Australian Baseball League Approved

Australian Baseball League Approved

In the run up to one of the most-anticipated Australian Baseball League (ABL) championship series in years, Adelaide Bite will attempt to end the Perth Heat’s four season dynasty. Gearing up for the main event and the ESPN coverage, I got to shoot one of those great moody slow-mo promotional pieces. As well as getting some more abstract shots and grabs for the games broadcast; myself and producer Jeremy Markham spent the day interviewing the team on their fears and hopes for the Championship game and the season so far.

Images are stills taken from the footage in the quickly erected studio in General Manager – Nathan Davison’s office (thanks for your help Nathan) and some action play from the Bite’s game with the Melbourne Aces.

Adelaide Bite Manager - Brooke Knight

Adelaide Bite Manager – Brooke Knight

Tom Brice (no.25) holds the best batting average in the entire ABL

Tom Brice (no.25) holds the best batting average in the entire ABL

Heavy Leather Hardware

Heavy Leather Hardware

LA Dodgers draft pick Brandon Dixon (No.20) is the Bite’s second baseman.

LA Dodgers draft pick Brandon Dixon (No.20) is the Bite’s second baseman.

Tyler Brunnemann showing his changeup pitch grip.

Closing Pitcher Tyler Brunnemann (No.23) showing his changeup pitch grip.

Fear the beard! Matt Williams (No.19) The Bite's starting Pitcher.

Fear the beard! Matt Williams (No.19) The Bite’s starting Pitcher.

Adelaide out to bite Perth Heat

Adelaide out to bite Perth Heat

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Batting line-up

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Looking to first…

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Dixon is tipped to be the star of the series after leading the league in stolen bases, runs and doubles.

Thanks to James Watson of Accel Media for setting it all up and to Jeremy for an interesting shoot and bringing me up to speed on the league and lingo. Good luck to the whole team in trying to bring the Claxton Shield to SA for the first time in 35 years!

The Australian Baseball League

ESPN Coverage

The AMCR start line.

The Aussie Muscle Car Run start line.

Just a quick post to mark a successful conclusion to nine consecutive days of filming and editing on the road with the Aussie Muscle Car Run and an amazing bunch of people. Since it’s inception in 2012 the AMCR has raised more than $1.1 million for the Leukaemia Foundation and its Vision to Cure, Mission to Care.

This year some would say the home of the ‘Aussie Muscle Car’ was the highlight destination. Leaving from the Clipsal 500 start line in Adelaide on the 31st of October, the entrants cruised to Bathurst, where they took part in a super sprint event on the legendary Conrod Straight. They also tore up the ashphalt with some time trials at the Winton Raceway and competed at the Legends Of The Lakes Hillclimb event at Mt Gambier. All up, the teams covered over 3100 km, and raised over half a million dollars, making this years event the most successful yet.

Lined up and ready to go. 50 teams and a ton of horse power

Lined up and ready to go. Fifty teams and a ton of horsepower

Interviewing Jeff Pahl from Car 72 and Tam Green with Envy

Interviewing Jeff Pahl from Car 72 and Team ‘Green with Envy’

A timelapse running on the Sony EX1 to capture scrutineering

A timelapse running on the Sony EX1 to capture scrutineering

Sgt. John Illingworth from SAPOL delivers the daily safety briefing.

Sgt. John Illingworth from SAPOL delivers the daily safety briefing.

On the grid at Bathurst

On the grid at Bathurst

Next year the event is expanding to include runs in Western Australia and the Northern Territory as well as continuing on with the South Australian based event. For more information head over to the AMCR website.

As well as a daily update we filmed some pre-event videos to raise awareness for the event.

Stuart Speck's immaculate Purple People Eater.

Stuart Speck’s immaculate Purple People Eater.

For some action on the run itself here’s one of the videos from the day the AMCR hit the bitumen at Bathurst.

Congratulations to all the partcipants and thanks to Kristy, Rose, Kevin, and Millie for a trip of a lifetime. Note: Big thanks to the brilliantly talented Andrew Beveridge of asbCreative for some of the behind the scenes still images for this post.

It would be an understatement to say that camera technology is advancing rather rapidly at the moment. In the last twelve months alone the major manufacturers together have released more than 25 new models of camera, it’s an interesting time to work in the moving images business. A cynic might suggest that this technological push has a little more to do with profit margins than it does image quality per-say. None the less there’s been a huge push for the modern magic lanterns to be capturing in Ultra HD or 4K (yes that’s right 4x the resolution of current full HD).

While not suitable for every project there are certainly some jobs where it’s just what ‘s required. Red Bikini had recently been given the task of creating a teaser video for the new Kangaroo Island tourist attraction – The Wilderness Trail.  The South Australian Department of Environment Water & Natural Resources (DEWNR) are investing five million dollars to develop the track that will allow walkers to explore the coast line and heartland of Kangaroo Island.  They needed some stunning aerial footage of the tracks key features.

Without a budget for a full Tyler Mount heli shoot, we needed to find a solution that would allow us to smooth out the footage while also giving the option to reframe in post for particular geographic details. Fenton Film Hire very kindly helped us out with their new MOVI M10 for some gimbal stabilised goodness, and Urban Cine sourced us a 4K Blackmagic  Production camera.

The BMPC and Movi10

The BMPC and MOVI M10 with genuine Kangaroo Island artifacts

Being a weather dependent shoot we needed two consecutive days of good weather that would give the best chance of golden hour footage at dawn and dusk. Peter McSherry from South Coast Helicopters did a great job of getting us down to Kangaroo Island from Strathalbyn at short notice and keeping the chopper as stable as possible in some of the windy conditions we experienced.

Peter McSherry (South Coast Helicopters) and Justin (Red Bikini) prepping the Robinson 44

Peter McSherry (South Coast Helicopters) and Justin O’Brien (Red Bikini) prepping the Robinson R44

Squeezing into the R44, elbows in, no bumping the pilot please

Squeezing into the R44, elbows in, no bumping the pilot please

Peter seems confident...we'll be fine!

Peter seems confident…we’ll be fine!

A cabin GoPro showing some 4K capture in action

A cabin GoPro showing some 4K capture in action

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One of Peter’s GoPro’s on the chopper skid showing the golden hour lighting we had arranged

While myself, Peter and Justin were in the air, Dani from Red Bikini was on the ground shooting the additional trail footage with DEWNR staff on the 5D MkIII.

To maximise options in post we were shooting uncompressed 4K (3840×2160) on the BMPC, this did lead to a few tense moments as we backed up the footage in the evening from the solid state drives as we couldn’t preview the individual captured frames (as it turned out the footage needs to be ingested into DaVinci Resolve to see these properly). But after two days of filming we had more than 350GB of footage to be massaged into the final edit. I’d love to be able to say that the awesome end result which you can see here came straight out of the camera, but that would be denying the amazing work of Dan Principe at Red Bikini who worked some magic of his own in grading, stablising and interpolating the footage.

DEWNR are very happy with the end result, and justifiably so I think. The quality of the 4K image when scaled down to the HD frame looks incredibly lush and rich. Uncompressed 4K is not the easiest of workflows however and places a fair few demands on the hardware end of postproduction, its not to be tackled for fast turn around work unless you wish to increase ones stress levels to an equivalent 4K level.

Thanks again to Dani, Justin and Dan at Red Bikini for the work, red wine and golden hour grading and to Peter at South Coast Helicopters for the great flying and tolerance at Kiwi humour. Last up a few pics snapped on the iPhone on the way back to Strathalbyn, Kangaroo Island really is quite stunning. It’s enough to make one want to go on a five day walk!

Flying over Kangaroo Island on the way back to Strathalbyn

Flying over Kangaroo Island on the way back to Strathalbyn

Pelican Lagoon Conservation Reserve

Pelican Lagoon Conservation Reserve

 

…it’s a dolly shot that will roughly cover 25-35 metres and that will run in two parts in front of 30+ vehicles and trucks that represent an 80 year timeframe?! As part of a corporate video that celebrates the 80th birthday for the CMV Group we were facing a slight problem until I remembered that recently, after hiring a flash unit from Fenton Film Hire for some stills work, that I’d noticed a newly opened box sitting in the corner of Hugh’s Norwood office.

Its been just a little over a year since the MOVI by Freefly Systems was unveiled on a blog post by Vincent Laforet. Since then there seems to have been a scramble for everyone and their mechanically gifted dog to jump on the camera/gimbal bandwagon and there are now at least five other companies marketing miraculous mechanical solutions for smooth shots that rely on gimbal technology (Defy, The DJI Ronin, Varavon’s Birdycam, the gStabi, and the Allsteady).

Reading the plethora of opinions on the interwebs it seems however that the Freefly MOVI systems are still the easiest and most reliable systems to use (although clearly not the cheapest to purchase outright). At $5000 US for the smaller payload M5 its a significant outlay for a piece of equipment and one that thankfully Hugh at Fenton Film Hire took, as it became rather clear that this was the only way we were going to get this shot!

The Movi 5 - all good to go

The Movi M5 – all good to go

For a very reasonable $250 day rental we were able hire the M5 kit to set up the Movi with a MkIII and a 16-35. Hugh was very generous with his time showing me how to set and properly balance the camera in the cradle and gave me a good run-down on the operational side of things. As he said himself though once you have this setup properly your Mum could operate it with very satisfactory results!

Super easy camera cage

Super easy camera cage

The entire kit breaks down into a very easy to move custom Pelican case with all the tools you need and various bits in the right place. I did have a little more difficulty balancing the camera with the 16-35mm than with the 24-70mm, but the general rule of thought is to try to run these with fixed lenses as you’re then able to maintain the balance more easily, but because we needed some flexibility with the framing of the shot on the day I opted to run the two zoom lenses and re-balance as needed.

The Fenton Film Hire Movi Case

The Fenton Film Hire Movi Case

While I haven’t had the opportunity to use the other stabilizers on the market, I think one of the key reasons for using the MOVI system is the software that runs the rig. After downloading the software and using a bluetooth connection it’s very easy to wirelessly fine-tune the responsiveness/rigidity of the ‘Majestic Mode’ (the single operator mode for the rig). With normal stabilizer shots you might want some play and smoothness in the way the rig responds to to tilting or panning, but in this situation we needed the rig to almost be locked down. Trying to emulate a 35 metre dolly track and finely trained Dolly Grip pushing the camera slowly for that length of time (a 10-15 second shot) meant the camera needed to be locked in position as best as possible.

Getting Level - well almost

Getting Level – well almost

Using the software and step wise tuning the Pan/Roll axis and Tilt Stiffness it was fairly easy to get the camera locked and mostly level. The only trouble I had at this point was that because I had ratcheted up the stiffness of the system to such a level, the camera was tilting up ever so slightly. While this was a worry the night before, on the day of the shoot it turned out to be a bonus as we needed the slight tilt to leave enough room for the size of some of the Kenworth trucks in the framing of the shot.

On the day, once we had everything balanced and had Josh the director from The Kingdom practice his driving with perfect pacing down the line of vehicles in the Mercedes Transit, it was time for me on perch myself on a step inside the mighty Sprinter with the side door open holding the camera as well braced as I could.

The epic Movi/Mercedes transit dolley

Terry at the start of the epic Movi/Mercedes-Transit Van dolly shot

So while it might be a somewhat counterintuitive tool for a the job, the MOVI performed brilliantly, the finished shot (a seamless edit of several close and wide runs that we did on the day) is absolutely smooth and faultless. I can’t recommend it and Fenton Film Hires services enough if you need this level of smooth motion in your production. Many thanks to Sarah at CMV, Josh from The Kingdom, D Tang, Bayley and Dani at RedBikini for getting us over the finish line.

Get outta the way! There’s a freight train of funk about to steam right over your ass. Do you know Betty Davis, the rock funk fusion pioneer of the early 70’s? Once married to Miles Davis, close friends of Jimi Hendrix, hanging with Sly, Santana, Clapton and The Pointer Sisters?  On hearing the name “Betty Davis” you might conjure up the formidable 50’s actress of the silver screen, but be warned there is another force to be reckoned with who is all sass, legs, deep funk and bluesy soul. She is Betty Mabry Davis.

Cecelia Low channeling Betty Davis

The funkiest damn show this side of Pittsburg

There’s nothing better than being able to work on a project that is not only brilliant in it’s creativity, but is also one driven by some talented and dear friends. I’ve spent a couple of weeks helping out Cecilia Low and Cameron Zayec as they launched “They Say She’s Different” an hour long funk popp’n stage show about the musical career and influence of Betty Mabry Davis. It’s a feast of live music, pre-recorded video interludes and live projection.

“I felt like I was truly having the experience I never thought I would be able to physically have. Seeing Betty live!” Daniel Oh, Melbourne.

Cecilia Low channeling Betty Davis in the early days

Cecilia Low channeling Betty Davis in the early days

Tony Kopa aka one of the Chambers Brothers who played with Betty Davis in the 70s

Tony Kopa and Glenn Reither as two of the Chambers Brothers who played with Betty in the 70s

Phil Ceberano in full Hendrix

Phil Ceberano screaming out one of the shows signature Hendrix riffs

After bringing the house down in Melbourne for one night only at the DingDong Lounge, Betty and band featured as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival receiving some rave reviews and setting tongues a waggling for those who were looking for a gritty, loud, dirty, fun and funky experience.

Making it funky at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Making it funky at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival

A still from one of the mind-blowing rear projection storys DOP'd by Cammy Z

A still from one of the mind-blowing rear projection storys DOP’d by Cammy Z

Congratulations to Cecilia, Cammy Z, Tony Kopa, Phil Ceberano, Greg Patten, Glenn Reither, Eliza Wolfgramm and Kenneth Moraleda for creating a spine tingling and back feel in motion full funk experience. Keep an eye on the web site and the They Say She’s Different facebook page for updates and to see when this train of soulful sin will be arriving in your town!

Betty D takes us out

Betty D brings it to a close

They loved it! so will you!!!

Max Cooper Adelaide Union Review

The Barefoot Review

The Clothesline

So much food, so little time – life can be truly cruel. Ten days, eighty events and more than 50 internationally acclaimed food aficionados, this years Tasting Australia festival has unfortunately been a feast for the eyes only for this particular cameraman. Although, in line with the motto for the festival, ‘Eat, Drink, Think, Participate’, there’s been plenty of food for thought.

Filming for SA Tourism and KoCo Media, it’s been a hectic but interesting ten days. The bi-annual festival was started in 1997, but this is the first year that it’s been locally run and the program devised by co-directors Paul Henry and Simon Bryant. With an ‘Origins’ theme – recognising the importance of place, both for chefs and for produce – the culinary event celebrates the idea of focusing on the real food heroes. In today’s fast food culture it feels like a ‘welcome call’ back to the wild. I think the idea of elevating and celebrating the producers (butchers, bakers, cheese makers, fishermen, and farmers), over and above the chefs themselves is a great way to remind us eaters and drinkers to pause and appreciate the work and dedication of people who value and champion the slow food culture.

A whole farm came to town! Tasting Australia Town Square in the heart of Adelaide CBD.

A whole farm came to town! The Tasting Australia Town Square in the heart of Adelaide CBD.

The northern side of Victoria Square, christened Town Square for the duration of the festival, was transformed into a hub showcasing each of South Australia’s unique food and wine regions in one location. With a distinct farmyard feel many different events were carried out here – from ‘Fork on the road’, a street food party with dozens of food trucks in one spot, to ‘The Producer’s Picnic’, where local market stalls sprawled out across the square, turning it into a city sized picnic area. Particularly popular were a number of on-stage masterclass presentations from well known celebrity chefs.

Culinary icon -  Cheong Liew talks through preparing The Four Dances of the Sea

Culinary icon – Cheong Liew talks through preparing one of his signature dishes

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Cheong Liew’s – The Four Dances of the Sea

We managed to escape the city and get out to some of the events in the heart of the food and wine regions of South Australia, the Barossa and McLaren Vale. One of the most interesting was ‘A Trio of Consuming Attitudes’,  a dinner event featuring fresh food and artisan wine from chefs Matt Wilkinson, of Pope Joan in Melbourne, and the Barossa’s ‘Food Luddite’ Mark McNamara. Guests were treated to inspirational calls to action on sustainable farming from Joel Salatin who, according to TIME magazine, is the ‘The World’s Best Farmer’.

A Trio of Consuming Attitudes - Held at Artisans of the Barossa

A Trio of Consuming Attitudes – Held at Artisans of the Barossa

We caught up with Joel the following day for an interview (on the first truly cold and rainy day of Autumn). He’s an impassioned and credible authority on the dangers of industrialised food production and warmly conveys his arguments for a movement towards sustainable farm practices and management. If anyone needed convincing of the benefits of moving towards more holistic agriculture, Joel would be the person to convince them.

Joel Salatin - "The world's most innovative farmer"

Joel Salatin  “The world’s most innovative farmer”

Towards the end of the festival we were back into town for one of the most anticipated events on the schedule, the ‘Nose to Kale’ dinner, hosted by Fergus Henderson, Ian Curley, and Andrew Davies at Press* Food & Wine. The name Fergus Henderson is instantly recognised in the culinary world; his ‘nose to tail’ approach has become an intrinsic part of contemporary gastronomy, not only in UK but around the world.

I guess with a dinner titled nose to Kale...

I guess with a dinner titled “Nose to Kale…

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…deep fried Kale chips are the order of the day.

Ian Curley puts the finishing touches to a raw salmon apertif

Chef Ian Curley puts the finishing touches to a raw salmon apertif

On the last night of the festival, Tasting Australia went out with a bang by holding one of the most impressive pop-up dinner events – the Original Dinner. 30 chefs in a secret location prepared to whet appetites with  amazing food, taking the meaning of secret dinner to a whole new level, or as they put it – the nightclub for foodies.

A Shiek & Sheba giving a slightly spifflicated interview at the Origins dinner Gin Palace

Jon Lark (Kangaroo Island Spirits) in a spifflicated interview at the Origins dinner Gin Palace

‘Causes & Cures’ White Vermouth over ice – one of Paul Henry’s favorite things!

I’m seriously hoping that next time Tasting Australia rolls around we can do a little less filming and a lot more devouring. If you’re at all a lover of the gastronomic then I’d be penciling it into your calendar for 2016 now. Here’s one of the clips produced while we were still in the Barossa; Tasting Australia patron Maggie Beer’s ‘Long Lunch’

 

I’ve just heard that the newly released DVD of “Lasseter’s Bones” by Umbrella Entertainment has sold 1000 units in one day – rock on Lasseterians!

I’m wrapped that people are so keen to share in Bob’s incredible story, and watch Luke’s frustration as he follows the trail left by Harold Bell Lasseter more than 80 years ago. I feel very lucky to have been involved in this project and to be a part of the retelling of this story; the chance to travel and film in the Northern Territory was just incredible, it really is like no other place on earth.

Here’s a recent review of the film with Al Cossar on ABC Breakfast.


And another 4 star-tastic verdict from 2UE’s That Movie Shows’ Blake Howard.

“Lassester’s Bones is as much about the illumination of the myth surrounding the man as it is about man’s desire to complete the incomplete and fulfil the unfulfilled. It’s poetic, personal filmmaking.”  Read the full review here.

It looks like even mainstream film media have caught wind of this great film. I was visiting a friend the other day he plonked this onto my lap…

FilmInk with that terrible airbrushed version of Natalie Portman (she's not in Lasseter's Bones)

FilmInk with that terrible airbrushed version of Natalie Portman on the cover (she’s not in Lasseter’s Bones)

And what should I find inside after further prompting from my cinematographer friend…

"fascinating" says FilmInk!

“fascinating” says FilmInk!

If you didn’t get to see the film at MIFF or during it’s theatre run last year then get on over to the Umbrella site for your very own DVD with all the extras.

Oh and almost forgot, for those of you with Foxtel, let all and sundry know that its screening on The History Channel later this year, 14 times I think so PLENTY of chances to see it!

Here’s a sneak peek at the opening and some production stills. For more info head over to the Scribble Films’ Lasseter’s Bones site.

Bob and Luke on the lookout

Bob and Luke on the lookout

Aboriginal elder women of Kaltukatjara tell the Lasseter story

Aboriginal elder women of Kaltukatjara tell the Lasseter story

Looking out from Lasseter's Cave (Kulpi Tjuntinya)

Looking out from Lasseter’s Cave (Kulpi Tjuntinya)

Bob with the book that would turn his fathers story into Australian folk lore

Bob with the book that would turn his fathers story into Australian folk lore

“Not for ourselves alone are we born.” Cicero

When shooting segments for The Project, I’m constantly reminded that the places I get to travel to and the people I’m privileged to meet, provide a unique opportunity to appreciate the stories of those who are driven to help and support others.

Recently, I was in a small farming town around three hours drive from Port Lincoln in South Australia.

Population 120

Population 120

Brock Wilkins 5

Once a thriving town

Growing up in Yaninee, Brock Wilkins wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do with his life, but at the age of 16, after encouragement from his parents and a family friend he decided to enter a school-based apprenticeship in aged care, working at the local Hospice in Wudinna. At such a young age it’s been a transformative experience for him. As he explains in his winning Heywire story (An ABC regional story competition) some of the biggest challenges haven’t so much been in dealing with the maturity required from the role, but in the lack of maturity expressed by others who question his choice.

Brock Wilkins

Brock Wilkins – Heywire Winner/Aged Care Attendant

Brock Wilkins 2

Brock and his father Greg on the farm

Brock decided not to go to boarding school in Adelaide like many of his friends, but to stay in Yaninee and finish his Aged Care apprenticeship where his personality and genuine concern for the residents has won him respect and accolades of his co-workers and the community.

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Brock & Greg overlooking the hectares

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Brock giving the ladies at lunch some trouble!

Brock Wilkins 4

Brock checking in on Karl

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Monitoring the progress of his cold

Watching Brock at work it’s heartening to see someone so young with such a commitment to caring for others. With his apprenticeship coming to an end Brock has made the decision to study nursing next year in Adelaide. Read  Brock’s original Heywire story and a piece in the local news on his efforts.

A week later saw me back in Adelaide and setting up at Blackwell Funerals for a story that takes a closer look at the ‘business of death’.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer/Blackwell Funerals

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer/Blackwell Funerals

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 2

Notice at the entrance to the mortuary

While Michelle had never been squeamish about death, it was refreshing to hear her talk about why she decided to enter the field and how important it was for her to provide a service to the deceased and that person’s family at a crucial time. I don’t think many people would consider being an embalmer as a service role but for Michelle, and I suspect for many in the funeral business, it really is the final act of kindness.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 6

Michelle removes the body from the cool store

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 3

Pallor mortis is a post mortem paleness which happens in those with light/white skin.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 4

Embalming fluid is required for the tissue to firm and take on a warmer more rosy appearance

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 7

Michelle embalms the body and washes it…

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 8

every care being taken to provide the family with the presentation of their loved one.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 5

Michelle takes care to finish applying nail polish and groom the deceased for the viewing

That same week we also covered the story of The Welcome Centre: an Adelaide based volunteer community service organisation set up to support asylum-seekers. With the change in Government, $11.5 million was suddenly cut from the Commonwealth grants scheme (a program launched by the former Labor government, aimed to provide one-off funding to community groups and local government bodies working to promote and foster social cohesion). Initially allocated $160,000 towards services such as supplying food, furniture and English lessons for asylum-seekers on bridging visas, the Centre received notification from the Department of Social Services that the offer of financial assistance had been withdrawn.

Kate Leaney, Manager, The Welcome Centre

Kate Leaney Manager at The Welcome Centre explains the impact of government’s decision

Not a sentiment supported by the current government

Not a sentiment supported by the current government

It’s extremely difficult to hear the stories of those people and families who are struggling to make a new life, facing further and compounding stress as  promised funding is pulled from underneath them.

Qasam talks of his escape from Iran

Qasam talks of his escape from Iran in a rental property that may now be unavailable to him

Arefa explains the situation in Afghanistan for her family

Arefa explains the situation in Afghanistan for her family

Kate, Arefa & Arefa's Mother...

Kate, Arefa & Arefa’s Mother

...english lessons

English lessons

To learn more about the Welcome Centre and keep up with their work head over to the Welcome to Australia website , or check out the Welcome Centre’s facebook page. They’re also on Givenow.com if you have the means to support their important ongoing work.

I was going to title this post ‘Most aptly named new lighting product ever,’ but realised that was probably a little long. In between the notion of both titles though you’ll get the idea that I’ve stumbled upon a piece of equipment that I’m pretty pleased with.

As a cameraman I’m also a little bit of a gear head (I’m fairly sure those two categories are mutually dependant) and as such, one of my guilty pleasures is searching Kickstarter for new gizmos and products that people, far more clever than I, have in development for film and video creatives.

The ‘Kick’ light by Rift Labs is one find in the Kickstarter gold mine that I have to say delivers as promised. I have been looking for a small light that I could use as a variable colour back light/rim light and then voila! An LED light with an internal battery, controllable from an iPhone app that allows you to select a colour either from an image that you’ve taken with the phone, or using one of the multiple colour pickers. It even has some in-built software generated light effects, for that flickering candle shot you’ve been trying to achieve (I may not have tested that particular function).

About the same size as an iPhone 5

About the same size as an iPhone 5

Ultra thin with controls on the top for brightness and colour presets

Ultra thin with controls on the top for brightness and colour presets

Power and networking buttons easy to see and locate

Power and networking buttons easy to see and locate

The Kick in iFrankenstein green mode

The Kick in iFrankenstein green mode

I’ve been shooting some athlete profile videos and interviews for a new series of MuscleTV and the Kick light has been perfect for the task for which it was named. For a colour kick or wash on a background element it’s been brilliant. It only takes a few moments to pair with the network that the light requires for the app control and then you’re away.

Here’s a few examples (infographics on each athlete will be running screen left)…

Scott Goble with 2x Kick Lights in play. A hint of colour and a hard white from the other side

Scott Goble with 2x Kick Lights in play. A hint of colour and a hard white from the other side

Jade McKee with the Kick Light used as a colour wash over the background.

Jade McKee with the Kick Light used as a colour wash over the background.

Eddy Ung with the Kick light doing exactly what its name suggests!

Eddy Ung with the Kick light doing exactly what its name suggests!

For a tiny light it’s got a respectable amount of kick to it (sorry couldn’t resist), and with a price point of $179.00 it’s an very affordable tool to have in your kit.

For more video examples and some detailed info, head over to the Rift Labs website.

“Could we interview Jody on the truck somehow?”

“Well if we could get up high enough beside the tuck… sure”.

Five minutes and a scissor lift ascent later and we have my first ’20 foot in the air interview’, a great way to start the shoot.

Following on from the safety video I shot last year, I’ve had a busy few days shooting for Righteous Films and Alinta Energy, a series of videos reflecting the culture and priorities of the new Alinta. Looking to show and reflect the realities for those working at the coal face (sorry about that) we were interviewing employees in-situ and trying to capture the diversity and feelings of those who make up the new Alinta workforce.

Jody's Interview Shot

Jody’s Interview Shot

Chumly & Dozer

Chumly & Dozer

The photo of the photo of the video being taken

The photo of the photo of the video being taken

The Caterpillar 797

The Caterpillar 797

After a long day at the Leigh Creek Coal Mine and township it was a fly in and fly out day to the Port Augusta Power Plant for more interviews with those on the power generation side of things.

Port Augusta chimney stack

Port Augusta chimney stack

Coal reserve at Port Augusta

Coal reserve at Port Augusta

Brendan interviewed at the Coal Reserve

Brendan interviewed at the Coal Reserve

Richard in the Control Room

Richard in the Control Room

Lloyd on the roof!

Lloyd on the roof!

If you’re ever in Port Augusta and wanting to do a spot of fishing, I’m told that the Power Stations’ outlet channel is great for those looking for a haul of Yellowtail Kingfish, King George Whiting, or Rugger Snapper!

Good Fishing?!

Good Fishing?!

A final day in Adelaide at the Business Centre rounded out a pretty successful shoot, with enough interview footage to cover a number of different videos for several up and coming projects. Oh and if anyone has a solution for reducing the reflection from safety glasses of pretty much all lighting and crew then I would be very glad to hear it!

Stacey at Alinta-Adelaide

Stacey at Alinta/Adelaide – no safety glasses required.

For a look at an excerpt from the safety video from last year, go here.

That title was originally a typo…but it seemed strangely appropriate so I thought I’d leave it. Its a wrap for the final stretch of filming on Nick Calpakdjian’s doco looking back at the history of Metal music in Australia, and it’s been a blast!

Some highlights from this trip were the straight edge BBQ with Matt Young at the Tote in Melbourne.

You want some corn with your Metal?! Matt Young of King Parrot

You want some corn with your Metal?! Matt Young of King Parrot

A day spent with Tim Charles and the guys of Ne Obliviscaris as they recorded some final tracks for their new album…

In the studio with Ne Obliviscaris

In the studio with Ne Obliviscaris

Xenoyr (Marc Campbell) from Ne Obliviscaris ready to lay down a vocal track

Xenoyr (Marc Campbell) ready to record a vocal track

Managing to carry on the tradition of having a skull in each interview or at least the interview cutaway (I was suggesting to Nick that this could be part of the ‘Spot a skull and scull’ drinking game that could come packaged with the DVD).

Skulls

One of many to feature in the series

And a beautiful few days in Hobart (what a magical place) where the weather was just perfect and we even got a few location shots squeezed in.

Beautiful Hobart from Mt Wellington (thanks for the drive up there Chalky)

Beautiful Hobart from Mt Wellington (thanks for the drive up there Chalky)

In terms of Hobart highlights however its hard to go past the carpet circa 1978 that features on the walls of the band room at the Brisbane Hotel, undeniably the most suitable carpet I have ever seen for such a location. Here’s Nick showing us how low-key it truly is;

Nick in Serious Director mode at the Brisbane Hotel (Hobart)

Nick in serious Director mode (or “Have you white balanced yet?”) at the Brisbane Hotel

Nick is currently looking at cutting the doco into a three-part series and there have been some positive noises of interest made by a broadcaster in terms of a Post Production purchase so fingers (or axes) crossed. It’s been a huge effort to make this documentary happen and all credit to Nick for pushing the proverbial to get it off the ground and to everyone who have supported the piece coming to life.

If you want to be first in line to get your copy of the series when its shrink wrapped and done, head over to the website or follow the updates on facebook.

Here’s a few more stills from an earlier shoot last year.

…you can walk into a roadside diner at 8am and order yourself a breakfast basket of fried chicken! I’ve had a great year filming with Brendan Bell of Bell Group Productions for the 2013 season of MxTv and a very warm couple of weeks in May this year in grand old California.  I’ve finally managed to put up some shots from features on Ryan Villopoto, the Red Bull Pro Motocross race at Lake Elsinore, the tour we had of Fox Head International and an interview with Pete Fox.

Ryan Villopoto at Glen Helen Raceway

Ryan Villopoto at Glen Helen Raceway

Lake Elsinore Race Day - they love their snakes.

Lake Elsinore Race Day – they love their snakes

Pete Fox interview (Fox Head International)

Pete Fox interview (Fox Head International)

Fox mannequins - kinda scary!

Fox mannequins – kinda scary!

One of the highlights of the trip was the chance to spend some time with Robbie Maddison (freestyle and Red Bull stunt riding legend) who has now added ‘James Bond Stunt Double’ to his list of achievements after working with Daniel Craig in the new Bond movie ‘Skyfall’. As Brendan very kindly points out in the interview, he really is one of the nicest guys and made the day of filming extremely relaxed . Here’s the finished interview with Robbie, as always great work by Ben Lane at BL Media for the edit.

I can’t resist adding two of my favorite Instagram photographs from the trip, sometimes a few images can sum up a lot!

Americans tell it like it is & A family that shoots together stays together.

Americans tell it like it is & A family that shoots together stays together

“So you’re saying that we have twenty interview subjects, over the one day, in the same location, that need to look significantly different enough for the edit to work, but we can’t move the lights or the camera position? Let me get back to you on that one.”

A small challenge presented itself for this years Max’s/Maxine’s Muscle Up Challenge filming. The Director made a suggestion of possibly using the standard photo-flex multicoloured backdrop, but there aren’t many people who can get away with that approach. I think Errol Morris is the only film maker who I’ve seen really make that work and that was with the same interview subject. How the hell were we going to film twenty people in the one day and provide some visual difference between them?

Two hotel rooms, two projectors and two fast fold rear projector screens later we had two camera/interview teams filming non stop over nine hours. I actually think it worked. Some of the main concerns from the outset were whether there would be enough separation between the subjects and backdrops, would the noise of the projectors fans be too audible, and between each of the interviews would there be enough visual contrast?

Rear Projection Interview Setup

Rear Projection Interview Setup

Katie Nilan in the hotseat

Katie Nilan in the hotseat

Without having the time to pre-test the set ups, there was a bit of nervousness on the packing-in day (on my part at least) as to whether or not the idea would work. The saving grace; having identical hotel rooms with long dining/living spaces, long enough that we could successfully empty out the areas and still rear project the images of the competition contestants, providing a barrier to the fan noise while still having projected images large enough to fill the interview frame.

Add a little soft focus from the projector and you have subject/background separation! Thanks to Keith, Borko and Darren for powering through the long day and many thanks to the contestants for the interruptions to check focus.

The finished setup

The finished setup

Glenn Black - Winner Max's Muscle Up Challenge

Glenn Black – Winner Max’s Muscle Up Challenge

International Aid has always been a complicated issue, and as media coverage of disaster zones and conflict increases, organisations and potential Aid Agency donors are faced with a barrage of often contradictory and confusing information. PLAN Australia along with Reality Learning have been putting together an online interactive training program to help staff and public alike understand and develop a broader understanding of the complexities and issues involved in aid and development.

I’ve spent a week in Melbourne filming and a few weeks editing together video and still images that make up a travelogue for a fictional donor visiting a sponsor child and her family in an East African region. The story follows the sponsor initially being challenged by conditions and her own pre-conceptions of how things ‘should’ be but then becomes at risk herself as she is caught in the middle of a natural disaster event and falls ill. The program also questions the difference in priorities between local need and international funding politics.

Through ‘Vidmail’ messages (an invented online video message service) and online conversations, participants in the program learn of the attitudes and difficulties for each of the characters involved in the story. The video and email content will be supported in the program by text and resources from PLAN and other material.

Here’s a few stills that introduce some of the primary characters in the program.

David Ochero the local MPANGO worker

David Ochero the local MPANGO worker

Albert Mamber playing the Senior administrator Minister for the Dept of Education

Albert Mamber playing the Senior Administrator for the Dept of Education

Kate Fergerson as Margaret the original Sponsor and mother to Tanya's charecter

Kate Fergerson as Margaret the original sponsor and mother to Tanya’s character

Moses Mawira and Zawadi Nguma as Johnston and Agnes the sponsored family parents.

Zawadi Nguma and Moses Mawira as Agnes and Johnston the sponsored family parents.

Grace (the sponsor child) and her brother Isaac

Grace (the sponsor child) and her brother Isaac

Sinead Blessing as Tanya the visiting sponsor, caught out by flooding in the Embe area

A BBC World News Report from the Embe Region

A BBC World News Report from the Embe Region

It’s been a really interesting project to work on. Many thanks to Judith Hewitson at Reality Learning and the staff of PLAN Australia for the relaxed and welcoming manner that everyone involved in the project has maintained to get it over the finish line.

Here’s a short example of one of Tanya’s Vidmail messages, that form an early part of the story;

A road race like no other, the World Solar Challenge teams traverse more than 3,000 kilometres of the Stewart Highway from Darwin to Adelaide, in cars powered only by a blazing G-type main-sequence star 149,600,000 km away.

It’s been a gruelling ten days of filming, with heat and the power of that g-type star fuelling forward motion yet at the same time sapping a ton of energy from this not so efficient bio battery. The World Solar Challenge is a very different kind of road ‘race’. I’ve used the dreaded quotation marks as the organisers don’t like the event to be called as such, which says a lot about what makes the challenge so interesting.

Don’t be confused though, it’s certainly competitive; part endurance test, part electrochemical pressure cooker, and with a big dose of engineering innovation required, it’s been a fascinating look at where this technology is going and how far away we might be from the sun powered four door family sedan.

Hidden Valley Raceway -Qualifying Day

Hidden Valley Raceway – Qualifying Day as seen from the DJI Phantom and GoPro

The event starts out in Darwin with scruitneering, where each team’s vehicles are inspected in infinitesimal detail to make sure they comply with the requirements of the class they’re entering. Then it’s a day of racing at the Hidden Valley Raceway for pole position before setting off into the heat and beginning the trial of photovoltaic endurance.

Dutch Team Twente - An Early Favorite

Dutch Team Twente – An Early Favorite

Those cars that resemble the manufacturers concept cars of the future are those in the ‘Challenger Class’ described in the official material as “Visually stunning – slick, single seat aerodynamic masterpieces built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency” – ooooh yeah! There were plenty of these four wheeled wagons of silent speed – the Dutch had a couple of entries that had placed in the top three in previous competitions as did the Japanese. It’s fair to say there was a healthy air of rivalry at the Hidden Valley Raceway this year.

Mississippi Choctaw High School Car

Mississippi Choctaw High School Car

At the other end of the classes are the ‘Adventure Class’, for teams with vehicles built for previous events to return. Three wheeled vehicles usually with new team members, “for the adventure of crossing the continent on the silent power of nature”. The Tushka Hashi team (Sun Warrior in the Choctaw Language) were the first all Native American Indian (High School) team to compete in this class.

Tushka Hashi (In the Choctaw Language -  Sun Warrior)

Tushka Hashi (In the Choctaw Language – Sun Warrior)

Winner of pole position for the Challenger Class and fastest car outright on the qualifying day was the Queensland based and Aussie-built ‘Arrow 1’ car, a team running on a shoe-string budget with a mix of professional engineers and students, whose hard work paid off in the end. They came in as the first Australian team to cross the finish line in Adelaide (7th overall).

Team Arrow - Pole Position Winner

Team Arrow – Pole Position Winner

I have to be honest, as an interloper from the land of the long white cloud (NZ) I did have my hopes pinned on the University of Waikato’s HybridAuto or ‘UltraCommuter’. With no solar panels on the actual vehicle, the team’s aim was to explore the possibility of practical long range battery electric cars. Pioneering the EVolution Class, the team was hoping to drive the UltraCommuter 500km per day, at over 90km/h, with only one stop for a ‘top-up’ charge from mains electricity. Unfortunately there were mechanical issues and the team had to withdraw…but we’ll be back 2015 (you can’t keep a good Kiwi down).

The University of Waikato - Hybrid UltraCommuter

The University of Waikato – Hybrid UltraCommuter

Much of the real interest this year though was on a completely new class of vehicle. The ‘Cruiser Class’. The real goal of this new class is not speed but practicality, with the ultimate goal of an entrant being able to meet the requirements for road registration in the country of origin. Teams are scored according to their energy consumption and the subjective element of ‘practicality’, including how many people the vehicle can carry. An early favorite to win the Cruiser category was Team Eindhoven in their ‘Stella’, a four wheeled, four seater, that managed to come in second fastest at the qualifying day, ahead of many of the Challenger Class vehicles. Here’s Tracy reporting from the event’s first official race day with the Eindhoven ‘Stella’ waiting to cross the start line.

Day 1 - Tracey Kotzee Reporting from the start of the race.

Day 1 – Tracey Kotzee reports from the starting grid.

Setup and waiting...

Setup and waiting…

Oh so that's a Road Train!

Oh so that’s a Road Train!

Once we were out on the road and apart from the heat, flys and road-trains we also had to contend with the apparent silent spectre of extra terrestrial interference. My theory is that they’re keeping an eye on us (perhaps several eyes) to make sure we don’t come up with anything that might actually dig us out of the ecological train-wreck we seem to be heading towards.

Wycliffe Well - The Truth is Out There!

Wycliffe Well – The Truth is Out There!

Bloody petrol payment dodging aliens!

Bloody petrol payment dodging aliens!

Yup - it's hot out here.

Yup – it’s hot out here.

While we were filming primarily for the online market, there was some thought that the footage might be used for a documentary in the lead up to the next Solar Challenge. To get past the European Broadcast Union’s requirements for footage to be recorded at the 50 Mb/s mark we recorded SDI out into an Atomos Samurai Blade external recorder, kindly supplied by Pete Hall at UrbanCine. While I have to admit that I was a little nervous about running an external recorder for the amount of hours and the conditions we were filming in, I have to say it was a completely solid and reliable piece of equipment. The unit triggered through the SDI connection as I buttoned on and off and seemed to last a whole day on two Canon LP-e6 batteries. Not only did it give us great looking footage but it also allowed us to have immediate access to the Quicktime files as soon as we had finished shooting, for editing purposes.

Atomos Samurai Blade  *the Cheetah did not compete in the World Solar Challenge

Atomos Samurai Blade *the Cheetah did not compete in the World Solar Challenge

Thanks to Justin at RedBikini for all the preparation of the FJ Cruiser to make sure we had enough power and fuel to get us across the continent. A special note of thanks to Tracey Kotzee for putting up with my twisted sense of humour and for being such a legend powering through each day and a big bucket of gratitude to Dani Tinker at Red Bikini for helping us get over the finishing line at the end of the event. See you all again for the next one in 2015!

For a look at what it was like out on the Stewart Highway, check out this report filmed with the Nuna team, eventual winners of this years challenge.

Lasseters Bones Theatrical Poster

Lasseters Bones Theatrical Poster

It’s with a great deal of pleasure that I can announce that the documentary I worked on with Luke Walker and Scribble Films is to be theatrically released around the country. Having been well received last year at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Luke has worked pretty hard to make sure that this engaging story about the lure of legend and the pride of a son, will get to be shown to the very country that lies at the heart of this tale.

Most Australians will recogise the name ‘Lasseter’ even if they are unable to place it in the mythology of Australian folk lore. For Bob Lasseter however, his entire life has been guided by the hopes and dreams of a man who he hardly even knew. This film is an exploration of an incredible legend and and even more amazing man.

Please support local film making and try to get along to get along to one of the screenings near you .

Here’s the introduction to this film and a few reflections on it. Looking through the production stills I found a few favorites as well…

Bob Lasseter

Bob Lasseter

Being watched

Being watched

Sidney showing us how to purify ground water

Sidney showing us how to purify ground water

Oh another flat tyre

Oh another flat tyre

Production meeting

Production meeting

Kennedy at Kulpi Tjuntinya (Lasseter's Cave)

Kennedy at Kulpi Tjuntinya (Lasseter’s Cave)

Bob and Luke

Bob and Luke

Mount Leibig at dusk

Mount Leibig at dusk

Bob at his fathers grave

Bob at his fathers grave (Alice Springs cemetery)

I’ve just finished two awesome weeks on the road shooting with Nick Calpakdjian (Animus Industries), for the up and coming documentary Metal Down Under (A History of Heavy Metal in Australia). I had a lot of fun meeting the fans and kingpins in the Aussie Metal scene and I am really looking forward to this doco coming together.

Below are just a few stills from some of the interviews and footage completed for the Australian East Coast leg of the shoot.

Andrew Haug

Andrew Haug

Richie and Greg - Dreadnaught

Richie and Greg – Dreadnaught

Frankenbok

Frankenbok

Jason Fuller - Blood Duster

Jason Fuller – Blood Duster

More volume!

More volume!

Chris Rand - Segression

Chris Rand – Segression

Dave Slave - Sadistik Exekution

Dave Slave – Sadistik Exekution

Rodney Holder - Alchemist

Rodney Holder – Alchemist

This isn’t going to be a shaky-cam MTV colour piece or a Today/Tonight investigative report. Viewers interested in the Australian music scene are going to be treated to a intimate look at the transformation of music and sub-cultures in Australia over the last 30 years. It’s a film about identity, ‘success’ in the Australian music industry and of course why lovers of metal…love their metal! For more information and to support the film’s completion, please head on over to the Facebook page and become a member.

For a sneak peek at what’s to come, check out the teaser.