Blog

Work, ramblings, experiments and stuff.

Tokina Cinema ATX 50-135mm

IMG_0848-1I’ll post a full on review ASAP, but wanted to quickly say that first impressions of the Tokina Cinema ATX 50-135mm are impressive for a zoom in this price range. Received the lens today and shot a quick test comparing it to a Zeiss CP.2 25mm. It’s slightly warmer than the Zeiss… Only slightly though. Focus was repeatable from both directions using the barrel marks and quite sharp. As sharp as the Zeiss. More thorough tests to come. Quite happy to have this in the arsenal.

Spaceship Project – Sneak Peak

A sneak peak of the scratch built spaceship model for an upcoming project. This is why my business card title is “Mad Scientist”. The model has articulated landing gear that are easily removed or attached for the landing shots in the piece. A full internally powered lighting system is now complete – all those dangling wires in the back end up contained in the body of the model. Nothing like building and shooting something like this practically if the budget allows for it. It looks real because it is. Not too often do I get to do something like this outside of my 3D modeler.

Build Photos

Stuff That Matters

I had the privilege of hanging out at a magical place yesterday. A place that reminded me of home and of places I used to spend a lot of time. A place for making things. A place where design matters. Incredibly awesome folks at Matter doing awesome things. This is a little video I shot several years ago in my family’s shop. Love.

Photo Retouching – Rotoscoping

Retouched Negative Scan

Retouched – Click to Expand

Original Medium Format Negative Scan

Original – Click to Expand

I’ve been working with Photoshop since version 1.0… Yikes! In video and post-production work, I’m often asked “Can you just remove that little bad part? Clean it up and make it look better?” Uhm, well, yes… I can.. but, that’s a lot of work – are you sure? The results can be great, but it’s costly. Painting frame by frame, to multiple, consecutive frames is called rotoscoping. Although it’s quite possible, and I’ve done it, there are much more efficient tools for doing this to video than Photoshop. After Effects has a fantastic vector based roto and paint tool which I often use. I was recently asked to do this to video with about half a day to turn around several shots. Blazing fast to say the least. Touch-up work is quite time consuming even on a single frame, let alone when every frame is changing due to movement. The advantage you have on moving media is that a single frame is only seen for a fraction of a second according to the frame rate. But still, it’s tedious work. I found this photo of my Dad’s family that I cleaned up and retouched a while back as an example. There’s roughly about 5 hours devoted to this single frame. If you expand the view(click on each one) and look closely, there is a tremendous amount of dirt and scratch removal as well as overall tonality, contrast, sharpening, and grain removal and matching. A photo is only one frame that you see in perpetuity, so it needs to be exacting. I luckily had the original negative and started with a fresh, hi-res scan. Then I just pressed the “Make it look better” button in Photoshop, and voila! I kid, I kid. Having an understanding of photography, composition, fine arts, painting, contrast, grain structure, and plenty of experience with the tools is the only way to do this properly. There are certainly automated tools for video and film that can get you a long way with dirt and scratch removal on motion media. But they only get you so far. Imagine doing this to 24 or 30 frames per second on a 10 second shot! Exaaactly.

Original Medium Format Negative Scan

Original – Click to Expand

Retouched Scan

Retouched – Click to Expand

Fotga DP500 2S Follow Focus

Fotga DP500 2S

This will be a short review of the above mentioned follow focus, I promise. But, I’m going to take this opportunity to give you a little background first that will help explain why this little hunk of Chinese metal makes me so happy.

I grew up in the country. Let me be a bit more specific. I grew up in the South, in a very small town. The kind of place where people do things for themselves. If something breaks, you fix it. Yourself. If you need something you don’t have, you make it out of what you have available. If we had a place nearby to purchase the things we needed, we may very well have gone there and purchased them. Out of necessity, we became engineers, inventors and jacks-of-all-trades. And I certainly did. MacGyvers as my father liked to called us. He and I were always trying to out MacGyver one another. Special thanks to Richard Dean Anderson. Now, there are a lot of “funny” pictures on the interweb of shoeless folks wearing overalls standing next to, riding on top of and generally being proud of some amazing contraption they created. And proud of all of them I’m sure they are. But, like many stereotypes these are fairly inaccurate representations of the kinds of things we MacGyver’d. And what clothes we wore on a daily basis.

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Phish Posters – Dick’s – Commerce City, Colorado 2014

Trip-dick

I’ll have a limited number of original 12×18″ Phish/Dick’s posters designed and screen printed by yours truly for sale in the lot/camping area this year. Each will be hand numbered and signed. Printed on 100% cotton, canson edition, acid-free, 250 gsm, antique white paper with deckled edge. For sale individually or a discounted set of three.

We’re easy to find – just look for the yellow T@B Camper – Stop by and say hello!

Phish T@B

 

Sidebar: I was privileged to design the motion menus for 3 of Phish’s DVD releases!

Phish_Utica Phish_Joy Phish_Alpine

Ghost Town Quiz Game

A choose your own adventure style quiz game I designed and produced along side the motion menus for the final season DVD set of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Ghost Whisperer. This is a small sample of the game play.

Custom BMPCC Power Distribution & Battery Box

BMPCC Battery Box & Power Distribution Box

BMPCC Battery & Power Distribution Box

Since I received my BMPCC(which I love), I’ve been frustrated with the lack of affordable power options that would work on extended shoots. So I decided to build my own. The project uses off-the-shelf parts and isn’t extremely difficult to put together. Some simple knowledge of soldering, drilling holes, and generally fitting things inside a box are needed. Other than that, it’s definitely in the realm of most DIYers like myself. I’m not an electronics expert, but I consulted some friends and family who are and ended up with a pretty affordable and awesome solution. And it’s not just for the BMPCC. This could be used with pretty much any camera rig.

You can see here it works with the battery box I built as well as commonly found commercial battery belts:

BMPCC Power Distribution Box with Battery belt

BMPCC Power Distribution Box with Battery Belt

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Criterion Collection Special Features

Ray

Last summer, I had the pleasure of working with the Criterion Collection’s team and shooting some of the special features for the release of Satyajit Ray’s “The Big City” on Blu-ray and DVD. I’m a long time fan of the Criterion Collection’s high standards and excellent special feature material. This should be a great addition to any film buff’s collection.

Check out my work on the disc – “Satyajit Ray and the Modern Woman”, a new interview with Ray scholar Suranjan Ganguly.

 

 http://www.criterion.com/films/28448-the-big-city

 

 

 

 

Shooting an Interview with Suranjan Ganguly

Shooting an Interview with Suranjan Ganguly

BMPCC & c-mount lenses

After having my Eclair NPR’s gate modified to Ultra 16mm several years ago, I started looking into affordable lenses that would cover the new, wider frame. Since my NPR has both the Eclair CA-1 and c-mount on a handy turret, I decided c-mount lenses were probably the way to go because they were relatively cheap and fairly abundant. But, I needed ones that could cover the frame without vignetting… if that was even possible. I had shot plenty of film in Standard 16mm and Super 16mm with Arri and PL mount lenses, but Ultra 16mm and the c-mount was new to me at the time.

Ultra 16 frame size = 11.66 mm x 6.15 mm

Super 16mm frame size = 12.52 mm x 7.41 mm

BMPCC sensor size = 12.48 mm x 7.02 mm

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Vegas BTS

VEGAS DVD

CBS “Vegas” Season 1 DVD

Released this week on DVD – The first season of “Vegas”. I was the director of photography for the pilot episode BTS and you can see my work used throughout the special feature documentaries on the discs(look for me in the credits!). Unfortunately, this is the first and only season. It’s really too bad… this show was so well done and had a really unique style from the typical TV procedural drama. Fantastic art direction and a great cast and crew. There were some amazing people attached to this project. Created by Nicholas Pileggi(Goodfellas, Casino) and Greg Walker(X-Files, Smallville). The pilot was directed by James Mangold(Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) and lensed by Kramer Morgenthau(Game of Thrones, Thor).

Shooting BTS on the set of "Vegas" for CBS

Shooting BTS on the set of “Vegas” for CBS

More to come…

Sports Authority Field

Since the season is underway, I can finally share. I recently completed all the Sports Authority in-stadium animation for the Denver Broncos. Thundervision II, ribbon boards, 50 yard line, lobby screens, etc. … if it’s in the stadium, I made it!

That’s my funny head and the new Thundervision II screen behind me… on the field checking the screens for color accuracy and playback. The Broncos now have the largest outdoor stadium screen in the league, second all around only to that monstrous thing in Dallas.

More info, videos, and pics to come!