All posts tagged video

  • Smart Phone PSA

    Smartphone PSA from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

    The Setup

    Sometimes you just need a quickie project to stay sharp. That’s what this was. A few weeks ago, my bud and long time Internet boyfriend Matt Jeppsen announced:

    “Hey, I’m coming to town and I’ll have these new Schneider Xenon lenses with me. Want to shoot something?”

    I said, “Sure!”

    And then proceeded to pitch an idea that involved 20 actors, a closed street, choreography, a 20-ft panda bear puppet, and an f14 flyover.

    Jeppsen replied, “How about something we can shoot in half a day? We’re on vacation after all.”

    I assume this response was due to his hatred of pandas (true, ask him), but I felt he had a point. I took the elaborate concept, boiled it down to the essential idea, and came up with this. PhoneGuy vs sidewalk.

    I must admit there have been times I’ve wanted to slap the phone out of someone’s hand while they meandered across my path on the sidewalk. Dude, just, duuuude, put it down for like, thirty seconds while you walk from the gym to your car. I bemoan these slow-walking iDolts and their enslavement to The Cloud, and then, without the faintest whiff of irony, I’m on my phone tweeting about it. So yeah, this guy is me. Consider this spot a note-to-self. Apparently, this is an actual public safety issue and distracted-pedestrian injuries are on the rise. Smart phones, dumb people.

    Director’s Commentary
    The great thing about slapstick is that even when you know it’s coming, it’s still kinda funny. When you see someone hurt themselves those little mirror neurons in your brain fire and scream, “OMG, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU! TICKLE TICKLE!” Slapstick seemed like an easy way to make this point and fit within our requirement of being done shooting by lunch.
    We shot everything on steadicam. Well, a janky old Glidecam V8 actually. Camera movement was important for the “pole reveal” moment and was obvious for the other walking shots. For the pole I got some 1″ pipe insulator from Ace Hardware and spray painted it silver. This made it easier possible for our actor (Adam) to give the pole a good whack with his face. In his spare time, Adam drops massive waterfalls in his kayak so walking into a pole foamie was a no brainer for him (or maybe that’s the other way around, haha).
    We were shooting geurilla style and didn’t have resources to support the army that comes along with massive HMI lighting. So a few days before the shoot, I wandered around the city looking for places where the sun bounced off glass high-rises and made pools of light along the sidewalk. Found one. Bingo. 18k of beautiful, diffused-but-sharp key light. I’m seriously obsessed with this kind of city light now. It happens all throughout the day here in downtown Portland. Only challenge is you have to shoot your scene before sun moves on and drags your light with it. And it moves pretty fast in the summer.

    For the filmmaker, the moral of this story is: shoot MORE of the stuff you want to get hired for. I want to shoot more commercials like this and now instead of telling an agency what I can do, I can SHOW them. Show, don’t tell. The end. Thanks for watching/reading.

    (Also thanks to Isaac Koval, and Liam Gillies for helping out, Adam Chechire Edwards for face smashing, Matt Jeppsen the DP, and Andy Askren and Kallie Baker for their brainstorming. )

  • Pure Intensity Training

    Wow is this really my first post of 2013? For shame, Jesse. In my defense, I’ve been a bit busy – with projects like this! (OMG best segue ever)

    The snippet I’m sharing here is the opener to a longer video about a fitness class called Pure Intensity Training. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the decisions I made (lighting, framerates, editing, music) that lead to this particular look and feel.

    Overall Direction: The class is aptly named. Pure Intensity Training IS intense. While it can accommodate anyone from beginner to elite athlete, there’s no escaping the fact that this class will kick your butt. My goal was to capture that “intensity” with the opener. I wanted to create something high-energy, aggressive, dynamic, and sweaty (but not TOO gritty.)

    Content: So what am I going to shoot?  The class itself is chocked full of movement. It seemed like a no-brainer to showcase those moves with actual people from the class rather than try to illustrate “high-energy” with some other visual (ninjas? monster trucks? no.) And let’s be honest, budget and time is a huge factor here. We only had an hour to shoot this.

    Style/Art Direction: Another differentiating element of the PIT class is the way they use “pure” movements – there’s no special training or gym equipment required. This is why I chose to keep the frame clean and clear, pure and simple. No backwall, no mirrors, no slowly rotating gym fans. Just bodies and movement.

    photo-2(Red Epic with 24-70mm. Convenient and terrible lens)

    Lighting: There was no key light in this shoot, just two kickers in the back. Any front light came from the kickers reflecting off the gym floor and bouncing back into the talent’s face. This type of lighting served the piece in a few ways.

    1. This is a showcase of movement and sweat, not specific people. Lighting the edges meant the viewer’s eye is drawn more to the outline of the body rather than people’s faces.

    2. Using hard lights, and putting them at such an oblique angle created shadows and texture that really helped highlight muscles and lines. Wanna look extra buff? Take off your shirt in front of the bathroom mirror and use your iPhone to light yourself 90 degrees from one side (or above). Every little bump is now defined with a shadow. Now put your shirt back on, please. And maybe eat a salad.

    3. Lastly, don’t over estimate the “it looks cool” factor. Edge light is edgy, duh.

    I used two 400 watt jokers in the back, both at about 45˚ from the subject. I was shooting at 110fps with 180˚ shutter so needed a lot of light. Ultimately I would have preferred a couple of 800 watt jokers and a little more diffusion back there to help the light spread across the talent more evenly.

    photo-1(400 Watt Joker Pars in the back)

    Music and editing: Dub step seemed like a good mix between rock and dance. Fitness and fashion seems to lean more toward dance/house music. And when I think of “pumping iron” I think of aggressive rock music. This dubstep track sat right in the middle. As for editing, I try so hard to avoid speed-ramps but felt it was necessary with this edit. It seemed to “ramp” up the intensity and was a good transition between furious realtime and poetic slow-motion.

    Ok, thanks for reading. For the record, when approaching a new project I don’t necessarily start with categories like this. I start with “you know what might be cool” then work backwards to make sure the idea fits within the project goals.

    Jesse out.

  • Stella’s Xmas Adventure

    There was wine involved in the hatching of this idea. So it’s only fitting that this film was paired with a little bit of cheese. What can I say? I’m a softie for this dog. Here’s a picture from the wrap party with our enormous cast and crew. Looking forward to working with this talented actress again even if she is a little bitch.

    SXA Crew

  • Moto Euro 2012

    I spent last October zipping around Europe with my significantly lovely other on a pair of motorcycles. We did the Europe sampler: Germany, Switzerland, a corner of France, Northern Italy, and Austria. It was my first time in Europe and I was thrilled to do it on two wheels.

    I wanted to create something different with this video (in addition to not spending too much time shooting on vacation). My goal was to combine the inherent nostalgia of photographs with the storytelling power of motion and sound. The result is a unique look at our trip that might induce seizures.

    Technical details are boring. Nevertheless, this video is a little unique and probably deserves a little deconstruction.

    I took three cameras with me on this trip: GoPro Hero2, Fuji x100, and, as always, the iPhone. The motion sections of this vid where shot with the GoPro in 0.5 time lapse mode. That’s one picture every half second. Most of the B&W snaps where from the other two cams.

    Not every shot worked at 2fps. I had to take special care to move slow and smooth, always leaving something consistent in frame for the eye to follow. I think the jumpiness worked stylistically and I tried to match that feel with the way I edited the piece. There were a few shots that I really liked but were just too jittery so I stabilized them with the old-school motion tracker in After Effects. Warp Stabilizer didn’t work. It had seizures.

    Speaking of post, the nice thing about shooting 11mp stills (I opted for 5mp to save space) is that my footage was essentially 4k. Not a bad output from such a little camera. I used After Effects to assemble the stills into 12fps video clips. I left the assembled video clips at their native resolution and aspect ratio of 4:3. This gave me the flexibility to zoom and reframe shots as necessary.

    I think that about covers it? Hit me in the comments (or on Twitter) if you have more questions.

  • High Speed w/ Photron

    A few months ago, I did a shoot with the Photron BC2 high speed camera. Wanted to share some thoughts on the whole process in case any of you are “hi-curious” about high frame rates. Here’s the full :60 “Director’s Cut”:


    Big ups to Derek Sine for shooting some behind-the-scenes footage.

    The Creative
    Win-River Casino was looking to launch a campaign that took them back to their roots to connect with their core audience, the gamers. Now, if you’ve seen a casino ad before, you know they typically feature people who look nothing like casino regulars. When was the last time you visited a casino on a Tuesday afternoon and saw a group of sexy models ordering drinks and blowing kisses on dice? We wanted to play off of this glossy stereotype a bit and decided to create a spot showing ordinary people in extraordinary moments. Enter the high speed.

    The High Speed Effect
    Everyone looks cool in slow motion. Even your grandma would look like a badass if you filmed her in slow motion walking away from an exploding retirement home. There’s just something intrinsically dramatic about slow mo. I had a conversation with Greg, one of the grips on the shoot, about this topic. Greg’s theory is that when people watch something in slow motion, it engages the part of the brain that processes important, life-or-death information. You know when something dramatic or traumatic happens people say, “I felt like it was happening in slow motion”? Same thing. I have no scientific evidence for this theory, but it seems like a good hunch. At any rate, I was looking to use high speed to elevate the drama of these scenes and create a surreal perspective of the “jackpot” moment.

    First Impressions
    Ok, onto the technical stuff. The goto cam for this kind of work is usually the Phantom HD or, now, the Phantom Flex. I really, really wanted to use the Flex for this project since its native ISO 1000 would have been handy in the dimly lit casino. But, I just didn’t have the budget for that cam. I decided to go with the Photron BC2 at less than half the cost of the Flex. In a perfect world, budget wouldn’t matter, alas, you know the rest.

    Here’s my overall impression of the Photron. It is a pretty capable cam, providing that you feed it enough light and don’t dink around too deep in the poorly designed and confusing software. We shot with Redpro Primes wide open and I was pleased with the sharpness of the 1080p uncompressed tiffs. It was sharp without looking “sharpened.”

    The camera shoots 1080p at up to 2000fps. Plenty fast for my purposes. As the resolution is decreased, the frame rates go up, all the way to 86,400fps at a postage stamp sized 256 x 32. Sidenote: filming 30 seconds at 86,000fps would give you 32 HOURS of 24p footage!

    There is such a thing as too slow. For people, moving at typical “people-speed,” I found anything above 250fps started to look a little languid. I think a good slow motion shot is a balance between slowing down the subject matter, while retaining enough motion that the shot is still dynamic. Some of the closeup stuff in the restaurant (the dough and stir fry) we shot at 1000fps. The wine pour I shot at 1500fps but ended up speeding it up in post. (Will post the full restaurant spot when it’s ready)

    Shutter Speed and Lighting
    When you turn the camera on it makes the sound, “Nom nom nom” as it gobbles up all the available light in the room and cries, “Feed me MOAR!” Well, that’s not exactly fair considering it’s not so much the camera but the shutter speeds that eat the light. All but a few clips were shot with a 180 degree shutter so shooting at 1000fps meant the shutter speed needed to be 1/2000 sec. That’s an additional five and a half stops of light. This would be the equivalent of lighting 24fps to an ISO setting of 15. Even though the BC2 is rated to about 640 ISO, we were still blowing breakers on a few of the wide shots.

    Like most high speed cams, the Photron has an internal RAM buffer that has to be downloaded between each take. Unlike the Phantom, which can offload its clips to a proprietary Cinemag in a matter of seconds, the Photron is tethered to a laptop and needs minutes, precious minutes to offload. Downloads on this shoot took between 4 and 8 minutes each. That may not seem like a long time, but when you’re on set with a crew, clients, and hot lights starting to melt furniture, 4 minutes seems like an eternity. With this cam, there’s no such thing as, “Oh lemme just get a quick shot of that.”
    Each take lives in a folder on the lappy’s external drive as a sequence of uncompressed 16bit tiffs. Before editing, I pulled the image sequences into After Effects, did a light color pass, and then exported to ProRes444.

    The BC2 was driven by Photron software running on a PC. I hated it. It was messy, convoluted, and not exactly stable. The software clearly reflects the camera’s industrial beginnings with sciency features that I can’t imagine any cinematographer needing. While it wasn’t exactly user-friendly, it didn’t take long too long to find the settings that I needed to regularly access like, white/black balance, color temp, frame rate and resolution. A redesign of the software could make the camera so much easier to use. As it is right now, it’s not a cam you can rent without a tech, or a crash course in the software (I had the latter). The PC was the weakest link in this whole cameracomputer chain. At one point, the production ground to a halt because the AC power connector on the laptop was loose and wouldn’t keep the computer charged. Stress.

    Final Thoughts
    Overall, I think the BC2 is a really affordable way to make great high-speed images. It’s not the fastest workflow and I probably wouldn’t rent it again for a time sensitive shoot (anything with a call sheet and schedule). But if you’ve got lots of time and lots of light, the BC2 is a great option. It’s not exactly a straight forward workflow, but it’s not daunting either. I tell you though, someone needs to make a self-contained, all-in-one, affordable high-speed cam. Oh, look! Fastec is doing just that with their new TS3 camera, 720fps at 720p. Hoping to get my grubby mits on that cam when it comes out.

    And that’s all I have to say about that. I leave you with one of my favorite :30 “spin offs” from this shoot.

  • Rock Stars of Gastroenterology

    There’s nothing sexy about gastroenterology, until now.

    Wanted to share a lil’ project I created under the guidance of agency hotness Grady Britton from Portland, Oregon. Grady is chocked full of good people and good ideas. Their copywriting is so sharp (crowd: How sharp is it?) I had to wear protective goggles while editing.

    March is colon cancer awareness month and this video is part of the microsite Check it out. Get screened. Be alive.

    Here’s the FAQ for the technical stuff.
    Camera: Red One MX for easier overcranking.
    Lighting: 2 Kino 4banks and a few fresnels.
    Crew: Myself, Lyn, Keaten Abbott, and Patrick Eggert (thanks, guys)
    Post: 1080p masters from Redcine edited in FCP. Color correction done with MB Looks and Colorista II.
    Graphics: After Effects. Flash pops done with Optical Flares from

  • Growing is Forever

    I have a deep affection for the Redwood forests of Northern California. This is my best attempt to capture the reverence I feel when in the presence of these slumbering giants. My friend Kallie wrote this after our group’s annual camping trip to the coast. The words were too beautiful to ignore.

  • Stella’s Adventure

    Presenting the continuing adventures of our wee beastie, Stella.

    We shot this about 6 months ago for Sunset Magazine and have been keeping it on the down low while they used it internally. Excited to finally share.

    Quick backstory: through the power of the Internets, Sunset Magazine (West Coast Lifestyle Magazine) found last year’s day-in-the-life flick of Stella and wanted something similar. The goal was to showcase a particular pet-friendly road trip in Northern California and Stella was just the dog for the job.

    Since Stella responds best to her owners, I decided it would be most effective for Lyn and I to be out in front of the camera for this project. It was an interesting experience directing from the business end of the camera. Thankfully, I had the brotastic Tyler Faires lensing this one.

    One of the unique challenges with this project was that all of the scenes needed to be in chronological and geographical order of the road trip (although I’ve deviated a little in the above “director’s cut”). It was a fun challenge to create something that is half narrative, half documentary, two-quarters music video, and seven-eigths social commentary on the proletariat exploitation of industrial unionism by the neo-Marxist class of socialist objectors. K, maybe not that last part. Just seeing if you were still reading.

    I threw together a few behind the scenes clips since that’s what the kids do these days. Thanks for watching!

    This was a relatively low budget project and I have many volunteers to thank for helping make this project happen.
    Crew: Tyler Faires, Ryan Hutchinson, Foster Lovelace, and Daniel & Michelle Gallagher for helping shoot the last scene which was cut. Sorry guys, at least we got to hang out. Additional Thanks: Greg Dean from The Fly Shop, Sports LTD, Chester Chamber of Commerce, Treats Dog Company, Hat Creek RV and Resort,
    Mt. Shasta Farmers Market, and Gawayne & Shelly, Chloe.

  • Spot Secrets

    My first job out of college was working as an editor for a local TV station. Well, technically, my first official job was a short stint working the make up counter at Walgreens, but that’s another story for another time. I didn’t work at the TV station very long either. I quickly learned that the employee-employer model wasn’t my cup of tea and struck out on my own after a few months. But the experience was enlightening. I got to see how the station made TV commercials. Granted, the spots were quite awful. Picture your typical schlock pitching used cars, law firms, and furniture stores, but they were commercials none-the-less. And I got to see first hand that making a commercial is not really that complicated. Of course, making a good commercial is extremely hard, but you gotta start somewhere.

    So, in the spirit of demystification, I’d like to deconstruct my latest commercial spot for you. If you think you might have the stuff to produce commercial work but aren’t sure where to start, maybe this’ll help. Maybe not. Dammit, Jim! I’m a filmmaker not a career counselor!

    Have a look:

    This particular spot can be broken down into 4 main elements.
    1. The Copy – the words that are being said
    2. Voice Over – the recording, or performance of the copy
    3. Visuals – the stuff you see
    4. Music and Sound – music bed and sound effects

    If you’ve seen my portfolio you might correctly assume that I’ve worked with this client quite a bit. The message and branding have already been dialed in so I’m using those guidelines when developing the spot.

    Now here are my secret weapons for each of these categories.

    1. The Copy. I used to write all my own copy before I realized that there are much more talented people than I who actually LIKE writing scripts. After receiving the event details from the client, I wrote up some instructions and forwarded the details to my copy writer, Kallie. She’s worked with this client before and has the quirky Rolling Hills voice dialed in. By the way, Kallie is a pen-for-hire if you’re needing some deftly crafted prose or poetry for a project. You can find her on Twitter.

    2. Voice Over. Once the script was approved by the client, I emailed it to Marketing Mania ( I’ve had the pleasure of working with this company for a few years now. They’ve done 95% of the VO work in my portfolio. Since we’d already cast a voice over artist for this client, the turn around was right quick. In less than 24 hours I had an MP3 of the final voice over. Use them. Tell Christina I sent you.

    3. Visuals. No cameras were harmed, or even used, in the making of this commercial. This is all After Effects. Some artwork was provided by the client and the rest was created in software or sourced on iStockphoto. My goal was to create an interesting layout of content that illustrates the copy while leading the viewer’s eye through the spot in an engaging way. As you might imagine, this was the most laborious, time-consuming task of the process. The final visuals were assembled and timed in Final Cut Pro.

    4. Music and Sound. Right now my favorite production music sites are Pump Audio, Non Stop Music, and Dewolfe Music. You buy only the song you need and pay based on use and distribution – pretty simple. Sound effects were all sourced through Same search and purchase model.

    That’s pretty much it.

    Obviously, I’m simplifying the process a bit but these are the basic components used to create this particular commercial spot. Now you know (and knowing is half the battle). Feel free to use these resources on your own projects.

    One last note: some of the sound effects I needed for this spot were a little specific so we had to roll our own. Thanks for the vocal help, friends.

  • Enjoy Magazine Spot

    Enjoy Magazine Fall Football from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

    Here’s a :15 spot I recently finished for local lifestyle magazine, Enjoy. This is the first of a series of seasonal spots that we’ll create throughout the year. The goal was to find a creative and simple way to showcase the Enjoy aesthetic while capturing the “emotional content” of the magazine.

    My solution was to recreate a moving version of a typical Enjoy magazine cover. It’s a little different than moving covers I’ve done in the past. This is more like a “cover shot prequel” – a look into the life of the cover before it was a cover. Now the cover not only has a backstory, but a reason for existing. The visual message is that all of the sights, sounds, and (implied) smells of the season are magically locked up inside the magazine. You can experience the sensation of Northern California Living simply by thumbing through the pages of Enjoy. Simple, tidy, boosh.

    This shoot was relatively simple. I think we did about 7 or 8 takes to get a couple keepers. For the camera nerds, this was shot on a Canon 5DMkII with a Glidecam in portrait mode. I found that mounting the camera in portrait would mean I’d have to crop less to get to the final cover composition.

    A little side note: I live in California. We don’t always have what the rest of the world refers to as “seasons.” For example, two days ago (middle of October) it was over 90 degrees. Finding fall color around here is possible, but not always easy. For this football spot, we shot in a park that was a lovely, late-summer green. A few clicks from Colorista II’s secondaries transformed the park into an autumnal wonderland.