Category Archives: On the Road

My Passion Project: We Call Her Yolanda

By Anthony Bari Jr.

For the past couple years, I’ve been producing a documentary called We Call Her Yolanda. After volunteering on disaster relief in the Philippines in the aftermath of 2013’s super typhoon, I was taken with the people’s positivity and resiliency even though they had lost everything, including loved ones and livelihoods. I was inspired to go back and start filming a documentary, the shooting for which just wrapped.

While the rest of the world knew the devastating storm as Typhoon Haiyan, Filipinos had their own name for it — Super Typhoon Yolanda. As such, We Call Her Yolanda was an apt title for the film.

Production
For We Call Her Yolanda, we completed four shoots over two years on a mix of cameras and formats. We used two GoPro Hero4 Black cameras (one was mounted on a drone and the other was first-person view), two Canon C300s, a Sony FS7 and a Canon 5D Mark II. We always travelled with at least two laptops for transcoding and media management. We also carried G-Technology hard drives in our backpacks. I relied heavily on software presets for this project, setting up a bunch of them before we left for the Philippines so we could bag and tag all files during the trip.

Just one of Bari’s shooting setups.

For those who are still dragging and dropping hundreds of gigabytes of media from card to drive, beware. That method is wide open to error. ShotPut Pro, Imagine Products’ offloading app, is my go-to tool for safely offloading media. Computers and technology aren’t perfect, so offloading camera cards and making multiple backups is incredibly important. Version 6 has a new interface that looks just like the Finder window on my Mac.

The software’s checksumming capability verifies the integrity of every data transfer and raises a flag if things don’t add up. This feature is not only important for ensuring complete backups, but it also helps pinpoint problems with hardware or systems — and gives me the visual tools to explain the problems to clients.

Rather than just sticking a camera in people’s faces and asking them for their stories during the Yolanda shoots, we spent a lot of time getting to know people and making them comfortable with our team and the technology. Meanwhile, we shot lots of B-roll. Between the relationship building, the filming, the travel and other rigors of the shoot, it was a busy project that kept our whole team going nonstop — which meant I couldn’t always take care of media management myself like I would prefer.

Another critical tool in my data-wrangling workflow also happens to be from Imagine Products — ProxyMill transcoding software, which they recently revamped into PrimeTranscoder. I use this software’s presets a lot. By digging into the tools on the preset menu, flipping switches, or checking/unchecking boxes in the interface, I can program all sorts of functionality and even map certain functions to specific scenarios. For example, I can merge multiple interviews into a single low-res file and program the tool to apply timecode and/or a LUT file to it before sending to a producer or client for review. The fact that I can kick out a low-resolution, color corrected clip that has everything on it and send it off immediately is a big deal. I just dial it in, save it, and it’s ready to go.

Street view of San Joaquin.

The best part about this is that I don’t have to man the station the whole time. I’m ultimately responsible for the data, and I get very nervous when I don’t have control over it, but this workflow lets me delegate the media management duties when needed and trust that it will be done right, even by people with no post experience.

I like to work with native formats whenever possible, but sometimes you have to rely on proxies, especially when some of the footage is shot in data-heavy 4K. With this project, I used Imagine Products’ HD-VU2. This quality-check tool allowed me to preview footage in its native format after a shoot and decide which footage to pull. Then we’d apply ProxyMill to color correct it or add timecode as needed, and then transcode it into one massive ProRes clip using the clip-stitch feature. This capability came in handy when merging all interviews into one file for the translator and when selecting and stabilizing “best-of” drone footage to get it ready for editing later in Adobe Premiere.

Upon returning from the Philippines after each shoot, I made a strict practice of cloning the data from the portable drives onto multiple 4TB G-Technology desktop drives that are more suitable for editing. (We aim never to edit from the portable drives!) During the shoot, there were a handful of moments when we were literally sitting under a coconut tree with a long cable connected to a generator. That made for very unconventional (and nerve-wracking) media management, so I always go for gear with a dedicated power source whenever possible.

Post
Back in Los Angeles working on post for Yolanda, I turned my home into a post production studio. I worked with a carefully chosen team of eight pro editors who operated in rotation at my house, often late into the night. I supplied the food and drinks (you’ve got to keep up morale!), and they showed up and got to work. Some editors brought their own laptops, while others used my two spare MacBook Pros. All computers were equipped with Adobe Premiere CC.

The G-Technology desktop drives each contained the same set of footage, so whenever someone picked up a project, they simply ripped away at the footage from one of those drives. There were also two smaller G-Technology drives floating around with a total of about 600GB of extra footage (such as 4K drone footage) that people could select as needed. I used Basecamp to track the project and assign the work, and CalDigit Thunderbolt stations helped with connectivity.


Anthony Bari is a director/engineer/editor/post consultant. In addition to his freelance and consulting roles, he has worked on major sporting events, TV shows, reality shows and documentaries. He earned an Emmy Award as part of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on FS1 technical team.

 

Behind the Title: Broadcast Management Group’s Todd Mason

NAME: Todd Mason

COMPANY: Broadcast Management Group (BMG) with offices in DC, NYC and LA.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Broadcast Management Group (BMG) is a video production company that focuses on music, news and entertainment events. We work with networks, event companies and digital media companies on multi-camera productions live to air or live to the web. We handle all of the technical design, engineering and management for each production as well as all the crewing, transmissions and overall logistics.

Additionally, we provide creative and editorial solutions as well as broadcast consulting services. We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop-shop for live production.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
CEO and Executive in Charge of Production.

Live streaming for Mashable during SXSW was one recent job for BMG.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As CEO, I’m involved in all of the day-to-day activity for the company as well as long-term strategic planning and client development. During our live productions, I serve as the executive in charge of production, in which I’m responsible for all aspects of the production. My job is to ensure that everything is running smoothly – from a technical, editorial and personnel perspective – and deal with any last-minute changes.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Like most CEOs, I’m involved in all facets of the company — business development, accounting, marketing, etc. I think people would be surprised by how much of the hands-on work I participate in.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
It’s hard to explain to people outside of the industry, but there’s an adrenaline rush that you get during a live production. That’s my favorite part of the job. At BMG, we like to say that we’re adrenaline junkies.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Being on the road constantly is a challenge for me and my family.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Early morning before everyone else is in the office and there aren’t any distractions.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Growing up I wanted to be a truck driver. I don’t know what it was that drew me to that, but I always told my parents it was something I wanted to do. Luckily, I found television production instead.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
When I was growing up, the church I attended started to televise their weekly church services. I was fascinated by all of the technology and the live production aspect. I was able to negotiate my way into being on the production crew — even though I was younger than the required age limit — and I was immediately hooked.

The Oscars party for IMDb.


CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

In February, Broadcast Management Group produced a live Oscars Watch Party for IMDb. The program consisted of a 30-minute pre-show, 30-minute post show and a three-hour second screen show that ran concurrent to the Oscars broadcast. The show streamed live on Twitter and Twitch and drew 13 million viewers. After that, we produced live programming for Mashable during SXSW in Austin. Our program streamed live on Twitter and featured interviews with actors, celebrities and musicians. Currently, we’re in the middle of two large consulting projects for TD Ameritrade and Verizon and will be producing some additional live programming at San Diego Comic-Con in July.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
About a year ago, we completed a consulting project for the International Center for Journalists. We built out a full production operation in Karachi, Pakistan at a local university. It was designed to train aspiring journalists and newsroom crews and allow them to hone their craft. It was great to be part of such an ambitious project, especially one that has a positive impact on people’s lives and contributes to the broadcast community as a whole.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone (since I’m always on it), my laptop and Google Drive (which I’ve just learned to love).

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
LinkedIn and Facebook mostly.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I do. Mostly whatever comes up in my iTunes playlist.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Excersing and keeping up with my landscaping at home.

Dell 6.15

Flanders Scientific offering two transport cases for OLEDs

Have OLED monitor, will travel? If that’s the case, Flanders Scientific, which offers broadcast monitors and other solutions for production to post, has two options for you.

The first is a new compact custom hardshell transport case for all FSI 24.5-inch OLED monitors. It features a lift-out monitor caddy, with a compartment for a hood, cablesHARD SHELL INSIDE and other accessories. The fully waterproof latching Hardshell Transport Case ($695) is 29 pounds and 32 by 21 by 13-inches big. Inside, custom foam, designed specifically for 24.5-inch FSI OLED monitors — including the AM250, CM250 and DM250 — allows users to put a monitor into the case with FSI’s MM100 VESA to LightStand mount still attached. It’s not designed for use with a desktop stand attached.

The second option is FSI’s TC27 Rolling Trolley Case ($495), which is a lighter and more compact carrying case that has the additional benefit of being able to accommodate a monitor with desktop stand, yoke mount or VESA to LightStand Mount still attached. The TC27 zippered case is made of thermoformed plastic wrapped in cordura and ballistic nylon, which can also be checked as baggage when flying.

The TC27 trolley can easily accommodate most flat panel monitors ranging in size from 23 to 27 inches, including any generation of Apple’s 27-inch iMac computers. It can also be used on many monitors with a yoke mount or VESA to LightStand mount attached. Weighing in at 23.2 pounds, it includes a built-in retractable handle, interior foam padding and oversized wide-base wheels.

Both products can be found at www.shopfsi.com.


Stitch beefs up staff with editor Gabriel Britz

Editor Gabriel Britz has joined LA-based creative editorial shop Stitch. Britz comes to Stitch from Rock Paper Scissors, where he started as an assistant straight out of film school,  which he attended at the University of California San Diego.

Britz, who works in a variety of styles and genres, says, “I love the creative process of editing, of working with people and really digging in to find the best way to tell the story. That’s especially true in documentary work, where you’re essentially writing the film in the editing room.”

“When you look across the breadth of his work it’s easy to see why Gabe is a great complement to our roster here at Stitch,” says partner/editor Dan Swietlik. “Whether working in an action genre like he’s done for Halo or playing with design and motion graphics, like in his title sequences for shows like Masters of Sex or Justified, he’s got a knack for getting at the heart of what the script, show or brand is about.”

The Masters of Sex title work is a good example of Britz’s versatility; the sequence looks like it was built from vintage stock footage and stock images, all of which depict visual metaphors for doing the dirty deed. According to Britz, almost all of the images seen were crafted by the production crew at Elastic, the VFX and production arm of RPS, often shooting on tabletop in their own studio. (You can check it out here.)