The creative process

My creative process comes in multiple forms. There have been many occasions and I feel this is typically the case for me, but music really dictates a lot of my creativity. I hear a song and visualize a video going to the music. I did a video for my friends 7 month deployment return and had the song “Just the way you are” by Bruno Mars in my head immediately. I had flickers of the girls getting ready before Daddy came home, the standing around in anticipation and the moment they united. When I went out to shoot the video I had the song going on in my head the whole time and even listened to it driving up there. There are many occasions that I hear a song and just get crazy visuals in my head of what would look cool to this song. Music is a huge part of my creative process and I feel that the videos I have done where I picked out the song before doing it are some of the best.

Another facet to my creative process is reading news (not mainstream media world devastation crap) and magazines. I love reading about technology, science and photography. While reading these topics many times my mind wanders into directions of sub stories. This is especially true for documentary ideas and some times fictional ideas. For example, I read an article about the photographer Rodney Smith http://www.rodneysmith.com/ who is a major inspiration to me. He is a film photographer who does absolutely no photoshopping or photo alterations, he develops his own film and prefers to shoot in black in white. My gears started churning in the direction of doing a documentary about modern photography vs conventional analog photography. I want to interview him and talk about the loss of the art of photography to the digital realm. While saying that I also want to point out that I feel like photoshop and photo manipulation is also an art however I feel that it is not exactly photography.

The last bit of creative process is directly from my life. I have experienced a lot in my life and I have so much I want to share with the world. Some of those stories are real stories that I feel might help people see the world a little differently. I had a chance to travel and see the world something that not a lot of people get to do or will ever do and I wish for one second they could share that experience, its humbling and gives you a respect for the life we have. I also feel like there is a life that people are unaware of, that the way of living we go by now is shallow and unfulfilling, inevitably we are all stuck in a system. Anyway enough philosophical talk, Ill have to write a story to show you what I am talking about. An example though of direct inspiration from life. I was developing and enlarging a roll of film in my darkroom. For those of you who havent ever done this its a long process but for me very therapeutic. One late night while I was in my darkroom I was thinking of the power of the medium and thought it would be cool to write a story about a photographer in a semi apocalyptic scenario; Not nuclear disaster apocalyptic but more infrastructure and government breakdown. This photographer was using his medium to create hope and make people aware in a world where there is very little of that. I guess part of that process is an over active imagination in a quiet setting. I get inspired like that very often in life.

A side note to that; when a client comes to me and has a vision almost immediately I start getting ideas, some are over the top and nearly impossible but none the less they come to me. Later after speaking with them I sit down and write the ideas down and try to decide which are the best ideas for conveying the story on a budget.

 

 

Reflection

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A reflection

Philosophically it could be a moment of remembrance; looking back on ones life and their accomplishments. It is introspection of our being or our soul. In my own life, I reflected many times on the back of a ship or boat, looking out to the perpetual sea and stars. A mirror within a mirror, the stars reflecting on a smooth ocean which created an endless vast black space as if we were floating through the universe. All in that moment, I was reflecting on my existence and purpose, merely a speck within a speck.

Physics would tell us that a reflection is light waves being returned to us equally off a surface. As a photographer, I am always looking at mirror to see the world. My 50 year old camera is reflecting what it captures in its lens onto a small mirror and then onto a screen at which I gaze at the world around me. Through this reflection, I am given a choice of what I would like to capture on my medium. An image caught through a reflection of an image.

Astrophysics or Quantum mechanics may suggest that a mirror is a window to a parallel universe. Is it possible that the reflection you see in a mirror is just another you? I often wonder if my reflection has made all the same choices I have in my life; were his choices wiser than mine? We both look the same, which indicates that we have weathered through similar life events. When I look into the mirror do I see a world within a world?

 

 

Abu Dhabi

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The first night we got in it was pretty much pedal to the metal. Our gracious hosts Jane and Greg met us at the airport and quickly whisked us off to our hotel then dinner. Jane is Irish and Greg is a Brit. It’s always fun to have a bit of a culture mesh and in a country that was foreign to all of us (though Jane and Greg do live there). Jane is an absolutely wonderful person to be around. She is one of those easy to talk to people, very intelligent and in the know. Greg too was a riot, kind of a guys guy. The first night we got there he insisted we go go-karting (which we did later and was the highlight of the trip).

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This was my first time working with the Animus crew. Honestly one of the best crews I have ever worked with. Each person brought a very unique piece to the project. It was very free flow when it came to creativity and we all knew our jobs. These guys are all very good at their jobs and I found myself often thinking how fortunate I was to be working with them.

from left to right Ross, Scott and Kris aka “Castronova”
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Ross was the Editor, although he did some filming but busted his ass off doing same day edits and the opening video. He is extremely good at finding the narrative in a story and meshing together everything in a way that tells the story. I attended one of Ross’s educational workshops a couple years ago when he was working for “get in motion tour”. I learned a lot from his workshop and on this trip as well. He is probably one of the most hilarious people I know. A little OCD mixed with a pretty brilliant mind. A few times on our trip he had me laughing till my abs hurt.

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Next up is Scott. Scott is kind of the Steve Jobs of the group, minus all of Steves short comings. He is very good at anticipating what a client wants and needs. When out filming he always picked up on not only what the client wants to see but also the audience and was very good at getting B-roll that gave Ross the tools to put his narrative together. Scott was very generous in sharing his knowledge and I learned a lot from him as well. He kicked all of our asses in go-karting.

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Last but certainly not least is Kris. Kris was our graphics and compositing guy. He is incredibly talented as well. He is a wiz kid when it comes to After Effects and had a natural knack for design. I dubbed him “Castronova” because without fail everywhere we went he seemed to have some girl fall head over heals for him. It was pretty comical! We had some great conversations and he was very willing to show me the ropes of After Effects.

Kris aka “Castronova” (on the right)SCN_0006

Where did I fit in on all of this? Well I got to do some of the creative filming. I did a couple hyperlapses of the build up and then of course shot tons of slow motion. I was pretty much hired just to do slow motion. The guys were pretty cool about letting me do my thing. Scott really believed in me and I felt like I fit in pretty well with these guys. Im really looking forward to doing another project with them. This was our chance to see how we worked together. We have a few things to fine tune for the next trip as far as workflow goes. Im hoping by the next trip I’ll have the Odyssey 7Q which will give me 4k capabilities, s-log and continuous 240fps at 2k raw.

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We ended up filming an agricultural development event. Our roll was to capture the individual speakers and panels as well as highlight the overall essence of the event. There were some amazing technologies being shown. Here is the same day edit we produced and the website to the event http://www.innovationsinagriculture.com/

GFIA 2014 Closing Ceremony Same Day Edit from Ross Hockrow on Vimeo.

doing a timelapse of the Burj Al Arab in DubaiIMG_20140205_144331

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Overall this was an incredible journey. I look forward to working with these guys again.

If you are interested in Animus Studios please visit their site http://animusstudios.com/

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Im off to Abu Dhabi and here is the story. My best friend from high school George attended school at URI, my other best friend Rob used to go visit George and hang out with Georges frat brothers. Well one of those frat brothers Scott, was studying film and Rob said if he ever got married Scott would have to film his wedding. Sure enough that happened and I happened to be a groomsmen at Robs wedding. Well being a filmmaker myself I got pretty excited and had a chat with Scott. We stayed in touch and he has kept an eye on me ever since.

A couple years later, Scott called me and presented me with this opportunity to come along and film with him in Abu Dhabi, specifically to shoot slow motion. We are covering an event there http://www.innovationsinagriculture.com/ which from my understanding is a gathering of the worlds minds on agricultural innovations. I am really looking forward to this opportunity.

Moral of the story, always consider every introduction as a business connection.

SO WHAT DID I BRING BESIDE MY VIDEO GEAR :)

I brought a Hasselblad camera with a few lenses, a rolleiflex and a ton of film including some of my infamous color infrared. I also brought a Polaroid camera that Anton Orlov kindly gave me for my birthday.

I am really looking forward to this journey.

Going Viral

 

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Going viral:

I decided to read the chapter about going viral as I feel this will be essential to our projects success. I have some experience with having a couple products go viral but interestingly enough the viral aspect of my products had very little to do with the product itself.

Case 1-

Being a videographer and future filmmaker, I follow many blogs and many of the pros. One of which is Philip Bloom whom I have had the privilege of meeting in person. Philip is a very successful filmmaker who travels around the world teaching classes and films. The thing is that his videos are good, but not so good as for him to be as popular as he is. What Philip has is a great personality and he gives away very important lessons on filmmaking. This combination has made him incredibly successful. It is not his final product that has leapt him into success; there are plenty of other indie filmmakers who have created higher quality work than Philip, but they don’t please the audience as much as Philip.

Case 2-

A couple years ago a friend of mine reached out and asked me to help her record her husbands (also my friend) homecoming after 7 months overseas. I told her “sure! Ill even one up you and edit a video for you”. I edited a short video (which was inspired by a wedding video I had watched from one of my favorite and very successful wedding videographers 4120 studios) and sent it to her to share with her family. To my complete surprise everyone really loved the video. ***this was right around the time that I figured out that telling a story in a video is very important*** My video was pretty good, but not viral good. My friend uploaded the video to her youtube account and labeled it “the best military homecoming video EVER! WARNING: this video will make you cry”. This video has over a million views now. The thing is that its not because I did a good job, or that I told a story, its because she labeled the video so darn well. She presented a challenge in her title “this video will make you cry” which led the viewer to a video that was not your average youtube wish-wash. She also dare say it’s the best homecoming video ever, even if its not, the viewer will now watch the video just to challenge her statement. This was brilliance on her behalf. The combination of the two blew this video up and the rest is history.

Case 3-

Recently I did a video for a paraplegic woman who is my friend. She wanted to do a video about her dog that has a very special talent; he pushes her in her wheelchair. She told me right off the bat that she wanted her video to go viral. Again the success of this video, which reached 20,000 views in a couple days, was not based on my abilities (though they helped). She had blown this thing up on every dog-related blog she could find. She went on all the trainers’ websites and blew this thing up and sent it to all her friends and tagged all their friends. The part where my skills came in was I delivered a good story that was connected at the end. Whether the viewer was initially annoyed at being tagged or not, once they watched the video it was heartfelt and again not the typical youtube wish-wash.

In closing-

Having a great product is very important however it is not all that matters as illustrated above. Making something go viral is not just about luck, you can actually have an impact and create a buzz. If you put in the work and thought you also can have success and results.

Color Infrared

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I recently acquired some color infrared film from Dean Bennici http://bennici.net/  He has a wonderful story that I hope to capture on video one day. Long story short he bought some of the last Color infrared film in existence directly from kodak in the form of rolls. He cuts and hand rolls the film into 120 format. He has sold over 50,000 rolls, and is down to his last 100 rolls. Thank you again Dean for doing what you have.

I am sad that such a beautiful medium is dwindling and that seems go be the case across the board with films but especially with the infrared. It is certainly not manufactured anymore.

Ok so let me talk about shooting with it a little. The above photo was shot with a camera that is roughly 50 years old. It is a Rolleiflex 3.5E with a Schneider lens. I chose this camera because I have multiple bayonet filters for it. I used an orange filter for the above shot. The film is rated at ISO 400 and it was about 3pm so I used the sunny sixteen rule and shot at 1/500th of a second at f16. I never really use a meter with my manual cameras. I have got fairly proficient at getting metering correct with the naked eye. So far from my experience you really need sunlight to hit your subject. If it is not reflecting direct sunlight it will not show up on the film, hence the black shadows. Mind you this was a sunny cloudless day in San Diego. The film used was Aerochrome 120, Kodak made the film for scientific purposes originally. Dean bought big rolls of it and cut it down to 120 for consumers to use. It is not the same film as the Kodak EIR but similar. Its not rated as fast and I have never seen 120 format color IR. I personally prefer to shoot medium format.

I was rollerblading with my daughter in a jogging stroller. I saw this guy at this exact position I photographed him and immediately stopped to talk with him. I cant remember if he was 92 or 96 but he was English and his name is Alfred Pepper. He was extremely friendly and we exchanged a brief conversation. I asked if he would go back to where he was and take a few swats at his ball. I then captured this image.

 

Here are some additional images. All shot with the sunny sixteen rule (thank you again Anton, for your knowledge and teachings). The yellow filters make for a over all very purple image. I havent tried green yet and am curious to see how it turns out. Also I havent used red but from my understanding it will just make for a very red image. Orange has a nice contrast of red and blue with a sky or water both of which have scattered infrared rays and produce a nice contrasting blue with the redish colors.

 

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The Slow Motion Video Booth era

We are lucky to be one of the first to do the Slow Motion Video Booth in San Diego and across the country. It really is a fun source of entertainment and a great way to capture the essence of each event we do it at.

The things we have learned and I want to spread on to anyone interested in doing a slow motion booth.

First and foremost you have to be an engaging and outgoing person to effectively do a booth. All night you are explaining this entirely new concept to people. As with most video or photography productions the biggest challenge is getting people to open up and have fun in front of the camera. We always are trying to capture a little bit of each persons personality. That being said you have to be able to communicate with all brands of life and make it fun.

It takes a lot of creativity to come up with fun ideas for people to perform in front of the camera. I think of choreography when I have a group. Having one person do a hula dance and another some grease style dance meanwhile someone jumps into the shot last minute. Long hair is an instant excitement because it looks amazing in slow motion!

Coming up with new prop ideas that look cool in slow motion is also another challenge; Confetti, poppers and sparkly stuff that moves easily. You also have to be weary of making a big mess.

Take aways has been another challenge. We offer on site printing of screen capture images from the video. This is all shot in HD so a small photo looks great printed out. We offer USB drives for those who want their individual clips and same day edits; We also offer custom props.

The equipment needs to shoot fairly high frame rates and the lights need to be flicker free. We shoot at 240fps which will catch the alternating current switching on and off in a household light. We use two kino flo lights and a high end LED panel.

The Footprint goal

Our name means a lot to us. It all started because oddly enough, a lot of our first videos always seemed to have some ones feet or shoes incorporated in them. Then our family got a little bit bigger with our daughter Tristen. I used to think that the world was in bad condition and there is nothing that we can do about it. Now that Tristen is here, I realize that the world is struggling and there is something we have to do about it.

We have a very powerful way of delivering a message, video and photography. The human emotion can be affected tremendously by one simple image. Our goal is beyond making money, we want to give back. We want to make sure that the footprint we leave behind is a positive one. Once our business starts generating a steady income our goal is to make and fund documentaries that will make a difference. We want to expose truths and tools to make a better world for all of us and our future. We can make a difference and we will.