Jakarta waterfront
Blog, business, film/video, post production for film and video

What are you doing in Jakarta?

One of the “perks” of working with international organizations is that — sometimes — you are needed for filming overseas. Last week, I conducted interviews and filmed b-roll for Asian Access at a conference in Jakarta. I have worked with them for twenty years, and have traveled many times with their people, filming both documentary-style footage of relief work and interviews at conferences.

This event posed a few new challenges. I was not given an area in which to film, so I decided to use my hotel room (keeping it spotless!); it is relatively quiet in a hotel room, and I could control more variables. (Outdoor shoots proved sketchy because South Asia rainstorms kept pouring at the most inopportune times.) The next issue: most hotel rooms don’t have much light. Even though I have never been to Jakarta, I was able to locate a local production company [Amazing Productions] that brought in a pair of 4-bank fluorescent lights for the week:

4-bank fluorescent lights

Like my hotel room? We dressed every corner of the room I could think of to get different setups for different interviews.

I wanted fluorescent because I don’t like doing interviews with hot lights, and KinoFlo’s can be fitted with daylight bulbs so that I can use both the lights and exterior light from windows. We needed the lights because I would be filming interviews at all hours of the day and night, so we needed to be able to blast light into the room at any time. Here are just a few of the looks that I was able to get:

chinzo-setup

Late-night setup with 4-banks flooding entire room with soft light

Midday setup with 4-banks as key and window as backlight

“Magic hour” setup with 4-bank providing key light and shooting directly through the hotel window

I am happy with the setups, although I would have loved to have more time and more room. More room enables me to separate the subject from the background more easily; as you can see from the above photos, though, I was able to create quite a bit of separation even in a small (325sf) room.

While traveling, I try to “go light,” even with photo gear. So I left my camera slider and mini jib at home, as well as my Steadicam Merlin and my large Cartoni tripod. All of these are great tools, but for the footage I would be shooting, I couldn’t justify the extra weight. Here is what I ended up with:

  • Sony PXW-X70 camera. The main camera for all interviews and b-roll
  • Canon EOS 7D. I have shot so many stills — and video — with this camera that it has paid for itself over and over. Sometimes used as a b-camera for this project, but mostly stills on this trip. Took along a 70-200 lens as well as a 24-55.
  • (2) Sennheiser ew100 G3 wireless microphones
  • Two Canon flash units, with CowboyStudio radio-remotes to control the flash off-camera
  • Zoom H4n recorder. I used this for years as the primary audio recorder — when I was shooting with DSLR cameras. Now it serves as backup, and I can also do audio recordings for sessions that I’m not filming (which we did on this trip).
  • Two little lights that I got off of Kickstarter called The Kick that are awesome for an accent light, or even a quick interview using the diffuser.
  • Audio Technica AT897 shotgun microphone.
  • Manfrotto 5001b lightweight “anything” stand. I could put a light on the top of this, my SmallHD monitor, or a flash
  • Additional cables, chargers, two camera tripods, my laptop, a bunch of CF and SD cards, lenscloths, and lots of batteries for the cameras and microphones.

This all fit into three bags: my laptop backpack (carry-on), my Pelican 1510 waterproof case (carry-on), and my suitcase. It didn’t leave much room for clothes, but I managed to fit in enough.

Some videos were produced in real-time and posted immediately to the Asian Access blog. Others will be rolled out over the next few months. Some will even be held for a larger event happening in 2017.

We were really happy, though, with everything that was filmed, and look forward to working on a project like this again in the near future.

Blog, business, film/video, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New video project trickling out

Kendra Celise - Cold Coffee

We keep pressing forward on many projects simultaneously. The newest video clip is the first of a series that we recorded and filmed in my studio for singer/songwriter Kendra Celise.

Kendra sent a few sample YouTube videos so we could get a feel for what she wanted, and we spent the better part of a day filming her performances. A new camera — the Sony PXW-W70 — was used for this shoot, as well as some of our amazing Michael Joly-modified microphones. The camera was mounted on a mini-jib so that we could move around smoothly throughout the song.

The rest of the videos will drop over the coming weeks. We had fun on this project, and believe the final product will help Kendra market her new EP successfully. Congrats to Kendra!

Blog, business, film/video, graphic design, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video

New indie movie released with HCS support

I did mention that we do movies, right? Hearken Creative supported the release of Hano! A Century In The Bleachers on so many different levels:

  • Loren A. Roberts shot some of the interviews for the film
  • HCS designed the e-commerce website for the film
  • HCS designed the DVD packaging and marketing graphics
  • Loren A. Roberts shot the “hero” studio photography for the film’s key art

HanoDoc-DVD-hero-box-final-733x1000When coming to Hearken Creative, director Jon Leonoudakis knew the breadth of skills that were available from us: Jon has collaborated with us on two previous film projects — Not Exactly Cooperstown (camera) and The Day the World Series Stopped (camera, packaging, website). Jon’s passion for baseball is infectious, and we have found ourselves with a new respect for the game — even hitting up some major and minor league games recently! Jon’s professionalism and passion has paid off: both previous films have been recognized worldwide in film festivals (and Not Exactly Cooperstown has even been screened at the Baseball Hall of Fame).

We love working on projects like this: where quality and passion come together to make something truly unique. We congratulate Jon on his newest release, and look forward to the next project that we get to work on with him!

Blog, business, film/video, Pasadena and local, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New Client, New Video, Incredible Story

Villa Esperanza is a ground-breaking school here in Pasadena, CA that serves kids and adults with developmental disabilities. The staff is amazing, the results are astounding, and we got to tell one small story recently. Take a look:

The school has launched a capital campaign that will build a new school facility for the numerous programs that they run, and this video was produced in concert with the campaign launch. We hope that the video will help them raise the money needed to build the new school.

As always, we were able to assemble a team of incredible people to bring this video to completion. HCS principal Loren A. Roberts produced, directed, and filmed (a little) and did sound. Greg King filmed/directed and edited. Roberto San Luis brought HCS and Villa together, and provided the concept and script for the video. On The Mark Rentals provided some gear that HCS didn’t already have. Vanessa Voors and Michelle Cox at Villa Esperanza were instrumental in making the production run smoothly. Most importantly, Jamie and his father were patient, enthusiastic cheerleaders for Villa — we couldn’t have made this video without them and the wonderful faculty at Villa.

Can we do this for you? Get in touch with Hearken Creative if you have a story you need told on film — or through e-mail, or on paper, on a website — whatever the project, we have a solution that will make you look great.

Blog, business, film/video, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New video posted

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.

Blog, film/video, photography, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Corporate Video piece

In April 2012, Hearken Creative was brought in to produce a video piece that would thank some major donors at Fuller Theological Seminary. Chris Min directed, and Loren A. Roberts produced, filmed, edited, and managed post-production.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYlk3UT7rvM

Hearken Creative equipment used on the shoot and in post includes

  • Canon EOS7d camera
  • Zoom H4n field recorder
  • Sennheiser G2 100-series wireless microphones
  • Kessler Crane Pocket Dolly
  • KinoFlo Diva fluorescent lighting
  • Final Cut Pro system on multiple computers, with client preview on large-screen plasma monitors

One thing to note is that Hearken Creative has multiple back-up systems in place, so that no footage was lost, corrupted, or destroyed on this project (or any other recent projects). We use a dedicated NAS, directly-connected swappable hard drives, and cloud storage to ensure that no data is ever lost in our facility.

The client was very happy with the final product, telling us that there were “quite a few misty eyes” in the banquet hall as the piece ended. We are proud of the work we did on this video project.

Blog, business, film/video, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

New short YouTube videos on the Japanese tsunami and rebuilding effort

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.

Blog, business, film/video, portfolio, post production for film and video, sound

Another nice quick video for a client

We filmed this last week in West Covina. Joe (president of Asian Access) is so smooth on camera. We interviewed him for 45 minutes for another project, and then he did just a few takes of this quick “thank you” before I had to run to another shoot in Downtown L.A.

Great time. Good video, good audio. Great message.

Blog, business, film/video, post production for film and video, sound

Just returned from week-long trip filming in Japan

Building a new community center in Sendai

I just returned from a week-long trip filming relief and re-building work on the eastern coast of Japan. We traveled well over a thousand miles to capture stories of churches working amongst those who have been displaced by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This trip was part of an ongoing video project for longtime client Asian Access. Previous trips with them have taken me to Sri Lanka (after the 2004 tsunami), Mongolia, Cambodia, and other countries throughout Asia.

Interviewing a pastor surrounded by donations for tsunami victims

Here’s a breakdown of our gear:

  • Sony Handycam
  • Canon EOS-7D with 4 batteries and 3 lenses (18-55mm, 55-200mm, and a 50mm fast lens)
  • Zoom H4N for audio recording
  • Sennheiser G2 wireless microphone
  • Audio-Technica AT897 shotgun microphone
  • Manfrotto tripods
  • Kessler-Crane Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly (4-ft. slider)
  • Lots of Compact Flash and SDHC cards
  • MacBookPro laptop
  • G-Raid Mini 750gb hard drive

Plots still being cleared right next to brand-new houses

I could have used more than one G-Raid. As it was, I had one set of captures on the laptop and one set on the G-Raid. I think I should have had both on separate external drives (I started to run out of space on the laptop’s internal drive).

The Kessler-Crane slider was great for getting really smooth motion for b-roll, and even during some of the interviews. I was worried that it was going to be a pain to carry around and get through security at airports, but it wasn’t (and it’s still under the weight restrictions, so bringing it along didn’t cost me any extra).

The water in some places has not sunk back to pre-tsunami levels

The rest of the team was Joshua Clayton, Jeff Johnston (of Asian Access), and Takeshi Takazawa (also of Asian Access). We were a good team — we have all worked together before — so we got a lot of footage and some great interviews.

One issue that came up very quickly was the challenge of language. I felt that we would honor the interview subjects best by conducting the entire interview in Japanese, and then figure out what they discussed later. I don’t understand Japanese, so I had to get a synopsis of the interview from Takeshi before determining what b-roll would be needed to tell the story for each interview. We’ll see how well that went as I cut the pieces together over the next week or so.

Joshua capturing a small shrine to honor those who died in the tsunami

But all in all a very productive trip. I was happy with the portability of my kit (both audio and video) and how well everything worked. Can’t wait to show you all the footage as it gets finished…

(photos by Joshua Clayton & Loren A. Roberts)