All posts tagged creativity

  • iPad Photoshoot

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A restless mind… or maybe too much late night pizza has you laying awake in bed. You decide that if you can’t sleep you might as well do something productive, so you fumble in the darkness for your iPad for one more round of Angry Birds. You power up and are instantly struck blind by a beam of light so bright that it burns “slide to unlock” into your retinas. You squint, roaches scatter, wife stirs, “Damn, that’s bright.”

    Sound familiar? This happens to me too often. Eventually, it dawned on me that, given the right context, the iPad screen is actually pretty bright. I know that for a fact because I measured it with my light meter (1/60, f1.4 at ISO800 from about 1.5 feet). You know once the light meter has come out of the bag, there’s no going back. Naturally, we needed to do a photoshoot using iPads as the light source.

    Luckily, I have friends who are very generous with their time and electronics and was able to scrounge up nine iPads. I mounted them onto plywood using some cheap hardware store brackets. This gave me three lights consisting of three iPads each. The light from an iPad is quite soft and diffuse. This makes the light fall-off steep. Adding more iPads didn’t translate to more brightness, but did mean we could light a larger area. Since the ‘Pads would need to be used somewhat close to the subject to get enough exposure, a simple, portrait style shoot seemed like the best option.

    Now before the haters start commenting let me first agree with you, yes, this is totally impractical (sidenote: most of my best ideas are often also my worst ideas). Nine iPads will set you back around $4,500. That amount of money can buy you a LOT of lumens in the form of a generic monobloc. This is not intended to be an exercise in excess, but rather a self-imposed limitation to help flex the creative muscles, and to make a point.

    Think about it. One 60 watt bulb can put out more light that a truckload of iPads. And you don’t have to spend truckloads of cash to find a 60 watt. This whole making art thing is all about what you do with what you have. We just happened to have a bunch of iPads laying around so we went with that. Today’s dSLR sensors are sensitive enough that you could easily do this with some flashlights, headlights, headlamps, real lamps, or even – heaven forbid – real strobes! Now go forth and do!

    Model – Miranda Hull
    Make up – Michelle Gallagher
    Hair – Joanna Montemayor
    iPad Propagator – Josh Markle
    iPad Wranglers – Derek Sine, Corey Jindra
    Videographer – Tyler Faires
    Miracle Worker – Lyn Rosten

  • Vision in Motion eBook

    motion-productIf you’ve purchased a DSLR within the last year, there’s a good chance that your camera also shoots video. With the push of one little button, photographers now have the option to bring their photos to life, to add motion and sound, to create a dynamic story with their cameras. It’s great to have options, but as the saying goes, mo’ options, mo’ problems.

    If you’ve been wondering how the heck to transition from shooting stills to shooting motion, might I suggest a little reading – Vision in Motion: A Photographer’s Introduction to Digital Video. This wonderful resource was written by none other than filmmaker, photographer, and friend Trevor Meier.

    So what’s in the eBook? Well, I’ll tell you what’s NOT in the book. This is not a step-by-step gear guide. Pixel peepers look elsewhere. As the title suggests, VISION IN MOTION is about vision. Trevor suggests ways to help you find your vision and the best practices for communicating that vision through the medium of motion. Don’t underestimate the importance of vision. In both photography and cinematography, you need a vision, you need a direction. But the added complexity of time when shooting motion makes vision crucial. Motion implies movement and time implies change. If your characters aren’t moving toward some goal and changing over time, then you’ve got a story about…well, nothing. You’ve got to have a vision. This book will help you discover yours.

    But the eBook is not all theory. There’s some technical talk, too. If you’re coming from a photographic background, there’s new lingo and techniques to learn. For example, in photography you can use shutter speed to control exposure. Video is different. Try shooting a whole film with the shutter at 1/8000 and see how long before your audience walks out. If you don’t know why this is a bad idea, you need to read this eBook.

    Check it out here: VISION IN MOTION. You might even see a familiar face or two in the pictures!

  • Hitchcock Mobile Storyboard App


    Storyboards are a valuable production tool, but creating them is such a pain. Why is it so hard? Well, filmmaking is hard, and when you storyboard you are essentially “writing” the visuals of your film. Many creative decisions come into play. You’re acting as director, director of photography, and editor all at once.  You’re deciding what shots, with what lens, and in what order tell your story best. No easy task. And when you can’t draw your way out of a paper bag (like me), spontaneity and creativity gets stifled. Wondering what that shot might look like from a bird’s eye view? Sure, just give me…20, 30 minutes or so. And I’m going to need a couple more erasers. Enter Hitchcock (frame left).

    Hitchcock is a mobile storyboarding application for the iPhone. Instead of tediously drawing each panel, you use photos. This is a no-brainer for me. I’m already using my iPhone camera for location scouting. Now I can have a working storyboard before even leaving the location. The process is simple. Launch the app and import photos via your photo library or shoot photos straight from the camera. Each picture becomes a “panel” in your finished board. You can rearrange panels, set their duration, add characters (silhouettes), add markup arrows and text, record audio, keyframe pans and zooms. Wow. But by far the best feature of this app is that it gives you an animatic of your board. At any point you can hit play and see how your shots cut together, complete with recorded audio and camera moves. This is an invaluable feature for anyone storyboarding with time constraints (like a :30 commercial spot for example). When you’re finished, you can export the whole thing to a PDF and email it to the client or crew.

    Reasons to buy Hitchcock:

    1. It’s Mobile. You never know when and where inspiration will strike.
    2. It’s intuitive. If you know how to work your iPhone, you can work this app. I love the tactile feel of positioning characters and rearranging panels.
    3. It’s cheap. If $20 is too much to spend on a tool that will likely enhance your creative process, well then maybe filmmaking isn’t your thing. Twenty bucks is how much I used to spend at Starbucks scribbling with a pencil for three hours trying to finish the shading on that upper lip.

    A few things I’d love to see in the next version. An export-to-video feature so I can email myself the animatic. I don’t know how the guts of the iPhone work but I’m guessing this might be an OS limitation. Also, the ability to add a music bed would be sweet. 

    Here’s an example of a Hitchcock storyboard being turned into an actual spot. Check it:


    This app is a valuable tool that every filmmaker should have. Do yourself, your productions, and your clients a favor and check it out.

    Visit for more juicy info on Hitchcock.

  • New and Improved!

    new_stickerIt’s been a long time a-comin’ but the the new site is finally up and running. Big props to The Mike for all his stellar design work. Is there anything this guy can not do?  I submit that there is not.  He took WordPress and bent it to his will like Moses parting the Red Sea. Or like that little kid in the Matrix that bent the spoon (there is no spoon).  The design is not quite finished so stay tuned for a homepage and some additional refining. 
    I debated for awhile on how to break up the content of this site into categories.  The challenge is that I wear many hats – director, cinematographer, photographer, motion designer.  Most of the time, I’m wearing all those hats at once.  Aside from the obvious fashion faux pax this creates, it also contributes to my small identity crisis.  I know it’s cliche, but I really DON’T know what I want to be when I grow up.  I am, in fact, hoping that I never grow up but that’s another tangent for another time.  In the last few years I’ve learned two things about myself.  

    1. I love visual storytelling.  This can take on many forms, film, commercial, music video, photo, or animated piece.  

    2. I love light.  Light is, after all, what creates an image in the first place.  

    It’s safe to say that this blog will most likely cover anything that falls under those two topics.  Which is a round-a-bout way of giving myself license to cover anything under the sun.  Feel free to RSS subscribe to the blog so you can be notified of new posts.  If you’re not using RSS you are missing out.  Or you can stay up-to-date via Facebook or Twitter.  Thanks for stopping by.  And, hey, let’s be friends.


    ps. I grabbed some of the more “industry related” content from the old blog and republished it here.  So while the blog is new, there are some entries from last year.