Mar 29, 2011

Sony DCR-TRV110 Video Camera

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, but still a big chunk of change for me at the time).

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 digital quality of this camera was at the top of the spectrum for what was available in the consumer market at the time, and to be honest, it's still a great little camera!

I've made a lot of videos with this Sony - including Keys to Existence which has screened at several international festivals and venues. The DCR-TRV110 proved to be versatile enough to allow me to experiment and learn a lot of the basics of media production when I was really hungry to learn.  For more just check My Videography for projects between 2000-2005.

In late 2005 I knew 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 old footage, but on occasion I've still used it for home video shooting. Given my personal history, this is one camera I'll never get rid of.

Mar 28, 2011

Universal Studios Singapore Pictures

The only thing better than a day at a theme park, is a day at a theme park that you never realized you'd have time for.  Universal Studios Singapore had only been open for about a month when we arrived in Singapore for a business trip around this time last year.  On our day off we headed to Sentosa Island to play tourist for the afternoon.  From the rides to the warm weather, I wouldn't mind a few more work days just like this. So awesome!  See more Universal pictures here.

Me filming our day at Universal - See the footage below!

Souvenir Photo from the Mummy Ride.

Mar 26, 2011

Inspired Singles: Don't Haunt This Place

Issue 19: Don't Haunt This Place by the Rural Alberta Advantage

I remember in 2009 falling for the RAA when I came across their album, Hometowns.  Their music is a raw blend of indie rock, pop, and prairie sentiment.  With track titles like, The Dethbridge in Lethbridge and Edmonton I was intrigued (as an Albertan) before I even knew much about them.

It's not often that I come across music that mentions places I have a close connection to that isn't country music.  That's not to say it isn't there - and the Rural Alberta Advantage is the proof.  

Don't Haunt This Place is one of my favorite songs of theirs, but truthfully, I'm still hooked on the entire album.  A choppy drum beat, raw harmonies, and expressive lyrics pull you in from the start and charm you with their unassuming simplicity.  The Rural Alberta Advantage is a must have. 

Mar 25, 2011

Alcatraz Island: Part Two

Nearing the end of our road trip, Dave and I drove north from San Bruno and into the heart of downtown San Francisco to make our way to Pier 33.  Although I've already shared some images from our time on Alcatraz Island, the experience was so memorable that I thought it wouldn't hurt to pull out a few more.     

Mar 24, 2011

Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs

The more video blogs I see, the more I'm tempted to create my own version or style.  Ransom Riggs shares his passion for collecting photographs in Talking Pictures, and it got me thinking about how I could turn my own experiences into little video diaries like this.  It's not just someone talking to a camera (not that I have anything against that) but it feels more cinematic, more about the story than the storyteller.  I found his collection and style really compelling. 

Mar 23, 2011

Bottle by Kristen Lepore

This video was recently shared with me and I had to post it. As an avid fan of animation and short films, this was such a touching and well executed concept that it immediately made me more anxious to get out and shoot some new work of my own this summer.  Bottle speaks for itself without even a stitch of dialogue.  Well done, Kristen Lepore!

Mar 21, 2011

New Blog Announced!

It would have to be a blog about my car, right?

My first year of Jaguar ownership has not been without its share of unique experiences and a few headaches.  I've been all too happy to strike up a conversation about my vehicle and the quirks that come with owning a Jaguar in a city 300km from the nearest dealership, not that I'm complaining.  My passion for maintaining and teaching myself about my vehicle has never been higher - and that should say something considering how I turned my previous car, an old '89 Buick, into a character in a handful of my short films.

I've always loved cars, and feeling the need to direct this energy and passion towards other enthusiastic Jaguar owners (and car enthusiasts in general) I've decided that creating a new casual blog would be the perfect outlet.  Tentatively titled, Jeeves and the Jaguar, the focus of the site will be about my first hand experiences with my '99 Jaguar XJ8.  In addition to this, you can expect lots of photos, references to the vehicle in pop culture, restoration/maintenance updates/advice, features in my original videos, and day to day type stories about driving my current dream car.

While Editing Luke already commands a lot of my attention, I'm aware that a new balance will have to be struck.  However, I'm excited about the potential to target a more specific audience with very similar interests and see how I can bring my unique style to the project.  Based on my own research for my vehicle, there aren't many blogs quite like this out there - casual advice and passion with lots of personality and a heavy slant on entertaining. Hey, it might even help a few people out.

The new blog will debut June 2011.

Mar 20, 2011

The Cyclotrope by Tim Wheatley

I think part of the joy I get in sharing other people's work comes from stumbling upon it. In that same sense, I like to think that people who stumble onto my site get a sense that they've found something that they wouldn't see just anywhere. 

The Cyclotrope by Tim Wheatley is one of those obscure, random, experimental, but altogether inspired videos that is easy to be fascinated by. Using the rotation of a bicycle wheel, various cutouts and images are used as frames so that as the wheel spins we see a fluid motion.  This is animation 101 at its finest, but with the live action showing just how the illusion is created.

Mar 18, 2011

Hollywood Blvd. Continued

With months between this and my first Hollywood post it's amazing how different some of the images looked to me. I was reviewing the hundreds of pictures I shot and thought that there was still so much to share from the afternoon we spent chilling out on Hollywood Boulevard. No matter how cliche or sensationalized, there's still nothing quite like it. 

I've included a couple of historic shots below to compare the locations to their present day status.   It's actually pretty amazing that so much has happened on this one street, and with the vintage shots in mind, it's tough not to get swept up by the cultural significance of the surroundings.

Looking across the street to Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
This is a picture of Grauman's Chinese Theatre from 1957, long before the Kodak Theatre and super complexes took over the street.

This is a $300,000 Bentley Continental. Wow!
The decor of Hollywood and Highland was built in homage to the set from D.W. Griffith's 1916 film, Intolerance.  The scale is meant to showcase just how massive the original set was.
This is a still from the original set of D.W. Giffith's Intolerance (1916)
This is the entrance of Grauman's Egyptian Theatre.  It was opened in 1922 and is the site of the first ever Hollywood movie premiere, which was for Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
The historic Roosevelt Hotel, site of the very first Academy Awards in 1929.  You can see a vintage picture of the Cinegrill sign from 1949 below.
The El Capitan is a fully restored movie palace operated by Disney.
I dedicate this image to my friend Tyler who shared his pictures of some of the worst wax figures you can see in Hollwyood - not to be mistaken for Madame Tussauds just a block away.
This is a vintage image of Hollywood Blvd. from 1946.  The red building on the left is the Scientology building seen above.  The building further down the street with the tower on the left is the El Capitan Theatre.
I'm a sucker for pressed pennies.  The perfect pocket souvenir.
Such a cool place.

For more, check out the old footage I shot of Hollywood Blvd. from 2004.

Mar 16, 2011

Sony HDR-FX1 Video Camera

When I was on the verge of nearly winning the National Film Board of Canada Citizenshift contest with A Chill in the Air, I got into a conversation with my parents about my camera. In university at the time, I had sent them an email about how I dropped and broke my (photo) camera, which they read as me breaking my video camera.

When I discovered on the day of my 22nd birthday that I'd lost the NFB contest and a trip to France in the final round of voting, my parents surprised me by saying that they'd been looking at cameras for me as an early university graduation present. After several weeks of back and forth the order was placed for a Sony HDR-FX1.  

When I got home from university that spring it came in the mail - and I can't explain how awesome it was. It felt like a real step up, that all my early experience compounded to say, 'you've finally earned this' - that staying determined really does payoff.   I'd purchased three cheaper video cameras since the age of 12, and this fourth one is the one my parents footed the bill for.

No question my parents have always believed in me, but this was a huge show of support from my folks who seemed just as proud and confident that not only did I know what I wanted to do as a career, but that I had the chops to succeed.

This camera has really marked my transition from student to independent and corporate filmmaker. From Educated Detours, to my Rushmore travelog, to Elliot, the Buick Series, Give it Time, Gizmo Tree and beyond, this camera has allowed me the means to truly play - and get paid for it.

I think it feels twice as good to have this camera after all these years because it feels like I've really worked my way up to it. Receiving it as a gift from my folks felt like I'd proved something to them and to myself - that my approach was more than just a part-time hobby, that this was an investment in the beginning of my career.

It's still an amazing and very flexible piece of equipment. I've used it when hired as an independent videographer, for festival submissions, for personal experiments, and most anything else I possibly can.  The production company I work for has even rented it from me on numerous occasions.

What I love most about the camera is the rich cinematic look it delivers.  Of some of the other high end digital video cameras that I've used, I often feel like their captures are too crisp or overly harsh, sometimes robbing the subject matter of subtleties in light and color.  The Sony HDR-FX1 strikes a nice balance, and despite room for improvement, in general I'd say there's a strong base and range of features for the avid videographer to build on. 

Equipment is all about options after all, and at this point I feel able to achieve the majority of what I want to do within my own personal studio. It's been a long road to feel this sufficient regarding my productions, but lots of small steps have resulted in quite a journey. 

My appetite for new equipment and software will no doubt continue to grow as my projects do, but after 5 years of using this camera I think I've learned some important lessons.  Perhaps the most important of which being that it's not the fanciest equipment that makes the most interesting projects, it's the filmmaker who is willing to push himself to create them that does.