Crafting personal visual experiences since 2008

Posts tagged “humboldt

A Summertime Wedding Reverie

Every once in a while I have the opportunity to shoot a wedding video.  It doesn’t happen often.  I think that sometimes video gets overlooked in favor of photography for these special events.  But on those rare occasions when I’m asked to make a wedding video I always leap at the opportunity.  I just love weddings so much.  They are always fun projects.

I enjoy weddings for many reasons but mainly because everyone at a wedding is having a good time.  Everywhere I point my camera there are people smiling, enjoying each others company, and celebrating one of the most important events in a friend’s or family member’s life.  I love being able to share in the celebration and in the process record that special moment forever.  It tickles me to think that in 10 years the young children of this married couple may be watching their parents’ wedding video and fantasizing about their own weddings some day.  What a treat to be contributing to such a wonderful part of life!

The craftsman in me enjoys the special challenges associated with each wedding video.  No two weddings are ever alike, and so it goes as well for the wedding videos.  Each wedding requires a unique approach to shooting and a personalized editing style.  And I just love challenges and doing new things!

Like I said before, it’s not every weekend that I get to shoot a wedding, but here’s an example of one that I shot last summer.  I hope that I’m able to post more after this summer!



Tip:  Try to connect with the wedding photographer before the event to coordinate your difference shooting styles.  You don’t want to be in their way and you don’t want them to block your shots either.

The Humboldt Film Festival

I was honored last night to see my short time lapse “The Heavens of Humboldt” screened at the 46th Annual Humboldt Film Festival.

It’s always nice to see your work up on the big screen, and to see how people react to it. I was very satisfied by the audience’s reaction last night. And what an audience it was, over 180 people, for experimental films on a Wednesday night! That’s more than we had at the festival when I was a Co-Director back in 2008. The Co-Directors this year are doing something right, something very right indeed.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the festival. Documentaries screen tonight, Thursday, and narratives screen Friday night. Saturday night all the winners of the festival screen again for “Best of the Fest Night”. I’m going to be there. Will you?

Here’s the link to the festival website:

And here’s my submission in competition for Best Experimental, Best of Fest, and Audience Choice Award:


Running & Gunning

Mixing sound for the AF4Q Documentary

Operating the Boom on location in Eureka

In the business they call it Run & Gun filmmaking.  There’s no script.  There’s no schedule.  There might not even be a Director.  There’s just what’s happening and you have to capture it on video / audio to the best of your abilities.  It occurs mostly on documentary productions, news reporting, live television, and reality shows.  You can’t be sure that you’re in the right place at the right time because there really isn’t a right place or right time.  If it looks interesting then you stay on it until something else looks more interesting.  You just “catch as catch can” and hope that what you captured pans out in post.  Let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun.

I got to do some running & gunning on a little documentary about healthcare providers and healthcare recipients.  A New York City film crew came out to our little hamlet to shoot this short doc and hired me as a local gun. It was a lean crew, just four of us total, which allowed us to fit into some tight spaces and get great shots.  There were a lot of interview setups in small medical offices which were challenging.  Then there were several large gatherings of healthcare providers & recipients where we had to run & gun it.  They also needed general around-town shots of our community so we often pulled over to the side of the road and just started shooting stuff.  It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

They brought their own gear which included a Sony PMW-F3 camera (so popular right now that stores can’t keep them in stock), some Kino Flo Diva lights, and a Sound Devices Mixer/Sennheiser Boom Mic package.  And I got to work with all of it.  I love it when that happens.

Tip:  a small crew is essential for documentary filmmaking.  Bringing a large crew into someone’s house or a working environment is just not feasible.  Also, having conspicuous crew members hanging around the production will alter the documentary subjects’ behavior giving the footage a falseness.  Having a light crew footprint will allow you to get some great candid footage that will make for an interesting documentary.

Dinosaur Shoot

Discovery Channel Dino Shoot

Shooting on location near Stone Lagoon

This photo shows one of the most difficult dolly tracks that I’ve ever made.  The total length of track is about 20 ft.  The ground was comprised of a thin layer of moss covering a thousand years’ worth of pine needles.  Walking on this forest floor felt more like bouncing on a gymnastics spring board.  So laying the track was plenty difficult.  As you can see it took about two dozen apple boxes and a hundred wedges or more to make the track level.

This was last fall when I had the opportunity to work with Creative Differences, a production company out of Los Angeles, making a television show about dinosaurs to be aired on the Discovery Channel.  There were a lot of static shots (they’re called “plates” in the industry) of old forests or empty beaches.  After shooting a 30 second plate we’d “fly in” giant wooden panels painted bright blue and place them behind shrubbery, trees, or rocks.  Then we’d shoot the same plate with these blue panels in the frame.  Sometimes we shot the same plate a dozen times, moving the blue panels between each shot.  These blue panels would allow the computer animators to “paint in” CGI dinosaurs in post.  Pretty fun stuff.

Tip:  Use a yardstick style bubble leveler to make sure your track is perfectly flat.  You can buy one at any hardware store for $15.  Be sure to level your track before you put the dolly on it.