Just yesterday I landed back home after essentially a 3-day commercial shoot in Sacramento with the wonderful folks of BackYard Studios.  This is one of the biggest productions I've ever been a part of with them and I was privileged to meet quite a few new people that they are connected to in the world of film and video production.  I can't stress enough just how amazing it is to just be a part of something bigger than myself, and taking every opportunity to create new connections and build relationships with new and interesting people that share similar passions.

  • Day 1: First Location, early morning.
  • Yuki (D.P.) shooting with an Arri Alexa package this time.
  • Chris Pritzlaff checking the Video Village, Yuki wearing Easy-Rig camera support.
  • This is what it looks like when you have an actual lighting department.

The first day had 3 locations to shoot, and the 2nd day had another 3.  We were bouncing all over Sacramento and Roseville.  Long, but fun days.  To those on the outside looking in it seems like nothing but chaos.  For those of us on the inside - once you get used to how productions flow at bigger and bigger levels where there are multiple departments that need to coordinate and work simultaneously, it's actually organized chaos!  On a good production that's well informed, communicated and a good director is on top of things, it's like a circus act where all the acts are going on at once. 

With this production there was quite a bit of focus on art department which helped with set design and staging and controlling the look of the environment and products featured, and even wardrobe.  The Lighting department and camera department both have their jobs to do in the same space.  It takes some experience to start to see the orchestration, the stages and timing of when things have to be done.

  • On the set of our 2nd location.
  • Final location of the day, Getting dialed in before sunset.
  • Insert shots on a slider for some cool effect.

The 2nd day was just as crazy, thought with a slightly different pace.  The first location in the morning was a minimal crew.  While we were setting up, the camera crew had some fun.  By the second location scheduling was getting extremely tight so everyone was on their toes.  The last location was probably the hardest to decorate, and set-up which required the most time so it ran late, but the place we were granted permission to shoot at was very friendly and understanding.  If you're ever in the Roseville area and want some of the best coffee, latte, or tea and just a nice place to chill out then look up Shady Coffee & Tea.

  • Waiting for cast to arrive while setting up, Yuki decided to switch from Alexa to iPhone to shoot this shot... Just kidding!
  • First scene on this location in the middle of some busy streets, Capitol building in the background..
  • Outside the 2nd location (interior), so much goes into the illusion for properly lighting even during daylight.
  • Curtis prepping slate, Lindsey chatting with the client's product marketing director (off- camera)
  • The Final location during camera setup after Art department had finally put up all the lights.
  • Yuki rocking the Alexa on the Easy-Rig at our final location.

  While I was on this production I saw some incredible work go into lighting, Grip & Electric, art department, set decoration with props, and an incredible attention to detail.  Part of indie-filmmaking that gets talked about a lot in this day and age especially on internet blogs like No-Film-School discuss the various tips and tricks for working with what you've got.  However, as you get experience under your belt it really helps to expand your scope and the better you can plan for things like scheduling, location scouting, and even art department & makeup can go a long way toward getting your idea across.

Lighting and Art Department really were the most crucial elements in putting together this production.  Subtle things like lighting and layout of your environment (not just how you frame it in the camera) can make a huge impact on the mood.

  • Before Art Department & Lighting.
  • After Lighting, and Art Department was still setting up some of the interior with table & chair arrangement.

The 3rd and final scene was the only time I was needed for production sound.  The 3rd day I was providing production sound for the artist interviews and how-to segments.  Being production sound department all by myself meant staying light and mobile, with minimal setup time.  For this, I mainly stick with a tall pop-up tent case I've repurposed for packing all my mic stands & boom pole.  I carry a High Sierra backpack which has more than ample storage for all my necessary mic & cable options.

My primary go-to's for production sound are the Rode NTG-3 short shotgun microphone, and a Zoom H4n.  I'll take the time to prep my boom pole with the mic cable before the anticipated shoot day and keep it on stand-by, and set up at least 2-3 mic stands including a smaller desk-mic stand so in the event of a change-out or swapping from boom to the mic stands for static recording situations this minimizes downtime.

  • Interviewing Lindsey Pavao with the Rode NTG-3 and Zoom H4n, Chris is shooting on a 70D
  • After the interview, re-arranging for some different shots.
  • Candid interview with Lindsey Pavao. Chris Pritzlaff providing Camera & D.P. Nick Erickson producing and directing, Ian Trueb (off camera) assisting and BTS.

Since there's been so much focus on video and film production lately, I thought I'd share some great online resources that I've enjoyed and have learned from.  Understanding how things work at a larger level than you may be used to, educated in, or exposed to can serve as a great guide for discovering what path you want to take whether you're looking into these fields of work as a hobby, semi-professionally, or as a career.

Film Riot is a DIY and how-to Youtube channel that has built quite a following.  The host and creator - Ryan Connolly, is actually one of the judges in the My Rode Reel short film competition that was mentioned in last weeks' blog post.

NoFilmSchool is a premier online blog for filmmakers and videography news.  Especially relating to new tech & tools coming out that can help you better your craft of storytelling.

Soundworks Collection brings out the behind the scenes stories on some of the worlds largest film and video productions going on from the perspectives of sound and music. 

Video Copilot is a huge visual effects one-stop shop!  Not only does Andrew Kramer provide a ton of free visual effects and compositing tutorials for After Effects, but Video Copilot is so well versed and such a huge part of the VFX and AfterEffects communities they also develop plugins and content such as the Element 3d Plugin, Optical Flares, and more!

There are tons and tons of other resources I've found over the years I stay connected to.  These however are a great few for those looking to learn more about media production.  Don't forget to also check out Video Copilot's Youtube Channel for even more tips and tricks as they have a "Blog Show" that also covers practical effects and working with productions before getting to the visual effects and compositing stages.

While the production portion of the project is pretty much over, I will be prepping for sound editorial, mixing and mastering once the production team is through with preliminary editing.  Just one of many projects on my plate at the moment. 

This Friday I'll be volunteering my time to judging a local battle of the bands competition that's being organized and hosted by Legend Music!  I was there for round one just over a week ago and saw quite a bit of talent.  These high school teens have some serious talent and it's always refreshing to see passion for creativity so close to home!  If you're in the area on March 21st, this next round is at Sierra High School, with a $5 cover charge at the door.  All proceeds go toward the highschool music programs as donations!

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