Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Outstanding in-camera bullet time effects

The finest example of in-camera wirework and matrix style bullet time effects can be seen here:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Winning Attitude II

I just finished editing the second Winning Attitude PSA.

These are for the Positive Coaching Alliance, and this one features Sports Anchor Jim Crandell. We shot it in a basketball practice facility, with overhead mercury vapor/metal halide lights. Our tungsten units seemed to match with a 1/2 CTB. The shot went well, four set-ups in 3 hours, including a dolly shot.

Here is the opening shot. I wanted to have this framing, but had to fight the sunlight coming in from behind the talent. I had a minimal light kit and time to set up, so i just used one light, focused in tight from far away.
I had the talent track towards the light, so he never went in and out of the light. also, placing the light far back (30-40') helped keep the light gain as he neared the lamp (5' travel) to a minimum. In addition to the fluorescents in the background, there were Metal Halide lamps above and sunlight coming in the windows. I covered the 650 with opal and half blue, that in combination with reducing the chroma in the matrix helped to bring the color mix to a useable level.

This is a comparison between the raw image and the post affected image.
Our graphics guy (Rey Jaraba) took out some of the distracting electrical boxes and conduit, and posted a photorealistic logo mural in after effects. The shot slowly zooms in, and the mural tracks with it to make the image look believable.

For this shot, I re-arranged the bleacher seating to give a sense of depth perspective in this shot. We also defocused the background in post to isolate the foreground image.

For the final shot I took advantage of a loft/snack area above the courts to get this perspective. Moving a couple of tables together gave me a higher perch to give me the angle I needed. It only took a couple of takes to get the right "Swoosh"

Friday, December 02, 2005

Grand Stone USA

Ah the one man band… interesting to stop and listen, but never what you would want to listen to while relaxing at home.

I just finished editing a spot I shot for a marble and granite company. The spot turned out great, but the shoot was… hard. I was just on the cusp of coming down with Bird Flu/SARS/West Nile Virus, when my assistant called in sick. Well we already rented the gear and made arrangements, so the show must go on. Luckily I was able to pull it off because all the shots were MOS, no sound. Also, the location had decent ambient lighting. I was able to get through the whole thing without setting a single light or stringing a single stinger, so the whole shoot was about composition and movement.

This shoot was scheduled for two locations, a warehouse in Sacramento, and a factory showroom in Stockton, about an hour away. In total I got off 16 shots at 2 locations in about 9 hours, half those being dolly or jib. The one thing that did work out was the jib we rented. I originally asked for a portajib, but got talked into a less complicated cobra crane by the rental house. The Cobra crane mounts right on to the tripod head (as opposed to the sticks). The idea is that you would remotely tilt the camera by tilting the tripod head. I never did this. That always seemed to be putting too much stress on the head, so I just locked it down. (the porta jib would have acted in the same way). After this, I am a big fan of the Cobra crane. Once I put a Sony quick release plate on it, it took under a minute to set up/break down. Easy. Well, the design inspired me enough to build my own jib. I used to have one built out of 4” square aluminum tubing that could fly an Arri BL4, but that thing was just too bulky to carry around. This new design should be lighter and possibly modular. I will post more once it is built. At any rate, here are some screen grabs from the shoot:

This first shot is the warehouse. I climbed on a palate of 4x8 plywood sheets about 5 feet off the ground and set up the jib. Total travel for the camera was from about 6’ off the ground to 12’ up. Not much, but combined with the height, it felt like a larger crane was used.

This shot was a dolly into the showroom. It had good movement, but was a bit sterile. As there were no actors budgeted, I grabbed everyone in sight, and even sent out employees to grab more people. Notice the employee in the grey sweatshirt. His job was to walk into the scene purely to motivate the camera movement. Unmotivated movement always feels creepy or uneasy to me, but just by adding a foreground element to motivate the movement or “lead the camera in”, it feels a lot more natural. The viewer accepts the movement instead of being distracted by it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Earlier this month, my wife and I had opportunity to visit an old High School friend in Montreal for his wedding. We made the journey with another long time friend, Jeff O'Toole. Here are some images...

Justin and Adina, the happy bride and groom...

Although the ceremony was in french, I was able to figure out what was going on...

Siobhan and I at the base of the Funicular. This structure was built for the 1976 olympics, however due to labor disputes, it wasn't finished until afterwards... D'oh!

Entrance to the funicular.

So what do you do with a city full of olympic-sized structures, but no olympics? Well you could make one a high-concept zoo and call it the "Biodome" Here is an image of me filming a fish.

Jeff O'Toole in the subway station.

We also visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Sure they had VanGoghs and Monets and all, but we knew what we came to see. Here is a pic of myself with a display featuring a 1970s era JVC model 3241 Videosphere television.

And now for your moment of zen (tm E.G. Petersen)...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

State Finals - Demolition Derby!

This weekend was the annual demolition derby state finals at the California State Fair.
I didn't work at it, I was just there to enjoy.
If you have never been to a demolition derby, you should definitely treat yourself, and bring someone you love to share it with.

It is in my honest opinion, the only true "American" sport.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Winning Attitude

This week I shot PSA for positive sportsmanship. The good news is we were able to shoot it on location inside of Raley field, a minor league baseball stadium, the bad news was that due to talent and venue restrictions, we had to be in and out in *less than one hour*! Gadzooks.

Well It was just me and the talent, and I knew what I wanted to get, so I quickly loaded all the grip and camera on a mathews doorway dolly and made my way down to the field. I used 2 shinyboards for the wide shots, and a 4x piece of foamcard for the closeups.

The Camera was a DVX 100, and I usually shoot with a Tiffen ¼ Black Promist as a matter of course, but the edit will need to match with some stock footage (shot on film) without a filter, so I took it off. I have to say I am very impressed with the camera barebones without filtration (Aside for a linear polarizer to darken the sky). With just a little color tweeking in post, the footage cut very well with the stock footage. (Just missing some occasional dust specks!) anyways, here are some screen grabs:

Our first setup, we were a little rushed, and the talent was a little "hot" with the shinyboards. (Did I mention it was over 100 degrees that day?)

A closeup with a much softer (and cooler!) beadboard fill.

You gotta love that 24p motion blur!

After we got the wide and closeup we needed, we grabbed this shot, a little more stylized, a little more pleasing compositionally.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sac film and music festival

This Saturday we had the premiere for the Echopheen Music video at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival. It was a really great showing, the crowd cheered at just the right moments you wanted them to cheer.

You can check out the video at:

Beware, it is Huge! Megs and megs and megs.

Myself, the Joshua the Lead Singer, and Erik Espera the Director outside the Festival.

The kids in the hall.

Young Echopheen writing their breakout hit.

On the way to their first gig.

Their first Gig. I like the piano and flag, nice touch.

Same stage, older Echopheen and different lighting. What a difference lighting can make.

A 2 shot of the young drummer and bassist, indigenous lighting.

Similar shot, different lighting and a little tighter.

CU of the lead singer, Josh.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I'm With The Band Contest

I shot some bluescreen material for a contest top win tickets to see Motley Crue. The plan was to shoot some goofy angles and put concert footage behind it. We also shot digital stills of the talent with the intent of animating it south-park style.

Well, the live action stuff turned out OK, but it dosent hold a candle to the shots animated by Post-Master Rey Jaraba (

You can download a :20 version of it at:

Talent: KRXQ's Craig The Dog-Faced Boy

Little animated Motley Crue Members...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

America's Lending Partners

Normally I like to be involved in the post process as much as possible, but there is a special magic when you see a project for the first time accidentally on air or on the shelf of the video store.

Today I saw for the first time a spot I shot a little while ago. It's for America's Lending Partners. We actually shot four spots, and I tracked down copies of two of them. They were shot in HiDef with the Varicam. We had a full crew and it was the first time I worked with Gaffer Dave Bunge and his 5-ton truck. I Highly recommend him, he works all over NorCal (1-888-818-4448). In fact we had such a great crew that this was the most enjoyable set I have worked on since I came back from L.A. We shot the 4 vignettes all at one location, and in one (less than!) ten hour day. It should be airing on CNN, Headline News, Dish Network, and other channels, so keep an eye peeled!

This was our first location, the backyard scene.

The lighting set up for this shot.

The second scene of the day, the interior scene.

The Interior lighting setup.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Morning News

I just got a clip online from a morning news promotional spot I shot. You can see it at: . This spot is all about motion. Either dolly moves, or time-lapse, or ramping, so a lot of the stills don't do it justice.

It is ~2.6 megs to download. We shot 12 featured actors at 12 locations for a :30 spot! It's nice to see it come together well. It was all shot with the DVX100, except for the time-lapse stuff which was shot with a betacam and sped up in post. Here are some stills:

A little balerina on her way to dance class. 2 shiny boards pumping light in from outside and hitting the wall on the right, and a 500w fresnell w/ full CTB putting a hot spot on the left.

A woman jogging while watching the news. We couldn't feed an image into the monitor, so this image was inserted in aftereffects by Rey Jaraba.

Yumm.... Gunthers! What better location than the best ice creamery in town! 2 shiney boards hit the sign to make it pop, and a .6 century wide adapter give this dolly in a compelling feel.

Morning traffic on I-80. I used a 3x extender on the DVX to get this compression. The adapter degrades the image, but it has a great feel, perfect for this application. Someone stuck in traffic below told me later they saw me on the bridge filming!

Again I used the century adapter for this dolly in shot.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Echopheen Music Video Day 2: Sunday Afternoon

Day 2, Sunday afternoon at Clunie Hall

That afternoon we shot the band performing on the stage, and it had to be lit to sell the viewer into thinking it was a large concert stage. Thanks to Gaffer Dave Bunge's experience and expertise, we had the stage turned around and lit in under 2 hours. We did a lot of back lighting and used a hazer to fill the air. Sometimes the smoke was a little too thick. Not for us, but... during the first take, it set off the fire alarm, and we had to evacuate all cast crew and extras until the alarm stopped. Thank goodness the fire department did not show up... After that we used less smoke.

We did the wide shots first so we could let the extras go and concentrate on the individual band performances. We used a 400w Joker w/o the lens as a sweeping backlight beam across the audience members heads. We also used a set of ACLs and nine-lights to blast light from behind the band. It all came together great.

This time we decided to use 2 pieces of our wide curve track instead of just the doorway dolly. We couldn't get as tight of an arc, but it was better to have the repeatability for focus as we passed back and forth. And even though it took a couple of minutes to set up the track for each member, it actually ended saving time as the dolly operator did not need to reset for each pass, he could just go back and forth allowing me to get the shots I wanted with each pass.

If I had to change one thing, I would not have used the red gells. I know from past experience that red lighting in video makes the subject look soft, but I was hoping that the Varicam could handle it... no. Should have used a dark amber or straw.

The Varicam with the very nice onboard 9" monitor. Great for operating with those fast moving dolly shots. Also good for letting the dolly grip have a view for what you are getting.

The stage with all the lights on.

What it looks like with the 9-lights on full.

Gaffer Dave Bunge patiently allowing us to go 2 hours over...

The Crew...

...and the fans.