Desire.reel 2015

New Outlook, A New Reel- 2015 & Beyond

A new year a new reel. This time around I wanted to do something different.

My first reel was more fast paced in comparison to the later ones mostly because it all came  from editing background primarily. But, as a result my dedication as a cinematographer and director over the evolving years, I had begun to tone down the nature of the reels; making them calmer, more “approachable”.  Of course a lot’s changed.

So I now give you my 2015 reel, which contains material from 2014, 2013, and some of my earlier work but I consider all to be my favorite pieces. It’s an ever-evolving video and I hope you enjoy and of course spread the word!

 

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

Hyperdeck Shuttle II recording on [ML] Canon DSLRs?!

Cinematographer to Colorist

Being a Director Of Photography these days means that you’re working with any number of digital sensors of various sizes, formats and looks. Usually we shoot or work in LOG color spaces if we desire film based looks and advantages (assuming so for our readers), so a bunch of other factors come into play. But, we’ll fast forward to the fun stuff.

 

Street shooting. Literally.

Street shooting. Literally.

External Recording On the Digic-4 Canon DSLRs

The biggest issues with the Canon last-gen line of sensors are their codecs and resolution quality loss. However as DPs have learned to use these small cameras over the years, you learn to work around the weaknesses and in some cases, make them strengths (for instance, their tendency to look like Super 16mm film; see: Mathew Libatique ASC’s work for “Black Swan” as once core example).

 

Updated rig w/ Blackmagic Design's Hyperdeck Shuttle II

Updated rig w/ Blackmagic Design’s Hyperdeck Shuttle II

Another older issue was the inability to record “uncompressed” to an external recorder, due to Canon’s default placement of the framing box. Thanks to Magic Lantern, that’s been long solved.

In this personal project and episode of Model Profile, I set aside the RAW DNG work in trade for ML 60D’ed ability to record DNxHD 10-bit 422 to a 256GB SSD drive with the Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle II.

 

THE DEFAULT IMAGE

Here’s the deal. Canon [Digic 4] DSLRs do not actually record in a full HD resolution, even with the sensor binning/downsampling being done before the image outputs to the LCD or HDMI feed (which is also an 8-bit 420 native output). What actually happens is that while there is a 1920×1080 output happening, the image itself is recorded within a window. By default, this all happens internally, with the video being upscaled to a 1080p frame onto your SD/CF card.

Still with me here?

Now, when recording to an external device, the upscaling obviously doesn’t happen as it’s up to the user to do so on their end. So in Premiere, a small bump in scaling remedies this. The final difference is that while there won’t be any resolution advantages, the benefits lie in color rendition being increased slightly and chroma noise being less muddied due to not being bonded to the Canon codec.

 

 

a slight bump in 18.5% scaling

a slight bump in 18.5% scaling

...and voila, there you have it. Matched resolution of an original Canon DSLR file.

…and voila, there you have it. Matched resolution of an original Canon DSLR file.

A SOFT IMAGE

So why shoot a piece on a less compressed codec with a soft resolution? Simple, because it fit.

Shooting RAW on various formats has made me appreciate the Super 16’ish quality of the Canon video format and now instead of looking at it as a setback, it’s become an artistic choice. After all, as cinematographers, what are we without our choices in tools?

 

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

the lovely ZEN SKYE in top form

Another reason was the need to shoot high-speed (on a shoestring budget). With the 60D’s sensor and the right processing, it can work wonders! Of course a higher spec camera would’ve faired stronger, but then I wouldn’t have achieved the aesthetic I wanted. So it fit the bill.

WORKFLOW

It sounds complex but each step within this workflow has benefitted me greatly recently.

  1. Record in DNxHD 422- the HDMI signal out of the Canons is an 8-bit one
  2. File ingest into Premiere
  3. Edit footage
  4. Export in Cineon LOG format w/ adjustments in either 16-bit DPX files, 10-bit TIFF or 10-bit DNxHD 422 RGB

 

I’ve found that the maximum latitude of the image shows through here, even beyond filming on the native Cinestyle LOG profile. There will be some initial abnormalities though (such as odd gamma stretches from fade in/fade out portions). All that there’s left to do here is color though, which solves them easily in the end.

EXTERNAL RECORDING IS A GOOD IDEA?

…in certain instances. While I wouldn’t shoot w/ an external recorder in the Subway for guerilla shots, it serves its purpose in controlled environments (much like RAW). It all just totally depends on what you’re going for and the circumstances allowed.

What are some unorthodox methods of filming that you’ve found works for you?

ME filming Wayne Barret- by Anthony Geathers - ABG Photography

LEARNING AS A DIRECTOR HOW TO BE A BETTER CINEMATOGRAPHER

Cinematography is a wonderful profession. You get to understand dramatic uses of lighting, play with the latest gear, become addicted to lenses, congregate with some of the best visual artists in the world and um…did I mention play with the latest gear?   Seriously, one of the areas that aren’t talked about as much are the roles of being a Director. And not just of the Photography portions. Those consist of commanding the Gaffer, G&E crews, working with makeup artists for the best portrait shots or working with production design to setup lighting. No, I mean the act of Directing in its rawest most potent form: communication.

Like many nerds, I am—or WAS mostly an introvert. I’d stick to the lunch room or library drawing comic pages, thinking of great martial arts stories, creating game designs and level layouts and become excited at the thought of going to the arcades later that afternoon. But, that doesn’t tend to lead to a very social-able lifestyle beyond a small clique of friends usually. Me- Tremor Team 12. 03   Flash forward to today, as a filmmaker you’re forced to overcome shyness unless you don’t mind your project failing in production. Communication is such a powerful tool that it can totally shape the scope of your actors’ performances, and how the images are painted on camera. Essentially, this is a nerd’s PARADISE. From my own recent experiences, not only have I learned to express what I want as passionately as I can, but I’ve learned to call onto my old creative experiences as a visual artist, a young storyteller within game design and action scene scenarios from martial arts direction.

Un-colored still frame from Temore Team 12

This is probably one of the strongest areas where being a total geek can cause you to succeed. Think about it, we have the fanatical drive, technical know-how and obsession for information and tinkering. So if you can tap into that zone, (the zone of a total child, really) and express yourself to the actors, you’ve crushed it! What’s more is that I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some very strong Directors and watch them work, watch them communicate and gain some insight on how to express an element that you’re going for in a variety of situations with a variety of different types of people.

Directing isn’t about having an insanely grand vision — for some directors it absolutely is and we get some really cool-looking movies — but directing is all about like communication. If you can communicate to somebody else, if you can communicate a thought, you can direct, it’s that simple. – Kevin Smith

ME filming Wayne Barret- by Anthony Geathers - ABG Photography Me- Tremor Team 12. 02   It’s been a very, VERY crazy journey as of late. Thank you guys all for so much support! A special thanks goes out to great friends in Richard O’ Sullivan from Lost Colony Productions (for being a great friend and creative partner through self-funded filmmaking ventures) , Shane Hurlbut, ASC from Hurlbut Visuals (for being that forward thinker we as young Cinematographers need and personally helping me in times of creative need, Bob Primes, ASC (for giving me the best advice that kick-started my career) and Michael Grady (for inviting me to observe and sit in the production DIT for the upcoming Annie remake film).

Here’s some latest work from a variety of different projects within the last 5 months. Some are still in production.

THIAGO poster image

Thiago The Pitbull and a love affair with Coconut Creek

YESTERYEAR

3 years ago I was granted the opportunity to film one of MMA’s finest superstars in Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves, who was at the time considered to be one of the top 10 most dangerous competitors in his weight class (170lb welterweight).   Years later, Thiago has suffered 4 different surgeries: one for each pectoral muscle and 2 on his other appendages. Consider that most fighters don’t come back from major surgeries, let alone FOUR. And, it probably didn’t help much that we haven’t heard from Thiago in the ring for two years straight. Thiago stretching   EVOLUTION

Flash forward to today, I’ve wanted to revise my original video for a long while now and wanted to do this with Pitbull’s kick back into the MMA spotlight in a major way. Thiago smiling   So here we are, in Thiago The Pitbull. A short film that delves into his psyche a lil’ bit and takes us into one of my favorite (okay, maybe my absolute favorite) MMA team and gym, American Top Team, located in Florida. Since I needed a vacation from NYC’s schizophrenic weather conditions, heading to Coconut Creek was a God-send. Thiago about to kick   Mike Dolce was also over at ATT for Thiago’s training camp to keep his meals and scheduling in check. Other than filming both of them, we were able to just simply hang out, which I picked up alotta’ pointers on what types of cooking utensils to use, all the way to watching Mike setup the meal piece by piece. Most guys suffer themselves steadily throughout the last week to cut weight, but Dolce had Thiago eating regularly 6-times per day. Did it work? Well, Thiago came into the event weighing 171lbs, 1lb over the weight limit of the class itself. That’s some proof for ya’! Thiago group photo Hosted by the great guys at SB Nation/Vox Media, this baby is a 15-minute short film, but you can also check it out in smaller 3-Chapter chunks. Just in case y’know, if you’re too busy and need your violent inspiration in bite sizes.   Enjoy and leave me some feedback, whether you love it or wish for me to kick rocks bare footed :)

http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2014/4/17/5625038/thiago-alves-discusses-return-to-ufc-action-after-two-year-absence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m_LrX97A_I&list=PLoxunllY4VqMxROXPra-pdapq7PRnVZA8

Joe FINALE WITHIN PAGES

PREVIEW: Joe Lozito – FINALE WITHIN PAGES

Three years ago, Maksim Gelman arrives in the Subway with knife in hand, caked with blood, ready to continue the trail he’s begun with a woman he’s stalked a day earlier. This time around he meets up with Joseph Lozito, a hardworking man with a strong love of combat sports, now headed to work in a botched up weekend commute toward the West Side of the City.

What ensues is a story suited for most Hollywood films: Gelman screaming, “You’re gonna die!” attacks Joe with his knife viciously, ripping open his face. Instead of sitting as a victim, Joe takes his life into his own hands, wrestles Gelman to the Subway car floor and apprehends him until the police arrive. Seconds later, Joe sits down and continues to bleed profusely on the floor, slipping closer to death, while nearby officers simply watch and provide little assistance to help this local hero recover.

Three years later, with physical scars healed, Joseph continues his battle but with the New York City Police Dept itself. Destined to leave him in the cold without any support whatsoever, he now struggles with legal battles with the authorities who stood by needlessly as a mass murderer went mad in mass transit.

This is a preview from the upcoming film where Joe sits down with me once again and shares what’s been happening since that day, the embrace he’s received from the combat sports community and the continuing struggle with the City’s authorities in their effort to dismiss his efforts in stopping a maddened killer on the loose.

 

UPDATE:
To see the original piece I’ve done with Joe 3 years ago, check out the video below:

Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-15-14)

The Wat

As a tiny teaser, a few images from my recent shoot at Kru Phil Nurse’s gym, The Wat. I’ve been wanting to film at his school for years now, so when he invited me downtown I didn’t hesitate at the opportunity.
Hope you enjoy. I’ll be adding a few more this weekend as the color work becomes more developed.

These shots by the way, were done with the Contax Zeiss Planar 50mm (1.6x) f/1.7

Original LOG file from RAW DNG file:

Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-24-16)

 

…and with a rec709 LUT:

Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (rec709)And finally fully graded:
Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-06-07) Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-11-10) Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-15-14) Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-18-05) Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-24-23) Phil Nurse PROMO (RAW EDIT TIFF) (0-00-27-03)

IntlBeautyShow.031

Beauty Insanity @ Intl Beauty Show

While it wasn’t New York Fashion Week, there was a great amount of beauty in the air. Farouk Systems (you may know them from my previous work for Biosilk at the DVF 2013 show) invited me down once again for the International Beauty Show, held at the Jacob Javits Center.

The Farouk Systems team put on a crazy show on stage, getting the crowd interactive and hyped, pulling people up for hair demonstrations and having a great time with pumping music! I worked as a documentary still photographer as a change of pace, capturing as many grand and intimate moments to tell the story of the event.IntlBeautyShow.001IntlBeautyShow.002IntlBeautyShow.003IntlBeautyShow.004IntlBeautyShow.005IntlBeautyShow.006IntlBeautyShow.007IntlBeautyShow.008IntlBeautyShow.009IntlBeautyShow.010IntlBeautyShow.011IntlBeautyShow.012IntlBeautyShow.013IntlBeautyShow.014IntlBeautyShow.015IntlBeautyShow.016IntlBeautyShow.017IntlBeautyShow.018IntlBeautyShow.019IntlBeautyShow.020IntlBeautyShow.021IntlBeautyShow.022IntlBeautyShow.023IntlBeautyShow.024IntlBeautyShow.025IntlBeautyShow.026IntlBeautyShow.027IntlBeautyShow.036IntlBeautyShow.028IntlBeautyShow.029IntlBeautyShow.030IntlBeautyShow.031IntlBeautyShow.032IntlBeautyShow.033IntlBeautyShow.035IntlBeautyShow.034