Tag Archives: Red Epic

Smile wins Grand Prize for best music video at Showdown 8

By Randi Altman

Silver Sound’s Showdown 8 Music Video Festival took place this week at the Brooklyn Bowl, highlighting bands, showcasing music videos and naming the winner of their Best Music Video contest.

I’m proud to say that this was my fourth year as a judge of the contest and happy to report that my number one pick took home the top prize. Joe Staehly’s Smile, for artist Jay Pray, features an older woman revisiting places from her past, bringing with her a film projector that plays images of herself and friends — including one special boy — when they were young. Finally, in present day, she visits an older man in a medical facility. He clearly doesn’t recognize her and is visibly uncomfortable. The woman then turns off the lights and turns on projectors that fill the room with images of their past.

For this effort, Staehly took home the Grand Prize for the video he shot on Red Epic Dragon and Super 8 film. Smile brought the audience, and this judge, to tears. That’s right, a music video did that.

Twenty-three-year-old Staehly is a Philadelphia-based cinematographer and director at Set in Motion. Staehly, who also edited the piece, is the youngest grand prize winner in Showdown history.

Each year 21 music videos and four bands compete for the Grand Prize — Silver Sound will produce a music video with them — worth over $10,000. Staehly will be collaborating on this music video with artist Gabrielle Sterbenz.

Created eight years ago by the talents behind NYC audio post house Silver Sound, Showdown shows no sign of slowing down. “Music videos are an oft-overlooked medium that I personally find very exciting,” reports Silver Sound partner/festival director Cory Choy. “Music video directors take risks, both narratively and technically, that other filmmakers, who have to worry about dialogue, aren’t willing to take. It’s a challenge, but it’s also incredibly freeing and exciting to experience two stories simultaneously — the story that the music is telling, and the story that the movie is telling. The way these stories interact and resonate with each other… that’s what music videos are about.”

Shooting Creatively: Red Bull, BMX and the Silverdome

By Alex Horner

I’m a director/DP based out of Minneapolis with seven years of experience in commercials and branded content under my belt. I seek to find untold stories in the least expected places. While some prefer to have every bit of their shoot follow a specific path on location, I welcome the challenge of unfamiliar places, different ideas and variable scenarios.

Such was the case with Red Bull at the abandoned Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan at the end of last year. I created a video featuring 19-year-old BMX rider Tyler Fernengel that has received close to five million views on YouTube to date.

I’ve shot a variety of projects with Red Bull over the years. This time, Ryan Taylor and I were approached to co-direct a video that would bring life back into the abandoned Silverdome with BMX — and we had the creative freedom to tell the story the way we wanted.

Action sports can be challenging to shoot because nothing is guaranteed. The rider may be having an off week, or they could get injured during filming. There’s only so much that we can control and plan for, including the weather.

We had four days to shoot the Silverdome spot, and we had to be careful about how we did it. Most of the set-ups were physically taxing for Tyler, and we could only film two or three of them in a day. It wasn’t worth pushing him to land a trick on the first day if it meant he would sustain an injury that would effect the rest of the shoot. He was having trouble with his ankle to begin with, but he powered through it. To top it all off, the temperature was in the low 40s, which added to the challenge.

Say you’re an athlete, and you’re supposed to perform a trick on command. If it’s particularly risky or dangerous, you’re probably going to feel the most confident at the first sign of an adrenaline rush. Our shoot relied on harnessing these moments with Tyler to make sure we were getting the best shots. He was patient when we needed more time to set up, even if his mind was telling him to go.

A lot of the set-ups were elaborate and technical. There was no room for error, which can be stressful for an athlete, especially when the camera is rolling. But with Tyler we were able to pull off a series of incredible shots. He’s the most professional athlete I’ve worked with.

Since the Silverdome doesn’t have elevators, we needed to be as light and nimble as possible. Our small crew consisted of the build team (ramps), producer, assistant camera, sound, gaffer, grip, drone operator, Ryan and myself. We had a golf cart on hand to shuffle gear to different sections of the stadium.

The Shoot
The Red Epic and Scarlet Dragon with Nikon primes and zooms fit the bill for this shoot. And, since YouTube supports 4K resolution, we had reason to finish in 4K. The Scarlet was our dedicated Movi M15 cam, which spared us from having to accommodate the 30 to 45 minutes required to switch cameras. The Trost slider was also a must-have. With that, we pulled off shots that would have otherwise involved a jib arm or a dolly.

We squeaked by with lights running off Honda putt putts: the Arri 1.2 HMI, Joker 800 with octabox and 1×1 LEDs. We were able to use natural lighting for most of our shots, except for the stairwell section, which was completely dark. We had a Sprinter van onsite for various grip needs, too.

I bring the Trost Motion slider to just about every shoot. Seventy-five percent of the time, it’s on a dolly with the Mitchell plate – usually a Super PeeWee III or a Fisher 10-11. I use it for slider moves, but also to reposition the camera quickly and easily. Instead of moving the dolly, I can slide the camera left or right with a simple adjustment. It’s especially handy if I’m shooting on a tabletop, when the camera needs to move half an inch to the left or the right.

Something like that can be tricky to execute on the dolly, but not with this slider. I also use it as an offset arm to shoot overheads, and through car windows — all while still being able to reposition the camera. It’s all the more useful because it has a variety of uses other than a slider.

My Red Epic Dragon weighs around 20 to 25 pounds once I have it built, but the slider handles it with ease and allows for smooth adjustments with zero play in the sled. While the Trost Motion can be on the heavier side for travel, I strap it to my F-Stop bag when hiking in remote locations. With a set of carbon Manfrotto sticks, head, a 100mm half ball, and a monopod for support, I can use it anywhere. It sets up in five minutes.

The Post
We worked on MacBook Pros running Adobe Premiere and edited natively with the R3Ds. We finished the film in 4K for YouTube. To save time on the back end, we came up with a look in-camera. When it came time for color, there wasn’t a whole lot left we needed to do other than balance the images out.

I like working on a MacBook Pro due to its mobility, and find that working outside of the office helps with creativity in the edit. Between the MacBook Pro and 5K iMac, the two machines offer everything I need when it comes to editing.

Chase Brandau and Nick Mihalevich handled all of the sound design. Sound was a huge part of the film, due to the haunting sounds of the Silverdome. The howling of wind through the halls, shifting HVAC vents, dripping water, etc.

Without sugar coating it, the Silverdome shoot was a grueling four days in tough conditions. But when you have the right gear and it all works perfectly — cameras, sliders, lighting and a solid crew — you end up with an awesome story to share. It’s all worth it.

Alex Horner is a director and DP at Minneapolis-based Horner Pictures.

King and Country shoots, posts Ford Transit spot for Team Detroit

To help promote the 2015 Ford Transit utility van, agency Team Detroit tapped King and Country (K&C) to produce a 30-second spot, 9 to 5’ers, which mixes 3D animation, design and live-action footage.

K&C’s concept was to illustrate how a variety of professionals can use the Transit models — from contractors to deliverymen to IT specialists, etc. The spot shows how different workers and companies can customize these vans to suit their needs. “You don’t drive to an office, your van is your office,” explains the voiceover.

“Combining live-action and CG allowed for the best coverage of the Transit, inside and out,” explains K&C partner/director Efrain Montanez. “The key to transitioning from scene to scene was keeping the tempo of the pod movements dynamic, which we achieved with a range of zooms and perspective shifts, and evenly proportioned so you seamlessly experience the singular flexibility of the model.”


According to Paul Kirner and Dan Weber, creative directors at Team Detroit, “For us, the key was collaboration. Our commercial was intricate, fast-paced and CG-intense. We needed a partner with the design chops to create something beautiful and real, and the communication skills to make sure every detail was nailed. King and Country worked in perfect sync with us, from early concept boards all the way through final post.”

“By varying the van colors and transforming the interiors in CG, as well as the graphic aesthetics, we were able to express the immense versatility of the Transit for the various occupations featured in the spot,” says Montanez.

The 2D graphics unfold on an orange, black and white palette. These two elements were layered with the flexibility to stand alone or integrate with the 3D world. The K&C team also designed fictional business logos for the different vans.

K&C shot the spot, using a Red Epic camera over two-days at a soundstage in LA, using both greenscreen and practical sets, including one where a cross-section of a man cave was flooded with 3,000 gallons of water.

Interior and exterior van details, props, and talent were captured in-camera and augmented in CG. Lighting was used to create the realistic look of the vehicles within the varied environments. Rather than studio lighting, K&C used warm natural light, which pops from the graphic background.

Tools used by K&C included Gazelle Motion Control, Autodesk Maya 3D software and Adobe After Effects for compositing.


Doctor helps patients climb mountains with 4K/5K imagery

This space is typically held for articles about broadcast, film, web or corporate projects, but this particular story was just too compelling to ignore. So to quote Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

Trek Visions is a company that is visually bringing the world to patients recovering from catastrophic physical and mental injuries with its proprietary software that runs on 42-inch TV monitors at rehab facilities.

What started as a hobby for Trek Visions CEO Dr. Joseph Ludwig has evolved from recording his encounters during climbing expeditions of the world’s most rugged and mountainous terrain to professional physical-rehab applications currently used at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Continue reading

Using humor to tell serious story for Greenpeace

By Randi Altman

When you think of the environmental organization Greenpeace, images of people protecting whales, forests and oceans come to mind. It’s serious business… but recently the non-profit decided to extend its reach with humor.

While Greenpeace videos are well viewed, it’s mostly Greenpeace enthusiasts and activists who hit play. In order to reach a more general audience the organization turned to comedy, specifically LA-based writer/director/editor Olivier Agostini.

This filmmaker has a lot of public service work experience where he uses humor to help tell a serious story. And he’s got the awards to prove it, including a first place finish for his film Piñata at the 2010 Rome Film Festival, as well as Emmys, a Gold Addy, a Silver Telly and Continue reading