Just back in town and reporting on a video business trip.


I'm coming home and on Sunday my kid is heading out to go visit a college in Pennsylvania. My how things change. As a parent I'm scared to put my (18 year old) baby alone on a plane but at the same time I figure he's smarter and more resourceful than I've ever been and he has the full financial power and backing of his two parents behind him....

I headed out to Chicago yesterday because my client had the opportunity to add a powerful testimonial to a video we are creating for them from a huge, national client. I'm always game for a "shock and awe" endorsement. 

The idea was that I'd be shooting an interview of the big company's security V.P.  at their H.Q. and we might also be able to pick up some additional B-roll for our video. 

Here's how I packed: In my Think Tank Retrospective 30 bag I packed two Panasonic GH3's (best under $10K video cameras I know of) a couple of Panasonic Zoom lenses, the 40 and 60mm high speed Olympus Pen FT half frame lenses and the Olympus 12-50mm lens. I brought along about 100 gigabytes of fast SDXC memory too. One of the most important things I packed in the camera bag was the Sennheiser wireless microphone system. With fresh batteries. 

In the Tenba rolling Roady case I packed three Manfrotto Nano light stands, a Gitzo tripod with a Manfrotto fluid head, Four Fotodiox 312AS battery powered LED light panels, a collapsible, translucent, white umbrella, extra microphones and cables and a mixer. 

I also brought along a small backpack with a light weight monopod and a Leica ball head in case the Tenba case did not arrive and I was reduced to window light and a monopod bungied to a high backed chair...

We left Austin on a Delta flight and it may have been one of the newest jets I've ever flown on. We connected through Denver and everything was as perfect as a Swiss clock. We arrived right on time and headed to our hotel. On the way my client and I got a text which let us know that because of legal issues and corporate constraints we would not be able to do our interview on site. We arranged for a suite at the hotel and moved our interview there. 

I put three lights ( the Fotodiox lights miraculously all worked) into the translucent umbrella as my main light. I used my remaining panel, bounced off the ceiling, as a fill light and used the soft, late afternoon diffused light coming through a set of white curtained French doors as my back light. Exposure: ISO 400, 30fps, 1/60th, f2.8 as the primary exposure. Custom white balanced with a Lastolite white/gray target. 

I used one of my Panasonic GH3s as my "A-roll" camera with the 40mm 1.4 lens on it. I used the Sennheiser wireless mics as my main audio input source, placing the lavaliere mic on the placket of my interviewee's shirt.  I set up a second camera on the conference table about 75 degrees off the angle of my main camera. That GH3 had the Olympus 12-50mm lens on it and I used it just about fully zoomed to its widest angle. The shots I got from this camera show the interviewee using his hands and they also show the context of the space. 

I put a small, Azden shotgun microphone into the hot shoe of the b-roll camera to record audio which would work as a scratch track for multi-camera audio waveform matching in FCPX and also as a back up for the audio from the "A" camera. It worked very, very well and will give me 50% more editing opportunities. 

My clients are good ones. That's been a blessing in my career: good clients.  They actually (on their own accord) left the room while I conducted nearly 45 minutes of interview. And I got great, great stuff. Afterwards client entertained client while I tore down the lighting and repacked my cases. I did a quick QC check before we released the client back into the wild  and the QC check included listening to samples of all the audio as well as checking the visual footage. 

I used a Tenba Rolling Roadie case as my main lighting and tripod case, the Think Tank Retrospective 30 (which I bought last Fall to take to Berlin) and a small, leather backpack I bought in Geneva, Switzerland in 1995 to carry everything. Mostly painless. 

My client put me in a five star suite last night and after breakfast this morning we retraced our steps back to Austin. My Graphic Designer wife greeted me with Motion Graphics samples that were perfect and now all that remains of the project is music selection, editing, a rough edit approval and then more editing and then a final edit and finally a final edit. So far the project is exceeding my expectations. 

What would I do different next time? Not a damn thing. We were fast, fluid and flexible and we got the job done with no hysteria or pretention. I have two different post processing people working on the still jobs from earlier in the week and the week before and I'm already in the process of packing for the kind of still photography project I love on Monday. Making environmental portraits of 16 people at an architecture firm.... love it. 

The rest of the week is already reserved for video editing and meetings. A wonderful stepping stone to garnering the next project.

Video and Still Imaging. Busy and billing every day. And loving it. 


Jeffrey Minch said...

Great read. Thanks.

Jim said...

An observation on your unease over sending your 18 year old son off alone. My kids are both inn their 40s and that unease still hasn't fully left. Yes, they are smarter and more resourceful than I was at that age (be it 18 or 40) but that sense of parental responsibility never quite dies. Based on my experience though I have to say, your son will be fine. :-)

thequietphotographer said...

It s always interesting to read how to work, even for pure amateur as myself. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Rosiak said...

From everything that you've written about Ben, I'd have to say that he has his head screwed on right, and has the good sense most people take a few more decades to achieve. (If ever!)

Is the apple staying close to the tree, or do his interests tend away from the world of our magical light-boxes?