That's a wrap for the holidays!

After 4 weeks of shooting, we've wrapped for the holidays on At the Edge of Time, a science fiction time travel movie.  We got to shoot in a few cool locations and even though the weather threatened to rain, we managed to stay dry on our exterior days.  Once the holidays are over, it's back to work for me.

Special thanks to my 1st AC Nick Forte for the killer job he did despite the challenge of pulling focus on still photo lenses, which is tough in the best of cases and near impossible in some of the wide open, telephoto shots we did.  He was solid the whole time.  Below are some screengrabs from the .R3D files.


Trammell Crow additional shoot

I've been very busy the past few weeks with shooting a science fiction feature.  During my two days off this weekend, I went up to Seattle to shoot a few more elements for the Trammell Crow job I did six months ago.  According to the weather, we were supposed to have rain, but got lucky and managed to only get lightly sprinkled on for a couple minutes at most.

We shot on Epic Dragon again with Zeiss Super Speeds.  For this segment, we wanted to capture the movement and energy of Seattle, so rigged the camera up on a DJI Ronin gimbal so we could move freely without the burden of a Steadicam.  The Ronin worked nicely (this was my first shoot using one) and the client was so pleased with what we were getting that they trusted us to get the last few shots and left early.  All in all, a good shoot.  I love the Seattle area and wish I had a little more time up there to explore, but had to get back to Los Angeles to wrap up the final week of the feature.

Here's a quick little peek at a couple timelapse shots:


Space Nebula FX elements

Today I got to experiment a bit and shoot some practical elements to create a space nebula.  In an age when CGI is over-used, it's a bit fun to get dirty and make my own practical FX elements.  No post processing or enhancing here folks.  Straight out of the camera.



It's been a while since my last post.  I just saw a rough cut of the Ed Tullett - Malignant music video this week and am pretty happy with it.  We have a couple little insert elements we want to shoot, so I'll try to knock those out this week.  There are a few abstract FX shots I've had on my list to try to achieve, so I'll be giving a couple of them a try.  I've also been at work trying to line up some feature film shoots early next year, and at least one or two are looking fairly promising.

T-minus one week until we go into production on the next movie I'm shooting, a sci-fi feature about a time traveling madman and the women who are trying to stop him.  Should be an interesting shoot with a very minimal crew, so it's going to be challenging at times.  With only one week to go, I'm busy getting the final equipment items rounded up and will be doing a final lighting prep later in the week.  We'll be shooting on RED Epic with Canon/Rokinon EF lenses.  Watching Interstellar last week gave me a couple ideas for some shots in the space scenes.  This shoot should take me up right until the Christmas holidays, so it'll pretty much finish out my year.  I'll make sure to post up some set pictures once shooting begins.


Space Command: Redemption, that's a wrap!

Yesterday we wrapped the second leg of shooting on Space Command: Redemption and that is a wrap on principle photography.  We shot 13 first unit days, 7 second unit days, and now we wait for editing and post to see if there are any pickups that are needed.  We had quite a few sweltering hot days, but made it through.

It was a pleasure to work with the many talented actors who came on board: Ethan McDowell, Sara Maraffino, Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Falling Skies), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate: Atlantis), Bill Mumy (Babylon 5, Lost in Space), Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5), Bryan McClure, Bruce Boxleitner (TRON, Babylon 5, TRON: Legacy), and Michael Harney (Orange is the New Black, True Detective, Deadwood).


Space Command: Redemption in production

I've been busy the last couple weeks with prepping and shooting leg two of Space Command: Redemption.  We just wrapped day 4 and things are going well.  We're getting some really good footage.  The first leg we shot was fairly static, as it had a ton of visual effects and needed a more or less locked camera for the sake of not driving our VFX team insane.  So on this part, I've been taking advantage of us being on sets to add some movement and energy to the shots.  On our bridge set, I have the camera moving at all times, putting our Dana Dolly to good use.  Today we shot out a corridor of the ship and we brought in my Steadicam guy (and 2nd Unit DP), Scott Baker, who did a fantastic job.

It's been four long, hot days and we have six more days coming up,  five on set and one on location.  I'm tired and glad we have a 14 hour turnaround today, but I'm excited to see what else we shoot.  The shoot has been a challenge, but we are making our way through it and getting some great stuff.  Props to my fantastic G&E team.


Ed Tullett - Malignant music video

Flew out to Chicago this past week to shoot a music video for independent artist Ed Tullett.  The weather forecast wasn't too promising, but we ended up having good weather for our shoot.  It was a sunset and night shoot in the woods, with us packing in all our lighting and power from a distant parking lot, so keeping the gear to a minimum while still lighting up a forest was a challenge.

We ended up picking up a couple generators (giving us 4 20-amp circuits) and I lit primarily with 3 2K Junior Moles (backlight and forest background) and a 1K Baby Fresnel through some half white diffusion for our key light.  One of the two generators ended up giving us issues, running for 10-15 minutes at a time before shutting off (with a 5 minute turnaround before it would start up again).  We managed to work around the problem, though it added an hour or two to our day.

We shot on fast Canon EF glass (F1.3) to maximize the small amount of light we had.  Camera was a RED Epic Dragon and we shot 48 FPS 6K 2.37 Scope format at 800 ISO for the majority of the shoot.

Written, produced and directed by Daniel Sather. http://danielsather.com/


Anomalies teaser

A friend of mine was working on a sci-fi/action webseries idea and needed some help developing it a bit further.  I gladly agreed to help and we got to the point where we decided to shoot a teaser trailer to help potential investors get an idea for the look and feel we were going for.  So we put together a one day shoot and shot a bunch of little scenes.  The short teaser turned out pretty well and should be useful as my friend pitches her idea.  The working title is Anomalies, though the actual title may change down the road. I directed the trailer and shot on RED Epic MX with Canon EF lenses.


ZEFR launch party

Single day shoot in a parking lot.  We had a 12x12 silk that we used to bounce sun back at the actors and virtually the whole things was shot at 300FPS.  I had never had the chance to do the whole Mentos in Coke thing before, so it was a lot of fun seeing the geysers of soda exploding everywhere.  Shot on RED Epic with Canon zooms.


San Diego Comic Con 2014 recap

This was my first time at Comic Con and I had a great time.  I attended every day (including preview night) and there was plenty to see and do.  Lots of great costumes, tons of beautiful art, and huge quantities of people to meet.

I had two projects I shot/am shooting (Nobility and Space Command: Redemption) with panels at Comic Con, but unfortunately they had overlapping schedules so I couldn't attend the entirety of either one.  I caught the first 40 minutes of Nobility's panel and then made my way quickly to the opposite end of the convention center to catch the last 30 minutes of Space Command.  Both rooms were pretty full and the projects seemed to be very well received.  The Nobility panel was especially fun, as Christopher Judge kept making everyone laugh and there was an incredible camaraderie between the entire cast.

Both projects also had booth signings that attracted large crowds with long lines.  I can't wait to go back for Comic Con 2015!

Here is a picture of the crowd at the Nobility panel:

And a full room at the Space Command panel:


Space Command: Redemption

Alright, I'm about to head off to San Diego Comic-Con and thought I'd squeeze in one more pertinent update, as it has a panel there this year.  Earlier this year I worked on a science fiction feature film called Space Command: Redemption.  We shot the first part of the film in April and the editor has been preparing a sneak peek trailer for their panel at San Diego Comic-Con.  This past week, they decided to do a few pick-up shots on our nearly completed bridge set to round out the trailer.  I've been extremely busy shooting the pilot for Nobility, but managed to coordinate shooting the Space Command pick-ups on my one day off.

We only had a few lights, but fortunately I've been working closely with our ship designer and builder to integrate as much lighting into the design of the ship as possible.  This allowed us to shoot the pick-up shots relatively quickly and with a minimal crew (basically just my gaffer and I) and a very small lighting package.  I was quite pleased with the look we got.  The directors asked for Star Trek Into Darkness but with a less flat look to the lighting.  I think we got a pretty close look to what they were asking for and we managed to do it for just a little bit less money than J.J. was working with.

I'm looking forward to the show going back into production (probably in late August or early September) so that we can shoot the final two-thirds of the movie.


Nobility (continued)

After another nine days of principal photography, we wrapped on Nobility.  This was my first full two camera shoot (three cameras on one day!) and I'm starting to see why some DPs hire camera operators for all the cameras.  It can be a bit tricky to know what exactly all the cameras are getting when I'm busy operating one of them and not able to closely supervise the others.

Lighting was a big challenge on this project, as the sets kept changing and I'd come back in the morning and have to light a completely new space.  Our lights were minimal and I had no gaffer or G&E crew, so it was all me.  We managed to make it work and even wrapped early a couple days, partly in thanks to our director and 1st AD running a tight ship.  They kept things moving, but were always willing to give me an extra minute or two to move lighting around if I needed it, which I greatly appreciated.

We shot RED Scarlet for most of the shoot, with a little bit of Epic Dragon tossed in and we even dusted off a RED One MX for a couple days.  Due to it being a low budget affair, I couldn't afford to hire my normal 1st ACs so we got a revolving door of random guys.  I ended up pulling my own focus for a good chunk of the time (as the ACs were pretty green), but we also got a couple really good guys that I would certainly consider hiring on future gigs.

It was a pleasure working with our very talented cast and Walter Koenig was hilarious.  I'm curious to see what they do with this in post and am looking forward to seeing the San Diego Comic Con trailer they are cutting for the Nobility panel.  This, along with Space Command (which I'll post about soon), makes two projects that I'm shooting that have panels at San Diego Comic-Con this year.  I'm really excited to go and check them both out.

A couple pictures here of Walter Koenig:


While We Can music video

You may be noticing a reoccurring theme: science fiction.  I seem to be shooting a lot of it these days.  Previously, I shot some elements for a music video for Jon Benton MacKinder's last music video.  So when he had another video coming up with a complex fight scene, he gave me a call.

We shot this on a Canon 5D MkII with Canon zooms.  I pretty much lived on the 24-70mm, as we had very limited time in our location and that lens gets me just about any focal length I could need.  Lighting was a very bare minimum (seems to be another reoccurring theme) and I had to black out the eight or so large bay windows that lined an entire wall of our location.  Fortunately, they had pre-built panels that allowed me to block out that whole wall fairly easily, as I had no gaffer or grips to help me.

The video is still in post and I was unavailable to shoot the other shoot days, so it will be interesting to see how it all comes together.  It's always enlightening to see how three different cinematographers shooting styles combine to make one video.  Here's a low resolution screengrab from the segment I shot.  Sorry for the low quality, as I didn't have a chance to grab anything from the shoot.


A Change in Direction

It's always a bummer when you make something, only to have your efforts fall by the wayside.  I shot a pair of music videos that were a lot of fun, but ultimately left on the cutting room floor at the end of the day when management decided to rebrand and the aforementioned videos no longer fit with the new marketing direction they were taking.  Oh well.  We had some great costumes, sets, and production team, and I thought we got some great stuff.  But sometimes that stuff just doesn't make it out the door like I would have hoped.  Shot with RED One MX on Canon EF lenses.  Below are a couple framegrabs from the music videos that could have been.