The Future of Video


This little device is one step into the future of how we will see the stories of the world. Being a filmmaker I am always trying to figure out what is the next step. A couple years ago Peter Jackson decided to film one of the Lord of the Rings movies in 48fps, the public did not like the way it looked. James Cameron shot Avatar in 3d and created new technology to bring it to the next level; while 3d is still around and filmmakers still try to incorporate it, it hasn’t become the standard.

Faced with the challenge of trying to offer unique perks to contributors for my indiegogo I stumbled across this little gem, the 360fly. At first I thought it seemed like another novelty item. I thought, “this is just another gopro; a cool camera with great marketing hype but the average person wont know what to do with it.” Then something clicked in my head, how cool would it be to bring our contributors on an immersive journey with us overseas while we are doing our humanitarian work. The plan is to make lots of short 2 minute clips of us and post it to a page where people can view this stuff. I have been asked in the past to make 360 degree videos for showcasing real estate. At the time it was very expensive and the affordable options didn’t have a very universal video player (meaning that it wouldn’t work on everyone’s computer or phone).

Step back a year ago I helped shoot a video in San Francisco for topcoder. This was the first time I had the opportunity to use Oculus rift. A 3d printer company had brought the Oculus rift as well as a haptic feedback device to use for a competition to win a 3d printer. You had to play the game Jenga but on Mars with the gravity of mars. Using the haptic feedback device you would grab a block, pull it out and place it on top of the other blocks. When you did this you could feel the block’s weight, you could feel resistance when you pulled it out of the stack and you could feel it when you placed it on the top. All the while you are wearing Oculus rift goggles which are virtual reality goggles that use motion sensors to orient the virtual world when you move your head. It was pretty cool! The connection for the 3d printing company and all these cool tools wasn’t just for competition but also their idea was people could build 3d objects in virtual reality using these devices and then print it. This event had many tech giants in it including google. They were all there recruiting coders who were competing at the event. What was interesting about google is they were demonstrating their cardboard google goggles that could turn your phone into an oculus rift VR viewer. Suddenly it was starting to click that if google is putting this tech out there for cheap, that means that it will only be a matter of time before youtube has the ability to show 360 immersive video.


Fast forward 6 months. I was filming in Rhode Island at the Volvo Open Ocean Race. I learned about a lot of very cool new things there. When I was there periscope was just getting traction and only worked on Apple. We worked closely with all the marketing and media teams from around the world. It was a cornucopia of media specialist from all reaches of the globe hired by high tech companies to represent their teams. As I was walking out the door to do some filming I bumped into this young guy carrying what looked like a jumbled ball of gopros. He told me it was a 12k (not $12k but resolution) 360 degree virtual reality camera system. He then pulled out a pair of goggles, placed a samsung phone into them and showed me how the programming was intelligent enough to use the motion sensors in your phone for virtual viewing. The goggles were used to allow for stereoscopic viewing. It was unreal! Here is what they were upto Volvo Open Ocean Race 360 Video

Forward to today. I thought I was being pretty clever with this new 360fly and using it for my documentary but my ego was humbled when I went to LA on friday. Long interesting story on why we were up there but i’ll save that for another post. After a long exciting and eventful day we ended up at a holiday party for 44Blue Productions where we met Rasha and Stephanie. Stephanie sat down with us and started talking about what they have been upto and what’s going on in the filmmaking world. Then she started to talk about virtual reality and how they have been at the forefront of it for a while now (developing apps). She went on to tell us about how the New York Times recently launched NYT VR. She said she got her sunday newspaper and in it came the cardboard google VR goggles. Then she uploaded the app onto her phone, put her phone into the goggles and watched a short doc about children around the world who have been displaced by war or violence. After hearing her explain what she saw and how she saw it I realized this is the future. We are going to be entering an age where we are literally immersed in the stories we watch.

Here is an example of embedding this type of footage from youtube


For the project that we have coming up I think it will be very interesting to share with people not only how we filmed the documentary but also what it was like to be there. I figured out a way to rig the 360fly to the documentary camera.



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 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.






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


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).

Greg and JaneSCN_0007

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”

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.


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.


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.

me shooting on a Rolleiflex in front of the tallest building in the world1600996_10153753624260307_690178510_n

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

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

doing a timelapse of the Burj Al Arab in DubaiIMG_20140205_144331

playing some poolSCN_0012

Sheikh Zayed Mosque20140131_075752_Richtone(HDR)

the view from our hotel room20140131_011949

intense discussionSCN_0011

The Mosque again20140131_083003

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

8,441 mi

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 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.


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


full color

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



I recently acquired some color infrared film from Dean Bennici  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.



yellow filter


yellow filter



yellow filter