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.
We are bringing a 360fly with us on our documentary. The idea behind bringing this is so that we can share an immersive experience with our audience. Play around with this sample to give you an idea of what its all about. Just hit play then drag your mouse around the video to see 360 degrees.
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.
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.
We are one of the first production companies in San Diego to offer a slow motion video booth. Our slow motion video booth is a blast and provides great entertainment for your event guest as well as a great take away video which will be edited professionally as a music video. Slow motion video booths are the most current trend and have only been around for a couple weeks now.
Doing videography and falling into all of this has been a journey. I have always loved taking pictures but never fathomed it would lead to making money doing it. I look back and think I wish when I was younger I had taken the time to fully understand the mechanics of the camera as a tool. Composition begins to grow over the years as you take more and more photos. Of course studying and understanding color theory, lines, the rule of thirds is important and you need to know all that, but I also feel that there is something deeper to it. Within every artist or photographer is an emotional connection to their work and that is what separates them from the rest. Most people want to just capture a moment; they do this because 1. they don’t want to ever forget that moment 2. because they want to share that moment with other people. There is nothing wrong with taking photographs for those reasons and they are equally admirable. An artist however has a message, a question or a desire to inspire.
For me filming and telling a story is about moving someone some how, its about putting people in a moment and hijacking their feelings for a brief period of time. It is the best way I can make someone relate to me. That being said, I have a moral obligation to use that tool in a positive manner. “Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged. (Dalai Lama)”
I started by taking LOTS of pictures. My mom gave me an old minolta SLR film camera and I used it. I didnt know what I was doing, but I took pictures. I made little photo albums which were inspired by my stepfather. Then I got a small handicam and started taking video. The problem was that I was just purely capturing without reason. It was more of a gag for my friends and I to see how stupid or drunk we were (mind you I was in my teens and yes I was consuming alcohol). I had no concept of editing and at the time editing software wasnt what it is now. It makes me mad now that I had that camera and didnt record anything with a good reason. Then I got a small kodak digital camera which was ahead of its time (sadly kodak didnt stick in there with the digital cameras). At this time I was in the navy and I started documenting my life without knowing it. Then a couple years later I got a macbook because I was so burned out by PCs. Suddenly my computer became a tool for art. A simple program called Imovie gave me the ability to turn my photos into a slideshow with music and transitions. This was a great solution for the thousands of photographs I had accumulated on my hard-drive. It was a great way to share with family and friends. Just some movement and music was able to push the human emotion to the next level. It turned a flat medium into something more dimensional. At that time it was purely a hobby and nothing that I had imagined would ever turn into a career. Of course your friends and family are always going to be your best audience because they will sit through a crappy video and tell you how great it is at the end. I have had to learn a lot now to entertain more than just the people close to me. The journey continues.
I have found myself leaving my digital camera at home more often than bringing it with me (unless of course im shooting video). I have been shooting a lot of street photography; In doing so, I usually photograph things that for some reason either move me, or I think in my head “people in a hundred years would find this interesting.” I feel that using a film camera makes me really have to think about what I am shooting. Each shot is worth a piece of film, an hour or more in post and a meticulous process of getting the photograph onto paper; in other words a lot of my time!! I feel that film is in some ways, is just as random as life, which makes it worthy of trying to capture a moment, or fraction of a second of life.
We had a speaker come into school the other day who has done a couple feature length indie films. It was inspiring to listen to him and it made me really want to start thinking about submitting a documentary or a short to some film festivals.
It looks like ill be working with a local wedding videographer as a back up camera operator. I am pretty excited about it. They are a photography/video couple who work as a team on weddings which I think is really cool. I have about one thousand ideas for them but am hesitant to share because 1. I dont want to come off as a know it all 2. If I ever end up doing this on my own, I AM GOING TO NEEED AN EDGE over them because they are super talented.
I have been busting out prints left and right for my photography class. Its been a great class and I have learned so much about photography the last few weeks. I am entering two photos into the Del Mar fair. I guess we will see how that turns out.
I have also been feeling the pressure with everything. Just when I think im done, I have about 3 or 4 new projects in the queue. The balance between work and family is also very tough. I put a solid 5 hours a day into my daughter, school in the morning and girlfriend at night.. leaves for very little time. Which has meant late night work and very little sleep.
This post is dedicated to a man who was the real “Cousin Vinnie”. He was born 1947 in the Bronx half Japanese half Jew. His mother was a survivor of the US japanese internment camps set up during World War II. He died in northern California in 2011 of a heart attack while also fighting cancer of the spine. He was described as being “The Dude” and sounded like one hell of a guy. I have come to know of him through my friend George whom is his nephew. When Vinnie passed he left George a lot of his belongings including his camera gear. George is one of my best friends and knows of my future in photography and video. He asked me if I was interested and if so then I would have to drive up with him to pick up some stuff. We drove up north and met with his amazing wife “Z” who could only be described as bubbling with personality and stories. I listened to George and Z talk about their family and got to hear snippets of the late Vinnie who I wish I could have met.
Vinnie would be happy to know that life will breath through his beloved gear once more. I intend on meshing my modern gear with his once cutting edge gear to once again create artwork. He would be happy to know that I will also do my best to keep the art of film photography alive.
my dilemma, new versions of these are elegidly being released at some point soon and ive been holding my finger over the buy button for months on all.
spoke with an “alpha Rep” last night, he told me that he knew for a fact the 70-200mm was coming out with a second addition some time around June. It is supposed to be weather sealed, have ssm motors and have upgraded optics.