Loren A. Roberts shot the “hero” studio photography for the film’s key art
When 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!
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…
Not That Funny is a movie that is shooting currently in Sierra Madre, CA. I am an associate producer on the show. What does that mean? Well, it can mean anything, but for me, what it has meant so far is
recording production sound for a week before our wonderful sound guy came on board
renting my Canon 7D camera, lights, hard drives, and other useful stuff to the production
managing the digital workflow for set-to-editor-to-director-to-post, as well as managing dailies
general help on-set and off-set
even some graphic design! (see the photo of a fake poster above)
maybe sound design.
The cast and crew is incredible. We are halfway through 25 days of shooting, followed by some additional pickups and various projects to get the film ready for completion. The editing process will take several months of massaging the footage to make it serve the story. Our hope is that it will get picked up for a few film festivals in early 2011, and then see theatrical distribution sometime during the year.
Well, I can’t say “did” for this one, since we’re still in production. I’m associate producer on a quirky little film called “Not That Funny” starring Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Chuck, and a bunch of other stuff). Here’s a breakdown of what I am working on during this film:
Recorded all production sound for the first week of shooting (before our wonderful sound guy showed up)
Managing/devising digital workflow for the production and post-production
Assisting with social media and web presence for the film
Renting Hearken equipment to the production (KinoFlo Diva Lights, Canon 7D, microphones, batteries, cards, hard drives, etc.)
Assisting in whatever way I can on a small shoot, sometimes as a production assistant, sometimes as a driver, sometimes schlepping crafts service, sometimes…?
The cast and crew of this tiny pic are wonderful, and I’m honored to be working with them all. I can’t wait to show you some of the production stills, and get this film finished so everyone can see it.
Hearken Creative now is shooting in HD on a Canon 7d camera. We have several lenses and filters, and can make your next project shine, whether for the big screen, the small screen, or even a web screen.
Additionally, not only can we do full-blown ProTools audio for location sound, but we now have a small Zoom H4N 4-channel audio recorder for interviews, small cast shoots, and field recording. Put the two pieces together, and you have a wonderfully small setup for mobile filming!
The Canon 5D and 7D are all over the place now. This is nothing new or groundbreaking, but it clearly shows that, when used well, these HDSLR cameras can be used for newsgathering and documentaries as well as scripted/planned shoots. Very nicely done.
This is incredible. Just announced at NAB: A Da Vinci Resolve system will now run on a Mac for $995. You still need a control surface, and it’s probably a somewhat stripped-down version — simply because you can only run one processer with it, but here’s the thing: incredibly powerful color correction is now possible for smaller and smaller boutique houses. If Hearken Creative grows a bit, I could foresee starting out with a Mac-based system and then move quickly to the Linux GPU cards via high speed InfiniBand connections.
The Da Vinci system is an industry-leading high-end color correction system for film and digital post production work. Da Vinci was purchased by BlackMagic Design in September 2009, and has been working to re-frame the playing field for color correction software. This will affect Apple’s Color as well as Avid’s built-in color correction (such as in Adrenaline).
The price of all of this stuff just keeps coming down further and further…
Yesterday I attended a half-day session arranged by The Association on the Canon DSLR cameras. Snehal Patel led the workshop of twelve people. I think I was the only one who wasn’t working in Hollywood, and we had quite a few veteran members of the ASC there as well. The industry is changing significantly. From the tech and post side of it, I think I have an incredible grasp on the realities of shooting with these new DSLRs. Now I want to get better on the production side as well.
One interesting thing about the day was a discussion by the DPs in the room concerning the disappointing performance of the RED One camera in real-world situations. Specifically, the cost of the camera, with all of the bells and whistles, is much higher than everyone expects (still much lower than traditional cameras, but the hype doesn’t match with reality). Secondly, the processor is just not robust enough to handle low light well; in fact, during shoots, the RED consistently requires more lighting (which equals more time and more money spent) than traditional cameras — DPs were complaining that you had to stick light everywhere, even in shadows, to make sure something showed up in the footage. So I’m leaning much less towards the RED right now, and seriously getting closer to either the 5D or the 7D, which excels in low-light situations. (I’m interested to see how the new RED cameras fare, but I’m not interested in purchasing any of them, either.)
Another illuminating conversation was how the major studios are attempting to cut down on technical staff (DITs, digital managers) in an attempt to save money on set. It’s going to backfire, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.
Q4 of 2009 has seen a number of wonderful projects wrap up and get distributed.
Winnetka Story is a feature-length documentary about the history of Winnetka and the North Shore area, outside of Chicago. Once again I worked with the wonderful John Newcombe, with whom we authored the DVD for Rancho La Cañada: Then and Now a few years ago. Hearken Creative did all of the DVD authoring and DVD menu design, as well as managing the production for the packaging.
Servant Partners launched several new videos prior to the Urbana missions convention that Hearken Creative produced. Most of the interview footage was interviewed and shot by Loren A. Roberts, with video from around the world provided to us by Servant Partners in various formats. HCS brought it all together and turned it into several promotional videos, for use both online as well as looping on plasmas in the organization’s booth at the 20,000-person convention. In addition, HCS authored the DVD, designed DVD menus, and duplicated copies of the DVD for all staff members. Below is one of the four videos produced:
And finally, Dave Schultze of Schultzeworks created a video promoting a computer design that he calls the “Philco PC,” an homage to the Philco Predicta television set from the 1950’s. I was able to work with Dave, consulting on camera movement, editing, and pacing for the video (Dave occupies my old office space, and we have become good friends over the past few years). We were stunned at the response after releasing the video: Vimeo shows that it has close to 100k views of the video, the design has been featured on EnGadget and the NY Times, and Dave has received calls from news outlets and potential clients. This was a great collaboration for us, and HCS looks forward to consulting in the future for other friends and clients! See the video below:
There are many changes coming to Hearken Creative in the new year, but the one thing that will not change is our passion and dedication to making our clients look awesome, bringing creative and powerful solutions to the world of advertising design and corporate video.
Honestly, unlike millions of you others I won’t be seeing Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen this weekend. But I enjoyed the technical achievements of the first movie, even if I didn’t care for the editing or storytelling. Pro Sound News has spent the whole last week detailing different aspects of the sound work on the new movie, with interviews from major players:
Part One: Mixing and Sound Editing: “This new movie features twice the action, and many, many more robots than the series opener, he continued. “In normal movies, there are two, three, even four set pieces. Eight years ago, one or two of those set pieces would have made this a big sound movie. We have several in each reel. It’s challenging.”
Part Two: Dialog Editing and Effects Processing: There was relatively little ADR in ROTF. “Michael doesn’t like using ADR; the majority of ADR will be for extra lines and line changes,” said Hopkins, adding, “I’ve got probably 30 or 40 ADR cues because of bad background noise.”
Part Three: Music/Effects/Dialog Mixing: “The music is really driving and the effects track is very detailed. Because you have this animation and special effects that you need to sell, sound is so powerful for doing that. It brings a sense of reality to it all and engages the audience into the whole story. Michael sees that; he sees how powerful it can be and how it can bring these animated things to life, and give them a sense of weight and power and character.”
Part Four: Connecting Sound to Picture: With so much mayhem onscreen, it was important for Van der Ryn and Aadahl to constantly strive for clarity and make some critical choices early on in the process regarding what remained in the mix. “If we were to not make choices until [the mix stage], it would be a wall of noise…Everything you hear connects to something on the screen, and if there’s anything that is muddying things up or washing things out, we do that in the editorial process.”
Part Five: Getting Effects to Sound Good: “When you have multiple sounds happening in a sequence, we really broaden the scope of frequencies so that things aren’t living in the same range. That separation is necessary for clarity, as well as panning things and rhythmically having things syncopate so that they aren’t stepping on each other. Even if you offset ever so slightly, it creates separation.”
That’s it for today; I’m crazy-busy finishing off a few projects right now.