Sep , 11
Music: Black Sky by Alpha Rev
Licensed for use by Alpha Rev and Scire Vox Records
Download the song for free: alpharev.com/
This has been the only piece I’ve ever worked on that made my eyes well up with tears while editing.
This video is not the complete piece but rather a montage of some of the footage that we filmed for the project I’m describing here.
I got a call at 10:30 at night from Michael Linehan from ifbtv (facebook.com/iFBTV) saying that he had just flown into Austin and needed a cameraman and crew to shoot a piece with Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers. Apparently Michael and he had been talking about this before a Gaitlin Brothers show just days before and within an hour and a half of their talking Larry had written a song about the fires. He went on to say that Larry wanted to do a video with ifbtv and wanted to start PassTheHatForTexas.com to help raise funds for victims of the current Texas fires. We would be going out to Larry’s place to do an interview and record him performing the song, we would be going to do some interviews and possibly going out to film some of the damage.
We met up with Michael the next morning and headed out to Larry’s home. Though it may seem trivial in light of the circumstances I can’t go further without mentioning just how gracious Larry was. Before we had even started setting up gear he said he had ordered us lunch and it would be there any minute. We unloaded the gear and over lunch discussed how bad things had gotten. All things convivial but the mood was noticeably somber. While setting up the camera Larry picked up his guitar and sang the song he wrote “Rain on Texas”, chills, hard to believe that such an amazing song was written that quickly, inspiration is a wonderful, if not sometimes a heartbreaking thing.
We were pressed for time but managed to record the song and a bit of Larry and Michael talking about the project. A quick load out and we were off to the City Of Bastrop Convention Center which was serving as the command center. The closer we got to Bastrop the stronger the smell of smoke. We pulled up and Larry did few interviews outside with a survivor and some of the staff. After that we were ushered inside and past the doors that labeled with large signs that read “NO MEDIA”. Maps, computer projections and a good hundred or more people were busy tracking the fires. Firemen covered in dirt and soot passed by and Larry didn’t let one pass without thanking them. We shot a little of Larry talking to some of the representatives and volunteers. One in particular was a standout, a fireman named Jim from Delaware that Larry was speaking with who said “We’re here to help out and I know if Delaware ever needed a hand I’m sure Texas would come to help us, that’s what we do right?”
Grabbed the gear, jumped in our cars to follow an escort from the Fire Department who lead us past the police and police barricades and into an area had suffered catastrophic damages. The smoke wasn’t just visible now but it seemed to be everywhere. On either side of the highway there were workers cutting down trees in an effort to clear a path that the fire wouldn’t get past. Few houses were left standing, just piles of smoking rubble and burned out vehicles. Some of this I was unable to film. I was asked by our guide to only film the parts they okayed out of respect for the victims.
We went down a few side streets, it was nearly impossible to tell that it used to be a neighborhood. The three horses were spotted just running down the middle of the road loose as the owner had presumably not had time to haul them away and had no choice but to open their gate and let them free hoping they would survive.
The footage you see is part, but not all of what we saw. I simply couldn’t fit it all into this one video and hope that some other shots will make it into the finished piece that ifbtv is doing. Time was limited so it was just run around and grab what I could from the one small area we were allowed in.
Once done we made our way back to our cars but before I had put the camera up I saw my two crew guys, Arturo Cavazos and Eli Mendoza, being led by a couple home owner back to the where their house used to be. They were Rory and Iris, a married couple who lost just about everything. Iris led me around and pointed out some of the things that had survived. I simply cannot fathom what they are going through or moreover, how they remained so incredibly high spirited they were despite the tragedy. I can only hope that the world is as kind to them as they were to us as they set about rebuilding their lives.
The last little bit that I want to mention is that I wanted to get this up sooner. It’s been a couple days since we shot it but my main computer has been down. Beyond that I also didn’t know what I wanted to do with the footage. I knew I wanted to do something in addition to what iFBTV and Larry Gaitlin were doing to help bring even more attention to it but thought that using Larry’s song might be redundant and wanted there to be two video’s that were worth watching to help spread the message further about PassTheHatForTexas.com, just really had not even a clue as to what. Today my computer got back up and I happened on a post by the band Alpha Rev that said “Check out videos from yesterday at The Bing Lounge : tinyurl.com/6grdjy9” … so I did. The third one down was “Black Sky”, they had dedicated it people who had lost their homes. From the first note I knew that this was what I needed. I started writing whoever I could from the band and within 30 minutes got a message from Derek Morris that said “Absolutely love to help.” followed by a wonderful call just minutes later telling me how strongly they felt about the situation and they would love me to use it. Can’t thank them enough. I’ve heard that a miracle is an coincidence God snuck in when I wasn’t looking; finding that song today was a complete and wonderful coincidence.
As for the technical this was shot straight to SxS cards on a Sony PMW-F3 almost all with the kit 35mm, not a lot of time for lens changes. Other than that used an indiSLIDERair from indisystem.com that stayed mounted on my Sachtler tripod throughout the shoot. Edited in Sony Vegas, additional CC with Magic Bullet Looks.
I’ll post a link to the finished ifbtv video with Larry Gatlin and Larry’s new song “Rain on Texas” as soon as they get it online.
Mar , 12
Artist : Teera
Song : Flashy
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
Well this one was a long time coming! Teera had hit me up over a year ago about doing a video for her song “Flashy” though it never made it into production. Finally, about a month back, she hit me up again rededicated and refocused on her music. As this song pretty much demands choreography I turned once again to dancer/choreographer Carly Bell who did the choreography for Larissa Ness’s “Thoughts of You” and more recently made a second appearance in one of my other recent favs, Free Agent’s “I’m a Monster” . In short time she had tapped the three other amazing dancers, Marisa Mingea, Amanda Slick, (who were also both in Larissa Ness’s “Thoughts of You” music vid. and Alia Williams. Teera and the girls began practice and I began trying my hardest to think of a cool location that would lend itself well to this song. Knowing we were on a limited budget and didn’t have enough for a storyline the location had to be pretty spectacular.
Fast forward a couple weeks my crew and I were cruising around downtown picking up b-roll of various notable Austin spots. Had been a long day of shooting and had just finished telling them I think we have enough when I realized that we were near the Long Center and begrudgingly told the guys we needed to stop and get one more shot. As I describe it in the description of the test shot we got “As soon as we walked up the steps I near about dropped my jaw at the little disco stage installation.” It was just beyond perfect, I have no idea who’s bright idea it was to plunk down a dance stage right there but someone give that guy or gal a hug. The backdrop was incredible. I didn’t spend any time making the test shot perfect but if you’ve ever wanted to see me dance you can check out the test shot we did that night here, if you have any desire to see us be goofy, here it goes:
The rest is pretty much self-explanatory, great pop-song+beautiful charismatic singer+amazing location+hot girls+dancing+great crew+awesome camera=would have been hard to screw up this one.
In post I went completely crazy overboard with the glint and starburst filters but did very little, if any, color correction. For me those two effects took it to the next level and completely fit the theme of the song. Without doing the literal of the story arch due to a lack of budget I wanted to stress the whole “flashy” aspect of the song and provide an element that was strong enough eye candy that you overlook the fact that there’s no paparazzi nor any of the other numerous specific things mentioned in the lyrics. For me it’s kinda funny as I’ve never really cared for those two fx but in this particular vid I frikkin love em.
On a technical note, knowing that this was going to be an outdoor night shoot I finally bit the bullet on the nearly $900 Sony CBK-RGB01 Dual Link 444RGB Upgrade for my Sony F3 to enable me to shoot in S-Log. Though I recorded straight to the SXS card and didn’t get 4:4:4 with an external it still blew me away. As I already mentioned I really didn’t do much in the way of CC on this, the raw images themselves were stunning. The shots looked so good in fact that at times it almost looks like we faked the background and shot on greenscreen. The latitude between the highs and lows is markedly better, joyously better, and it made the upgrade worth every penny. That said I am still nothing but grateful that Sony dropped the price of the upgrade to around $900 as opposed to the 3 grand and change they had previously been selling it at. Edited in Sony Vegas.
As always huge thanks are due to my crew, Arturo Cavazos, Eliazar Mendoza, and Matt Friede for making my job so easy and Shane Mikeska for the great makeup!