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FEATURES 7 Sports Production And Broadcasting By Mark R. Smith
20 Lighting Techniques Markee (ISSN 1073-8924) is published bi-monthly by HJK Publications, Inc, 366 E Graves Ave, Ste D, Orange City, FL 32763. Subscription rates: USA $34 one year, single copy $5 (back issues $7); Canada and Mexico $60 per year; all other international $100 per year. All subscriptions must be paid in US currency. Markee is a registered trademark of HJK Publications, Inc. Entire contents copyrighted 2009. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.
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DEPARTMENTS 4 5 6 29 30
Biz Tips Making A Scene Broadcast TV Classified Inside View
by Christine Bunish
24 Midwest Road Trip
online extras Across America World Business
by Christine Bunish
ON THE COVER
13 Stock Footage Guide
Tahoe Films, Ltd. – Director/ Camerman Thomas Opre shooting Monty Marcus jumping his snowmobile in Farmington, Utah for the company’s Extreme Velocity: Sled Heads DVD series.
oops! In the March/April issue we inadvertently listed the web site for the El Paso Film Commission incorrectly. It should have read: www.visitelpaso.com/film. Our apologies for the error.
In the next Issue of markee
HIGH DEF • SOUND STAGES • MOBILE PRODUCTION • THE EAST • LOCATIONS GALLERY • MUSIC AND SOUND GUIDE MAy/JUNE 2009
by Michael Fickes
Getting to Recovery Is the economy’s glass half full yet? Or is it still half empty?
s the recession over yet? No. But you can probably come out from under the bed. A number of economic indicators are beginning to suggest that the recession may be winding down and probably won’t become “Great Depression: The Sequel.” The May 11 issue of Advertising Age ran an article entitled: Five Reasons to Start Feeling Optimistic (Maybe). The article noted a big jump in the Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment in April, following a surprise increase in consumer spending in the first quarter of the year. Rising consumer sentiment leads to rising consumer spending, which prompts companies marketing consumer products to make advertising. Ad Age’s second reason for hope was, in fact, a possible rebound in some consumer product company advertising spending. Procter & Gamble and Unilever are said to be looking beyond the recession with plans to spend more on marketing during the second half of this year. Jobs are next. April’s loss of about 540,000 jobs, while large and frightening, is significantly less than the job losses reported in the previous five months. Fourth: the stock market rally. Since sinking to 6,470 in March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 33 percent to 8,575. Fifth and perhaps most important, the housing market that started the recession is showing signs of recovery. There’s more. On April 9, the Wall Street Journal reported that economists responding to the Journal’s most recent forecasting survey now expect the recession to end in September. This is June. September starts in three months. It was the first time that the survey results didn’t move the date of recovery further into the future. Of course, the end of a recession is usually just as invisible as the beginning. Remember, no one really knew a recession was going on until six months after it began. And no one made an official announcement that we were in a recession until more than a year after it had
begun. Still, the end of the recession will mark the beginning of recovery. Another positive signal is sharply falling business inventories. They have been falling for months now. When inventories fall past some point, businesses will begin to restock. Factories will hire and start producing again. At what point will that happen? Sooner rather than later suggests the Journal survey. Remember the stimulus bill? The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)? According to a prepared statement issued on May 10 by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction companies nationwide are reporting that the stimulus bill is making it possible to hire new workers. “Early reports indicated that the infrastructure piece of stimulus is beginning to do exactly what was intended: put construction workers back on the job,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC, said in the AGC statement. Simonson went on to name several companies who were hiring back people that had been laid off thanks to the acquisition of projects funded by ARRA. He also noted that many contractors were canceling planned layoffs thanks to stimulus projects. Why is the construction industry important to advertising production and postproduction companies? It is important because about one-fifth of all lost jobs, about 100,000 in April have come from the ranks of the construction industry. When that industry reduces its sky-high 18.7 percent unemployment rate and goes back to work, the paychecks they spend on consumer goods products will replenish the marketing budgets that buy film and video production. The bad news is that it’s not over yet. The good news is that good things are happening in the economy. And if you’re still here and hanging on, tighten your grip. Find a way to get through this month and then another and another. Start to believe that the glass is half full again. Tune up your reel, and start looking for work. It will pay off when the recovery gets here. n
by Michael Fickes
makInG A sCene
Re-Discovery Channel The visual rebranding of Discovery Channel is itself a kind of discovery.
iscovery Channel’s new branded look begins with a photograph of a scene from an upcoming show. Before you can get a close look the screen divides into rectangles abutting each other, sort of like a puzzle in which all the pieces are the same shape; without missing a beat, the rectangles over here begin to rotate, revealing themselves as threedimensional rectangular boxes with pieces of images on all sides. Next, the rectangles over there flip over, revealing their dimensions and imagery. All of the motion occurs in time to music from the show – sometimes fast, sometimes slow, always in tune with the mood of the show. By the time the first effect finishes, it seems as if most – but not quite all – of the original photo has flipped itself over and morphed into a second photograph, in which a grid pattern of rotating boxes morphs into another image. For a viewer, it is a process of discovering Discovery Channel as it exhibits its repertoire of highenergy images of an upcoming show. The re-branding package includes more than show promos. It includes fiveand 10-second network IDs, menus listing shows on Discovery tonight, what’s on next week, what’s on next, bumpers and all the rest of the tools used by networks to herd viewers to shows and keep them informed of the channel they are watching. The rotating Discovery boxes are hypnotic and fun to watch. At the same time, you might wonder how Discovery’s artists can possibly create and manipulate all of
those three-dimensional animations for all of the promos and menus and so on that the network will need every day. “That was part of the assignment,” says Jayson Whitmore, a co-creative director and partner at Royale, the Los Angeles-based motion design and production studio that handled the project. “Discovery asked us to create a visual concept that gets at the idea behind the word discovery, while providing a re-branding look that the network’s artists could easily update themselves for years to come. To make it easy to recreate, the concept only creates the illusion of depth.” If you look closely at the screen grab above, you can see that the boxes are layered over top of the image being revealed. It only looks like three-dimensional boxes revealing image after image by spinning into new patterns. “It is all an illusion,” says Brien Holman, also a co-creative director and partner at Royale. “None of the images are altered or effected in 3D space in any way. They were just matted out. Then there was a shadow path placed on top to make it seem as if it was changing.” “Royale showed amazing technical savvy in creating a simple interchangeable system generating unlimited combinations of visuals,” says Amie Nguyen, a Discovery Channel art director. Whitmore, Holman and the Royale team animated the interchangeable system of rotating boxes manually – in what seems to be an amazing feat of concentration. But the manual approach was the second attempt. The first attempt didn’t work as hoped. In that effort, the animators used Cinema 4D, a three-dimensional program with a plug-in capable of generating
random patterns, to automate the process of rotating the boxes. “It looked robotic and stale and didn’t come across with the dynamic feeling we were looking for,” Holman says. Looking for an alternative, Holman and Whitmore set up a grid of dozens of boxes and asked the animators to use Photoshop to set up rotation key frames for each box. Then the animators rotated each box individually and a little differently – some were faster or slower. Others rotated up, down or diagonally. Each animator had to imagine a pattern for a transition and design it in his or her head on the fly in a way that got at the story being told, whether through a network ID or a program. They didn’t sketch out an idea first and then create the animation by looking at the sketches? “No,” Whitmore says. “They created the patterns in their heads while they were animating. It really didn’t come naturally to some of them.” Adds Holman: “Hundreds of squares can become a mess very quickly so it was key to have good solid animators with keen design sense. We had to determine how the images and storylines would flow from one to another in the most visually compelling way.” The end product includes five different sets of three-dimensional boxes. Royale named each, using terms that describe the basic look: bricks, Mondrian, fish, diamond and hinge. Each set includes two IDs and three navigational patterns. “Finally, none of the patterns ever fully resolves into a complete still image,” Whitmore says. “There is always a couple of cubes that fail to turn over. Some capture a hint of color. These touches add depth and communicate the idea that there is always something more to discover.” n
by Michael Fickes
To Get Green Spots, Turn Green Do you pride yourself on the commercials you produce about green products and services? Do you also practice green production?
ost commercial production companies have handled spots for green products and services. But how many just talk the talk without walking the walk of green production? When Stanley Larsen, director and owner of the Seattle-based Stanley Larsen, Inc. commercial production company, signed on to produce commercials connected to The HGTV Green Home 2009 Giveaway, he didn’t feel right about promoting green products for a green program without making a green production effort. “I decided we should do a green shoot – so we wouldn’t be hypocritical,” says Larsen. If you haven’t heard of the Green Home Giveaway, it complements the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, an annual sweepstakes for which the winner receives a new dream house. The Green Home Giveaway, created last year, gives away a green dream home. HGTV announced the 2009 Green Home Giveaway winner on June 5. Prior to the announcement of the winner, HGTV aired an hour-long program that showed off the green home and introduced commercials about the green products supplied by the sponsors. Carter Oosterhouse, host of the network’s Carter Can series, walked viewers through the 2,430-square-foot contemporary Spanish-style cottage with three bedrooms, three baths and a rooftop herb garden. During the show, commercials for the sponsors – Shaw Flooring, Sears, Kohler, SC Johnson and GMC – promoted the green products that they had contributed to the house. Stanley Larsen, Inc. produced the commercials, each of which has three versions. These are the commercials that Larsen decided should be made using a green production process. What does that mean? When the idea first came up, Larsen says, there were no green television production experts to turn to – at least, no one knew of any. So Larsen, the crew and vendors worked out the details themselves. “We wouldn’t make any green decisions that slowed the production or created overtime charges,” Larsen says. “But whenever possible and practical, we would use green techniques and products.” Next, Larsen, the crew and the vendors brainstormed and came up with a set of green goals: Reduce paper consumption: Instead of printing dozens of scripts, call sheets, schedules and pre-production books, the production company made everything available on a web site. There was no ban on printing. When it was inconvenient to check the web site, anyone could request a printed document. By and large, everyone who could work with the web site did. “The idea conserved an enormous amount of paper as well as ink, time and energy,” Larsen says. Use hybrid vehicles: Whenever possible, the production rented hybrid vehicles to conserve fossil fuels. “We also made a point of carpooling whenever possible,” Larsen says. Use environmentally friendly items: From catering to craft services to props and production supplies, the production company tried to
select items from an environmentally friendly point of view, meaning that they were packaged in recycled materials or made with environmentally friendly ingredients. For instance, the caterer used stainless steel utensils and water bottles as well as reusable dishes. The company also studied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star program and worked to abide by its recommendations. Local items: A key sustainable principle calls for the use of local materials that don’t require expending fossil fuels by long-distance shipping vehicles. Double up: Production assistants agreed to share hotel rooms to reduce the use of energy. Recycle: The production company also hired Waste Pro, a local waste hauler with recycling capabilities, explained the recycling goals for the shoot and asked for advice. “They were all over the idea,” Larsen says. “They gave us guidelines for separating waste and provided bins for recyclables, non-recyclables and food waste.” Larsen also chose the camera for the shoot with sustainability in mind. “I’ve always shot 35mm,” he says. “This project was all about pretty pictures, exteriors and interiors, and we needed that beautiful film look.” But film processing requires the use of non-green toxic chemicals. So Larsen turned to the RED ONE camera. With a sensor chip as large as a 35mm slide, the RED ONE enables shooters to use 35mm lenses. “That gives you the ability to use depth of field, low lighting and all the techniques used to shoot high-end motion pictures,” Larsen says. But there’s no film, no chemical developing and no large costs to buy film – or tape for that matter. Larsen recorded the digital video directly onto disk drives. Larsen judges his green shoot to be a success. It created few inconveniences and added no costs. In fact, Larsen believes that most parts of the shoot cost either the same or less than a conventional shoot. Paper costs were down. There were no costs to purchase or develop film. Accommodations cost less thanks to doubling up. And the hybrid vehicles saved gas. Best of all, Larsen doesn’t have the strange feeling of profiting from a spot about green but failing to do anything to help the effort. n
Sports Production And Broadcasting
he fans at home are ready to watch a sporting event with the press of a button, and perhaps the pop of a bottle cap. But they rarely think about the efforts of the production crew that brought them this coverage: how they selected equipment, followed the action, addressed challenges and found solutions at locales as varied as the Egyptian desert, a fabled running track, Pike’s Peak and Hawaii’s surf.
Windfall at the finish line
above, clockwise from top left: John Sandy Productions – Pike’ s Peak Climb TV show; Tahoe Films – from their SledHeads series; Jalbert Productions – wakeboarding scene for Josh’ s Idea; Windowseat Pictures – Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
Broadcasting track and field means logistical challenges, including covering multiple events that take place at once. But when President Ralph Mole of Windfall Productions in Haworth, New Jersey, worked on the 115th running of the Penn Relays in late April, he was also shooting at the sport’s oldest track: Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. So working that event, which aired on ESPN2 (opposite the NFL Draft yet), from that venue made it “enormously harder” to produce, he says. “There is no clean-cut shot of the finish line unless you hang a robotic camera from the underbelly of the upper deck,” he notes.“So that’s how you shoot a photo finish.”
By Mark R. Smith Also, the event isn’t for the faint of heart – or the bad of back. “It runs from early in the morning until dark, so we have to work all day and hoist our equipment all over the place,” Mole says. Not that he’s complaining about shooting in the venerable facility located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. “It’s a charming old place,” he reports. Windfall worked from one SD truck, Game Creek Video’s Olympic unit, which holds eight cameras: two robotics from Fletcher, the Jimmy Jib, two handhelds and three stationaries, all of them Sony BVP-900s, 500s and 550Ps with Canon tripods and Canon 70:1 lenses. The live on-the-air card of relays ran from 4 to 6 continued on next page
COVER STORY pm with the broadcast interspersed with taped high school highlights. Some went to air on the new ESPN Rise, which focuses on high school sports. And another logistical concern loomed for Windfall: ESPN2 aired the Drake Relays the next day – although that event was run at the same time as the Penn Relays. So Mole and company had a satellite interlink (via Game Creek’s Southern Cross truck) feed the Drake preview during the Penn Relays broadcast.
Boogie in the sand Jalbert Productions, in Huntington, New York, offers production skills for a sport known to a relative few: wakeboarding, of all things; shot in Egypt, of all places. The sport was featured in an episode of Josh’s Idea, which aired on Rush HD last August and now airs in other countries, says Jay Jalbert. The premise was to illustrate how Josh Sanders, an Australian pro wakeboarder, built a rail slide, which boarders slide their board over to gain momentum during a maneuver. The show was “like a reality sports doc, but it’s a big event as well,” Jalbert notes. “To prepare, we built a 100-foot rail slide then two 100-foot [water] pools on either end. Josh gets pulled from one end to the other on a rope that is attached to a winch. That’s the trick.” The five-camera production offered the breathtaking backdrop of the Great Pyramids shot from “private land not far from it,” he reports. An ARRI3 35mm, shooting at 60 fps, was set up on a platform straight down the barrel of the trick, with the Pyramids full-frame in the background. “Then, at 45 degrees, we had a Panasonic VariCam set on a tripod; a handheld Sony F900 for reactions at both sides of the rails; and another F900 with a wideangle lens on a 30-foot jib to follow Josh,” Jalbert explains. A Panasonic DVCPRO HD P2 camera was locked on the athlete’s father for reaction shots. The cameras “held up fine” during two weeks of shooting in the desert, he says.“Sony F900s are rocks, solid and dependable in any type of weather. The up-to-110-degree heat was never a big problem.” But something else could have been. “Security is important there when you bring $250,000 worth of equipment,” Jalbert points out.
More action in the sand At about $12,000 per show budgets for shooting beach volleyball are low compared to many other sports, according to Paul Burack of Psyched About Sports in White Plains, New York. He would know – he shot the recent Extreme Volleyball Professionals (EVP) Tour, which aired on Comcast SportsNet nationwide, Altitude in Colorado and other affiliates. That’s not much budget for HD,“though we shot mostly on Sony V1U cameras” recalls Burack. The shows air in SD, “and when you downconvert to Beta SP, you can hardly tell the difference” between formats. No trucks were required for the beach volley-
ball tour, which was lensed at various venues nationwide. “There are [usually] just two handheld cameras on location, and the events last all day,” he says. “We produced a half-hour show and made those two cameras look like 100 because we had time to change our perspectives.” Beach volleyball is easy to shoot “because it’s a small court and a large ball. A wide-angle lens allows the shooter to capture all the action, especially at the net. That’s where you see spikes and collisions, and the action is more in the frame that way.” It’s also good television when the cameraman is 20 to 30 yards back from the court, “because you can go for a telephoto shot,” Burack says. “It’s cool to see spikes and blocks in the frame.” Live shows differ from the packaged product (such as highlights shows), he notes, because they require a high camera at mid-court, a jib behind the baseline and at least a couple of handhelds at ground level. But Burack says packaged productions make post easier because they can simply reposition a single camera all day. A laptop Avid Media Composer plus an Avid Adrenaline are key to a compelling finished show. “It’s all about the editing,” he says, “because we include match action, interviews and profiles of the location and the venue.”
This ain’t easy work Swann Valley, Montana sounds like the perfect locale for Thomas Opre of Tahoe Films to acquire content for his snowmobile and ATV DVD series. But he can be found shooting in HD anywhere from Alaska to Colorado and as far southwest as Texas for ATV events. Opre and company are up to Volume 5 of the extreme sports series that he distributes on DVD, Extreme Velocity: The SledHeads. “We shoot in HD on Panasonic P2 [cameras]. About half of our content is shot handheld and the rest with a tripod,” he says. Some of that handheld content is garnered from a helicopter with a gyro and a harness – with Opre hanging out of the side, standing on the skids, following snowmobiles up rock-lined avalanche chutes. Such shoots normally require a two-man crew. “Everything has to go up the mountain on a snowmobile for setup,” he reports, beginning with mounting a bracket on the back of the snowmobile for a Pelikan case for the camera gear, which includes a 2x extender. Opre also carries two ICamDVR.com lipstick cameras in his backpack that end up on helmets, sleds or elsewhere plus food and the most necessary safety equipment: an avalanche beacon, a probe, a shovel and a first aid kit.“We head up the mountains for day shoots and come back down around dinnertime” to cut video on Apple’s Final Cut Pro HD. The hardest thing about his chosen profession, he says, is simply getting the shots. “We are in extreme locations and finding that right spot to shoot from at 5,000 to 12,000 feet can be precarious,” Opre notes. “Sometimes we walk on snowshoes, but
on most occasions we rely on the snowmobile.” And yes, he’s almost fallen off of a cliff before. “This is extremely dangerous” work, he says. “There is always the threat of avalanches. This type of work is not for the average shooter.”
Climbing high The extreme sports genre opened up a whole new world for sports broadcasting and has allowed companies like Denver’s JSP TV to take part in events like the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb for autos and motorcycles. The competition aired on Altitude, a regional sports net, plus various Comcast affiliates, IP channels and the web. “It’s unique in that the course is 12.42 miles long, which calls for a multi-camera shoot,” says JSP’s owner, John Santucci, who employed eight Sony Z1Us and 10 three-chip Sony POV cameras which all recorded to hard drive. Camera positions included the starting line; the first turn, on a 24-foot Jimmy-Jib; various stations between major turns; the finish line and even helicopter aerials. The climb, which lasts from four to six hours, can be a grueling event to cover. In fact, it took each mobile camera operator 15 to 45 minutes to get up the mountain, depending on camera position. “Remember, they’re racing up the hill, and the altitude at the finish line was very thin,” says Santucci. “The cameramen all had to be on the course three hours before the start, and there was no movement allowed after the opening gun.” Using a Tyler-mounted Sony Z1U from the Bell Jet helicopter enabled the crew to keep the production flowing, “because you can’t follow the autos between all of the zigs and zags [called switchbacks] on a mountain from start to finish on the [almost] 12.5-mile course,” he explains. “When the start of a race is at 7,000 feet and the finish line is at 14,000 feet, you need that helicopter.” All told, the full crew spent three days on the mountain; a producer/writer and crew also took about five days to acquire B-roll, interviews and other content.
Surf, stoke and aloha The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is not only a unique event, it’s also one of the most time-consuming: Production takes place during a sevenweek span on the North Shore of Oahu, which is known for the huge waves that pound its shores during the winter months. The Triple Crown marks the end of the World Championship Tour, says Moz Mirbaba, the production’s executive producer at Windowseat Pictures. Each contest, which takes place on the island locales of Haleiiwa, Sunset and Pipeline, has a two-week holding period with three or four days of actual competition. “We check www.surfline.com, a weather partner, and coordinate efforts with a local meteorologist through the event organizer to predict the swell pattern” of the waves before the broadcast, says Mirbaba. continued on page 10
COVER STORY continued from page 8
So the crew that works the event, which airs on Fuel TV, is on call every day. “When the contest is on, we get the call at 6 am” to set up multiple fixed cameras on the beach and rotate two mobile shooters (due to the rigors of the event), he reports. Some lensmen shoot from a jet ski (and are miked, on occasion, like some surfers), while others paddle out. The crew deploys the RED ONE, the Panasonic HVX200 DVCPRO HD and
Sony XDCAM EX-1 cameras at various times in the water; on land, the team uses Panasonic HPX170, HVX200 and HPX500 HD cameras. The production involves a four-man heat and a shooter is typically out in the water until the camera battery wears out or the P2 card gets filled. In the end, the crew ends up with 30 TB of footage. Over the following two months the show is cut together on Final Cut Pro HD at rented space on the North Shore and at Windowseat’s LA headquarters.
n sports coverage, the use of the word “broadcast” can be somewhat relative these days. It usually refers to traditional viewing through the Magnavox or Panasonic set in your home, but it can also mean screening content on your computer or, increasingly, on handheld devices. As these distribution channels continue to evolve so does the array of sports available to fans.
An ocean away for NEP Any reason is a good reason for a trip to Hawaii and, fortunately for Glen Levine and NEP Supershooters of Pittsburgh, the 2009 PGA Tour kicked off on the Island of Maui this season with The Mercedes Championship which aired on Golf Channel. Levine, the vice president of mobile engineering, says that NEP has been partnering with Golf Channel since day one and operates a department dedicated to the cablenet. “We’ve provided facilities and support to Golf Channel for numerous events in Hawaii for several years. In fact, we just updated our 53foot Expando [ND-2] that lives there to an HD truck.” For the Mercedes Championship the NEP crew showed up on the Saturday prior to the Thursday opening to set up. “We [shipped] Supershooter 14 and Support Truck 17 [the NEP Golf Channel truck] from the West Coast [and] used those two units for the Mercedes on Maui; with the ND-2 already on Oahu, we also sent Support Truck 11 to gear up for the Sony Open [which] we were setting up [for] by the end of the Mercedes.” NEP provided 23 HD cameras for the Mercedes: They included a combination of Sony HDC1000s, Thomson LDK6000s and six Sony 1500s as wireless handhelds to roam the course. The company also supplied eight EVS XT2s,
launched a new graphics package with the Chyron Duet Hyper X2 and employed a Calrec Alpha audio board with a Neve submix console. The Mercedes, Golf Channel’s first HD event in Hawaii, called for “an enormous amount of planning,” presented logistical challenges and required additional equipment needs, notes Levine. Additional enhanced graphics from Vistas Technologies offered more visual illustrations, and a company called TrackMan offered software that “tracks the airborne ball off the tee and calculates the angle of trajectory, distance and ball speed,” Levine explains. “It’s the radar of golf.” NEP started setting up for the Sony Open “the day after the Mercedes ended in Oahu,” he reports. “With back-to-back events, it’s key to have another mobile unit ready to go due to transport issues.”
One + one = dual feeds From MIRA Mobile TV’s base in Portland, Oregon, Frank Taylor recently completed negotiations on a sweet deal: The company became the vendor to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBA) and its various teams. The regional sports carrier provides dual feeds, meaning a feed for the home as well as the away telecaster, simultaneously.“And not out of one truck like
the FOX SportsNet dual-feed model, but with what they call side-by-side dual-feed trucks,” explains Taylor, MIRA’s general manager and partner. CSNBA “prefers that the home show has its own dedicated production environment. That helps to eliminate the potential for conflict. And while the concept was not new to us, it was the first time we put that concept together in a working scenario.” At the time that MIRA got the CSNBA contract it had only one dual-feed capable truck which was built to accommodate the FOX SportsNet model. “So we had to build M8HD specifically as a side-byside dual-feed truck that would work in tandem with [our existing] M7HD which was to become the CSNBA home truck,” Taylor points out. The new M8HD is a standalone, seven-camera HD truck with Sony 1450s and Fujinon lenses, including two 88xs and three 72xs. It increases MIRA’s fleet to nine: one analog expando, three digital trucks (two of them expandos) and five HD expandos, including M7HD and M8HD. The first time CSNBA used the dual-feed set up was for the Major League Baseball season opener between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park; the game was part of a defining event for the sportsnet which launched its new HD studio on the same day. Taylor notes that although there are “typically just 10 cameras” between the two mobile units serving CSNBA’s MLB games, a few more were on hand for the special occasion. Both M7HD and
M8HD boast EVS LSMs and EVS ROs, as well as the EVS X-File, Calrec audio boards and GVG Kalypso switchers with Chryon Duet HyperX 2 graphics. “It wasn’t a challenge familiarizing the experienced crew with the trucks, so everything went well,” Taylor says. “Tear down isn’t any more complicated or lengthy, since both trucks have their own crews. It just took a bit longer on opening day due to the extra cameras.”
Lyon gets share of mixed martial arts It’s not often that a production crew is presented with the opportunity to create a broadcast for a new sports league. But Lyon Video in Columbus, Ohio, made the most of that chance when it was contracted to cover Mixed Martial Arts. Lyon sends two mobile units to cover the new league, Bellator, whose events emanate from various locations like the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, says Account Manager Chad Snyder. Shows air in the US on ESPN Desportes. “We started with our own 53-foot Expando HD unit and lots of rented audio gear, EVSs and additional VTRs,” says Snyder, noting that the April event from Florida marked “the first time the new league had been produced for TV. Our crew’s experience broadcasting boxing on ESPN was beneficial; still, this effort was produced by the ‘seat of the pants,’ since the league is new.”
Key to the initial broadcast was Lyon’s collaboration with Bexel Equipment Rental. Lyon and Bexel built two feeds: one primarily in Spanish for ESPN Desportes and an English feed primarily geared to Bellator.com’s Wednesday webcasts. The setup included 10 Grass Valley LDK8000 Worldcams and one LDK6200 that was used with a multichannel EVS with Super Motion software. All told, Lyon employed two hard cameras on a platform positioned in front of the ring, a second at a 90-degree angle to the primary camera, one on a jib, three handhelds circling the ring, a rover and an unmanned beauty camera for wide shots with graphics. In addition, two POV cameras were employed for scoring/data and the athletes’ entrance; the EVS network consisted of seven LSM servers between the two feeds. “We used a single mobile unit on the first and second shows,” says Snyder; the second event was at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. But for the third event, at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma, “instead of renting more equipment from Bexel, we simply sent a second truck, a 28-foot HD Expando,” he explains. It’s outfitted with a GVG Kalypso switcher, an EVS, a Midas Heritage 1000 console and an Adams intercom system. Shooting in the Seminole Hard Rock that was not precabled wasn’t a big challenge, since Lyon uses its triax home runs that range from 250 to 500 feet. “We learn how to streamline the broadcast more each week,” he reports. continued on next page
Crawford transmits micro broadcast Primary delivery of sporting events via television can be considered old hat in some cases. Take, for example, an NCAA basketball game that was played last winter between the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. The contest was “broadcast” by Crawford Communications’ client ESPN 360, the sports mammoth’s web portal that offers viewers/fans the opportunity to watch games that would not necessarily be broadcast by the network or even locally – like seeing their teams play in early season nonconference games, for instance. In that case, “Setting up for us was about the logistics of getting the truck and all of the equipment,” says Randy Horenstein, Crawford’s senior production engineer. “We travel with a support vehicle with the main production truck that contains the uplink; the hook for us is that the truck and the uplink are the same vehicle, which reduces our footprint on location. But we still have our support van, too.” After a quick walk-through and cable runs, Crawford and ESPN set up the main unit’s five Sony DXC-D50 cameras: one handheld under each basket, two more at high mid-court (one for game action, the other for tighter shots of the action), and the fifth, called a “slash” camera, in a corner of the arena directed at the court for lensing wide- and off-angle shots. “Bigger shows can include many more cameras, depending on
the magnitude of the event,” Horenstein says. Then came setting up the announcers’ table: Monitors for slo-mo shots, plus audio gear for the announcers. “We also had a position for someone to check stats, which are sent back to the truck for graphic enhancement by the network,” he reports. At that point – finally – came preparing the truck for transmission by deploying the dish and locating the proper satellite to send the content back to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
BCS innovates with Lowery Satellite Services In college sports, events don’t get bigger than last January’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Game, when Orlando’s Lowery Satellite Services provided uplink services from Miami for FOX Sports for the clash between the champion Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners. While the BCS game has always been televised, streaming it for the web is new. Company owner Glen Lowery calls multi-channel multiplex backhaul for streaming “a growing trend. We take a standard Ku-band SNG truck and reconfigure the video encoder system to include an 8-channel package of eight encoders and a statistical multiplexer. That combines all 8 channels onto one carrier.” Then the carrier is received at the Global Media Services downlink location in Englewood, Colorado. Global “provides the Internet interface to
place the images on the FOX Sports BCS web site, so the surfer/user can select the stream of their choice,” Lowery explains. Overall, Lowery provided eight network feeds from the broadcast, including camera shots that were unavailable to TV in real time – such as images of both bands, end zone pans and selected ISO-camera shots. The streams were delivered via a portable multiplexer system from existing cable TV equipment; that facilitated Lowery streaming the output directly to its satellite modulators. “With a single transponder, we can provide eight broadcast-quality signals,” he reports. Best of all, the entire system was controlled by two laptops: The multiplexer system was run by one while a second monitored the Asynchronous Serial Interface system, which afforded Lowery audio and video for any of the 8 channels. Setup/tear down was easy.“Each case is less than 100 pounds and the whole system is packed into three fly-away cases. We can ship air or ground or easily piggyback onto a network backhaul truck,” Lowery says. The service is managed by FOX Sports’ Emerging Technology division. “FOX calls it ‘enriched service,’” Lowery states. “We’re pioneering [streaming major sporting events] and worked on the earliest versions for the Championship Auto Racing Teams [CART] with their in-car camera,” he says. “It’s attracting considerable attention from network executives. It’s just too cool not to be employed for major events.” n
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by Christine Bunish
hether encompassing tried-and-true instruments or innovative new fixtures, the lighting techniques devised by these DPs and cinematographers solve problems for commercials, TV programs and web features.
Veritas takes lighting to the movies A full-service production company with offices in Phoenix and LA, Veritas Pictures has increasingly helped develop creative for spot clients as was the case for Movie, a two-minute commercial, direct, from the nonprofit Catholics Come Home. Shot by Veritas Director/DP Frank Di Bugnara, Movie depicts the newly-deceased pausing on their way to the afterlife to view home movies of their lives filled with moments of joy, conflict, helpfulness and hurt as they contemplate the role of faith in their lives. Di Bugnara was tasked with lighting an enormous set, a former airplane hangar with huge doors, and the actors who watch their lives unfold in home movies. As his base lights he chose four ARRI 18Ks, “some as bounces, some direct,” and some mounted on 40-foot scissor lifts. “Never did I use so many thousands of watts of light to produce such a dark final result,” he notes. “The challenge was to not make the space look like a hangar. We needed the dark feel of a movie theater but with highlights and textures so we wouldn’t get a flat, dark mush.” Di Bugnara shot daylight-balanced Kodak 5205 35mm film with an ARRI 535B camera. “The hardest part was lighting the background. We needed big instruments not for intensity but for spread. So we used scrim and a series of external nets to knock down these very bright instruments raking a huge wall so the wall looked evenly lit and not source-y,” he explains. He simulated the unseen projector with ARRI 2500s and programmed Martin Mac moving lights to provide subtle film flicker on faces. The lighting kit was rented from Reel Men in Phoenix.
Earlier Di Bugnara spent two days on location using modified Pro 8mm cameras to capture the home movie content. He deployed “a lot of raw sources: open-face lights put into bounces, ceilings or white walls” along with Kino Flos “to bring up the light level.” But he preferred to “let the romance” of the home movies come from the film itself rather than from any creative lighting technique. “I added a bit of shape but basically tried to get a healthy exposure,” he reports. “The 8mm format added the rest.”
Hiatt creates color ‘noir’ look for cop legend Last fall Shawn Hiatt of Honolulu’s Edge City Films acted as DP for Director Michael Wurth’s six-minute The Legend of Chang Apana, a pilot for a short-film series intended for podcasts and other modes of digital delivery. Based on a real 1920’s Honolulu police officer known to have inspired the fictional Charlie Chan, the pilot was shown at the 2008 Louis Vuitton International Film Festival in Honolulu and is currently on the festival circuit and gaining interest from major distributors. Hiatt described the stylized look of the short film as “a color ‘noir’ version of Sin City,” featuring CG virtual sets for every interior. He tapped two Panasonic VariCams which he often ran at 60 and 48fps for fight scenes and when Chang cracks his whip – he doesn’t carry a gun. Hiatt approached the lighting as if he was shooting black and white to “establish a very high-contrast look.” For an outdoor scene between Chang and a drunk who leads him to a female reporter in distress, he used Mole Richardson 1200 HMIs “often mounted low and through different frames or
opposite: Edge City Films – shooting AIG Car Crash
with a chimera on front to give direction and a soft quality to the eye light.” He likes to use negative fill, which he calls “a good technique for really deep shadows on actors. “Sometimes I’ll use bounce cards to fill in shadows, but I also love to do the opposite by using negative fill,” he explains. “By using black duvetyn, from 2x3 feet all the way up to 20x20 feet, you can suck away all the light from one side of the actor or object. You can create shadows that way or deepen them even further for an inky Sin City look.” Hiatt was challenged throughout by the lowbrimmed hat worn by actor Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa who played Chang. “I loved the hat, but getting light to Cary’s intense eyes was important to me, so his key light was always mounted at waist level using a warm china ball or a 2x2 Kino Flo for an intense eye light that didn’t take away from all the moody lighting we were doing.” He also deployed a Mole Richardson Biaxx, a small dimmable fluorescent unit, for eye light. For the crucial bar scene shot on the small greenscreen stage in the Oceanic Time Warner Building, Hiatt used the ARRI fresnels in the grid as down spots and Kino Flos in the grid as backlights with a big sheet of diffusion hung in front to soften them. The white-coated villain Mr. Black glowed under one ARRI fresnel becoming “the hot spot in the scene your eye is drawn to,” he notes. A red-gelled dimmable fluorescent off to one side gave a neon look to the shot. “It’s exciting to me that as camera systems and lighting instruments become more advanced they allow us to create anything we can dream about for every commercial, every film and every documentary,” Hiatt observes.
LEDs shine in Przyborski’s shoots Director/Cinematographer Glenn Przyborski of Przyborski Productions in Pittsburgh began experimenting with LEDs four or five years ago because their cold light was great for food shoots and their ease of use and low-voltage requirements were ideal for hospital commercials. Setting up lights in an active operating room (OR) is very restricted. He’s especially pleased with the performance of the TerraLUX TLE-300, a 500+ lumen LED flashlight head that has been billed as the world’s brightest small light. He’s deployed them as back lights and rim lights in OR-based shoots. “They’re rugged, easy to use and work very well,” he says. “If a doctor is looking at something in his hands, we can bounce into a nearby white surface and get more than enough light to illuminate his face.”
The TLE-300 operates on 6 to 12 VDC, is color balanced at about 6500K and is perfect for filming perishable foods, he adds. “I frequently use them as accent lights on commercials for Eat ‘n Park Family Restaurants.” Przyborski shoots all the spots for the West Penn Allegheny Health System which insists that any concept calling for OR photography shows a real surgical procedure, not a staged one. “The intensity of real faces doing life-saving work actually looks so much better,” he agrees. He uses his Sony F900R CineAlta HD camera for these shoots and thinks out of the box to overcome limitations to the lighting he can bring into the OR. For a recent commercial he laid eight “standard shop light” fluorescent fixtures around the perimeter of the OR floor and covered them with a blue gel. It created “a high-tech blue base light” which didn’t get into the doctors’ way. The continued on next page
CRTs and LCD panels of the OR’s medical devices served as the primary light on the doctors’ faces. Przyborski also armed two assistants with battery-operated TLE-300s. “They maintained their distance from the doctors, but even from 12 feet away, the LEDs produced the perfect edge or rim light,” he reports. Przyborski cautions that the TLE-300 gets very warm when operating at 12 volts, but, at about $60 each, what shooter can’t afford to add the daylight-balanced fixture, which he calls “very similar to a tiny HMI,” to his toolkit?
Synergetic frames a solution Producer/Director Ron Friedman, who owns Syracuse, New York’s Synergetic Productions, has “learned to solve a lot of problems” over his film, video and SFX production company’s 33-year lifespan. “But not on the client’s dime,” he hastens to add. For a series of commercials for a Syracusebased law firm, a longtime client, a large, soft source was required for a nighttime jib shot of the attorney spokesman walking to camera in the city’s downtown area. Synergetic Director Mark
D’Agostino helmed the spots using Panasonic’s HDX900 camera. “The client likes shooting at night for more drama, but night shoots pose challenges,” Friedman notes. “We coordinated with buildings to leave certain lights on in the background. We didn’t want the commercials to have the tabloid look of one harshly lit area with the rest black – wanted to see lots of detail in the area – so we used three of our own ARRI 1200 HMI PARs for efficiency and because the city preferred that we didn’t use generators at night. We were able to use power drops to fire the lights.” To make sure that the attorney was lit attractively for his close ups, “a soft source with a sense of directionality” was needed but “we don’t own and the budget didn’t allow for the rental of a 6x6 frame with diffusion,” Friedman recalls. “So we built our own out of one-inch PVC pipe.” The frame was easy to assemble without tools, he reports. “We purchased grid cloth and added grommets and zip cord to easily attach it to the frame. PVC pipe added to the sides allowed us to slip the frame over two long grip poles to easily and quickly adjust the angle of the frame. And because it’s so lightweight, we were able to use smaller, lighter stands. The whole thing could be set up and ready to go in five minutes by one crew person, and it breaks down quickly to throw on the truck.” In addition, “the grid cloth is quiet,” he says, “so there’s no awful racket with a breeze or wind on sync sound shoots.” The frame “also makes for a wonderful wrap of light for interview setups by sending a 4K softbox through a couple layers of grid cloth,” he reports. In fact, Synergetic has already deployed the frame on its 3,000-square foot soundstage.
Producers Choice goes back to school When As The Bell Rings, the Disney Channel’s comic vignette series about high school kids, changed Austin locales from one season to the next the producers still wanted to emulate the original lighting style, reports Charlie Seligman. Partnered with Bob Lewallen in Austin’s Producers Choice Lighting, Seligman served as the show’s gaffer brought in by DP Wilson Waggoner. Seligman furnished his company’s 3ton truck and lighting for the series. “The concept is a camera outside the school looking through a window into a common area and down a hallway,” he explains. “Each shot is one long take with the camera constantly moving slowly on a stinger arm.” The show shot weekends in a real school for the first two series of shows shot about six months apart. Seligman used Kino Flos loaded with cool whites to supplement the building’s existing fluorescent lighting. “Because soft fluorescent lighting goes everywhere we put up extra diffusion or teasers to control it the best we
could,” Seligman recalls. Tungsten instruments were gelled half-blue and one-quarter plus green to match the school’s fluorescents and rigged in the ceilings as accent lights. Last year the show moved onto a school set where Seligman was tasked with “matching the lighting in the original school.” He installed Kino Flo bulbs in built-in lighting fixtures on the 60-foot hallway set which had a translite at the end to match the look of the original 120-foot corridor. He lit the common area set with Kino Flos hung from trusses and deployed a Mole Richardson 5K fresnel through a chimera as the key light through the window, two ETC Source 4s with gobos to create textures on the wall outside the window and a Mole 750w soft light as an eye light. “Most of the dialogue and action happened at the window, so we had to get it right,” Seligman explains. “There were also Kinos on the truss system that worked as a backlight for the window area.” An array of Mole babies, tweenies, mini Moles and Mickeys was also on hand. “One of the challenges is that the show moves very quickly; there’s no time to reset lights,” he says. “If a light isn’t right in the common area we walk in standbys, place them and resume shooting. Everything is done on the fly but ends up looking pretty good.” DP Waggoner used a Panasonic HVX200 DVCPRO HD camera shooting 720p native to lens two or three shows per day. The efficient P2 workflow meant “they had a rough cut of the first show of the day done by the end of the day,” Seligman notes.
Musto layers light for dimensionality The interior of a Victorian house served as the backdrop for customer testimonials in a spot for Northeastern Eye Institute on which Tom Musto acted as DP for Director Tom Baldonado of Network Affiliates, Denver. Musto, a director/DP with his own Tom Musto Productions in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, lensed the commercial with a Sony CineAlta HD camera. He took a layered-light approach to the home where a kitchen led to an open dining room which in turn revealed a living room with a fireplace; each room had abundant window light. “A lot of directors see lots of light coming through windows and their first reaction is ‘let’s get HMIs’ because there’s already a lot of light,” he notes. “But once you introduce daylight as the key light it’s hard to add any other color.” And Musto wanted to add color to “introduce more interest into the shot and build exposure density over the white walls.” So he decided to block the windows in the foreground kitchen area and set up tungsten-balanced key, fill and rake lights for the subjects giving testimonials. He opted for a Barger G6 (6K) through a 3x4-foot softbox as the key light and a Barger G3 (3K) for fill adding a 1K Westcott Spiderlite with soft box as a shoulder light.
“Having white balanced the camera for 3200 degrees Kelvin, I wanted to allow the blue daylight to flood the background area furthest from the camera,” he recalls. “Using a light meter, it took only seconds to read the light flooding the back walls and make corrections to the exposure by adjusting the window blinds. Since we were utilizing the blue daylight, we didn’t need to correct color from windows and using the blinds to adjust intensity eliminated the need to use neutral density gels.” For the middle dining room Musto blocked windows and added a light warmer than the key light for a golden hue. He selected a Source 4
Junior with CTO warming gel and cookie whose pattern broke up the white walls. Finally, he gelled a large window in the living room with neutral density and a CTO warming gel to add relief to the blue background. The result was a cleanly-lit subject with a slightly warmer light behind him and a cooler background in the distance. The contrasting lighting schemes allowed the viewer’s eyes “to journey through the frame, not just focus on the person,” Musto explains. “I love seeing three dimensions and depth in framing. I look for any opportunity to layer light.” n
roaD triP Midwest
REGIONAL PRODUCTION REPORT
IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MO, MN, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI, WV
Steady Pace in the Midwest Despite the recession, production and postproduction companies in the Midwest are moving ahead with new and enhanced services and capabilities. Most are maintaining at least a steady pace of business, and some have wrapped unexpectedly busy winters. >By CHRISTINE BUNISH
news & Updates > by Jon T. Hutchinson
Blue 60 Pictures – Greg Winter shooting with the RED ONE on location in El Paso for Medtronic
Barklage sees RED boom
ward-winning Jeff Barklage of Cincinnati’s Barklage Cinematography, Inc. shoots features, commercials and music videos worldwide although spots have predominated the last two years. The owner of two RED One cameras which he uses with his set of Cooke primes and zooms, he’s seen the market shift “dramatically” in favor of the new medium. Barklage’s recent commercial work includes national spots for Nationwide and State Farm insurance; P&G’s Charmin, Bounty and Tide; and what he believes was the first RED campaign for Long John Silver’s featuring customers swept by a giant CG wave. He also lensed Marlboro commercials in Montana and Utah for the European market and a Kentucky Bourbon image film in 16 and 35mm. The cinematographer, who previously shot the Coen Brothers film The Naked Man, Bud Light Super Bowl spots and Sci Fi Channel movies in Croatia, says 2008 was probably his company’s “best year ever. When the RED started to hit we were screaming along for the last two quarters. We were so ridiculously busy that we were turning down shoots.” January remained 24
busy then the pace of work “hit the skids,” although advertising often slows in the first quarter, he reports. Still, Barklage is optimistic about an upswing. “I hear a lot is percolating, and people are asking for updated reels.”
Gemini offers stellar facility Cleveland’s Gemini Video Productions, Inc. is an Emmy and Telly Award-winning facility with scriptto-screen or a la carte services for corporate, commercial and broadcast clients. It offers a drive-in, 45x45foot studio with curved hard cyc and greenscreen, JVC 250 DVCAM-format cameras, full lighting and scene shop; film transfer for 8 and 16mm; three Final Cut Pro edit rooms; graphics and animation with After Effects and Final Cut Studio; DVD authoring; and field production with JVC 200 DVCAM cameras. The company did a script-to-screen approach for the non-profit Cleveland Foundation about a house demolition alternative which was distributed on DVD and the web; it provided field production, studio shoots and finishing for Medicus golf club and SMC Smart Tools DVDs; and crafted five marketing videos on retail LED lighting for the GE web page. Gemini just launched its Eastern Christian Media
Davo creates new division TROY, MI – Davo Photographic has created a new division: Midwest Matrix. The new venture revolves around a proprietary control system that allows for any number of digital SLR cameras to be triggered in any sequence. Timing between cameras can be programmable milliseconds or a remote scroll wheel can be used to allow the program timing to be manually advanced to match the speed of any live action.
Mr. Art Critic honored TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Richard Brauer’s latest feature film, Mr. Art Critic, is being featured in the inaugural collaboration of TBS and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Just For Laughs Festival, where it received the Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy. Brauer and several actors from the film will be present for a Q & A session at the Chicago premier screening on June 19.
Hair raising VFX MINNEAPOLIS, MN – motion504 recently created VFX and backgrounds for a beauty spot for Dualiste, the next revolution in hair care products by Nexxus. The spot showcased custom offerings from the Dualiste line including color protection, hydration, volume and anti-breakage. motion504 was responsible for post supervision, creating the type treatments, invisible VFX, and compositing.
division to create broadband and cable programming for the Eastern Catholic, or Byzantine Catholic, churches. It debuts with biweekly programs available on the www.easternchristianmedia.com web site. President Bob Kasarda says Gemini is also “branching out to bring other independent companies in with us,” such as Media Group for live streaming capabilities and dynamic web content and Bell Tower Productions for assistance in running the studio operations. “Business could be better,” he concedes, “but things are starting to percolate. I feel the second quarter will come around, and by the third we’ll be back in the swing of things.”
CVM trucks it to the races In Mishawaka, Indiana CVM Productions is a full-service video and audio production company serving corporate and broadcast markets. President Ron Vander Molen shoots Panasonic DVCPRO; the company has a remote production trailer for live events, a 30-foot camera boom, full lighting and grip and location sound. On the post side it offers two Avid edit suites with a Media Composer and Adrenaline, Lightwave 3D, a Pro Tools post audio room with VO studio, DVD authoring and duplication, and web compression services. “Business has been slow the last six months but it’s picking up a bit,” reports Vander Molen. “Maybe the sun shining has put everyone in a better state of mind.” CVM kicked off the spring by taking its production trailer to seven Midwest venues for short-track sprint car races telecast on Comcast Sportsnet out of Chicago. “We are providing all the production and post services, including graphic design,” notes Senior Producer Joe Stiles. During the presidential campaign last year the truck and crew supported Barack Obama’s visit to Marion, Indiana for Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. CVM also does a lot of regional commercials for clients such as car dealerships, retail outlets and small colleges plus promo and marketing pieces for non-profits like the United Way, says Stiles.
KDN Videoworks covers airwaves KDN Videoworks, Inc. in Madison Heights, Michigan primarily provides broadcast services to national news and entertainment networks from its suburban Detroit location. It offers HD (Panasonic VariCam, Sony PDW-700 and Panasonic HDX900F cameras) and SD packages with lighting and support gear; a 25x40-foot studio; a Vyvx fiber line and live room; an Avid and Final Cut Pro edit room; and DVD creation, mastering and duplication. The company is well-known for its Mobile TV Studio, created by Vice President and Technical Director David Newman, which opens to feature a 240-square foot studio with picture
window for single head shots or two- to four-person interviews in a weatherproof, climate-controlled environment. Recently introduced are three Mini Mobile TV Studios – two trailers, one truck – for smaller locations. “We’re talking to a company about doing a live game show out of a Mini Mobile in Manhattan,” Newman reports. Paul Dzendzel acts as the studios’ camera/audio technician. Two Uplynx KU uplink trucks are based in Michigan and Seattle. KDN Videoworks covered Barack Obama at the Detroit Institute of the Arts during the presidential campaign, had crews recording March Madness in Detroit for the Crow Ridge Productions – Rick VanNess provides location sound for NCAA, and sent its satellite trucks to The Wake; Matt Klundt, Labyrinth Films, on RED ONE with the Frozen Four (NCAA ice hockey actor/Director Tristan Barnard finals) and the NCAA women’s basketball regional playoffs. Its Mobile TV Studio and League placements for its black and Latino Mini Mobiles are in demand throughout the graduates. Chicago HD previously color corMidwest and the East Coast for live trial coverage rected and finished the doc for festival and DVD distribution. on Tru-TV (formerly Court TV). Although business is slower this year than KDN Films, the content creation division headed by Bill Kubota, produced two docs last it remains steady, Panning says. “I wish we which aired nationally on PBS: Luston: The were busier, but I’m not worried. We’re seeing House America’s Been Waiting For and Kuroki: more RED projects come in.” Most Honorable Son. It’s currently in post on a doc about the ash bore insect. Business was steady through March, according to Newman, with “no big downturns. We’re getting some business thanks to At Madison, Wisconsin’s Yellow Dog Michigan’s production incentives, including shoots for Entertainment Tonight of the movies Productions the focus has shifted from corporate work and broadcast news for hire to providworking in town.” ing video services to faith-based non-profits,
Yellow Dog gets teeth into new business
Chicago HD increases capabilities
continued on next page
Spots now dominate the post work at Chicago HD where there’s lots of news from coowners Steve Panning and Gary Chang. Last year the company added another Final Cut Pro room so it now offers full uncompressed HD and 2K editing in two suites; it’s also capable of processing and transferring Phantom high-speed HD footage in those rooms as the format grows in popularity. Panning reports that Chicago HD’s postproduction rental business remains strong. It offers HDCAM, HDCAM SR, D5, DVCPRO HD and SD decks and converters to post houses and independents; it recently added 4:4:4 capabilities to its HDCAM SR package “for better color sampling for customers doing highend spots and chromakeys,” he explains. Chicago HD provided creative editorial, color correction, graphics and finishing for a six-spot TradeStation Securities package and color correction and finishing for a Four Winds Casino package. The company is now working on the theatrical version of The Providence Effect, a feature-length doc about a Westside Chicago high school with a high number of Ivy MAy/JUNE 2009
says co-owner Marv Turner, an Emmy-winning TV shooter; wife Beth is an Emmy-winning major-market news anchor. They’ve already done Christian and secular versions of a fundraising DVD for Carenet distributed to healthcare professionals; the project about empowering single mothers was shot 24p 16:9 on miniDV. They also provided script-to-screen services for a DVD and web content on Wisconsin Right to Life’s Man Up program. A Final Cut Pro room is on hand for editing and finishing. A big part of Yellow Dog’s mission is mentoring video professionals through its Guns For Cameras program in Africa. Turner made three trips to Mozambique and the Congo last year showing how video can build self worth in villages. A Congolese TV station will include one hour a week of TV programming made by the Guns For Cameras students in Bukavu. “There’s no place we can’t reach with video,” Turner says. “We hope to get some major manufacturers on board, and we’re getting calls about doing the program elsewhere.”
Blue 60 strong in spots, corporate Minneapolis-based Blue 60 Pictures is a production company owned by Executive Producer Ridge Henderson, Producer/Director Fritz Basgen, Director/DP Greg Winter, and Writer/Director Tom Bloom. Henderson and Winter usually handle commercials and Basgen and Bloom corporate projects. But all “pitch in” as needed; says Henderson, “There’s an awful lot of expertise among the four of us.” Blue 60 also represents Twin Cities native Richard Klug, a director/cameraman, for commercials in Minneapolis. For TV commercials Blue 60 still shoots more film than HD video, but corporate communications’ production is largely HD; Henderson says the company has been “shooting a lot with RED in the last 10 months.” In the last year, Winter has directed spots for Target and Cox Business as well as Syngenta’s Avicta herbicide. Klug has lensed commercials for Hood, Pitney Bowes, Shaws, Hewlett Packard and the Christian Science Monitor.
Through A Glass Productions – DP Jeremy Osbern frames a shot with the RED ONE fitted with a prime lens during a music video shoot in Lawrence, Kansas
Corporate communications’ credits include a video to aid fundraising efforts for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, patient and physician education videos for Medtronic, an opener for a Honeywell automation controls sales meeting, educational and corporate image projects for the Mayo Clinic and community relations projects for Target. “We did a dozen short videos for Target’s web site called Dream in Color,” featuring notable people of color, like Debbie Allen, Iman, John Legend, actor Tony Plana and designer Sami Hayek sharing stories of their success and inspiration, says Henderson. This year got off to a slower start than last but business has still been fairly steady, he reports. “ I think companies are being thoughtful about the projects they’re doing: They’re not shutting everything down. They’re smart. They realize they need to communicate and communicate well.”
One stop Drive Thru In Minneapolis Drive Thru Production and Post is a “one-stop shop” for national and regional spots, and longform and Internet projects, says Executive Producer Mark Setterholm. He co-owns the company with Bob George who handles the editorial side of business. Drive Thru represents up to eight directors “matching the best talents with the creative opportunity.” Timothy Kendall shot the Buffalo Wild Wings campaign that aired during the Final Four, two spots for Minnesota Tourism, three spots for McDonald’s featuring St. Louis Cardinals players, and eight spots for the Cards’ new season. Jb Carlin recently finished an American Family Insurance commercial for the Hispanic market in San Diego, and Director/DP Ken Seng lensed two Scheels retail spots in Auburn, California. The company largely shoots spots in HD with its own Panasonic HV200 cameras or rents RED as needed. On the post side Drive Thru boasts three creative edit suites, finishing with Smoke and Flame, and 3D animation with Maya. It’s partnered with Co3 for real time color correction from their Santa Monica and New York facilities via the Internet with their IP-to-IP system. While Drive Thru typically posts the spots it shoots, it also provided creative editing and finishing for a “very moving” doc by Hoop Dreams Director Steve James about Harlistas, Latin America’s dedicated HarleyDavidson riders. The company also posted Subaru, YMCA and H&R Block commercials and numerous web banners. “Agency content is often multi-purpose,” Setterholm points out. He says he doesn’t “want to jinx” things when he reports he believes Drive Thru just had “the best first quarter ever.” The 24-year old company recently moved to a 6,500-square foot penthouse space in its building. “We started on the ground floor here, so we’re moving up!” Setterholm declares. 26
Avatar stirs up new roux St. Louis-based Avatar Studios is an award-winning full-service production and post facility for corporate communications and commercials; its newly launched Roux Interactive division handles web development and design for regional ad agencies and corporate clients. Avatar primarily shoots with a pair of Sony CineAlta HD cameras and has a 16-foot grip truck for location work. It offers a 45x65-foot stage with set building and storage, three Avid Adrenaline editing rooms, a Nitris DS room and a Final Cut Pro room, plus two audio/sound design rooms with Pro Tools and Sony Vegas software. President Bill Faris, who is also a director and DP, calls 2008 “one of our better years, although it was a rollercoaster.” Avatar excels at turnkey projects, bringing in outside directors as needed. Among its recent credits are spots and a national sales meeting video for Monsanto via Osborn & Barr/St. Louis and a video for Boeing, produced by Faris’s partner Dennis Bracy, about computerized energy grids which featured crosscountry shoots in California, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. Roux has done web development for Anheuser-Busch and 901 Tequila via Whitespace. While Faris admits that the first quarter was “a bit of a challenge,” he saw business picking up in March and looking good into April. “We firmly believe that the convergence of the core business of Avatar and the web is finally happening,” he says
Metro offers full-service storytelling Operating 24/7 and often in a turnkey fashion, Metro Productions in Kansas City, Missouri considers storytelling the core aspect of its production and post business. “We interpret the client’s message and deliver it in a visual form” whether it’s a promo, doc, spots, VNRs or features, notes President/CEO Tim McGovern. The company maintains a 50-50 balance of agency and B-to-B work; about half the agency work, he esti-
mates, is web-driven and B-to-B web work is growing, too. Metro’s 10,000-square foot facility boasts a soundstage with 40-foot seamless cyc and greenscreen, four networked Avid Adrenaline HD and Final Cut Pro edit suites, a Pro Tools-based audio recording/editing/sound design room, and a 1-ton grip truck with full location lighting package. Acquisition is primarily with Sony’s XDCAM HD format. Recent work includes animal health projects for Bayer, Pioneer and Triforce and a Colgate consumer health project for trade shows and other use; a Microsoft 360 game platform job from new-media agency vml.com; and commercials for Kansas City’s The New Theater which draws top national acting talent. Metro likes to give back to the community and has done pro bono media projects for the city’s 18th Street Fashion Show and webisode spoofs featuring local female actors shown on-line at www.unrealhousewivesofkc.com. McGovern says Metro kept busy during the holidays and into the new year but business slowed afterwards. “Now we’re getting more inquiries and feel the market is coming back.”
Through A Glass busily Through A Glass Productions (TAG) in Lawrence, Kansas offers production and post for a wide array of clients. “The vast majority of work is HD these days; I can’t remember the last time our 35mm camera was out. We use its lenses with RED,” says Chris Blunk who’s partnered with Jeremy Osbern in the company. “We’re big fans of tapeless workflows and working with native files,” notes Blunk. TAG’s Red Room is a Final Cut Pro edit suite, and its Green Room is a Pro Tools-based audio suite with VO and Foley capabilities. Indie features and short films have been keeping TAG busy lately. Osbern shot the short film Candy for Director Misti Boland; Steve Deaver edited and Blunk did sound editing and sound design. Osbern also shot the continued on next page
MIDWEST Film commissions Iowa www.traveliowa.com/film Illinois www.filmillinois.state.il.us Indiana www.in.gov/film Kansas www.filmkansas.com Kentucky www.kyfilmoffice.com Michigan www.michigan.gov/filmoffice Minnesota www.mnfilmtv.org Missouri www.missouribusiness.net/film North Dakota www.ndtourism.com Nebraska www.filmnebraska.org Ohio www.discoverohiofilm.com South Dakota www.filmsd.com Wisconsin www.filmwisconsin.net West Virginia www.wvfilm.com
feature Last Breath for Director Ty Jones with Deaver and Blunk getting editing and post sound credits for the film which premiered in April at the Kansas City Film Festival. Osbern used RED to lens the short Lady in My Life for LA-based Director/Writer Malik Aziz; Deaver and Blunk again furnished post. Osbern served as DP with Matt Jacobson on The Only Good Indian which Director Kevin Willmott shot in Kansas and which premiered at Sundance this year. TAG has produced its own musical feature, Air, which Osbern directed and shot and
Blunk produced. It has been a winner on the festival circuit and is now sealing deals for theatrical, DVD and on-line release. Blunk supplied location sound recording for the web reality series Next! spoofing casting directors. TAG also took a script-toscreen approach for a training/motivational video for a manufacturer of acoustic material for cars. According to Blunk, business always slows in winter and some film work is pending for later this year. “We’re not feel- Avatar Studios – DP Marc Luther shooting a Monsanto corporate program ing the signs of recession to the degree you hear about on the coasts,” he says. cast from Mt. Rushmore for Elderhostel. Earlier, the company worked on interviews in Pine Ridge for the documentary Reel Injuns about Indians in the movies, and shot DVD extras on Rapid City, South Dakota’s Crow Ridge Mt. Rushmore and in surrounding areas for Ken Productions is unique in its part of the country Burns’s new The National Parks: America’s Best offering crews and equipment to movies, TV Idea and Untold Stories which airs on PBS startand spots; it also specializes in location sound ing in May. VanNess’s husband, Rick, was location manager for Sylvan Lake for National and creates its own content. Crow Ridge has the only 3.5-ton grip truck Treasure II which extended its shoot in the area in 350 miles and shoots with a Sony Z1U and from three days to three weeks. Crow Ridge has also finished its own short two Panasonic HVX200 HD cameras plus lights, jibs and dollies. “We always run lean and sci-fi film, The Awakening, which it hopes will provide more services than clients ask for,” notes be the first of a 10-episode web series. “We expected a long winter but January and President Christine VanNess. “Producers like coming here because of the attention they get February were great, and we’ve had inquiries for the last half of June and August already,” says VanNess. n and all the wonderful locations in the area.” Business tends to be seasonal (spring, summer and fall) but “the first two months of this BUsiness CarD year were the best ever,” she reports. Projects since January include shooting an episode of Dino Body and hiking to the top of Washington’s head on Mt. Rushmore for Decoding America, both on Discovery Channel; accompanying the returning PBS History Detectives to the Crazy Horse monument; and furnishing two crews for two shows shot simultaneously in the Badlands and various museums for National Geographic’s Prehistoric Predators. Crow Ridge also provided live location sound for the CBS Morning Show and for a web-
Crow Ridge flying high
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VIEW INSIDE Namakula, creative editor
By CHRISTINE BUNISH
amakula’s editing credits include campaigns for Smirnoff, Levi’s, XBOX, Hershey, Coca-Cola, American Express, AT&T, Bank One, Hallmark, and Neat Sheet.
Markee: You’re a rare combination of a creative editor who also has a flourishing career as an actor, writer and voice-over artist. How did you become an editor? Namakula: I was studying theater and film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Hunter College and began editing short films on a flatbed – a great way to learn – but I never thought about editing as a career. Then I was working as a hotel concierge and got a summer internship at P.I.G., a commercial editing house in SoHo. I didn’t know anything about the advertising world when I started, but I learned that a whole other career cutting commercials was available. So we kept in touch, I graduated, they needed an apprentice editor immediately and I accepted the position. I didn’t want to be another actor who was waiting tables between jobs. I wanted to learn a craft and work with industry professionals.
Markee: Since 2004 you’ve been a free agent editing commercials, music videos and longform projects under your own MUSU banner. Why do you prefer freelancing to a staff editing position? Namakula: I feel that I’m at a point where being able to have more control over my free time and being able to travel is a necessity for me to pursue my other talents, so it’s better to freelance than be on staff. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time in Spain, specifically Barcelona [where I] was represented by a casting/modeling agency [that] sent me out on castings, and for a while I lived almost in an alternate universe working in Spain, while maintaining my editing career and contacts in NYC. Currently, I am in the process of getting a work visa for Spain as I have contacts and work opportunities, both in acting & editing, in Madrid. I have also been offered a role [and will be doing a bit of editing] in an Indie film that is going to be shot in Hungary at the end of the summer. Despite the worldwide recession, there are still opportunities to look into. Markee: Does being a performer influence your work as an editor? Namakula: Yes, but I also think it works the other way around. A lot of actors take things personally if they don’t get a role. Working with advertisers, producers and directors over the years, I know that commercials are often about juxtaposing people or types within a frame. And at times, the casting does not hinge completely on the performance. A lot of actors don’t understand that. But performing and editing are tied together. If one is slow
it makes me creative in other ways. It gives me opportunities to open discussions about new situations which makes it fun and challenging, rather than simply daunting. Markee: You’ve just signed an exclusive representation deal in Florida with Miami’s Vapor Post where you recently cut a package of general market spots for Covenant Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Lubbock, Texas. Namakula: Vapor Post and I are on the same page in our understanding of clients’ needs, the creative process and the business side of the industry. And I’m all for maintaining the kind of intimate environment that Vapor Post has, that’s been missing in big editorial companies. The Covenant spots were a fun, creative process – a great first experience there. Markee: What’s the most fun about being an editor? Namakula: It’s really nice when you make a connection with people and develop an open and creative vibe with the client as happened with the Convenant campaign and the creatives at Yaffe Deutser [agency]. Generally speaking, you [may] get material and there isn’t a real clear vision for it, so the client is looking for your interpretation of it. Having them appreciate and trust you is truly rewarding. Markee: What spots are you most proud of editing? Namakula: I did some Hershey spots from DDB/NY for the US Hispanic and international Spanish-speaking markets with Mexican singer/actress Thalia. The whole shoot was Q&A – most of her answers were in Spanish – about what she liked about chocolate. My Spanish at the time was pretty good – it’s stronger now. But after going through the dailies, it was a challenge to grasp everything. Even a Mexican friend of mine, who’s a Spanish teacher, had difficulties. But I went through the rushes and spent hours translating everything and then typed subtitles for the agency creatives [viewing the edits] who didn’t speak Spanish. It showed me that I could work comfortably in a second language, sometimes under duress, and remain focused and innovative while satisfying the desires and needs of the client and often surpassing their expectations. n
Published on Aug 10, 2009