Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fit For Rivals "Damage" Video Shoot - Day 2

The second day on the Damage video set takes place inside of a house. This setting is used for scenes from the past, just before the main character is committed and shackled in a straight jacket. The "flashbacks" give the impression that our character was in a bad place that she decides to get out of. All the shots from today took place in a bedroom and a bathroom. These were the sort of scenes that take 2 hours or more to set up, for 5 seconds of actual footage... but without them, there would be no back story for what’s going on.

The first scene was a "strange bedfellows" shot, which involved setting up a jib arm to hoist the camera 12 feet in the air inside of a bedroom, littering the set with bottles and underwear, and getting the dawn/dusk lighting to look just right while still keeping Renee's face semi-lit. We ended up letting in some outside light through the window behind the bed and through the front of the room, and we used a small soft-box to bounce light off the ceiling to the front of Renee’s face. After a little white balance tweaking, we ended up with something pretty believable.

After we moved from the bedroom scene, we went straight into the bathroom. We used another jib arm to hang the camera directly overhead of the bathtub. By this point in the video, our character has decided to take a nice relaxing bath with a handful of pills and reflect on the days events. A short while later, she is discovered floating at the top of the water in the bath tub. After a scream from her female acquaintance, a hulky rescuer charges into the bathroom and raises her out of the water. Actor Jose Rosete lends his giant image to the roll or our character’s savior.

After a few time extensive camera changes, we filmed a few more bath tub scenes incorporating some lip syncing of the song into the drama of the scene. Most shots were filmed at 24 frames per second, but to get a few arty touches, we over-cranked the camera and the CD audio by 100% and filmed Renee singing, then slowed it back down to give her motions a sort of delayed effect. The movement of her hair and the sloshing of the water will appear in slow motion, but her lip syncing will be in time with the music. A really cool and subtle in-camera trick.

We got Renee out of the tub, let her take a break for a while… up to this point her footage has consisted of many hours in a straight jacket and many hours underwater. We filmed a few quick cutaway shots of pill bottles and facets before we moved on to the final shot of the day.

The last shot is a semi “practical” special effect. We positioned Renee in front of 2 mirrors and turned one of them slightly towards the camera, giving the effect of 3 Renees at once. And through some eye line trickery, we could make it appear that the reflections in the mirror were looking at each other and laughing or yelling… then later on in post, we could cut the frame into 3 sections, and have 3 different takes of Renee on screen at the same time. Its called a “practical” effect because there is no CG or green screen involved, its purely a camera and editing trick. The effect will make the character appear even more crazy, and the performance we got from Renee was outstanding!

At the end of the day, we all plopped on a couch and watched the dailies. And after nearly every other shot someone would yell out “This one shot could be the whole video itself!” Which is a testament to Renee’s great performance and all the teamwork involved in putting this video together. None of us can wait for it to be complete!

Wednesday is our final shoot day, and it is purely a band-rocking-the-f*ck-out shot in a huge warehouse. It should be rad. Look for Ronnie Winter, lead singer of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, to make a cameo as the band’s bass player for the video.

Thanks to everyone who helped out on set as extras and as crew!

Cast and crew for day 2 of shooting:

Renee Phoenix - Rock Star Lead Singer
Gus Holwerda - Director, Producer
Luke Holwerda - Director of Photography, Producer
Thomas Amason - Producer, Crew/ set construction
Chris Herron - Producer, Crew / set construction
Jose Rosete – “Rescuer”
Alysia Holwerda – “Female acquaintance”
Brad Murren - Crew / set construction
Brenna Stephens - Hair and makeup

...and check out myspace.com/FitForRivals for music and updates.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fit For Rivals "Damage" Video Shoot - Day 1

My friend Thomas Amason and I have worked on a few projects in the past...most notably, "The Zoo", a nearly network-ready comedy cartoon, starring the voice talent of numerous rock stars. Thomas' other big project is his band "Fit For Rivals"... who are in talks with a number of major labels. We are currently shooting the band's first music video. The song is called "Damage" and the video is turning out to be amazing!

For a number of weeks prior... Thomas, the band, my brother Gus, and myself have been working on preproduction and script writing. The video in a nutshell is about a girl who has found herself in a bad situation, which has led ultimately to her insanity, resulting in a forced residency locked inside a padded cell in a loony bin, straight jacket and giant needles included!

There will also be a live band element taking place in a large silver walled warehouse. But for the first day of shooting, we focused solely on the loony bin / padded cell scenes.

As the weeks of preproduction came together... makeup and costume applied...and the set was constructed, it very evident we were on the right track. Everything was looking amazing.

We built a padded cell with 8 foot tall panels, 7 feet wide, and roughly 11 feet deep. The cell itself became almost another character of the video... and once lead singer Renee Phoenix was encased in her buckle-laden straight jacket, the scene was incredible. Shot entirely in full-HD on the RED One camera system, every image of the video is spectacular, and every detail is enhanced to it's fullest.

Renee's demented, tossled appearance for the padded cell scenes really made the image of a mad young woman really pop. Her hair and makeup was handled by HD makeup artist Brenna Stephens, girlfriend of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' drummer, Jon Wilkes

As we wrapped on day 1, after a 15 hour straight shoot, we knew the footage was looking awesome. We definitely have something magical. Now it's on to day two... flashbacks to the moments right before the jump into insanity!

Thanks to everyone who helped out on set as extras and as crew!

Cast and crew for day 1 of shooting:
Renee Phoenix - Rock Star Lead Singer
Gus Holwerda - Director, Producer
Luke Holwerda - Director of Photography, Producer
Thomas Amason - Producer, Crew/ set construction
Chris Herron - "Doctor" extra, Producer, Crew / set construction
Brad Murren - Crew / set construction
Brenna Stephens - Hair and makeup
Mike Vallone - Crew / set construction
John Clay - "Mental Patient #1"
David Hayes - "Orderly"

...and check out myspace.com/FitForRivals for music and updates.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My photos in the Spin Media Licensing Store

Over the past year I've had a few cool chance gigs that I got to cover for Spin Magazine, (Metallica, Coachella, Fall Out Boy) ...and now that relationship has sort of been parleyed into a licensing deal with them. Basically, any music related photos that I take, I can now put up for sale in the Spin Media Licensing Store online. So, if a publication needs a photo, they can buy a license to use one of my photos, and I get paid. Yay!

Click to visit the SPIN Media Licensing store

I'll be posting more photos shortly, this was just an initial burst to get a few up there... Put "Blank Image Arts" in the search box to see my stuff... and go buy a bunch!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Doctor Poncho

A number of weeks ago, my wife and I woke up and decided it was time for another dog in the house. Something small, and we wanted it to be a rescue dog. So we took a trip down to the pound and went looking. What a dreary task that became... searching through bunches of sad dogs in cages. But we had to save one. We finally settled on this little guy... a scruffy little wire brush we've since named Doctor Poncho. From what we could determine by looking at pics online, we are pretty sure he is a Border Terrier mix. What really did it for us was his little, wiry curled up tail... it would just sort of sway back and forth when he wagged it. We call it his "Q".

The reason I decided to post some photos... this poor dog, after we got him from the pound had gone through every puppy sickness imaginable: kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, infected neuter wound, high fever, even Parvo Virus! After one healthy day being at home with us, he started showing signs of being really sick... and for roughly the next month it was a terrible downhill slope for him, ending with him being hospitalized.

Eventually, he started to pull through it with the help of medications and lots of care. Not to jinx the situation, but he seems to fully recharged. He's happy, active, and his Q stays up all the time. I decided to grab a flash and get some pictures of the little guy just hanging out on the floor in my living room. I turned a lot of these black and white just because I liked the look of it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mars Volta @ Dodge Theatre

The last time The Mars Volta were in town I did shoot them... however, about 30 seconds in, lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala had me and the other photogs kicked out. So I wasn't "excited" to shoot them this time around, but I did WANT to get some shots. I managed to get a few this time around, and luckily I wasn't kicked out this time.

I'm not a fan of The Mars Volta, but they're one of those bands I'm pretty sure I would like if I gave them a chance. I'd heard a few songs, and pretty much liked what I heard... but after the diva moment Cedric had last time I saw them, I really haven't had the urge to take that step. All that aside, I could dig what I heard at this show. Maybe it's time I download an album.

Before any show, I usually have time to look around the stage, eye the gear, and see what sort of lights are going to be used. The Mars Volta didn't bring much with them... it was basically the house lights with a few strobes, floods, and some colored lights on the side of the stage. All the lights were pretty much pointed OUT towards the audience. So I was ready for a tough job getting any good pics. But there were moments.

The band was good. I want to know more about them. The crowd (1300 in a 5000+ venue) was small, but devoted. People were basically crying in the front row when the lights went down. I don't think I'll ever be that into them, but might as well give them a chance. Any time I see an original Digitech Whammy on stage, I think I can appreciate that band.