I began prep in mid February 2016, and we went to camera April 20th… and on September 14th we wrapped up shooting 13 brand spanking new episodes of The Expanse – Season 2. It was an intense, challenging, fun, sleep deprived joy ride. Our entire cast and crew are like a great big family – we all feel privileged that we are making a kick ass show every day. There is not one person on our crew who doesn’t deeply care about the show we are making and everyone goes the extra mile to make sure every detail on screen is the best it can be.
The cast share in that camaraderie with us, they have amped it up to the next level – and the new cast joining us this season are awesome additions. We pushed the envelope in every way with new camera tech, lighting, set design, stunts and FX rigs. The scripts are deeper, bolder and even more bad ass than last year.
I will miss being with our Expanse familia every day – but I gotta say that after 5 months of 15 hour days and Sunday prep days, it will be nice to rest the brain for a while and stop thinking about the Roci, Tycho, Ganymede, Thoth, Weeping Somnambulist, Eros and other such places far out in our future solar system.
I feel quite honoured to have gotten mentioned in the blog by the duo behind The Expanse books – James S.A. Corey. At least one of them was in my monitor tent with me for weeks at a time…
I am thrilled to announce that starting on April 20th, we begin shooting the second season of NBC/SyFy’s “The Expanse”. I have been prepping since mid-February at Pinewood Studios in Toronto. We have many new sets this year, only a couple have returned from last year. This means that there has been much collaboration between myself and production designer Tony Ianni to build our lighting into the sets.
My returning rigging gaffer Gary Dennault from last year has been designing new LED fixtures with me to replace our demand for many more Kino Celebs than we could afford – so for areas where lights need to be built into walls or ceilings where plexiglas lenses are part of the set, Gary came up with a great solution: we make our own Celeb shaped lights that have a thinner profile.
We are also utilizing the Litegear Litemat LED panels, as well as the Lume Cubes and Relio LED’s.
We also switched to the Arri Alexa Mini as our main cameras. We have three bodies full time, one of which lives on the Movi M15. These new cube shaped Alexas were released shortly after we wrapped first season. We can now benefit from the beautiful Alexa sensor and still have the mobility and freedom of the Movi/Slingshot combo that our operator Jason Vieira has become a master of. Arri’s new WCU-4 follow focus has been a great tool which allows us to streamline our Movi build – eliminating the need for a separate MDR.
Breck Eisner is our first director this year. We have an exciting season premiere up our sleeves! 13 episodes are in the works this year versus 10 last year. We will be shooting till late September. Look for The Expanse Season Two in early 2017!
Over the last week I have been shooting in Kansas City, Missouri – with director Anthony Garth. We shot a great spot for the new 2016 Ford F-150 pick up truck. We used an exhibition hall space there as our “studio”. It had a great industrial ceiling and floor which we featured in the hero shots of the truck. We had two 16’x28′ front projection screens built to create our main background – on which various clips of running footage and Kansas City skyline imagery was projected. For this we used a total of four Barco HDF W30 Flex projectors.
We shot in 4K with the Arri Mini and Cooke S5/i lenses.
I teamed up with director Rob Shaw from Bent Image Lab to shoot another Rice Krispies spot in early January. We used the Speedarm once again to achieve a seemingly one-take spot. This motion control robotic arm allows for repeatable moves – so that we could do passes for live action, treats and table elements separately. We shot with the Red Epic Dragon and Cooke Mini S4/i primes.
Director Adrian Wills and I have been shooting the multi-camera of Cirque Du Soleil’s new Avatar-based show “Toruk”. We have been capturing the show in 4K on the Sony F55. We shot at the Bell Centre in Montreal with 8 cameras. We’ve been using the Fujinon Cabrio and Premiere zooms as well as Angenieux Optimo.
Our next stop is Quebec city in January where will be shooting on the stage with the artists (no audience this time) with two steadicams. Will be fun!
After months of post work, our efforts on the new space opera “The Expanse” will premiere online (SyFy) November 23rd, and then debuts on SyFy and Space Channel (in Canada) on December 14th – during which the first two episodes will be shown together. Everyone is incredibly excited!
I’ve been working away with the team at Deluxe Toronto to colour correct every episode of the show with colourist Joanne Rourke for months now. We spend a full day doing an episode and then another half day doing a second pass and then a live link streaming session with the Los Angeles team; (show runner Naren Shankar and writers Ty Franck and Mark Fergus) they watch on the same calibrated Dolby monitor we have in our master grading suite. Its an amazing way to work because they are on speakerphone with us and can make notes and tweaks as we stop and start the playback of an episode. They do the same thing with the 5.1 surround sound mixes – playback at Deluxe in Toronto and the team in LA is in another mix theatre there hearing the same thing. I love being part of this international remote way of working – it makes such a complex show so much easier to finish sound & picture on.
The show is looking and sounding incredible. All of the hard work and passion for the stories in these books come together during the final picture and sound mastering that happens at Deluxe.
Its usually the first time I get to see the impressive work of VFX supervisor Bob Monroe’s teams that span several vendors from the Toronto area. Their work is truly bar-raising for television.
We hope the fans love what we have been toiling away on for months… and look very much forward to continuing with season 2! Below are some links to the latest behind the scenes and trailers, as well as a a few conceptual art images that production design Seth Reed and I worked together to create with his team of artists – they are faithful pre-visualizations of our light and set design plans.
Cirque du Soleil has been collaborating with James Cameron to create a new touring arena-based show inspired by the hit movie “Avatar”. Director Adrian Wills and I have been travelling to Bossier City, Louisiana on and off over the last few weeks to capture the creation process of the show for a broadcast special.
Using the Alexa Mini and Fujinon Cabrio zooms and Zeiss High Speed primes – as well as the Movi M15, we have been capturing fantastic behind the scenes moments of the elite performers working through the staging of this revolutionary new show for Cirque.
Director Cosimo Zitani and I teamed up again for some slick show promos – this time for the hit MasteChef Canada. Using the three chef judges from the show, we used the Phantom Gold (plus lots of light!) and Cooke 5i lenses to shoot 500fps material against bluescreen of the chefs throwing various ingredients around. A fun day of super slo-mo!
Director Adrian Wills, producer Kenneth Hirsch and myself embarked on our second journey together to Saskatchewan to shoot another half hour episode of Extraordinary Canadians for the CBC. This time our featured author was the acclaimed Joseph Boyden who wrote about the story of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont.
We were blessed with gorgeous light and locations in the prairie province. The Arri Amira was our primary camera, using Fujinon Cabrio zooms. For one of our days we brought drone operator Bernie Martin from Toronto – using the DJI Inspire – to capture breathtaking aerial views of the Saskatchewan river and the historic site of the battle of Fish Creek.