Saturday, February 11, 2017

THE MAKING OF A DOCUMENTARY on the DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER.

Preface:
"My intention in this particular blog is to tell the story, to invite into the world I lived in, to give each and everyone of you a taste of what went on inside of a documentary of this magnitude with limited crew, just two!! Hopefully it will deliver something to wet your appetite if you're a filmmaker, seasoned or a newbie.  Truly when passion is there what we are capable of as filmmakers is truly amazing. So have fun with these short snippets over the coming months as I pen all the amazing moments from this challenging and rewarding magical adventure! 

So back in 2012 I had the privilege to work as a DP and AD in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the US NAVY and WHOI Research Vessel ATLANTIS! It was a journey beyond comprehension. Along with Mike deGruy we were heading out to capture the worse environmental disaster in the history of the U.S., the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. What we saw, captured and accomplished went far beyond what my imagination could ever conjure.

Using my Canon 5D MII and a Zacuto rig to capture Alvin in the hangar.
Back home in Santa Barbara the prep work went on for almost 8 weeks. Funding, organizing, storyboarding the impossible. Sorting though our existing gear some of which was generously and thoughtfully donated by several sponsors. Some of the prep work included testing our underwater cams and housings by jumping into our freezing cold swimming pool  to to trips up and down the coast meeting with the experts on and expressing our concerns with their gear. This was to be a journey unlike any other film based project I had ever taken on and a complete and thorough understanding of what our gear was capable of was mandatory. Looking back I can say we pushed all of it and ourselves to the extreme limits of culpable, capable and how far before breakable. In the ALVIN all gear had to be smoke tested before it was allowed to take the voyage along with us to ver 5000 ft deep into the oceans abyss! Our knowledge and our equipment would play a vital role in our well being as well as the community we worked with aboard Atlantis.

Arriving late afternoon at the dock with our 22 Pelican cases which included the proverbial kitchen sink, we began our voyage into documenting the worse environmental disaster ever to occur in our beloved oceans. Up we went in a cargo net ready to start the daunting task of unpacking and organizing all the gear.

Off to our quarters and into our bunk beds, thinking about my wife and our 11 year old son Drake! This was to be the only night I can remember getting a miraculous 4 hours of undisturbed sleep for the next two months as our journey in the Gulf began. Hmm Mike's coughing... but finally slumbered off.  The lulling from the ships engines humming through the steel hull we headed out to sea in the wee hours just past midnite.

Woke up just shy of 4am to a brisk, chilly negative ion charged atmosphere with a positive effect. Day one had begun... I'm hungry and ready to go, off to the mess hall! After a 4am bowl of cheerios it was off to deck 3. All our gear unpacked and sitting on top of skid proof pads the assembly began. This was the age of the mighty tiny camera, the DSLR, support gear from innovative companies like Canon and new companies like Kessler and Zacuto. Jibs, Sliders, stabilizers, shoulder rigs, loupes, lenses, filters, laptops, RAID drives, batteries, LED panels, POV's, Diving masks with built-in lights and waterproof HD cams, bulletproof POVs from CONTOUR and GoPro, HiHats, Mounts, mics, field recorders. You name it we had it. By weI mean just Mike and I! Hey Mike was the vibrant on-camera talent and at times, hmmm several times, we'd have  three, yes three cameras trained on the scene at hand. Remember this is a DOCUMENTARY, things are set in motion over which most of the time you have ZERO control so you better be rolling on all to capture it from all angles and all at a microscopic moments notice! What I wouldn't have given for a remote control for the remote cameras. POV's MacGyvered all over the place including the A Frame crane that lifted the ALVIN Deep Submersible Vehicle from the deck of the boat and at times into the sea! From climbing ropes and ladders with the Boson watching my back those little POV camera mounts had to be rock steady and securely mounted in place.

OK we have been summoned to a safety meeting and off we go...


Sunday, February 5, 2017

AUDIO NEWS: Currently ZACH GILL of ALO & Jack Johnson is in the house!

Multi instrumental and triple threat musician ZACH GILL has begun work on a new LP here at On the Wave's recording studio.  The tunes are a retro-eclectic, diversified mix expressing his tasteful style, smooth vocals and uplifting lyrics and melodies!

Our studio is filled with Keyboards, Moog synth, percussive sequencing mini boxes, voice boxes, noise making sound manipulator bullhorns, outboard gear stacked on our racks. It's truly a fun filled atmosphere thanks to Zachs humor and occasional dancing and craziness! Just doesn't get any better than this! So stay tuned for updates as we move on down through all the tracks. This is one LP you will most definitely want to add to your collection! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

AUDIO NEWS-Thundercat , Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins in the house!

Well some music history took place right here in On the Wave Productions recording studio when Michael McDonald met with Kenny Loggins and Steve Bruner aka Thundercat to lay down keys and vocals for new tune "Show Me the Way." Currently the song now has over half a million hits!

This remarkable collaboration has been all over the news & radio including Billboard, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, SPIN, Red Bull, KCRW & so many more. The tune will be the showcase hit on Thundercats new release "Drunk." To quote Thundercat upon his arrival at our studio:

"I literally almost peed on myself, I silently freaked out!. I was like, "OK sure." I was like "Whaaaaa... What the hell man?" Michael McDonald he reaches out. I guess he [Kenny Loggins] does the talking to Michael McDonald and the first person I met in the Studio was Michael McDonald. I get there [drove up from L.A. to Santa Barbara] and Mike's sitting there, he's got the silver hair and the flannel shirt."  Excerpt from Red Bull Music.

 We had an amazing time with these artists as they created this grammy potential tune and put it together here in the studio.

On the techie side we recorded with Pro Tools 10 DAW and utilized INNERTUBE's tube mod for the Neuman U87 on Michaels incredible vocals along with Neve 1272 mic pre, Seventh Circle N72's and a Manley Voxbox. 

QUICK TIPS:How to buy the right camera in an evolving marketplace.

Well if you read the industry news regularly or have been lucky enough to attend a Consumer or Professional based Electronics/Audio/Video related shows like NAB, CES or CineGear then you're aware of the quick paced world of camera technology. You can also pretty much count on seeing the camera you bought less than a year ago being replaced by the next generation. So one needs to be prudent when deciding on your next camera purchase to get the best bang out of your dollar!

Here's 2 quick suggestions for your next camera...

FIRST is to pick a camera body that has a lens mount! Your best investment as they say in the professional trade is your GLASS! So by all means hold on to the lenses you buy and choose wisely. Your lenses can last a lifetime and be useful on all the camera bodies/sensors for years to come.  Choose your glass wisely... it's far better to spend a little more and get the best quality lens within your budget.

SECOND is to checkout the multitude of lens adapters that are available for your cameras native mount, yep NATIVE, thats the one your camera came with. Most popular mounts these days support both Canon EF and Nikon lenses. Choose wisely as more often than not the speed of your cameras auto focus can be severely degraded as well as the actual lens speed by 1 to 2 stops! Thats right if your shooting any action based photos, lets say Rafa Nadal on the Tennis court well you want quick Quick QUICK autofocus and if its low lit well you lose the ability to get proper exposure. The good news as far as exposure goes is that most of the new cameras have an excellent ability to capture low light subjects thanks to sensor technology and expanded ISO capabilities.

Metabones has recently updated its product line with the 5th generation of SMART Adapters® like Canon EF to Sony E Mount and the features look insane! The new “CINE” versions of their popular EF to E Smart Adapter and Speed Booster ULTRA. 

Stand by for our review and for more detailed info on choosing the right gear and delaying obsolescence backlash!

Friday, May 27, 2016

CINEGEAR 2016- ERIC KESSLER IMAGINATION, INNOVATION;DESIGN and REFINE

There are many words that are synonymous with the man who started KesslerCrane, Eric Kessler. The title of this blog says it all. If you are looking for innovative gear that will keep your budget INCREDIBLY low and yield results comparable to gear from Chapman-Leonard,  MSE and more look no further!

Kessler products are game changers and they fueled a revolution with support gear like their jibs and sliders while providing a low cost entry point even offering automated versions for both!  I know first hand working as a DP, Director and Producer exactly what the Kessler arsenal can do for your work as a filmmaker. If you never heard of this company I strongly suggest you check them out along with Zacuto at Cinegear 2016.

We've used their gear on countless documentaries for Natgeo, Discovery; feature and Indie films and TV series for years! This is NOT a paid endorsement, I neither work for Kessler or receive compensation. As a filmmaker I am compelled to share information and useful tools for the work we do and Kessler along with its founder is one company you should know about and can trust to support you as a customer!

I'll be reviewing some of the new gear, like Second Shooter from this company who has truly led the way in the realm of providing reasonably priced and creative gear on a shoestring budget!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

AVID DIGIDESIGN PROCONTROL OWNERS - REPAIR TIPS, HOW TO REPLACE FADERS etc.

OK I bought into the Digi ProControl back in 2000 and still rely on this great versatile tactile surface for our music and ADR sessions. I have the main unit and one fader pack. As a whole it's been fairly reliable over the years until recently. Why am I putting this in our BLOG!? Because it was time consuming and frustrating especially dealing with AVID on obsolete Digidesign products and no one should have to work so hard to get info! So I'm sharing these tips for my fellow ProControl users!

Faders started failing back in 2007, a friends EDIT PACK went dead, Clock segment on my main unit went black on one of the counters, faders started failing.

So now what? Well I went out and bought another main control unit for 400.00 to scavenge parts but what if you just want the parts? Well hit and miss as there are some fader replacement parts out there on eBay and gearslutz but usually rebuilts and they break! Simple cure that worked 75% of the time, REMOVE THE BAD/SUSPECT fader and CLEAN IT ! Clean the rails with Iso Alcohol and voila reborn 3 out of 4 times.

HOW TO REMOVE THE FADER on PROCONTROL Units
Simple just remove all the small allen flat pan screws on the TOP of the unit then lift up,  (12-16 screws on fader & edit packs). Don't get stumped and start unscrewing any side or bottom screws, not necessary.

HOW TO REMOVE & REPLACE POWER SUPPLY
Removal means dissassembly to get it out. Basically take the TOP off and then go to the rear of the unit and unscrew the middle vented back panel. From top inside remove the 4 screws securing the display panel assy. to the bottom of the chassis so it can be lifted up and removed. Mark all cables that you may have to disconnect to clear the way for removing the power supply. NOTE:Sometimes it's an overheated connection on the Molex connector. If you need to replace the power supply this company, SAGER, has them. You can also eMail SKYNET direct:sales@skynetusa.com for details
They are mostly SKYNET power supplies and run around $72.00-$85.00.  These guys repair them: SIRES.

DEAD SEGMENT ON COUNTER CHIP
Well this one requires removing the TOP. Unscrew all back screws, remove long vented panel by tilting back and up and out. More on this later as I have not tackled it yet. I'm hoping the Counter chips are plugged into sockets...

Hope this helps some of you and feel free to comment if it did!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PHANTOM 4 vs INSPIRE Same Camera SPEC! Which one is right for me?


OK so maybe this is your first UAS aka UAV aka Drone purchase and you're confused by the astounding amount of products available on the market as a whole and even with the leading manufacturer DJI. Well lets just take a look at DJI's latest offering, the Phantom 4 and compare it to it's top of the line Inspire series!


The Phantom 4 is a remarkable machine with it's abilities to track a target, follow, Point of Interest, waypoint navigation and obstacle avoidance, truly amazing! Do they all work, well the tracking an object is at 60-70% success rate given our field testing which is still pretty good! POI amazing, you can basically set it and take a nap while it does the work! Flight time is up to 26 minutes by our calcs.

INSPIRE ONE X3
The camera is fully comparable to the Inspire! And one step up in that it does 120FPS. We did test that and the quality was NOT that impressive vs. 60 fps which both Phantom 4 and Inspire handle well.

Glaring differences are  dual operation Camera and Flight separate controllers, different camera options X5, X5R for feature film quality! The BLACK INSPIRE for the COOL factor, and
INSPIRE BLACK with X5 MFT Camera
retractable gear and PAN capability with camera but seriously do you really need to spend that much money on the Inspire for these feature? Well that's your call, some of these features like the retractable gear and Pan capable gimbal are awesome features but as experienced and FAA compliant pilots we were well able to get around that feature set and get amazing similar moving shots. Just know the limitations to work around them...lFor example even  the P4 motors are mounted higher with the intention to avoid props in the picture well, high speed maneuvers and wrong angle to the sun can still bring the props into the scene so it's all about being aware and developing good pilot/filming skills to avoid the occasional propeller in frame and get similar results to the Inspire and it's remarkable camera capabilities. Take a look at these brief comparison charts and you be the judge. Happy and safe flying!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

LOOKOUT FOR BAD DRONE-Animated spoof on a Drone named B.D.

OK well seems Drones UAV's, UAS whatever you would like to call them are in the headlines EVERY DAY! So it's about time an animated drone character was created to make light of all the antics and negative feelings being thrown at the world of Drones.






Welcome BAD DRONE and you can check it out for FREE on Youtube and it's own website. Spread the word...B.D. a drone brought to life and along with his adopted family teenagers Arnold and Roxy and their dog SNIPPET, well hilarious situations are sure to follow. B.D. means well but somehow everything he does seems to go awry in the misfit, mishap world of BAD DRONE®2015


Follow B.D. and the rest of the cast at BADDRONETV.COM!The laughs are non-stop! Coming soon...Oh yeah and if you want your very own B.D. thats available now CLICK HERE




video

Sunday, September 13, 2015

THE GULF OF MEXICO WITH WHOI 5 YEARS LATER-REMEMBERING

Woodshole Oceanographic Institute's Alvin DSV
Well it's been 5 years since we headed down to the Gulf to work on a multi-episodic documentary centered around the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The negative impact it had on the economy, the environment and most importantly to its people is still in play today.

The team of scientists assembled onboard the R/V Atlantis were world re-known.  We even had a visit and some one on one time with Dr. Sylvia Earle during ALVIN DSV's last dive.

At present we are still trying to raise funds to return and complete the story but in the meantime I took my family on a related journey, a personal one for me...

Our next generation will be inheriting much of the mess my generation has subjected the planet to over the past 40 years. So along with my wife and my 15 year old son we packed our bags and headed to the East coast to pay a visit to Dr. Tim Shanks and some other members of the scientific team that I was onboard with on the R/V Atlantis back in 2010.

I believe our trip to Falmouth , MA. was an eye opening trip for my son and I also believe his appreciation of our oceans and our environment is growing with each passing year. For me it was not only uplifting to meet with some of these people again but it was also a reminder of spending time with Mike deGruy in the Alvin sub and working feverishly to fix it's many problems related to imaging back in 2010. Without good video and images we would not have been able to make a case that the oil and dispersants were indeed killing the deep sea corals and marine life. We purveiled and on the last dive with Dr. Chuck Fisher and Mike shooting away, the images were brought back for the world to see the real damage these deadly ingredients wreaked upon our precious environment, a fragile ecosystem 5000 ft below the oceans surface.

My son has been on this journey with me all the way. We even flew him out to the Gulf for our wrap party and the two of us, along with my nephew driving a Uhaul truck,  drove all the way back from Pensacola Florida, all the way back to Santa Barbara and stopping everywhere along the way.



We talked about a lot of things and for a 10 year old he had a lot to say and a lot of opinions over what happened as well as what we saw each day during our travels in the Gulf and across this great country. My son was named after Sir Francis Drake the great explorer and I'm hopeful that Drake will be active about our planet no matter what career may be his calling. If we continue to educate our youth and show them the good as well as some of the bad things going on in our environment then hopefully they will be better caretakers of our fragile eco-system here on planet Earth.
Looking at the old 6 foot diameter titanium ball, the heart and soul and our safety net that once was inside the Alvin DSV's frame work I thought about Mike deGruy, his infectious laugh, his big smile and his incredible life devotion to making things better for all of us that dwell upon the Earth. We along with Dr. Chuck Fisher, Dr. Tim Shanks and Pilot Dave were the last ones inside that sphere and I shed a tear and wished he could be here walking among us! And then I looked back at my son and could comfortably relay to Mike...Hey Mike the world will be in good hands, in good hands!





Thursday, May 14, 2015

UPDATE ON 3DR SOLO No Dynamic Home Point means no fly from boat

Would not FLY from boat
 OK Quick update on 3DR SOLO- Bought One! Tested it out kinda cool because you can fly manually as well as all the autonomous features of auto flying but one big caveate for us!! The SOLO would not initialize in auto FLY or FLY Manual mode while any platform we chose to launch it from was moving! It has to be level and perfectly still for the SOLO to pass it's internal pre-flight checks. It just kept all GREEN LED indicators on and never would initialize from a boat. The other bigger problem was waiting 4 months for the gimbal, still no show. So if you can live without launching from a moving platform and no gimbal then go ahead and get one. As for our team that's just not usable.


GoPro4 and 360ยบ Kodak Cam WOW!
We tried some cool stuff like mounting a GoPro 4 Black edition and a Kodak SP360 camera on the belly and got some very cool but unfortunately very unstable video. Stills were great! So this little guy has plenty of Horsepower for a load and it stayed in the air 21 minutes!
Always boils down to the right tool for the job. For now we are sticking with our mini fleet of Inspire 1's and the new 1 pro with the ZENMUSE and X5R camera the right tool for feature films!!




ORIGINAL QUICK REVIEW PRE SOLO DELIVERIES
OK it will boil down to functionality ie. how much BANG for your $BUCK$ but in my book for escalating baggage fees and theft size truly does play a significant role and if the SOLO does live up to it's incredible list of features and GREAT CUSTOMER SUPPORT than it will emerge as the clear winner. DJI may very well have to up the anty on it's customer service as well as DURABILITY which seems to rest right now on the fragile ARMS of the INSPIRE 1.

                                  DJI INSPIRE 1        DJI PHANTOM 3        3DR SOLO Back packable!