds on the wide and then went in to close ups of each of the band members individually, aside from that it was just pickups of the fans rocking out, the kidnapping sequence and the tribal leader stuff.

Editing a clip like this is fairly simple, I sync all the footage up to the track and watch each take individually chopping and changing where necessary. Then took the best bits to fit the track and sequenced it as follows. For the droning sound on the intro I recorded some pickup interfearance on my guitar with a Tascam dr-40 which then I played around with with the "Guitar suite" in premier.

As for the colour grade I took care of the within Premier again using film convert to get a feel down then pushed the contrast out like crazy, crushing the blacks to remove some noise. Put some purple into the shadows with and RGB curves

The Sony a57 while a lovely camera tends to have a fair bit of noise in ISO 800 and above so while not completely necisary I wanted to run a de-noising pass on the clip too. Ive had some success with Red Giant Softwares de-noiser in the past but have been hearing great things about Neat Video, so I gave it a go. After setting up a custom profile for my camera the results were day and night. The downside was that a 30 minute render now became closer to 5 hours. No matter though all in the name of quality.

Early on in the production process I had decided to shoot for a 240 aspect ratio. I feel that this aspect best fit the style I was going for. I could have adjusted the physical size of the edit but instead I opted for simply overlaying the footage with a matte I had made up years ago. If you find yourself in need of these I have uploaded them at imgur, just for you. Here's a link.

The clip was debuted at The Hard Rock cafe on Wednesday the 16th of July 2014 in a special fan screening only for the bands most dedicated.

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Shortly after release the clip got picked up by the guys over at Killyourstereo.com. Nothing really to say here just wanted the shout out to these guys. Thanks

Without further ado here it is. Nobody by A Gentlemen's Agreement.


New Release - Milan_Promises

Another steller clip from the lovely Mr James Chappell for Mad Cat Films.

I had the opportunity to act as the first camera assist/focus puller on day one of this two day shoot, stepping back into the familiar 2nd AC position for day 2.

Day one took us to many interesting locations,  started off the day in a quaint little house in Newtown, followed by a cafe in Marricville, a back alley just down the road, then finally the world sleaziest railside carpark.

Day two we turned a quirky warehouse apartment into a drug den and finished up the day at Little birdy studios. I want to shoot everything i can in a propper studio from now on, it was lovely. Chairs, drinks, studio setup Arri Alexa. It was great.

MilanINSTA


Without further ado Promises.

New Release - Far Away Stables_ What are You Waiting For?

The Second music video I've worked on for New Attack Films. Shot on the Sony F55 with Cooke lenses. Check it out guys those funky lights flashing in time with the music, that was my tricky fingers working a lighting board in time with the music.

Was a great shoot, Big Grats to Tim Nagle and Far Away Stables on an awesome clip.

Credits.
Tim Nagle "Director Of Photography"
Jordan Allison "1st AC"
Simon Murrel "2nd AC, Gaffer"

Tech - TVC Delivery

So as of this post I've Delivered THREE TVCs (Television Commercials) for air.

This a laborious as hell process and dives real deep into some stupid tech bullshit.

Thought I might share my experiences so that someone may one day not have to go through what I have. So for the sake of solidarity I'm going to go through delivery and not production, this will cover all the specs required for Australian delivery though Dubsat; though the process is roughly the same regardless though some of the numbers will vary.

 

Firstly you're going to be provided with a list of technical specifications and formats, if your not... FIND ONE. This is gonna be your only way to get through. A lot of these things, at least to me are going to sound foreign, for example Loudness, measured in LKFS.

So the things that will always catch you out. The loudness, which is bullshit, and the Harding test, which is super bullshit.

Loudness is an audio measure that, to my understanding, measures the impact of a track. It's a combination of certain levels and the overall DB. Measured in LKFS or LUFS, but both of these units are the same thing, it's like Celsius and Centigrade.

For Dubsat they want your Integrated loudness to be at -24.0 LKFS, this means no higher than -23 and no lower than -25. Now right now you might be thinking, how do I set this in my NLE. Fact is, you don't. At the moment none of the big three support loudness monitoring. A quick google search will tell you that the way to measure this is with a Dolby Digital deck. Now I know one guy who has one of these, it costs a fortune and the guy is an audio engineer. A somewhat longer google search will lead you to a bunch of costly plugins for Premier and Final Cut. A long ass google search will lead you to a program called "Loudness Change". This software is a godsend. The free version will only treat 3MB wav files (About 15s) but this isn't a problem if you cut up the audio, and the full version is only $30. Bought it instantly. All you need to do is drag the audio into the program, set you Target Integrated Loudness and hit render. Brilliant.

So that's Loudness taken care of. Now for the other bullshit.

The Harding test is a test developed to test for changes in Chroma and Gamma to protect from light flashes known to cause epileptic fits. How to fix this is not so straight forward. Almost all broadcasters will test the footage with the Harding test. There's no easy way to test it yourself and as far as I'm concerned it's just a way for the stations to get more money. So if you send off your clip and it fails, you have two choices. ONE remake the whole bloody thing to not include any quick cuts or drastic lighting fluctuation, or TWO pay someone a tonne of money to run a filter over your video to change the values. The second is Ideal because you'll never notice the changes made but somehow it now passes. Kinda why I think its bullshit. 

 

Aside from this you just need to meet Specifications. Maybe one day I'll write a tutorial on how to do this step by step but for now, I'll just quickly explain the specs one by one.

CODEC_

For this example they want a ProRes422(HQ)
This is the compression of your video, ProRes is a low compression format and HQ tends to be around 220 Mbps for a 1920x1080 video

This codec is exclusive to mac but you can get around it with ffmpeg. I'll write a blog on this soon.

 

CONTAINER_

This is the extension essentially. eg .mov or .mp4 or .avi
In this case they want a .mov. This is fairly standard for ProRes files and is quicktime's native extension.

 

FRAME SIZE & ASPECT_

This gets a little confusing. So in this example they want a 720 x 576 file. Easy right. Wrong they also want it at 4:3 which is not 720 x 576. This is where pixel aspect ratio come into play. 1:1 pixels we're all use to are not the right aspect for this application so you'll need to change it to PAL aspect. Strangly enough there are different flavours of pal. Dubsat ask for 1.067 non-sqaure aspect. However Premier and Media Encoder will only export at 1.0933 for PAL. Strangely enough this didn't seem to matter. Just use that it'll be fine. Depending on whether the TVC is to air in SD or HD will depend on weather it will have to be delivered in 4:3 and be stretched on air or delivered int 16:9 natively.

 

AUDIO_

Loudness aside this is a pretty easy export, set your output to 48kHz at 16-bit and you're sweet.

 

 

That was a wall of text. I should note that most of those specs are for SD delivery but as long as you follow the Specifications provided it shouldn't be an issue.

 

Time for a link dump.

 

LOUDNESS CHANGE_ 

DUBSAT DELIVERY SPECS_ 

PIXEL ASPECT WIKI_ 

PRORES INFO_ 

New Release- We Are The Brave_ Sparrow

 

After much turmoil and changes "Sparrow" by We Are The Brave is finally out.

An awesome clip shot in a strip club of all places.

I was hired on this clip to act of all things, as a bikie none the less. What did I end up doing, like all low budget clips, lots of things. Data Wrangler, Acter, Gaffer, 1st AD, 2nd AC and Runner. Sometimes being the one with "On set experience" leads to a really tiring day. Still great shoot and it's never a bad thing being surrounded by beautiful woman who are less than dressed.

Produced by 'Made in Katana_' by Mr Ciaran Jordan_. For the [UNDISCLOSED BUDGET] we got this man got a RED EPIC a full set of Cooke lenses and just about all the lights and locations anyone could ever need. Really all stops on this one, like all others.

DOP was Kieren Fowler_, worked with him before and its always a pleasure. Intimidating, but a pleasure. Kieren's worked on some high end stuff and I always feel like I'm going to let him down because I'm data wrangling not acting as a DIT.

James Chappell_ was director. What can I say about James, he is an ecliptic mix of an editor and a director, this leads to interesting results. It means the clip was shot for edit, always a plus. But it also means shits crazy.

All in all a great clip. Without further ado, Sparrow _ We Are The Brave

 

New And Noteworthy - Arri Amira

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So the lovely germans at arri have revealed a new camera. Instead of they're usual focus on cinema they have expanded to include documentery and events. A solo opertated Arri Alexa with 2k recording at 200fps whats not to like. The camera sounds great the sensor is the same one in the Alexa, no doubt tweaked for a native 2k picture. 

People are complaining that the camera doesn't feature 4k picture. Now i think that is pointless, most productions aren't going to exibit in 4k and if the Amira had 4k, it would be an Alexa. It's coming in a varity of active mounts incuding Canon EF, supporting the solo operation, but suppicially missing is the positive lock mount (PL). 

I think Arri is trying to seperate this from they're Cinema lines which include the vareity of film cameras as well as the Alexa and the Alexa HD. 

My opinion, its going to be a great camera, that Alexa sensor is bloody fantastic. Having said that it's entering a market that is quite saturated with fantastic cameras. It's all going to come down to price. The Arri HD came out at $50,000, and at $65,00 for a usable kit and as a result it was unpopular. You can source a traditional Alexa for around $80,000. With that price differencial people didn't see the point in getting the comparitavly limited Alexa HD. If the Amira can come out at a price below the $25,000 Canon C500 it will be obserdly succesfull. The Canon C line have been tried and tested in the event, cinema and of course documentries.

The C500 is a 4k camera, yes it doesn't have 200fps, but who needs that for documentries. I've heard that 200fps would be brilliant for nature documenteries. I don't see this being neccisary at all.

This camera will find a place in the market, and will frankly be a better camera than most on the market. The only thing that will halt this cameras success will be the price. It is however and Arri which of course means it has an audience already that will buy them in spades regardless of quality. For me, give me an F55 any day, I feel it would do everything this camera will do and for what i think will be a comparable price. 

 

Ethics Statement, no camera manufacturor is paying me for any of my opinions; however if any of them would like to contact me, please do, I have worked with the Arri Alexa as an assist and have graded and edited the footage. My opinions are based on my own experiance and the ethos that the right gear for the job is not always the latest greatest gear avalible.

Sticks On the Cheap.

For a long time the hallmark piece of gear for any budding videographer, d.o.p, etc has been his camera. Often underestimated from an outside perpective is the tripod and head he or she uses. 

Arguably far more important than the camera itself, a good tripod will outlast any camera and greatly improve the quality of ones work. But why am I telling you this, if you are still reading, you already know this, you want to see a good set on the cheap.

So I personally use the Nest Systematic Tripod series, as it serves as a stills and a video tripod quite nicely and it super portible. For a reasonable price to boot. I found the fluid head quite nice with smooth pan, but tilt was a little rough with a heavier lens. Build quality is top knotch, straight from the factory all the part are metal and have very positive locks and clamps. The quick release is nice and solid and is compadible with the 270a head from Fancier. Which brings me to my next point.

Many videographers online say the the Fancier tripods are the best low budget tripod around, I tend to agree. They are also heavy and bulky, which doesn't suit my style of shooting. The fluid head is however much nicer than the one that came with my Nest NT-7203AK. So i plan on buying one and utalising it on my Nest with the 75mm ball apater plate avalible.

Would I say this setup is for everyone, no. Would I say its right for me, yes. 

If you're the type to run and gun all over the Nest NT-7203AK is lightweight and lacks no stablilty that the heavier Fancier 270 series has. If you find yourself on a tighter budget and focus mostly in one place, I can't see you going wrong. Budget not an issue, buy a miller ds-25 with the solo sticks, they're lovely.

 

 

 

Ethics statement,  
I am not being payed by any manufacturors and all links have no affliation with myself, all information giving in this blog post is based on personal experiance.