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Buying Mics & Hacking Audio for Your DSLR Video Setup

Zoom H4n on D7000HDSLR video is a great way to get high quality footage on a micro budget; and a great way to keep that budget micro is to be picky about what accessories are right for your setup.  I recently received an email question focused on this and–in particular–if I had to choose between the Rode Stereo Videomic or the Zoom H4n, which would I use?  So here’s a little background on my thinking…

1. Cost. They cost roughly the same amount, and I use both on a regular basis, so the question is a tough one.
2. The Rode. I recently did a blog post about the Rode Mic a few months ago. You should read it, but to summarize; I love the thing for its straight forward simplicity.  It allows me to just shoot and not worry about sound, but…
3. The Zoom. …When I DO need to worry about the sound (such as an interview or a scene in a narrative film) I bust out the Zoom H4n. It captures better files that the straight camera – remember it’s sole function is audio.

So, while my preference is to have both, if forced to chose one, I would buy the H4n. Here’s why: with a little hack, spending a little more cash and buying one extra cable plus a hot shoe adapter you can turn the Zoom H4n into a badass on-camera mic. Here’s how:

First, get a hot shoe adapter like this one and mount your H4n on top of your camera.

Second, plug this line-out splitter into the headphone jack of the H4n and plug the male end of it into the mic input on your camera.  Now your camera will record what the H4n’s microphones are picking up and your H4n will record a high quality, AGC (automatic gain control) free backup file.

Third, you can even monitor what the H4n is recording with 1/8” headphone jack on the fancy new cable you bought.

Lastly, an important tip. Make sure the H4n is recording!  It’s easy to forget to start your audio recorder when the director just yells “Roll camera!”.

This is a little more of piecemeal one-man-band kinda setup than using just a microphone like the Rode, so make sure you’re familiar enough with your equipment to make it work properly without slowing down the production while you make adjustments.  You’ll probably be in the role of be being audio guy and camera guy, so make sure to practice to get good at both.

Here’s an enlarged image of the thumbnail above, highlighting the cabling. Keep in mind that these cables were purchased at RadioShack a while back just to test out my original hack job/experiment. If you buy the cables I linked to above from B&H, your setup will look much slicker than this first attempt pictured here.

Zoom H4n on D7000

Here’s a picture of my setup with cables purchased at RadioShack. If you buy the cables I linked to above, your setup will look much slicker than mine.

Save Money! Last Minute Tax & Money Considerations for Creatives

Mara here – I handle the money & taxes here around Chase Jarvis Inc – chiming in with a few last minute year end accounting tips for all you creatives out there. In these moments of the year, I suggest you take an hour today before the parties begin to focus on your accounting paperwork and the financial status of your business. Here’s a few things to look at ASAP

Contractor or Assistant Payments. Review the payments made to contractors for the year and check that you have all the W-9’s you’ll need for your January 1099’s (they are due to be delivered in January!) If you paid an individual or single member LLC at least $600 in service income this year, you’ll need their Social Security Number or EIN. Send those emails out now, you’ll beat the end of January rush.

Profits & Losses. Look at your profit or loss for the year. Do you have a profit or a loss? If it makes sense to reduce your profit this year, buy something now!! Do you need some new equipment? How about just some printer cartridges or a new bag? Anything you buy this year will reduce what you send to the IRS. Alternatively, if you have a loss or think it would be better to reduce next year’s profit, you may want to wait to spend that money until after the first of the year. Remember, if you charge that purchase on a credit card, the purchase counts in the year you charge it, not when you pay the credit card bill.

Tweak it. Think about any small changes that would streamline the way your business runs. For example, we find that sometimes we work with models who don’t have experience creating invoices since they don’t work as an independent contractor very often. We’ve created a simple fill in the blank invoice that they can fill in on-site with all their relevant information. It saves us having to explain the process to them and potentially needing to chase down an address later. Is there anything that you can prepare now to simplify your life on projects next year?

Big changes. Start to think about whether you need to make any big changes in your business. Should you add a retirement plan? Is your accounting software working for you? Do you like your bank? How about your tax accountant, do you need to start shopping for a new one? January is a great time to make changes since most businesses run on a calendar year and there’s no time to consider that like right now. If you wait, I’ll be April before you think about this stuff again.

Tax status. A big decision, if you’re a sole proprietor, is whether it’s time to incorporate your business. I can’t advise you on this, you’ll need to discuss it with your accountant and maybe a lawyer. But if you think you’ve grown to the level where it makes sense to have that separation (protection from your personal assets), start to look at it now. Make the appointment with your advisor today! Roping in your lawyer/accountant at the beginning of January is a heckuva lot easier than April when everybody else is trying to get their taxes in.

That’s it. hope you’re enjoying family and friends and holiday cheer. And if you can act on at least one tip above this week, I’ll give you credit for crossing off a New Year’s resolution in advance!

When The Music Matters–Interview with Commercial Composer McKenzie Stubbert

McKenzie Stubbert in StudioErik here…As the resident video editor here at Chase Jarvis Inc, I’m on a never ending search for music. Often times the music drives the edit. The rhythm of the music can have a huge influence on the pace for the cuts and the mood can make a hilarious moment tragic. In other instances I get the luxury of having custom music created which is based on my edit of the footage. When that opportunity presents itself, we reach out to skilled composer and our frequent collaborator, McKenzie Stubbert. Most recently he created the music for our ‘Dasein: The Art of Being’ documentary. While putting the finishing touches on the score in his Portland studio, I seized the opportunity to pick his brain a little about what he does.

How did this become a career for you? What’s your musical background?
I started music/piano lessons at around four years old. With the combination of supportive parents who encouraged and paid for lessons and a school system that still had money for music, I was able to get a lot of opportunities to practice and perform. After high school I went to music school and got a fairly formal education focused on composition. After that I had to teach myself the technological and business side of being a composer who can earn a living. They didn’t teach me those things in college. Add that on top of a basic natural ability for music and voracious appetite for all forms of art and…ta-dah!

How would you describe your “sound”?
McKenzie Stubbert in Studio 2I’m still working on this and in a way hope that I never firmly land and stay anywhere. At one point a friend described what I write as “sad clown music” with “twinkles”. While I haven’t written circus music in a while, I’m still drawn to more melancholy harmonies and icy/metallic textures. But, as a commercial composer, I try to be versatile and write to the needs of the creative goal. Sometimes that means writing something quite different from what I would normally write for myself.


What are the various ways you get hired? How do you market yourself?
The adage “you’ve gotta know a guy” is still true. This translates into trying to get to know a lot of people.

At one point, I spent about a month solid calling and emailing people around the country trying to get them to check out my work. It netted about a 1% return. I’ve found that it’s very important to have good work and a clean website with which to share. My good friend Jason Glaspey (interactive wizard) told me that “your website needs to tell a story and, in this case, the story is: ‘I am good at what I do. I am available for hire and here are some examples of work I’ve done, and people I’ve worked with. When you’re ready to hire me, here’s how to get in touch.'” His advice helped me focus everything about my approach.

I still have to contact a lot of people. Looking for work doesn’t really ever stop But, the more projects I work on, the moreMcKenzie Stubbert Studio people become familiar with my work and no longer need to be convinced that I’m good enough at what I do to be hired.

I’m certainly guilty of coming to you on several occasions with my hat in my hands, hoping you’ll compose some magic for a project with a challenging budget or timeframe, how do you decide what projects are worth your time and effort?
With every project there are three possibilities:
1) The people are good.
2) The project is good.
3) The money is good.

I have to have two of those to take the job. This isn’t a philosophy of my own invention but one that I try to abide by.

McKenzie Stubbert Studio 4Talking specifically about our Dasein documentary, what about that video made you want to take it on?
I’m always looking for projects that are so good that if I saw it later and didn’t work on it I would be really annoyed. Also, I’m a sucker for slo-mo b/w film of New York. Chase and Co make pretty pictures that are hard to resist.

What’s your process like?  Where do you start?  Do you start writing right away or do you allow time for the content to simmer?
How much time I spend before I start writing is directly related to how much time there is before the music is due. Each project is essentially a puzzle which needs the right sounding piece to fit in the space. In designing the piece I have to decide what the sound should be. What is the vibe/groove/feel/etc?. The real writing often doesn’t start until I’ve solved this problem.

I’m always impressed by your ability to take your musical cues from moments in films that I never expected. Can you give some examples of that in the Dasein video?
The Dasein logo that spreads out was an obvious “hit point”. It was actually my wife who said, “I want to hear a deep sound like a helicopter there”. That ended up shaping the pulsing sound that kind of anchors the entire piece. Also, the nature of the slo-mo b/w footage suggested a kind of dream was happening. Almost as if Chase is talking and remembering everything that you are seeing.

What equipment do you use to compose your music?
I use a Radio Shack tape recorder and make every sound you hear with my mouth and a piece of wax paper.

And…Apple Logic and myriad of virtual instruments. The Kontakt player is pretty vital to me.

How do you figure pricing/licensing for your work?
Usage is key. A 30 second spot for a tiny website is going to cost way less than a 30 second national TV spot. But that cost always seems to change. It would be much easier if there was a national index I could consult every morning like I was selling gold. Well…I am selling gold, but just not the kind that everyone can agree on. Music has value only McKenzie Stubbert Studio 5when everyone agrees on it. It can be tricky to know what that is because people are essentially guessing based on their previous guess, then using that new guess as the precedent for the next guess. All that to say I try to do my best to come up with a number that’s fair to all involved.

What advice can you give about maintaining relationships with clients and collaborators?
Frank Zappa said “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” Being that the very subject of my work is often hard to discuss, I try to be as clear as possible when it comes to every other aspect of my work. Before I send off every email to a client I ask myself…am I being/have they been clear? Clarity of language is key for me. It’s important for me to document what decisions are being made at every step so we can refer to those as we go along the process of the project. I also try to remember that this isn’t a commissioned work of art. What I’m doing has to serve not only the project, but the client’s desires for the project. I find that when I convey that goal to my clients, they trust my instincts a bit more.



For a refresher of what McKenzie does, give Dasein: The Art of Being a LISTEN:

Preset Photo Adjustment Follow Up — Debate is Split, Scott Chimes In

lift-and-stampIt’s been gratifying to see that the great preset debate from my earlier post is not isolated to this office, instead there seems to be a lot of interest in this topic and a fairly even split in favor of and against using adjustment presets.  The majority of comments landed somewhere in the neighborhood of “I use them in moderation in order to get initial settings or ideas, then custom tweak from there.”

This is not a bad place to be.  And yet, my presets sit to the side of my toolbar gathering dust 99% of the time.

Why?  I’m constantly amazed at the extent to which each and every photograph is an individual.  A small wiggle of the lights, camera, clouds, sun, model; any of it can change an image materially.  This doesn’t just apply to the technical values of the image, it also applies to the mood and aesthetic essence.

It is this aesthetic essence that I try to ‘read’ when I start post production on an image.  Does this feel like a dark or light image?  Is it punchy and loud, or quiet and subtle?  Does the color add value or create a distraction?  I find that the images have some capacity to direct me in my approach.

How does this ‘approach’ translate to real action?  Here are the steps with which I approach a new collection of images that come across my desk:

  1. Edit.  I don’t want to be distracted by volume when retouching.  I only want to spend cycles working on images that are fundamentally good.  To that end, I complete an edit before any retouching begins.  For more on this topic, take a peek at this post on my editing process.
  2. Start Playing.  After the edit I spin through the selects, somewhat aimlessly at first.  I might select a certain image that grabs my fancy, pull the exposure or white balance around a bit, yank another couple of sliders around.  Maybe I get engaged at this point and start a full process with this image, maybe I leave it totally unfinished and move along to play with another select.  Eventually I stumble upon an image that starts to take shape and piques my interest.
  3. Dig Deeper.  This is where a sort of conversation takes place between me and the image.  At the risk of sounding like a total dork, it’s kind of like the first dance with a new partner.  There is a give and take – a push and pull.  On one hand I’m controlling the look of the image, on the other hand it’s letting me know what it wants to look like.  I’ve seen images that look horrible in color and brilliant in black and white, I’ve seen images that are noisy and cluttered when properly exposed, but simple and refined when blown out.  Definition and clarity can make an image crisp, or can produce devastating halos that scream ‘overprocessed’.  I’ve found that the only way to really understand an image’s potential and limitations is to experiment and follow your gut.  It is my firm belief that using presets at this stage has the unintended side effect of actually limiting creativity and experimentation when they’re intended to do the opposite.
  4. Spread the Love.  Once the image that has grabbed me initially has had a significant initial work up, it’s time to see if the aesthetic works with it’s neighbors.  While I avoid presets like the plague during my initial experimentations, I have no problem applying the adjustments I’ve made to the first image to the rest of the collection.  This is sort of a hail mary play.  Sometimes it’s an acute failure; the image I worked up initially is  an anomaly and it’s optimal settings are pure poison on the next frame in the edit.  On the other hand, sometimes there is enough similarity between the images that this Lift/Stamp move across the whole shoot delivers ‘instant gold’.  Usually, it’s somewhere in between, i.e. the few surrounding images from the exact same scenario sync well, where the ones that are a few hours apart need to be reworked entirely.
  5. Rebuild or Fine Tune.  Depending on how well the Lift/Stamp worked, it’s time to either undo the Stamp and start fresh on a second image, or in the best case scenario all that’s required is some tweaking to the individual images.
  6. Export.  At this point there are a pile of selected images that share a similar look and feel and that have each received some individual love in the RAW processing.  If there is a client review to be done, we’ll create a web gallery or send over preview files.  If we’ve got to go crazy on a small volume of advertising images it’s time to get into Photoshop and make magic.

Lest this all be too simple, I should share two exceptions to this workflow.

Ongoing Projects.  Chase shot for almost three years to complete the Seattle 100 project.  By the second month of shooting we had perfected the shooting and retouching.  The lights were set up the exact same way each time we shot.  The camera settings were always the same.  The high contrast black and white aesthetic was established and fine tuned.  All we had to do was repeat until we had shot all 100 subjects.  In this instance we relied heavily on our custom preset during the initial broad retouch of images for the web.  The images that went in the book were each custom retouched in Photoshop.

Shooting Tethered.  Almost all of our tethered shooting sessions are set up for the benefit of the client or subject.  It’s a way to instantly share what’s being captured so that tweaks can be made to the shoot in real time.  While Chase and I are both able to envision what a RAW image can look like of with some post work, often the clients or subjects are not trained to do the same.  To this end, Chase and I will generally collaborate on a rough post production aesthetic at the same time we’re setting up the lighting and getting test shots at the beginning of the shoot.  We’ll then use Aperture’s ability to apply  presets while importing tethered shots.  That way, the images already look close to what we’re trying to achieve the second they show up on the monitor.  This makes the clients and talent happy.


The important takeaway is that each shoot is approached with a fresh set of tools.  Just as it’s often more effective to build a house from the ground up than to do a full remodel, I find that it’s more effective to invest more time on the front end of the post production process in order to generate a custom look tailored to the collection than it is to drop presets on the images, and then have to dig around to figure out what’s doing good and what’s doing harm.

If these methods makes sense for you, feel free to adopt them.  If you have developed a workflow that utilizes presets more heavily than ours, by all means, do your thing.  The true beauty of the proliferation of digital imaging technology is that it gives people an ever increasing set of tools for creative expression.  Heck, a couple months down the road you just might find me extolling the virtues of a great Aperture preset I just found online.  The only constant in this landscape is change.  Experiment, have fun, and make things that you find to be beautiful.

Preset Photo Adjustments: Instant Gold or Drab Repetition?

Adjustment_PresetsScott here. Many of you know that I’m the primary retoucher here around the Chase Jarvis studio. I was surprised to get into a fairly spirited debate the other day with some of my co-workers. The topic? Adjustment presets and plug-ins in Aperture or Lightroom or Photoshop.

I’ve got a strong opinion on this, but this experience has once again reminded me that there are a thousand ways to skin a cat and that my way is just that, my way.

Instead of letting a debate rage inside the office and then fade out, I figured, why not make it public? I want to hear from you.

Do you use presets for the post production of your images?
Do you make your own, or download them from other users online?
Do you use them for initial inspiration, or to create your final files?
What are your favorites and why?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t be shy. For those of you who give a rip, I’ll follow up this post with my personal take and we’ll all be a little more informed.

Gear Details: How We Shot “Dasein: Art of Being” Documentary

NYC street doc setupHey friends.  Erik the video guy here. We’ve had a bunch of YOUR questions come in about what gear/process/technique we used to make the Dasein docu-short we posted a couple days ago so I thought I’d chime in with a quick gear- and technique-specific follow up on how this film was made. 

First, Chase was the director on the project but wanted to remain focused simply on the overall look and feel. Plus, since he was in front of the camera most of the time, he specifically did NOT want to get sucked into all the details to get the look he wanted, so that put me squarely in the Director of Photography (DP) role, in charge of all the details he wanted to avoid. This worked out great – we collaborate really well in this capacity.

Since I knew heading to New York that we’d be working at all hours, around Chase’s crazy schedule and with no permits, no location assistance, and (in the best way) no solid plan on when and where we would be shooting, I made the call that one of our main objectives was to stay light and quick with our gear selection.

Given that an important part of this short film is about time–creating time in your life for creativity–Chase wanted the film shot in a way that arrested time visually…that is, he wanted it shot in slow motion. This was a part of the initial treatment he’d written for the piece. And while we originally discussed shooting with a RED One or Epic, I ultimately thought this might not mesh well with the “light/fast” motto I’d already decreed above. I wanted everything, minus the tripod and dolly, to fit in one bag – something I could manage by myself — in this case, one of our fav bags, the Lowepro Classified 250 shoulder bag. And it’s small…

So here’s what I lugged around:

NYC street doc setup

Let’s start with the CAMERA/LENS SELECTION. Factoring that Chase wanted the high frame rate, that he’d not be shooting at all–only directing–, PLUS the limited budget he’d allocated to make this film happen (not enough to bring in a RED and a bunch of primes for a month), I made the call that I would simply use my own personal camera/lens gear. So I shot the piece with my Canon 7D. I’m good with a range of cameras, but the 7D made sense because it gave the film 60p slow motion that Chase required, plus it was small, very light, and since I own it personally, it was free. I also carried 3 of my own lenses; the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC, the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, and an old Nikon manual 85mm f/1.8 with a Nikon-EOS adapter.  They’re nothing fancy, but I was sure they’d do the job. The Tamron is a great all-purpose lens and the vibration compensation is fantastic for shooting handheld.  Most of the footage was captured with that lens.  I used the Tokina the least, but was great when Chase wanted a dramatically wide shot, and the Nikon 85mm was for when we needed that extra bit of focal length and space compression.

  We captured Chase’s interviews with a Sennheiser Evolution G3 wireless lavalier set and a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder.  Pretty straight forward, not too exciting, so let’s move on to the really fun stuff…

CAMERA SUPPORT:  For this project we acquired two of my new favorite toys; the Zacuto EVF Pro and the Kessler Pocket Dolly.  These two products are brilliant on their own, but when their powers combine they create a silky smooth shooting experience.

Zacuto EVF and Kessler Pocket Dolly

The Zacuto EVF is an amazingly powerful LCD monitor packed into a compact and lightweight package.  It’s powered by the same battery that the Canon 5D/7D use and offers a plethora of helpful functions such as monochrome viewing (very helpful when you’re filming a documentary that will be black and white in the end), zebra stripes and false color for checking exposure, focus peaking assist (my personal favorite), frame lines, and a lot more.  The monitor works with or without a Z-Finder snapped onto it, and on the Pro and Flip models the Z-Finder mounting frame swings up to get out of your way when you don’t need it while keeping the Z-Finder close by so you can quickly snap it back into action.

Zacuto EVF Pro on Canon 7D

The ultra portable Kessler Pocket Dolly was great for getting some much needed movement into our shots.  We got ours with the optional outrigger feet for shooting low to the ground, and the feet are adjustable so you can maintain a level dolly move on uneven surfaces.  The dolly also has various screw threads on the base so you can quickly secure it to a tripod.  It becomes a bit of a beast when it’s setup like that, but it breaks down pretty quickly when you need to move.  I’m always amazed at what a difference a little camera movement makes in video shots, even with just a little more than three feet of track.  I highly highly recommend it.

Kessler Pocket Dolly and Zacuto EVF

Like I said earlier, these two products make a great combination.  All of us on the CJ crew consider a dolly or some sort of moving camera support mandatory for capturing dynamic footage, and the addition of the Zacuto monitor is a great way to keep from having to lay down on the ground to see what you’re shooting from your worm’s eye view camera angle.

We cut the piece together using Apple Final Cut Pro. And we did all the color (B+W) grading in FCP as well.

So there ya go.  That was my setup, front to back. Hope you can dig into this stuff in more detail this weekend. And hopefully this post has showed you how–with some good artistic vision–a fairly minimalist video kit can produce dynamic results like this:

5 Crucial Tips To Get Your Photo Busine$$ Books in Order

I learned over time that as photographers, filmmakers and independent artists, we’re also entrepreneurs running our own small businesses. Since I’m not all that business minded I’ve had learn as much as I can while surrounding myself with smart biz-oriented people who can help. Enter stage left Mara, our on-staff accountant. Going forward, I’ve got a goal that she will be able to shed a lot of light on the $$ and business side of things that so many photogs need help with… She’ll be tag-teaming on these business posts with our Executive Producer Kate. Feel free to ask them questions and suggest new topics… In the meantime, take it away here Mara on some crucial bookkeeping tips…

By now you should have long ago finalized any financial reporting for the prior year and sent your taxes to the IRS. This time of year is usually an accounting calm, but don’t be fooled (or lazy). I‘m consistently reminded of how much easier the year-end process is when you plan ahead and keep good records. Now’s the time to… Continue Reading →

Chase Jarvis TECH: Scott’s personal Olympus Pen E-P2 Camera Kit

Is it bigger than a breadbox?  No.  It’s my new Olympus Pen E-P2 camera kit, and it’s awesome.

As the guy who manages the inventory of equipment here at Chase Jarvis Inc., it’s fair to say that I know a thing or two about what it takes to pull off a photo shoot.  Every time we roll down the street or fly around the world, I pack and move cases of gear.  No matter how light we’re packing, we tip the scales at at least 100 lbs.

In my free time I have access to any and all of this equipment.  A dream come true for any photographer.  Unless you spend your free time deep in the mountains or on travel adventures where an itinerary is unheard of and solitude is the end goal.  In that case, there’s no place for hundred pound cases.  Hell, an extra 20 pounds in the backpack can have a major impact.

This fact has always put me at a loss, oscillating between DSLR kits that feel bloated and obtrusive, and high end point and shoots like the Canon G series that while impressive for their size, just don’t have the gusto when you’re in the trenches.  What to do, what to do.

Well, like many, I took notice when Panasonic and Olympus came out with offerings in the new and exciting Micro Four Thirds format…. Continue Reading →

Open Discussion: Why Go Retro?

Nikon D3s PolaroidHey all, Erik here with a quick guest post about a subject that’s raised a lively debate in our studio. Everyone on our crew has long been shooting with Polaroids, rangefinders, micro 4/3 cameras adapted to accept vintage lenses…even processing digital images to look like they came out of an old dusty camera. Surveying the landscape, it’s clear this tide has been rising for a while now and we’re not the only ones attached to this stuff. So the question I present to you is this:

Why is retro or faux-retro photography so popular these days?

Why, when we have such capable and inexpensive cameras at our disposal, are we reverting to old technology and old aesthetics? Is it pure nostalgia? Is it a palette cleanser from the ease and accuracy of said capable and inexpensive cameras?  Is it a passing trend? We have opinions–especially Chase does as you might expect–but we’d like to hear from you.

The Passage of Time [60 Second Landscape Results]

Hey friends, Erik here with the results from the 60 Second Landscape challenge I issued a two weeks ago today. We were blown away by the volume and quality of your entries, and we’re excited to show you our 4 favorites. Chase’s personal fav is above, 3 other freshies after the jump. Hit ‘continue reading’ Continue Reading →

60 Second Landscape Challenge

Erik here with a quick little weekend video challenge for y’all.  In the spirit of Chase’s 60 Second Portraits, we’ve been toying with AND wanna see some of YOUR… 60 Second Landscapes. 

So here’s a challenge from us to you: Grab your video-capable capturing device and hit the streets/mountains/beaches/what-have-you’s and roll a quick one minute on the best landscape you can find. Perhaps shoot a bunch and then select your favorite. Then, post your results to YouTube with a “Chase Jarvis Weekend Challenge” tag and post a link in the comments section of this post so we can see ‘em and share ‘em.  If you feel like following some rules, we’ve got a few guidelines to follow:

  • Keep your landscapes to 60 seconds (obviously).
  • No cuts.  Keep it to one shot.
  • No timelapses, just a straight up realtime view of the world in front of you.
  • Include music if you want, but we dig hearing the ambient sounds of the view.

That’s it.  Short and simple, but sorta beautiful.  Our take is that this is easy and fresh – but we want to see your take. I’ll see if I can shake Chase down for some gifts if some cool videos are posted. Here’s my entry:

Now you go and make some stuff. Have a great weekend.

Zen & the Art of Production: 12 Tips for a Smooth Photoshoot

Hi friends.  Kate here again.  I’ve been reading your questions lately, I’ve noticed that many are about production. It’s no doubt that shooting days can be stressful:  you have a set of objectives that need to be accomplished, time is limited, the client is present, weather, travel, lodging and permits may be a factor, you’re coordinating people and there are always little surprises that crop up.  Plain and simple, there are just lots of moving parts to a shoot. It follows that the more you can reduce your unknowns and possible stressors, the smoother your day will run. So, whether you are running the show yourself or you hire a producer, here are a few simple tips that may help you run a smoother production.

  • Have a plan. And a backup plan.  Production is all about planning.  The more organized you are ahead of time, the better and more smoothly your shoot will run.  A great production is very front-loaded to allow time on set for you to focus on the shoot and deal with any surprises.  Do your homework:  think hard ahead time, anticipate possible challenges, run through the day in your head and preempt problems before stepping on set.
  • Prioritize. Work to get the most bang for you buck.  After you’ve made your to-do list, prioritize the most impactful tasks and the most time sensitive items.
  • Clearly set expectations. Good communication with everyone involved is essential.  Schedule a pre production meeting early on to get everyone on the same page.  Follow up in an email for clarity.  We all remember different parts of conversations that affect us.  Summarizing is a great way to make sure that nothing is omitted.
  • [for 9 more tips, hit continue reading below…] Continue Reading →

Public Service Announcement: May is Bike to Work Month

The Bike Fleet
\\\\\ UPDATE the mystery bike match game has been solved. Deb got them all right on this comment. /////

Howdy y’all, Dartanyon here. We normally don’t post much on the weekend, but I wanted to take a moment for an off-topic Sunday morning Public Service Announcement. May is bike to work [and school] month.  Around the studio we’re environmentally conscious, and have turned BTWM into sorta a big deal.  We join in on the ride challenge put on by our local bike club, and get a little competitive when it comes to who can rack up the most miles. 

Consider this little PSA post my personal invitation to you, to hop on a bike an go for a ride.  You don’t need to commit to riding to work everyday in May [although that would be awesome].  You could just ride on National Bike to Work day on the 20th of May, or whatever works for you.

I got a laugh from our April Fools Day post where we all had switched out face parts. So in this spirit, I’ve whipped up a little “match game”, but this time it’s going to be a game of Match-The-Bike-To-The-Rider.  So, to see portraits of our lovely commuter steeds and match ‘em to their riders, hit ‘continue reading’ below… Continue Reading →

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