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Underwater iPhoneography – The Gear I Used to Find Nemo

While in Belize a couple months ago, I took the opportunity to field test a new iPhone case designed for action sports photography + video. (I’m a big fan of field testing new tech/gadgets; see my out-of-the-box successes with the DJI quadcopter—> here).

Without getting in the weeds here, let’s be honest. We’re not aiming for the Oscars with this footage, but I’m not gonna lie… I quite frequently need a little breather from all the high end work that I’m focused on doing. Not everything needs a $150,000 Phantom camera to be good or fun. You with me? Good. Then ENTER—>The Optrix XD5 — a waterproof housing for the iPhone 5 that gave me a nice 175 degree wide-angle lens and control functionality while coasting from reef to reef. It couldn’t have been easier or more chill to use… I’d recommend this to family vacationers and pros alike who dig the occasional goofing around with some gear. Watch through the end of the video to see a few super basic stills I was able to take on one very very short swim about the reef.

Note: the video above was shot on an iPhone housed in the same XD5. Totally passable, in my opinion. And an idiot-proof design, as the video reveals.

Check out the Optrix line of iPhone housings.

For more behind-the-scenes action from my Belize assignment, you can go here, here + here.

Music by Small Face.

Photoshoots with Flying Cameras, Bulldozers & World Class Athletes [plus Other Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Antics from my Aspen Campaign]

Snow cats. Flying cameras and world-class athletes.  Couple-o-sunrises. One of the most unique locations I’ve found in my career (a coal mine?!) and a superfun campaign for one of the top mountain destinations in the world…here’s behind the scenes for my most recent campaign to drop –> Aspen.

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This past March, you might have caught wind of my live updates while shooting the 2013-2014 campaign for my friends at Aspen/Snowmass ski resort. In the midst of the controlled chaos of a high-altitude photoshoot, while obsessing over the weather, we were able to share a few the scenes photos. chasejarvis_aspen
Today we’re dropping “ChaseJarvisRAW: Aspen/Snowmass Behind the Scenes” timed to coincide with the launch of the campaign in action sports magazines worldwide. We’re also sharing those ads below (See below for a few examples with the original photos) before they land in magazines and on billboards worldwide.

As is always the case with a project of this scope, the story behind the final imagery is something I enjoy sharing via the photos or videos themselves.

Last March, we rolled into Aspen with a fast-n-light crew of six of my Seattle-based team to join Aspen’s marketing + media teams and their creative agency Factory Labs) To produce this video and the images below, we coordinated around 45 people and quite the pile of gear in an unpredictable, high-altitude, always-changing environment over a span of 5 days. Standard challenges apply

Working in an alpine environment can be difficult, but there’s another challenge to shooting in Aspen: telling a unique story about one of the most written about, filmed and photographed places on Earth. So we ventured north from Aspen into the Roaring Fork valley looking for a new angle. And we found it.

Backstory on our unique location and how it tied to the campaign. Aspen Skiing Company is one of America’s most outspoken corporations on climate change, and it backs up its talk with innovative efforts to both mitigate its own pollution and to model climate-friendly business practices. That’s smart, forward thinking for an industry that depends on consistent snowfall for its survival – so we incorporated this into on of our shoot locations….
ChaseJarvis_Davenport20130312_Aspen_1_AAA9873 So here’s the crazy part – Aspen’s newest addition to their sustainability program is based at the Elk Creek Coal Mine. How does that make sense you say? Here’s how it works: First, Aspen BUILT & OWNS A system that captures methane emissions vented from mine (a mine that has been under operation for a long time – no going back on that) and uses this gas to generate electricity, which is fed into the grid. NOT the coal, but capturing the energy put off by the off gassing. By preventing the methane—a greenhouse gas twenty three times more harmful that carbon dioxide—from entering the atmosphere, the project eliminates three times the carbon pollution that Aspen Skiing Company creates each year. Boom. If that’s not thinking outside-the-box then I don’t know what is. It also happened to be a perfect place to find a unique photograph. So we went to the mine to capture a gritty, industrial snow shoot with this, what I consider a unique backstory, about how Aspen is being inventive around how it invests in clean power.

Shooting on location in the mountains comes with the usual crazy challenges: cold weather, even colder hands and feet, crazy wind, scorching sun and altitude, but shooting at a coal mine with skiers and snowboarders – that was a first for me as a professional and a wicked creative way to tell this great story. And were the bulldozers, cranes, choppers and other nifty things we needed to build the shoot.

But that is what makes Aspen great – they do things differently and allow the artists that work with and for them to operate that way too. While some of my previous BTS videos show that originality, we wanted the focus of this video to be the ways we captured the photos, the people, the athletes and the action. We skied, hiked, snow-catted, ate, drank, danced, piled gravel and pipes and laughed our way through this job – a helluva a lot work, but even more fun. Hope you enjoy. Here are some of the images and the final ad creatives:

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If you’ve ever wondered what we use for a video and photo shoot like this…here are the essentials on our GEAR LIST:
[Available from Adorama]

// (2) Nikon D4 bodies
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8
24-70mm f2.8
70-200mm f2.8

// BTS camera kit:
Canon 5D MarkIII, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-105mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 35mm f1.4

// Sony F3 35mm f2, 50mm f2, 85mm f2
// Kessler CineSlider
kessler pocket dolly
kessler electra drive for timelapses

// (1) Octa-copter

// (7) GoPro Hero 3s – strapped to my head, my leg, to an octo-copter…and more.

// Broncolor Scoro 3200S
(2)Broncolor Unilite 1600,

Some other nuts and bolts from the shoot that are not obvious from the BTS vid, but that you might be interested to know:

// The Elk Coal Creek Mine/Aspen initiative is the first project west of Mississippi to turn coal-mine methane into electricity,

// Among the many shredders we worked with is legendary Chris Davenport, one of the best skiers of all time. Chris has climbed and skied all 50+ 14,000 peaks in Colorado in one year and recently skied off Everest. Follow him here @steepskiing. Total badass. Consummate pro. And he’s in Washington DC lobbying for climate solutions as you read this.

// We shot the entire campaign and video in 5 days

// Aspen is releasing a 6-part series to go with this campaign video – tune in here.

Also – final note. MY GOODNESS is the band responsible for the rocking tunes in the video. Three songs in the video: Check your Bones, Lost in the Soul and Cold Feet Killer. If you dig the tunes, you can listen to an entire live performance they did shot by cjLIVE here in video form, and you can also stream the performance on soundcloud here. Please enjoy – take a listen, and share with your friends.

Learn more about My Goodness here - http://www.facebook.com/MyGoodness

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GoPro Hero3+ is the Fairest of Them All

GoPro’s Hero3+ dropped like a bomb today, splitting atoms and shattering computer screens with some of the most bad-ass footage yet seen. The new Hero3+ is GoPro’s sexiest iteration to date, with some notable improvements over its predecessor. Lest you Hero2 or Hero3 owners think this money ill-spent, consider these upgraded features that you’ll get with the Hero3+:

_20% lighter + smaller (case)
_30% more battery life
_4x faster WiFi (built-in)
_Auto Low Light feature, which automatically adjusts frame rate to maximize quality
_sharper lens
_SuperView movie mode allows you to shoot 1080p (1920 x 1080 video resolution) w/ the Ultra Wide field of view, so you can capture more of yourself and the beautiful landscape. Or a lion’s face.

There’s been some chatter from folks who feel wrong-done by GoPro’s “Apple-like” upgrade, but the truth is they’ve been pretty consistent in the time + release of new products and it’s not their fault if you just bought a Hero3. [Note to those who did: If you bought it from GoPro.com less than 30 days ago, the company *should* honor your return requests so you can get in the “+” game.]

Will I be adding the Hero3+ to my OCD-inspired GoPro travel bag? Definitely. I’m thinking I may need a re-do of my GoPro aerial footage experiment, too.

“What We Do” – Chase Jarvis Brand Reel

Yes! We just wrapped up my newest brand reel – What We Do. The goal with the video was to invoke more than just the work — because we know it’s the work plus the people, AND the ideas that matter.

This one represents the last 18 months or so of jobs and personal work in more than 12 countries around the world. From sea to sky, great angles to Great White sharks, it’s a fun, quick little edit that I hope gives you a sense of What We Do. It also features a bunch of my favorite moments at my studio including cameos from chasejarvisLIVE with the likes of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Adrian Grenier, The Lumineers and Sir Mix-a-Lot, Tim Ferriss and others.

As part of my creative community, I hope you dig it. Share or shout if you do… (here’s link to your twitter account if it helps). And I humbly hope you have as much fun digesting it as we did making it.

[Music from my homies– the superfly, inimitable gentlemen of Fresh Espresso – You Can Have It.]

chase jarvis TECH: Complete Guide to Aerial Photography & Video

Although I’ve mixed a whole lotta R/C helicopters into shoots, there are many more times in my profession when climbing into a real A-star is essential to get the shot. A recent assignment in the Caribbean presented another on of those lovely occasions…and while I’ve touched on shooting film + photos from a helicopter in some past posts, I’ve never gone deep on the how-to of shooting from a heli.
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And before you dismiss this and say “This is so outrageous, when will I ever get to shoot from a helicopter” …I’ll just say that every photographer who has ever shot from a chopper has said those same words, only to find themselves ripping heavy G turns and shooting from blue skies at some point in their career. So stick with me. And one other note – yes flying around can be expensive, but it can also be done relatively affordably depending on how long you fly, what chopper, and of course…who’s paying ;)

Here’s a few teasers of some of the stuff I cover in this video:

// Helicopter safety. It is critical that you understand how to navigate your way safely in and around this machine. There are two hard and fast rules that all helicopter people live by when it comes to helicopters: 1) Never walk around the tail-end of the helicopter while its on the ground and 2) the pilot is always in charge. Always.

// Personal safety. Strap in! There are a couple of ways to get this done and the video runs thru several of them… If you walk away with one piece of advice, it’s if you’re hanging out of the helicopter – always be connected to it by at least two (2) connection points.

// Gear + settings. In the vid I lay out exactly what gear I take up with me (it includes the D4 and D800), but for the sake of driving some points home I’ll repeat… here two of my gear guides:

1) Remove the lens hoods – this will prevent excessive movement due to rotor downdraft as well as your forward motion, and 2) keep the gear well attached to yo and always pass or move gear with both hands when the door is off. 3)I always shoot manually, mid-ISO 400 range, and a minimum of 1000 shutter speed (I really like 1600 or greater). 4)Shoot with large volume cards to avoid having to change cards while hanging out of the bird.
….and many more in the video

Good luck – hope this helps those of you who are just getting into it, have a fantasy of flying that you’ll someday realize, or hell maybe even a seasoned pro will pick up a tip here and there. And as always if you’ve got other tips to share – please do.

Music by the one and only Big Chocolate.

Flying Cameras On a Budget — My First Flight With Affordable Drone Helicopter + GoPro

Because there are few establishing shots that can compete with the one you get above 250 feet, I frequently take my shoots airborne. Whether it’s yanking the doors off a Bell Ranger traditional style or the…ahem…new school way of sending an 8-bladed octo-copter to do the dirty work, if it’s outdoors these days, aerial footage is, well, the new black.

Neither option mentioned above is cheap, however. I’ve been paying thru the mega-schnoz to rent A-Stars ($2000 + per hour) and such for years. And then was superduper excited in 2010 to go remote aerial at about half the cost of a real heli for this project launching the Nikon D7000 (here’s some more BTS with the same flight crew from a commercial i shot in Telluride…). But it’s still pricey. $2k – $5,000 per DAY or more. And although going the R/C route is the lesser of two budget busters, it’s still a rough lump to swallow, particularly if you’re just getting in the game.

ENTER the DJI Phantom, (picked mine up at Dronefly.com) the out-of-the-box R/C quadcopter.

Now before y’all jump into a tizzy that this thing isn’t close to the same quality – doesn’t do X and Y…I know those things. It’s ok that it can’t fly an Arri Alexa or do this or that other thing. BUT damn this is a great entry product that A) allows budget conscious folks the ability to fly a camera; B) makes some pretty solid footy for web videos and such; and C) is a helluva lot of fun to fly. All at fraction of the cost of any previously mentioned option.

Designed to fly the GoPro (you know I love ‘em in this video), this little rig comes in at under $700. Nothing to sneeze at, but chump change compared to what was available just 5 years ago. My crew has two of these little buggers now — and within 5 minutes I had achieved a comfort level great enough to try the stunt at 0:45, terrorize the other people at the GasWorks park in Seattle, and even chase a seaplane.

Although it’s not suitable for high end work (yet?), this is a nice budget breakthru. And truth be told it’s a fricking blast — I’ll be doing more soon. Perhaps…ahem… even on my next photo shoot in Iceland…

Commitment to Creativity — Dreamland with Bob Burnquist is Some Next Level Shit

I had a chance to photograph Bob in Brazil couple years ago for Oakley and we couldn’t pull it together

Let’s just say this video galvanizes my regret.

This is some next level shit, Bob.. The intro is humble. The middle is stunning. And gotta say from experience that the helicopter stuff after the 6 min mark is supremely impressive.

This is what it means to be committed.

You?

The Big Dogs Are Wobbling Like Drunkards [Time for Us Small Dogs to Sharpen Our Knives]

If you’re looking for your next creative breakthrough or if you’re in a job you hate and looking to make a change, this video from Dan Wieden of legendary Wieden + Kennedy agency in Portland is a worthy 15 min of your time. The intro is slow (a Portland love fest…) so skip in a few min if you’re watching the clock.

Here’s what’s in this video that I like:

– dan is a really likeable guy
– dan’s speech echoes my belief that creativity is the new literacy
– dan eloquently voices the idea that constraints & failures lead to creativity
– small is beautiful
– mistakes are the building blocks of knowledge

Take a look at some of the agency’s work over the years.

NEW Update from GoPro. Shoot, edit, and go social with photos + videos

Apparently as a followup to my well-timed and very handy video I put out this week (check it), my favorite camera manufacturer today announced the launch of a new app. It’s getting really slick my friendz. While you could control the Hero3 cameras with earlier version of the app (view – start -stop – etc) the newest version of the app allows you the same ability to control the camera, but you can now remotely view the images and videos on the camera and–here’s the kicker — edit + share them from the app for iphone, android, and windows phones.

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From today’s TechCrunch article: “The app is simple enough. It connects to GoPro cams through a WiFi signal, giving owners a large set of available tools. The cameras can be viewed and controlled from a smartphone or tablet, for one –this includes adjusting the dozens of available settings on each little guy. Owners can also view, manage and download content from the camera to their phone. From there, it can be shared like any other media. Upload the action to Geocities or FriendFeed like you would any other picture.”

This update illustrates why I opened this post with “my favorite camera manufacturer”. It’s not because they are overwhelmingly the best. Sure I love them. Not sure I could make my living with just a GoPro, but truth be told it’s really what they stand for and where they’re going that make me love them the most. Like I told the New York Times a while back — it’s 5 years past due when Nikon and Canon should have had this sort of reliable technology built in small packages to allow creative photographers to shoot, edit, and share their work in new and novel ways.

Dear Canon and Nikon,
I know I’ve been telling you this stuff for 5+ years. I’m sure other pros and consultants and bean-counters have too. So why is this so hard?

ASIDE: given that you are reading this post, you’ll probably want to know how I pack my GoPro’s to travel everywhere I go. Here’s a quick post and a short vid.

AND here’s their cutsy little promo vid illustrating the emotional bits…

Creative Boot Camp for Your Summer Brain [a public service announcement]

creativeLIVE chase jarvis summer sale

This is a public service announcement that I think is valuable… I’m banking you know I’m co-founder over at creativeLIVE – where we’ve delivered more than 15 million viewer hours of creative education worldwide. (If you’re new, here’s stories about it in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, etc and stay tuned for my MSNBC segment coming in 2 weeks…)

This is a short-notice opportunity to take advantage of these long summer days –> Just got off the horn a short bit ago with the biz ops team over at cL and talked them into making creativeLIVE’s entire catalog of workshops discounted now through July 31 — some up to 50% off. That’s photo & video classes from your favs (joeyl, zack, vince, jasmine, sue, sal, tamara, etc etc), business classes for creatives, design, software training on all those damn creative apps the you love but drive you crazy, and lots of other goodness.

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.

Here’s a link to some of my fav courses of the sale (and click the big blue button over there to shop the entire catalog – all of which is discounted for the next 48 hours).

And the same deal goes for your friends. If you believe in what we’ve created at creativeLIVE — trying to make the world a more creative place — I would be humbly grateful if you shared the good word. Namaste (or whatever is better to say at the end of a post like this and happy summer camping for your creative brain).

[NEW] Free Music Downloads from chasejarvisLIVE bands

chasejarvis_mygoodnessI’ve heard through your shout-outs + tweets + views + comments n such that most of you love what we’re doing with music on #cjLIVE. Those of you who pay attention to the show might have noticed that we have been on a bit of a hot streak with new music over the past couple of years. Here’s a few of my fav highlights from the very earliest moments of these now well-known musicians:

_Macklemore & Ryan Lewis brought down the #cjLIVE house before you knew their name with tracks from their 10 million singles sold + independent platinum album The Heist such as “Can’t Hold Us”

_The Lumineers delivered a gorgeous version of their platinum hit “Ho Hey” 6 months before it was a hit.

_We Are Augustines rocked the studio with a series of live sets from “Rise Ye Sunken Ships.” and kicked off a worldwide tour with sold out dates across the US and Europe.

_Reignwolf melted our faces with a crushing performance “Bicycle” as part of our special Capitol Hill Block Party episode. Now he’s on fire too…

For years I’ve heard – ‘hey chase = why don’t you start a music label’… And truth be told, I thought about it for about a quarter of a hot second and then remembered that the music business is a gnarly business and…oh yeah…I’m a photographer. Duh. BUT… that doesn’t keep us from continuing to collaborate with emerging bands to highlight and distribute their music. So, while we’ve been all YouTube and uStream distribution to date, we are happy and proud to announce we will now be offering free downloads of some of this amazing music. First up in this endeavor is –MY GOODNESS– where we are offering downloads of their tracks filmed on our show, direct to you….Their performance on cjLIVE is here in video form, but now you can also download all these My Goodness audio tracks on SoundCloud FOR FREE. Please enjoy – go grab a track and share w your friends – it’s an amazing summer rock album.

Our plans include doing more of this in the future. Hope you dig it and thanks for being a part of our own little tiny #NoLabel movement.

my goodness chase jarvis

addendum for the music lovers….

Collaborating with these musicians and others has always been one of my favorite parts of the gig – exploring new music and sharing it with my friends. Little known fact: Macklemore first performed “Wings,” formerly known as “Air Jordans”, in my studio as a part of my Songs For Eating and Drinking underground series… The project is on hold right now, but the music and vids are still out there online. Check it.

chasejarvis TECH: How to Pack, Prep & Travel with GoPro Cameras (<—bonus, also works for almost camera system)

I’ve been shooting religiously with GoPro cameras since they came out way back in the day. Love those little monsters. At a minimum, I travel with three or more Hero3’s for any shoot – I’ve just found they just come in super-duper handy for all sortsa great stuff. BUT…. taking into account mounts, memory cards, chargers, spare batteries and all miscellany associated with the GoPro and you’ve got yourself quite a load of gear to keep track of.

That’s why I’ve come up with a pretty tight little system for packing & traveling with my GoPros. The above video really gives the full insight, but all cooked down into a tasty little reduction, it smells something like this:

1. Find ONE bag/pack that can carry everything (for Belize I brought a Dakine Mission)

2. Separate gear & accessories into smaller pouches (ThinkTank little pouches described in the vid work nicely here)

3. Clearly label said bags (make the labels moron proof – and really visible in low-light / bleary eyes / tired person can read them without question)

4. Take EVERYTHING in this bag with you every time, regardless of shoot location – you never know when the need/opportunity for a funky mount may arise. (I know this might not sound like good advice, but trust me, it is. Take it from me, this is the only way you’ll ever NOT forget something random.)

5. Get creative. There are tons of ways you can mount a GoPro (see the egg-timer and scuba mask mounts in the vid), as well as clever ways to extend battery life. Use them all.

This vid above comes at you pretty fast, so feel free to ask questions and I’ll jump into the comments and answer. Got GoPro tips / thoughts / hacks of your own? Do share ‘em.

chasejarvisRAW: Sea to Sky Photo Shoot in Belize [Plus How to Pull This Off Like a Pro]

Quick share here….. a short while back I took my very first trip to Belize for what turned into a really, really (2 reallys – or now that’s three) high value, pain-free shoot. I’ve been so very lucky to have shot in some of the most spectacular places in the world — and just added Belize to that list.

We banged out a fun BTS vid to share some of the splendor, but also to give you a peek into some additional forthcoming BTS/helpful vids we’ll spin out that will add value to your future visits here, including aerial, underwater, and gear-packing / travel hacks. And if you’re thinking “Belize is so damn far away”…it’s not really. For USA’ers it’s closer than you think – only 5 hours SEA to Belize city (same as NYC), so every other desitnation in the USA, save AK + HI are even closer, and it transports you to a whole new world of blue green water, endless tiny white sand islands, and some of the most famous dive destinations on the planet. Our plane tix were pretty reasonable and lodging even moreso.

Enjoy the vid. If you missed earlier BTS snapshots from the trip and want to circle back there’s some here. And for those who are curious about how best to pull off the logistics of a trip/job like this, here’s a 4-part series on how to travel for photo + video shoots like a boss….

Part 1 – 10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel – getting there
Part 2 – 12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production – tips BEFORE traveling
Part 3 – 12 Tips for Travel Packing – tips on what to take
Part 4 – 8 Mission Critical Tips for Being on the Road

More soon – be creative until then. Happy to answer questions if you got ‘em.

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