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.
Teaming up with directors Rachel Harms and Rob Shaw, our mission was to shoot a continuous flowing take of a kitchen island where the fun Snap Crackle & Pop characters dance amongst various holiday themed Rice Krispie treats to a Christmas-holiday song.
Extensive pre-viz discussions took place with the team from Bent Image Lab well before we shot, in order to ensure that our camera system of choice could achieve the move and that our set would work.
We used the Staubli Speedarm – which is essentially a robotic arm which can move up to 6 feet/second, with a radius of 6 feet. Jerry Andrews was our motion control tech who programmed the Speedarm. We shot with Red Dragon and Cooke Mini S4 lenses.
The Speedarm allowed us to do multiple passes of the kitchen island set – so we could take away plates and treats as need be for various parts of the shot. The Rice Krispie characters will be added as a CGI element in post – and the Rice Krispie treats themselves were shot in camera for light reference – but will be added as stop-motion elements in post.
Its not every day you get asked to shoot miniature diorama landscapes. Robin Nishio and Nicolas Girard of Common Good directed two spots for Tim Hortons that were designed to showcase their new line of sustainable coffee from Colombia and Sumatra. Expert miniature builder Winston Hacking came to Toronto from Montreal to construct the various set pieces we needed for the spots. The concept involved rivers of actual Tim Hortons coffee flowing through these landscape dioramas.
We worked with Michael Darby from Whites to incorporate the fantastic Technodolly – which in combination with the Skater Scope lens relay and the compact Cooke MiniS4 lenses, we were able to achieve incredibly smooth, accurate and repeatable moves on our tiny sets. We shot on the Red Dragon at 60fps in order to slow down the ripples of the coffee rivers.
It was great to work with the talented photographer Derek Shapton again, it had been years since we last collaborated. Derek had a couple of clever PSA’s to direct for the Canadian Safe Boating Council. We shot with an Arri Amira in Keswick, Ontario using Cooke Mini S4 glass.
We were able to work entirely with natural light, thankfully our scout planning and weather on the day allowed us to always be looking in the right direction to have the sun where we wanted it. We originally shot this in late June.
Working with Anthony Garth – we teamed up again for another round of Consumers Energy spots. Our focus on these ones was home heating and electricity. It was our first time using the Alexa Mini, which was a great tool for getting into tight spots and being able to hand-hold the camera in otherwise awkward angles. We had some fun creating winter in July (when these were originally shot in the Detroit area). We shot with Cooke 5i lenses.
Over the last year and a half, my partner Francis Luta and I have been working together on producing a short documentary film about the building we call home. I co-produced it with him and shot a lot of it as well. We made the film entirely on our own with no outside funding or assistance.
We used our own little doc camera & sound kit – which consists of a Canon C100, Canon L series zooms & primes, Nikkor AIS manual lenses, O’Connor 515S head and carbon fibre legs, Sennheiser 416 mic and MixPre mixer, Kessler Pocket dolly. We created our own super portable doc kit as we produce our own docs.
The film tells the story of the former warehouse building (built in 1956) that was eventually converted to hard loft condos in the mid 1990’s. The building was the design mecca for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s new television era. It housed their immense prop collection, wardrobe, scenic painting & set construction, rehearsal spaces, libraries, editing and so on. We wanted to hear from the retired CBC employees who spent decades of their lives here plying their crafts.
Being in the film business and having lived here since 2006 – I have always felt close to the building as I knew how special its past was in terms of our own industry. The current vibe in the building is full of creativity with many artists and designers working and living here – we wanted to show the connection between past and present that I feel is tangible.
Here is a link to Francis’ site which has his work:
We’ve released it on Vimeo, check it out here:
Using a real people approach for these spots, director Leo Scherman and I worked together to come up with a plan to shoot with multiple cameras in public spaces.
Using three Arri Amira cameras, outfitted with Fuji Cabrio 19-90mm zooms, we worked entirely with natural light – in an exterior day location on the waterfront in Toronto and at a shopping mall interior atrium space. We used Bryan Trieb on steadicam to act as a roving master, and Eric Gerard was hand held with an Easy Rig. I operated the central long-lens camera on sticks, using the Fuji Cabrio 85-300mm zoom. Leo and I were able to see all three cameras together in one spot with my camera, and we used the HME DX100 wireless headset system to communicate with our operators, 1st AD Bruno Louza and the rest of our camera team. Having this instant hands free communication was essential to be able to react on the fly to find shots and to keep each other out of our shots.
We had random people chosen from the surrounding area to attempt to complete various household tasks on camera. Made for many funny and candid moments.
We travelled to Regina, Saskatchewan and the surrounding prairies for a few days to capture visuals for a part of a documentary series for on Canadian authors who have written about notable Canadians. Tommy Douglas is known as the founder of medicare.
I always love shooting doc when I can, to get back to the essentials of filmmaking. We shot with the Amira – which I loved – using the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm zoom. What a fantastic combination. The built-in ND wheel on the Amira and the ENG-style zoom grip on the Fuji reminds me of my days shooting doc with the F900 and older Sony broadcast cameras. Only this time using the lush Arri sensor technology in a robust cinema / doc camera.
We also shot timelapse using the CamBlock system and Canon 5D that I own.