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SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

Roving Camera Album: Click Photo

HPX250-1.jpg
Panasonic HPX250
Production | Tech

NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

Las Vegas is known for its buffets, and the NAB Show at the Vegas Convention Center is a grand smorgasbord of technology.

The floor exhibits fill over 800,000 square feet. 92,000 attendees crowd around 1500 exhibitors showing the latest products and services in TV and radio broadcasting, film and video production and postproduction, cloud computing, entertainment technology, file-based workflows, 3D visuals, and pro audio. . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB Roundup 2013: Cameras

Photos | Tech

Camera Gallery 2012

It’s been quite a year for digital cinema cameras. We’ve seen new models of all sizes and form factors, from the hugest to the smallest, from still cameras that take amazing-looking video to video cameras that also shoot high-resolution stills. Here are some of the new and improved cameras of 2012. . . . CONTINUE READING: Camera Gallery 2012

Baseball | Photos | Production

Shooting Giants: Photographing Baseball from the Diamond’s Edge

I’ve got the best view in the house.

I’m poised on a folding chair in a photographer’s dugout just below ground level, at the edge of the diamond at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It’s the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Giants are losing to the San Diego Padres 6-3.

My camera is less than two feet above field level. As I look straight out through protective netting, I am focusing on Giants infielder Joaquin Arias at the plate, no more than 50 feet in front of me. A right-handed batter, Arias faces away from my vantage point on the third-base side of the field, but I can clearly see his body language throughout the at-bat and see his face during his follow-through. . . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting Giants: Photographing Baseball from the Diamond’s Edge

Tech

NAB 2012 Preview

I’m winging to Las Vegas for a couple of days to attend the NAB Show, the annual technical meeting and equipment show of the National Association of Broadcasters. In particular, I’m interested to see the latest digital cinema cameras, some recently released, some newly announced this week. I’m especially intrigued by an excellent summary in nofilmschool.com, which compares the newest digital cameras by resolution and price. And as always, I’ll also be looking at new camera accessories and lighting gear at the show. Watch for more reports coming up soon! . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2012 Preview

Production | Tech | VIdeos

Traffic Study—Timelapse with GoPro & 5D

The amazing little GoPro HDHero cameras can record full 1080p HD video, as well as timelapse and single shots. They’re tiny and easy to rig anywhere, as in the setup below where we used them on a corporate shoot, mounting six on laptops for a video chat, instead of the built-in iSight cameras.

But camera movement is where the GoPros shine. The HDHero comes with helmet mount, auto mount, body mount, or wrist mount, with both waterproof and non-waterproof housings. I recently bought the HDHero camera, helmet rigging, suction cup for autos, tiny clip-on LCD monitor, extra batteries and clip-on battery pack. In Timelapse mode on the GoPros, you can only control the interval between shots (2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds). Everything else is automatic—shutter, aperture, video gains, etc. . . . CONTINUE READING: Traffic Study—Timelapse with GoPro & 5D

Photos | Travel

Prowling Through Paris

I shot a one-day HD job this week for a Silicon Valley company … in Paris. Another shoot with two Canon 5D Mark II cameras, mine plus one belonging to the production company.

All in all, I was in the air about 22 hours, and on the ground for about 48. I did have a couple of hours to prowl around through the heart of Paris on our arrival day with my camera and director Dan Smith. . . . CONTINUE READING: Prowling Through Paris

Production | Travel

Brazil: Smooth as Silk

Less than an hour after my last post (Brazil: Some Days the Bear Eats You), my friend The Dave Mitchell responded on my Facebook page: “Nice, Bill. Easy days are completely forgettable.” Isn’t that the truth?

“But,” added The Dave, a freelance gaffer/key grip, “I’m available if you’ve got any coming up.” If only!

After our tough time at the tower, the next couple of days shooting in Brazil were smooth as silk. Just as The Dave said, I can remember little about those shoots except for what we did and where we did it. I always find it amazing that I can easily spin out 1500-2000 words describing a bad day, but smooth shoots leave me with less material. That’s why OO stories (Overcoming Obstacles) are so popular in movies. It’s hard to find a narrative arc in a yarn about happy professionals cheerfully moving apace from setup to lovely setup. . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Smooth as Silk

Production | Travel

Brazil: Visiting the Rental House

On my first day in Brazil, I visited the rental house with Mush and Heeka.

I brought my Canon 5D, a slew of lenses and two GoPro cameras with me from the States, but we’ve arranged to rent a second 5D camera body, two tripods, a small monitor, a wide angle lens, and some accessories from Universo Imagens here in São Paulo.

Visiting the rental house is a time-honored ritual on international shoots. The most interesting rental house experience I can recall was in India several years ago. In a small warehouse crammed with a variety of battered and somewhat obsolete lighting instruments, a dutiful staff brought out each light we were renting, then plugged in and turned on . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Visiting the Rental House

Production | Travel

Back to Brazil

On my first trip to Brazil in 1993, I was shooting for a Japanese high-tech company. We arrived in São Paulo and went out to scout at our client’s manufacturing facility nearby.

We met with the general manager of the company, a Brazilian who was impressed by this visit from corporate headquarters.

“What can I do for you?” he asked our clients from Tokyo. “Where would you like to film?”

“We are here to film the manufacture of our cellular phones,” they responded.

A frown crossed the general manager’s face. “Cellular phones?” he asked, then consulted in Portuguese with several of his colleagues.

“We have not made cellular phones here for three or four years now.”

Somehow, the geniuses . . . CONTINUE READING: Back to Brazil

Tech

Seagull Right-Angle Viewfinder’s Unique Usage Manual

This Seagull right-angle viewfinder offers great flexibility of camera angles for my Canon 5D Mark II, but only when shooting stills. It’s solidly made, sharp, lightweight, inexpensive (about one-third the cost of the equivalent Canon product), and includes the unique Usage Manual below. . . . CONTINUE READING: Seagull Right-Angle Viewfinder’s Unique Usage Manual

Tech

NAB 2011: Digital Cinema Camera Shootout

During the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas, I attended a panel discussion and screening of a series of tests called the Single Chip Camera Evaluation. The SCCE shootout, produced by an independent, ad hoc group named Image Quality Geeks, compared 11 single-chip digital cinema cameras, along with two 35mm film emulsions. These extensive tests, designed for “apples-to-apples” comparisons, provided a comprehensive look at the following cameras.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Digital Cinema Camera Shootout

Tech

NAB 2011: More Cameras

This report on new professional digital video cameras (introduced at or just before this month’s NAB Show) is continued from the previous post.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: More Cameras

Tech

NAB 2011: Back to Vegas

The first time I went to the NAB Show, I wore camouflage fatigues and marched through hippies.

I was working the show for Ampex, the television equipment company that had invented videotape. During the 80s, they were buying Sony professional video camera parts, assembling them in Ampex factories, and branding and marketing them as their own. One of their promotions at that time showed a photo of their new, integrated camcorders with a camouflage paint job and the caption “Guerrillacam.”

These Ampex products, based on the Sony 200 and 300 Betacam camcorders, represented a huge improvement in portability. Before this time, most professional video shooting was done either in a two-piece configuration (with camera connected to a separate recorder) . . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Back to Vegas

Tech

NAB 2011: Show Preview

The National Association of Broadcasters annual trade show takes place next week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I’ll be there for a couple of days to check out the new cameras, among other things, and I’ll post several reports from there.

Here are some announced/rumored items I’ll be taking a close look at:

A prototype for the next (and most advanced) addition to Sony’s Cine Alta line, a new camera for digital cinematography with a sensor greater than 4K. Jon Fauer, in an article in Film and Digital Times, says the new camera will shoot from 1-72 fps in normal mode, and 1-120 fps in High Frame Rate mode.

. . . CONTINUE READING: NAB 2011: Show Preview

Production | Tech

Shooting into the Void: PBS Science Series ‘Closer to Truth’

Presidents and paupers, musicians and moviemakers, actors and athletes, writers and regular Joes – I’ve shot hundreds and hundreds of interviews, perhaps thousands, sometimes 25 or more in a single day. But shooting for “Closer to Truth,” the PBS science series on “Cosmos, Consciousness, and God,” presents a unique challenge.

Start with the quest for a dramatic but natural lighting look, while shooting two people talking, with two cameras. Then add the factor that both cameras are moving constantly. Because the cameras will see more than 180 degrees of background during their slow journeys around the room, there’s nowhere to place stands for backlights. And front light just won’t do – flat and boring, out of the question.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Shooting into the Void: PBS Science Series ‘Closer to Truth’

Production | Tech

Polishing the Talking Head: The West Wing Documentary Special

Former White House Director of Communications David Gergen is recalling the unforgettable day that President Reagan and his staff woke up at Versailles Palace, had lunch with the Pope and ate dinner with Queen Elizabeth. My problem, however, (see photo) is lighting his dark suit without pouring too much light on the top of his head.

Henry Kissinger is describing the peace agreement in Vietnam as a high point in his White House service. But how do I get light in both of his eyes without creating distracting glare in his glasses? And what do I do about the moiré pattern on his tie?

Bill Clinton reveals that he is more idealistic about the presidency now than when he took office, . . . CONTINUE READING: Polishing the Talking Head: The West Wing Documentary Special