Making a Murderer credits

So, earlier this year I did some opening credits work that I couldn't reveal until now. Okay, I really didn't contribute much to the opening credits, as I shot three sequences but apparently two got cut from the edit. In the end, I only managed about a second and a half of screen time. Nothing to really get too excited over...but it's still cool to have contributed to a Netflix original. Here's a screengrab from the glorious second and a half that I shot!

My contribution: the police officer.
At least the next show that I shot opening credits elements for should feature a lot more stuff I did than this one. That show premieres in just under a month, so I'll be sure to share some screen grabs from it as well.


Guitar session shoot

My actor friend Ralph Guzzo was looking to add a guitar session to his acting demo reel, as his agent had requested it. So I got together with Ralph for a little jam session; him on guitar, me on camera, and Jim Zicree recording sound. We knocked out a simple lighting setup and went though a few different music styles with various coverage: close ups on the guitar to show his finger work; mediums to show that it was indeed him playing the guitar; and a couple wides to vary up the edit.

Shot on RED Epic with some vintage Olympus glass using an EF adapter ring on the lenses.

Syncing up the audio and rendering out 2k files from the 5K R3D masters.


Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter pickup day

Today we went out to the desert to shoot a couple pickup scenes with actresses Tracy Birdsall and Marilyn Ghigliotti. It was a pretty light day, with only a couple pages of dialog to get through, but the location was pretty fantastic.
360° panorama
Setting up a 100mm two-shot.
Checking out the mine next to our shoot location.


Heirloom short film: a few more screengrabs

And here are a few more screengrabs from Heirloom. These are ungraded, so may not totally represent the final look of the film. This is with the DragonColor2 and RED Gamma4 profiles. I feel like the RG4 profile is much too aggressive in the darker parts of the image, crushing the blacks too quickly and mushing up the darker mid-tones, but for the sake of quick screengrabs, I suppose it's okay. I would have exported using RED Gamma 3, but for some reason couldn't get the new build of REDCine I was using to let me select RG3.


Heirloom short film wrapped

As I mentioned recently, I'm shooting the short film Heirloom. We finished out the last two days this past weekend. It was directed by Scottish director Marianna Palka and we had a very similar sense of taste in shots, often coming to the same conclusions independently. While it was a lot of coverage and a small crew, the shots were well planned out and we managed to finish early almost every day, so that made life easier.

There was a lot of use of mirrors, which always makes things a bit more complicated, but it was a lot of fun coming up with interesting compositions that utilized them. The film also featured some period elements at night, so all our lighting had to be motivated by pre-electricity sources, which I enjoyed. We shot on RED Epic MX with Sony CineAlta lenses. I'm quite pleased with the lenses, as they offer fine detail while smoothing out the digital edge to the sensor.


Titan pickup day

I had scheduled a day to grab some location shots for my Titan teaser trailer and finally got some time this last week. My DP for the first day was on a job in Texas, so I shot this myself. Having sold off the RED Dragon I used on the first part, I opted for a Sony A7s with some old Olympus glass and an EF adaptor for this stuff. The lenses had some nice flare and I'm pretty happy with the organic edge they added to the Sony. The Sony was shot in Slog-2 (Picture Profile 7).

The plan had been to mount the A7s on a DJI Ronin M for some super smooth, match cut follow shots to contrast with the handheld nature of the spaceship footage. The Ronin, however, ended up having a major issue and wasn't smoothing out the shots. The Sony has major rolling shutter issues if trying to walk handheld, but I did my best to walk smoothly. It wasn't perfect, but for my no-budget trailer I'm shooting, the footage got the job done.

My friend Jim Zicree also came out with his DJI Phantom3 drone. With the sun going down, we knocked out a couple quick shots that ended up working well. We all wish we could have had a bit more time to play with the drone, but the Ronin gimbal issues at the beginning of the day ate up a lot of time and set us behind schedule. Fortunately, we got all the shots I was after and they're what I needed for this trailer.

Great aerial shot as the sun went down.

Sort-of-a-match-cut shot #1.

Sort-of-a-match-cut shot #2.

Sort-of-a-match-cut shot #3.

One more drone shot as the sunlight was dying.


Heirloom short film day 1

Yesterday we shot day 1 of 3 for a short film entitled Heirloom. I teamed up once again with actress and producer Laura Monaco (Mystic Cosmic Patrol) to shoot this. Our first day consisted mainly of a single location at a cool little vintage store, with some additional photography in a car and an establishing exterior shot at another location. This next weekend we'll shoot the two remaining days of principle photography.

We shot on the RED Epic MX with Sony CineAlta primes. I brought on my trusty AC, Nick Forte, who always does a great job nailing the focus and is an all around good guy. Here are a few BTS pictures from the crew.



Stan Lee's Comikaze 2015

This was a pretty busy convention for me this year. Space Command had a panel where they debuted a new trailer with some of the completed FX work and rough color correction. Part of the cast was there for a Q&A session and panel. They also talked about their plans for more upcoming films.

I also attended another panel for Triborn, a project that I'm discussing coming on board to shoot. It's an original science fiction property and has some great names attached. For being a small, independent production, there was a pretty good sized crowd in attendance.

The big event, however, was the premiere of Nobility. The guys have really been working hard in post to get this thing finished and we were able to screen a near-final cut of the film. It was well received and there were a lot of people there to see it. Here's what people were saying on Twitter after the showing:

Comikaze was a good convention and it was a real pleasure to have participated in a couple of the projects that were featured there. Hopefully I'll be back again next year with more projects to share with the world.

Arriving at the show!
Space Command panel.
Nobility invite only panel, with Star Trek's Walter Koenig.
Nobility screening Q&A
The crowd is gathering for the Nobility premiere screening.
Waiting for the Nobility premiere to start.


Filmfax Magazine April 2015

Earlier this year, Space Command was featured in the April 2015 issue of Filmfax magazine, complete with a multi-page article as well as the main cover story and image. It's an honor to share space with Star Trek's Leonard Nemoy, who also made the cover.

The article mostly covers the writing and directing side, as well as post VFX plans. It doesn't really talk about the shooting process at all. Nonetheless, it's still cool to see a project I shot get some love in an actual print magazine.


Sci Fi Magazine Dec 2015

Another project I shot made it into Sci Fi magazine, making it back to back issues my projects have been in (it's a bimonthly magazine, so there is no November issue). Sure, it's just a short little blurb, but it's still cool getting in a magazine. That marks the third time this year a project I've shot has gotten the magazine treatment. Pretty cool!

No, I didn't shoot Doctor Who. Maybe next time.

Nobility article!


A few more Titan shots

Here are a few more shots from the Titan teaser trailer. I have a rough cut assembled, but still have a few locations shots to grab. I'll be re-grading everything, as I just built an initial quick look to get a feel for it.


Titan teaser trailer

Yesterday, I had a change of pace and directed a teaser trailer as a proof of concept for a short film (though I have additional story elements already in place so I could easily turn it into a feature). My friend had built a set for another movie that I was set to shoot when the production suddenly shut down and the movie was canceled. Since the set was due to be dismantled at the end of this month, we thought it a shame it hadn't been used and decided to shoot a small project on it.

With little warning that we had access to the set before being taken down, this shoot was kind of a last minute thing, so rather than having auditions for casting, I went with some actor friends of mine that I knew would be great. I wrote a short trailer script based on an idea I've been tossing around for a while, and got my actors all on board. Then I spent this past week tracking down wardrobe, generating character breakdowns for the actors, and drawing up storyboards. Nick Forte, my usual 1st AC (and sometimes camera operator), does DP work as well and we get along great, so I brought him on to shoot this for me.

We had a good time, got some great footage, and even finished out the day early (just barely). I had sent Nick some reference screengrabs from Aliens and Prometheus as the look I was going for, kind of an old, run down look with pools of light, and he did a great job giving me the dark, oppressive lighting I wanted and he got it done with a two man crew and minimal G&E kit. When I wasn't busy working with the actors, I also pitched in a hand with lighting.

Shot on RED Dragon, 5.5K WS @ 6:1 compression. A set of T2 Sony CineAlta PL lenses let us make the most of the limited lighting available. Screenshots have a quick grade on them, but may not be the final look.


Starship: Apocalypse premiere

Last night was the premiere of the science fiction feature film Starship: Apocalypse, sequel to last year's Starship: Rising. Once again, it debuted at the Action On Film festival. It was interesting to watch this, as I shot the movie almost 3 years ago. I also enjoyed catching up with some of the cast and crew that I haven't seen in quite some time, some of them since we originally shot! Good times.


September update

It's been a busy past couple weeks. The past weekend was Long Beach Comic Con, where an upcoming sci-fi feature Triborn had a panel. While they are still early on in pre production, I've been penciled in to shoot the movie. We still have a ways to go (Kickstarter campaign, raising additional private funding, etc), but already there is a pretty solid cast in place and a couple of possible additions that would be fantastic. The panel went well and I met a producer afterward that is interested in working with me.

The past couple weeks I've also been prepping to shoot my own little project, a teaser trailer for a film that I'm working on writing and planning on directing. I won't be DPing this, as I don't want to wear too many hats, but am leaving that job in the very capable hands of a friend of mine. Everything is coming together and I have a great cast. We'll be shooting that this coming Monday.

Lastly, I shot some plate elements today for a Sony PSA today. We used the RED Epic Dragon, which I work with all the time, but I also had the pleasant opportunity to shoot with a Canon CN-E cine prime set, the first time I've used these lenses. I had read an interview with Homeland DP David Klein, ASC about his choice to shoot with them on that show and have wanted to try them out since. I have to say, I was impressed. The lenses are nice and sharp, but not harshly so. The build quality is nice, with good mechanics and feel to the iris and focus rings. All of the shoot was on greenscreen today, so I didn't get to test them out under too many lighting scenarios, but I was happy with their performance. Hopefully I'll get more chances to see what these lenses are really capable of.

I can't show you what I was shooting, but I can show you what was in another direction of the stage. ;)


Sci Fi Magazine Oct 2015

The current issue of Sci-Fi Magazine features an article that talks about two feature films I shot recently. The cover is here:

Sadly, I didn't shoot the movie that made the cover. But within this magazine are a couple movies I did shoot.

The article interviews actress/producer Tracy Birdsall, who starred in and produced both At the Edge of Time and Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter. She was a real pleasure to work with and we had a good time. The October 2015 issue of Sci Fi Magazine is available at most major magazine retailers (Barnes and Noble, Frys, Hastings, many comic book stores, etc).

Hey, we got a full page!


August catch up!

I've been busy the past few weeks and just wanted to get a little update in. My own project was coming along nicely, but hit a snag. My location may have suddenly become unavailable. Unfortunately, the whole script was based on this location (in fact, I wrote the script only because this set was sitting around unused and I hated to see it go to waste), so I may have to scrap the script and work on something else instead. Oh well, that's how it goes some times.

This past week I DP'd a PSA shoot for a big client. I wasn't allowed to get any screenshots and I can't say much about it until it airs, but I can say this, it features one of my favorite subjects: books! We shot on my RED Dragon with Sony CineAlta lenses, using mostly bounced natural light and some Kino for fill. The clients were extremely happy with what we got.

Finally, today Blackmagic Design had a conference that I attended that discussed their workflow, from acquisition (using Blackmagic's own cameras) and FX (Fusion), to the new, all-encompassing workflow with DaVinci Resolve 12 (ingestion, editing, coloring, and final print). I was hoping we'd get a peek at footage from their new 4.6K sensor, but they didn't have anything to show us. I'm interested in perhaps acquiring one of the new URSA Mini's, but it looks like I'll have to keep waiting to see if the new sensor is all it's cracked up to be.

Some nice brochures. Also available (but not pictured here), complimentary food and beverages!

This was the Blackmagic conference room when I walked in. Twenty minutes later it was full and people were standing in the back.