Apr 29, 2009

My Video Cameras: Part 1

Since the ripe old age of 12 I've owned my own video camera and have been shooting under the banner of my personal studio, Fandrix Productions. Now 25, I can easily say that it's been one long and exciting learning experience using a series of cameras that have each marked a new level and challenge in the development of my video work.

I've always championed that it's not solely the equipment one uses, but the drive and conviction that an artist approaches an idea with that determines how successful they'll be. A filmmaker without resourcefulness is just a dreamer. Comparatively speaking, I've never had the best or most expensive stuff, but it hasn't stopped me from producing quality work or being recognized by my peers, strangers or film festivals.

Excluding the number of film and digital cameras that I experimented with in film school, I've personally owned 4 cameras in my now 13 years of producing independent video. While they vary in price and quality, they've all served me well and have each been used for projects that I consider personally significant. Here are the first 2:

Camera #1: Sony CCD-F46 (1997-2000)
8mm (Video 8) Handycam

My first ever camera was purchased with the help of my folks, who matched the money I had saved so I could get this camera used. Like I previously mentioned, I was 12 so aside from an allowance and birthday money I didn't exactly have a lot of options.

At this point it was really about starting out in any way possible.

I felt pretty sure that I wanted to make movies, but I can't say I blame my parents for being cautious. It took over a year before I had $125 saved and when I saw an ad in the newspaper for a used camcorder in early 1997 I pounced.

Having that camera was amazing. I remember making shorts just for the sake of seeing myself on camera, finding any excuse to use it for a school assignment, capturing my first homevideos, and teaching myself the basics (along with editing on the VCR). While there wasn't much produced during this time that was meant for critical review, the one thing that I have shared on this blog from this camera was the Alaska Edits that I shot in 1998.

In 2000, having pushed myself as far as I felt I could and nearly breaking this camera several times, I decided to sell it when I finally had the money to purchase my first brand new piece of video equipment (which incidentally could still play all of the 8mm tapes I had shot).

Camera #2: Sony DCR-TRV110 (2000-present)
Digital 8 (D8) Handycam

When I turned 16 I had been working for a little less than a year, but had managed to save enough money to purchase a new camera. I suppose most kids my age were saving for a car, but my priorities were clear.

I was hired to shoot a seminar in the summer of 2000 and was asked to help select a camera to buy for the shoot. After it was complete, I was asked if I wanted to purchase the camera and I agreed - shelling out around $1200 for it (a slight discount).

What made the camera worth emptying my bank account for, was that it was digital. This was the beginning of editing on the computer, higher resolution and most importantly, more options. Having a digital camera and a decent family computer meant that for the first time I could add music, titles, and transitions to my work. I could actually edit with some accuracy! It's something that now seems so easy, but at the time it was a rush - and truthfully, my evolution in using the computer was slow going.

Through most of high school and into my first few years of university this was my camera of choice. I opted to use it on my productions in early film school courses because it seemed just as good as what they'd let us use. The quality still seems good to me, and the list of projects that I've made with this little camera is long - including Keys to Existence which has screened at several international festivals and venues. For more just check My Selected Videography in the sidebar between 2000-2005.

In late 2005 I decided it was time for an upgrade mainly because of how much I was using MiniDV in my production classes. Without a doubt, I got my money's worth from this camera though. These days, my D8 is used mainly to access my old footage, but on occasion I've still used it for homevideo shooting. This is one camera I'll never sell.

Apr 27, 2009

Please VOTE for My Movie: Round 3

This is the start of the 3rd week of the Yobi.tv Film Contest, and so far my short The Gizmo Tree has progressed from the Top 30, to Top 25, and now into the Top 20! Please VOTE again!

I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to check out my movie and cast a vote. Each week as 5 films are eliminated from the contest your individual vote becomes even more valuable. With the votes not reseting throughout the competition your continued support is very much appreciated, and obviously key to keeping me in the running. Thank you!

To cast a vote for the Gizmo Tree:
1. Visit
Yobi.tv and use your email address to join the site.
2. Once logged in, simply visit my
Gizmo Tree semi-finalist page.
3. Click the THUMBS UP under my movie. That's it!

For more details you can review the first few weeks of the contest here, or watch the promo video I made for my short below. Thanks for your help everyone! Here's hoping I'm back with more good news next week.

Apr 26, 2009

Alaska Edits (1998)

What makes these edits significant, besides the beautiful and epic Alaska scenery, is that it's some of the earliest footage I ever shot. It was 1998 and I was 14 years old. With my parents matching half of the money, I purchased a used 8mm Sony Handycam at the age of 12, and from there made a wealth of now embarrassing short films and projects.

A family cruise to Alaska in August 1998 proved the perfect opportunity to make my first vacation video - and real home video for that matter. By this point, the film Titanic(1997) was an international box office smash and I couldn't help but think about the movie throughout the trip. Standing at the stern and watching the wake of the ship, looking out across endless ocean, and a trip into Glacier Bay to see larger than life ice, made it seem like My Heart Will Go On was the only thing missing (that, and a nude girl to draw, but I digress).

In the days before I had a digital video camera or editing software, I did my editing on the VCR. So needless to say, the original version of my Alaska video was pretty rough. There was no music added besides the clips of hand made titles that I interspersed between days of the trip. I was also in the frame of mind that more was better, and not wanting to cut out anything from the trip I was left with over an hour of mostly raw footage. Oh, how I've grown up.

In 2003 I cut a brand new version of the video from the original footage titled, North to Alaska. It was far more enjoyable to watch, and by that point I was able to burn DVD copies for the family. By 2006 I decided to cut down all of my vacation footage further and created a series of video postcards, including one for Alaska.

Me with my camera on the deck on the cruise ship leaving Vancouver, BC.

Now over a decade after the trip to Alaska, I still have a special affinity for the footage and the project. It's not just being able to see my early work and style, but also the renewed appreciation I have for what it was I was actually witnessing - it really was an adventure. Highlights can now be viewed in four clips - the original Alaska postcard, Vancouver, Glacier Bay, and the White Pass & Yukon railway.

Part of getting older is realizing how important it is to appreciate the here and now. It's something I wish I would've said to myself back then, because my memories of 14 are pretty scattered and random. It's for that very reason that I've become so enamored with documenting my experiences and travels. It's not as good as being there again, but for me it feels close.

Take a moment to check out my now classic edits below.

Alaska Postcard (1998) 
Vancouver, BC (1998)  
 Glacier Bay (1998) 
White Pass & Yukon Railway (1998)