A collection of experiences from the field, the studio, and the production suite.
It was another exciting fall at The Mountain Workshops, this year in the beautiful town of Cynthiana, Ky. The workshops are hosted annually by the Western Kentucky University photojournalism program, each year setting up shop in a different town in Kentucky. Since 1976, the workshops have documented these communities through the various mediums of visual journalism.
This year I worked with Adam Wolffbrandt on a short documentary that sought to tell the story of Harrison County and Cynthiana. We were given exactly a week to produce, shoot, and edit the piece, which premiered as the closing video for the final night of the workshop.
We spent our mornings in the countryside picking up B-roll and our afternoons interviewing various residents. Our nights were spent culling through hours and hours of interviews; starting to craft a focused story about the town. Adam and I wanted this year's piece to have a relaxed, natural feel. We opted to interview people in slightly more casual settings; after football practice and between customers at the barber shop. This gave us great flexibility with our timeline for the week and allowed us to capture some scenes we otherwise may have missed. We opened the piece with the local radio bit to set the scene and wandered between characters who could speak to the true essence of Cynthiana.
You can view the final film here.
One of my favorite things about working with the team at Beam Imagination is the variety of the work that hits my to-do list. I can spend one day in front of a screen working on structuring an edit and the next day be out in the field on a shoot. For this project, Monday Night Brewing was looking for some fresh content for their social platforms to debut their new IPA, Lundi.
Cameron, Pouya, and I wanted desperately to pull off a beer pour shot, so we got to work on building a rig to let the camera rotate around a stationary object. With a few C-stands and arms I was able to mount the camera so that it could complete a 180 degree rotation around our beer glass. Next, we rigged up some Quasars to a back rail to create a bit of a parallax effect and got to work on the pouring.
What followed was about two hours of pouring beer and cleaning up said beer. With each reset we would adjust the angle of the glass, the speed of the pour, and the speed of the camera move as we searched for the perfect shot. After lots of trial and error, we landed on a take that we were happy with.
You can view the final result here.
In July I worked on a project that combined my love of filmmaking and cycling: Sidetracked. I was looking to produce a film that had a bit more range than a typical cycling video, which tends to be shot from the rear of the rider. We wanted something that showed off a little more of the city as well.
I called up three of my good friends, Austin, Cameron, and Colton, and we got to work. Across four shoot days we captured content in locations ranging from an abandoned gym to some aqueducts on the west side of the city. For many of the rolling shots I pulled our camera trailer from my bike and Cameron and Pouya controlled the camera and coordinated shots from a chase vehicle.
I chose to keep the camera as low and close to the riders as possible to get an intimate feeling of the experience of cycling. The close proximity to the cyclists allowed us to shoot most shots wider than 24mm which really helped with the feeling of being right next to the riders. With a few shoots in various other locations we were able to round out our coverage.
In the edit, black and white felt like the natural option and Cella Dwella’s “Good Dwellas” was a favorite for the track. At the end of the day, we walked away with a short film that shows off what true fun cycling in Atlanta can be.
You can view the final product here.
This was a fun one. Monday Night Brewing was looking for content for the re-formulation and subsequent re-release of their popular Blind Pirate IPA. Around the conference table at Beam Imagination we decided to go for a visual engineering approach and produce a shot that featured blood oranges, the beer’s featured ingredient, stacking up to form the can.
We built up a slider rig to accomplish this feat, setting the angle in such a way that the shot begins with a frontal shot of the can and ends with a top down shot. After tons of tweaking, we were able to create a repeatable move that tracked focus through the entire range of the shot.
By programming the same move into the slider, we were able to match up shots of a beer can with a stack of blood oranges. In post, I was able to have the slices of blood oranges stack up to create the beer can.
You can view the final product here.
Enter the 48 hour film project. Two days to write, shoot, and cut a short film. As you can imagine, we didn’t sleep much. We were assigned sci-fi as our genre and worked late into the night on the first day writing our script and casting characters.
By early on day two we had characters cast, and set out to shoot any of our daylight-dependent shots. We shot for almost 14 hours, with our generator and Arri M18 as our only light source as we knocked out shots deep in the woods outside of Atlanta. After getting back to the studio around 3AM, we let our computers build proxies in preparation for the daunting all-day edit we faced in the morning.
For the edit we split into three teams, with each editor taking on a different section of the film. With each sequence complete we merged all of our projects and started encoding the final. With only moments to spare we had our project rendered out, on a flash drive, and en route to the drop-off location. Needless to say none of us made it to work on time Monday.
A weekend trip to one of the most remote places in the Southeastern United States, the Okefenokee swamp in south Georgia. The task? To capture a 250 degree starlapse in the darkest skies possible for Pouya Dianat’s Creative Mornings talk. The presentation would utilize a planetarium, allowing our clip to be displayed to its fullest potential, without the need for a VR headset or clunky VR player.
Cameron Hart and I were eaten alive by mosquitoes in a desolate clearing behind an old fish camp as we let our camera rig capture the night sky for several hours. As the sun began to rise, we packed up our gear and headed home.