Product Photos and Videos

When Noraxon came to me with a request for product photos and videos of 40 items I knew I had to create a new workflow for maximum efficiency. The two services became one. I started with a strobe set on the left for the photos and a hot light set on the right to record the video clips. I made a turntable and painted it white so I could rotate the table top when it was important to see 2 or 3 sides of that product. Tests were done to match color with both sets and test the rotation. 4’ x 4’ sheets of foam core were placed on the turntable for the larger kits. These kits with up to 30 items were set up on the turntable where both the photo and video were captured with the same camera to become even more efficient. The video was recorded and played beck in slow motion to ensure smooth motion.

I created the simplified GIF below as a sample of the product videos.

Animated GIF.

When you need product photos and videos go to the photographer with years of experience in each medium.

2017-08-22T17:20:41+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Photography, Product, Video|

Audio for Food and Beverage Videos

The sizzle helps you taste the food and just hearing a beer being poured into a glass can crank up your thirst. Most of the audio for food and beverage videos is recorded separately for the best quality and, keep in mind, there is no audio recorded with slow motion video. For the slow motion clips I formed the visuals in the timeline first. Then I knew how long the sound had to be to sync with the visuals. Watch the video.

A match ignites in a fraction of a second but in this video the match took 7 seconds to ignite (1/8 speed). I slowed the speed of the audio clip to 40% and duplicated it on 2 more audio tracks with some overlap to cover the 7 seconds. The beer pour was done in a similar way. The “plop” sound of the olives dropping into the martini glass required a speed of just 35% for the audio clip. Sound is important and audio for food and beverage videos has it’s own unique chalenges.

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Product, Video|

Slow Motion Food and Beverage Videos

“See what you can’t see”. slowing the action of a pour or food preparation can increase the viewer’s anticipation of what it’s going to taste like. Use this visual effect in your slow motion food and beverage videos. Watch the short video here.
martini-still004_650w120 frames per second is good for some slow motion shots. 240 frames per second renders amazing slow motion but may be too slow for your viewers. Here’s what I mean. At 240 fps pouring a beer that takes about 6 seconds will take 48 seconds to play back that clip,, or 8 times as long. Your viewers will fall off their bar stools waiting for their beer. Recording at 120fps will take 4 times as long to play back the clip. This is why I record with 2 cameras for my slow motion food and beverage videos. One camera records in normal speed and I cut between the 2 views (and 2 speeds). In post I may speed up the slow motion clip and slow down the clip recorded at normal speed.
strawberries-still001_650wThe shutter speed of at least 1/240 second will freeze the action when exporting a still frame as you see in the 2 images above. Slow motion enhances any production.

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Lighting Food & Beverage Videos


Did you ever hear the term “You eat with your eyes”? Food should look good. You should see the texture of the food and want to taste it. Arguably, the most important part of production may be lighting food & beverage videos. First you backlight the food. Use a soft box to resemble window light coming from behind the table. Then add a kicker light at a low angle to add texture to the food. Use a spot light or barn doors to concentrate the light on the food first, then some light can spill onto the tabletop and other props if it adds to the ambiance. Here is a link to the video.

Glass and translucent beverages require backlighting to show the color of the beverage and make them glow.

I will color balance the cameras to the main light which will be white. Then I add gels to the kicker and side lights to add warmth to the food and/or the table top as I did from both sides of the beer set in the above image.  1/2 CTO or a full CTO filter works well to create the ambiance of a restaurant or amber lights in a home.

Cameras and lenses:
Selective focus is important to draw the attention to the food or drinks you are promoting. I will record with 2 cameras for 2 different angles for pouring beverages or when recording slow motion. I like to record the action in normal speed as well to have that option in post. In post I may also blur what is not important. I may soften some background props if they draw the viewers eye away from the featured item. Using the gaussian blur in post is important because I can match the look of the 2 cameras because the depth of field may differ according to the focal length of the lens or the distance from the product when recording.

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Product, Video|

Editing Skills

The cast and crew in Sedona Arizona

The cast and crew in Sedona Arizona

We had a lot of fun working on the productions you see in our capabilities video shooting action scenes of the UTVs on Schnebley Hill Road in Sedona, and meeting Michael Floyd, the wide receiver for the Cardinals, while filming the Vita Coco spot. You can view the demo video here.

Here is the technical stuff for editing this video:

3D Intro:
While assembling this demo video I added 3D graphics to my logo using After Effects. First, my logo was separated into 8 different layers in Photoshop. In After Effects I moved the different layers in 3D space and added a light to cast shadows and a camera with a pan motion across the text so the shadows would move. The logo layers all rotate together. I used parenting to link the logo layers to a null object that had rotation animation applied.

I used alpha channels to reveal video playing through the text during the three equipment segments. At many edit points I added lighting effects using light leaks clips (flashing, moving colors) with a screen blend mode to add some sparkle to transition points.

Green screen was used for two clips to composite a layer over background video. The editing skills used were mostly with the ultra key effect in Premiere Pro. Lens flare effect was added to the lighting equipment scene and it’s opacity (brightness) was keyframed as I passed in front of the light. We displayed most of the equipment we bring to the production including a 10″ Kessler Crane.
cc-crane-still-650wI used curves for color correction to match clips from three different cameras, Panasonic, Canon and GoPro.

Lets have some fun with your next video.

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Audio Equipment for video

audio with Sadie_650 wide

We own two Zoom audio recorders and 6 mics to record the best, clear sound in any location. We own the Sennheizer wireless system and use it to record your vocals or to send all the audio from a sound board to our recorders in a convention/meeting room. When outdoors we use a blimp and/or fuzzy rat to remove wind noise. Watch our Capabilities Video.

Importance of post production: For unwanted sounds that are out of our control, like air vents and noise from your work environment, we will reduce or eliminate them using powerful tools in Adobe Audition. Additional training in the “Sound Advice” class increased my knowledge of audio equipment for video recording and sound mixing.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Video Lighting Equipment

A sample of the lighting equipment we bring to the production.

A sample of the lighting equipment we bring to the production.

We have 35 years experience lighting people, product and architecture for commercial photography assignments and 9 years with video lighting equipment. We own 14 lights ranging from 200 watts to 2,000 watts. We use color gels, diffusion and soft boxes to balance and soften the light. We also use a 12’ x 12’ silk to diffuse the contrasty Arizona sun.

Lighting for an interview for Fresh Start Women's Foundation.

Lighting for an interview for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.

Importance of post production: In addition to global color correction, we can change the color or saturation of one element of your scene using powerful secondary color correction tools.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Video Camera Equipment: Part 1,

Our cameras, the 6' dolly, 10' crane and Glidecam.

Our cameras, the 6′ dolly, 10′ crane and Glidecam.

We own four professional cameras, two Canon DSLRs, a Panasonic and, for tight or wet situations, a GoPro. The Canon cameras with the full size sensor produce beautiful images with less noise and a shallow depth of field which directs the viewers attention to the subject in focus. They are very versatile. We have one 50mm prime lens and 4 zoom lenses which cover from 16mm wide angle to 500mm. We have custom settings preset to quickly move from a controlled set to a run-and-gun situation so we won’t miss anything. We have another custom setting (flat CineStyle) for contrasty lighting on location that we cannot control. We’ll record it flat, then enhance the footage in post. Of all of the professional video camera equipment the Canon cameras are the best tool for low light situations.

The Panasonic is great for recording longer events, conventions and meetings. It’s also our go-to camera when we use the jib because it can be controlled from the base of the jib arm.

The GoPro fits just about anywhere, it’s waterproof and shock resistant. we can mount it just about anywhere; front wheel suspension, on the spoiler of a race car, atop a 24 foot boom pole, on an athlete’s head, and in a puddle to get shots not possible with other cameras. With built in Wi-Fi we can monitor what the camera is seeing from our iPad.

The GoPro adds exciting shots not possible with other cameras.

The GoPro adds exciting shots not possible with other cameras.

How do we move the cameras? We own 2 fluid head tripods, a 6’ dolly, a 10’ jib and a GlideCam.

Importance of Post production: With professional color grading we can match the look of different cameras and different settings.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Editing, a book by Walter Murch

My ongoing training is not limited to software and equipment. I read and re-read books on various subjects. One such book helps me to better understand the problem of “where to make a cut” when editing video.

In the Blink of an Eye is a book on editing by Walter Murch who has won many awards for editing and sound design for films such as: The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather part II and III, Ghost and The English Patient among others.

Blink_600px high

First he asks ‘Why do cuts work?”. Cuts in a film break the flow of the story. Our daily lives are one long take from the time we get up till the time we go to bed, or are they? Without knowing it you have “Cuts” all the time. Every time you blink you make a cut. Your blinks are like punctuation in a sentence. You will not blink in the middle of getting important information. You will blink at the end. When someone enters the room and calls to you you do not turn and look at them without blinking as you turn your head. Your thoughts are diverted from your work to the person seeking your attention. This is a new thought and thus you “blink” to separate the two subjects. This is the exact location of where the cut should be in a film. (Of course we also blink to lubricate our eyes and if there is a bright light shining into them.)

I will make a cut where I would feel comfortable blinking. A good actor blinks at all the right times. and, it is at those exact frames that the editor can make his/her cut.

Walter Murch says that an editor should make a barrier between the shoot and the beginning of the edit session. This will help to separate the emotions of the shoot from the choices in the edit. Something may have felt good on the set but it may not be the best choice in the edit room. The separation should bring your thoughts to something completely different from the project, like a vacation. A fresh look at the footage will help the editor to choose the right footage to tell the story and not the footage that he/she liked on the set.

There are times that a cut is made when the speaker is in the middle of delivering Important information. We may cut to someone’s expression or reaction to the speaker. This is an important element to the emotion of the moment or to the story. This brings me to Murch’s “Rule of six”. These are the 6 most important things to consider when making a cut.

The Rule of Six in order of importance:
1) Emotion, is it true to the emotion of the moment.
2) Story, does it advance the story.
3) Rhythm, is it rhythmically interesting and right.
4) Eye Trace, does it continue with the audiences focus of interest within the frame.
5) Two dimensional plane, does it respect the two dimensions of the screen.
6) 3 dimensional space of action, is it consistent with peoples location within a room.

The first 3, emotion, story and rhythm, are tightly connected says Murch. Most of the time if a cut honors those three you are safe to do it.

If you edit, produce or direct any film or video you can’t afford to not read this book, In The Blink Of An Eye. It’s only $13.95. Murch started his career on the old analog film editing equipment. The conversion to non-linear editing on computers was a difficult challenge for editors of his time. He adds his insights to the advantages and disadvantages of the newer non-linear editing systems that were used at the time of publication. The English Patient was the first movie to win an award for editing that was edited on a computer, a $100,000 machine, in 1996.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Stupidly Simple Video

Logo SS Title Cards 3000px w“Stupidly Simple” is the slogan used by Vita Coco for their coconut water beverage. It also fits the “Behind the Scenes” video we did for Vita Coco. A few blogs ago I did a 3 part series about how preparation is vital to the success of your video. The script and storyboards are the important guides for production and editing. Well, not so for a documentary style video like this one. There is still a lot of preparation for the equipment to be used but there is no need for a script, just questions for the interview portion of the video.
Arenado interview.Still001Nolan Arenado, The 3rd baseman for the Colorado Rockies, was our celebrity athlete. We loved the creative freedom of grabbing clips on the fly while Chris Sojka of Madwell in New York captured stills for the print ad campaign. Frank Salle and I were the videographers. 2 cameramen operated 6 cameras! We used 3 Canon 5Ds, 2 GoPros for the time lapses and even an iPhone 6 for a few clips.
GoPro interview w cameras.Still0014 lights with diffusion gave general illumination in the studio. 3 Mole Richardson lights were used as props and 3 Kino Flo lights were used on Nolan Arenado. Nolan was loose and relaxed and managed to smile and laugh for the 6 hours it took to complete the photoshoot and the interview. I doubled as the sound guy and recorded the interview with a Zoom audio recorder.

Watch the video here.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|