credits: Loren A. Roberts, producer, ProTools recordist and editor, film editor, b-camera operator; Jordan McMahon, a-camera operator
Jennifer Robin is a fantastic jazz artist that I have known for almost 20 years, but have never gotten to work with before. That opportunity finally came when she announced a CD release party for August 2011. I stepped in to both run sound for the show and assemble some live footage for an electronic press kit. All mics were mine — we ran 12 channels directly into my ProTools rig, and then straight out to the board for live mixing. Jordan and I both brought cameras, and later I mixed down the live recording and married it up with the footage as well as some interview clips that I filmed a few days after the concert.
I love how much of her personality I was able to capture, both in the concert and in the interviews. Jennifer deals with life with a thoughtful but in-the-moment grace that is hard to find in artists, and I believe that comes through loud and clear here. And she surrounds herself with wonderful people, too: the whole band was game for trying things, but gracious and helpful as well.
In all, a good time putting together a powerful package that I hope helps her sell some more albums. And a good piece showing what Hearken Creative can do on short notice…
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…
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.
Did I mention we were busy this summer? (By the way, my son is the one in the yellow cap above…playing the nerd. Perfect casting.)(Oh, and the fantastic photos of this summer’s shows were taken by New York-based pro photographer Matthew Murphy. He got some incredible shots.)
The Pasadena Musical Theatre Program is a decades-old training program for kids in Pasadena, CA. But I would call this a kid’s program on steroids, or, better, a pro theatre program that just happens to have kids as its focus. But this summer we held a master class with Megan Hilty of Wicked fame, held a class entitled Pursuing a Career in Musical Theatre, and did a American Idol-style solo competition, in addition to the two main shows that are produced every summer. Ryan Scott Oliver (award-winning musical composer), Cindy Abbott (wonderfully dedicated Pasadena music teacher), and Emily Clark (fabulous musical theatre performer and teacher) have transformed this program into a powerhouse that trains over 125 students every summer.
So what did Hearken Creative do? Well, for starters, I joined the board of the program last summer, because funding for arts has dried up with local school districts and I feel strongly about arts education. So, on our own, we have raised somewhere in the range of $50,000 every summer to make the program happen. In addition, Hearken Creative
provided all design services for print media, programs, and press releases,
photographed the Megan Hilty master class,
filmed the Promise Competition,
ran sound for all events, including the master class, meetings and competitions, and
sound designed both major shows — the Juniors (4th-6th graders) and the Seniors (7th-12th grade) shows.
Essentially, this was two weeks of wrangling a high school auditorium (that a friend aptly called an “airplane hangar”) into submission, using Hearken Creative-provided equipment, rented equipment, and the high school’s 40-year-old 24-channel mixer, as well as my own 16-channel digital mixer. Twenty wireless body mics, plus choir mics and band sound reinforcement.
And boy, did it sound good! We don’t have the professionally-produced video from KLRN yet, but several people have posted their home videos already. Here’s one:
and my son singing a solo at the Promise Competition:
The purpose of the program is twofold: first, arts education is vital to a well-rounded education, and music/dance hits so many of the other disciplines — math, reasoning, spatial relationships — that it seems stupid the schools are cutting performing arts. Secondly, there is an erroneous meme out there that there are no viable career options in performing arts. We aim to change that perception.
By using Hearken Creative’s graphic design skills, our production and sound design skills, as well as our music background and fundraising acumen, we were able to help make this summer’s Pasadena Musical Theatre Program a complete success.
While I can’t say that I have a new job or have turned the economy around single-handedly, this has been a marvelous summer of new experiences.
The first project I want to talk about is the West Covina High School Chamber Singers reunion, which happened two days ago after over a year of preparation. I was a committee member, and developed the website and Facebook presence, as well as designed all printed matter, and finally, managed all the stage tech for the evening, including a 16-foot screen, memorabilia slideshow, music cues, and sound reinforcement for the evening’s program, all provided by Hearken Creative.
The event was an amazing success, where 80+ people re-connected after 25 years with our dedicated teacher/director/conductor, Tom Kessler.
While the event was not specifically a showcase of Hearken Creative’s available services, we nonetheless made the entire evening possible, with HCS’ graphic design, film/video production, and live show production strengths.
In the near future, we will also produce the event “re-cap” video DVD. Can’t wait to show you how much fun everyone had at this event.
Tomorrow: Live theatre sound design for 100+ children and teens this summer…
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!
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.
Canon has taken the pain (or most of it, anyways) out of bringing footage into Final Cut Pro from their DSLR cameras with a new FCP plugin. The new plugin allows us to ingest footage directly into Apple’s ProRes 422 code, and adds timecode based on the camera’s date and time stamp (a workaround to actually having real timecode, but it’ll work for now).
This, along with the firmware update that was released recently, brings us closer to truly being able to use the Canon DSLRs in a professional environment, which is what I want to do. I’m considering skipping the 7D entirely and simply saving up for a 5D — which will fit my business much better than the 7D anyways.