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ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production • Tech

Around the World in 11 Days: Epilogue

On our way back to the hotel after the shoot at the Karaoke club, Richard spontaneously has our driver pull the gigantic van over, right in the middle of Shibuya Square, the famed, neon-crazy crossing in the heart of Tokyo, through which nearly a million people pass every day.

We hop out into the mob scene on the sidewalk, shooting pictures and video and gaping at thecrowds. Randy climbs the built-in ladder on the gigantic van to a flat platform on the roof and shoots the huge video billboards, ads for pop stars, flashing lights, car traffic, and human flow with his Sony EX3.

We remain parked there for at least half an hour, with no permission, no permits, no pesky police presence threatening us, issuing citations, or even politely asking us to move. . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Epilogue

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production • Tech

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 3

Our flight to Japan on Virgin Atlantic is half-empty and quite comfortable. Virgin’s Premium Economy seats, which our travel agent says were not much more expensive than standard Economy, provide better food, better seats, better video, and more legroom.

Our flight leaves London at 1 pm Sunday. Twelve hours later, after flying nearly 6000 miles east across nine time zones, we arrive at Narita Airport outside Tokyo, where, somehow, it’s 10 am Monday. In San Francisco it’s still 5 pm Sunday, 17 hours earlier than Tokyo. None of us sleep much on the plane. The time change has us oddly discombobulated. Our midday departure and the availability of hundreds of movies (we’re all film buffs) both mitigate against sleep, as does, oddly, our enjoyment of the extra comfort on this flight.

. . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 3

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production • Tech

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 2

In Manchester, England, we check into the Radisson Edwardian, well situated in a recently gentrified, reconstructed, and re-imagined section of downtown. On our arrival night, we are just in time for a late dinner at the restaurant in the lobby, which repeats its name in an endless sign across its glass wall. In our jetlagged haze, both Jim and I could swear the joint is named Palo Alto (where he grew up and we both went to school), but a closer inspection shows the name is really Alto. Or Altoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoaltoalto.

We have four nights at the Radisson: our arrival day, a day of scouting, and two days of shooting. In all that time, the temperature stays between 30 and 40 degrees, nearly always drizzly or overcast, never raining hard, never quite freezing. We are at 53 degrees latitude, well north of our homes in the Bay Area, which are at about 37 degrees. This far north, this early in January, Manchester experiences less than eight hours of daylight in each 24-hour cycle.

On our scout day, we meet our patient, whom I’ll call Tim, and our local lighting gaffer/chief electrician, Stuart Drummond. We examine Tim’s flat and determine it’s . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 2

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production • Tech

Around the World in 11 Days: Part 1

The low, warm winter sun slants in on the four of us as we shuffle our gear on the curb at San Francisco Airport, en route to England and Japan.

I’ve joined engineer Jim Rolin, producer Lori Wright, and director Randy Field outside the International Terminal. We count cases (13 plus carry-ons), then take a moment to bask in the balmy Northern California weather: just under 60 degrees this afternoon, on the fourth day of the new year.

We know that the United Kingdom has just dug itself out of pre-holiday blizzards and freezing snow-and-ice storms that closed down Heathrow Airport in London, our first port of call, for days. Manchester, England, our eventual destination nearly four hours’ drive north of Heathrow, has just a week earlier reported lows in the 20s and predictions of rain and more snow. Tokyo at this point – nearly six days in our future – predicts clear skies, with temps in the 40s.

We take a final breath of Real Air and step into Airline World, a brightly-lit place of bad, stale air and cramped spaces. Especially if you’re 6’4”, like me. Or 6’8”, like Jim.

Our departure process is routine. We number . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 1

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • VIdeos • Travel • Production

Brazil: My First iPhone Video

Shot on an iPhone 4 in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, and edited in iMovie. . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: My First iPhone Video

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Eerie Times at USP

In Brazil, our story was based in Ribeirão Preto, (pronounced something like “HEE-bay-roan PRAY-toe,” though all Brazilians laughed at our attempts to say it) a city of a half million, three or four hours inland from São Paulo. Our final shoot was at the local campus of the Universidade de São Paulo. In search of an interview background that was neither a glass hotel nor a slum, our local production assistant Erica took us to the university.

The Ribeirão Preto campus of “OOS-pee,” as USP is known, is spread out, tree-covered, and rural. Driving through campus, Randy chose a spot in front of a blue house with some mottled light coming through the trees in the background, then Erica helped Lori and our Brazilian producer Marcello Bartz get permission to shoot there the next day.

<<See also: Brazil: My First iPhone Video, Continental Drift>>

We pulled up in several trucks and proceeded to unload our cases and set up our gear. A few neighbors stopped by to see what was going on, and after a while a truck came speeding up and three burly guys quickly emerged. They looked around uncertainly, taking in the scene, . . . CONTINUE READING: Eerie Times at USP

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel • Production

Continental Drift

I’m hunkering down at home right now after a three-week trip through Europe and South America to shoot a global corporate medical film. Our route took four of us – and 13 cases of video and audio gear – drifting through the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Brazil. Plus one day shooting here in the San Francisco Bay Area last Monday.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we go to China to finish shooting the project. It will be the fourth continent on this shoot for DIT Jim Rolin and me. Director David Rathod and producer Anne Sandkuhler joined us for the travel legs in Europe. After shooting at three locations in the US, director Randy Field and producer Lori Wright then joined Jim and me for the long schlep down to Brazil.

<<See also Eerie Times at USP, Brazil: My First iPhone Video>>

And what a schlep it was! Nine flights in 19 days: SFO–>Frankfurt–>Amsterdam–>Geneva–>Hamburg–>Geneva–>Washington Dulles–>Sao Paulo–>JFK–>SFO. Nearly 24,000 miles, a real butt-burner. Somewhere over the Atlantic between Switzerland and coastal US, I surpassed 50,000 miles on United this year, qualifying me for coveted Premier Executive status in their mileage program. Only mileage whores like me care about such things. I’m . . . CONTINUE READING: Continental Drift

Travel

Murse Gone Missing

Sometimes the road home is paved with obstacles.

I got out of Glen’s car in front of my hotel after a massive dose of Southern cooking, stretched, admired the alabaster dome of the U.S. Capitol in the distance, and waved goodbye as he drove off. An instant later, my heart sank as I realized I didn’t have my murse.

I had come to Washington from my home in San Francisco with a small film crew to shoot a quick interview at the Department of Education. Glen was an old friend from California who had moved to D.C. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, but the warmth of our friendship had quickly re-surfaced as we spent the evening catching up over dinner at Georgia Brown’s Restaurant.

But now — panic! I had an early flight home in the morning, and my murse, my man-purse with my only identification, was on the floor of his car. Or was it?

Years before, I had tired of carrying my wallet, money, keys, and ID in my pockets, especially when I was skinny and wore skinny jeans, and I’d resorted to an army-surplus shoulder bag to hold most of my pocket . . . CONTINUE READING: Murse Gone Missing

ROVING CAMERA BLOG • Travel

The Bus to Maitencillo

Christmas Eve on the other side of the planet, and we had just missed our bus. Raw chicken was thawing in my backpack as we trudged along la Alameda in Santiago’s 85-degree heat, through throngs of late shoppers and sidewalk vendors, from one bus station to another.

Susan and I were visiting our son Danny, who had just completed his foreign study program at la Universidad de Chile. Danny’s Chilean host family had invited us to overnight at their beach house in Maitencillo (my-ten-SEE-yo). They had already left for the beach, but since Danny had visited there once before, he remembered which bus to take for our two-hour ride to the Pacific.

Though we lived in California, we traditionally spent the holidays in Arizona with our extended family. We missed our other son and our son-in-law, our cousins, nieces and nephews. It was hard to be away from my sister, who had lost her husband at the beginning of that year, and our mom, then 95. We came from a Jewish family, but my sister had married a Catholic guy years before, and their three grown daughters had married two Protestants and an Orthodox Jew and produced six kids . . . CONTINUE READING: The Bus to Maitencillo