Archive | Production RSS feed for this section

Behind-the-Scenes Look at My ALS #IceBucketChallenge Shoot [Complete with Gear, Details & Photos]

Chase Jarvis Ice Bucket Challenge BTS

Hi Friends. Hopefully you saw my #IceBucketChallenge video and donated or participated in the #ALS internet meme (and were able to keep sight of the real target of raising awareness + $$ for ALS!)

To be clear we were just goofing from a production standpoint, but since there was some cinematic playfulness and we used a bit of photo tech for my icy challenge, I got a bunch of questions / comments from readers asking me to detail our production. So here’s a quick breakdown, including approach, gear, setup, settings + video editing, complete with BTS photos and a final parting shot. Follow-up questions & comments welcome…
__

Approach
First, since time and resources were limited we resolved to keep this shoot as low weight as possible. So even though we busted out some fun toys, the whole thing — concept, setup, shoot, edit, and post to the internet — took place in a matter of hours.

Photo Gear
_Main Camera: Nikon D4s with 24-70 2.8
_Camera settings = ƒ8 / 1/250th sec / ISO 200
_Manfrotto 057 Carbon Fiber Tripod (Ball Head-RC4)
_Additional Nikon D4 (for behind the scenes’ photos) with 12-24mm 2.8 on another Manfrotto tripod
_3x PocketWizard Plus III, 1x (Chase’s hand), 1x (On camera), 1x Lighting Pack.
_Broncolor Scoro Pack
_Broncolor Beauty Dish
_Broncolor 100×100 Soft Box
_Chimera M Soft Box
_3x Broncolor 1600 Unilite Strobe heads
***All this gear is detailed here on the gear page, with specs and prices avail here from our pals at Adorama.

Video Gear
_Panasonic GH4 for tight, slow motion 96FPS
_Panasonic GH3 for wide
_10x GoPros for the bullet time array
_2x Manfrotto 545GB Tripod (526 Head)
_3x LED Panels 100W each
***All this gear, complete with specs and prices avail here from our pals at Adorama

Other Gear
_12ft Black Backdrop
_20x25ft Black Visqueen
_10ft Ladder
_Water from the lake
_4x bags of Ice
***This was stuff we had on hand, except the ice which we got from a convenience store and the visqueen, which we picked up at a local hardware store.

Here’s a quick sketch and some photos of how we laid this all out, with the detailed play by play below.

chase jarvis diagram

The Details
_The main camera prepared for photos was a Nikon D4S with 24-70 2.8 rigged in a way it could be shot by yours truly using 3x PocketWizard Plus III, one in the camera set at Channel 1 (needs N10-ACC-D200 cable), one in hand @ Channel 1 as well, and one with the Broncolor Scoro pack @ Channel 2, the camera was shooting 9 frames per second, and the Scoro was able to deliver speed and power consistently.

_Video was shot using the GH4 for Slow Motion 96FPS at angle while GH3 was shot straight towards Chase.

_The “Bullet Cam” was a rig made using 10 GoPro’s affixed to 2x grip arms held by 2x light stands (similar to how we did in the Samsung campaign video) and then configured in a semi circle just below the video and still cameras. All of them were shooting video and were synced later with a clap! done prior to the action moment recorded. In post we selected one key action moment and grabbed a single frame from each only the same action frame were selected from the footage of them all for the final edit.

_A bucket of roughly 40 Liters of water was used with water from nearby Lake Union (so not to waste) and 4 bags of Ice (the first 2 melted rather quickly, so we re-upped with 2x more.)

_Lighting was composed of three lights for both photos and video. For video, 3 LED Panels at 100W Each, 2x behind and to my side for the Rim light / to backlight the water / define it off the black backdrop, and one at 45º angle medium/high in height on left of the subject for fill. And for photos we used 3 light positiioned very similarly to video lights to cut down on the variance in lighting schematic. We used 2 medium softboxes behind to the side for the rim light, and a beauty dish above me, centered (beauty is not the word I’d use in this case…). Strobes were powered using Broncolor A4S that delivered 9FPS consistently.

_For the set, we used 2x large light stands to hold up the 12ft Black backdrop, a 20x25ft Black Visqueen that covered almost the entire set’s ground to contain all the water, for that we raised the sides so the water would be kept inside.

Then we let ‘er rip, and you saw the results in motion. We pulled the edit together in Adobe Premier and posted to YouTube within a handful of hours, start to finish. Reminder the vid is here or embedded below to watch again / share

Quick edit of one of the still photos below. Thanks again. Hope you were able to donate and spread the word. Hit me with questions or comments below.

chase jarvis als ice bucket

And again…

Everything You Weren’t Taught About Taking Photos: How to Make an Image While Making Tough Decisions on Set (Amidst the Drama of it All)

chase jarvis naked juiceBackground Story.
This image was a part of a global campaign — print, OOH and digital – for Naked Juice in 2011. This image was one image in a series of 6 ads where the goal was to achieve what we were calling “the Naked Lens” — a superwarm, hard backlit look, complete with lens flare and jeweled tones throughout the image. While it might be an overused look these days — lens flares hadn’t yet hitting the mainstream for advertising. The idea was that this look, when combined across all Naked’s imagery, could be an “own-able” look for Naked. You can see a few other images from that campaign here or here on the agency’s site to get the gist of them together.

But I can already hear you — “so what’s so special about this shot, Chase? It’s just a guy walking down the beach with a surfboard!” Fair point, but ironically I chose this image specifically for that point. One of the most popular questions I get asked about photography is… “what’s it like to do X, or shoot with Y, in crazy location Z?” By and large people want to hear the sexy war stories of the profession — and there are plenty. BUT in high-end, broad reach advertising work you’re rarely asked to shoot the sexy or the impossible. More often you’re asked to shoot the “normal” under some unique circumstances… be those circumstances a special lighting situation, a special location, during a special type of weather, etc… and with 100 smart people (agency, client, everybody else under the sun) looking over your shoulder all the while — each with their own opinion on the best way to do something. That was the case for this image, and that’s why I thought it a more worthy share than another sexy war story. IMHO it might be a less sexy story, but it’s a better read and ultimately more valuable for takeaways because it’s more real than most of the shiz you’ll read.

Setup
Sometimes even the simple images are hard to get. We were setup on location in Malibu at a beach park we’d permitted after scouting the week before. Key challenge #1 = the weather was NOT good. Overcast, cold, with fog and broken clouds. Certainly no one expects you to control the weather and contracts are written with “weather days” etc, but that’s my point. It DEFINITELY contributes to the mood on set — to everyones mood. All of which not ideal when your #1 objective is a warm, backlit sun flare. To add some complications in there, it was our last shot to get, we’d nailed the previous 5 shooting in LA over the past week. There was a fair pressure to get it done… budget pressure. Nobody likes cost overages and you can imagine the costs of 30+ people staying for another day — client, agency, wardrobe, styling, art department, motorhomes, cancellation fees, etc etc. There was at least another $50 – $100,000 on the line if we didn’t get the shot.

We were all setup several hours early, and a lot of less experienced people on set (client’s do these shoots once or twice a year, the agencies do them a few more, whereas we photographers literally live in this stuff) and the people with the purse strings are getting fidgety. ["Why are we even here? It's cloudy weather! Shouldn't we scramble to another location and try to poach the shot down in Venice? My phone says its sunny down there."]

ENTER: 3 THINGS…
1. Patience. Scrambling 30 people to a new location that “might” be sunny, to shoot without a permit, is NOT a good idea. Parking alone is a nightmare, let alone all the rest. Besides risking getting shut down from the cops, nobody likes a scramble. Moreover, there is a phenomenon that you should be familiar with… it’s the phenomenon that quite frequently bites people in the ass: chasing light, i.e. “you can see it’s sunny right over there.” This sometimes plays in your favor with a smaller crew and a consistent weather pattern, but we had neither of those.

2. Sun Seeker App. Now I’m in no way affiliated with this $10 Sun Seeker app (and I’ve written about it before), but I use it every day of every outdoor photo shoot I’m on. In short, it’s a must have — it gives you the exact location of the sun in the sky at any given time. In this particular situation, when we’d scouted the location earlier we’d identified that our scene would be backlit the right amount for about 45 minutes before the sun went behind this hill just to the northwest of the beach we were on. BUT BUT BUT given the situation at hand I could tell that there were some breaks in the cloud happening right in the zone where the sun was going to be in an hour… and that — if things worked out perfectly — we might get a few minutes of sun just before it went behind the hill overlooking the beach (that you can see in the background of the image).

3. Making the Tough Call. They say that making hard calls in photography “goes with the pay grade.” But let’s be clear: most of the calls you must make on set — to shoot or not to shoot, to stay or move, to use this lens or that one, this model or that, this camera or that, do this or that or don’t — are based on gut and experience, and all of your gut and experience were cultivated with imperfect data. It’s a feeling combined with experience. Well, that’s what went down here. I had a strong hunch we’d get a minute or two of direct sun beneath the clouds and above the horizon, just right before it dipped away. I’d seen it happen 100 times, and that experience coupled withe the technology that told me where the sun was going to be AND the patience to always wait — to always give yourself a chance (see this post) to make the shot.

So, that’s what we did here. Amidst the voices from client and bystanders and agency and etc., I held the cast and crew at the location… and it worked. The sun turned on like a light switch, burning brightly and warmly for exactly 2 minutes. Not 20 minutes, not 2 hours. 2 minutes. But because we were ready (against everyone else’s desire… “its so cloudy its NEVER going to happen…”) we nailed the shot in a 2 minute window.

Gear & Settings
Camera = Nikon D3s
Lens = Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 ED-IS VR (at 78mm)
fStop = 2.8
Shutter = 1/1600
ISO = 800
Flash = none

Why I chose these settings
I needed the aperture wide open to get the light flare as I wanted it and I needed to be 1000% sure to freeze an action (at least 1/1000) and so that roughly dictated my ISO at 800 given the conditions.

Direction
In this case, my direction to the model was much more complex than you might think. First of all, it was very cold — probably in the 50′s and windy, so keeping him warm in between practice run thru’s was a must — can’t have a surfer all goose-bumped out. Second, in order to put him in the right spot on the horizon and in our frame he had to walk in a very unnatural part of the trail, while looking up and keeping a natural expression… no smiles, just contentment. So, the directions weren’t easy, but that’s what makes a pro model a pro. Seriously. Walk “normally” on this root-covered area just off the path with a perfect facial expression, carrying this surf board exactly this way, don’t look where you’re walking, and god forbid don’t look like you’re cold even though you’re wearing no clothes and it’s 50 degrees and windy as hell… aaaaaand now do that 50 times in 2 minutes while I unload 1,000 frames or so. THAT was the direction. #RequiredToGetTheShot

Post Production
In Photoshop we didn’t do all that much. Primarily some light balance between the hot sun and the darker elements (greens, etc.) in the front. The Nikon has great dynamic range, but we focused mostly on tweaking the balance between the brightest bits of the image and the darkest. We warmed it up a tad, we amplified the lens flare and we went a hair more to the jewel side of the tones in the image color to match the creative brief and the other images in the campaign. And Voila!

So there you have it. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter and Fbook with any questions. If you dig this blog post, I only share one of these every so often here… BUT I share one of these case studies every other week to my email list, with a complete breakdown of ever bit of the image making process. If you want to join the thousands of people who receive these special emails, do so on this form here. I will never spam you or share your info. #Respect.

LIVE Shoot from Inside a Frickin’ Volcano [RENEGADE #cjLIVE -- this Friday, Jan 17]

chase jarvis jp canlis photo 3UPDATE: this broadcast is TODAY! Join us at 9:30am Seattle time (12:30 NYC and 17:30 London) here at www.chasejarvis.com/live as we hi-jack the live feed from the Museum of Glass and go LIVE from the biggest and best hot shop in the world… mixing the worlds of photography + glass blowing with yours truly and my homie JP Canlis. Of course, taking questions at #cjLIVE via Twitter and my Facebook.

Ok. So maybe it’s not an actual VOLCANO, but it’s just as hot. Read on…

My favorite part of the new world order is access. Access to behind-the-scenes ideas, information, and lives of others AND granting that access into mine. We all get to watch “the sausage being made” …as they say.

Well – access (and sausage) you will get this Friday January 17th if you tune into this SPECIAL EPISODE of www.chasejarvis.com/live between 9:30am – 1pm Seattle time (12:30 – 4pm NYC, 17:30 – 21:00 London) for a special “renegade” REMOTE edition of chasejarvisLIVE. What the hell? Exactly. While the “normal” #cjLIVE shows are broadcast live from my studios in Seattle with a guest and a crowd and some ideas (and occasionally some bourbon) this Friday’s episode is anything but that… In fact I’ll be sharing an exclusive peek into a fine art project I’m working on…in progress

Indeed, YOU are invited drop in for a glimpse of a collaboration between yours truly and my dear friend (and brilliant Seattle-based glass artist) J.P. Canlis. JP’s work is collected worldwide (including the likes of the Crowned Prince of Abu Dhabi). We will be at work and coming to you LIVE and in the heat of it (literally) from the molten hot magma hot shop at the Museum of Glass, the world’s premier glass museum and one of the world’s top glass art facilities in the world.

What you will see will NOT be a staged demo of any sort. Instead you’ll be dipping your toe midstream into an authentic artistic collaboration between yours truly and JP Canlis that we’ve been working on for the past couple weeks as a part of JP’s artist-in-residency at the museum. We’ll be engaged in a real-time, never before attempted (for all we can tell) creative process mixing my photography with JP’s molten glass. Yes, we don’t know what will happen. Since we’ll be in the hotshop – which is NOT my normal habitat – I will be primarily hosting the ramshackle affair WHILE I’M WORKING and taking your questions via twitter and Facebook in realtime during the process.

THE DETAILS
WHO: You, me, glass artist J.P Canlis and a worldwide gathering of creative people
WHAT: Interview, discussion + a worldwide Q&A
WHEN: Friday, January 17, 9:30 am-1 pm Seattle time (12:30pm-4pm NYC time)
WHERE: Tune into www.chasejarvis.com/live It’s free — anyone can watch!

Couple disclaimers:
1. The entire process will be broadcast HERE at www.chasejarvis.com/live (aka the normal #cjLIVE location) for your viewing pleasure.
2. This isn’t meant to be a polished production – you will be along for the ride on a real project that will be sometimes exciting and sometimes not. This is authentic, non scripted access, with us in a new and very different location.
3. I will be primarily focused on chatting with you all via the live broadcast – explaining what I can – in real time. So as always, questions on Facebook + Twitter via #cjLIVE.
4. The awesome peeps at the Museum of Glass are letting us use their broadcast tech and facilities so it’s going to feel a lot more renegade than normal…just how we like it ;)

It will be very casual – feel free to come and go as you please. AND!!! if you happen to live in the Seattle/Tacoma area – you are invited to literally drop into the museum hot shop right there in Tacoma. There is are seats there where you can watch us in the flesh.

Couple BTS snapshots from earlier in the project…

chase jarvis jp canlis glass

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

chase jarvis jp canlis

DigitalRev TV uses a GoPro to Fake my Hasselblad Masters Photo

Each time I have the good fortune to work with DigitalRev TV and my friend Kai Man Wong something memorable happens.

For example, you might recall the time that Kai and DigitalRev TV dragged me around Hong Kong with a Lego Camera on one of their infamous CheapCamera Challenges. The highlights included surprise runway models, aggravated kung fu fighters and eating pig’s anus on the street. Most recently Kai and his hilarious crew parodied my Facebook profile photo for Fake A Big Shot. The resemblance was, um, striking?

I decided it was time to turn the tables.

I showed up in Hong Kong to give Kai and the DigitalRev crew a taste of their own medicine. A CheapCamera Challenge of my design: To re-create a photo I shot with the Hasselblad H3D. This was a $25,000 piece of equipment in 2007 when I shot the photo. I gave him 8 hours … and a GoPro Hero3PLUS ($399) to get it done.

Here’s how the the final product compares to my original. What do you think? Check out the video above to see how he did it.

Chasejarvis_DigitalRevTV

Thanks to Kai and the whole DigitalRev TV crew for working on short notice and being such great sports. Subscribe to their channel here.

Iceland’s Endless Light – chasejarvisRAW

After years of finger-crossing and well-wishing, I finally got the chance to visit Iceland on a commercial shoot a couple months ago. It was worth the wait, but I can’t say I’d want to wait that long again to return. Iceland was the definition of magical, and the light was to die for. And it went on. And on. We put in 16-hour days and grabbed a TON of shots and footage [see some of the behind-the-scenes stills from the shoot here], almost too much to cram into one short RAW vid. If you dig what you see, tell us in the comments below, cuz we’re considering putting together a Part II.

Once again I’ve got to give a shout out to ProFilm for hooking us up with Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson, two incredible local producers who drove us across their land to all the must-see and must-shoot spots. Our time with them serves as a lesson to anyone heading abroad for travel or a shoot: get in with some locals early or ahead of time to get pointed in the right direction, particularly if you’re short on time.

As is customary these days, we took to the air, chartering helicopters and flying affordable drone quadcopters too. [Stay tuned for a special chasejarvisTECH episode featuring some ill-fated experimentation with the DJI quadcopter and a roll of gaffer's tape.]

Music by Big Chocolate.

Refresh Your Creative Juices — 10 Inspirations to Pull You Out of That Rut

The dreaded rut. That feeling of being exhausted of your precious creative juice. How to break out? For me, a change my scenery — specifically an amazing location for your photo or video shoot– has always been the closest thing to a magic bullet that I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes this means shooting in a different studio, at an abandoned building, a trip to the mountains or, gasp, even that blown-out building on other side of the tracks you’ve heard so much about. Even then however, it’s quite possible that even more drastic measures need to be taken.

I call it “Destination Inspiration.” Sometimes getting out of your everyday physical location is the shot in the arm that you need. This has saved me numerous times. If these following locations below don’t get your creative mind revving, then I can’t help you. Several of these spots I’ve been to before and drool over, others are on my must hit-list. Check them out, pack a bag, and get inspired. And before you wince about the cost of going to these places…skip your 4 dollar coffees at the coffee shop for 3 months and drink drip, cancel your cable TV subscription and look for a deal on airfare. The cost of taking a trip for your next shoot to revive your creative juices is much cheaper than the alternative – NO creative mojo. So here we go….

1) New Zealand. In all my world travel, few places compare in beauty to wait awaits the New Zealand visitor. Those of you who pay attention to what it is that we do know that I have a THING for NZ. In fact, I have stated it is my favorite place to shoot (although my recent trip to Iceland, see below, has me questioning that). From waterfalls and snow fields, to jungle and wild river beds – N-Zed is hard to beat. The people are some of the most adventurous and welcoming on the planet and shoots are consequently easy to produce. Its a haul – but worth the day in a plane.

2) Iceland. I recently returned from a shoot in Iceland and I can now say with authority that the country is straight up magical. I called it the “land of endless light” for the 18 hours of it we got every day. I’m talking the kind of light we photographers dream about at night. We spent the majority of our time tooling around the southern shore + hitting some super photogenic locations (thanks to hosts/guides Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson and local production company Profilm.). You’ll likely fly into Reykjavik, and if you rent a car hitting up Route 1 is a good bet to access some of the wilder beauty found here — it’s also called the Ringroad as it encircles the island. Wherever you go, be on the lookout for elves. The majority of natives believe they are real. I’d say snapping a shot would earn you some notoriety.

3) Antelope Canyon. Rather find somewhere in the States? Fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix (both are about the same driving distance) and head out to Antelope Canyon, which is on Navajo lands near Paige, Arizona. The canyon is actually two slot canyons (separated into “the crack” and “the corkscrew”, or “upper” and “lower” canyons), and both are amazing to walk through. If you’re looking for photos, get ready for a challenge. In addition to waiting your turn (Antelope Canyon is one of the most extensively photographed canyons in the US), taking the actual pics is tough, since the wide exposure range creates some problems as light is reflected off the canyon walls. Roll into town in May or April, when the temp is still bearable, and you still get a lot of daylight.

4) Hang Son Doong in Vietnam. Hang Son Doong sits near the Laos/Vietnam border. Its collection of about 150 caves boasts the biggest in the world, twice as big as Deer Cave in Malaysia. Check out the pic below by Dan Cunningham, and click the link to see more of his stuff. If the cave itself isn’t enough for you, there’s also a mini-jungle and a fast flowing river running through it. Plenty of natural wonder to spark some creativity. More than enough to fill some memory cards. Tours have just recently opened up, so check out some info here. And good news, if you want to stay awhile, Vietnam is crazy cheap-a 4 bedroom rental house can go for as low as $400 a month, and usually the most expensive beers available are a buck, with home-brews as low as ten cents a glass.If you aren’t careful, you’ll come for the cave, and stay for…ever.

Photo courtesy of Dan Cunningham


5) Belize. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more tropical, check out Belize. I was there recently, and it was beyond incredible. For my friends in the states, Belize is a lot closer than you think. About 5 hours or less from everywhere in the US (besides HI+AK), so it’s a relatively short jump to crystal blue waters and white-sand beaches. Plane tickets aren’t too hard on the wallet, and the lodgings are pretty reasonable as well. Check out last month’s post here for a comprehensive guide on the what, where, when, and how.
chasejarvis_ambergirs_belize

6) Red Beach in Panjin, China. Feel like heading East? Take a train from Beijing (about 3 ½ hours for the fast trains, around 5-6 for the slower trains) to Red Beach. Weeds that are green during the summer turn a flaming red in autumn, giving you a view that you can’t find anywhere else. Go in September when the weather is chill and the Red Beach is the brightest. When you’re done checking out the beach, get your national geographic on and grab some shots of the 236 varieties of birds found there. Check out my play-by-play trip on the South China Sea from Shanghai to Hong Kong here.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

7) Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki, Japan. If you’re looking for some color, there are few places better than Hitachi Seaside Park. This place is covered in seasonal flower gardens, and if you time your trip right, it’s like the flower version of the 4th of July. You’ve got narcissus and tulips in spring , nemophila and roses in early summer, zinnias in summer and kochias and cosmos in autumn. If you’re not up on your flower names, just trust me that this all boils down to some of the most vibrant, spectacular colors you’ve ever seen, no matter when you visit. If you get tired of the flowers, Seaside Park’s got a BMX course, a cycling road, an amusement park and areas set aside to grill.

Photo courtesy of Katorisi

Arashiyama bamboo forest outside Kyoto, Japan. While you’re already in the area (well, the country at least) don’t skip this opportunity. Take the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto station (15 minutes, 230 yen), then take a 5-10 minute walk to central Arashiyama, then cruise through the towering forest. Get peaceful, get clear-headed, get centered. A walk through here is gonna chill you out, guaranteed. Rent a bike to get the full experience, and check out the cherry blossoms and small temples along the way from the station.

Photo courtesy of Casey Yee

9) Mount Roraima, Venezuela (but also Brazil + Guyana). Ready for some exercise? Make sure you’re serious. Next up is Mount Roraima, the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. This is a backpackers dream. Most people make their attempt from the Venezuelan side, and hire local Pemon Indian guides from the nearby village of Paraitepui, which is reached by dirt road from the main Gran Sabana road between kilometer 88 and Santa Elena de Uairen. The path to reach the plateau is widely traveled and well marked, but once you get to the top of the mountain, it’s easy to get lost, due to a ton of trails and pretty consistent cloud cover. Paraitepui can be reached easily if you have a ride with four-wheel-drive, or you can hoof it in about a day. Do not try this with your Honda Civic. Once you hit Paraitepui, most hikers take two days to reach the base of the mountain, and then another day to follow “La Rampa,” the natural staircase path to the top. Spend a night or two at the top and check out a view of the stars like you’ve never seen, but make sure to plan for an another 2 days to get back.

Photo courtesy Paulo Fassina


10) Mendenhall Galcier, Alaska. I’ve saved one of the best (and most dangerous) for last. Fly into Juneau, Alaska and take a hike on the Mendenhall Glacier. Get up early to beat the crowd (try arriving at about 9am latest if you want some solitude), and hike up the western side (about three hours) to get to a point that overlooks the entire glacier. This hike is no joke, and you need to game-plan it hard. Even experienced backpackers are respectful of this glacier, especially if you are trying to see the ice caves beneath. These are unbelievably beautiful, but dangerous as hell since the ice is always shifting. Get yourself a guide, wear some layers, and get ready for a hardcore day of hiking and amazing views. Get a hold of “Above and Beyond Tours” for more info.

Photo courtesy of wikicommons ringbang

19 Behind-The-Scenes Photos from a Land of Endless Light – Iceland

chasejarvis_cover What I remember from elementary school about Iceland is my teacher telling me, “Iceland is green and Greenland is ice.” While I have not yet been to Greenland I can attest to the fact that Iceland in August is definitely green.

Iceland – the well-known film and photo destination at the confluence of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans – has been on my list of locations to visit for seemingly forever. Finally had the chance to check out last week on a sizeable commercial production. On one hand, I was surprised to learn how many Hollywood features have recently been shot in the harsh landscape (Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Oblivion starring Tom Cruise are two of the big budget examples…). On the other hand, it makes complete sense – the landscape is bonkers-cool, the quantity of light (18 hours or so of it each day this time of year) and quality of that light truly makes Iceland a dream destination location for photo and film work.

Some fun facts about Iceland:

// as a country of just over 300,000 people they have the highest per capita number of golf courses, hot tubs and trampolines.

// most of the Iceland population believes in elves – or will certainly not deny their existence (we tested this and found it to be the truth)

// 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries, and natural hot water supplies much of the population with cheap, pollution-free heating

// the Icelandic horse has a “5th speed” or gait that other breeds do not possess

// the size of Iceland is roughly the same size as Pennsylvania in the US.

// the people are lovely and warm, but good luck learning the language – the mutha is tough!!

As always, local knowledge was key and we had some incredible local producers through ProFilm. Marteinn Ibsen and Arnaldur Halldórsson drove us all over their country in the short 5 days we had in-country – and knew exactly where to take us and when. Having local knowledge is always key.

We scored some especially high quality offerings from the air (we chartered helicopters again this trip and flew some cameras on affordable drone quadcopters too ) and along the south coast… So many rolling green hills abutting glaciers with rainbows, I expected to see a Unicorn at any second.

Of course knowing what to do with it comes down to your ability as a photographer/filmer. (TIP: check out Corey Rich’s outdoor photography workshop over at creativeLIVE for more on the skills: here.)

Below are some BTS moments with my crew snapped on iphones and point & shoots. We’re all passionate about the work – and despite some brutally long 16 hour days we won’t soon forget the trip.

chase jarvis glacier lagoon

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chase jarvis surfing photo

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

chasejarvis_iceland

Behind-the-scenes photo by Yours Truly, my man Erik Hecht and homeskillet Christopher Jerard

Photogs Aren’t Good With Money– 9 Tips for Sticking to Your Photo + Video Production Budget

ChaseJarvis_productionWe artists often suck at managing productions and budgets. We all have to get thru that stuff in the early days, but if you are numbers/manager challenged, my first piece of advice is bringing a producer into your shoots as soon as you can make it happen. That allows you to focus on your craft. Having said that, my staff producer Megan has had a ripping series of posts going on, including this one aimed at those of you who are either managing these budgets yourself or moving into hiring your own producer. Megan is my awesome-sauce staff producer and almost entirely responsible for all estimating for incoming project requests, all line producing, making sure we stay on budget, helping me realize the creative vision and then reconciling (or capturing actual costs) once the project is complete. Safe to say she rocks it. While there are a thousand resources available online to help you write an estimate; you’ll want to listen to Meg – here she offers up some tips for staying on that all important budget during your production. And there are 3-5 more links at the bottom to help you even more w your productions. Best of luck – take it away Megan.

Thanks Chase. There are 3 main components to any photo estimate: creative fees, production fees + expenses, licensing + usage rights. The creative + usage fees will only be impacted by a change in scope of work or deliverables, so it’s really about keeping an eye on the production fees + expenses when you’re thinking about budget and planning.

The fact of the matter is that the more accurate your estimate is, the easier it will be to stay on track once the production is underway. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so stick with it. Here are my top 9 tips for staying on top.

1. Get clear:
Make sure you have a strong understanding of the project parameters before you start the job. Ask for a creative brief, shot list or any info that may help paint a clearer picture. The more you know in advance, the better equipped you’ll be to produce the job on time + on budget. Get it in writing – budgets and all the info you need (see later tip ;) – so you have something to point to while doing all the work).

2. Research:
This step is especially useful if you’re traveling but applies to everything. When you’re drafting the initial estimate, check out the going rate for flights, hotels in the neighborhood, per diem + mileage rates for the state you’re shooting in, car rentals, baggage fees, etc.

Booking talent? Call an agency or two and ask about day rates and availability.

Renting equipment? Call your local shop to make sure you know how much to budget for each piece – and make sure it’s available!

3. Plan ahead:
Regarding travel, keep in mind that flight costs generally rise as you get closer to your travel date. Try to book 2 weeks in advance to avoid getting gouged, or make sure your estimate is padded enough to account for higher rates.

Reach out to contractors early on to check on rates + availability. Most folks are willing to work within your budget constraints if they’re not super busy and if you’re transparent about the job.

4. Over-communicate:
Set super clear expectations with both your clients + crew. How long will the shoot day be (realistically)? Is there budget for overtime? If not, make sure everyone knows what the hard stop is. Provide crew with as many shoot day details as possible. Share scope of work, schedule, etc. so there are no surprises + everyone knows what’s expected of them on set.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from junior producers is that they fear talking about things that “might” happen or the uncomfortable cost issues that arise from evolving plans. This is not a good quality. Turn this kryptonite into a strength – be open and willing to chat about budget and all things like it — and you will have separated yourself from 90% of the cost and client management challenges. Be proactive.

5. Get it in writing:
See my note above. Consider drafting deal memos for contractors to outline the length of shoot day, agreen-upon rate + hourly O/T costs, should the shoot go long.

Client wants to add a shot? Have them sign a change order, outlining how the extra shot will impact the bottom line; don’t forget to include crew + location O/T.

Even the most basic stuff should be captured in an email so everyone is on the same page – and if there are any discrepancies you can always refer back to what you’d agreed to. In the biz they call this the paper trail.

6. Know your pinch points:
For those of us that have been doing this a while, we’re able to readily identify the places we tend to get in trouble. The most common areas are food + travel. You might have to get creative in order to stay on budget in these categories, but keep an eye out for places you might be able to make up any overages.

7. Keep a running tally:
Plug receipt totals into an “Actuals” column as you go, so that you always know where you stand. It will help you easily identify if and where you’re over budget, and where you have a little wiggle room.

Don’t let yourself get surprised. Always know where you stand relative to what you’re spending.

8. Allow for contingencies:
Be sure to include the fine print as part of your estimate (as a Terms + Conditions addendum), or as part of a larger contract. Identify who’s responsible for what, outline protocol for any major changes + how any disputes will be handled. For instance, if your shoot is outdoors, include a note about how weather delays will be handled.

Agencies will often issue a PO for the exact dollar amount of your estimate. You’ll want to know how to go about submitting an estimate for unforeseen overages (i.e. you arranged + paid for your client’s car to the airport, or you ended up shipping all product back to your client’s office).

There is an art to this. Practice makes perfect.

9. Be smart:
Your clients are hiring you for your creative vision. You may be able to offer some ideas your client hadn’t considered or find solutions to get the intended results at a lower cost. Pipe up. Don’t be afraid to propose a more cost-effective solution, as long as your client’s needs are met.

Want some more Production advice? Try these on for size:

10 Essentials to Go the Extra Mile [For Clients + Crew]
Deliver With Style – 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients
How to Prepare for Your Commercial Photo or Video Shoot

That’s all I got for now folks. Try keeping these things in mind on your next shoot, and let us know if they helped. Also, feel free to chime in with other tips or tricks that you’ve found especially useful – I’ll keep an eye on the comments and the social feeds with some answers. Until next time!

Super Camera — Arri Alexa is the Pro’s Best Friend [plus how I shot the Samsung video ]

You may recall a few weeks back I released a video of the behind-the-scenes action for a cool gig I was asked to create for Samsung around their Series 9 Color Premium monitors. It was a dream job in a lot of ways. For one, I got to literally photograph a re-creation of my dreams; for two, on jobs like that I get the opportunity to rub elbows with the best crew —cinematographers, editors, filmers, sound technicians, art directors, stylists, producers and beyond — PLUS the best gear too.

When I laid out the earlier blog post detailing everything about my Samsung shoot I took a question from a guy named “Ben” off the ol’ innernets:

“Great cinematic look in your Samsung behind-the-scenes vid, Chase. What camera did you shoot it with?”

So I thought I would take this opportunity to a)highlight our primary cine camera on this shoot– the Arri Alexa; b)introduce my fav DP, Chris Bell, who shot that camera on my Samsung job (and a lot of my other stuff); and c) refresh that Samsung video in case you missed it the first go round.

So in reverse order, here’s the Samsung vid shot primarily with the Arri Alexa (below). And then – in addition to our video review (above) I asked him to share some more knowledge & opinion and he breaks it down quite nicely… all of which you’ll find after the Samsung vid here. Thanks Chris!

First of all, Chris, thanks for slaying it for me on the Samsung gig. Second, thanks for the quick interview – really appreciate the time discussing the Arri Alexa. When did you first pick up the Arri Alexa and what were you using previously that it replaced?

The Alexa replaced a lot of cameras. My background is as a film shooter (16-35 mm). And we had various cameras to get a particular look. Panasonic had various cameras. The HBX200. There were cameras like the Canon 5D and even the Red One. I had a shop full of cameras and each was there to satisfy a specific client’s need. Alexa came along and, in a way, became the swiss army knife of cameras. It replaced a lot of those cameras. Everyone [clients] wanted the big chip look. Everyone wanted the shallow depth of field look. For one reason or another the cameras that I mentioned could not satisfy all parts of the workflow in a consistent way. Red was a raw camera – which is nice, but it needs tons of post production attention. That’s a challenge. And no one wanted to shoot tape anymore.

arri alexa chase jarvis blogThe Alexa came along and answered a lot of producers, editors and cinematographers desires – all at the same time. It does a great job emulating film…and film is still state of the art in many ways. It is still the benchmark that cinematographers use to compare against. The Alexa was really the first to mimic the dyanamic range of film. It appeals to so many because it has a look clients love – that filmic “look”.

Prior to the Alexa someone in the workflow — the cinematographer, the editor or the producer, had to compromise on something. These other cameras, while amazing in some way, had very limtited range. They had lots of compression issues and color source issues. They had very challenging workflow issues. Then the Alexa comes along and all of a sudden – the cinematographer is happy, the producer and editor are happy. That it shoots files that are ready to edit right out of the camera –and require no conversion–makes workflow a snap.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 2And it’s super simple in lots of other ways too…It has great time coding for instance. These are little things. But on big productions – on the big budget work that demands reliability, it is the little things that add up for the professional. And ultimately, this camera can be relied upon. It’s been used on major Hollywood productions like Skyfall and Life of Pi. It’s increasingly found on the set for TV commercials worldwide. It’s being used for wildlife docs. For me, I work on a lot of different types of productions – from commercials to sport, to big brands like Microsoft and Samsung–and beyond, and it always does me right. In short, I think that Arri has done a magnificent job listening to its users when developing the product.

What is your favorite piece of completed work (–ahem besides our Samsung video–) using the Alexa, that you could show off with?
Here are two:
12th Ave Iron Film:
National TV Spot for Acer

What’s the best thing about the Alexa from a usage standpoint?
The best thing is that its a camera that makes a beautiful image without compromise – for anyone involved with the workflow. It’s a swiss army knife that works on any type job. ESPN shooters are buying Alexa. The networks love it because the files are immediately edit-ready. It’s SO easy to use. And it has become a standard. I figured I’d get a three year usage (digital has a short shelf life), but I’ll get at least five years out of this camera. Arri has these very long product cycles. That’s very important. It means I can go on a shoot and no matter who’s shooting – we are all shooting the same quality image. This is super important from the business standpoint. We need to have time to recoup investment – b/c its not a cheap camera [$90,000]. My criticism of digital is that it all turns over too fast. It’s getting silly. Every six months there is a new “must have” camera.

arri alexa chase jarvis blog 3How does the average joe get to play with one of these bad boys? Or do they…
The average Joe could go to the Arri website – there is a simulator. They update it every time there is a software update. You can learn the menu system online. If you want to see it in person – call local rental houses and ask if there is a good time to come in and look at the camera and play with it. They might be up for that to get a new customer. Some rental houses have workshops too. You could go to the trade shows. There are lots of ways to do it without dropping the $90,000 cold turkey. Most rental houses are open to educating people.

What’s coming next in this class of camera in your opinion? How can it get even better?

Moore’s law is always in effect. Digital imaging tech is moving very quickly – there is going to be a day where there is a base camera with ISO 5000 and it will shoot 5000fps and it will cost $5000. On your very high end – everyone is going to continue to attempt to emulate the benchmark: motion film. Dynamic range, how they handle highlights, lights and dark and how accurately they are able to reproduce color space. These are the Model T’s of digital cameras. There is a big revolution coming with color and contrast. We’re getting away from a lot of the compromise. Heavy compression, limited colorspace, limited dynamic range. Manufacturers are hearing it and producing new cameras. But I really wish they would slow down a bit and not reinvent the wheel every nine months. Having a standard is important too. It’s rather dizzying.

Thanks Chris! More details on the Arri Alexa here via the Arri Group.

Photographs Have Been Lying To You All Along — The Sordid History of Image Manipulation

With Adobe Photoshop looking ahead to its 25th anniversary, a handful of clever advertising pranks, and the recent exhibit at the National Gallery of Art on the history of photo manipulation [deets below], I thought we’d wax nostalgic for a hot minute on how far photography has come — and hasn’t come — from those pre-school days of cutting, coloring and pasting.

For those of us who love to wrench around in Photoshop on a good photograph…give it that extra somethin sometin…This is not news. But the fact IS that nowadays we inherently question the authority and authenticity of every photograph. This speaks to the ease with which any photographer today — professional or otherwise — can enhance, alter and outright mislead for fun or nefarious purposes through the use of the most simple digital tools. Those of us more savvy consumers + even the critics living in this digital world occasionally team up to provide the push back on the topic and identifying where have been crossed [see last month's post on the "un-airbrush photoshop hack"]. It’s a healthy and ongoing debate and a reminder to consider “truth” or “fiction” before adding that filter…

But that debate always gets a little tired for me, and as it does, I like to remind haters and lovers alike that image manipulation and other crazy shiz like this has been around since long before Photoshop. The visual past is still sordid, indeed. For example:

Photo via of click.si.edu


This portrait of Lincoln (arguably the most iconic Abraham Lincoln image we have) isn’t even Abraham Lincoln. It’s just his head, placed on Southern politician John Calhoun’s body. Apparently he didn’t have any “heroic” looking pictures, so they just stuck his head on Calhoun’s body, who, ironically was an ardent supporter of things Lincoln was ardently opposed to…

And if that’s not a guffaw, a simple search reveals a huge pile of examples like this or much worse. In the early part of the 1900′s, Stalin would have his political enemies air-brushed out of official photographs they had taken with him. If there wasn’t any photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

Photo via of neatorama.com

As hacked press can be powerful tool for media’s manipulation of the public, the June 27, 1994 covers of Newsweek AND Time had two different versions of the same mug shot of O. J. Simpson. The Time cover makes Simpson look the part of a murderer — his face darkened and slightly out of focus, roughened to make him look more unshaven. The color saturation was also removed, making O.J.’s skin look darker. Matt Mahurin, the illustrator at Time Magazine who manipulated the photo of O. J., said he wanted the image to look “more artful, more compelling.” Looking at the images side by side, it’s not hard to see why many claimed Mahurin was using photoshop to make O.J. appear evil and threatening. In a word, guilty.

Photo courtesy of tc.umn.edu

There are also images like the one below, released in the weeks following the attacks on September 11th. It ended up hitting the public hard, even though it was a fairly obvious fake (the weather was wrong in the photo, the observation deck of the WTC wasn’t open when the planes hit, the plane in the picture is the wrong type). Most people were too pissed to look too closely and this picture stirred up a lot of sentiment on the web. Still makes me feel really yucky which helps underscores the point of my article here….

Photo via of urbanlegends.about.com

There are hundreds of examples of big time photographs that have been hacked into. And I’m guessing you can show me a few more of your faves (hit me w a link or two below if you care).

But if all that makes you feel uneasy…just take a deep breath. You’ve been looking at manipulated imagery your entire life. To grab some perspective that’ll chill you out, check out the online remnants of a recent exhibit at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art featuring some 200 works showing how today’s digitally altered photographs are just a long line of manipulation from the 1840′s to the present era. And, if you happen to be passing thru Houston before August 25th, you can check it out at The Museum of Fine Arts.

Falcon Chasing A Downhill Mountain Biker — Behind-the-Scenes on the Photoshoot That Captured It

Been shooting some freeride mountain biking lately and was poking around the web when I stumbled on this yesterday…behind the scenes on how this crew filmed a peregrine falcon chasing (and grabbing at) professional downhill mountain biker Gee Atherton over bumps, jumps and at insane speeds.

Love the The Earth Unplugged crew’s approach and patience, plus the ingenuity that thy used in a)the concept; and b)the filming techiques. #muchrespect

I’m not a gear guy, but wondering if you caught the equipment they were using? None of this would have been possible just 5 years ago, or it certainly would have cost 50x what this probably cost to make today.

Here’s the finished product:

Kickstarter of the Week – The Glamour & The Squalor

Before the Internet made sourcing new music and rising bands a simple matter of keystrokes, bookmarks and RSS feeds, there was the radio DJ. Those with an insatiable thirst for the fresh and undiscovered relied on the savvy DJ with the right connections to feed us a steady diet of the up and coming, the unsigned, the ones-to-keep-an-eye-on.

For the unsigned and undiscovered, it was said DJ who provided the air time, created the buzz and could ultimately set the stage for stardom. Or at least greater notoriety.

One DJ who epitomized this role was Seattle’s Marco Collins, a local legend whose work on 107.7 The End helped propel the careers of notables like Weezer, Beck, Deathcab for Cutie and The Prodigy. And that’s just using the fingers on one hand. As Chris Ballew of Presidents of the United States of America puts it: “He was the on/off switch for your potential career.”

Such is the story behind Marco’s rise (he’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a DJ) and fall (battles with addiction) that Seattle-based director/producer Mark Evans & his team have set out to create a documentary on the man, which they’re calling The Glamour & The Squalor. They’ve interviewed 32 people for the film but need a little help rounding out the interviews and editing down the footage and archival material.

Marco’s story deserves to be told. He turned his passion for new music into a career and he battled some seriously determined demons along the way. And he’s still standing.

Check out the Kickstarter video for The Glamour & The Squalor above. If you are keen to help see this project through to the end, donate here.

Marco Collins, still hard at work. With Allen Stone. Photo by Michael Profitt Photography.

Kickstarter of the Week – Stop Motion Love Story: Interview with the 11 Year Old Director

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 11, but I know I wasn’t directing movies. Hell, I wasn’t even standing in front of that pool. Trinity Anderson, on the other hand, has jumped into the deep end and seems to managing just fine, thank you.

The 11-year-old and her father, Barry Anderson, are wrapping up production on her latest stop-motion film (a genre she’s been at since she was 4) and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the rest of production costs. The film is titled Me & Ewe. It is a sheep love story.

I caught up with Trinity and Barry before her performance rehearsals (she’s also an actor) to talk a bit more about her project.

For the record, this is my first time interviewing an 11-year-old.

How did you get into movies and directing? How old were you and what drew you it?

Trinity: When i was 4, we went to Hawaii. I used to get up early, but where we were staying was right near a big cliff and my parents didn’t want me going outside on my own. So they got me a video camera to play with inside. I had Playmobils at the time and I used to make up stories and started using stop motion. I also really liked acting at a young age. When we go to California every summer I get to go to an Shakespeare acting camp. I’ve been doing that every year for a while now.  

Tell me a little bit about this project. What have been the biggest challenges? What have been the biggest breakthroughs?

Trinity: We had a lot of problems with the main tree in the film. As filming went on, the tree started to shed its leaves, so by the end we sort of had this giant dead tree. You can kind of see it in the film, but as it goes on we show it less and less. In the first opening shot it’s green and lush. As you watch it, it kind of dies on you. 

Our biggest breakthrough happened when we were shooting one shot and we ran out of battery. It was a long shot and we didn’t want to retake it. We were about to disassemble when we decided to see if we could recharge the battery while it was still attached to the camera. That worked, so we were able to continue.  

Barry: It was a Switronix PB70 external battery. We couldn’t have plugged it in and saved the shot had we been using a regular canon battery.

Nice. A technological breakthrough.

So tell me, how has this project help you grow as a director? What’s it like being in charge of a project and managing other people?

Trinity: This project was bigger than all the other projects. I’ve made little stop motion films with friends using the iSight on the computer, but this one used real props, real cameras. It is much better quality and we’ve spent a lot more time at at and it’s being shot in an actual studio. We’re planning to enter it in film festivals and put it online. So it’s just bigger than anything I’ve done.

As far as managing, well, we don’t have many people working on the film. Besides my dad there’s my great uncle and grandpa. My dad and I do most of the animated work, and we also have one other animation guy who is doing the background sheep. I pretty much told him what to do and he did it.

Barry: We basically spent a lot of time finding people who would put up with us.

In many ways this project is co-directed by you and your Dad. What has that been like? Has it been challenging making sure the visions are aligned?

Trinity: We have limited amount of camera angles, so there isn’t much decision there. We decide on which camera angle would be best and worked together to figure out the placements. My Dad helped a lot  with the lights. But otherwise it was pretty straightforward as to which lens we should be using. I guess I was in charge of placement of sheets.

Barry: Trinity wanted to be lead animator. We spent some time talking through the story and came up with some rough storyboards. We figured out what the scenarios would be. Once we had the story down, we agreed on things. It wasn’t a major Hollywood production — there were some limitations and once things fell into place and we put on the lens we got dialed it in. 

In the beginning I was tech guy at computer, making sure we weren’t going to fast to slow and Trinity was in charge of bringing the sheep to life on the screen. But once she got over her intimidation of the technology, she had no problem assuming that role, too!

Artists and creatives often get asked “who or what are your influences?” Influences can be other artists or directors, it can be books or a series of books, movies or a series of movies. Who or what are your influences?

Trinity: I always wanted to work in movies. For a short time I went through an archeology phase, but my Dad has always been directing movies, so really I’d have to say my Mom and Dad. Aside from them I really like Stephen Speilberg and his movies like Jaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Indiana Jones. I also like It’s a Wonderful Life and some other black and white films like, Maltese Falcon, The Navigator and Some Like it Hot.

I really enjoy comedy. Movies that aren’t funny aren’t my favorite. Buster Keaton has been an influence for me. I do some circus performance and he’s really made my comedy better. 

Do you have a particular favorite stop motion director of film?

Trinity: Nightmare before Christmas. But I also really like A Town Called Panic. It’s a French film. It uses a real unique animation form. It’s different and it fits the story. 

I also like the Fantastic Mr Fox. The models are good and I love the voices of the actors. Also the score is beautiful. Our test score is mostly taken from that movie. It was done by Alexandre Desplat [who did Argo]. We actually sent him an email to see if he’d do the score for our movie, but we haven’t heard anything yet. 

Wow. Let’s hope he comes through. That would be something. 

We have a lot of gear heads who read the blog. They’re going to want to know a little bit about the gear you use in the film. 

Barry: For cameras we used two Canon 5D Mark II’s. We’re using Dragonframe software to do the actual animation. It’s been used in a lot of features. It’s powerful and not that expensive.

Trinity: It’s great because it’s not as complicated as some programs, but it’s not so simple that it can’t do all the things you want. It’s really the perfect medium. The other cool thing about the project is that most of the lighting is done with lights we got at Home Depot.

Barry: We used to 1K source lights with soft boxes, but every other light was a Home Depot light. We built a grid over the field and used everything from 15 watt up to 300 watt, both clear and frosted.

Trinity: And a lot of gaffe tape. 

To help Trinity and Barry finish their project, contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, here.

Here are some behind-the-scenes stills from the set of Me & Ewe. Enjoy:

Highslide for Wordpress Plugin