Laura’s Story

Thanks to all of you wrote in after seeing Laura’s Story when I announced the refreshed last week (check it). This video is sorta buried in my new Portfolios section, but many of you seemed to unearth it and find intrigue in it too, so I’m following your lead/request to chuck it out here on the blog to facilitate some sharing and/or discussion.

What is it? It’s a short video piece about my friend Laura created using stills, video, and audio voice over. I personally dig it quite a bit. Why? It’s not about beating cancer or war or struggle or winning the lottery. It’s just a real, simple story about a real person who loves to run. Seems to me, we need more of these types of stories.

I was commissioned to create this–and subsequently wrote, directed, and sewed it up– last autumn as a sort of a test piece. It was a successful “pilot” by any measure, receiving immediate client approval to proceed with additional videos for part of a larger series. That is, until just recently, when it’s all been rescinded. Drat. Budgets and other changes put the clamps on the project. C’est la vie. It’s still a cool vibe that you can bet I’ll doing a lot more of in the future.

One takeaway is this: it’s no mystery that we’re going to see an increase in video storytelling as the web continues to mature and as new media usurps the old. That’s something I’m really excited about.

Photo, film, and video geeks read on after the jump to learn more about how this was made. [Click the ‘continue reading’ link below.]

Cameras: we used Nikon D3 for the stop action imagery and the Red ONE for the motion.

Audio capture: we captured audio via a Sennheiser shotgun mic into a Canon Xh-A1 Video Camera. None of the voice over was rehearsed or scripted. It was recorded simply by me interviewing Laura about running and her life. Sub 20 minute discussion.

Edit stills: used Aperture to edit. Exported to Final Cut Pro.

Edit motion: stop action stills were turned into Quicktime files and integrated into motion workflow; and the Red ONE footage was ripped apart, chopped up, mixed with the still image sequences and put back together all using Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Edit Audio: Apple Soundtrack Pro II.

Color: all color work up was done with Apple’s Color.

Shoot time: 1 day.

Edit time: few weeks.

Music? Damn, I love the music in this…perfect for the job. Big thanks to Hazelwood Motel. Support them and buy their music here on iTunes.

Huge thanks also to Laura Jane Meagan Matson. You’re a great runner and an amazing person. (And how darling are those kid pictures!) So happy I know you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or feedback, and I’m banking on there being some questions. In either case or both: let’em rip.

[Lastly, the footy is gorgeous, but looks poopy on YouTube, although it’s best for sharing there… If you’d like better resolution, visit my YouTube Channel and watch it in HD (but, alas, even that doesn’t do it justice…). If you’re reading via RSS, you may need to click here to see the vid.]

69 Responses to Laura’s Story

  1. ConorwithoneN March 18, 2009 at 12:22 am #

    Nice work Chase. Great example of and introduction to the genre. I believe there will be massive demand for this type of blended video/still documentary film-making – both for individuals and for corporates too.
    The proliferation of consumer DSLRs that can handle HD video makes shooting material like this more accessible – I hope there will be enough [training] resources available to help people develop their editing skills. Getting video medium to work is a whole other layer on top of photography.

  2. Norton Zanini March 18, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    Great great use of space and composition,
    very creative, I Loved the little baby running, made me laugh and couldn’t forget to say Nice life story.


  3. Shelby White March 18, 2009 at 12:32 am #

    This was my favorite piece from the site revamp.

    Looking forward to more of these in the future.

  4. Amber March 18, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    I loved the simplicity of her message – that running is time just for you. I use running as my work/life balance. Your choice of autumn as the visual backdrop for the most dramatic running photos/video to be created was fabulous.

    I’m a runner, and love running for all the reasons that Laura does; except it is not easy. Every day takes motivation until my feet have been pounding the pavement for 20 to 30 min. Then the groove sets in and life is good. Same as art, some of us need time to find the rhythm to get to enjoyment. And we are so glad we persisted when we get there.

  5. Ellis March 18, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    I was wondering the story behind the creation of it. I figured it was an experiment/personal work. I guess I was half right. I appreciate the simplicity of it. It shows that a simple story of something basic in life can still be compelling.

  6. B5 March 18, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    I love it because it gets to the point. When I watched it I was expecting that now she will reveal that she is an Olympic champion or that she discovered an AIDS cure, then I stopped and wondered why do I (we) always expect superlatives in this kind of films? I think it’s great just because film is vibrating passion for running and working!

    My friend Jure Breceljnik have a premiere of his film tonight in Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It’s about another great passionate female Natalija Gros. Will you come? More about it on my blog:


  7. Mårten Larsson March 18, 2009 at 1:19 am #

    What do you use to put the video in your portfolio? The quality is so much higher than on youtube.

  8. Martin Wolf March 18, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    Hey Chase!
    I found this vid a few days ago short before you announced the refreshed website.
    I really like this kind of stuff. Looks pretty nice and I’m looking forward to see more like that.
    Very sad, that the series was rescinded.
    But as you are an advocate of personal work, I’m sure you will create some stories nevertheless.

  9. Andreas Holm March 18, 2009 at 1:48 am #

    Great stuff Chase!

  10. Jan Günther March 18, 2009 at 1:50 am #

    I agree, that we need some more ‘normal’ stories like this one!

  11. Craig Ferguson March 18, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    I saw part of this vid while browsing your portfolios after the refresh but for some reason didn’t watch it all. Well, now I have. These kind of pieces are important, especially at the moment. With the various economic problems the world seems to be facing, stuff like this can remind everyone to just run (metaphorically speaking). Forget about the daily grind and take the time to embrace the simplicity of life.

    Changing tack, video editing is something I’m going to have to learn sooner rather than later. I think it’s going to quickly become an important skill (video in general that is) that photographers need to have. The next few years are going to see some very exciting changes in the field of photography which is exciting in itself.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. minimalmark March 18, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    Great video – as others have said the simplicity of it is what is so necessary and not just because there’s a downturn; perhaps a lack of simplicity in the first place is what’s caused the downturn….anyway, why use the nikon D3 camera and the red? was that just convenience?

  13. Lucas Merrill March 18, 2009 at 5:42 am #

    As an ex photojournalist (as ex as one can get when you still document) I completely connect with this. Video is big, fun and important. Glad to see that you’re using imagery in all forms and enjoying it. People, myself included, are afraid of video and it’s affects on photo. But we as photographers need to learn to enjoy the things that all this new digital video can offer us. It’s 24fps people! :-D

  14. Electronick March 18, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    It’s a great video. Very simple presentation, but the images are very good. I love the mix between pictures and movies.

    As already said, the message is clear. Very good work.

  15. Teddy March 18, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    I love this video of Laura’s story. After a stressful morning, this video has put me at peace. It simple, yet well put together. The music, her voice, the concept of running has really calms my nerves. Amazing work as always Chase.

  16. James P. Jones March 18, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    before I got into photography I studied sound design and multimedia narrative (gotta love a good college dual major).

    there is a basic rule of video and multimedia storytelling – I don’t think I even learned it in class. I think I learned it from my father who is a psychologist.

    Sound can carry poor visuals, but great visuals won’t carry poor sound.

    oft overlooked in the photography sphere when entering into the multimedia narrative word.


  17. BenF March 18, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    Great Video!

    How did you get the shot where camera is underneath her and she is stepping into a puddle?

  18. Gregory March 18, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    Chase, first off great video, I really like the mix of video and stills. Now for a question about the Red ONE cam: My memory is hazy, but I thought you had a post a while back about Red brand cameras and how it’s a modular system and is changing the way we think about photography. Didn’t they develop a modular dSLR too? Not just a video system? Can’t seem to find that on the web anymore…

  19. Mark March 18, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    I liked this video a lot. I actually saw it referenced in the comments on the refresh post and went and found it.

    On a side note your review of the D90 inspired me to ditch my D40x and upgrade. And I’ve LOVED the video. While nothing on the level of yours, I’ve enjoyed making some short running films myself.

    Fog Run

    and one of my daughter :

    Run Sofi Run


  20. _Emile_ March 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    doing some devil's advocate work here to counter all the unconditional praise :-P
    (this is quick and dirty; argumentation may falter at any moment)

    > It’s just a real, simple story
    > about a real person who loves to
    > run.

    What is important about the content of art being 'real' or 'common'? To me characters like (in literature) Tom sawyer, Humbert Humbert or (in photography) the guy that jumps the pond in Cartier-bressons picture are more real as the girl in your video. If nothing else commonality seems to detract more then it adds.

    I also wonder about the function of the word 'just' in this context … just a story … just a picture. It seems that this word in itself is an instruction to de-value what follows. Imagine Mark Rothko saying that he paints 'just bands of colours' or Mies van der Rohe drawing 'just a chair or a building'. In actuality these artists seem to spend considerable energy saying the exact opposite. Powerful statements tend be those that, upon first glance at least, counter reason (and this by no means automatically implies superlatives).

    As for the apparant or superficial simplicity of artwork, it seems to me that the degree of complexity should be dictated by something other then the artist's desire. I cannot imagine Jackson Pollock intending to make complex works from the getgo. It just turned out that way. In contrast to Rothko who ended up with works with a high degree of apparant or superficial simplicity.

    > Seems to me, we need more of
    > these types of stories.

    I would beg the opposite in case the goal is the creation or the seeking out of art (both of which I value pretty high). As if to say:

    'Seems to me, we need more of other types of stories'


  21. TFY March 18, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    pretty cool how you can take such a common aspect of life then make a really raw and compelling piece of media that strikes close to home. That is what this new generation of media and art is all about.

  22. Mike Boehmer March 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Great vid. I love short documentaries like this. Well done.

  23. Mark March 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    Wow Emilie very post modern and deconstructionist of you. But I have no idea what you’re really saying. :)

    Did you like it or not?

    I did…..

  24. Scott March 18, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    I run therefore I am.

    Love the video not as a photographer (although I am and I do) but as a runner.

  25. Rocket Boy March 18, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    Not the slow-mo, please not the slow-mo.

  26. reflectionsbythehill March 19, 2009 at 5:59 am #

    Love the video!! I am curious. Did you resize the pictures to match the video resolution? Thanks for sharing.

  27. jeremy earl March 19, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    i’ve never been so jealous as i am of that slow motion effect, try as i may my 600 dollar jvc gvu6 wont pull it off :-)

    but it did insipre.

  28. batgeek March 19, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Looks and feels like a ‘New Balance’ TV ad.

  29. _emile_ March 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    @Mark: thinking about it but as you may have noticed my thoughts are not always crystal-clear (+ I was drunk last time)

  30. Nicholas Monaco March 19, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Great piece, very inspiring! It’s exactly the type of material that I would like to produce. REALLY NICE WORK!

  31. watzabatza March 19, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Yeah! Impressive one. Great stuff though…

  32. Cody H. March 20, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    @ reflectionsbythehill
    The stills were imported native to the FCP timeline.Then a QT movie was exported and conformed to a 1080 x 1440 24p FCP sequence. So yeah we stitched them together and had Final Cut make a happy small file. I apologize for all the nerd speak.


  33. boblog March 20, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Great use of timing and composition. Loved the subject matter as well. I also love to run. Thanks for sharing!

  34. March 21, 2009 at 1:19 am #

    It’s great to watch the lifestory of someone who has a passion for what he/she is doing.

  35. Michal March 21, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    Wonderful video, thank you for sharing!

  36. Al Marsh March 21, 2009 at 7:26 pm #

    Beautiful stuff. Our company is just getting in to this, and is training all of us, its’ writers, to multitask. It’s the future and I can see why you intend to do more. So, let Nike know about this.

  37. Curtis Copeland March 23, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    Nice work. Very compelling an inspiring story. thanks for sharing.

  38. Mike Folden March 24, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Man, this video is so sick! I have shown it to many people and it continues to inspire. You hit it dead on man.

  39. Anonymous March 25, 2009 at 3:09 am #

    I think it was pretty lame.. sorry

  40. Sherri March 25, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    Hi Chase,

    I’m brand new to your blog – saw your work on the GulfPhotoPlus website and that you’ll be in Dubai for the workshops coming up. Would LOVE to meet for a beer and a chat if you organize something!

    Really like the vid too. I love making these vid montages – and they can have such impact ;-)

    Hope to meet you sometime during the GPP 2009


  41. Aaron March 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    With the proliferation of iPhones and other media-laden, interconnected gadgets in our pockets, this seems to be a natural evolution of the business card–perhaps a bit more personal with this content. “Tell me about yourself.” “Ok, I’ll send you my card.” Slick. (Oh, and my wife, who’s a runner, totally dug this.)

  42. lito colarina March 30, 2009 at 12:10 am #

    Hi Chase,

    You’ve just opened a door for media. I’m pretty sure advertising people specially creatives will adopt such genre! Thank you so much for sharing and for inspiring us with your creativity and enthusiasm! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful works!

    From a small and humble country, the Philippines, Thank you!



  43. jeremy earl April 2, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    was this done for the nike “beleive in the run” campaign?

  44. Joeri Hendriks Fotografie April 9, 2009 at 3:44 am #

    COOL very cool

  45. NP36 April 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    Chase: Nice work. You did more than just show up.


  46. Anonymous June 29, 2010 at 1:47 am #

    The stills were imported native to the FCP timeline.Then a QT movie was exported and conformed to a 1080 x 1440 24p FCP sequence. So yeah we stitched them together and had Final Cut make a happy small file. I apologize for all the nerd speak.

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