3.28.2017

One More Video Project From Our Assignment in February.


Marty Robinson, Clinician. Discusses the Ottobock C-Leg. from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

In this video we interview Marty Robinson who is a clinician with expertise in fitting prosthetics. He discussed the evolution from mechanical knee/leg devices to microprocessor controlled ones.

Our primary footage of Marty was shot in 4K with the Sony A7Rii but the video was created in the 1080p space. All of the b-roll footage was shot with the Sony RX10iii camera. The microphone was a Sennheiser MKE600 suspended on a boom pole, attached to a cart.

Processed in Final Cut Pro X. Music from PremiumBeat.com


3.27.2017

A Minimalist's Approach to Video Production in The Present Moment.


The first moving pictures project in which I played a significant role was a television commercial for BookStop, Inc. (the first "category killer" book store chain) in 1985. I was the advertising agency creative director for the project which used: a television commercial, a multi-page, four color printed mailer (magazine style), radio commercials, and newspaper advertising, to open three, 100,000 square foot, retail stores in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. With my creative team we concepted the commercial and the campaign materials. I wrote the direct mail as well as the TV, radio and newspaper ads. We hired producer/director, Bruce Maness, to handle the television commercial production. 

As creative director for a big advertising campaign you should be involved in all the major steps and creative decisions. You are responsible for maintaining a consistent "look and feel" throughout. The TV commercials were the big chunk of the media buy and, since my print production team in the agency were all consummate professionals, I paid the bulk of my day-to-day attention to the TV commercial production. 

For the spots we created an 18 foot tall replica of the monolith from the Stanley Kubrick movie, "2001, A Space Odyssey." The monolith was created almost entirely of hard cover books. We hired animators to animate a comet flying through a star field which then exploded and coalesced into a our client's logo (with a bit of shimmer added in...).  The bulk of the footage was shot at night in a rock quarry (our "surface of the moon"). It was my first experience with huge, manned, cinema cranes and also with giant generators, and enormous 18K lighting fixtures. 

The entire production was shot on 35mm film stock with an Arriflex camera and then mastered on two inch tape. It was a time consuming process and presented an almost logarithmic learning curve for me. It was my very first TV project and we were out of the gate with a $100,000+ budget. It was highly successful. The campaign generated results that far exceeded our client's sales goals; the TV, radio, and direct mail each won gold ADDY awards that year, and the most exciting thing for me

3.13.2017

A Third Installment of my Video Project from Canada. David's Story.


David Sims C-Leg Video. Rev. 1.2Z March 13, 2017 from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

I'm not sure there's ever a point at which video producers feel their editing is done. I could wake up every morning and change something on every video I've ever done. There are two things that bring projects to completion. One is budget; but if you enjoy a project budgets prove to be weak firewalls against spending more time fine tuning, or trying different approaches.

The other thing that serves as a giant stop sign in the editing process is a deadline. Hitting the deadline nearly always trumps one more set of tweaks.

As in the previous videos we used a Sony A7Rii, shooting in 4K (APS-C) mode to record the main interview footage and used a Sony RX10iii in 1080p mode to shoot our b-roll "footage."

The word, "footage" sounds a little zany to me given that there are no longer linear feet of film dragging through a film gate. We may have to revise our language around motion pictures as we head toward the future....

Everything that was lit was lit with Aputure LightStorm LED panels. Our primary microphone (into the Sony A7Rii) was a Sennheiser MKE600. We were working in the middle of an ongoing business and we could not always control background sounds but we did the best we could.

The main target for these videos is our client's website. They were not shot with theatrical distribution in mind and, in all likelihood, they will never be broadcast. The switch between black and white and color (which I also like) is part of the client's style guide.

I like David's interview because it was so personal and honest. This was a very rewarding project that put me in touch with some wonderful people. People with great stories about overcoming trauma and setbacks.

I want to do more like this.

3.07.2017

Strange Name. Nice Microphone.

Aputure Diety Shotgun Microphone. 

Lots of microphones out in the world. Picking the right one seems to be a mystery. The ultimate in subjective auditioning and shopping. In the projects that I've done in video I've found shotgun style microphones to be better solutions for most of the situations in which I've been filming. There's something about the universal lavaliere microphone that just seems acoustically "flat" to me. Used correctly I'm pretty sure that a good hyper-cardioid microphone has richer tones and better dynamic range than the tie-clip minis. 

On previous projects I've used a Rode NTG-2, an Audio Technica 835b, and, most recently, a Sennheiser MKE600, with mostly good results. If I put on the good headphones and really listen I'll have to admit that the AT has a bit of coloration that makes things sound...different. The Rode seems a bit insensitive and requires more amplification, which, in turn, adds more hiss or noise to the recordings. The Sennheiser is pretty neutral and has a lower quantity of noise in the files. It's a good, inexpensive choice. But far be it for me to leave "well enough" alone. 

I made the mistake of visiting Curtiss Judd's YouTube channel recently and watched his reviews of a number of different microphones. One that seemed particularly interesting was a microphone from an unlikely source --- the people at Aputure. 

Aputure is the same company from which I've recently sourced five great LED fixtures that I've been very happy with. Continued use has proven to me that the company's claims that the lights are in the CRI range of 96 and 98 are accurate. They are full spectrum and deliver what I need for the work I do. After working with their lights for a while I gravitated in Aputure's direction when I started looking for a replacement, 7 inch, field monitor. I've been happy with their VS-2 FineHD in every regard. I also appreciated that they came out with a firmware upgrade that allows the monitor to be used with 4k video streams now. A wonderful, after-the-sale upgrade that makes the monitor a great support tool for 4K shooters. 

When I saw the Aputure Diety microphone, watched the reviews, and saw the price ($359) I decided to try one and see if the rumors were true; would it go toe-to-toe with the standard of the industry, the Sennheiser MKH 416? Could the Diety match the quality of a $1,000 microphone? I'll probably never make the direct comparison but I keep seeing the comparison pop up on the web. Owners of the 416 usually end their reviews with a grudging approval of the Diety but with the insistence that the 416 still rules. Reviewers who own both usually find them to be very close, and reviewers who own neither seem to find them evenly matched. 

Mine came via Amazon delivery today. I unpacked it, plugged it into the Tascam 60DRii audio recorder and started listening to everything I could. The new microphone is handily better than my Rode, and my Audio Technica, and quieter and clearer than my second place contender, the MKE 600. Noise is almost non-existent and, if there is a visual analogy for  its performance, I would say that the difference between the Diety and the other microphones in my collection is similar to first looking through a dirty window or a lens with a smeared filter, then cleaning the window or filter and looking again. Everything is just...clearer. 

I tried the microphone in the Zoom H5 recorder with the same results and also with a Saramonic SmartRig+ audio pre-amp and phantom power interface, into a Sony RX10iii and loved the performance of the combination. I think we've got an audio winner!

Bizarre Coincidence: So, I usually swim in the early morning but today I decided to go to the noon swim. I can count the times I've ordered microphones from Amazon on one finger. The manager at our swim club is not in the audio visual business, nor does he make video. But all of this made a lunch time coincidence eerily strange...

The Amazon delivery guy hit my house just as I was getting ready to go to the pool. He handed me a brown box with the distinctive Amazon packing tape on it and I brought it into the studio, opened it to look for shipping damage and, finding none, headed over to the club for our masters swim. I dropped by the manager's office to ask about some paperwork. As we were chatting there was a knock on his office door and when we opened it there was an Amazon delivery person. He had a box the same size as the box I'd just received back at the studio.  He handed it to the manager who said, "Ah, good. My microphone came!" 

I was shocked and stood around while he opened the box and revealed a brand new, Shure, dynamic microphone. I backed out of the office cautiously and headed to the pool. Random coincidence? 

Not what I expected to see at swim practice. 


3.06.2017

The second video in a series I shot earlier this year, in Toronto, Canada.


John Mitchell C-Leg Story Rev. 1.1 from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.

Many readers have asked to see the video productions I've been writing about. We have to wait until our clients publish the work we create for them, in a public forum, before we can share them. Fortunately, the client we worked for in Canada, Ottobock Healthcare, is happy to get the videos posted to their public Facebook page as soon as we get them edited and they are approved.

Here is the second video from our time in the great North.

I thought I would quickly rehash how I shot them so that the gear specs will be fresh in your mind while you watch the video.

I took along four cameras but ended up using the same two cameras every day. The "A" camera; used for each interview, was the Sony A7Rii. I shot it using a modified version of picture profile #4, in the 4K setting, and in the APS-C format. The APS-C crop is higher quality than the full frame, although most of us would not know the difference. The second cameras, used for every shred of "B" camera work --- interior and exterior --- was the Sony RX10iii. It was also set up using the same profile but I used it mostly in the full frame, 1080p mode.

My standard fps setting was 30 but I did go to 120 fps for the scenes where I was pretty sure I would like to slow down the action in post processing and would appreciate the smooth, detailed content.

The Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone was my mic of choice for all interviews. I ran that microphone into a Beachtek interface and took the audio from the Beachtek directly into the interview camera.

The editing was done on a recent iMac computer in Final Cut Pro X. I added Nattress Curves and Levels to the program as a plug-in so I'd have more control over the tonality of the parts that we converted to black and white.

The project parameters in FCPX were 1080p with a ProRes 4:2:2 rendering, sound at 48k 16 bit.

I like the Sony cameras very much and have backed away from my initial bedazzlement with dedicated video cameras. I like being able to toss super fast 85mm lenses on the front of a full frame sensor to get that razor thin depth of field look from time to time. I also like being able to grab stuff from far away with a 600mm equivalent lens. Mostly though, I've found the image quality from the conventional Sony cameras I am using to be exemplary and I'd rather fully fund my SEP every year (yes, it is tax season) that buy more cameras.

One more thing... the Sony RX10iii running with an external monitor delivers nearly 2 full hours of run time. Far exceeding the video run time I was able to get in conventional mirrored cameras I'd previously used.

3.03.2017

One of the four videos we're producing for a healthcare client.




I came back from Canada last month with hours of good video material that we're weaving into various programs. One of the first priorities was a short video message from the Canadian CEO about the 20th anniversary, in Canada, of one of their prosthetic leg products, the C-Leg.

More videos to come.