We’re slow to toot our own horn around here, mostly because we’re so busy with current projects. But I wanted to mention a new portfolio page on the site, even though we have been doing this for years: PHOTOGRAPHY.
We create iconic shots for our clients all the time. For instance, the image above is from Shakedown Mambo‘s CD packaging, which we designed (we also did their website!). The photo captures the energy of a recording session in progress perfectly, and feels like one of the iconic photos of 1970s jazz or rock bands.
We have also created one-of-a-kind architectural shots, like this one of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. Multiple photographs from all hours of the day and night were composited to create this other-worldly image of their building. It’s a stunning image.
Event photography? Yes. Production shots for shows? Yes. Portraiture? Yes. Product photography? Of course. Check it all out on the photography portfolio pages. We will continue adding more photos to keep it fresh!
The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus asked me to create some short introductory videos on each of their choirs. Previously I had produced one for their First Experiences in Singing class [see my eailer post]. These new videos required many hours of filming rehearsals and concerts for all six choirs, as well as music theory classes. Then we interviewed all the different directors to get their take on each chorus. Finally, we edited each piece together, trying to give new parents and members of the ensemble a sense of each chorus’ identity. And we attempted to keep them all under four minutes.
I’m excited about how these will be used to further the educational and artistic mission of the L.A. Children’s Chorus.
In March 2011, Japan experienced one of the worst disasters in modern history: an earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the Northeastern coast of Japan. One year later, a team traveled to Japan to observe the relief work that Asian Access pastors were leading. Now, another year has passed, and we are able to report on work that has been done over the past two years. This is the first of several (hopefully) videos that report on the use of funds donated to earthquake/tsunami relief through Asian Access:
The team consisted of Loren A. Roberts from Hearken Creative on camera and editing, Joshua Clayton on camera, Jeff Johnston from Asian Access as producer, and Takeshi Takazawa as liaison, interpreter, and all-around wonderful travel leader.
Emily Lakdawalla, Mat Kaplan, and I arrived at JPL early this morning to do a couple of remote spots for Planetary Radio. With the exception of my camera needing repair (and the ensuing long drive down to Canon Repair in Irvine), it was a great shoot. And lots of fun to film at JPL…
We’re still working on the main piece — a longer video with lots of interviews in Japanese that need to be translated and subtitled in English for the North American viewers. But today (March 11) is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in NE Japan, so we rushed to get just a few videos posted to commemorate the horrors and to point towards the hope and vision that many Japanese pastors have for their country in the new reality that is Japan.
First up is a prayer from Mori Sensei, a pastor living 30 minutes away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. His church wants to help rebuild an entire seaside community, hopefully relocating just a half-mile off the beach up into the hills, so that they can still have their livelihood, but be protected from the possibility of another tsunami:
The next video is a set of reflections from Eric Takamoto, an Asian Access missionary from the Kobe area who was one of the first responders up into the destroyed town of Ishinomaki. Eric’s family is going to relocate to Ishinomaki because they feel strongly that the rebuilding work is going to take time and committed effort, and they want to be part of that long-term process. Eric’s passion for the people he ministers to inspires me:
Both of these pieces were filmed in January 2012 as part of my one-week trip to NE Japan for Hearken Creative client Asian Access. I was accompanied on the trip by Asian Access’ VP for Communications Jeff Johnston, good friend and colleague Joshua Clayton, Asian Access’ VP for Strategic Engagement Takeshi Takazawa, as well as translation and hosting and friendship by Asian Access’ Jeffrey Sonnenberg (oh, and new friend Mike McKay from Cypress Church here in California was with us for part of the week).
Video was shot with A2’s Sony HD Handycam and my Canon EOS 7D, with color correction done in Final Cut Pro with additional color work by Red Giant’s Mojo. Audio was recorded through my Zoom H4N using Sennheiser G2 wireless mics and an Audio Technica AT897. All data cards (CF for video, SD for audio) were captured onsite and backed up to multiple G-Raid Mini hard drives for redundant transport back to the U.S.
So I’m on the board of the Pasadena Musical Theatre program, and we get to do all sorts of fun and cool stuff. In addition to year-round programs, we put on two big musicals every summer — one for 4th-6th graders, and one for 7th-12 graders. So here’s what I get to do:
All postcards and posters and such are developed by me, in concert with the directors. Here is the keyart for the two shows this summer:
The Jasper in Deadland keyart was developed with strong direction from the composer/conductor, Ryan Scott Oliver, because this is his baby. I’m very excited to be helping him bring this original musical to life.
PRODUCT & BRAND DESIGN
As part of the story for Jasper in Deadland, the protagonist crosses the river Lethe (get out your mythology books!) and keeps getting offered Lethe™ Brand water, so we decided that we needed to offer Lethe™ Brand products as well.
It’s a clever, simple brand, but people are loving it, and I expect that we’ll see tote bags and water bottles with this logo all around campus in a week or two…
I have found a way to use the Canon 7D for quick, news-gathering-style video: 1) simply accept the limitations of the on-board microphone, and 2) stop the iris down a little so things don’t go out of focus so quickly. And so, every day of the program, we have posted a 2-minute recap, showing warmups, rehearsals, discussions, and antics of the kids in the program. It’s a win-win for the families in the program: parents get to see what’s going on, students get to show their day off to their friends, and PMTP gets added exposure through the hundreds of views we have gotten on Youtube. Here are two of the most popular recaps so far:
Filming these giving me a chance to understand how to choose shots quickly and follow the action. Everything is handheld except for performance video.
IN OTHER NEWS
Tomorrow (I hope) I’m going to roll out a press release announcing one of the newest projects that I have been working on. We’re very proud of the design work that Hearken Creative is doing these days, and I can’t wait to update my portfolio. It’s just a busy time of year for us!
Shane Hurlbut mentions a new set of “camera styles” that Technicolor just released for the Canon DSLRs (specifically the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, but they mention that the camera styles will work on any of the current EOS cameras). These new picture styles allow the camera to more closely approximate the color and f-stop latitude of traditional film, allowing for more color-correction options in the post-production process.
These are not the first “custom” picture styles to come out; in fact, people have been playing around with (and distributing/sharing on the internet) various picture styles — SuperFlat, Marvel, Velvia, Genesis, and many more. What makes this one impressive is that it has the Technicolor name on it, and, apparently, has tons of Technicolor research behind it. So this picture style is a research-based, powerful tool for making a gorgeous picture on the Canon DSLR cameras.
But remember, adding a custom picture style like this is going to mean that the image coming out of the camera is not at all ready for prime time. These picture styles make your footage ready for post-production, not ready out-of-camera. You must take these in and do color-correction before they will begin to look like what you want. The Technicolor picture style only gives you the latitude to make some wonderful images in post-production.
I tried some things on this shoot that I ultimately regretted, but on other elements of the shoot I’m extremely happy. Running four-channel audio recording through the Zoom H4N is a breeze, and gave me lots of options for incredible audio. I’m finding that I like wireless mics less and less, so I used only studio-quality mics and shotgun mics for this shoot (all wired directly to the Zoom). The viola sounds superb, and the interview worked beautifully with a shotgun on a boom stand.
The things I’m less happy about are in the video; specifically two things:
Halfway through the shoot I changed white balance settings. I should have just left it the same as when I started, because it would have been easier to match everything together in post (unless we were changing locations, which we did not for this shoot).
I wanted to minimize the effects of the “rolling shutter” issue (because his bow was moving so fast) by filming everything at 60 frames a second. Bad idea. First, it didn’t eliminate the rolling shutter. Second, I was eating up card space like crazy. Third, I conformed to 24 frames, so it looks a little jerky. Fourth, the 7D won’t record at full 1920×1080 HD when shooting at 60 fps, so I don’t have as many pixels as when shooting at 24 frames. But hey, it was a good idea. And now I know.
We’ll be filming the real concert coming up this weekend. I’ll be excited to show you footage from that. Or, you could just come and listen to some great (and very unique) music: here’s the information page at Nimbus’ website (which Hearken Creative also designed).
Two quick video projects that I had the pleasure of working on over the last week.
First up was a quick web video post for the president of Asian Access. He wanted to say “thank you” to the many people who have already donated money to the relief efforts going on in northern Japan after the Sendai earthquake in March 2011. So I raced out to his office and filmed him:
TECHNICAL DETAILS: This was filmed with the Canon EOS 7D, using the “kit lens” — an 28-135mm. Sound was handled using a Zoom H4n with an Audio Technica AT897 microphone. Footage was transcoded to ProRes LT using the wonderful 5DtoRGB app with a command-line batch processor provided by French video production company NoSide. The whole thing was sync’d and edited in Final Cut Pro, and exported to H.264 via Compressor.
I did a 12-part videolog series with Nimbus and this same composer back in 2008, and they are back with a new composition that Nimbus will premiere. We’re in a rush, so there’s only one video, and I shot a rehearsal for a few hours this week, followed by a very brief interview. But the piece will be instrumental in advertising the concert:
TECHNICAL DETAILS: Much the same as the previous piece, except I used a host of lenses: a 50mm f1.4 prime (I used this a lot because the room was pretty dark, but I didn’t want to raise my ISO too much and get grainy footage), a Canon EF-S 18-55mm, and a Canon EF-S 55-250mm. Sound was captured 4-channel using the Zoom’s onboard mics plus the AT897 and a Sennheiser lav (but the interview was done with the AT897 — I love the sound of that mic compared to a lav).
All-in-all, a pretty busy but fun week of budget-conscious filmmaking. Every project that we do gets easier, more fun, and give us invaluable experience for the next one.
Today I’ll be taking my equipment and doing an outdoor photoshoot for a band I’m in (stills, not video). Can’t wait to share those…
Once again, HCS was able to come through with a fast and quick solution. The president of the organization had a busy schedule, and they wanted the video quickly; I ran out to the corporate headquarters to shoot this little clip. But we didn’t skimp on quality: the lighting was there, the Canon 7D was there, and we used a really nice Audio Technica shotgun microphone to capture audio. Brought it back to the office that evening, and had the footage delivered to the client the next day.
We want to continue to do fun stuff like this for our clients. Do you need some top-notch web video? Let us come and make your next project shine.