Thursday, 4 June 2009

Ricky Martin's filming requirements

One from the archives....

In case anyone's interested, these were Ricky Martin's requirements for being interviewed on camera in London for VH-1 / MTV (from March 2001):
Subject:     Ricky Martin - Production Requirements.
Importance:     High

Dear All,
Here are the lighting requirements for Ricky Martin.

 For the best lighting, use 2 4 foot 4 bank Keno-flo lights (right
and left flank) with bastard amber gel - use tungsten bulbs.  If not bastard
amber then cosmetic peach or cosmetic chocolate.  Any one of those three gels
work for him. 
Use a 1 K arri light with steel blue gel or soft frost
Use a bounce card on the floor in front of him for his chin light
and bounce a 5K tungsten light.

Very important camera feature is called selective skin detailing -
please ensure that the camera has this - plus 1/4 black promost filtration.  Shoot
straight on - no angle left or right and the camera should be slightly above eye

 In a TV studio
Use all the lighting plus a 5 or 1O K tungsten light with the same
gel and a chimera over the light (over top of the camera).
The following is considered to be special effects lighting in
addition to standard tv lighting : -
>     24 - Studio colours
>     24 - par 64's on floor bases for up lighting of the set
>     12 - floor mount footlight units.

The dressing room should have a relaxed feel with candles
and dimmed lights plus a nice  sofa and chairs and , if possible ,some drapes
or a way to make it feel more 'homely'.
There should be still mineral water , apple juice , red bulls ,
fresh fruit , tea , coffee and some french bread and cheeses.

Please can you confirm to me that the above requests can be


The above requests were not confirmed.

HD slow mo uploads

Uploaded these videos to Vimeo. It seems, however, that YouTube's HQ setting renders better than Vimeo... hmm..

They are clips from the 'savasana' portion of Abby Lentz's new "HeavyWeight Yoga" DVD. The second in the award-winning series that we're producing (!).

Acai juice

Spent the day yesterday staring at a green screen; we were making a promotional video for a client who makes healthy fruit drinks from acai, noni, goji and mangosteen juices. All very fun - background will be Brazilian scenes etc etc...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tramps and champers

Had two great meetings today.
One was at Red River Cafe (mm) with a fitness instructor about making a proper trampoline video.
The other was at Jo's on South Congress with Mandy Lauderdale. We're planning a new music video for her single, "Champagne."

Of course, they were sandwiched by 
 - exporting video - HD takes forever to export!
 - uploading to YouTube
 - creating DVDs for two clients
 - continuing design of our new company website
 - learning more than I'd care to about RSS and pixels.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Fiore De Henriquez

I'm happy to say that the documentary about the sculptress Fiore De Henriquez is coming together nicely. The executors of her estate have been very kind and are helping every step of the way. We are heading out to Peralta in June to interview some people involved in her life and see the foundry where she worked.

From this footage, we shall cut together a promo piece to raise funds to make the full-length feature about this fascinating lady.


I've been slack in posting. Mainly because I've - thankfully - been silly busy...
Quick shopping list of video projects at the moment:

Edited more interviews with tenants saying how much they like it etc and putting together a marketing DVD and series of web videos for their soon-to-be re-vamped website

Directed a 4-camera HD shoot of a one-hour class with interviews with the stars of the show.
Edited with FCP's multi-cam feature.
Went to the Crossings spa/retreat and filmed some beautiful slow motion on the EX-1 for the Savasana section.
Prepping the DVD design
Getting a Spanish translation recorded and dubbed for Special Features.

Filming and editing marketing and promotional material for this, sadly, much-needed organisation.

- CulinART
Directed and edited a multi-camera shoot of a charity dinner & art event.
The charity was The Wright House - they help people living with HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Hepatitis C.

- Legal Seminar
Filming a chap give lawyers their 'furthering education' seminar .He used a lot of movie clips, including My Cousin Vinny, Forrest Gump (ugh) and A Few Good Men...

- Al Jazeera
Filmed a TV show for Al Jazeera's English station during South By South West.
There's a clip of one of the episodes here:

- South By South West
Coordinated the multi-cam shoot and stage screen for the outdoor stage at South By South West.
Headliners Explosions in the Sky were amazing!

Friday, 17 April 2009

WW2 P.O.W. video

Well, I've been away for a bit getting married and stuff. My family have been visiting, including my grandad on my mum's side.

In the Second World War, he was a sent to the Pacific (before Pearl Harbour happened) and was subsequently captured by the Japanese. He spent the rest of the war in a Japanese P.O.W camp being starved and sent down the coal mines to help the Japanese war effort.

A few days ago, we drove out to Fredericksburg (in Texas) to the Nimitz Museum, run by the family of Admiral Nimitz. It's a museum dedicated to the Pacific Theatre during World War 2 and has some very extensive displays. And it's still expanding!

About 8 years ago, he told his story on camera and I cut it together with scraps of pictures and videos found online. Here are the opening and closing graphics sequences. The full story is on YouTube.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

time lapse

For Mardi Gras, I spent the evening up one of the condominium towers that are being built here in Austin. Spring Condo was celebrating with a 'topping off' party. I think this means that they've put the roof on, but I'm not sure. 

We were at this party because a few months ago, Spring Condos asked us to film views from their 32nd floor. We decided to shoot High Def time lapse of sunrise, sunset, clouds racing past etc. and cut it all together rather nicely (we think!).

Here it is:

For the tecchies, it was shot with two Sony EX-1 cameras in 720p mode. We shot between 1 and 5 frames per second for the time lapse stuff and edited on Final Cut Pro.

Monday, 23 February 2009

100,000 hits on You Tube!

Well, I'm not sure what this means, but a video I posted on You Tube has passed 101,000 hits.
It's a simple black and white music video for the Black Angels' first real unofficial 'single' - "Black Grease."

The Black Angels are a psych band from here in Austin and have been part of a large psych revival in the past few years. From playing to a few folks at Red's Scoot Inn and Beer Land, they very quickly started touring the U.S. and Europe regularly and now put on their own Psych Fest in town. 
I was lucky enough to work with the band in their young beginnings, doing their projection whenever I could around Texas and the rest of the U.S.. Essentially, we just turned off all the lights and projected onto the band and their instruments. I also filmed a lot of the shows from the mixing area:

This is Christian making the cardboard sleeves to their first EP - Sniper at the Gates of Dawn - during a band meeting in the garage;

The video was shot on a Fisher Price Pixel Cam which outputted to a portable miniDV recorder. I filmed them at practise for about half an hour and then in the studio for another half hour and cut together some footage for the song. The video even got into the Alamo Drafthouse's music video competition.

Here it is:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

making DVDs for bands

On Friday afternoon, I was sitting at Jo's Coffee Shop on South Congress here in Austin. I was busy minding my own business designing a print ad for a company to put in a magazine. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the lovely Cella Blue sitting on one of the stools chatting away...

Cella is one of the singers in The White Ghost Shivers. Thankfully, they're not easy to describe (which makes them all the more interesting). If I said 'vaudeville' that wouldn't do them justice. 'Flapper' just describes Cella - and then only sometimes. '1920s music' is equally disingenuous. They're a wonderful mish-mash of all of the above and then a whole lot more.

A few years ago, I was asked to direct a DVD for them, based around filming one of their famous Hallowe'en Balls. The DVD not only includes a full concert footage (with surround sound and drunken commentary options), but also tour footage, interviews, old road stories and more.

Here's a clip from the DVD - the song is "White Ghost Shivers' Ball", filmed live at the Oaks in Manor.

For the tecchies, it was shot with 4 Panasonic DVX-100As set to 24p standard def and mixed in post using Final Cut Pro's multi-cam editing feature. We had one on a jib arm, one on a dolly, one on sticks and one hand held roaming the stage. In retrospect, we could've used one or two more cameras, especially to catch more of Omar (the shaggy guitarist).
Sound was multi-tracked with crowd mics added for the 5:1 surround sound dubbly mix. It was nice to have the band help with the post audio mix, too.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Dead Sweethearts' Ball

Every year we are threatened by St. Valentine's Day and every year we ignore it.
In fact, we shun it.
John Aeieieielli's radio show on Austin's KUT plays anti-Valentines songs on the day before (Friday the 13th, coincidentally) as this is also officially Anti-Valentine's Day. This year, it is also the day that the god-awful re-make of "Friday the 13th," is set to be released; it was filmed in and around Austin, but more on that later.

Every year in Austin, right around Valentines, the Dead Sweethearts' Ball has been a tradition. There is a history of the show here on Roger Wallace's soapbox.

I've only been to two so far; once at the Carousel Lounge and once at Ego's on South Congress. This year it's coming home to Ginny's Little Longhorn which is also the home to Chicken Shit Bingo. Again, more on that later.

For me, one of the highlights of these shows is Brian Rise singing "Down In The Willow Garden." Brian is a multi-talented creative person around Austin - musician, screen printer, sound engineer - and has a Hawaiian band called Combo Mahalo. In addition, he used to work with John Waters and can play a mean Tom Waits tune on the piano.
"Willow Garden" has been covered by some of the greats, including:
 - Nick Cave (of course!)
 - Jerry Garcia
 - Simon and Garfunkel
 - Billy Ray Johnson
 and Kristin Hersh (she formerly of the Throwing Muses).

As I have mentioned once or twice, I've been lucky enough to have directed concert films for many bands, including Kristin. We were asked to film her at The Underworld in Camden (North London) around 2001; here she is singing "Willow Garden" during that set...

For the tecchies, it was shot on 3 Canon PAL DV cameras (2 XM1s and one XL1), and mixed live through a Panasonic MX-20 mixer; one of the S-VHS cables was dodgy, which is why one feed is black and white. But it seems to work for the occasion. Audio was from the board with a couple of crowd mics mixed in. From there, it was transferred from PAL DV to VHS, then back to NTSC DV and onto DVD. I've ripped it from my DVD copy using Mac The Ripper and MPEG Streamclip, zoomed in slightly to get rid of annoying timecode dashes, encoded as H.264 and uploaded to YouTube. I'm surprised it's survived!

Claude LeLouch re-posted

Well, it appears that the posting of Claude LeLouch's film has been taken down from Vimeo so here it is, courtesy of YouTube...

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I am fortunate enough to be very involved with filming at Austin's South By South West.
This has become a massive monster of a media conference, with three conferences in one:
 - interactive
 - film
 - music
It also lends itself to lots of other 'unofficial' events riding on its back.
South Congress during the day is, to me, the most pleasant.

In 1994 I first ventured out as a volunteer stills photographer for the festival and - in return for contact sheets and B&W negatives - I got a wristband and media pass. As a kid of 19, it was amazing to be able to see for free - AND photograph - some of my favourite bands of the time... Ned's Atomic Dustbin (featuring Wiz from Mega City 4), Elastica, Senser, Yo La Tengo and All (pictured below from a gig at the late Liberty Lunch).

Over ten years later, my company - API Productions is asked every year to manage the filming and 'big screen' at the large, free, Auditorium Shores stage. I always think of this stage as SxSW's "thank you" to Austin for letting the festival run rampant through the streets for a couple of weeks.

Last year, we not only did this but also:
- filmed a documentary piece for BBC2's "The Culture Show" during the music festival (and got to meet Billy Bragg!)
- filmed a TV show for SpikeTV's web series during the film festival
- filmed, edited, encoded and uploaded nightly videos from Red Bull's "Moon Towers" party
- filmed a portion of an episode for Spike TV's gaming show
- line produced iStream and Microsoft's filming and live streaming of Ice Cube's performance (with the unforgettable inflatable 'west side' hands...)

Quite exhausting (but always fun!)

Here's what I shot for the BBC's Culture Show - it was directed by the amazing Glaswegian Liam McArdle.
For the tecchies, it was shot on DigiBeta PAL in Austin and edited in the UK.

This year, 2009, we're starting to get requests from London, New Zealand, Nashville, Austin and the festival itself to film, stream and generally capture parties, events, interviews and concerts...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Fast car, Paris, late 70s, risky film-making

For those of you who like Paris, fast cars and risky film-making, here's something to wake up to...

On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted
a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a
friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed
through the heart of Paris. The film was limited for technical reasons
to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre,
to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.

No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.

The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly
140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red
lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up
several one-way streets.

Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was
arrested. He has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the
film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.

Monday, 9 February 2009

HeavyWeight Yoga

In my work producing videos, I am lucky enough to discover all sorts of people, places and things (to misquote SchoolHouse Rock).

I've travelled most of the world filming concerts, commercials, documentaries, movies, Page 3 girls, interviews with famous folk, friends' weddings and all sorts of TV shows.

At the moment, one of the projects that I'm working on is Abby Lentz's "HeavyWeight Yoga."

In a nutshell, it is yoga for large people. And it's quite amazing.

We've made a DVD of Abby showing folks how to do the regular yoga poses, but adapted for the, shall we say, fuller-figured person. The DVD is selling like hot cakes on a winter's day in Suffolk and she is getting very popular simply by offering a service that gives people hope and self-esteem.

One example is of a student who couldn't sit up or roll over in bed prior to the class. 
Now, she is able to - through this particular yoga.

Here's a quick promo video I made showing the magazines she's been in and the TV shows she has been on:

Anyways - we're planning on making the 2nd DVD sometime very soon...

First Out Of The Gate

The unleashing of this is thanks in part to Spike and Garreth.
I really don't know if it will be updated ever or if it will end up like Rimmer's diary in Red Dwarf - an entry for January the 1st and then nothing until the summer...

Since it was the Grammys AND the BAFTAs last night, I thought I'd post a video I DPed and edited for one of the bands who were nominated for a Grammy... Austin's own Grupo Fantasma.
This is their current single, "Gimme Some."

For the techy types, it was shot over two days on two Sony EX-1 HD cameras (straight to SxS!) and edited on Final Cut Pro on a Mac G5. The bloke on the banjo is known as Big Bald Mike - apparently he's also in the movie, "The Wrestler". The director is Aaron Brown.

Speaking of the BAFTAs, it was lovely to see Terry Gilliam be honoured as a fellow.