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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 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 and count everything at the curb, then wheel all our video and audio gear inside and downstairs to US Customs, where an agent must sign off on our Merchandise Passport, or ATA Carnet.

The carnet is an internationally accepted document which includes a detailed list of our video and audio . . . CONTINUE READING: Around the World in 11 Days: Part 1

Production • Tech

Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media

Preserving the sanctity of your original media has always been one of the cardinal rules of production.

In my first week of film school, I learned about work print. The original film negative is used once to make this cloned copy, then the original is locked away, presumably in a climate-controlled vault environment. The work print is used for editing, with all the scratches, tears, gouges and dirt endemic to the mechanical film editing process. The pristine original negative is only brought out at the end of the process to make printing masters, then locked away again.

When I first started shooting video, one advantage it had over film was that the tapes could be erased and reused, or so I was told. But in common professional practice, this is rarely done. In these days of non-linear editing, the original tapes are used as source material when the footage is digitized into the Final Cut Pro or Avid systems, then they are vaulted, in case of problems later.

What kinds of problems? Recently I shot a corporate project on HDV, and shortly afterward the producer called me in a panic with the news that all the footage we had shot was slightly, but noticeably, out of focus – words that jab a cold spear into the heart of any shooter. “We think we can save it,” she said, but high anxiety prevailed. Even if they could save the footage, my reputation was on the line.

My camera assistant and . . . CONTINUE READING: Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media