Prepping for a small shoot


I was just sitting at my kitchen table eating some cereal and on my phone, making a list of things I need to bring to my shoot tomorrow and I figured I’d make a short post about it too and kind of go through my thought process for one of these things.

This is a food shoot I’m prepping for, kind of like those tutorial viral food videos you see everywhere now.  This is a one day shoot, and to me, I don’t really know what to expect.  This happens to me more frequently than I’d like for these one day shoots, so I’ve gotten the hang of rolling with the punches and just having a plan for lighting and camera setups.  To be honest, I’ve gotten more info than I sometimes do for this shoot.

On my iPhone’s notes, I make a new note with the list of gear to bring.  I own quite a bit of gear, so it’s mostly going through my brain picking items that I think will help (But still fit in my car).

The list looks something like this so far:

FS7 kit
– batteries, media, card reader
– 502, 702, 1700, teradek, cables
Lens kit
A6500 kit
– batteries, media, card reader, spigot

Quasar Science Kit
Versitile Kit
Q500 Kit

Collapsible Frame Kit
6x C-stands w/ arms and heads
2x combos
8ft Pipe
Monitor roller Stand

2x Goal Post adapters
4x Cardi
Safety Chains
Pony clamps
fuzzy balls



So again, I don’t really know what to expect, so I’m only bringing bi-color LED lights to cover me.  A hard light, a soft light and some in-betweenies.  It’s mostly just watching hands work, so we probably won’t need too much lighting, I can just walk it right in.

Goal post is for the a6500 to do an overhead shot and maybe put some lights on if necessary.

We’re shooting in someone’s house, so i’m bringing some tennis balls (fuzzy balls) that have a slit cut in them to protect their floor from my stands.

I also have to transport one of the producers, his red camera and his lens bag – so this might be a tight fit in my Subaru Forester – but I will try!  Wish me luck.  I’ll do a follow up afterward!

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Center Pinch Lens Caps

I just ordered a few of these and thought I’d share – you never know who might be interested, even if it seems like an insignificant thing.  I’m buying these to replace the lens caps on the lenses I brought to Arizona for my shoot on DeepSix – the lens caps I had (which were also center pinch) are jammed now due to all the sand stuck in them.

I prefer these center pinch lens caps over the side pinch lens caps – it just gives you a more positive lock that the cap is on, and it’s harder for them to accidentally fall off or get knocked off.

They’re cheap and free to ship, it just takes a while to get here (they come from Hong Kong).  I’ll let you know the quality when they arrive and update this post!

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Deep Six

Once again, like a broken record, I apologize for the lack of updates.  I recently wrapped up shooting a science fiction web series called Deep Six.  It’s one of the best series I’ve worked on recently, as a DoP.  The director/producer/creator, and good friend of mine, Davin Lengyel, pretty much let me have full creative control of everything camera and lighting!  And this felt great!  Especially since I’ve shot so many other things recently that had so many “do’s and Don’ts”  This one had none.

Spoiler Free:
The web series follows a group of scientist who research a signal out in Tau Ceti (a real place!).  An accident occurs and they have to find a way to get home with the resources they have, among other dangers that they could encounter.

Here are a few stills from the shoot, AND the very first VLOG I’ve ever done.

Here’s a rough lighting plan I had drawn, it was super rough because they were still building while we were shooting.  I can’t seem to find any stills from the actual sets, so this lighting plan might difficult to understand in terms of visual space.

lighting plan

Everything in the space station was shot on a FS7 with a Ronin.  We stuck to rokinon primes to reduce the weight on the Ronin, as I was flying it for pretty much 12hrs, for 15 days.  The decision to shoot on the Ronin was pretty simple – we could have a dolly/jib in every shot without taking the time to set up a dolly or a jib.  This added so much to every single shot that we had in the space station and I’m glad we decided to use it, even though my body wishes we didn’t.

Something I’ve never tried before was doing some rear projection this close to the subject.  It was extremely difficult to control the spill from my lights and not washout the projection.  In the end we decided to use the projection for just reflections on any glass we had on our subjects, and we would most likely replace anything projected with the original files that aren’t washed out.  We used a 500w bare bulb on a jib to simulate starlight for all the space craft scenes.  It would rotate around the ship to simulate any rolls or tilts the ship might be doing in relation to the projection.  It actually worked out very well.  The interaction of the shadows moving with the characters as the projection moved really sold it.

Though this shoot didn’t stress me out, it was very challenging, as all things are with a limited budget.  Our sets were constantly being built, saw dust flying around getting everywhere, time always running out, the Ronin acting up (because of all the saw dust haha), and tight spaces to shoot in.  Despite all this, it was a fun shoot with great people.  Everything looks great.  I can’t wait to see the final project!

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Second Jen

Hey Readers, Sorry for the super lack of updates!  It’s been crazy busy and I’ll talk about it all in this post!  A buddy of mine, Fergus Lowrey, told me to keep my blog going, so I’ll try to do it!

In my personal life, I’ve gotten married and am in the middle of a move to a new house.  But this is a Cinema blog, so we don’t care about that haha.

In terms of film work, I shot my first prime time TV show!  On CityTV, Thursdays at 8:30pm (plug that).  The series is called Second Jen, about two Asian female Millenials with immigrant parents who move out on their own for the first time.

We shot that on my Sony FS7 on S-Log3, cineGamut3 with Rokinon Primes.  The budget was slim and we were limited on time and space, but we made it work and I’m pretty happy with what we came out with.

You can watch it all here: CityTV

The show was shot over 18 days in Toronto.  I teamed up with director, Romeo Candido and creator/actor Samantha Wan again (where we worked together on Sudden Master – you can read the article about that in November Issue of Canadian Cinematographer).  And the production company Don Ferguson Productions, who took a chance on an unknown cinematographer on their project.

For prep, I had made lighting plans to base off of, and we augmented as needed.  We pre-rigged everything in one day, and crossed our fingers that it would all go well.

Here are the lighting plans I made.

I had a long 4 kino above most of the sets and that was our main toppy light.  Our keys mostly came from a larger source from the exterior through a window and I supplemented a bit more fill from small battery powered LEDs.

I kept more to high key lighting and planted some unflattering hard light in the backgrounds to give the show a sense of reality.  Everything was lit pretty evenly, with the waveform generally at 60 IRE.  Because it was a comedy, there wasn’t a need to create much drama in the looks so the general 60IRE across the board was perfect.

Some more difficult scenes to shoot were the exteriors and the board game cafe scenes.  The exteriors because of the constant changes in cloud coverage and not having a frame large enough (we only had an 8×8).  The board game cafe because we didn’t have a pre-rig day and it was difficult to light some of the wider shots where I couldn’t hide lights.

If you look at the screen shots attached, I would have loved to have given the background a little more love.  For this shot, I had an LED on a scissor clamp above them, with two more LEDs acting as backlights and fills, respectively.  I asked production designer, Aaron Noel, to help me out with the incandescent in the background.

Another difficult area to shoot was the girls apartment.  I had the long 4 kinos mounted to the ceiling, so we could only tilt so far up before we saw them.  At times we would remove the light or angle it another way so we had that extra inch or two for that headroom (some of the actors were very tall).

We usually had the camera higher than the actors and shoot down at them to help hide the lights.

An ask from the network was to have mostly static shots, which was refreshing to me as I’m more used to doing a lot of handheld work.  It allowed me to notice things that I normally wouldn’t have because I was busy trying to frame something out, or following the action.  Because I don’t get to work with other DoP’s often anymore, it’s hard for me to learn anything new, and I’m glad that this show allowed me to do that in this aspect.  It’s always a goal to keep growing.

In general this show was really fun to shoot.  This helps when you have a great team working along side with you and no egos.  Watch this show and you could potentially give the amazing actors and crew members a job next year for season 2!

Comment if you’d like me to expand on any of the lighting designs or specifics on the technical aspects of this, and I’ll try my best to reply.

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DEAL: Shelving Unit

Sorry for the lack of updates, it’s been super busy!
I saw this deal and figured I should share it!  It’s a great price and I literally just purchased two. $80 each and it holds 800lbs per shelf.  I already have one, and now I have 3.

WORKPRO 72-in H x 48-in W x 24-in D 5-Tier Steel Freestanding Shelving Unit

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Photo Update

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been super busy!  Just wrapped a feature as a camera operator working under the amazing Kevin Rasmussen and am now going onto shooting some more stuff.  Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what I’ve been doing.  All of these are on my Instagram account.

Photos from November.

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SALE: P-Touch Label machines

If you’re a organization freak like me, or in camera department in general, you’ll want to get one of these.

Brother® P-touch® PT-H100 Handheld Label Maker from $39.92 to $19.92.  This is a 12mm label width, which is pretty good for just standard labeling, or putting your name on things.

OR this one:

Brother PT-2030AD Desktop Labeller from $69.86 to $34.86.  This one does labels up to 18mm in width which is good for larger visible labels – or barcodes.

I personally have a 12mm label machine as well as a 24mm label machine.  Each have their on function.  The 24mm label machine is great for putting clean text on slates as well, so keep that in mind!

These are only on sale till August 19, 2014 – so sorry for the late notice.

Other styles here: Brother Label Machines

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